Sleek with thick, chocolate brown fur, minks are related to the badger and skunk through the same weasel family. These "cousins" don't really resemble each other in body shape. The male minks are 23-28 inches long with a 9-inch furry tail trailing behind. They weigh an average of 3 pounds. Females are more petite. They only measure 18-22 inches and aren't as heavy. Mink's fur is a rich chocolate-brown. Look for an obvious patch or streak of white on the chin, throat, chest or belly. Their bushy tail can be slightly darker than the body fur color. Have you seen a mink? You could because they live throughout Wisconsin.

Mink tracks

Mink have small heads with beady black eyes. Their ears look small since they don't stick out from the head, but they're actually about aninch long. They also have a pointed muzzle and nose with whiskers that can't be seen very well. Five partially webbed toes on each foot help them get around in the water as they swim and dive in streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and marshes searching for whatever comes in their path. Mink like to munch on muskrats but they'll supplement their diet with fish, frogs, crayfish, snakes, birds, and other rodents. Females stay within 30 acres of the den site; usually log cavities, stumps or under tree roots; while males will travel twice the distance and socialize at other dens along the way. You may see them sneaking around on their stomach to stalk prey or bounding across the land when they're traveling.

Three Mink kits

A litter of 3-6 kits (young) are born in April or May in a feather, fur, and soft vegetation den. The kits are born hairless at birth but quickly grow hair and open their eyes after 25 days. At 5-6 weeks they are weaned but stay near their mother until fall.

Startled mink may squeal, hiss or snarl and then release a scent similar to a skunk. They can't spray like skunks can, but they do smell. P-u! This scent is also used as a marker to advertise their presence to other mink. Remember to watch wildlife with respect and give them plenty of space, especially the mink and skunk!