Skip to main content

Full text of "The fur-bearing animals of North America [microform] : a monograph of American Mustelidæ, in which an account of the wolverine, the martens or sables, the ermine, the mink, and various other kinds of weasels, several species of skunks, the badger, the land and sea otters, and numerous exotic allies of these animals is contributed to the history of North American mammals"

See other formats







■ ^ 










•* •. 

U 116 



l(W M I H ,M.Y. I4SM 








Collection de 

Canadian Instituta for Hittorical Microraproductions / Inttitut Canadian da microraproductions hiatoriquaa 

Ttehnical and Bibliographic Notaa/Notaa tachniquaa at Ubiiographiquaa 


Tha Inatituta Imm attamptad to obtain tha baat 
original copy availabia for filming. Faaturaa of thia 
copy which may ba bibliographically uniqua, 
which may altar any of tha imagaa in tha 
raproduction, or which may aignificantiy changa 
tha uaual mathod of filming, ara chaclcad balow. 





Cdourad covara/ 
Couvartura da coulaur 

|~n Covara damagad/ 

Couvartura andommagAa 

Covara raatorad and/or laminatad/ 
Couvartura raataurte at/ou pailicul4a 

□ Covar titia miaaing/ 
La titra da couvartura manqua 

□ Colourad mapa/ 
Cartaa gAograph 

gAographiquaa an coulaur 

•d ink (i.a. othar than blua 
Encra da coulaur (i.a. autra qua blaua ou noira) 

I I Colourad ink (i.a. othar than blua or black)/ 

I I Colourad plataa and/or illuatrationa/ 


Planchaa at/ou illuatrationa an coulaur 

Bound with othar matarial/ 
Rali* avac d'autraa documanta 

Tight binding may cauaa ahadowa o diatortion 
along IntMrior margin/ 

Laialiura aarr'^a paut cauaar da I'ombra ou da la 
diatortion la long da la marga IntMaura 

Blank laavaa addad during raatoration may 
appaar within tha taxt. Whanavar poaalbia, thaaa 
hava baan omittad from filming/ 
II aa paut qua cartainaa pagaa blanchaa ajoutiaa 
lora d'una raatauration apparaiaaant dana la taxta, 
mala, loraqua cala 4tait poaalbia, caa pagaa n'ont 
paa 4ti fiimtoa. 

Additional commanta:/ 
Commantairaa supplAmantairaa: 

L'lnatitut a microfilm* la maillaur axamplaira 
qu1l iui a 4t* poaalbia da aa procurer. *..aa d^talla 
da cat axamplaira qui aont paut-Atra unlquaa du 
point da vua bibliographiqua. qui pauvant modifiar 
una imaga raproduita, ou qui pauvant axigar una 
modification dana la mithoda normala da fUmaga 
aont indiqute ci-daaaoua. 




Colourad pagaa/ 
Pagaa da coulaur 

Pagaa damagad/ 
Pagaa andommagiaa 

Pagaa raatorad and/or laminatad/ 
Pagaa raataurAaa at/ou pallicul4aa 

Pagaa diacolourad, atainad or foxad/ 
Pagaa dAcolortoa, tachatiaa ou piquAaa 

Pagaa datachad/ 
Pagaa ditachAaa 


Quality of print variaa/ 
Qualiti In^gala da I'impraaalon 

Includaa aupplamantary matarial/ 
Comprand du material auppWmantaira 

Only adMon availabia/ 
Saula Mitton diaponibia 

Pagaa wholly or partially obacurad by arrata 
alipa. tiaauaa, ate., hava baan rafilmad to 
anaura tha baat poaalbia imaga/ 
Laa pagaa totalamant ou partiallamant 
obacurdaa par un fauillat d'arrata, una paiura. 
ate., ont MA filmAaa A nouvaau da fa^on A 
obtanir la maillaura imaga poaalbia. 










Thia item la filmad at tita reduction ratto cheeked below/ 

Ce document eet filmA au taux da rAductkm indk|uA ci deeeeua. 













Th« copy filmed hw hat b—n raproduecd thanks 
to tlw flanaroslty of: 

Bioek Unhrtnity 

L'oKomplaK'O film4 fut roproduit grico i la 
0*n4roaitA da: 

Brook UnhrtnHy 


Tha imagaa appaaring hara ara tha 
poaaibia conaidaring tha condition 
of tho original copy and in kaaping 
fNmIng eontraet ipoeif laationa. 

Original copiaa In printad papar eovara ara fNmad 
beginning with tha ?ront eovar and anding on 
tha laat paga with a printad or llhiatratad impraa- 
•ion. or tha back covar whan appropriate. AN 
othor original eoplaa ara fllmad beginning on the 
firat page with a printad or iUuatrated Impree- 
•ion. and anding on the laat page with e printed 
or illuetretod impreaalon. 

lea imegea tuiventas ont 4t* raproduitaa avac la 
plus grand soin. eompte tenu de la condition at 
da le nettet* <ie i'e>empleire film*, at on 
conformM cvec lea conditions du eontrot de 

Leo e»emplalree origlneux dent le couverture an 
papier eet ImprimAe sent filmAs en eommen9ant 
par le premier plot et en terminent soit per le 
demMtre pege qui comporte une emprainta 
d'impraeslon ou d'illustretion. soit par la tacond 
plat, salon le ces. Tous les sutres exemplairas 
origlneux sent fllmte en commen^ent per la 
premiere pege qui comporte une empreinte 
dimpreesion ou d'illustretion et en terminent per 
le demlAre pege qui comporte une telle 

The leet recorded freme on each microflehe 
sheN contain the symbol ^^ (mooning "CON- 
TINUED"), or the symbol ▼ (mooning "END"), 
whichever eppiiee. 

Un dee symbolee suivsnts spperettre sur le 
dornlAre imege de cheque microfiche, salon la 
ces: le symbole -^ signifle 'A SUIVRE". le 
symbole ▼ signifle "FIH". 

platea. cherts, etc.. may be filmed at 
different reduction retloa. Thoaa too lerge to be 
entirely Included in one expoeure ere filmed 
beginning in the upper left hend comer, left to 
right end top to bottom, ee meny fremee es 
required. The following diegrems illustrete the 

Les certes, pienches. tebleeux, etc.. peuvent Atre 
fllmte A dee teux de rAduction diff Grants. 
Lorsque le document est trop grand pour Atra 
raproduit an un saul clichA. il est film* A pertir 
de I'englo supArieur geuche. de gauche i droite. 
et de heut en boa, en prenent le nombre 
d'imegee nAcesseire. Les diegremmes suivants 
illustrent le m4thode. 

1 2 3 











A Monograph of American Mustelid/*:, 





Captain and AMisun, Surgeon U. S. rmy ; Sectary U. S. Geological Survey ; Member 

of the National A«demy of Science., etc.; Author of "Key ^ 

North American Bird*," " Field Ornithology," etc. 





VI '^^ ,1 


U. S. Geological and Geoobaphical 

Survey of the Tbrbitobies, 
Washington, D. C, July n, 1877. 

This treatise on Far-bearing Animals of North Americaf pre- 
pared by Di. Elliott Cones, Assistant Surgeon United States 
Army, at present on dnty with the Survey, is published as a 
specimen fasciculus of a systematic History of North American 
Mammals, upon which the author has been long engaged. 

In the forthcoming work, which will be published by the 
Burvey as soon as it can be prepared for the press, it is proiiosed 
to treat the Mammals of North America, living and extinct, in 
the same comprehensive and thorough manner in which the 
single family of the Muatelidas has been elaborated. 

The form of the final work, however, will necessarily be modi- 
fied, in order to bring the whole matter within reasonable com- 
pass, as well as to adapt it more perfectly to the wants of the 
general public, which it is designed to meet. The technical 
and critical portions of the treatise yill be condensed as far as 
may be deemed compatible with itsdistiuctively soieutifle charac- 
ter, while the aspects of the subject which are of more general 
interest, such as the life-histories of the species and the eco- 
nomic or other practical relations which animals sustain toward 
man, will be presented in ample detail. 

Other considerations havpi also had weight with me in de- 
ciding to publish this Monograph of the Muatelida in advance 
of the general "History", and as a separate volume. This 
family of Mammals is oo) of special interest and importance, 
from an economic point ot view, as all the species furnish valua- 
ble peltries, some of which, like Sable, Ermine, and Otter, are 
in great demand ; while their pursuit is an extensive and im- 
^rtant branch of our national industries. 

It is believed that the Monograph satisfactorily reHects the 
present state of our knowledge of these animals, and forms 




a (lesirablo contribution to tbe literature of the general subject. 
The MuslelidiTf like most otb.r fntnilies of North American 
Mammals, have not been Hjstemaiically revhed for many years^ 
(luring which much new material, hitherto unused, has become 
available for the pnr|K>se8 of science ; while the steady and 
rapid progress of scientiflc inquiry has rendered it necessary to 
reopen and discuss mr.iiy questions in a new light. The same 
principles and methods of study which the author ha.s suc- 
cessfully ai)plied to the elucidation of the Rodentia of North 
America have be^n brought to bear upon the investigation of 
the Muatelidw. 

The Memoir is based upon specimens secured by the Survey 
under my direction, together with all the material contained 
in the National Museum, for the opportunity of examining 
which the Survey acknowledges, in this aa in other instances, 
its indebtedness to the Smithsonian Institution. 

The illustrations of the present volume, with few exceptions,* 
were engraved by Mr. H. H. Nichols, of Washington, from pho- 
tographs on wood made under Dr. Coues's direction by Mr. T. W. 
Smillie, of Washington. This method of natural history illus- 
tration may still be regarded in the light of an experiment ; but 
the cuts may be considered fine specimens of the engraver^d 
art, when it is remembered that photography gives no lines 
to be followed by the gi-aver. Though showing less detail^ 
particularly of the under surfaces of the skulls, than might 
have been secured by hand-drawing, the cuts possess the merit 
of absolute accuracy of contour. 

This opportunity is taken to reprint, by permission, a Circular 
relating to the proposed " History ", which was addressed by 
Dr. Coues to t!«e Medical Staff of the Army, of which he is a 
member. The Circular is sufficiently explicit to require no com> 
ment ; but I may here express my high appreciation of the 
courtesy with which the wishes of the Survey have been met 
by the Surgoou General of the Army. 

United States Oeologist. 

* The Bev«*ral ligares on the electrotype plate VI were kindly loaned by Mr. 
£. A. Samaela,of BMton, from the MaMacbusetts Agrioultural Report for 18<>L 
The tignres on plate XII were drawn on wood by Mr. S. W. Kct'ti, of Wiwh- 
ingtoD, from photographs fnmished by Mr. H. W. Parker^ of the Agricultural 
College, Aniherat, Maau. 



\VasuiN(}Ton, JMarvh ;U, 1877. 
No. 1. ^ 

The attention of the Medical Officers of the Army is piirticu- 
Inrly invited to the following comniunicatiun addressed to theui 
by Assistant Surgeon Elliott Coues, U. S. Army. 

It is ho|ied that their assistance and co-operation will be 
cheerfully given for the reasons stated and in the manner indi- 
4iated by J>r. CouBS. 

By ordek of the Sukoeon General: 

AsHiHtant Surgeon General, U. S. Army. 

Okfick of U. S. Ok<ii.o«icai. a\i» ClKooiiArniCAL Si'Rvkv, 

ffaxhintjton, U. C, March la, 1(?77. 
To TiiK Mkdicai. Okkickh.h ok the Akmv: 

Mmiical Otncera of tb« Army, and otbera whu may be iutui'eHteil iii the 
iiiattt-r, are reHiK-ctfiilly aiul earneHtly invited to c<Mip«rate witb tbu iiader- 
NJxiied in tbu pruparatiuu of a work entitled "Hiittofy of Xorth Jmnrkan Unuf 
mah," Ut be publiabed by tbn Uoverumeut. 

It iH now twenty yean since the last general work upon the Qiiadrupe«ls 
of thisconntry appeared. The progress of our knowledge during this period 
renders the demand for a new treatise imiierative. It is proposed to make 
the forthcoming '^History" a standaril scientific treatise, covering the whole 
ground, and fully exhibiting the present state of our knowledge of the sub- 
ject. The plan of the work may be briefly indicated ; its scoi>e includes — 
1. The Clat«sification of North American Mammals according to the latest 
and most approved views of leading tberologists, including diagnoses of 
the orders, families, genera and species. 
S. Tlie most acceptable Nomenclature of each species and variety, witb ex- 
tensive Synonymy. 

3. The elaborate technical Description of each species and variety, including 

much anatomical detail, especially respecting the skull and teeth. 

4. I'he Geographical Distribution of the species — an important matter, con- 

cerning which much remains to be learned. 
.'>. The " Life-histories " of the species, or an account, as full and completn 

as it can l>e made, of their habitt. This is also a matter reqoiring niuuU 

further study. 
C. The Hibliography of the subject. 




Whiln tbu Htrictly acientiflc character of tb« work will he uutiutaiiiud, th» 
" lifn-hiHtorie«," being '^f goneral iiitorust, will bo divostod as far om |iutt»iblo 
of tecbnicalitittH, and treated with u free band, in popular style. Tbe iiiithor 
has long be«)n engaged in gatbering material for this work, already far ad- 
VHnc««l, and bo|M!H to publisb at no distant day. His resources and facilitiea 
for the pntpuratioii of the descriptive and other technical portions of tho 
treatise have been ample ; but be hoH still, in ooinmon with other naturalistM, 
niuoh to Itiurn res|>eoting the (Geographical Distribution and Habits of North 
American Mamuiuls. To these points, therefore, special attention is invited, 
with the exfiectatinn that much important and valuable information may 
lie secured with tbe assistance of Medical and other OfHcers of the Army, 
mnuy of whom enjoy unusual facilities for acquiring a knowledge of this 
subject, and whose individual exporiences, in many caseN, represent a fund 
of information not yet on scieutiHc record, but which, it is hoped, may now 
be made fully available. 

Tbe Geographical Distribution of animals can be thoroughly worked oat 
only by means of observations made at very many ditferent places. To tbia 
end it is desirable that lists should be prepared of tbe varioi s species found 
in any given locality, noting their relative abundance or scarcity, times of 
apitearance and disappearance, nature of their customary resorts, and other 
fiertinent particulars. A suftlcient number of such reports, from various 
stations, would greatly increase our knowledge, and render it more precise. 
It is believed that the " History of the Post," as already prepared by Medi- 
cal Officers, usually includes information of this kind, which, by the permis- 
sion of the Surgeon General, is mode available for tbe present purpose. 

As a rule, the habits of larger "game" animals, such as are ordinarily ol>- 
Jects of the chose for pleasure or protit, and of all those which sustain obvious 
economic relations with man, as furnishing food or fun, or oh committing 
depredations upon crops or live stock, are the best known ; yet there is 
much to be learned even respecting these. The habits of many of the $niaUer, 
insignificant or obscure species are almost entirely unknown. Full and ao~ 
curate information respecting the habits of the numerous specieH of Mares^ 
Squirrels, Shrews, Moles, Mice, Rats, Bats, Weasels, (jophers, iVc, is par- 
ticularly desired. The Bats otfer a peculiarly inviting and little explored 
field of research. Among points to which attention may be directed, in any 
case, are the following : 

Dute and duration of the rut.— Period of gestation.— Usual time of repro- 
duction. — Number of young proiluced. — Duration of lactation. — Care of the- 
y(mng, by one or both parents. — State of monogamy or polygamy. — Times 
of disappearance and re-appearance of such animals as are migratory, and 
of such as hybernate. — Completeness or interruption of torpidity. — Times 
of changing iielage, of acquiring, shedding and renewing horns.— Habits 
connect«d with these processes. — Habits peculiar to the breeding and rut- 
ting seasons. — Construction of nests, barrows, or other artiticial retreats. — 
Natural resorts at different seasons. — Nature of tbod at various seasons ; 
mode of procuring it; laying-up of supplies; quantity required. — Various 
cries, of what imlicative.— Natural means of offense and defense, and how 
employed. — General disposition, traits, characteristics. — Methods of captur- 
ing or destroying, of taming or domesticating. — Economic relations with 



man ; liow inJtiriniiH or bunollcial, to what nxtent, iiMd fur what purpoMH, 
yifldiiiit what priMliiotit of valiin. 

CHher pointa will doiibtleaa tnggemt theiuaelvea to the nl>mrTer. Anatom- 
ical notoM of ocrefiil ilimeotionH of itoft parta, particularly of tho tliffoati ye 
and reproductivH organa, aro valuable. AniHsdotal recorda of iwraoiial ex- 
perienced iMNHiom at leaat the interuat which attaohea to origioality, and are 
▼ery acceptable. PeraiMis are fre<|iiently deterred from oonimiioicating their 
obaervationa for fuar that whiit they have to utfitr may not be wante«l. Thia 
ia generally a niiatake. In the tirat place, duplication of data aervea the 
important purpoho of corrolioiating and U4>iirtnning the accuracy of reports 
furniahetl, and in all caaea of aeaaonni plienoinuiia, which of C4iura« vary 
with latitude, the aaiue observationa may Ins proHtably r«iN«ateil at dilTerent 
atationa. Secondly, |ieraona who write hooka are generally auppoaeil to 
know more than they really do. 

8|M)viuienH of common and well-known animala, ea|M>cially if bulky, are 
of conrae leaa deairable than those of rare and obacMire aiM>cies ; but apeci- 
mena of any speciea a«)uured beyond the ortlinary geographical range, or 
illustrating unusual oonditiona, auch aa albinism, melaniam. or malforma- 
tions, or representing embryonic atagea of growth, are always in demand. 
Small dry parcels may be o«inveuiently mailed direct t«> the underaigned ; 
large packagea should b« sent in accordance with Circular Orders, No. '2, 
War Department, .Surgeon Gtmeral's Office, April 13, 187.'>, (copy herewith [ * ])| 
or by express, if the Quartermaster's liepartmeat caunot furnish transpor- 


Surgeon General's Office, 

fVnnhington, April I'.i, 1875. 


