This American mink (Neovison vison) is looking forward to its Christmas dinner! Unfortunately, many mink will be having dinner away from its native home of North America, as they are now an invasive non-native species in the UK. Mink were brought over for trade and fur farms in 1929. However, since then many escaped or were deliberately released into the wild. The first record of them successfully breeding in UK was in 1956, now they are widespread over the UK, apart from in the far north of Scotland.
American minks are small semi-aquatic mammals, they occupy both freshwater and marine habitats and follow waterways, lake edges and coasts. They have rich, usually dark brown fur and a small white patch on the chin or throat. Mink are carnivores eating a wide range of prey including, rabbits, water voles, rats, birds, eggs and fish. They are opportunistic hunter feeding on whatever’s available at the time.
Minks are such an effective hunter they are now having a negative impact on native wildlife populations. They are known to be one of the biggest causes in the 94% decline in water vole populations and are also thought to be responsible for the disappearance of the moorhen from Hebridean islands of Lewis and Harris. As well as this they are impacting on economic activities such as fish farming, crofting, sports angling, and tourism.
It is important to raise awareness about the negative impacts that invasive non-native species (INNS) are having in the UK. If you have any photos of INNS, please share with us as increased awareness can help protect and preserve our native species.
Photo copyright – GBNNSS
Check out our ID guide for more information.
Have you seen this invasive newt?
The market for exotic pets is growing, creating a greater implication for conservation and native biodiversity. It is important to think twice before buying pets as presents for Christmas.
The Alpine newt (Ichthyosuara alpestris) is native to central Europe but has now become an invasive non-native species in the UK. They were introduced into the UK in the 1920s as pets for garden ponds, due to their good looks.
Since being introduced, some Alpine newts have escaped into the wild, where they can have negative impacts, depending on the location and other species present. They can carry an infection called Chytridiomycosis, which attacks native newts’ skeleton and skin. The Chytrid fungus is waterborne, so can easily be spread between waterbodies. Therefore, it is important to clean and disinfect any footwear/equipment before moving between waterbodies, to avoid the spread of this infection.
Adult Alpine newts can grow to between 7-12cm and are usually brown, green, blue or grey, sometimes with a marbled pattern on the back and sides. They have a bright orange unspotted belly and throat. Males have a low, smooth, yellowish crest, with black spots or bars during the breeding season.
It is important to raise awareness about the negative impacts that invasive non-native species (INNS) are having in the UK. If you have any photos of INNS, please share with us as increased awareness can help protect and preserve our native species. Please record your sightings in Cornwall through the CINNG Submit a Sighting page. Or for national records, use iRecord.
Happy Thanksgiving to all the Grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) living in their native range of North America. They are common in the UK too but here these little mammals are an invasive non-native species (INNS).
Since being introduced to the UK in the 1890s these attractive little animals have caused a great deal of environmental damage. This includes decimating the UK’s native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) population by outcompeting them for food and resources. Also, greys can carry a virus called squirrel pox which they have immunity to, but when transmitted to red squirrels, often leads to their death. This means that the reds are now only found in places where grey squirrel populations are low or absent, such as in the pine forests of Northumberland and the Lake District. Grey squirrels are also affecting the composition of UK native woodland by stripping bark and eating seeds.
It is important to raise awareness about the negative impacts that INNS are having in the UK. If you have any photos of INNS, please share with us as increased awareness can help maintain native species. Please record your sightings in Cornwall through the CINNG Submit a Sighting page. Or for national records, use iRecord. Happy Thanksgiving!
Check out our ID guide for more information.