Mink in a Tree

by Carl Strang

I can’t pretend to know much about mink. Typically I’ll get 4-6 brief glimpses of our most common weasel in the course of a year, and I’ve accumulated a total of 6 or 7 hours of “dirt time” (mainly “snow time” in this case) tracking them. With that as background, I can’t truly say how odd this little story from last Friday is. It was a cold, overcast day, and I was returning to Mayslake Hall from a relatively uneventful lunchtime walk. As I approached the little stream that serves as the outlet for Mayslake Forest Preserve’s lakes, I caught the motion of a roughly squirrel-sized mammal. It had climbed onto the base of a severely tilted willow.

The tree in question.

The tree in question.

The animal was very dark.

Definitely not a squirrel.

Definitely not a squirrel.

As it climbed all the way to the topmost branches, 15 or so feet above the ground, I was thinking: could this be a mink? But it’s climbing a tree!

When it stopped and gave me a look, the identification was confirmed: a mink indeed. Here, the tail and hindquarters are visible to the left, the head to the right.

When it stopped and gave me a look, the identification was confirmed: a mink indeed. Here, the tail and hindquarters are visible to the left, the head to the right.

Fortunately for me, the critter held still and let me get enough photos that I ended up with a few that were reasonably in focus.

I had set the camera’s ISO to 2000 on that dull day. Note the white chin.

I had set the camera’s ISO to 2000 on that dull day. Note the white chin.

Eventually the mink climbed back down and sprinted through the woods to the safety of Mays’ Lake. Tree climbing is not typical behavior for this amphibious mammal, I am sure, but I certainly have a broader sense of the little carnivore’s capabilities after this episode.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Nathan said,

    November 17, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Carl,
    This post is really cool. I’ve only ever seen Mink running across a trail or road.

    As awesome as it is, isn’t it a little sad that the season for singing insects is over? I’m certain I’m in the minority of folks who see an amazing post like this and first thing to mind is how I won’t be seeing stories of any cool katydids or crickets you’ve stumbled upon. At least for the next several months.

    Have a great winter!

    • natureinquiries said,

      November 19, 2014 at 7:01 am

      Thanks, Nathan, same to you. Looking forward to the next field season already.

  2. December 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I was once walking along a river when I caught sight of a black squirrel chasing a gray squirrel. They went 30 feet or so up a tree, then came down the other side and continued running right toward me. Only when I was face to face with the black one did I realize it was a mink! Unfortunately it didn’t stick around for a photo. (It’s possible that my memory is a little off and it was actually chasing something smaller like a chipmunk, but in any case, it wasn’t the usual aquatic fare.)


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