No. 2. ( 

The following Oonernk Order from the Adjutant Oencral's Office ia pub- 
lished for the information of Metlical Officers : 

No. 4». 



WankingUm, AprU 8, 1875. 

The (jnartermMt«tr'i. Dt*partnu-nt ia authorized to trannport to the Me<Iioal Muaeum at 
¥'aHhlDKton Huch ohjecta as may be turned over to its offlrera for that purpose at any 
mititary post or atatioii by the otBcera of the Medical Department. 



Adjtilant Omttal. 

Medical Officers in turning over packagea to the Quartermaster's Depart- 
ment for tranB|M)rtation will take receipts in duplicate, and will forward 
one of the receipts to the Surgeon General. All packagea for the Museum 
should be plainly marked "Surgeon General, U. S. A., Washington, D. C," 
with "Army Medical Museum" inscribed in the lower left band corner. 

By order ok the Surgeon Genkkai.: 


A»ai$tant Surgeon OentrnI V. S, Jrrnjf. 



Utinn. Speoimenit, after enaiiiiDatlon by the nndenlgued for the pnrpoect 
of the work lu hand, will be dopueited, ia the Dame uf the douor, in the 
Amiy Medical Muaeiim, or in the National Muneain. 

Printed iuiitruotiona for ooUeoting and preeerviug epeoiinena will be fnr- 
nlahed ou application to the Smitbaonian Inatitutiou. Medical OfUoent 
reoeiviag thiH Circular are retineeted to bring it to the notice uf others who 
may be intereeted in the matter, and are cordially invited to open corre- 
•pondencu with the writer upon the subject. 

It is proper to add, that, for all information or speoimens furnished, full 
credit will be given in every instance, both in the text of the treatise in 
which such material is utilized, and lu the records and publications of the 
Museum in which it is Anally deposited; and that tli« author will regard 
ooUperation in this work as a personal favor, to be fully appreciated an<l 
gratefully acknowledged. 

A»»UtaHt SurgfOH, U. S. Armjf. 


! . 


The Family MUSTKLID.E. 

Gunernl ooiiHideratioiiH — HyHtematio iMwition aud relatiouit uf the JfN«- 
f«/td<«'— DiviHioniiitoHubfamitieB— Htihediileof tlieXorth AmerioMi 
Kenera — Their ditlvrential oharnctera — DiagnoMes of the North 
American Huhfaniilieit — The anal ({lantlH of Mutltlimii— The foHail 
North American apeoiea of i/H«fr/<N(f;— Derivation and Hignilica- 
lion of names applied to Mtntelido' 

Subfamily MUSTELIN.E: The Wolverene. 

The genus GhIo — Generic characters — Giih fimnA, the Wolverene — Syn- 
onymy — Habitat— Hpeoitio characters— Description of external 
characters—Measarements— Anal Klunds — Descriptiou of the sknll 
and teeth— Measurements of skulls, European anil American — 
Nomenclature of the species— Relation of the European and Ameri- 
can animal— General history, geographical distribution, and habits 
of the Hiiecies- Its distribution in the Old World.... 


MUSTELINJC— Continued: The Martens. 

The genus iffiMfefa — Generic obaroctent, &c. — Analysis of North 
American species— if<iafe/a peHnanti, the Pekan or Pennant's Mar- 
ten-Synonymy- Habitat— Specific oharacte'.^- Description of 
external cbr^racters— Dimensions — Skull and vertebrw— General 
history, hr.bits, and geographical distribution-Interpolat«d mat- 
ter relating to exotic species of Mmtela—M. mar'e*— Synonymy — 
Description of its skull and teeth->i/. /oina— Synonymy- NotcH 
on its characters — M. zibelUna — Synonymy — Meosuremonts of 
skulls of the three species— Comparative diagnoses of M. martett 
americana, and fo^na—MusteUt americana, the American Sable or 
Marten — Synonymy— Description and discussion of the spe- 
cies—Table of measurements — Geographical variation in the 

akull— General history aud habits of the species 






MUSTELIN^—Continued: The Weasels. 

The genus Putoriiu — Qeneric oharactera and remarks — Dirision of tha 
^^enos into subgenera — Analysis of the North American species — 
The subgenus Oale — Putoritu vulgaris, the Common Weasel — Syn- 
onymy— Habi*«t—8peoitic eharacters — (General characters and re- 
lationships of the species— Geographical distribution— Habits — 
Putoriua ermiwea, the Stoat or Ermine — Synonymy — Habitat — Spe- 
citio characters— Discussion of specific characters and relation- 
ships — ^Table of measurements— Note on the skull and teeth — 
Deseription of external characters — Conditions of the change of 
color — (Jeneral history and habits of the siiecies — Its distribution 
in the Old World — Putoritu longicauda, the Long-tailed Weasel — 
Synonymy — Habitat — Specific characters— Description — Measnre- 
men^ — General account of the species — Putorius brtuilieiuis fre- 
mattu, the Bridled Weasel — Synonymy— Habitat — Specific charac- 
ters — General account of the species 



MUSTELINE— Continued : The American Ferret. 

Theanbgenus Cifnomyotua — Snbgenerio characters — P»toriu» ( CynomyO' 
IMS) Rtyripef, the American or Black-footed Ferret — Synonymy — 
Specific charaeteis — Habitat — General account of the species — Ad- 
DBNDUM : On the species of the subgenus Putoriu* — P. fatidiu, 
the Polecat or Fitch— Synonymy — Description— P. faetidus var. 
f'mro, the Ferret — Synonymy — Remarks — Ferret breeding and 
Laadling — P.feeMiu rar. martmanni, the Siberian Polecat — Synon- 
ymy — Remarks — P. mrmaticu», the Spotted Polecat — Synonymy 
Mid remarks 147 

MUSTELINE— Continued : The Mink. 

The subgenus £i(tr*u{a— Snbgeneric characters and remarks — Putoriu* 
Hmh, the American Mink — Synonymy— Habitat — Specific char- 
acters — Description of external characters— Measurements — Vari- 
ation in external characters — Variation iu the skull — Comparison 
with tho European Mink— Notice ot allied Old World species, P. 
Intreola and P. »ibiricu» — General history and habits of the Mink — 




Subfamily MEPHITIN^: The Skunks. 

Qeaenl considerations— Cranial and dental characters — The anal ar- 
matare — Division of the subfamily into genera— Note on fossil 
North American species— The genus Mephitia — Mephitis mephitiM, 
the Common Skunk — Synonymy— Habitat — Specific characters — 
Description of external characters— Description of the skull and 
teeth — Variation in the skull with special reference to geographi- 
cal distribution — Anatomy and physiology of the anal glands and 
properties of the secretion — Geographical distribution and habits 
of the Skunk— History of the species— Aduknuum : On hydropho- 
bia from Skunk-bite, the so-called " rabies mepuitica " l07 

MEPHITINiE— Continued : Skunks. 

The genns Mepkitii, continued — Mephitit macrura, the Long-tailed Mex- 
ican Skunk — Synonymy— Habitat — Speciiio characters — Deiorip- 
tion — The subgenus Spilogale— Mepkitia (Spilogale) putoriua, the 
Little Striped Skunk — Synonymy — Habitat — Specific characters — 
Description of external characters — Description of the skull and 
teeth — History of the species — ^Tbe genus Conepatus — Contpatiu 
mapurito, the White-backed Skunk— Synonymy— Habitat — Speci- 
fic characters — Description of external characters — Description of 
the skull and teeth — Description of the anal glands— Geographi- 
cal distribution and habits 


Subfamily MELINiE: The Badgers. 

The genns Taxidea — Generic characters and comparison with Mrlea— 
Taxidea anuritiana, tha American Badger — Synonymy — Habi- 
tat — Specific characters — Description of external characters — De- 
scription of the skull and teeth— Geographical variation iu the 
akull — History of the American Badger — Its geographical distri- 
bution — Habits— 7Vix<uaa auierieaua berlandieri, the Mexican Bad- 
ger — Synonymy — Habitat— Subspecific character — General re- 
marks— Addendum: Description of the perinwal glands of the 
European hudgw, Mela vulgarit 261 





Subfamily LUTRIN.E : The Otters. 

<3eneial considerations — The genas Lutra — Gen«rio characters and 
remarks — ^The North American Otter, Lutra coHodemtu — Syoon- 
ymy — Habitat— Specific characters — Description of external char- 
acters — Description of the skull and teeth — Variation in the 
skull — History of the species — Geographical distribation — Habi^ii 
of Otters — Extinct species of North American Otter 2d3 

Subfamily ENHYDRIN.E: Sea Otter.^ 

General considerations— The genns £nAydri«— Generic characters — 
Enhifdrit luMs, the Sea Otter — Synonymy — Habitat — Specific 
characters — Description of external characters — Description of 
the skull and teeth — History of the species — '* The Sea Otter and 
its hunting"— The habits of the Sea Otter 325 


PLATE I.-Oi I.O i.rscus. 

Skull from above, below, nnd in profile. (^Redw-ed.) 


Sknii from above, belov, and in profile. {Xatiirnl the.) 


Skall from above, below, and in profile. (Natural siie.) 


Skull from above, below, and in profile. {Natural aize.) 


Sknll from above, below, and in profile. ( A'aiuml tize.) 


Fijfs. 1, :<,.'», 6, p. ermium, beads and tails. Figs. 8,4, P. vul- 
garis, head and tail. {Natural rize.) 


Skull from above, below, and in profile. (Natural $ue. ) 


Skull from above, below, and in profile. ( Natural aize. ) 


Skolt fipom above, balow, and in pntfile. (yatural size.) 


Skull of ordinary characters from above, bel«)w, and in pro- 
file. (Natural aize.) 

XI, — Mrphitis mkphitica. 

Skull of large size from above, below, and in profile. (Natu- 
ral aize.) 


Two skins, to show t^o ^ liar markings. (Mueh reduced.) 

XIII.— Mrphitis (Spiixmjale) putorius. 

Large old sknll from above, below, and in profile. (Natural 





PLATE XIV.— Mephitis (Spilooai^r; putorius. 

Small yonng skull from above, below, and ia profile. (Sat- 
ural aize.) 


SkoU from above, below, and ia profile, {yatural tUe.) 

XVI. — Taxjdba ambricana. 

Skull from above, below, and in profile. (Reduced.) 


Skull from above, below, and In profile. (Hotttral tize.^ 


Skull from above, below, and in profile. (Natural tite.) 

XIX.— Enhtdris lutris. 

Skull from above and below. (Reduced.) 


Skull in profile. (Reduced.) Palate and teeth. (Natural »i»e.) 





The Family MUSTELID.E. 

General considerations— Sj'Btoniatic position ami relations of the Mtmielida — 
Division into subfamilies— SeluMlule of the North American genera — Their 
differential characters — Diagnoses of the North American Kiibfamilies — 
The anal glands of itustelhur — The fossil North American specieB of 
MMklimr — Derivation and signiticatiou of names applied to JUualiUda. 

THIS is a large, important, and well-defined family of Car- 
nivorous Mainuialis, embracing the Weasels and Martens, as 
its topical representatives, the Skunks, Badgers, Otters, and a 
few other less familiar animals. 

Representatives of the family exist in most portions of the 
globe, excepting the Australiiin region, home of the Marsupials 
and Monotremes. The group reaches its highest development 
in the Northern Hemisphere, or ArctogoMi, where both the gen- 
era and the species are most numerous and diversified. Some 
twenty genera are recognized by modern authors; of these, 
the genus Putoriug, including the true Weasels, has the most 
extensive geogi!«i>faical distribution in both hemispheres, and 
contains by far the largest number of species. In one sense, it 
is to be considered as the typical genus of the family. Many 
of the other genera consist of but a single species, and some 
of them are the sole representatives of the subfamilies to 
which thev respectively belong. 

The economic importance of the family may be estimated 
from the \ery high commercial value which fashion has set 
1 M 1 



npoD the fur of several of the species, such as the Ermiue, Sable, 
Nutria, and Sea Otter; an<i various other polts, only less valu- 
able than these, are furnished by members of this family. 
These animals sustain other relations toward man, by no means 
to be overlooked. The serious obstacles which the Wolverene 
offers to the pursuit of the more valuable fur-bearing animals 
of British America is set forth in following pages ; while the 
destructiveness of sush species as the Mink and various kinds 
of Weasels is well known to the poulterer. The Skunks are 
infamous for the quality, familiar to every one, which places 
them among the most offensive and revolting of animals ; they 
are, moreover, capable of causing one of the most dreadful dis- 
eases to which the human race is exposed. The cruel sport 
which Badgers have afforded from time immemorial has given 
a verb to the English language ; while the legitimate pursuit 
of various Mmtelidw is an important and wide-spread branch 
of human industry.* The scientiflc interest with which the 
zoologist, as simply such, may regard this family of 
yields to those practical considerations of e very-day life which 
render the history of the Mtutelidw so important. 

The definition of the family is strict. The zoological char- 
acters by 7hich it is distinguished from other Carnivorous Mam- 
mals are well marked; and few if any naturalists of repute 
differ in their views respecting the limitation of thf. group. The 
systematic position of the family in the Carnivorous series seems 
to be also settled by very general consent. Singular as it may 
seem, when, without considering intermediate forms, we com- 
pare for instance the diminutive, slender-bodied, and nimble 
Weasels with the great, heavy-bodied, and comparatively sloth- 
ful Bears, the closest affinities of the Musteline series are with 
the Ursine; the next nearest are with the Canine; and the 
family Maatelidte may properly stAud between the Canidce on 

* During the centary, 1769-1868, the Hudson's Bay Company sold at anc- 
tion in London, besides many million other pelts, the following of Mmtelidte : — 
1,240,511 sables, 674,027 otters, 68,694 wolverenes, 1.507,240 minks, 218,653 
skiinks, 275,302 badgers, 5,349 sea otters. In 1868 alone, the company sold 
(among many thousand others) 106,254 sables, 73,473 minks, 14,966 otters, 
6,298 skunks,. 1,104 wolverenes, 1,551 badgers, 123 sea otters ; besides which 
there were also sold In London, in the autumn of the same year, about 4,500 
sables, 22,000 otters, &c. Another company, the Canadian, sold in London, 
during the years 1763 to 1839, the following: 2,931,383 sables, 29,110 wolver- 
enes, 895,832 otters, 1,080,780 minks.— (Droste-HClshoff, Der Zoologische 
Garten, 1869, p. 317.) 


the one hand and the Urai^hc on the other. In order to give a 
clear idea of the positioij and relationships of the Mustelichs, the 
following characters* of the higher groups of Mammals under 
which the family comes are given : — 

MaintualH having a brain with tUo cerebral liemispheres connected by a 
more or less well-developed corpus cnllosuiu and a reduced 
anterior commissure. Vagina a single tube, but sometimes 
with a partial septum. Young retained within the womb till 
of considerable size and nearly perfect development, and deriv- 
ing its nourinhment from the mother through the intervention 
of a " placenta" (devclope<1 from the allantois) till birth. Scro- 
tum never in front of penis. . . (Subclass) Iflonodelphia* 

Brain with a relatively largo cerebrum, behind overlapping much or all 
of the cerebellum, and in front much or all of the olfactory 
lobes; corpus callosum (attypically) continued horizontally 
backwards to or beyond the vertical of the hippocauipal suture, 
developing in front a well-defined re-iurved rostrum. 

(Sui-or-order) EDUCADILIA. 

Posterior members and pelvis well developed (in antithesis with the 
Cetaceans and Sirenians). Proximal segments of both fore 
and hind limbs (upper arm and thigh) more or less enclosed in 
the general integument of the trunk (in antithesis with the 
order Primates). Clavicles rudimentary or wanting. Scaphoid 
and lunar bones of the writit consolidated into one (scapho- 
lunar) carpal. Digits clawed (not hoofe<l). Teeth of three 
kinds, all enamelled; incisors ^3' (exceptionally fewer); ca- 
nines specialized and robust; one or more molars in each jaw 
usually sectorial. Brain without calcarino sulcus. Placenta 
ileciduate, zonory. (=The Curuivora or "beasts of prey" of 
ordinary language.) (Order) Fkr^. 

Body elevated and adapted for progression on land by approximately 
equal development, freedom, and mobility of fore and hind 
limbs. Tail free from common integument of body. Ears 
well developed. Functional digits terminating in claws. 
Digits of neither fore nor hind feet webbed to the ends (ex- 
cepting the hind feet of Enhjdra) ; inner digits of fore feet not 
produced beyond the rest; inner digits of hind feet seldom 
thus pro<1uced, but ofteu reduced or atrophied. (All these ex- 
pressions in antithesis to the Pinnipeiia, or suborder of the 
Seals.) (Subordei) Fissipedia. 

" For which I am principally indebted to Dr. Theo. Qill. (Smithsonian 
Miscellaneous Collections. | —230— | Arrangement | of the | Families of 
Mammals. | With analytical tables. | Prepared for the Smithsonian Institu- 
tion. I By Theodore Gill, M. D., Ph. D. | [Seal.] | Washington : | Published 
by the Smithsonian Institution. | November, 1872. | [8vq. pp. i-vi, 1-98.]) 


Skull with the paroooipital prooesa not olosely applied to the aadi- 
tory bulla; the mantoid process promiaent and projeoting oat- 
wards or downwards behind the external auditory meatus; ex- 
ternal auditory meatus diversiform. Intestinal canal with no 
ciBcnm. Prostate gland not salient, being contained in the 
thickened walls of the urethra. Skull with the carotid oanal 
distinct, and more or less in advance of the foramen laoeram 
posticum ; condyloid foramen alone distinct from the foramen 
laoernm posticum; glenoid foramen generally well defined. Os 
penis very large. Cowper's gUnds not developed. 

(Super-family) Akotoiuea. 

True molars of upper Jaw one (M- ^ : rarely— in MelHrorina—\); 
last premolar of upper jaw sectorial (rarely — in Enhydrinte— 
with blunt tubercles) (Family) MutMida. 


