The European mink is a medium-sized, elongated, semiaquatic species of mustelid more closely related to the western polecat and Siberian weasel than to the American mink.
The European mink is a medium-sized, semiaquatic species of mustelid and a typical representative of the genus Mustela. It has a greatly elongated body with short limbs and a short tail.
The European mink is similar to the American mink, but with several important differences. It is similar in color to the American mink (Neovison vison), but is slightly smaller and has a less specialized skull. Differences between its diet and that of the American mink are small. The tail is longer in the American species, almost reaching half its body length, while the tail of the European mink only makes up 40% of its body. The winter fur of the American mink is denser, longer, and more closely fitting than that of the European mink. Unlike the European mink, which has white patches on both upper and lower lips, the American mink almost never has white marks on the upper lip. The European mink’s skull is much less specialized than the American species’ in the direction of carnivory, bearing more infantile features, such as a weaker dentition and less strongly developed projections. The European mink is reportedly less efficient than the American species underwater.
Despite having a similar name, build, and behavior, the European mink is not closely related to the American mink. Genetic analyses indicate it being much closer to the western polecat (Mustela putorius), perhaps due to past hybridization, and the Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica), being intermediate in form between true polecats and other members of the genus. The closeness between the mink and polecat is emphasized by the fact the species can hybridize.
• Image | ©️ Gustav Mützel, Public Domain
• Sources | (Davidson, et al., 2000; Grzimek, 1990; Heptner & Sludskii, 2002; Marmi, López‐Giráldez, & Domingo-Roura, 2004; Shalu, 2001; Sidorovich, 2001; Tumanov & Abramov, 2002; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2020; Youngman, 1990)