On this page, we are going to talk about a species that is in the wild in Ohio: The Minks!
Minks are a really special species that inhabits our state. At a glance, it looks like a weasel or a ferret. However, minks are generally larger and has a bushier tail. The other physical features that could describe minks are short legs, sharp claws beady eyes and small rounded ears. The fur is commonly in rich chocolate brown which at times can be seen almost black. They live on average for 3-4 years but can live up to 5 years. Throughout their lifetime, an adult can be as heavy as three pounds and as long as 17 inches. Their mating season is from January through March and usually the female will deliver about four to five pups and rears them sole handedly.
Minks are very important to the food chain in an ecosystem. They feed on muskrats, frogs, fishes and even birds, hence keeping the numbers in check. They are really good hunters, as they are swift, able to swim and even climb trees.
Are they threatened?
Here in Ohio, most of the areas proximate rivers and lakes has been ‘touched’ by humans. These watershed regions, which is the only habitat that the minks are depending are getting smaller due to urbanization and deforestation. Conservation and preservation of watersheds in Ohio would help the population of the minks to thrive in this ever changing ecosystem.
There are a few predators that try to prey on them, such as coyotes and great horned owls. Humans also hunt them to use their beautiful winter fur. The highest contribution to mortality rate of minks is due to humans and them killing each other. They are not at the brink of regional extinction for now, but the population should be maintained to ensure the ecosystem balance. Let us not make them endangered in any way.
A mink. Retrieved from http://clearcreekcounty.org/mink/
If you have any intentions to see these beautiful creatures in the wild, there is several tips for you!
Where can they be found?
Near freshwater sources! Find nearby rivers, lakes or streams because chances are, they are going to be there lurking around. They usually make dens in burrows along stream banks or under a log. It could take some time to see them in daylight, but it is easier to find them at dawn or night.
What should you do when you see one?
Observe them from a safe distance so that they would not feel threatened and minimize risks of any safety issues. Be careful not to scare them as they might screech, snarl, hiss or bark. A good indicator of telling whether those minks are in good mood is when they either purr or churr. They are also able to excrete a fluid that has similar smell to a skunk. Take some picture and share the images of these cute creatures to the world!