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Differentiating hair samples of the European mink (Mustela lutreola), the American mink (Mustela vison) and the European polecat (Mustela putorius) using light microscopy


Jorge González-Esteban, Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi, Carretera Donamaria, 15, 2-izq, 31740 Santesteban, Navarra, Spain. Email:


The European mink Mustela lutreola is a threatened species that is being monitored throughout its range, and innocuous methods of detection are needed as an alternative to live trapping, which may result in fatalities. A method is described for the identification of European mink hair by light microscopy, and its differentiation, on the basis of cuticular and medullary patterns of guard hairs, from hairs of similar mustelids, the introduced American mink Mustela vison and the European polecat Mustela putorius. When used in conjunction with hair trapping of living animals, this could prove to be the ideal way of conducting monitoring programmes on the European mink.