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Hannah Cardenas and her daughter were walking through a nature preserve in Copeland, Florida, when an unusual scene unfolded before them. First, a small, dark animal darted across the dirt road they were walking on. Soon, it was back—this time clutching a snake twice as long as its body between its jaws. Cardenas used her phone to film the small creature scurrying into the woods with its kill.

The predator was an Everglades mink, which is considered to be a distinct population of the American mink that lives among the marshes and swamps of South Florida. Mid-sized members of the weasel family, Everglades mink can reach lengths of 25 inches, and they sport brown, silky fur and white spots on their chins and chests. Cardenas uploaded her video to Facebook, and it was quickly re-shared by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

“Imagine the surprise of seeing this Everglades mink scampering across the road carrying dinner,” writes the FWC in the Facebook post. “A mother and daughter were on their way home from a nature hike in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park when they spotted this mink run across the road in front of them—seconds later, it ran back across the road with a giant snake in its mouth!”

FWC also provided further context to the clip, explaining that “mink can eat small mammals, fish, birds, and snakes more than twice their body length. Mink are much smaller than their river otter relatives (about half their size).” 

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Everglades mink are considered a threatened species in the state of Florida, where ditching, draining, logging, and the invasion of large non-native predators such as the Burmese python have all played a role in the species’ declining population. A 2014 study confirmed that mink still inhabit the Everglades but suggested that “very few may be left there.”

Getting an accurate count of the area’s mink has proved challenging for researchers. “Understanding the abundance and distribution of mink in the state is extremely difficult because this species is small, fast-moving, and excellent at remaining out of sight,” explains the FWC. “They are often confused with the much larger and more common river otter.” To assist in conservation efforts, FWC is currently asking folks to report mink sightings on its website.

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