IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
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Mink in Spain

European mink : visón europeo : Mustela lutreola

The European mink is critically endangered through fiece competition with the American mink. Only a couple of hundred European mink (see update - mink recovering in Spain) are thought to survive in enclaves in northwest Spain (Navarra, La Rioja, País Vasco and Castilla y León (northern Soria and NE Burgos).  Reintroduction schemes are underway.

European mink photo: source Gobierno Vasco

Description and biology

The American mink normally lacks a large white patch on its upper lip, while the European mink always has one, as shown above. Thus a patchless mink is definately an American, though one with a patch is not a sure sign for a European.

American mink : visón americano : Mustela vision

As in the rest of Eurasia, the American mink is an invasive species which has escaped from fur farms. There are reckoned to be an average of half a million on Spanish farms alone. All Spanish fur farms are above the xxxxxx, as the mink needs cooler temepatures to grow a healthy and silky coat.. Although the first escape from a Spanish fur farm did not occur until 1958, the mink quickly mangaged to gain a foothold in parts of Cantabria, Galicia, parts of Castilla and Valencia. Further escapes have extended th espceis down the Ebro Valley and into Catalonia, where the last recorded escape took place in 1983. A fire at a fur farm killed thousands, but a few, enough, managed to flee into the countryside. An extremly efficient hunter, the American mink has led its European counterpart almost to the brink of extiction through fiece competition. Only a couple of thousand (or a few hundred, noone really knows) of European mink are thought to survive in Navarran encalves, though reintroduction schemes are underway. The American mink may also have a negative impact on species such as the endangered Pyrennean desman

External links


See also wildlife in Spain - Wolf watching in the Sierra de la Culebra - Spanish Bear News - Iberian Lynx News - Iberian Lynx - Badgers in Spain - Wolves in Spain -Wolves, boars and capercaillie - Deer in Spain - Barbary apes in Gibraltar - European and American mink - Coypu in Spain - Pyrenean mountain goat - English-Spanish-Latin mammal checklist for Spain - Comparative table of Castilian and Catalan dictionaries on zoology -- Bats in Spain - Chamois in Spain - European and American mink - Acorns and rats in Castile Mammals in Spain -Wild Cats in Spain


Spanish mink news

15/10/06 1000s of American mink released from farm in Galicia. Potential ecological disaster (Terra)

15/09 31 endangered European mink born in captivity in Catalonia (terra)