The Long-tailed Weasel American Mink

[Well, I’ve been corrected by several readers as to the identification of this mammal. Having read regular reports of Short-tailed Weasels at this location, and not having heard of a Mink being sighted there, I made a wrong assumption. My thanks to the folks who set me straight. -Marc Hoffman]

I had a fun surprise yesterday while watching a female Common Merganser as it swam, preened, and fished along the weir at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA. In the background, I noticed a tiny, otter-like head poke up and swim across the strong current. As it climbed onto the rocky shore, I could see it was a Long-Tailed Weasel an American Mink.

American Mink, Marymoor ParkAdult Mink measure about 12-18 inches long. They spend much of their time in or around water, swimming with an undulating motion of the body. Adept hunters, they feed on fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other small animals, often delivering a fatal bite to the head or neck. Audubon reported seeing a Mink carrying a foot-long trout.

Mink have been farmed for their fur. They can be kept as pets but are known for biting their owners, so must be handled with gloves.

Still, they’re awfully cute, don’t you agree?
 


American Mink, Marymoor Park

 

American Mink, Marymoor Park

Bonus Image: heading back to my car, I came across a Black-tailed doe and her faun. Living in a residential area, they were quite domesticated:
Black-tail Deer (doe and faun)
 

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6 Comments

  1. Roy A Myers
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Cool pics Marc, but the dark brown color, dark underparts with just a hint of white on the chin, burly (for a mustelid) silhouette, and behavior make me think mink (Neovison vison), not weasel.

    Also very cool creatures to see in the wild – I still remember how freaked I was the first time I saw one trotting along the bank of the lower Yakima and then diving right in.
    -Roy Myers

    • Marc Hoffman
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      Roy, I am convinced you’re right. I had not heard of Mink being seen in that area, only regular sightings of Long-tailed Weasels. I have since learned there have been a handful of reported Mink sightings over the years. I will be revising the blog post to reflect that. Thanks for the correction–always appreciated!

  2. Catherine
    Posted August 7, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Wonderful photos, Marc. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! That first photo is especially stunning!

    • Marc Hoffman
      Posted August 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Catherine! At the moment of that first shot, the Mink was about 12 feet away and walking straight toward me. They don’t get much more cooperative than that :)

  3. Marie Schatz
    Posted August 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I have such a thing for mustelids but have never gotten more than a brief glimpse. How fortunate you are. Thank you for sharing.
    Safe passages Mr. Mink!

  4. Posted August 14, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Hi, Marc, I saw your comment on the Tweeters list and came over to look at the weasel … I mean, mink photos. :) Wonderful! I love these serendipitous sightings, particularly of minks, otters and weasels, since their furtive nature makes the encounter that much more spectacular.

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