|Official Name||Ithanian Minque|
|Common Nicknames||Vison, Mink, River Rat|
The Ithanian Minque is a common mustelid sharing resemblance to a ferret that can often be found rushing about the waterways and riversides of Ithania. As the ever elusive and pursued furred devil of the fresh riverbanks, Minques are held in fond memory by most who share their continent. A very common sight by lakesides, a dear friend to some and good money waiting to be made to others, the Ithanian Minque is well-known on its home continent, and for good reason.
The Ithanian Minque was first discovered when a son and his father had been out on a walk by the riverbanks in 190 AC. Originally attracted to a shape flitting in the water, they had come closer to investigate and unknowingly entered the creature’s territory. The child was soon delivered a swift bite to the leg as his father leapt into action, killing the animal with little hesitation. He took interest in the slain morsel after the incident and christened the newfound animal the Ithanian Minque, taking note of it for future generations. Not long after, they become known as a common sight throughout the lake areas.
While ferocious predators, albeit smaller than what would normally be found intimidating, hunting these creatures has grown increasingly common, due to their extremely soft and waterproof pelage. Their fur has started to be used as the fuel for an ever-growing fur industry that is slowly picking up in importance within Ithania, especially after the recent early winters of 303 and 304 AC– where these fashionable furs became a must-have for those desiring both style, comfort and practicality.
The Ithanian Minque bears a close resemblance to both the ferret and the otter, though stands out as a carnivorous breed of its own. The Minque is a semi-aquatic predator which has an elongated and streamlined body, though is far more stout in its shape than its cousins, and has webbed feet for enhanced swimming. Males tend to measure 14 to 20 inches from head to end of body, with females measuring within the range of 13 to 17 inches, and a 6 to 12 inch tail for both genders. In coloration, they have an almost entirely limited range, primarily consisting of differing shades of beige. With their general head and facial structure, they can portray a wide range of emotions, often made to stand out by their almost exclusively dark brown eyes and the snout generally matching the rest of their coat of fur. The Ithanian Minque has extremely soft and waterproofed fur as a result of multiple layers of oily guard hairs, allowing it to keep dry beneath its fur and, in turn, conserve body heat. When Minques dive they enter a state of bradycardia, where their heartbeat slows down to conserve oxygen and remain underwater longer. The mustelids do not change color or become white during winter seasons, remaining a shade of beige regardless of the time of year.
Ithanian Minques originate from the continent of Ithania, and are accustomed to its general temperature and living alongside rivers and streams. Gender-wise the Ithanian Minque population is largely female, with males being polygamous and breeding multiple times with the larger female population to keep their race afloat. While not diverse in fur colourage, there is a rarer condition that does occur, notably the more splotchy coat of fur that plagues those bred in Ithanian institutions. Minques bred in farms or otherwise under guidance are often born with spots of white fur and a much more silvery sheen to their fur, usually thanks to increased stress from the unnatural environment. It tends to be easy to spot a wild-born Minque in comparison to farm-bred Minques as a result.
Life Span and Development
The average lifespan of an Ithanian Minque tends to reach up to around 8 to 9 years, though it has been recorded that Minques in captivity can live up to 15 years of age. The gestation period generally lasts 70 days until birth. When first born, the Ithanian Minque is tiny and blind, entirely reliant on its mother for survival. It does not open its eyes until around 4 weeks later, beginning to grow teeth and eat meat before it has even opened its eyes. It is generally weaned off of milk after around two months after it is born, afterwards shifting to its prominent carnivorous diet. Minques are born into litters of around 4 kits, raised by the mother until they are a year of age. Most young do not survive past their first year, whether it be through disease or predation.
Minques are wild animals, though have been known be tamed and domesticated from time to time. While wild, they tend to have vicious attitudes towards fellow animals of different species, or, on occasion, towards other members of their kind. It should be noted that it is impossible to tame a matured Minque, so in order to acclimate one to human contact, it must be trained and raised from a very young age. Minques frequently hunt a large assortment of creatures including fish, birds, other mustelids, small mammals and occasionally rodents. However, these creatures also have a reputation of taking on prey and enemies much larger than themselves. While vicious, they are also rather intelligent; capable of very simple problem solving and, if domesticated, they are able to be taught basic commands.
Tamed Minques can be very protective and extremely loyal to their owners, and are prone to becoming exclusive, often implying that they may attack others who appear to pose a threat to their owner. This ferocity must be combatted by handling when they are young, otherwise they cannot be trained to behave differently once matured. When trapped, they have a tendency to fight to break free with almost rabid tenacity, and have on several occasions been recorded to break their teeth in a desperate attempt to hack through traps. Once approached while captured, they stare with an intense and palpable emotion that once perceived, can only be described as hatred.
Territory and Groupings
The small mammals are extremely territorial, and usually attempt to aggressively drive off any creatures who stray onto their section of riverbank. They have been known to claim up to a mile of land as their own to defend; and defend it they do, even from members of their family. They are solitary creatures and rarely bond with one another , even within their own litters. With smaller litters, the Ithanian Minque is not usually one for monogamy or having one partner for life, something found to be necessary for the survival of their species and a tactic that has served the creatures well. Curiously, tamed Minques seem much more likely to settle than their wild counterparts, though they remain equally as territorial of their homes.
- Minque fur is incredibly soft and prized for its ability to insulate and keep out water, making it usually quite expensive to secure, with a single pelt ranging from 100 to 150 regals depending on quality.
- Minques are incredibly reactive to the taste of sweet things. The berries from an Angle Bushberry are in particular known to put them into a state comparable to a feline with catnip.
- Ithanian Minques actually have a slight resistance to snake venoms, as a result of common invasion of their nests by snakes. This means that it is possible for them to stave off death at the hands of envenomation and quite possibly fight back and kill their scaly attackers.