Haviug thuSf by a process of gradual elimiDation of the char- 
acters of other groups, reached a family, Mustelidce, we may 
proceed to inquire of what subdivisions the family itself is 
susceptible. Authors — 3ven throwing the older writers out of 
consideration — differ greatly in their methods of reckoning the 
subfamilies and genera, the number of subfamilies recognized 
varying from three or four tiO eight. According to my present 
nnderstauding of the subject, derived from my knowledge of 
American forms, I am inclined to consider that, if any sub- 
family divisions are to be adopted, regard for equivalency, or 
the just coordination of the characters involved, requires a 
larger number of subfamilies than have usually been recog- 
nized — very possibly the full number, eight, admitted by Dr. 
Gill. The excellent analysis of the family given by this writer 
(see p. 3, note) is herewith presented : — 



I. Skull with the cerebral portion comparatively compressed backwards ; and 
with the rostral portion comparatively produced, attenuated, and 
transversely convex above; aateorbital foramen small and opening 
forwards. Feet with little developed or no interdlgital membrane 
[and the species, with few exceptions, not aquatic]. 
A. Auditory bulla much inflated, undivided, bulging, and convex forwards ; 
periotio region extending little outwards or backwards. Palate 
^ moderately emarginated. 


1. Last molar of upper Jaw (M ' ) trauBverm*, (vitli the inner Ir«lgo in- 

flated at its inner angh; ;) ftcotoriai tootli with a Hinglo inner cusp. 

a. M ^ ; flmt ttne molar (aectorial) of lower jaw followed liy a second 
(tubercular) one. To«h ehort, r<>Kularly arched, and with the laat 
phalanges bent up, withdrawing the claws into shcatba. (Gray.) 
[Martens and Weastls.] Mr8TRi.iN.i:. 

b. M {; first true molar (sectorial) of lower Jaw only develoi>ed. Toea 
straight, with the last phalanges and einws extended ; the latter 
non-retractile, (tiray.) [Kxtra-liniital.] .... Mf.i.mvorin.c. 

2. Last molar of upper Jaw (M 1) enlarged and more or less extended 

longitudinally.- M ^. Toes straight, with tho last phalanges and 
claws extt ded; tho latter non-retractile. (Gray.) [Uadgers.] 


B. Auditory bulla elongated and extending backwards close to the par- 

occipital procefs. (FUnvcr.) Palntu moderately eniargiuated. 
i. Last molar of upper jaw (M ] ) transverse; (with the inner ledge nar- 
rowed inwards): Htctoriul tooth with two inner cusps. [Extra-lim- 
ital.] IIki.ktii>is->:. 

C. Auditory bulla inflated, undivided, with the auterior inferior extremity 

pointed and commonly united to tho prolonged hamular process of 
the pterygoid. (Flower.) Palate moderately eniarginatcd. 
1. Last luolarof upper Jaw (M \) transverse; (with the inner ledge com- 
pressed.) [Extra-limital.] Zukillix^. 

D. Auditory bulla little inflated, transversely constricted behind the 

meatus auditorius externus and thence inwards; in front flattened 
forwards; periotio region expanded out wards and backwards. Pal- 
ate deeply emarginated. 
I. Last molar of upper jaw (M ^) quadrangular, wide, but with an ex- 
tended outer incisorial ledge. [Skunks.] .... MEi'HiTiyjE. 
II. Sknll with the cerebral portion swollen backwards and outwards; 
and with the rostral portion abbreviated, high and truncated for- 
wards, and widened and depressed above; anteorbital foramen 
enlarged and produced downwards and backwards. Feet with 
well-developed interdigital membrane, and adapted for swimming. 
[The species highly aquatic, one of them marine.] 

A. Teeth normal, 36 (M ^, PM ^, C }, I f X 2) : sectorial tooth (PM 4) 

normal, eflicient, with an expanded inner ledge ; the other molars 
submnsteline. Posterior feet with normally long digits. [Otters.] 


B. Teeth very aberrant, 32 (M ^, PM f , C |, 1 1 — the lower inner incisors 

being lost — X 2): sectorial tooth (PM f ) defunctionalized as such, 
compressed from before backwards; the other molars also with 
blunted cusps. Posterior feet with elongated digits. [Sea Otter.] 


Of the foregoing eight subfamilies, three, namely, the Melli- 
vorincBf Helictidina;, and Zorillinw, each of which consists of a 
single genus, are confined to the Old World. No one of the 
subfamilies is peculiar to North America ; but the Mephilinaf 



or Skunks, nro not found in tlio Old Wurhl, where tkoy are 
represented by the African ZoriUiiui;; they occur in South p.s 
well as North America. The Melinw, or Badgers, are common 
to North and Middle America and the Eastern Hemisphere, 
but do not occur in South America. The Sea Otter, sole repre> 
sentative of the Enhydrinw^ inhabits both coasts of the North 
Pacific. The Lutrinw^ or ordinary Otters, are of general dis* 
tribution in both hemispheres. The Muatelina', or true Weasels, 
Martens, &u., are of very general distribution, as already indi* 
cated; such is especially the case with the typical genus PiUo- 
riua. The genera Mustela and OhIo chiefly inhabit the higher 
latitudes; Oaliotis is peculiar to South America. 

The North American forms of the family down to the genera 
are exhibited in the following synoptical table : — 

Subclass Monodetphia. 

Snper-onler Editoabilia, 
Order Ferw. 

Suborder FisBlpedia. 

Super-family Jrctoidea, 
Fami]y' Muttelidw. 

Subfamily SfiuteUnee, 

Genera Oulo. (The Wolverene.) 
Muatela. (The Martens.) 
Putoritu. (The Weasels.) 
Subfamily MephitinoB, (The Skunks.) 
Genera MephUia. 
Subfamily J/elincr. (The liadgers.) 

Genus Taxldea. 
Subfamily Intrina. (The Otters.) 

Genus Lutra. 
Subfamily Enhydrina. (The Sea Otter.) 
Genus Enhydra. 




Variout ckaracleii by which the euhfamiUn and genera art differentiated are eX' 

chednle: — 

hibiled in the follmring »ck 

DonUI formula: I 



1- 3.3. 

c. rji 


I. .. n, C. 











„ 3-3 



= 1"=34. 

Pm. 5^4. 


9-9 S-3 

Pm. normally g^ aometimM r^, 

jj or jj=3a or 34 






1-1 18 


_, 1-1 !«__, 

"• 1I.9-16-™ 

PM. and M. normal— anjcnlar, trenebanti or aoate 

a bnonnal— ronnaed, blunt, tnb«rcolona 

Baok upper M. quadrate, tranaverae, mnob wider tban long 

abor:t aa wide aa long 

trlanfcnlar, the bypotbennae poatero-exterior 

irresularly oval ; all oomera rounded off 

Baok upper Pm. atriotly sectorial, linear, wltb amall anterior interior 


triangular, owing to aize of tbe in- 


resembl'ng the baok upper M 

Upper Pm. 4-4, the anterior one comparattvely well developed 

minute, crowded out of line 

3-3, the anterior one oomparatively well developed 

or 9-9; when 3-3, the anterior very minute 

Lower L 3-3, the usual camivorona formula 

3-3, the inner pair lacking 

Lower sectorial without -obvioiu inner tubercle of middle lobe 

with slight but evident-inner tubercle 

with strongly developed inner tubercle 

nostrum of skull so short that root of zygoma ia nearly or quite op. 

posite fold end of nasal bones 

moderately produced ; root of cygoma more nearly 

opposite hind end of nasals comparatively compressed backward, little broader be- 
. hind than before, with straigbtiah or little convex 

lateral outline 

widened backward, with quite straight lateral ontlinea.. 
much widened backwards and swollen outward, with very 

convex lateral outlines 

Frontal region very short, broad, flat on top 

lengthened, narrowed, very convex transversely 

Bony palate ending opposite back upper molars 

produced twck of the molars, but not Lalf-way to end 

of pterygoids. 

produced far baok of the molars— half-way or more to 

ends of pterygoids 

Poatorbital processes moderate, slighter obsolete 

strong, transverse, acute 

Anteorbital foramen bounded above by slender maxillary process, 
large, aubtriangnlar, or oval, presenting downward-forward 





St^edule of liyfvniilial ckamcten nf Hii: \orlk .tmrimH gtHetii—Cuuilanoii. 


AntnorblUl fiiraiuvu bnundud by ntoiit pnicuis, pruneiittiig more or 

leM vertirally 

Aperture of imre* iu two plmie*, upproauhliiKtho vortloal and horl- 


on*> plane or noarly no, more or lemt oblique. . . 
Auditory bullio at iimxiiiMini of iuHatiou, witb nhorUiHl aod leaat 

tubular uieatua 

muah luflalml, wllb moderate oonatrlotlou Into 

tbe tubular nieatna 

little liiHated, luuoh conatrlnted aoroia the lueatua 

liaatoida little develo|MMl, outward or backward 

wore duvolo|Nid, outward 

I'luch developed, downward 

Ferlotlo region oontrautod, brliigluK paroccipltala cloae to auditory 

bullte .". . 

expandnti, removing parooolpltala from bullus, and 


expanded, removing parooelpltala ftttm bnlln, very 


Glenoid foaaas shallow, open, without anterior ledge, preaentlna more 
forward than downward, never looKlng condyles. .. 
moderately deep and clone, with anterior Imlge pre- 
senting downward- forward, never looking con- 

very deep and close, with strong anterior and pos- 
terior ledges, sometimes locking condyles 

Ooronoid process of Jaw in protlle conical, erect, apex forward of 

cond vie 

obtusely falcate, sloping, apex 

overhanging condyle 

Lower border of Jaw sti-alghtisb fh>m symphysis to posterior angle 

usually ascending posteriorly, in 

straight or concave line 

Toea scarcely or not webbed, with ordinary ratio of lengths 

fully webbed, with ordinary ratio of lengtha 

those of the nind feet elongated, witb extraordi- 
nary ratio of lengths ,.. 

Fore claws long, stout, little curved, highly fossorial .*. 

moderate or short, curved and acute, not fossorial 

Body very stout; sisi very large; tail bushy, short; appearance 

somewhat Iwar-like 

rather slender or extremely so; size medium and small ; tail 

long, terete 

stoat I sise medium and small ; tail long, very bushy 

stout, much depressed; sice medium ; tail short, distichous-... 
stout, cylindrical ; size large j tail long, conical, dose-haired. .. 

Habits chiefly terrestrial 

terrestrial and highly arboreal 

strictly terrestriaiand more or less fossorial 

aquatic (flu vf atile, lauas'rine, or maritime) 

aquatic (mrxine) 

Sach a table as this might be indefinitely continaed, bat the 
foregoing analysis of leading differential characters saffices for 
present purposes. 




^ H -J « 

< X .. .. 

< « .. .. 

< X .. .. 

< .. X x 

• X •• .. 


. .. X x' 

• X .. .. 

< .. .. 

• .. X K 


X » IC 
.. -- X 

X X X 
X .. .. 
.. X .. 

.. •• X 

X • • ■ , 
.. X X 

.. X K 
• • • • ■• 

X •• ,, 

.. X .. 
.. •• X 

I for 

We limy tlnally Hum nnd tiiiiplify tlio differential uhiiructers 
of tbe foregoing table, with utiiera, in the following expreHsions, 
diagno»tlu of the Ave subttiiuiliei* here adopted : — 


1. ISIusTELiNiG. — Teeth of ordinary Caruivoroua pattern, 38 
or 3-i in nuiubor, according to varying number of premolars, 
whether ^| (Om/o, Mwttcla) or Jl^J^/Vto* jiw); the number unequal 
in the two jaws, ^or ,^; incisors constantly ^; canines J;J, as in 
all Mustelidw; and molars .^^, as in all MuHtcliihv excepting Mel- 
lirotina'. Molar of upper jaw much wider than long; its long 
axis transverse to the axis of the dental series, longitudinally 
constricted across the middle. Posterior upper premolar (the 
largo *' sectorial" tooth) narrow and linear, with a small dis- 
tinct spur projecting inward from its anteroiuterior corner. 
Rostral partof skull moderately produced, sloping in profile, very 
obliquely truncated, transversely convex, the hind endsof the na- 
sals more nearly opposite the roots of the zygoma than their fore 
ends are.* Cerebral portion of skull comparatively compressed 
backward, little broader behind than before, with moderately 
convex lateral outlines. Postorbital processes moderately 
develoi)od. Anteorbital foramen small, oval or subcircular, 
presenting upward forward {Oulo) or more or less downward 
forward {MusteUXf Putorius). Posterior nares thrown into one 
common conduit by absence of bony septum. Bony palate pro- 
duced far back of molars, — half-way (more or less) to ends of 
pterygoids; interpterygoid space longer than wide. Audi- 
tory buUcB much inflated, with moderate constriction of the 
tubular uieatus.t Little or no expansion of periotic region 
behind the buUie, with which the paroccipitals appear in contact. 
Mastoids little developed, presenting outward or backward. 
Glenoid fossae shallow, the anterior ledge slight ; condyles never 
locked. Coronoid process of mandible erect, conical in profile, 
the posterior outline with forward upward obliquity {Mustelaf 
FutoriuSy — more nearly vertical in Gulo)^ the apex in advance 
of the condyle. Feet with ordinary development and ratio of 

* It 18 carious to obaerve thf^t an aquatic species of PutoriMt (P. VMOti, tbe 
Mink) tends to approach the aquatic Otters {LiitriHw and Enhydrino!) in the 
relative shortness of rostrum, its less oblique truncation, flatness on top, &o. 

tHere again the aquatic Putoriua riaon approaches the other aquatic 
species of different subfamilies in tlie comparative flutuess of the bullie. 





digits ; digits iucorapletely or not webbed. External appear- 
ance and habits variable, according to the genera and species, 
none strictly fossorial ; progression digitigrade and subplanti- 
grade ; size from nearly the maximun) to the tuiniiuuni in the 
family ; body never much depressed, nor tail conical or distich- 
ous. Periiueal glands moderately developed. No peculiar sub- 
caudal pouch. Nature highly predacious. 

2. Mephitinje. — Teeth of ordinary Carnivorous pattern, 34 
or 32 in number, according to varying number of premolars, 
whether ^ {Mephitis and Spilogale) or indifferently ^ or ||^ 

(Conepatus)} the number unequal in the two jaws, |" or |^. In- 
cisors, canines, and molars as in the last subfamily. Molar of 
upper jaw quadrate, about as wide as long (varying in detail 
with the genera). Posterior upper premolar with a large inner 
shelf, giving a triangular shape to the tooth. Bostral part of 
skull moderately produced, and otherwise much as in the last 
(aperture of nares very oblique in Conepatus) ; cerebral portion 
as in Mttstelina, Postorbital processes slight or obsolete. An- 
teorbital foramen very small, circular, sometimes subdivided 
into two or more canals. Posterior nares completely separated 
by a bony septum reaching to the end of the bony palate. 
Bony palate ending opposite last molars {Mephitis, Spilogale) 
or a little back of them, but not half-way to ends of pterygoids, 
{Conepatus). Auditory bullre little inflated, with much constric- 
tion of the tubular meatus. Mastoids well developed, outward. 
Periotic region flattened and expansive behind the bullae, the 
surface nearly horizontal, the paroccipitals remote from the 
bullae. Glenoid shallow, presenting much forward as well as 
downward, without anterior wall, never locking condyle. Coro- 
noid process of jaw conical in profile, erect, wholly in advance 
of condyle (except in Conepatus, which, in this respect, singularly 
resembles Enhydra). Feet with ordinary development and ratio 
of digits; digits not webbed. Form stout; tail very bushy; 
{:elagelong; colors black and white. Habits strictly terrestrial, 
more or less fossorial; progression plantigrade; movements 
slow. Size moderate and small. No peculiar subcaudal pouch. 
Perinseal glands extraordinarily developed, affording a means 
of offence and defence. 

3. Melin^.* — Teeth of ordinary Carnivorous pattern, 34 in 

* The cbaractera here given are drawu entirely from the American genus 
Taxidea. and will require modification in order to their applicability to the 
subfamily at large. 


number (in the North American genus); Pm. ^; the number 
unequal in the two jaws, |^; incisors.cauines, and molars as in 
the last. Molar of upper jaw triangular, the long side postero- 
exterior. Posterior upper premolar substantially as in Mephitinw. 
Kostral portion of skull as in the foregoing; cerebral portion 
conical, rapidly widening backward, with nearly straight lateral 
outlines. Postorbital processes moderately well developed. 
Anteorbital foramen large, subtriangular, presenting vertically. 
Posterior nares as in Mephitina;. Bony palate produced back 
of the molars, as in Mustelinoi. Auditory bullie very highly 
inflated, with little constriction across the short tubular portion. 
Periotio region much as in Mustelina', the paroccipitals close to 
the enormous bullte. Mastoids moderately developed, outward. 
Glenoid fossa very deep, with prominent anterior as well as 
posterior walls, at length locking in the condyle. Gorouoid 
process as in the foregoing. Feet with ordinary development 
and ratio of digits, not webbed. Body stout, extremely de- 
pressed ; tail short, stout, flattened ; size medium ; snout some- 
what hog-like. Progression plantigrade. Terrestrial and highly 
fossorial; fore claws highly developed. Perineeal glands mod- 
erately developed. A peculiar subcaudal pouch. 

