State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Mustela lutreola Linnaeus, 1758

  • Viverra lutreola Linnaeus, 1761
Vernacular Name
European Mink
Conservation status
IUCN: СR; Be (II); RDBUkr: Зникаючі
Value of species
The species occasionally hybridizes with Western Polecat Mustela putorius (Tumanov and Abramov 2002, Ternovsky 1977, Davidson et al. 2000, Cabria et al. 2011). Both hybridisation and genetic introgression occur at low levels (3% and 0.9% respectively) and the hybridization is asymmetric, as only pure Polecat males mate with pure European Mink females. Backcrossing and genetic introgression has been detected only from female first-generation (F1) hybrids of European Mink with Polecats (Ternovsky 1977). Hybridization and genetic introgression between the two species can be considered a rather uncommon event (Cabria et al. 2011). The western populations (Spain and France) have very low genetic variability and the southern population slightly higher genetic variability, whilst the eastern populations have the greatest variability (Lodé 1999, Davidson et al. 2000, Michaux et al. 2004, 2005; Cabria 2009). The historical range of the European Mink extended from Finland to east of the Ural Mountains, to northern Spain and the Caucasian Mountains (Novikov 1939, Heptner et al. 1967, Youngman 1990, Maran 2007). The relatively recent discovery of European Mink in France (1839) and in eastern Spain (1951) suggests late expansion of the species to the west (Youngman 1990, Michaux et al. 2005). However, over the last 150 years it has severely declined and been extirpated or greatly reduced over most of its former range (Maran 1999, 2007 and references therein). The current range consists of a few isolated fragments: in northern Spain and western France, in the Danube delta in Romania, in Ukraine and Russia (Maran 2007 and references therein). In Estonia, the last wild individual was trapped in 1996. The establishment of an island population in Estonia started in 2000 and has resulted in a small breeding population of fewer than 100 individuals in Hiiumaa Island. The species is in decline even in its currently remaining range enclaves. Only Romania can, perhaps, be regarded as an exception. In Romania, the presence of the European Mink in Danube Delta was confirmed relatively recently (Gotea and Kranz 1999). The results of an IUCN mission in 2014 to Romania showed that the Danube delta population is clearly the most viable in the world: according to the assessment, the population in delta might be around 1,000 – 1,500 individuals. There is some information about the presence of the European Mink also in the Romanian Carpathians. Ukraine: the European Mink was recently re-discovered in Danube and Dniester deltas (de Jongh et al. 2007). European Mink has specialised habitat requirements. It is semi-aquatic, inhabiting densely vegetated banks of rivers, streams and sometimes, during the warm season, it may inhabit lake-banks. It is rarely found more than 100 meters away from fresh water. There are no records of its presence on sea coast. It hunts both in riparian zones and in the water for amphibians, crustaceans (crayfish), fish, small mammals, insects and birds (Sidorovich et al. 1998, Maran et al. 1998; Palazón et al. 2004, 2008). Females become mature for the next breeding season at 11 months (T. Maran unpublished).
Book reference
  • Селюніна З.В. Зміни складу теріофауни регіону Чорноморського заповідника в результаті інвазії видів (історія вивчення ссавців та господарського освоєння) // Праці Теріологічної Школи. - 2014. - Т.12. - С.69-80.
  • Татаринов К. А. Звірі західних областей України (матеріали до вивчення фауни Української РСР). - Київ: Вид-во АН УРСР, 1956. - 188 с.

Taxonomic branch