|Official Name||Ithanian Minque|
|Common Nicknames||Vison, Mink, River Rat|
The Ithanian Minque is a common mustelid often found rushing about the waterways and riversides of Ithania. Known to have existed in the region for centuries, and long ignored by the locals, foreign interest in their waterproof fur has helped to build a hunting industry of the creatures, followed soon after by a domestication industry. They are fierce mammals despite their size and are not to be trifled with, though many still do and live to regret it.
The Ithanian Minque has an ancient history with the region of Ithania, but for much of its history, it went ignored by the Altalar colonists after they smashed the regional Dewamenet Empire. They noted it as a “wet rat” and due to their penchant for not seeking out animal products on their clothing, this largely continued throughout the Allorn Empire. However, by the birth of the Ithanian Ailor from the former slaves of the northernmost provinces of the Altalar, the animal was known in a broader sense, some being domesticated as low-class pets by the Ailor. Anachronistic stories from around 50 BC tell of a father, a son, and a daughter walking along the riverbank outside of their capital city, accompanying the Altalar who made use of the father as his steward. It is said, “the son saw the shape, the daughter felt the teeth, and the father committed the act.” This is supposedly the first instance of Ithanian contact with the animal, though it is false.
What is certain though is that, while the Ithanians did not want the animals, outsiders soon did. Following the Cataclysm, and the rise of various Velheim states, raiders from these lands would strike Ithanian territory, but also trade with them. Viewing the Culture as that of barbarians, some Ithanian merchants, almost as a joke, killed, skinned, and gave Minque pelts to the outsiders. To their great surprise, the Velheim eventually returned and asked for more of the fine fur. Quickly re-examining the animal, these merchants discovered its wet-resistant fur and realized their good luck. From this, the d’Abatenne Consortium formed, a trade group organized exclusively to hunt, kill, and skin the Minque for foreign clothing. The Consortium remains the largest Minque pelt exporter in Ithania, with several other minor names, with Velheim, New Regalian, and other regional nobles who make use of fur greatly enjoying the water-resistance of their vestments, and the Ithanians enjoying their profits.
The Ithanian Minque sits between two to three feet and several pounds of weight. They have a short, rounded pink snout with a few faint white whiskers, a similarly rounded head, two small dark brown eyes, and a pair of short, slightly pointed ears poking up at the top of their heads. Their necks are long, and attach to a sleek, similarly long body, supported by four slightly webbed feet with five toes each. Their body ends in a long, pointed tail, making up about a third of the animal’s total length. Their bodies are covered in extremely soft and waterproof fur as a result of multiple layers of oily guard hairs, allowing them to keep dry beneath their fur and, in turn, conserve body heat. The colors of their coat are various shades of beige.
Ithanian Minque males are larger than females, the sole obvious feature of sexual dimorphism, while the gender ratio between the two is skewed slightly towards females. While not diverse in fur coloring, there is a rarer condition that does occur in those Minques kept as pets. This coloration is a splotch of white fur that occurs along the upper body and top of the head. Some see it as a desirable trait given its rarity.
Life Span and Development
Minques are born in groups of three to seven kits, which are tiny, hairless, and blind, relying on their mother for their early survival. They take a long time to open their eyes, longer than most other non-sentient mammals at about four to six weeks of time. During this early period, they rapidly develop their first coat, grow their teeth, and can even eat meat presented to them. They are rapidly weaned off of their mother’s milk because of the speed their teeth come in. They are then cared for by the mother over the course of a year, the kits gradually maturing into adults and those that survive this period eventually leave the den to form their own. They can live up to nine years in the wild, while those in captivity live up to fifteen.
Minques in the wild tend to have vicious attitudes towards fellow animals of different species, or, on occasion, towards other members of their kind that are not part of their family unit. Minques frequently hunt a large assortment of aquatic creatures including fish, crustaceans, and amphibians, though they will also prey on small mammals like rodents if needed. They are also cautious creatures, seeking to avoid the river danger of the Longtail Croque, their primary predator, as well as dogs both feral and not, and the variety of wild feline species that prowl similar territory. Minques are ferocious when fighting though, and have easily confused, or driven away a larger opponent for a brief time, thus granting them their own quick getaway. When trapped, they have a tendency to fight to break free with almost rabid tenacity. 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 combated by handling when they are young, otherwise they cannot be trained to behave differently once matured.
Territory and Groupings
Ithanian Minques exist in simple dug homes called dens, and fiercely protect the areas around these dens as their territory. Barely a few dozen yards in radius, this territory is mainly defended from other Minques, though some similarly small mammals are driven away, with larger prey only occasionally faced down. Minque family units are made up of a male and several females, as well as their kits. Generally uninterested in raising the babies, males eventually become aggressive to their children and are one of the forces to push them out of the den, with their mothers sometimes going with them in the social scuffle. Tamed Minques, by contrast, are far more caring to their young and partners, though their territorial instinct still holds for the structure or home they most commonly find themselves in.
- Ithanian Minques are said to have a resistance to tame varieties of snake venom, as a result of common invasion of their nests by said snakes. Tests on how to harness this supposed ability have been inconclusive in their results.
- Ithanian Minques and Anglian Weasels, when encountering one another, apparently get along famously.
- The dying process for Ithanian Minque is long and arduous, but also rather hands off, resulting in dyed varieties of the fur ranging in price based on effort, coloration, and so on.