4. LuTBiNJs:. — ^Teeth of ordinary Garnivorous pattern, 36 in 
number; Pm. ^; the number equal in the two jaws, jg; incisors, 
canines, and molars as before. Molar of upper jaw quadrate. 
Back upper premolar substantially as in Mephitinw and Melintc. 
Kostral part of skull extremely short, bringing the fore ends 
of the nasals nearly or quite opposite the anterior root of the 
zygoma, the sides of the rostrum erect, the top flat. Cerebral 
portion of the skull much swollen backward, with strongly convex 
lateral outlines. Postorbital processes variable (highly devel- 
oped in the North American species, slight or wanting in some 
others). Anteorbital foramen very large, presenting obliquely 
downward as well as forward, circumscribed above by a very 
slender maxillary process. Posterior nares as in MusteUnte. 
Bony palate produced far back of molars. Auditory bullae very 
flat. Periotic region expanded, removing the paroccipitals from 
the bulhe, but the surface not horizontal as in Mephitimc, but 
very oblique. Mastoids highly developed, downward. Glenoid 
much as in Melinw, deep, sometimes locking condyle. Coronoid 
as in the foregoing. Feet with ordinary development and ratio 
of digits, which are fully webbed. Claws variable, sometimes 
rudimentary or wanting. Body stout, but elongate and cylin- 



drical; tail loDg, conical, tapering, sometimes dilated, dose- 
haired; muzzle very obtnse. Highly aqaatic in habits. Pelage 

5. Enhydbin^. — Teeth very aberrant in general pattern, the 
molars and premolars without trenchant edges or acute angles, 
but tuberculous, 32 in number, and of equal nnmbAr in both 
jaws, brought about by incisors |^ and premolars ^^i? ^^^ ^^' 
nines and molars remaining as before. Molar of upper jaw irreg- 
ularly oval ; back upper premolar defunctionalized as a ** sec- 
torial" tooth, and substantially similar to the molar. Propor- 
tions of rostral and cerebral parts of the skull substantially as 
in Lutrina\ but rather an exaggeration of that conformation. 
Postorbital processes moderate. Antcorbital foramen very 
large, triangular, presenting downward and forward; the bridge 
over it very slender. Posterior nares as in Lutrintv. Palate 
produced far back of molars ; iuterpterygoid space very wide, 
the emargination rather wider than deep. Auditory bullse, 
periotic region, mastoids, and glenoids as in LKtrimv. Goronoid 
sloping backward, obtusely falcate, its apex overtopping con- 
dyle. Hind feet with extraordinary development and ratio of 
digits, being transformed into Seal-like flippers ; otherwise gen- 
eral configuration and external appearance substantially as in 
Lutrince. Highly aquatic and marine. 


Throughout this family of Carnivores are found special secre- 
tory apparatus in the perinseal region, which furnish a strongly 
odorous fluid. These glands are so highly developed, and play 
such a part in the economy of the animals, that special notice 
is to be taken of them. A classification of the MustelidcB has 
even been proposed, based chiefly upon their modifications in 
the different genera. They early attracted attention, and have 
long been generally known to zoologists. Quito recently a 
French anatomist, M. Ghatin, has made them a special study, 
publishing a very important and interesting paper upon the 
subject.* This paper, so far as it relates to the Mustelida (for 
the author has studied the odorous anal glands of various other 
animals), I have translated for incorporation with the present 
work ; under heads of the several species beyond will be found 

* Recherches poar servir h I'biBtoire auatoiniqae des glandes odorantes des 
mammif^res. Par M.-J. Cbatin. <^ Annates des Sciences Natarelles, 5" sdr., 
tome x\x, pp. 1-1S5, planches i-ix, lb74. 



the matter relating to them. Here I introduce M. Chatin's de- 
scriptions of the parts as they appear in Mustelu foina^ for the 
same type of straotare obtains throughout the subfamily Mus- 
telime. I also bring in the author s r^sum^ of the several mod- 
ifications of structure found in the family at large, with extracts 
from his proposed classificatioa of the family, as based prima- 
rily upon these organs, though I should add that I do not 
indorse his views without qualification. 

1.— Description of the glands in Mustela foina, as illustrating 
their structure throughout the subfamily Mustelina;.* 

The anal glandular apparatus being essentially the same 
throughout the Mustelince, the following description of the parts 
as they appear in Mustela foina will suffice : — 

The anal orifice is found at the bottom of a fossa covered 
with thin, smooth, whitish integument, with a slightly raised 
border, the rudiment of a fold which is much more highly de- 
veloped in the Skunk. At each side of this fossa, in a small 
special depression, in front of which this fold lies, is found an 
umbilicated papilla, through the narrow orifice of which the 
milky-whitish secretion of the anal gland exudes. Within the 
perinsBum are two lateral masses, each as large as a small bean, 
bound together by one muscular envelope. The anal gland is 
11 millimetres long and 6 across the middle. Upon removal of 
the muscular coat, which is rather delicate, the secretory part 
comes into view ; its exterior is studded with nipple-like emi- 
nences ; its substance is like that of the anal glands of most 
Garnivores. The parenchymatous tissue mainly consists of lam- 
inated fibres, elastic fibres, nerve tubes, and capillaries ; the 
striped muscular fibres do not penetrate the substance of 
the organ. The culs-de-sac are of an average diameter of 0.04 
millimetre ; they are sometimes varicose or moniliform, and in- 
close a granular substance. In the middle of the gland is a 
small receptacle for the product of secretion, which is voided 
through a short duct opening on the edge of the anus, as above 

It seems improbable that a scanty supply of merely disa- 
greeably musky liquid can effectively answer in any way as a 
means of defence. The simple fact that it does not appear to 
be repugnant to the animals which may be supposed inimical 

* For tbemoditications nf the strnctartt of the organs in Skunks and Badg- 
ers, see'sabfamilies MrphitiiKe and MeHnte, 



to Martens and Weasels, is sufficient to invalidate such a 
hypothesis. It is true that it is emitted when the animals are 
angered, terrified, or put in pain ; but these are merely circum* 
stances of irritation akin in many respects to other forms of 
excitement. It is more probable that the secretion subserves 
a purpose in the sexnal relation, as it is undeniably a means 
vrhereby the sexes may discover and be attracted toward each 

2. — Resume of the several types of h^ructure of the odoriferous 

glands in Mustelidw. 

The Ferrets and Martens exhibit one general plan of struct- 
ure of the anal glands. At each side of the termination of 
the rectum, there is an oval body consisting of a tunic of mus- 
cular striped fibres enveloping a mass of glands, in the midst 
of which is a receptacle of variable capacity, containing a liq- 
uid differing little in its properties, which is poured out through 
a short duct opening upon a pore at each side of the anus. 

In the Badgers, Skunks, and Eatcls, there are decided mod- 
ifications of this plan. In the last two named, the true anal 
glands alone exist, and these are quite different from those of 
the Mustelina;. Instead of a thin and simple muscular envel- 
ope of the gland, we find a thick fleshy tunic, formed of two 
layers of interlaced fibres, capable of sudden strong compres- 
sion of the receptacle. This latter is not a small simple sac 
with laminar walls, such as is found in the centre of the gland 
of Mustelinw, but is an enormous reservoir, with a dense resist- 
ing fibrous coat, always containing a considerable quantity of 
the follicular product. The glandular substance is not spread 
all over this central capsule, but is restricted to a particular 
portion, and contrasts by its dark color with the white surface 
of the envelope of the pouch. The contents of the receptacle 
are sufficiently offensive to justify the profound and universal 
disgust which these animals excite in consequence of their 
curious and very efficacious means of defence. The voiding of 
the liquid must be sudden ; and it does not suffice that the re- 
ceptacle is large and powerfully muscular ; the offensive liquid 
must be directed far backward, so as to flow as little m possible 
upon the rectal mucous membrane; consequently the opening 
is large and upon the summit of an nmbilicated papilla, around 
which rests a cutaneous fold, which in a measure directs the 





This general plan is further modified in the Badgers, where 
not only are there anal glands of a usual type, but also in their 
neighborhood is found, in both sexes, a racemose cluster of 
glands, the secretion of which is turned into the subcaudal 
pouch, which is generally described as appertaining to the 
anus; but 'Is form is peculiar, and its contents, moreover, are 
of a different character from those of the anal glands proper. 
In some respects this pouch resembles the large reservoirs of 
viverreum of the Civets, and, as in these cases, is sparsely 
hairy. Thus the Badger is a special case in its own family, 
where it distantly represents, in this respect, the ViverridcB. 
These last have, in addition to anal glands, a secretory appa- 
ratus for special products, though even here species of Herpestis 
have anal glands like those of various Mustelidw. 

3. — ResumS of M. Chatin'8 views of the classification of the 
family, as based on the odoriferous glands. 

" This is one of the least homogeneous families of Carnivora, 
if we include in it, after Van der Hoeven and others, such dif- 
ferent animals as the Otter, Polecat, Badger, Skunk, Marten, 
and Batel. Ij is surprising that types so distinct as these 
should have been suffered to remain thus far in an association 
as intimate as it is un philosophical, and it is easily seen how 
Milue-Edwards was enabled to form three families out of the 
components of so miscellaneous an assemblage as that of the 
Mmtelidw. In the configuration of the limbs, as well as in their 
entirely peculiar habits, the Otters may represent one family 
{Lutridw) ; then come the true Mustelidw, embracing Mustela, 
Piitorius, &c. ; and, finally, the family Melidic, consisting of 
Mephitis (with Conepatus, &c.), Meles {Taxidea, &<f.), and Melli- 

" Now, these three divisions correspond with as many modi- 
fications of the perinaeal secretory apparatus : the two former, 
Liitridw and Mustelidw, offer in a general way a single pair of 
glands opening on the border of the anus, one on each side, 
furnished with a receptacle for the product of secretion. 

<' In the Melidw, the Badgers on the one hand and the Skunks 
and Batels on the other form two quite distinct sections. In 
these latter genera are likewise found a single pair of anal 
glands, but these are quite different fiom those of the Mustelidw. 
The receptacle has a remarkable capacity ; the follicular mass, 
instead of spreading over it, occupies but a small portion of its 


surface ; while the secretion, which is always plentiful, here 
acquires an unparalleled fetor. In the Badgers, on the contrary, 
these anal glands are not the only secretory organs ; there being 
in addition a particular subcandal pouch surrounded by a race- 
mose gland, which produces a peculiar liquid. 

"This brief summary of the leading modifications of the 
perinsBal glands of MMstelidee suffices to show that several dif- 
ferent types are included in t'jat group *'* 


The following fossil species of North American Musteliiue 
have been described : — 

1. Mnstela mnstellna, (Cop*). 

AelnroiOB ■nstcllBM, Cope, Psiieont. Bull. no. 14, July 35, 1873, 1. 
M«r(cs ■■Blcllias, Cope, Ann. Hep. U. S. Geol. Sarv. for 1873, 1674, 590. 
MlHtels parvUvka, Cope (change of name on reference of the apeciee to M%uteltt). 

Pliocene. Loup Fork epoch. 

<' A small, single-rooted second molar of the lower jaw. First 
molar sectorial, with a rather narrow posterior heel, one-third 
its length, and a small inner tubercle at the base of the second 
outer cusp. Last premolar with a short posterior heel, and dis- 
tinct outer tubercle on the posterior side of the cusp. Margin 
of jaw strongly everted below masseteric fossa. 

" MeasuremenU. 


^Length of three last molars 0.018 

" Length of sectorial molars-. 010 

" Width of sectorial molars (greatest) 005 

"Height of posterior onsp (greatest) 005 

" This species was about as large as the domestic cat, and 
less than one-third that '»f Aelurodon ferox^ Leidy." {Quoted 
from the second reference . ,^ve cited.) 

3. Mnatela nnaablaua, (Oop«). 

Martes ■•laMaaa, ihpe, Proc. Acad. Nat. Scl. Phila. 1874, 147. 
"tPutorlas laaMaiM", Cope. 

From the Santa F6 (N. Mex.) Marls. Pliocene. 

" Represented by a mandibular ramus which supports three 
teeth. The anterior blade of the sectorial is rather obtuse. The 
first premolar is one-rootled ; the secor'^ and third are without 

* Bat M. Cbatin, regarding the family in the perspective of his special 
studies, may be considered not to have given due weight to other points of 
structure, the sum of which, as I believe, indicates that the MMtelidas, as 
defined in the present work, are a homogeneous and natural assemblage of 
genera, of the grade usually hel<l to represent family value. 


posterior coroual lobe, but exhibit email basal lobes, both an- 
terior and posterior. The anterior oT the second is rather 
elevated, and the entire crown is directed obliquely forwards. 
Canine compressed. Mental foramina below the second and 
third premolars. 

" MetuHretntnls. 


" Length of three premolars 0<)6 

"Elevation of anterior lobe of sectorial 00*2 

"Depth of ramus at anterior lobe of sectorial 003 

" This species is of smaller size than the M. mustelinus, Cope, 
and the sectorial tooth less elevated and trenchant." — {Orig. 

3. Gnl«r» m»erodon« Cope. • 

Galera HaeriMioii, Cope, Proo. Phila. Aoad. Kat. Soi. 1869, 155 (see also 138) — Leidj/, 
isxtinct Mamm. Dak. Nebr. 1869, 369, pi. xxx. t. 1, 3, 3. 

Post-pliocene deposits in Charles Coauty, Maryland, asso- 
ciated with remains of Dicotyles torquatua and a Manatus. 

**■ This species is based on the greater portion of the right 
ramus of the mandible of an adult, containing three molars in 
place, the alveolae [«c. alveoli] of the first and of the last, with 
a considerable portion of that of the canine. 

*< The alveolus indicates a canine of large size. The basis of 
the first premolar is turned obliquely outwards, and is two- 
rooted. The second and third premolars are separated by a 
space: they have well-marked cingula, but neither posterior 
nor internal tubercles. The sectorial is elongate, more than 
twice as long as wide, the inner tubercle well-marked, acute, 
the posterior lobe flattened, elongate ; anterior lobe narrowed. 
Alveolus of the tubercular molar longitudinal, receiving a 
flattened fang with a groove on each side. Inferior face of 
ramus* below anterior line of coronoid process, broad rounded, 
turned ^outwards. Masseteric ridge only reaching tlie latt«r 
below near the apen of the coronoid process, and not extend- 
ing anterior to the line of the posterior margin of the tuber- 
cular molar. Bamus narrow at flrst premolar. 

In. Lin. 
" Length of ramus from posterior margin of canine to ditto of tu- 
bercular 1 5.5 

" Ditto to^poHterior margin sectorial 1 3. 

"Ditto third premolar 3. 75 

" Ditto sectorial molar 6. 

"Width of same (posterior lobe) 2.8 

" Depth ramus at posterior margin first premolar 7. 5 

" Ditto ramus at posterior margin sectorial , : 8. 35 

" Widtbjramus at posterior margin symphysis 4.5 




" This species appears to h.%ve been perhaps rather larger 
than the Galera barbata (Gray) of Brazil, and of a rather 
more slender muzzle. As compared wit a that "pscies, it ex- 
hibits many peculiarities. The third premolar is smaller, atid 
the first, the sectorial, and the tubercular [are] relatively larger. 
In G. barbata, the first molar has but one root, and the 
mandibular ramus [is] thicker and deeper. The masseteric 
ridge advances .to opposite the middle of the sectorial molar, 
and is continued on the inferior margin of the ramus, much 
anterior to its position in the G. m acrod o n . 

"The discovery of this species adds another link to the evi- 
dence in favor of the extension of neotropical types • over the 
nearctic regiop during the post-pliocene epoch. Of thirty con- 
tinental Xorth American species enumerated by Leidy (An- 
cient Fauna of Nebraska, 9) all but thirteen may be said to be 
characteristic of that, or closely allied to the species of the 
present period of North America. Of the thirteen, one (Elephas) 
is characteristic of the old world, of one (Anomodon) affinities 
[are] anknown, and eleven are represented by members of the 
same family or genus now living in South America." — {Quoted 
from the original article.) 

4. Galera perdlet:]*. Cope. 

HeMlMis penllcli*. Cope, Proo. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 1869, 3 (named, not described). 
Galeni peNicMa, Cope, Proc. Amer. Philoa. Soo. 1869, 1T7, pi. iii. figs. 1, 1 a.— Leidy, 
Ext. Mam. Dak. and Nebr. 1869. 445. 

From limestone breccia, Wythe County, Virginia. Post- 

" This is a small carnivore of the Lutrine group of the 
Mnstelidse, apparently allied to Mephitis and Lutra. [The 
generic name given, however, is that of one of the MmteUnw.] 
It is only represented by a left ramus of the mandible, with 
dentition complete. Its characters are as follows : Dentition 
^, |, ^, ^. The tubercular molar is relatively as in the allied 
genera, but without sharp tubercle ; the sectorial charac terizes 
the genns as distinct from the two mentioned [Lutra and Mephi- 
tis]. The posterior lobe is without the mai^ied internal and exter- 
nal acute tubercle seen in Mephitis, nor the tubercular crest of 
Lutra, but is rounded and slightly concave. The median crests, 

* " The genus Galera, Gray, is here regarded as distinct from Galictia Bell 
(Grisonia Gray), as it possesses an internal tubercle on the inferior secto- 
rial, which is wanting in the latter." — {Loc. cit.) 




inner and onter, are strongly ueveloped, and with the anterior, 
qnite an in Mephitis. 

•'The jaw pertained to an adult individual ot smaller size 
than the common skunk, Mephitis chinga. The bases of the 
crowns of the first and second premolars, and to the outer side 
of the canine are surronuded by a well marked cingulam. The 
length of the crown of the molar is greater in proportion to the 
length [?1 than in the skunk. The axis of thecoronoid process 
is as in it, at right angles to that of the ramus. The latter is 
straighter on the inferior border than in the skunk, and exhibits 
a marked difference in the angle being nearly ou the same line, 
and not raised above* it, as in the species of American sknuks 
and others, figured by Baird. 

" MeasiD'eitietiis. % 


"From augle to outer incisive alveolus 15.6 

" Depth at coronoid b. 

" From base condyle to tubercular inolar 5. 

"Length of sectorial molar 3.6 

"Width of sectc'ial molar 1.2 

"Ifeight from basal sboulder 2. 

" Depth ramus at tubercular . 2-7 

"Depth ramus at Pm.2 3.1 

" Lttagth of crown of canine 3. 

"There are two mental foramina in the specimen, one below 
the third, the other below the first premolar. The crown of the 
canine is contracted and curved ; slightly flattened on the inner 
side." {Quoted from the original description.) 

