Mink vs. Weasel: 5 Key Differences
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If you've always wondered about the difference between a mink and a weasel, you're in the right place. Although both animals are members of the same genus or family, you can tell them apart in a number of ways. While it might take a little while to tell the difference at first glance, these two animals are completely unique.
In this article, we discuss all these differences between mink and weasel, including their appearance, diet, and preferred habitat. Let's get started so you can learn about all the ways these animals are similar and different from each other!
Mink vs. Weasel
|belongs to||Mustelidae or Neovison||Mustelidae|
|appearance||They have long tails, flippers perfect for swimming, and come in a variety of colors from black to tan. Their coats do not change color with the seasons||The shorter tail, claw-like feet are ideal for life on land, and come in different shades of brown and black. In winter, weasels camouflage themselves with white winter coats, and they molt twice a year|
|find the location||Worldwide except Antarctica and Australia||Distributed in North America, Europe and Asia, especially in northern regions such as Canada|
|size||20-30 inches long; 1-2 lbs||10-25 inches long; 2-4 lbs|
|diet||Mice, rabbits, muskrats, fish, frogs, snakes, crayfish and birds||Mice, rodents, rabbits, lemmings, ducks|
Key Differences Between Mink and Weasel
There are many differences between mink and weasel. Minks are great swimmers and prefer aquatic habitats, while weasels tend to avoid water and prefer grassy habitats. Weasels are heavier than minks, but minks are on average a few inches longer than weasels. Mink diets also differ from weasels because of their aquatic habitat and preference for smaller prey, whereas weasels eat larger prey.
Now let's discuss some of these differences in more detail!
Mink vs Weasel: Size
You can tell the difference between a mink and a weasel based on the size difference. The average mink grows to be 20-30 inches long, while the weasel grows between 10-25 inches, depending on the species. While minks may grow longer than weasels, they tend to be lighter overall compared to weasels. The average weasel weighs 2 to 5 pounds, while the average mink weighs 1-2 pounds. You might not be able to tell this just by looking at them, but there are some size differences between the two animals!
Mink vs Weasel: Location and Habitat Preference
Mink differ from weasels in their location and habitat preferences. For example, minks seek out bodies of water such as rivers, ponds, and lakes, while weasels prefer grasslands and woodlands as habitat. This greatly affects their dietary preferences and overall abilities, including their appearance.
Mink and weasel are also geographically different. While the two animals may occupy the same area, the mink is found all over the world, while the weasel is found in North America, Europe, and Asia. There's even a specific breed of mink found only in North America that has its own genus called Neovison.
Mink vs Weasel: Appearance and Coat Color
Another difference between minks and weasels is their overall appearance and coat color. Weasels come in brown, black, and even orange or yellow, while mink come in brown and black. The main difference between the two in terms of coat color occurs in winter.
Weasels molt, or shed, twice a year, developing a pure white coat in winter that serves as camouflage, while minks keep the same coat year-round. Mink and weasel tails also vary in length, with mink tails being on average much longer than weasel tails.
A final difference in appearance between the two creatures is their feet. The weasel has clawed feet and the mink has webbed feet. This is due to their preferred habitat and behavior, as minks spend most of their time in the water, while weasels prefer to live on land. Although their coats are both thick and waterproof, only the mink enjoy frequent swimming.
Mink vs. Weasel: Diet and Hunting Styles
Another major difference you may find between mink and weasel is their diet and hunting style. Minks and weasels are both carnivores, but their diets vary by habitat. For example, weasels eat mice, rodents, rabbits, lemmings, ducks, while minks eat mice, rabbits, muskrats, fish, frogs, snakes, crayfish, and birds.
Compared to minks, weasels have larger and stronger jaws to crush prey in their mouths. Mink tend to hunt by grabbing their prey by the neck, which is why they always get lucky with smaller prey.
Mink vs Weasel: Swimming Ability
One final difference between minks and weasels is their ability to swim. Minks spend most of their time in the water, while weasels prefer to spend time on land. While both creatures can swim, weasels are not adapted to swimming compared to minks. The webbed feet on mink allow them to swim and dive to great depths, often to depths of over 100 feet!
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about the author
I am a non-binary freelance writer working full time in Oregon. A graduate of Southern Oregon University with a BA in Theater and a major in Creative Writing, I have an interest in a variety of topics, especially the history of the Pacific Northwest. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping on the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my family's kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast-iron skillet.
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