Minks are carnivorous mammals in the same family as otters, weasels, badgers and wolverines. They are about the size of house cats, with long, slender bodies and dark thick fur. The American mink is larger and more aggressive than the European mink, and its fur is more valuable. In areas where both species coexist, the American mink usually displaces the more docile European species.
Minks are found in many parts of the northern hemisphere, including the United States, Canada, mainland Europe, the British Isles, Iceland and numerous countries of the former USSR. In many of these areas, populations of American minks imported for fur farming escaped and established themselves in the wild. Minks are semi-aquatic and feed on any prey they can catch, including muskrats, rats, mice, voles, hares, rabbits, birds, amphibians, crustaceans and fish.
Before commercial fur farming, American minks were among the fur-bearing mammals most sought after by trappers. In the late 19th century, breeding minks for fur became common as trapping did not meet the demand for clothing products made with mink fur. In some parts of the world, the American mink is considered to be an invasive species due to its responsibility for the decline of European minks and other native species of mammals and birds.