It is similar in colour to theAmerican mink, but is slightly smaller and has a less specialized skull. Despite having a similar name, build and behaviour, the European mink is not closely related to the American mink, being much closer to theEuropean polecatandSiberian weasel(kolonok).The European mink occurs primarily by forest streams unlikely to freeze in winter. It primarily feeds onvoles,frogs,fish,crustaceansandinsects.
The European mink is listed by theIUCNasCritically Endangereddue to an ongoing reduction in numbers, having been calculated as declining more than 50% over the past three generations and expected to decline at a rate exceeding 80% over the next three generations. European mink numbers began to shrink during the 19th century, with the species rapidly becoming extinct in some parts ofCentral Europe. During the 20th century, mink numbers declined all throughout their range, the reasons for which having been hypothesised to be due to a combination of factors, includingclimate change, competition with (as well as diseases spread by) the introducedAmerican mink, habitat destruction, declines incrayfishnumbers and hybridisation with theEuropean polecat. In Central Europe andFinland, the decline preceded the introduction of the American mink, having likely been due to the destruction of river ecosystems, while inEstonia, the decline seems to coincide with the spread of the American mink.