American Mink have proliferated on Fishers Island over the past decade. They are semi-aquatic, carnivorous and obtain most of their food near the water’s edge. They feed on rodents, fish, crustaceans, frogs and birds. Prodigious hunters, they are good diggers, climbers and jumpers, and are excellent swimmers. Generally solitary, their territories are individually held in areas that are undisturbed, close to water and with dense cover. Their dens typically consist of long burrows with a number of entrances, twisting passageways and multiple exits. A mink’s lifespan in the wild is three to four years.
American Mink have sleek, dark coats of fur and their average size is around 18 inches long. You might see one loping across the road on its way to a preferred hunting or fishing area. They might also be spotted on rocks by the water as they hunt for crabs, a favorite food. They can slip through a two-inch hole, so using a finer mesh for chicken coops will help protect poultry from becoming a mink’s dinner! As a precaution, the Museum has installed predator guards on the osprey poles to protect osprey and their eggs from these talented hunters.
Mink—cousins to ferrets, weasels and otters—are beautiful animals and it is exciting to catch a glimpse of one. Nevertheless, leave them alone as they can be aggressive if they feel threatened. Additionally, when stressed the American mink can expel the contents of its glands and the smell is said to be even more unbearable than that of a skunk! So, if you are fortunate enough to see a mink, view them from afar and appreciate yet one more interesting species that has made Fishers Island its home.
Did You Know: Fishers has a number of species that are temporary visitors to the island along with those that are living on island but keep a very low profile. The shell of a spotted turtle was recently found, meaning they are still on island although they have not been recorded since 1991. Also, box turtles are somewhat rare but one was recently spotted on the east end of the island laying eggs. Otters and beaver have also been spotted on island, though they don’t generally stay due to lack of sufficient food or territory. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, too. They have become more frequent visitors and it’s thought that they may soon nest on Fishers Island.