Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We tested the response of wild American mink (an established alien species in the UK), to the odours of unfamiliar mink, European polecat and Eurasian otter. Polecats are similar in size and habits to mink, otters are larger than mink and a dominant competitor; both are native to the UK and both were absent during the original colonization by mink but are now undergoing natural population recoveries. The response of mink to experimental odours was assessed by counting the numbers of tracks (footprints) on rafts treated with anal gland secretions, and compared with response to a control raft, on two rivers in the Upper Thames valley, UK. Remote video showed that the number of tracks was positively correlated with the time that mink spent investigating an odour. We found that mink were attracted to the odours of both unfamiliar mink and polecats. There was little evidence that mink avoided the odour of otters. We suggest that, during an encounter with a polecat, mink may behave much as they would to a conspecific. We infer from the response of mink to the odour of otters, that, if mink do avoid otters, the mechanism of avoidance is likely to be complex, situation-dependent and perhaps affected by prior experience. © 2009 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

Original publication

DOI

10.1111/j.1439-0310.2008.01593.x

Type

Journal article

Journal

Ethology

Publication Date

01/05/2009

Volume

115

Pages

421 - 428