MINKS with a bad attitude are being mistaken for friendly otters and could be a danger to pets.

Essex Wildlife Trust has raised the alarm after several sightings of feral North American minks in the Straight Road area of Colchester, where they have been stealing fish from garden ponds.

But unlike otters, this species is extremely damaging to the environment and often roam much further from water, a charity spokesman explained.

Pet owners should be mindful of animals kept outside and not attempt to approach the mink, which can be aggressive.

Darren Tansley, water for wildlife officer for the trust, said: “It’s still unusual for mink to be found in such a dense urban area, but it’s likely the individual has come down through the Lexden Springs, and is now enjoying the fruits of easy prey in people’s gardens.

“We keep a record of all mink sightings to monitor the species in Essex, so please get in touch if you see one and let us know where it was.”


Photo: Essex Wildlife Trust

Since the first Essex sighting of the North American mink on Abberton Reservoir, in 1962, this highly invasive species has spread across the county, wiping out water voles and other wildlife along most of our rivers.

But in recent years they have also appeared in urban areas of Witham, Chelmsford and Romford, usually close to a watercourse.

Mink are far smaller than otters, better at climbing and more likely to be seen during the day.

Their fur is dark brown, looking almost black when wet, so they resemble a very dark-coated ferret.

If you spot one, record your sighting at essexwtrecords.org.uk or email darrent@essexwt.org.uk.