I do not know the skull of Qalera. As figured, the jaw of O. 
perdicida differs from that of Mephitinte and Lutritue, as usually 
presented, in the straightness of the inferior border, agreeing in 
this respect with Mustelime. It closely resembles, among recent 
forms, the genus Putorius^ from which, however, the character 
of the sectorial lower molar, with its strong acnte inner tubercle 
of the middle lobe, as in Mephitis (and Lutra)j perfectly dis- 
tinguishes it. I should not be surprised, however, if the relation- 
ships of this form proved to be actually with Mephitis, especi- 
ally with Spilogale. In a specimen of the latter before me from 
Georgia, the lower border of the jaw is quite as straight as 
that figured by Professor Cope ; in size, the specimen agrees 
better with the figure than it does with some other specimens 
of Spilogale before me; the general shape is the same ; there 
are two mental foramina exactly as described and figured ; and 



I fail to uote, in the figure or deMcriptioii, any decided differences 
in dentition frcm Spilogale. lu fine, it may be questioned 
whether " Oalera perdicida " in even 8i)ecifically distinct from 
Spilogale putoritia. The fossil was found, it will be remembered, 
amongst remains of numerous species not dintinguishable from 
recent ones.* 


To treat of this interesting topic I cannot, perhaps, do better 
than give a version of Dr. E. von Martens's article, Ueber 
Thiernamen^j so far as it relates to the animals of the present 
family. This valuable article, as it seems to me, places the 
subject in a clear light, and gives, in a sufficiently concise and 
convenient form, just the information that ia required for an 
understanding of the etymology and philological bearing of 
the names used in various languages to designate the species 
of Mustelidw. Study of this subject, which is sadly neglected 
in ordinary zoological writings, is essential to the proper appre- 
ciation of the technical or binomial names ; the older ones being, 
as will be seen, not necessarily of Greek or Latin origin, 'as 
commonly assumed. Thus, for instance, the generic name Oulo 
comes simply by translation into Latin of the Scandinavian 
and Russian names, which refer to the voracity of the animal. 

Dachs [Meles vulyaris]. — For this remarkable animal, no 
Greek name can be determined with certainty, although it is 
stated by late investigators, as Fiedler and Lindenmeyer, to ex- 
ist in Greece ; for it is at least a hazardous interpretation to 
identify the species with the rp6-^oi;^ " runner ", of which Aris- 
totle (Gen. 3, 6) speaks on the authority of Herodorus of 
Heraklea. The Latin Meles of Pliny, 8, 38, 58, is decidedly 
more certain : sufflatie cutis distentu iotm hominum et morsus 
canum aroent ; the Badger, of course, does not inflate its skin, 
but, nevertheless, its thick hide enables it to withstand bites and 
blows. Less pertinent is a passage in Varro De Re Bust. 3, 12, 
3, where maelis is written. Isidor of Sevilla (seventh century 

* Some time after the foregoiug was written, I addressed to Professor Cope 
a note on the subject, stating my views ; and in reply I learned that Professor 
Cope " had for some time suspected " that the animal was a Mephitis, 

t " Ueber Thiernamen." Von £. von Martens in Berlin. In : Der Zoolo- 
gische Garten ; the portions relating to the Mustelidce, here translated, being 
at pp. 251-256 and pp. 275-231 of Jabrg. (or vol.) zi (1870). 



aftor ^Jhrist) writes melo, genitive melonia ; and, in the vicinity 
of Bologna, according to the statement of Diez, the Badger is 
still called melogna. Elsewhere, however, this word is obsolete, 
being replaced in the living European languages by various 
others, entirely different. 

The German word dachn may be traced back to the early 
period of the Middle Ages : in the quack prescriptions of Mar- 
cellus of Bordeaux, in the ninth century, is found adejys tax- 
oninu8, Badger's fat, and tajcca, used by the above-mentioned 
Isidor as the definition of adeps, fat, with reference to a still 
earlier author, is probably the same ; the short form da«, as the 
word still runs in Dutch, is fouud in the German vocabulary of 
the ninth century ; the nun Hildegard, in the twelfth, wrote 
dahsis ; Albertus Magnus, in the thirteenth, daxus. The form 
tduous or taxo, as a name for the animal itself, occurs in the 
Latin vocabulary from the period of the eighth century; it 
may be that this term is related to the pure Latin name of the 
yew-tree, taxus of Caesar and Virgil {Taxua bracoata Linu.)> 
agreeably to which the initial t straightway becomes fixed in 
the Romanic names of the animal, in the Italian, tasao ; in the 
Spanish, t^on (and tesajo^ smoked meat) ; the Portuguese 
texugo ; while the Old French had its Umson, of which only 
tanUre (from taianiere), meaning particularly a Badger- burrow, 
and, generally, the den of a wild beast, remains in modern 
French. The poet Tasso, and the founder of the German 
postal system, Taxis, derive their family name from daehs^ 
Badger, as the old Roman agitator Sp. Maelius probably also 
did. The word itself may be originally German, and have be • 
come naturalized in France, Spain, and Italy with the migra- 
tions of German races. To derive it from the Sanskrit iakaha 
(Greek rszrwv), a carpenter, to be taken in the sense of an ar- 
chitect, is rather far-fetched. Another series of names of the 
Badger in Northern Europe begins with J5, as the French Mai- 
reau, the English badger^ the Danish broTi,* and the Russian 
borstik ; but it is not certain that these are all etymologically re- 
lated. Blaireau,^ in Middle- Age Latin blerellm, is interpreted by 
Diez as the diminutive of the mediaeval Latin bladariu8, a grain- 
merchant (Romanic biado, late French 6/e, grain) ; and in support 
of this it is argued that the English name of the animal, badger, 
signifies also a dealer in grain. Suoh connection requires us to 

* " Brock " ia also found as an Eugliah provincialism.— Tr. 

tWhich is corrupted, in America, into Biaro, Brairo, and Prarow.— Tk. 



I, I 

invent Ibo certainly erroiieoiiHuxplHiiatiuntlifit the auinuil layM 
up a Htore of proviHions in itH domicile, U8 if it drove a trade in 
grain. Dietenbiich's derivation from the Celtic, originally Cym- 
ric, word blawr, jjray, seems to me to bo nearer the mark; it 
would then 1h» "the little gray beast"; and it is corroborative 
of this that the uuiniul is called, in Picardy, pman/; in Sweden 
and Denmark, graving or griijling, that is to say, Orauling, " a 
gray or grizzly beast". But the proper Celtic name of the ani- 
mal is broc; in the Gaelic. Irish, and Brt'tonic remarkably like 
the Danish broh; and somewhat similar to borauk, which prevails 
in Poland, Russia, and Siberia ; there this name for the Badger 
is current among the Bashkirs, Kirghiz, and Buchares, and is 
rendered borz by the Magyars; so we may consider it a primitive 
Turanian word, the more so since the South Sclavonic uses an- 
other term, in Cnrniola, jo;snrec or jasbez ; in Bohemia, geziceo. 
The WaWsichian f jezure ov enure, which has been incorrectly con- 
sidered as from the Latin esor, eater, is probably related. 

YiELFBASS [Gttlo Imcua], — According to the latest investi- 
gations, the Glutton inhabited Middle Europe nearly to the 
Alps, in the period of the Lake-dwellers {P/ahlbauten, literally 
pile-buildings), together with the Beindeer; and of its occur- 
rence in Germany, even in the last century, two cases are given, 
one at Frauenstein in Saxony, by Klein, 1751, the other at 
Helbistadt in Brunswick, by Zimmermann, 1777, both, unfor- 
tunately, without the particulars. Though both these zoolo- 
gists saw the stuffed specimen, neither gives the date of cap- 
ture, the first only stating that it occurred nnder Augustus II, 
who died in 1733. These can only have been stray specimens, 
since no contemporaneous or previous writer mentions the oc- 
currence of the animal in Germany. The species was entirely 
unknown in the Middle Ages, making its first appearance in 
literature through Michow, a physician of Cracow (de Sarma- 
tia Asiana et Europsea, 1532), as Lithuanian and Moscovitie, 
and through Bishop Olaus Magnus, of Upsala, 1563, as an ani- 
mal of North Sweden, thus nearly at the limit of its present 
distribution. What we can gather from the name of the ani- 
mal accords perfectly with this. In Europe, names are only 
found in the vernacular proper of Scandinavia and Bnssia, ja')/ 
or jerv of the former, and rossomaka of the latter, both of which 
are given by the above-mentioned historians; all German, 
French, Latin, and such, are book-names, intended to denote 




the voracity of tUe aiiiiual, and point back to the well-known 
acfount of Olaus, as the CiHiiuan Viel/ruHn, the Latin Gulo, the 
French (Houton, the Kiigli-sh Glutton. It has often been as- 
Herted that the Oerman Viel/rnmi, in the sense of glutton, is a 
uiisunderstandiug, it being derived from the Swedish word 
/jail, Norwegian /jail, nw^k or cliff; but this 1 cannot credit, 
first, be<'ause the second syllable is not accounted for on such 
supposition {Jjall—ydrf is remote, and the animal is nowhere 
BO called, but simply jar/)', secondly, because both the Swed* 
ish Olaiis Magnus and the Norwegian Bishop Pontoppi 'an 
give its voracity special prominence, and from this trait dtr'Ty 
the name jerf {gierv, "gierig", greedy!), translated Oulo aud 
V!el/raH8. Another Norwegian clergyman, H. Strom, gives, in- 
deed, the designation Field/rans, besides jer/, to the animal, 
which is of rare occurrence in his locality, but with the explicit 
remark that Field/raas was, beyond doubt, derived from the 
German word Viel/ra«8. This is thus exactly contrary to the 
usual German acceptation; aud, in fact, '^Felseufrass'' would 
be a singular appellation. 

ZoBEL [Muatela zibellina]. — The name appears as early as the 
latter half of the Middle Ages, uuder many variations, as the 
modern Latin, aabelus, zihellina ; German, zebel (as early as the 
ninth century, according to Graff), zobel; Proven9al, 8ebeli ; 
English and old French, sable ; Swedish, mbel ; Russian, sobol ; 
Finnish, 8oboli — in every case meaning a northern peltry. In 
the East, we find another variation, samur, in the Crimea and 
Armenia, and thence to Servia and Wallachia. The name is 
probably of Turanian origin. 

Mabdeb [Mu8tela martes, M. /oina], — This word now occurs 
in Germanic and Romanic languages, in both either with or 
without the second R, as the Spanish and Portuguese marta^ 
in the former as a feminine noun, and likewise the French la 
marte, though in some dialects la martre, the ProveuQal mart, 
Italian martora and martorella ; the English martin [or, oftener, 
marten — Tb.] appears to be an easy way of saying martern, still 
in use in some localities ; Dutch marter^ Swedish mard, Danish 
maar. Seeking for the earliest form of the word, we first find 
mMVtes in Martial, the Spanish-born Roman poet ; but this can 
scarcely be an old Latin word, as it is not found in Pliny or 
other classical writers; and Martial often introduced foreign 



words iato his Latin. In Anglo-Saxon, it only appears as 
meardh ; whilst, on the other hand, in Germany, we find martarm 
used by Hildegard and Albertas Magnus, in the twelfth and thir- 
teenth centuries. The resemblance to the German verb " mar- 
tern*' (to torment] is obvious ; in fact, " martern" might be de 
fined " to act like a marten ", the proper implication being, not 
the sanguinary murders the marten commits, but the palpable 
torment which it designedly inflicts. Another derivation comes 
decidedly nearer — martyr, mea^uiug a person tortured, from 
martyrittm, torture, whence the verb first arose. The resem- 
blance in sound may have occasioned the second B in those 
cases in which it appears. We might also seek to establish a 
connection between " marder", a marten, and " Morder", Ger- 
man for a murderer; but the T, which occurs in a majority of 
the forms of the word, is against this, as is also the fact that 
the German name occurs in many languages to which " Mord -^ 
and *♦ Morder " do not belong. 

A second Romanic name of the Marten is fidna; Spanish 
and Italian the same, Portuguese /Mtn/m, Freuch la fotiine; in 
some dialects with a in place of u, as in certain Italian locali 
ties fainay in Provence faguino, fahino, Old French fayne; 
Gatalonian fagina, Belgic faweina^ in the Cmton of Grau- 
biindtea further modified into Jierna. The obsolete German 
names of certain pelts, Fehe, Feh-toamme, are very likely re- 
lated. The word is not Latin as the name of an animal ; but 
it may be inquired, with respect to the later forms, whether it 
does not probably signify marta fagina, Beech-marten, as one 
of the two European species of the genus is often named;' 
properly the Tree- or Pine-marten, in distinction from the 
Stone- or House-marten, since the former lives in the forest, 
the latter about buildings ; though very curiously, the Stone- 
marten [Miistela foina] is the Martarua or Maries fagorum of 
Albertus Magnus and afterward of Ray, whilst the Pine- 
marten [M. martes] is distinguished as M. abietum, ** Martha 
of the firs". The precise distinction between fouine, foina = 
Stone-marten, and martey martes == Pine-marten, moreover, may 
have been first set forth by Buffor and Linui«us, and have 
obtained rather among zoologists than among the people at 
large; the more valuable Pine-marten ["Edel- marder", liter- 
ally " noble marten "J took the commonest name, leaving the 
less popular one for the other rarer species. From this /outne, 



the French have formed the verb fouiner, to pry into or rum- 
mage abont.* 

The Celtic, Sclavonic, and Finnish names are entirely differ- 
ent, as are the Cymric bela,^ the Russian, Polish, Bohemian, 
and Crainish kuna, Finnish and Laplandish natM; with which 
the Magyaric nyest or nest accords. 

iLTis [Putorius fcctid us].— The German name is found under 
many variations, according to localities, particularly in North 
Germany, as iltnis, eltis, Danish ilder, Swedish iller; further- 
more, with k, ilk, ulk, according to Bechstein in Thuringia even 
Hau8-unk, which is the well known name of a reptile [toad]; 
and again with 6, elh-thier, elbkatze, which has been sought to be 
derived from elben = elves, the nocturnal sprites; but the oldest 
form of the word known to me, illihenzus of Albertus Magnus 
(thirteenth century), is little unfavorable to this etymology. The 
Dutch burning stands entirely alone. The Romanic languages 
name the species simply from its bad smell, as the Italian puzzola^ 
French putois, mediteval Latin putorim, the pusnais of French 
animal-fable, which is the same as purrtise, a bed-bug. The 
second portion of the English name, pole-cat, is of obvious 
meaning; agreeably to which we find in Diefc bach (Celtica, ii, 
p. 435) that in Wales, in early times, the animal was kept, or, 
more likely, suffered to remain, about houses, to destroy mice.j; 
Another English name, Jitcher, Jitchet [or fitch — Te.], related to 
the old French fissan, apparently indicates the same capacity in 
which the animal was employed or regarded. The Sclavonic 
languages have a particular word, tschor, tschorz, or tscher, in 
Carniolan twor, in Roumanian dihor. 

By Pliny (8, 55, 84), this species is called viverra, probably 
an Iberian word no longer occurring in later languages, and 
which Linn^us first reapplied in zoology to the Civet-cats. 
Since the Middle Ages, however, two forms of the name of this 
animal have simultaneously appeared, the first without t, furo 
of Isidor of Sevilla (seventh century), whence the present Por- 

• " Durchsuchen, durchstobera''; so defined by the writer, bnt other au- 
thority defines fouiner to slink otf, to sneak away ; iised only in trivial 
style. But either meaning is sufficiently characteristic of the auiraals. — Tr. 

t Obviously related to the modern French belette—aeo beyond. — Tr. 

i The whole English word, pole-cat, is by s«»iuo simply rendered " Polish- 
cat", as if the animal were originally from Poland. In America, the word 
has been very commonly transferred to I'le Skunks, Mephitis: Catesby's pol- 
cat is such, and Kalm's fiskatta is transited pole-vat.— Tn. 





tuguese /urao, aud the Spanish huron, transferred by the Span- 
ish colonists to the South American Galictis vittata, and the 
North American Mustela hnro Fr. Cav., aud furetus of the Em- 
peror Frederick II, considered as French by Albertus Magnus, 
with which the present French furet, English ferret, Celtic 
fured and fearaid, German frett, are all related. The -et may be 
a diminutive form, or be a part of the original word ; it is 
slighted by the etymologist Isidor, who somewhat gratuitously 
finds in it the Latin /wr, thief. The word cannot be Arabic, for 
Isidor died in 636, before the irruption of the Arabs into Africa. 
But if, as Shaw states, the Weasel is called /ert in Barbary, the 
probability is that the word, like others, is common to the North 
African pre- Arabic and the Iberian pre-Romanic languages, and 
that it is this very animal which Strabo calls the North African 
(Libyan) Weasel.* 


WiESEL [Putorius vulgaris]. — This wor.l f ^ found in most of 
the Germanic languages: Swedish ivessia; English weeselor 
weasel; Dutch tcezel. It may be traced back to late mediaeval 
German and Anglo-Saxon. The Swabian verb tcuseln, to skip 
about ("»«cfe rasch bewegen^) like any small creature, may 
readily be derived from wiesel, notwithstanding the difference 
in the vowel. In this case again, as in the instance of dachsj 
the same word recurs in Spanish, but without the diminutive 
termination, as veso. It is found in medisBval Latin of the 
twelfth century, aud was by the Romanic colonists bestowed 
upon an American Musteline animal {Putorius vison, the repre- 
sentative of the European Mink). The ordinary French term 
for the Weasel, belette, is diminutive of the old French hele, 
from the Geltic and the present Welch beUif a mar:^^\9. and also 
occurs under a different modification in North '^' i'/, which 
was certainly once inhabited by Celts. It may aii d more 
readily have been preserved in French, since it may be con- 
sidered related to helle, pretty, and be so interpreted. Certainly 
in many languages the Weasel derives its name from its neat 
and elegant ways, as the Italian donnola and Portuguese 
doninhttf little lady; the Spanish comadrejaj god-mother; the 

* According to Rolleston ( Journ. Anat. and Phys. i. 1867, p. 47 aeq.) the Cat 
and the Marten were both domesticated in Italy nine hundred years before 
the period of the Crusades, and the latter, Mustela foina, was the " cat " or 
ydkQ of the ancients, who, farthermore, called Mnatela martea ya/i^ "yp'^o, and 
designated rherra genetta as rap-njaaia j a\>j. — Tr. 



andereigerra* of the inhabitants of Biscay, meaning the same 
as the Portuguese word just given; the late Greek vu/i^jra, 
v:<fvr':a, a bride; the Bavarian Schonthierlein, "pretty little 
creature"; the English fairy (Diez). The Sclavonic touguea 
have an entirely peculiar series of names: I^ska, lasika, Uistiza, 
and the like. 

