Vison vison - (Schreber, 1777)
American Mink
Other English Common Names: American mink, Mink
Synonym(s): Mustela vison Schreber, 1777 ;Neovison vison (Schreber, 1777)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Neovison vison (Schreber, 1777) (TSN 726284)
French Common Names: vison d'Amérique
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.791856
Element Code: AMAJF02050
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Carnivores
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae Vison
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Two volumes. 2,142 pp. Available online at:
Concept Reference Code: B05WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Neovison vison
Taxonomic Comments: Following Harding and Smith (2009), Bradley et al. (2014) recognize Vison as distinct from Mustela. Abramov (2000) and Kurose et al. (2008) elevated the American mink from Mustela to the genus Neovison. This was supported by Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005). However, Harding and Smith (2009) challenged the validity of Neovison, and recommended that Vison be used to represent the American mink and its congeners.

See Humphrey and Setzer (1989) for the description of a new subspecies, halilimnetes, from coastal northwestern Florida. A study of skull variation concluded that "Mustela vison evergladensis" is not a valid subspecies; the Everglades mink population apparently is a disjunct population of the subspecies mink (Humphrey and Setzer 1989).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 18Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range in North America, and introduced and established in the Old World; local declines have occurred, but the species is secure in many areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (31Dec2011)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Alaska (S5), Arkansas (S5), California (SNR), Colorado (S5), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S3), District of Columbia (S1), Florida (S5), Georgia (S5), Idaho (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S4), Kansas (S4), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S4), Montana (S5), Navajo Nation (S3?), Nebraska (S5), Nevada (S4), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New Mexico (S1), New York (S5), North Carolina (S4), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S4), Oregon (S5), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S4), Utah (S3S4), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S5), Wyoming (S5)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Northwest Territories (S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Nunavut (SU), Ontario (S4), Prince Edward Island (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5), Yukon Territory (S5)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):PS
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Throughout most of North America north of Mexico except for southwestern U.S. Introduced in Iceland, north-central Europe, British Isles, Norway, Belarussia, Baltic States, Spain, and Siberia (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Numerous occurences.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Throughout most of North America north of Mexico except for southwestern U.S. Introduced in Iceland, north-central Europe, British Isles, Norway, Belarussia, Baltic States, Spain, and Siberia (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NFexotic, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Charlotte (12015), Citrus (12017), Collier (12021), Franklin (12037), Gulf (12045), Hernando (12053), Levy (12075), Miami-Dade (12086), Nassau (12089), St. Johns (12109)
ID Ada (16001), Bear Lake (16007), Blaine (16013), Boise (16015), Bonner (16017)*, Cassia (16031)*, Clearwater (16035), Custer (16037), Fremont (16043), Idaho (16049), Kootenai (16055), Latah (16057)*, Lemhi (16059)*, Lewis (16061)*, Nez Perce (16069), Power (16077)*, Shoshone (16079)*, Twin Falls (16083), Valley (16085)
NM Dona Ana (35013)
WA Clallam (53009)+, Grant (53025)+, Grays Harbor (53027)+, Kitsap (53035)+, Mason (53045)+, Thurston (53067)+
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 St. Marys (03070204)+, Nassau (03070205)+, Daytona - St. Augustine (03080201)+, Everglades (03090202)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Charlotte Harbor (03100103)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+, Withlacoochee (03100208)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, Apalachicola (03130011)+, Chipola (03130012)+
13 El Paso-Las Cruces (13030102)+
16 Bear Lake (16010201)+
17 Priest (17010215)+*, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, St. Joe (17010304)+*, Banks Lake (17020014), Lower Crab (17020015), Upper Henrys (17040202)+, Portneuf (17040208)+*, Lake Walcott (17040209)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Birch (17040216)+*, Little Lost (17040217)+, Big Wood (17040219)+*, North and Middle Forks Boise (17050111)+, Boise-Mores (17050112)+*, Lower Boise (17050114)+, North Fork Payette (17050123)+, Palouse (17060108)+*, Upper Middle Fork Salmon (17060205)+, South Fork Salmon (17060208)+, South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+*, Clearwater (17060306)+, Hoh-Quillayute (17100101), Upper Chehalis (17100103), Lower Chehalis (17100104), Grays Harbor (17100105), Willapa Bay (17100106), Nisqually (17110015), Deschutes (17110016), Hood Canal (17110018), Puget Sound (17110019)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A long-bodied carnivore (mink).
