Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Nature Bulletin No. 136   January 2, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

Ask a young lady what she would buy if she had all the money she could spend, and the list will usually include "a mink coat". She can get a nice one for $5000. About half of the pelts so used come from females and young males raised in captivity on mink "farms". Mink and silver fox are the only two valuable furbearers that have been successfully raised commercially. Farm-reared mink are darker than most wild mink and the fur is superior in quality. The finest wild pelts come from Canada and northern New England although mink are native to most of this continent from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle.

Like its relatives, the weasel and the skunk, a mink will eject a stinking musky fluid when in danger. Nearly as large as a small house cat, it is much more slender, with a long snaky head and neck, small ears, short legs, and a furry tail. Large males may be 24 inches long; females are smaller. The fur varies from dull yellowish brown to deep glossy brown, darker on the back and tail, with a thick soft under-fur mostly concealed by the long glistening outer hairs. There is a white patch under the chin and sometimes white spots on the chest and belly. The mink does not turn white in winter, as the weasel does in northern regions, but occasionally one is born snow-white or platinum and such pelts are as precious as diamonds.

Mink are bloodthirsty killers. They usually live near streams, lakes and ponds -- in muskrat tunnels in the bank, or in a hollow log, or under a stump -- and in the Chicago area their tracks are everyday sights in the snow or in the mud. Chiefly at night, they prowl the water's edge for crayfish, mussels, frogs, bugs and small snakes or zigzag through the woods and fields hunting mice, rabbits and rats, of which they kill a great many. Once on a rabbit' s trail, he is doomed because a mink can bound along at considerable speed, dodge more quickly, and follow him into a hole. Excellent swimmers, they also catch many fish, but their favorite prey is the muskrat. Where you find muskrats, you'll also find mink.

Lady, if you can find $5000, you can have mink.

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