In Greek and Latin proper, we find for the Musteline ani- 
mals only three names, which are all different from those 
which are better known in living- languages, and of the pres- 
ent existence of which we only find isolated instances ; these 
are Uri^, yakir^, and muHtela, 

Pliny uses mttstela in different places for native and exotic 
Mustelidce, without furnishing the means of nicer discrimina- 
tion of the species; he indicates their mousing capacity ; and 
Palladius De Be Rust. 4, 9, 4, says that they were kept for this 
purpose. The name appears to be derived from wiw, and to 
mean "a mouser"; for I cannot agree with Sundevall in recog- 
nizing in the second syllable the Greek >S5j>a, a hunt; since * 
does not become t in Latin. According to Bisso, the Weasel 
is called moustelle to this very day in Nice, and in Lorraine, 
according to Diez, moteUe; this is a partial persistence of the 
name which, among the Romans, not only indicated the 
Weasel as the species best known to them, but also included 
the other Musteline animals in general. So it was also with 
the Greek ya/Jr^ (Ba^^rachomyomachia, 9) or yaX^ (Arist. Hist. 
An. 2, 1, and his not very well written book 9, (hap. 6), the 
best-known Greek species of the Marten family, yellowish, 
white beneath, and a mouser; whilst the fable that it was a 
transformed maiden (Ovid, Metam. 9, 306-323; Galanthis, 
with the express statement that the beast still lived about 
houses) accords well with the complimentary names already 
mentioned. Thus mustela is primarily our Weasel [Putorius 
vulgaris], though occasionally other species receive the same 
name, as, for example, an African one, in Eerodotas, 4, 192. 
More difficult to explain is the second Greek name, 7 ^xn?, the 
skin of which, according to Homer (Iliad, 10, 333), made a 
night-cap for a Trojan hero, and which, according to Pseudo- 
Aristotle, Hist. An. 9, 6, was of the size of a small Mrltese dog 
{^^Malteser Hundchens'^), like a Weasel, white underneath, and 
fond of honey. This latter circumstance caused Cetti to sep- 

* Precisely the same as the Latiu vtuliercula. — Tr. 


r i 

1:. I 

I } 




arate his boccamela ("honey-mouth" — as we should say, "hav- 
ing a sweet tooth "), which is, however, a species scarcely dis- 
tinguishable from P. vulgaris {of. Zool. Gart. 1867, p. 68). Au- 
bert and Wimmer, on the other hand, argue for Musiela foina, 
as this animal is common in Greece, wuere it is still called 
UtU ; the latter position is certainly well taken, and the 
Marten, as the larger animal, better fulfils the Homeric indica- 
tion just given; but the expression "white underneath" is 
only true of the throat of the Martens, for both species of 
Miistela are dark-colored on the belly, and in this respect very 
different from the Weasel. For the rest, it is much more prob- 
able that Aristotle named both the Marten and the Weasel 
together, than that he distinguished two kinds of Weasels and 
knew nothing whatever of the Marten. 

!Hermelin [Ptttorins erminea]. — Though this name sounds 
like a foreign word, it is nevertheless probably of German ori- 
gin, since not only are there several provincial variations of 
less strange accent, like Heermdnchen and Hdrmehen^ but there 
is also the simple harmo of old German manuscripts of the 
ninth to the eleventh century (Graff, althochdeutscher Sprach- 
schatz). From this came harmelin, of the twelfth century, 
simply the diminutive. The name went with the peltries into 
foreign lands, becoming the Italian arnielUno, the Spanish 
arminoj the French [and English] ermine — originally, with Al- 
bertus Magnus, who had many French forms of names, ermini- 
um, — and came back to the German as Hermelin, with a foreign 
accent, on the last syllable. The she-fox Ermeley n, in the Fable of 
"Reinecke Fuchs" ["The Beasts at Court"], obviously derived 
her name from this animal. In Lithuanian, we find szarnm or 
szarmonys as the name of the same animal, which is the same as 
harmo, according to the rules for the rendering of the sound, 
just as the Lithuanian szirdis is the German herz. The inter- 
pretation of Hermelin as the " Armenian Mouse " is thus vir- 
tually refuted. The Swedes call the animal ro88-kat and lelcaty 
the latter probably shortened from Lemmingskatze, since the 
creature is destructive to Lemmings. In North France, we find 
for the Ermine the name roselet, obviously indicating its red- 
dish color, and with this corresponds the fabulous name Bossel, 
offspring of the Ermeleyn. The South European languages 
have no special name of their own for the Ermine, since it is 
there found only in the mountains, as the Southern Alps and 
the Balkan for example. 




NoEZ [Putorius lutreo}a].—Thifi anim:^! is at ouce proclaimed 
to be East European by its name; for the word, first used in 
Germany by the Saxou mineralogist Agricola, in 1546, is Scla- 
vonic; the Russian is norka, the South Russian nortschilc, the 
Polish nurek^ from the verb nurka, to dive. The Swedes alone, 
in whose country the animal also appears, have a particular 
name for it, mdnk, which is the source of the mink or minx ap- 
plied to the different North American species [P. vison]. 

Otter \Lutra vulgaris]. — To the comparative philologist this 
word offers a field as broad as it is difficult, for the names of 
the animal in various European languages are enough alike to 
be compared, yet suflQciently dissimilar to be questioned as the 
same word; the initial particularly differs in a suspicious 
manner: otter, Intra, evudpt^. In Sanskrit and Zend,* we find 
for an aquatic animal, of what kind is not known with cer- 
tainty, but which may easily have been the Fish-otter, the name 
udra-s, derived from the root ud, water (Latin tidu8, Greek udwp). 
With this agrees perfectly the Lithuanian ndra, the Gurlandic 
and Livonian uderis^ and, with slight change of the initial, 
wydra, which obtains throughout the Sclavonic tongues, the 
Roumanian vidre — all of which are actual names of the Otter. 
In the Germanic languages, the u becomes o; otr in the old 
Northern sagas, ottar in old mediaeval German, otter in the 
present German, Dutch, Danish, and Swedish, though in the 
latter the early initial u sometimes reappears, giving utter. 
The change of d into t is the rule in the rendering of the sound 
of Sanskrit, Greek, Lithuanian, and Sclavonic in the Germanic 
languages, although in pure German this consonant properly 
changes into sharp « {udtop, water — "troAAer"), as is not, how- 
ever, the case with the name of the animal. 

In Greek, we find, as the name of the Otter, evudpi^^ Herod. 2, 
72, and 4, 109, ivudpU, Arist. Hist. An. 1, 1, and 8, 5, or svu8po<i, 
Aelian Hist. An. 11, 37, nearly always mentioned in connection 
with the Beaver; also the forms, agreeing better with the San- 
skrit, oSpot;^ Upa, the former for an actual serpent (Ilias, 2, 723, 
Arist. Hist. An. 2, 17, 83), the latter for a fabulous serpent like 
monster (Hesiod, Theogon. 413, &c.). 

In Latin, we find only Intra, Plin. 8, 30, 47, which differs not 
only in the initial, but also in the t, though the Latin should 
agree with the Greek and Sanskrit and differ from the Ger- 

*Zend: the language of the Avesta, or ancient sacred writings of the Per- 
flians. The people who used it were a branch of the Asiatic Aryans.— Tr. 



m ■ 

maDic in respect to the coDSoaants. This Intra obtains in 
modern Romanic languages with little variation ; French, la 
loutre; Italian and Portuguese, lontra; Astariau, londra ; 
in some Italiaa dialects, lodra, ludria (preserving the prim- 
itive df), and lonza (which becars iightly upon the name ume 
[cf. onza^ on^a, ounce] among the cats [Felidw]', Proveugal, 
luiria or loiria. The n in many of these names may simply be 
a matter of easy pronunciation. Curiously enough, we find 
in Nor^vay, far removed from Rouianic influence, a name of the 
Otter of similar sound, sleater. 

The Spaniard says nutria. This may be an arbitrary corrup- 
tion of Intra; but when we recall the Greek hwJptq^ and consider 
that many Spanish names of. animals are nearer the Greek 
than the Latin (for example, golondrina=ix^^^^"*'^ [^ swallow], 
and galapago in the first two syllables = ;f£Acuv5y [a turtle]), 
it seems very likely that nutria is derived from hufiptq ; and it 
may be seriously questioned whether the latter is actually com- 
pounded of h and Uiup, not rather that the v represents the I in 
lutra^ and that the £ is simply a prefix, as in lkaxo<: = the San- 
skrit la^ AtMsrthe Latin levis. Initial I and n are sometimes in- 
terchangeable, as for instance in the Greek kirpov and virpov^ 
the Latin lamella=t\xei Provencal namela (Curtics, Griechische 
Etym. 395). The primitive IndoGermanic word from which 
all the above are conjecturally derived probably did not begin 
with a pure vowel, since a consonant precedes it in so many of 
the foregoing forms, as the v in Sclavonic, the I in Latin, and 
the rough aspirate in Greek. 

The German word otterj when it signifies a snake, is femi- 
nine ; when used for the quadruped it is indifferently masculine 
or feminine. The former is justifiable, inasmuch as the old 
Northern otr or otur is masculine ; to make it feminine may be 
partly on account of its identity with the name of the serpent, 
partly from its analogy with the Romanic lutra. Albertas 
Magnus furthermore converted lutra into the masculine form, 
luter. In the Middle Ages, finally, there arose the Latin 
word lutrix, as the name of a snake, formed from lutra by anal- 
ogy with natrix, and apparently furnishing an imitation of the 
double employ of otter. 

On account of its similarity in form and its kindred significa- 
tion, I cannot refrain from mentioning in this connection the 
word natter [viper, a kind of snake]. In spite of the Spanish 
nudriay I believe that it has nothing to do with otter^ though 



the two are often confomidetl by persoua not learned in natural 
history, or considered of similar signiflcatiou. It is an old 
word, appearing in the Latin of Cicero as natrix (Qu. Acad. 2, 
28); in the Gothic of Uilllas as nadrs, masculine moreover, 
Ev. Luc. 3, 7, where the Greek text has e-j^tSva, and Luther 
translated " otter", but at that time already feminine in the old 
Northern nadhra. The same word is also found in Celtic. This 
wide diffusion of the word makes it probable that the Latin 
natrix is not to be interpreted as a swimmer, as if from nare 
=natare; in general, people take ^^ natter" for a poisonous 
serpent, not simply as a water-snake, and the specific applica- 
tion of the term to the Coluber natrix Linn, is of later origin. 
Many philologists derive the word from an old root, na (Ger- 
man nahen, Latin neo, Greek v^co), in the sense of coiling 
{^^umachniiren")', cf. Latin necto. 

We may briefly treat of other names of the Otter. The 
Celtic languages have a particular term, Gaelic dobran, Cymric 
dyfrgi. The Tartaric kama has probably given name to the 
largest tributary of the Volga. In many, particularly Astatic, 
languages, our animal is called by some equivalent of " water- 
dog " or " river-dog "; as in the Dekan pani-ciitta ; in the Ca- 
naries (and also in the East Indies), nir-nai} Malayan, andjing- 
ayer ; whilst the zwi/s? nordfxiot of Aelian, 14, 21, appear to have 
been Otters. 

'•<. I 

u, \ 

I ; 


Subfamily MUSTELINiE: The Wolverene. 

The genua Ouh — Generic characters — Gitlo lusciu, the Wolverene — Syn- 
onymy — Habitat — Specific charactera — Description of external charac- 
ters — Measurements — Anal glands — Description of the skull and teeth- 
Measurements of skulls, European and American — Nomenclature of the 
species — Relation of the European and American animal — General his- 
tory, geographical distribution, and habits of the species — Its distribu- 
tion in the Old World. 

HAVING already presented the characters of the subfamily 
Mmtelitue with detail sufficing for present purposes, I may 
at once proceed to consider the genera composing the group. . 
These are : Guh; Qalictia; Mwatela; Putoriu8. The second of 
these is not represented in North America. Putorius is sus- 
ceptible of division into several subgenera. These genera will 
be treated in successive chapters, the present being devoted to 
the genus Oiilo. 

The Genus GULO. (Store, 1780.) 

< MosteU, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. lOtb ed. 1758, and of many authors. 

< Unas Linn. Syst Nat. i. 10th ed. 1758, and of some authors. 

< MelCS> PtM. Spio. Zool. xiv. 1780 ; also of BoddcBrt, 1784. 

=6Bl0t Storr,* Prod. Meth. Hamm. 1780, and of late authors generally. (From Klein.) 

< Taxu, Tiedem. ZoSl. L 1808. 

* This extremely rare work has lately been made the subject of a critical 
essay by Prof. T. Gill, who examined a copy in the library of the Surgeon- 
General, U. S. Army, at Washington (" Ori the ' Prodromus Methodi Mam- 
malinm ' of Storr". By Theodore Gill. E £tracted from the Bulletin of the 
Philosophical Society of Washington, October, 1874. Philadelphia : Collins, 
printer, 1876. 8vo. pamph., 1 p. 1., pp. i-xiii). The fall title, as quoted by 
Gill, is as follows : — 

Prodromvs Methodi Mammalivm. | Reotore Yniyersitatis magnifi- 

centissimo | sereuissimo atqve potentissimo | dvce ao domino | Carolo | dvee 
WvTtembergiffi ac Teccise regnante, | rel. rel. | — | Ad institvendam | ex 
decreto gratiosie facvltatis medicse | pro legitime oonseqvendo | doctoris 
medicinse gradv | inavgvralem dispvtationem | propositvs | prseside | Gottl. 
CoxR. Christ. Storr | medicin» dootore, hvivs, chemise et botanices | pro- 
fessore publico ordinario | vniversitatis H. T. pro-i-ectore, | respondente | 
FridericoWoWer, | Bohnlandense. | — | Tvhingce, d. Jul. MDCCLXXX. | — | 
Litteria Keissianis. [4to, 43 pp., 4 tables.] 




rene — Syn- 
iil cbarao- 
nd teeth— 
ure of the 
meral his- 
} distribu- 

98, 1 may 
e group. . 
Bcond of 

S is BUS- 

lera will 
y^oted to 

n Klein.) 

a critical 
odi Mam- 
in of the 
[uoted by 


•lo j dvce 

dam I ex 


I Gk)TTL. 

268 I pro- 
adente | 


Generic charactkhb.— Dental formula : i. J— ; <•• —^ ; pm. j^ ; 
m, }^\ = J-^ = 38 (as in Muatela). Sectorialtooth of lower jaw (anterior true 
M.) without an internal cnBp(u8nallyeviav.utin JiMsfc/a). Anteorbital fora- 
men presenting obliquely upward as well us "orward, canal-like, and open- 
ing over interspace between last and pennltimate premolars. Sknll little 
constricted at the middle ; rostral portion relatively shorter, atonter, and 
more obliquely truncated anteriorly than in ilitstela. General upper oi tline 
of the skull in profile more arched. Mastoids and auditory tubus mora pro- 
duced, the whole periotio region decidedly more prominent. Zygomatic 
arch very high behind, at first ascending vertically, then giving off a pos- 
terior convexity. -Depth of emargination of palate about equal to distance 
thence to the molars. Skull, as a whole, massive, finally developing strong 

Vertebral formula ; c. 7 ; d. 15 ; ^ 5 ; ». 3 j cd. 15 or 16. {Gerrard.) 
Size much above the average for this family, and nearly at a maximum 
(Galictiaalone, of this subfamily, is said to be larger). Form very stoat, 
and general appearance rather Bear-like than Weasel-like ; organization ro- 
bust. Legs short and stout. Tail short (about as long as the head), bushy, 
with drooping hairs. Pelage shaggy. Ears low. Soles densely hairy, with 
six small naked pads. Claws strong, acute, much curved. Coloration pe- 
culiar.* Anal glandsmoderately developed. Progression incompletely plan- 
grade. Habits chiefly terrestrial. 

Xotwithstandiug the remarkably peculiar outward aspect of 
Oulo in comparison with its allies, it is very closely related to 
the Martens in structure, forbidding more than generic distinc- 
tion from Musteltt. The dental formul. is the same. In addi- 
tion to the cranial characters above given, it may be stated 
that the sknll is relatively as well as absolutely more massive 
than that of the arboreal Martens, in coordination with the much 
more robust and sturdy organization of the Wolverene. 

Detailed descriptions of the skull and teeth, as well as of 
the external characters of the genus, are given beyond under 
the head of the single known species, 0. Imcus. 

The generic name is the Latin guh, a glutton, in allusion to 
the voracity of the animal. The obvious relation of the word 
is with the Latin gula, throat or gullet, also used figuratively 
for appetite or gluttony ; and in various languages the vernac- 
ular name of the species is a word of similar significataoo. 
*'6ulo~ was the original specific name in the binomial nomen- 
clature ; but its application to the present animal was origi- 
nally simply by translation into Latin of the Scandinavian 
and Russian vernacular (cf. anted,, p. 22). 

* In the pattern of coloration, however, we discern the trace of the same 
character that is fully developed in Mepkitia mepMtiea — the light bands, oon- 
vernng over the rump, being similar to the stronger white stripes which 
mark the Skunk. 

3 M 



The Wof¥ei*eiie. 

!J' i 

GuId Inscns. 

PLiiTB I. 

