Acta Theriologica

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 337–347 | Cite as

Diet of free-ranging American mink and European polecat in Denmark

  • Mette Hammershøj
  • Erik A. Thomsen
  • Aksel B. Madsen


Stomach and intestine contents of 211 American minkMustela vison Schreber, 1777 from two areas (Thy and Bornholm) in Denmark and stomach contents of 47 polecatsM. putorius Linnaeus, 1758 from Thy were analysed. Sympatric mink (from Thy) preyed mostly on mammals (55% occurrence), followed by amphibians (36%), birds (33%) and fish (30%), whereas polecat preyed mostly on amphibians (87%) and mammals (34%), and only occasionally on birds (9%) and fish (6%). Allopatric mink (from Bornholm) preyed mostly on birds (50%), followed by mammals (42%), fish (25%) and amphibians (4%). With the possible exception of some amphibians, no endangered species were found in their diet. No differences were found in food composition between wild and escaped farm mink. The concern that mink in general might have a detrimental effect on its prey species and other mustelids in terms of food competition in Denmark may be unjustified. It cannot be ruled out, however, that mink may locally have a seriously negative effect on some specific prey species, and clearly, more data is needed on eg prey abundance and spring and summer mink diet, to make stronger conclusions.

Key words

Mustela vison M. putorius stomach contents dietary overlap escaped farm mink 


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Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mette Hammershøj
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erik A. Thomsen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Aksel B. Madsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife Ecology and BiodiversityNational Environmental Research InstituteRøndeDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Population Ecology, Zoological InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Genetics and Ecology, Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of AarhusAarhus C

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