European Mink

(Mustela lutreola)




Facts about this animal

European mink are medium sized mustelids with a long body, short legs, and short tail. It is a semi-aquatic animal with a thick water-repellent undercoat and partly webbed feets. The fur is blackish brown with a small band of white fur around the upper and lower lips. This marking and its smaller size usually distinguishes it from the American mink (M. vison)


Competition and direct aggression with the introduced American mink, are the main threats to the European mink population. Overhunting and habitat loss also affect populations.

Did you know?
That the European mink is critically endangered? The reason for the species' dramatic decline is competition with and intra-guild aggression by an introduced alien species, the North American mink, Mustela vison.


Name (Scientific) Mustela lutreola
Name (English) European Mink
Name (French) Vison d'Europe
Name (German) Europäischer Nerz
Name (Spanish) Visón europeo
Local names Estonian: Naarits
Lettish: Eiropas udele
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Tit Maran



Range Formerly throughout the European continent, now only in parts of Eastern Europe and some areas of Spain and France.
Habitat Densely vegetated banks of rivers and streams
Wild population Russia: 20,000 (2006); Spain: 500-1000 (2003); France: several hundred (2006); Danube Delta: <1,000 individuals (2006) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 205 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

European Mink


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 79 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Tit Maran

Why do zoos keep this animal

The European mink is Critically Endangered and has lost most of its range. A programme to save the species from extinction was initiated in 1991. The project has ex situ and in situ components. On one hand, zoos maintain an ensurance ex situ population, partly in special off-exhibit breeding facilities, which is managed under a conservation breeding programme (EEP) operated at the regional level by EAZA. On the other hand the zoos participate in re-introduction operations.