{A. Old World r^^fereneti.) 

flulo, antiquomm — "Qmn. Quad. Virlp. 1531, A-23, fig.— 01. if Off. HUt. Gent. Sept. tS55, 

60S.— .i{(frot). Quad. Dig. 1645, \19.—Seh«ff. Lappon. 1673, 339.— CfcarM. Exeroit. 1677, 

U.-Rtaez. Hi8t. Xat. Polon. 17iSl, 218.— Xiinn. S. N. 9d-Sth eda. 1740-7, AA.—KMn, 

Quad. 1751, 83, pi. i.—Hm, Hlat. An. 1733, 546, pL Vl.—Jontt. Theatr. 1733, 131, pi. 

MbsIcU ruro>rH8C«, mtdlo 4onl nlgro, L. Fn. Sueo. Ist ed. 1746, S, no. 6; S. K. 6th-7tb 

eda. 1748, 5, no. \.—Kram, Elenoh. Veg. et Anim. 1736, 311. 
MNStela galo, L. Fn. Suec. 3d ed. 1761, 5, no. 14; S. K. i. 10th ed. 1758, 45, no. 3 ; S. K. i. 

13tb ed. 1766, 67, na S.-Ounn. Act. Nidioa. ill. 181, pL 3, f. i.—Houtt. Katnra. il 

169, pi. 14, f. 4.— JfuU. Zool. Dan. Prod. 1776, 3, no. n.—Enl. Sy at. An. 1777, 477, no. 

IS.— i\ib. Fu. Grwnl. 1780, 31, no. 13. 
VniU gUlOt Schreh. S&og. ill.' 1778, 535, pis. 144 (Act. Holm. 1773) and 144* (Buff.).— Zimm. 

Geog. Gesoh. il. 1780, 376, no. 168.-Om, S. K. i. 1788, 104, no. 8.— /STAaw, O. Z. i. 1800, 

460, pL 104.— I<urt. S. N. i. 1806, 64.-<7ur. "TabL £l6m , 113."— 'T. Cup. Diet. 

ScLNat. xix.79, f.— ." 
Meles gnlo, PaU. Spio. Zool. xiv, 1780, 35, pi. 3 ; Z. R. A. i, 1831, 73, no. 80.— Bodd. Blench. 

An. 1. 1784, 81, no. 5. 
Taius gUlO, 2V'ed«m. Zool. i. 1808, 377. 
OhIO borealls, "mi»a. Ilium. Fig. till Skand. Fu."— "Acb. Fn. Sueo. 1800, 35."— Oie. S. A. 

i. 1817, —.— Wagn. Sappl. Schieb. il. 1841, 246.— JTey*. <C BUm. Wirb. ^ur. 1840, 

W.—Sch\m. Syn. Mamtn. 1841, 347.— J3to«. Wirb. Dentscbl. 1857, 309, Iga. 1:9, 130 

(akull).— £rand(, Beiuerk. Wirb. N. E. Raaal. 185-, 30.— (7ray, P. Z. S. 1865, 130. 
QalolBlklrlCHS, FaXl. "Sp. Zool. xiv. t. 9".-(0ray.) 
6hI0 aretleiis, De*m. Mamm. i. 1830, 174.— Lm*. Mam. 1837, 143.— JVfoA. Syn. 1839, 154.— 

Gfieb. SSag. 1855, tW.—FiUlngtr, Naturg. Sfiag. i. 1861, 341, f. 70. 
GbIo TUlgSrtli, Oriff. An. Klngd. v. 1837, 117, no. 331.— IT. 8miA, Nat. Lib. x7. 1343, 308. 
Colo lntnv»,\"H*dtnb(irg".—(Ony.) 
Boaaomaka, SvMian.—"Nieremh. Hist.Kat. 1635, 18S.— £o««omaci, B<IL Trav.i. 1763, 331.— 

IZofoiHoeh, JZybcA. Orenb. Topog. i. 1773, 337.— JJofomal;, SttUir, Beaohr. Kamt. 1774, 

X18. " 
TeelTraat, " r«6r. Reize naar China, 1704, 31.— flbute. Kat Hiat Dier. il. 1761, 189, pi. 14, 

f. 4."— J)iifcA. 
Tlelfrau, Kttin, op. et loe. eit.—J. O. Om. Reise Sibir. iiL 1751, i9a.~Miai*r, Natnra. i. 

1773, 965, pi. 14, f. 4 (ex. Hoatt.).— Fon Marttnt, Zool. Gart. xl. 1870, 353 (phllotogi- 

cal).— German. 
Tlrlfras, HaUen, Natnrg. Thlere, 1757, 548. 
e«alOB, Bomare, Diet d'Hiat. Nat ii. 1768, 343. 
ViOltOB, Bomare, torn. eft. 333.-£u/. Hiat. Kat. xili. 1765, 878; Snppl. iii, 340, pi. 43. ' 

OUttoa. Pann. Syn. Qnad. 1771, 196.— fnglwA. 
Jerfi Jierr, Vllfrast Xorwegian. 

Jkrr, Jcrr, FlUrara, 8wedi$h.-Genberg, Act. Stookh. 1773, 339, pi. 7, 8. 
6ie4ik, LapUmdere. 

{B. American r^ereneee.) 

OoatI Hnmlo aHals amerleaaas, jn.'ifi, Quad. 175I, 74 
VnHB.frrtl hHisoBlB, BrUe. Quad. 17 J6, 36), no. 3. 

U. 8. Oeologleal Survey 

MnitoUda. FLATS I. 

!. Sept. 1559, 
Ezeroit. 1677, 
r, ii.—KUin, 
1753, 131, pi. 

). K. eth-Uh 

Q.Z.I. 1800, 
P. Cuv. Diet. 

iodd. Blenota. 

~Ouv. R. A. 
). ^ur. 1840, 
Igs. i:», 130 
)65, 130. 

Clnlo Inscnv. (Reduced.) 

I) ;: I 




tnut l«MNi, L. S. N, i. nsi>. 4T, 00. 9; I'M, Tl, no. 4 (batril on BrUton Mil Eilward*).— 
Ent. Syit. Anim. 1777. 167, uo. i.—Schrib. Sttog. 111. 1778, 33!).— Z<tnm. Oeogr. UeMh. 
ti. 1780, 97(1, no. MQ—Oin. 8. K. 1. 17^8, I03,no. i.—Skaw, Q. Z. 1. 1800, 469, pi. lOS, 
lower tig (after Edward*).— furf. 8. K. I. 1H06, 04. 

TniT» IvnCTt. Fabrie. Fn. Onenl. I7i«0. 94, No. 14. 

Melw IIMMt. Bodd. Elench. An. 1. 1784, 60. 

tilllo IHUH. /. '9ab. FraDkllDH Jotirn. 1893, 690.— £, Sab. Suppl. Parry* Ut Voj. 1894, 
p. o\xxTlv. —Rieh. App. Parry's 9d Vvy. Irt93, ^Ji.—Rieh. F. U.A. I. 1899, il.—Pueh. 
Syn. 1890, lii.—Oodm. Am. K. H. 1. 1831, \»y pi.— .lower ag—Roii, Exp. 1835, 8.— 
H. Smith, Nat. Lib. xv, \Hi, W«.—De Kay. N. T. Zoiil. 1. 1849, 97, pi. 19, f. 9.— Ofay, 
LUt Mamm. lir. Mu«. 1843, 68.— Aud. <e Bach. Quad. X. A. I. 18io --.a, pi. ge._ 
Thomp$. K. H. Vermont, 1833, 30.— Sa<rd, Stanabury's Report, i "VI, 311 <Oreat Salt 
Lake, Utah) ; M. N. A. 1837. m.-BaHngi. Canad. Nat. and Oeol. . 18S7, 941.-Aom, 
op. eil, Tl. 1861, 30, 441— Maxim. Arcb. Naturg. 1861,—; Verz. N.An. SKng. 1869, 33.— 
Oerr. Cat Bones Br. Mu«. 1869, 96 (Inclttdes both).— Coum, Am. Nk^ 1. 1867, 339 — 
Dall, Am. Nat. Ir. 1870, 991 (Tukon).— Albn, Boll. M. C. Z. 1. 1870, 177 (MaaMwhu- 

aetU).— Jr«rr. U. S. Geol. Surr. Terr. 1879, 669 (Wyoming) Atttn, Ball. Essex. Inst. 

vi. 1874, 34 (Miontgomery, Colorado).— 3Vi;);)«, apud dmu. Birds N. W. 1874, 994, 
In text (Clear Creek Coonty, Colorado).— Coum d Tarrow, ZoOl. Expl. W. 100 
Merid. t. 1873, 61 (Wahsatob Mountains and localities In Uub). 

Gulo •rctlcUR, var. A., D*$m. Mamm. 1. 1890, 174, no. 967.— Har{. Fn. Amer. 1893, 60. 

6hIo WOlVereae, Orif. An. Eingd. r. 1897, 117, no. 339. 

CaroOol* -^o BonUtn, Toy. 1703, 6l.—8arratin,' M«m. Acad. Sol. Paris, 1713, p. 19.— JBo- 
mare, Diet. d'HIst. Nat. I. 1769, 493.— Fr«n«A Canadian*. (.Vol </ F. Ouvier, Stippl. 
Buff.) (Also, Carkajou, Karkajou. Compare Cree Indian names.) 

Ctrn^on or QHCCqiehatCh, Dobbt, Hudson Bay, 1744, 40. 

QalckhUlCh or WoiTCreae, Edw. Birds, il. pi. 103.— £Ui«, Hudson's Bay, i. 1730, 40, pi. 4. 
{Quickthateh and QuUjuihatch are also found. Compare Cree Indian names.) 

Wolrerene, Pmn. Syn. Quad. 1771, 195, no. 40, pi. 90, f. 9; Hist. Quad. II. 1781, 8, pi. 8; 

Arot. Zoiil. i. 1784, 66, uo. il.—Hearns, Journ. , 31i.— Church, Cab. Quad. II. 1805, 

pi. — . (Also, Wolverennt, Woheren, Woliierin, Wolverine, Wolvering.)—Yolveren», 
Leei. Man. 1897, 149 (In text). 

Oriisle •nerlcrniiStLe H«lkftichit, Hall. Naturg. Tblere, 1757, 518. 

Wolfbecr, Houtt. Natuur. Hist. Dieren, ii. 997.-iro{A'6ar, JUtiU. Nature, i. 1773, 983. 

Oan tt is Imye it Hudson, Bri»». op. et loc, eit 

Okeecoobawgew, Okeceoohawvees, Cree Indian*. (Obrlous derivation of Quiekhateh, U 
not also of Oare^/ou.) 

HAB.—Arctogaa. In America, the whole of the British ProTinces an'! 
Alaska, south in the United States to New England and New \'ork,and sti.i 
further in the Rocky Mountains, to at least 39^. 

Specific chabacters. — Sub-plantigrade, thick-set, shaggy, bushy-tailed, 
with thick legs and low ears ; blackish, with a light lateral band meeting 
its fellow over the root of the tail, thus encircling a dark dorsal area ; fore- 
head light ; 2-3 feet long ; tail-vertebro) 6-9 inches. 

Description of external characters.^ 

The form of this auimal indicates grea strength, without 
corresponding activity. The body is heavy und almost clumsy, 
supported upon thick-set and rather low lep"^ , the walk is in- 
completely plantigrade. The back is high-arched, the general 

* Special paper : Histoire d'un animal nomm6 Carcajou en Am^nqoe, &o. 
t Taken from a mounted specimen, from Great Salt Lake, Utah, in the 
National Museum. 




figure drooping both before and behind, both tail and head being 
carried low. The general appearance is strikingly that of a 
Bear cab, with tht addition of a basby tail, though there is 
somewhat of the elongation which characterizes the Mustelidte. 
The head is broad and maoh rounded on every side, with rather 
short and pointed muzzle, wide apart eyes, and low ears, 
altogether not very dissimilar from that of Mustela pennanti. 
The jaws, however, are rather Ganine in appearance. The 
moffle and septum of the nose are naked, the former for about 
half an inch from the end of the snout. The eyes are remark- 
ably small. The ears are low, much broader than high, obtusely 
rounded, well furred on both sides, scarcely overtopping the fur 
oi the parts. The whiskers are few and short ; there are other 
similar bristles about the head. The pelage, as usual, is of two 
kinds ; there is a short under-fur, a kind of coarse kinky wool 
scarcely an inch long, which is mixed with the longer stiffer 
and straightish over-hairs, which are about four inches long on 
the sides, flanks, and hips, giving the animal a shaggy aspect, 
like a Bear. On the fore parts, and especially the head, how- 
ever, the coat is miich shorter and closer. The tail is clothed 
with still longer hairs, measuring some six or eight inches, 
drooping downward and conferring a peculiar shape, as if this 
member were deficient at the end. The tail-vertebrae are one- 
fourth, or rather more, of the length of head and body. The 
legs are very stout and the feet large ; the track of the animal 
resembles that of a small Bear, but it is less completely planti- 
grade. The palms and soles are densely furry ; but the balls 
of the digits are naked, and among the hairs may be discerned 
small naked pads at the bases of the digits, as well as a larger 
one beneath the carpus, the correspondent to which on the heel 
is apparently wanting. The fourth front digit is longest; then 
comes the third, fifth, second, and first, which last is very short. 
On the hind feet, the third is longest, the fourth little shorter ; 
then follow the second, fifth, and first. 

In color, the Wolverene is blackish, or deep dusky brown, 
with a remarkable broad band of chestnut or yellowish-brown, 
or even fading co a dingy brownish-white, beginning behind 
tke shoulders, running along the sides, and turning up to meec 
its fellow on the rump and base of the tail, circumscribing a 
dark dorsal area. There is a light-colored grayish area on the 
firont and sides of the head. On the throat, and between the 
fore legs, there is a patch, or there are several irregular spots 





of light color, as in Mmtela. The legs, feet, most of the tall, 
and ander parts generally^ are quite blackish. The claws aj.'e 
whitish, strong, sharp, much curved, and about an inch long. 

" The color of the fur varies much according to the sea8«)a 
and age. The younger animals are invariably darker in the 
shadings than the old, which exhibit more of the grey mark- 
ings. ... In some specimens the yellowish fringing of the 
sides and rump is almost entirely white and of larger extent, 
leaving but a narrow stripe on the centre of the back dark. lu 
such the hoary markings of the head would be of greater extent., 
and descend, most probably, to the shoulders." — (Ross, I. c.) 

Mensurements of seven apecmens of GuLO LU8C08. 

C i 







Fort Simpson, H. B. T 
Yukon Biver, Alaska . 

Peel's KiVer"(bec.V..'! 

Mackenzie's River 

Montana, XT.S 

From tip of nose 



Tail to 
end of— 


i2. 60 5. 00|6. 25 36.50 7.40 
3.10 5.50,6.70, 31.00i7.60 





3. 00 5. 10|6. 75 
2.705.15 6.50 
3. 75 4. 80'6. 50 
3.80 6. 10|6. 90, 

39. 3517. 60 
29. 00j9. 25 
37. 00 a 00 
34. gOd. 00 
36. OOia 90 


13. lOjj. 001175:. 
15.00 5.50i6.70J. 

13. 00 







*From Koss. Longest hairs of body 4.00; of tail 7.50; upper canines 0.90; lower 0.75. 
t From Baird. 

Anal glands. 

The anal glandsof this animal are stated to be of about the size 
of a wainut ; the fluid yellowish-brown and of the consistency 
of honey. The discharge is by the usual lateral papillse within 
the verge of the anus. The scent is foetid in a high degree. 

Description of the slull and teeth. (See Plate I.) 

The massiveness of the skull of Gulo, iu comparison with that 
of Mustela, is as striking as its superiority in size. In general 
form, the prominent peculiarity is the strong convexity of the 
•uppe " outline in profile. From the highest point, just behind 
the orii»its, the skull slopes rapidly downward behind ; and the 
frontal declivity is also miich greater than iu Mmtela. There 



is mnch more of a frontal concavity, and the plane of the nasal 
orifice is extremely oblique. The.<^ features of the profile rather 
suggest a Feline than a 3Insteline skull, although, of course, the 
resemblance is still far from complete. There is i. strong char- 
acter in the zygoma: in Mitstela a simple arch; here a nearly 
horizontal beam borne posteriorly upon an upright base, with 
a strongly convex backwardly projecting elbow. The same 
straightness requires a prominent process for definition of this 
part of the orbit. The zygoma is laminar and quite deep, much 
more so than in Mustela. Viewed from above, the zygomata 
are widely divergent from before backward. The anteorbital 
foramen is comparatively small, and appears over the fore bor- 
der of the sectorial tooth. Prominent characters are observed 
in the paroccipital and mastoid, which form great processes of 
abutment against the bullae, the same being only moderate in 
Muatela, and merely indicated in the smaller Weasels. The pal- 
ate is very Inroad for its length, with straight (not a little con- 
cave) sides ; measured across its broadest point, it forms very 
nearly an equilateral triangle with the sides. The posterior 
emarginatiou is moderate, broadly U-shaped. The bullae andi- 
torise are only inflated on less than the interior half, the rest 
being greatly contracted and drawn out into a long tubular 
meatus (one extreme, of which the other is seen in the slender- 
bodied species of Gale — compare descriptions). The basi- 
occipital space is somewhat wedge-shaped, owing to the diverg- 
ence posteriorly of the bullae. The pterygoids are very stout 
at base, but soon become laminar, and terminate in long, slen- 
der, hamnlar processes. Even in young skulls, the lambdoidal 
crests are as strong and flaring as in the oldest of Mustela^ and 
terminate in the very prominent mastoids. The occipital sur- 
face is considerably excavated beneath these crests; the median 
superior protuberance is great. The condition of the sagittal 
crest varies, as usual, with age. In the youngest specimens, it 
is single and median for but a little way, then gradually divar- 
icates on either hand to the supraorbital process ; in the old- 
est, the divarication only begins more than half-way forward, 
a high, thin crest occupying the rest of the median line. The 
general shape of the brain- box, viewed from above, is, in con- 
sequence of the breadth and dc;pression of the skull behind, 
neither the ovate nor the somewhat cylindrical, as obtains in 
Mtutela and Putoriiia, but rather trapezoidal, somewhat as in 
Taxidea. The body of the under jaw is shaped exactly as in 



Mustelay tbongh it i8 more massive, but the coronoid is diflfer- 
ent. Its back border rises straight and perpendicularly, the 
anterior border carving strongly backward to meet it in a 
rounded obtuse apex. In Mustela, the borders gradually ap- 
proximate to each other and meet more acutely. M. pennanti 
alone is much like Gulo in this respect. 