General Description: A medium-sized mammal with an elongate body, a long tail, small rounded ears, and relatively short legs; pelage is soft, luxurious, and generally rich brown to almost black dorsally; the underparts are paler, sometimes with a whitish chin patch and whitish spotting elsewhere; 5 digits on each foot; head-body 330-430 mm in males, 300-400 mm in females; tail 158-230 mm in males, 128-200 mm in females; mass 681-2310 g in males, 790-1089 g in females; basilar length of skull 58-69 mm (Nowak 1991, Hall 1981, Burt and Grossenheider 1964).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from weasels in having brown rather than white or yellowish underparts. Differs from marten in having a white chin patch (marten has pale buff patch on throat and breast), generally darker pelage (marten's pelage generally is yellowish brown except on the feet and end of the tail), and 4 rather than 5 upper postcanine teeth. Differs from the fisher in having 4 rather than 5 upper postcanine teeth, a white chin patch, and smaller size. River otter is much larger (up to 130 cm total length and 11 kg).
Reproduction Comments: Breeds in northern states late February to early May, peak in March. Gestation lasts 40-75 (average 51) days; implantation is delayed. Litter size is 2-10 (average 3-4). Young begin to venture from nest after about 7 weeks, weaned at 8-9 weeks. Male sometimes may help care for young. Sexually mature in 10 months.
Ecology Comments: Solitary except during mating period and when females have young.

In good habitat, density may be 9-22 per sq mile (Banfield 1974).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Male home range considerably larger than that of female; average for female 20-50 acres (not more than 20 acres according to Layne 1978), for male 1900 acres plus (Banfield 1974, Schwartz and Schwartz 1981), up to 8 km (5 mi.) in diameter (Caire et al. 1989). In Tennessee, fall-early winter home range of three males (2 adults, 1 juvenile) was 5.6-11.1 km of stream; overnight movements were as large as 4.3 km (Stevens et al. 1997). In England, partial-year home range was 4.5-8.6 km (mean 6.0 km) of water course in males and 0.8-4.3 km (mean 2.7 km) in females (Yamaguchi and Macdonald 2003).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Tidal flat/shore
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Favors forested, permanent or semipermanent wetlands with abundant cover, marshes, and riparian zones Dens in muskrat burrow, abandoned beaver den, hollow log, hole under tree roots, or in burrow dug by mink in streambank.
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Small mammals, other vertebrates (e.g., waterfowl), crayfish, and small vertebrates associated with aquatic/riparian ecosystems. Muskrats (ONDATRA ZIBETHICUS) particularly are favored in some areas, but diet reflects availability.
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Mainly nocturnal and crepuscular. May reduce activity in severe winter weather.
Length: 72 centimeters
Weight: 1600 grams
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: Raised and trapped for pelt, which yielded about $17 per pelt in the early 1980s in Oklahoma (Caire et al. 1989).
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: None.
Alternate Separation Procedure: Separations should be based on large landscape features, such as major hydrological basins, and different occurrences should be at least several tens of kilometers apart.
Separation Justification: Minks disperse over long distances (tens of kilometers), and genetic data indicate that gene flow may be substantial over distances of more than 100 km, even across upland areas (Stevens et al. (2005). Hence separation distance should be quite large and need not differ between aquatic/wetland and upland habitats.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 1 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Diameter of a small home range for a male (Svendsen, in Wilson and Ruff 1999).
Date: 03Sep2005
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Nov1996
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 03Jan2004
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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