If you have always wondered about the difference between a mink vs weasel, you’re in the right place. While both of these animals are members of the same genus or family, there are multiple ways that you can tell them apart. While it may take a moment to tell upon first glance, these two animals are both unique from one another entirely.
In this article, we will address all of these differences between minks and weasels, including their appearances, diets, and preferred habitats. Let’s get started so that you can learn all of the ways that these animals are both similar and different from one another!
Comparing Mink vs Weasel
|Genus||Mustelidae or Neovison||Mustelidae|
|Appearance||Has a long tail, webbed feet perfect for swimming, and is found in a variety of colors from black to tan. Their coats do not change color with the seasons||Shorter tail, clawed feet ideal for living on land, and found in different shades of brown and black. In the winter, weasels gain a white winter coat for camouflage and they molt twice per year|
|Location Found||Found around the world, except in Antarctica and Australia||Found in North America, Europe, and Asia, particularly northern locations like Canada|
|Size||20-30 inches long; 1-2 pounds||10-25 inches long; 2-4 pounds|
|Diet||Mice, rabbits, muskrats, fish, frogs, snakes, crayfish, and birds||Mice, rodents, rabbits, lemming, ducks|
Key Differences Between Mink vs Weasel
There are many differences between a mink vs weasel. Minks are well adapted to swimming and prefer watery habitats, while weasels tend to avoid the water and prefer grassy habitats. Weasels weigh more than minks, but minks tend to grow longer than weasels by a few inches on average. The diets of minks differ from weasels as well, given their aquatic habitats and preference for smaller prey, while weasels eat prey of larger sizes.
Let’s discuss some of these differences in more detail now!
Mink vs Weasel: Size
You can tell a mink from a weasel based on their size differences. The average mink grows to 20-30 inches in length, while weasels grow anywhere from 10-25 in long, depending on species. While minks may grow longer than weasels, they tend to weigh less overall when compared to weasels. The average weasel weighs anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds, while minks weigh 1-2 pounds on average. You may not be able to tell this by simply looking at them, but there are some size differences between these two animals!
Mink vs Weasel: Location and Habitat Preferences
The location and habitat preferences differ from a mink vs weasel. For example, minks seek out watery locations such as rivers, ponds, and lakes, while weasels prefer grasslands and wooded areas for their habitat. This greatly affects their dietary preferences and overall abilities, including their appearance.
The geographical locations of minks and weasels also differ. While these two animals may occupy the same area, minks are found around the world, while weasels are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. There is even a specific breed of mink only found in North America, and they have their own genus known as Neovison.
Mink vs Weasel: Appearance and Coat Colors
Another difference between minks and weasels is their overall appearance and coat coloring. Weasels are found in shades of brown, black, and even orange or yellow tones, while minks are found in brown and black colors. The primary difference between these two in terms of their coat coloring happens in the winter.
Weasels molt or shed their coats twice per year, resulting in a pure white coat in the winter that they use as camouflage, while minks maintain the same coat all year round. The tail length of minks vs weasels also differs, with mink tails growing much longer than weasel tails on average.
A final difference in the appearance of these two creatures is their feet. Weasels have feet with claws and minks have webbed feet. This is due to their preferred habitats and behavior, as minks spend a good majority of their time in the water, while weasels prefer to live on land. While both of their coats are thick and waterproof, only minks enjoy swimming regularly.
Mink vs Weasel: Diet and Hunting Style
Another key difference you may find between a mink vs weasel is their diet and hunting style. Both minks and weasels are carnivores, but their diets differ based on their habitats. For example, weasels eat mice, rodents, rabbits, lemming, ducks, while minks eat mice, rabbits, muskrats, fish, frogs, snakes, crayfish, and birds.
Weasels have larger and stronger jaws when compared to minks, capable of crushing their prey in their mouths. Minks tend to hunt by gripping the neck of their prey, which is why they have luck with smaller prey overall.
Mink vs Weasel: Swimming Abilities
A final difference between minks and weasels lies in their swimming abilities. Minks spend a great majority of their lives in the water, while weasels prefer to spend their time on land. While both creatures are capable of swimming, weasels are not as adapted to it when compared to minks. The webbed feet found on a mink allows them to swim and dive great depths, often reaching over 100 feet deep!
Bonus: Is It Good To Have Weasels Around?
Weasels can be good and bad to have on your property. They help control rodent populations by feeding on voles, shrews, mice, and rabbits, which can be a good thing, especially on farms where vegetable gardens or chicken coops and barns attract them. When they keep these numbers down, that can be a benefit. Weasels also eat fish, birds, frogs, and eggs.
Problems could arise if there are no rodents present for a weasel to prey on, as they may be tempted to raid the hen house if you own chickens. They are provoked by the frantic movements of animals in distress, and will often keep killing even if they’ve killed one, as it’s an instinctual type of behavior.
Weasels also burrow in the ground, which can cause damage to the look of the lawn or hazards, such as stepping into a hole. These burrows can also attract other burrowing animals like snakes.
On the other hand, a weasel can be a tasty distraction to larger predators like coyotes, foxes, or raptors that may otherwise go for chickens and small domestic animals
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