Wednesday, September 2, 2009
"Don't Blink, It's Another MINK!"
I have noticed an abundance of these American Mink along the shore this year. A few nights ago, I was having cocktails with a neighbor. We were sitting on her porch overlooking the water. Suddenly, a mink bounced onto the lawn, stood on it's hind legs while studying us, then bounced away back down to the rocks. I have seen them numerous times in front of our house while NOT under the influence of Martinis. Our dog yodels wildly when he sees one darting amongst the rocks. I took these photos on Little Wood Island which sits about two miles off the coast of Phippsburg on the west side. This is an American Mink. You can tell it's not a European Mink by its accent. Actually, European Minks are distinguishable by a white mark on their head. They are an introduction to our ecology and do not fare as well as the American Mink. Our mink eats anything. In the wild they eat small fish and other marine life caught in tidal pools and small birds. I've seen them most often at low tide, hunting the stranded amongst the cracks of rocks and sea weed. Rabbits are reported to be their favorite food. I've never seen a rabbit here. Perhaps they've eaten them all. There aren't any Common Eiders' nests on Little Wood Island anymore, reportedly because the mink have consumed them. In captivity on mink farms, where they are raised for fur, they eat expired cheese and dairy products and dog food. A lobster fisherman I know complains that if he leaves sandwiches or chips overnight on his boat the the mink climb aboard and steal his lunch. I'm sure that European Mink eat foi gras, scones and vichyssoise which is why they have not done as well here. Certainly, they would look down their noses at dog food or fouled cheese. Mink are territorial. A single male will defend an area of several miles around a pond edge or a strip of coastline. I've seen more than one here, so I'm guessing they were this year's kits. Mink have one litter a year of about 6 kits. They can retain embryos until it's suitable to give birth, but this usually takes place in the spring. They are about 18" from head to tail end and have rich, chocolaty fur. Lovely as the fur is, my first thought on seeing them has never been "Hey! I think I'll kill a whole lot of them and make a coat!" Who comes up with that stuff anyway?