Reviewing general cranial characters from the small Oale to 
the large GulOy we see with increase of mere size a correspond- 
ing increment of massiveness; a graduation in obliquity of the 
plane of the end of the muzzle ; a lengthening and constriction 
(on the whole) of the rostrum ; an increase of the convexity of 
the upper profile ; a depression of the zygomata from regular 
arches to a shape higher behind and more nearly horizontal in 
continuity; enlargement of paroccipitals and mastoids; con- 
striction and lateral elongation of the buUce into auditory 
tubes ; and a flattening and widening behind, and correspond- 
ing contraction in front of, the brain-box. 

The dentition shares the general massiveness of the cranium. 
Compared with those of Mustela, the teeth, if not relatively 
larger, are more swollen and stouter, with bulging sides, blunt 
points, and dull edges. The back upper molar is placed so far 
inward, out of line with the rest, that its outer border scarcely 
projects outside the inner border of the next. It has the same 
general character as in Mustela. The median constriction is 
slight, the inner more strongly regularly convex, with raised 
brim and cresceatic ridge inside this ; the outer is double con- 
vex (convex with an emargination), higher than the other, with 
an irregularly tuberculous surface. The antero-internal spur of 
the last premolar is low and little more than a mere heel, 
scarcely to be called a cusp. Turgidity aside, this tooth other- 
wise repeats the same in Mustela. The next premolar abuts 
against the reentrance between the spur and main body of the 
last one, rather than lies iu continuation of the same axis. The 
foremost premolar is relatively smaller and more crowded than 
the same in Mustela ; it rests directly against the canine, to 
the inner side of the general axis of dentition. It would seem 
that but little more crowding would cause this tooth to perma- 
nently abort. The great canines are extremely stout at the 
base, rather blunt, and have a strong forward obliquity. Of 
the six upper incisors, the lateral pair are, as usual, mueh 
larger (wider and deeper, though little, if any, longer) than the 
rest. They are usually found much abraded by rubbing 



M ■ 

against the under canines. The other incisors are all alike, 
smaller and evenly set ; all show indication oftrilobation, with 
a large middle and minate lateral lobes, best seen from behind, 
where, at the pomt where the teeth flatten toward the tips, 
ridges divaricate, the termination of these ridges forming the 
lateral lobes. Tbo inferior incisors are irregularly set, the mid- 
dle one on each bide being crowded back ont of the general 
plane. The outermost pair are broader than the rest, and seem 
longer, viewed from the front, since moro of the tooth is exposed 
from the alveolus. The next, partially displaced pair, viewed 
from the front, seem the smallest of all ; but this is due to their 
position. Viewed from behind, their size is seen to be much 
greater than that of the middle pair. All the incisors are 
obscurely lobate at end. The under canines are shorter, stouter, 
and more curved than the upper ; most of their surface is stri- 
ate. The anterior lotrer premolar, like the same tooth in the 
upper jaw, is very small, displaced inward, and apposed against 
the canine. The next premolar is markedly increased in size, 
and set in the jaw with its longitudinal axis very oblique to the 
general axis of dentition, as if turned partially around for want 
of room. The next two premolars are much larger still and 
massive ; they both show a single central pointed conical cusp, 
whose sides are bevelled down all around to the rimmed base of 
the tooth, but there is no indication of the secondary cusp half- 
way up th<) back edge of the main cusp, as in Mmtela pennanti, 
martea^ americana, and perhaps all of this genus. Similarly, 
on the great sectorial lower molar, there is no sign of a secondary 
cusp on the inner face of the main cusp, as is so plainly seen in 
M. marte8, and which also exists in less degree in M. pennantif 
americana, and foina. These differences of the two back under 
premolars and front under molar are, perhaps, the strongest 
dental peculiarities of Oulo as compared with Muatela. Be- 
sides this, the two main cusps of the anterior lowe** premolar 
are snbequal in size and elevation instead of very unequal, as 
in Mustelttf where the hinder one is much the highest. The 
posterior tuberculous portion of this tooth is relatively much 
smaller. As in allied genera, the back lower molar 'is small, 
subcircular, tuberculous, not calling for special remark. 

In a large proportion of the skulls which come to hand, the 
canines and sectorial teeth are found cracked, even split en- 
tirely in two or broken off, apparently a result of the desperate 
exertions the captured animals made to free themselves from 
iron traps. 



I append measurements of a very large and another rather 
small American skull, with those of a specimen from Lapland. 

JUeasiirements of akulh, European and American. 

Total length from apex of intermaxillary to occipital protuberance. 

Greatest width (zygomatic) 

Diatance between orbits 

Nasal bones, length 

Fpper incisors from front to hinder margin of palate 

Upper molars and premolars, length taken together 

Lower molars and premolars, length talcen together 

Lower Jaw, length to back of condyle 

Lower Jaw, height of coronoid above condyle 

Greatest width of palate 

Least width of sknil 

Intermastoid width 

Interparoccipital width 

Foramen mi^num, width 

Width across supraorbital protuberance 




it. 80 




a 10 


This animal has received a great variety of names, both tech- 
nical^and vernacular. Nearly all barbarous tribes of Northern 
regions in both, hemispheres, as well as civilized nations, have 
each bestowed some appellation ; and in some cases at least 
the latter have adopted an aboriginal name, with more or lesL 
modification, while in all cases the book-names of the species 
appear to be derivcvl rom the vernacular. Thus, " quickhatoh " 
of the English residents of British America is obviously an 
Anglicism of the Oree or Knisteneaux word, and I agree with 
Sir^^John Bichardson that carcajou of the French Canadians is 
probably derived from the same source. I have no idea what 
the meaning of the more frequent term tcolverene may be j 
none of its various spellings furnish a clue, beyond the obvious 
wolf, which is however of wholly uncertain applicability here. 
GulOj gluttonj glouton, are self-explaining, in allusion to the 
voracity of the animal ; this is also the meaning of the Swed- 
ish, Bussian, and German names above quoted. Oulo was 
adopted by Linnaeus as the specific n.ime of the European ani- 
mal, which he placed in the genus A.ustela. This author sepa- 
rated the American as Ursus luscus—Sin absurd name indeed. 



'* Lascus ^ signifies blind of one eye, raope-eyed ; as is said to 
have been the nnfortanate condition of a specimen imported 
from Hudson's Bay, some time in possession of Sir Hans 
Sloane, and described by Edwards, upon whose account Lin- 
naeus based his Ursus htsciu. Linnaeus was frequently capri- 
cior3, and sometimes facetious, in bestowing names; while 
some of those he gave were wholly inappropriate. Thns the 
Paradisea apoda (** footless"), the common bird of Paradise, 
was so called for no other reason that the skins imported 
into Europe used to lack the feet, these having been removed 
in the preparation of the specimens by the natives. This tax- 
idermal accident not only gave rise to the name, but to the 
general belief that the bird had no feet, and to various fabu- 
lous accounts of its hal'.o as a consequence of such condition. 
It is deplorable that an accidental deformity of one particular 
individual should be thus perpetuated as the designation of a 
species ; the more so, as it is the name which, according to 
strict rules of nomenclature, must prevail. It may, however, 
be fairly questioned whether it should not be sot aside, under 
the accepted ruling that priority shall not be entitled to prece- 
dence when the first name involves a palpable error, or is 
wholly inept, as in the present instance. The specific term 
gulo being used for the genus, the name borealis would come 
next in order, should Imcus be ignored on these considerations. 
The foregoing synonymatic lists show that this species has 
not escaped subdivision into nominal ones, and that varieties 
have been genen^lly recognized. But the close similarity of 
the animals from the two continents did not escape some of 
the earlier writers, among them even those of slight scientific 
acquirements or experience. Thus Shaw, in 1800, states of the 
Wolverene, of which he reproduces Edwards's figure, that " this 
appears to be no other than a variety " of Ursua gulo. Des- 
marest allowed varietal distinction from the animal be called 
G. arcticus. Cuvier endorsed the specific validity which earlier 
writers had generally admitted ; this error Griffith perpetuated, 
and, calling one Oulo vulgariSj the other G. wolverene^ introduced 
at once two new synonyms. At least, if these names did not 
originate with him, I have not found them in previous works. 
A certain '* Gulo leucurus Hedenborg", quoted by Gray, I have 
not had an opportunity of verifying. In the foregoing syn- 
onymy I separate the American from the Old World quota- 
tions merely for the convenience of reference, and must not be 



nnderstood as implying that any distinction, varietal or spe- 
cific, subsists between the Glutton and the Wolverene. 

In comparing numerous American skulls with one from Lap- 
land, I detect in the former a tendency to less constriction of 
the cranium behind the postorbital processes. This is an in- 
teresting correlation with one of the more pronounced differ- 
ences in the skulls of M. martes and M. amerioana. But this 
is the only discrepancy I find, and it is not, moreover, uni- 
formly exhibited to any appreciable degree. The identity of 
the animals of the two continents is to be considered fairly es- 
tablished, whatever range of variation in size and color either 
may present. 

Pallas notes a curious supposed character in urging a criti- 
cal comparison of the two forms. " Pilos Guloni esse trique- 
tros notavit Baster (Act. Harlemens. vol. xv.) sed hoc an in 
Americano ? nostrati pili teretes ", he says, on p. 75 of the 
" Zoographia ". 


The written history of the Glutton or Wolverene dates firom 
an early period in the sixteenth century, when the animal is 
mentioned with little interval oi time by several writers in much 
the same extravagant terms. The first appearance of the ani- 
mal Ie Mterature ie said by von Martens to have been in 1532, 
at the hands of M chow, a physician of Cracow, in the work De 
Sarmatia AsiatM, ei Europcea, Olans Magnus (1562), to whom 
is commonly attri mted the earliest mention, though he thus 
appears to h''.ve bsen anticipated, gives a most extraordinary 
account, mad'^ up of the then current popular traditions and 
superstitions, and tales of hunters or travellers, unchecked by 
any proper scientific enquiry; although, to do him justice, he 
does not entirely credit them himself. We may be sure that 
such savory morsels of animal biography did uot escape the 
notice of subsequent compilers, and that they lost nothing of 
their flavor at the hands of the versatile and vivacious Bu£fon. 
Endorsed for two centuries by various writers, each more or 
less authoritative in his own times, and, moreover, appealing 
strongly to the popular love of ^he marvellous, the current fables 
took strong root and grew ape v^, flourishing like all <* ill weeds", 
and choking sober accounts. Ooming down to us through such 
a long line of illustrious godfathers, they were treated with the 
respect generally accorded to long years, and furnished the 




staple of professedly educational text-books. Probably no 
yoath's early conceptions of the Glutton were uncolored with 
romance ; the general picture impressed upon the susceptible 
mind of that period bein/| that of a ravenous monster of insa- 
tiate voracity, maichles& strength, and supernatural cunning, a 
terror to all other beasts, the bloodthirsty master of the forest. 
We cannot wonder at the quality of the stream, when we turn 
to the fonntain-head of such gross exaggeration. We find it 
gravely stated that this brute will feast upon the carcase of 
some large animal until its belly is swollen as tight as a drum, 
and then get rid of its burden by squeezing itself between two 
trees, in order that it may return to glut itself anew — an alleged 
climax of gluttony to which no four-footed beast attains, and 
for the parallel of which we must refer to some of the most 
noted gormandizers of the Boman Empire. We have indeed 
reliable accounts of such gastronomic exploits, but they are 
not a part of those records which are generally accepted as 
zoological. In one of the old zoological works of some celeb- 
rity, there is a very droll picture of a Wolrarene squeezing 
itself between two trees, with a most anxious expression of 
countenance, the fore part of the body being pressed thin, while 
the hinder is, still distended, and the large pil oof manure already 
deposited being rapidly augmented with further supplies. Still 
in the track of the marvellous, we read how the Glutton, too 
damsy and tardy of foot to overtake large Buuiinants, betakes 
itself to the trees beneath which they may pass, and there 
'Crouches in wait for its victim ; it drops lik9 a shot upon the 
unsuspecting Elk, Moose, Beindeer, and, faatening with claws 
and teeth, sucks the blood and destroys them as they run. That 
nothing may be left undone to ensure success, the animal has 
the wit to throw down moss or lichens to attract its prey, and 
to employ the friendly services of Foxes to drive the quarry 
beneath the fatal spot. I allude to these things, not that such 
gross exaggerations longer require refutation, but because they 
are a part, and no inconsiderable one, of the history of the 
species ; and because, as we shall see in the sequel, a perfectly 
temperate and truthful narration of the creature's actual habits 
sufficiently attests the possession of really remarkable qualities, 
which need be but caricatured for transformation into just such 
fables. We may remember, also, that the history of the Wol- 
verene is mixed in some cases with that of other animals, some 
of whose habits have been attributed to it. Thus Charlevoix 



(Voy. Amer. i, 201) speaks of the "carcf^oa or qaino^oa, a 
kind of cat", evidently, however, having the Goagar (FelU con- 
color) in view, as appears firom the rest of his remarks. Sach 
habit of lying in wait for their prey is common to the Coagar, 
Lynx, and other large Oats. Not to prolong this portion of the 
subject, I may state briefly, that the animal whose oharaoteris- 
tics will be ftally exposed in the course of this article is simply an 
uncommonly large, clumsy, shaggy Marten or Weasel, of great 
strength, without corresponding agility, highly carnivorous, like 
the rest of its tribe, and displaying great perseverance and 
sagacity in procuring food in its northern residence when the- 
supply is limited or precarious, often making long uninterrupted 
journeys, although so short-legged. It is imperfectly planti- 
grade, and does not dimb trees like most of its allies. It lives 
in dens or burrows, and does not hibernate. It fSeeds upon the- 
carcases of large animals which it finds already slain, but does 
not destroy such creatures itself, its ordinary prey being of a 
much humbler character. It is a notorious thief; not only of 
stores of meat and fish laid up by the natives of the countries 
it inhabits, the baits of their traps, and the animals so caught, 
but also of articles of no possible service to itself; and avoids 
with most admirable cunning the various meth'^ds devised for 
its destruction in retaliation. 

. All the earlier accounts referred to the animal of Europe and 
Asia. I have not found the terms " Carcajou " and " Wolverene ", 
nor any allusion to the Ainerican form, until early in the eight- 
eenth century. La Honti^n speaks of it in 1703, likening it to 
a large fierce Badger; Lawson has been quoted in this connec- 
tion, he having attributed to the Lynx some of the f>:>!:Ioua 
accounts of the Glutton ; but it is evident that his remarks 
neither apply, nor were intended to apply, to the Wolverene. 
Gatesby sp<»<aks of an animal "like a small bear'' which exists 
in the Arctic portions o( America ; this reference is among tbo 
earlier OE ito the Wolverene, those which confound it Tilth 
other speeds being excluded.* We have other definite aec xints 
of the Wolverene, near the middle of the eighteenth c^mtuiy, 

* The Wolverene has been confused not only with the Lynx an 1 Coogar 
in early times, but also quite recently with the American Badgei Dnmiea 
americana. Thus F. Cnvier (Snppl. Bnffon, i, 1831, 967) treate at Ie.>gth <tf 
(• Le caro^joa, on Blaireau AmMcain ", his whole article being based npoa 
the Badger, to which he miseonoeiyes the ntaae Cwrc^joa to belong. Paol 
Qerrais also speaks of the "CarJcajou on Blairean d'Am^riqn«" (Proc. Verb. 
Hoc. Philom. Paris, 1842, 30). 




as those of Klein, Ellis, Dobbs, Edwards, and Brisson. Ursua 
Uucu9 of Linnoeus arose in a way already narrated, and the 
apeoies may be considered to have been well known from this 
period, although it was for a long time very generally supposed 
to be different from the Glutton of Europe and Asia. 

The various American biographies of this animal are without 
exception more or less incomplete and unsatisfactory; even 
those which are shorn of obvious exaggeration are, in large 
part, a compilation of earlier statements. They have, however, 
steadily improved, the latest, that of Audubon and Bachman, 
being by far the best, although Sir John Richardson's was an 
excellent contribution. The account which Pennant gave in 
1784 (Arct. Zool. pp. 66-68) is purged of some of the fables, yet 
curiously shows how their effects will linger. He scouts the 
idea of such excessive gluttony as had been attributed, yet 
relates the moss-throwing story, and represents the Wolverene 
as " a beast of uncommon fierceness, the terror of the Wolf and 
bear ; the former, which will devour any carrion, will not touch 
the carcase of this animal, which smells more foetid than that 
of the Pole-cat". Pennant traces its distribution as far north 
as Copper Biver, to the countries on the west and south of Hud- 
son's Bay, Canada, and the tract between Lakes Huron and 
Superior. He gives a fair description, and adds : — " It hath 
much the action of a Bear ; not only in the form of its back, 
and the hanging down of its head, but also in resting on the 
hind part of the first joint of its legs." <* The Kamtschatkans ", 
he naively continues, *^ value them so highly as to say, that the 
heavenly beings wear no other furs." Richardson gives some 
interesting particulars, among them none, so far as I am aware, 
that are not accurate. In a passage he quotes from Graham's 
MSS., we see a probable basis for the fabulous accounts 
that the Fox is the Wolverene's provider or abettor in the 
chase — ^for it is the well-nigh uuiversal rule that fable is founded 
on facts exaggerated, distorted, or perverted. Alluding to the 
Wolverene's notorious habit of following Marten roads, Mr. 
Graham remarks that the animal tears the captured Martens to 
pieces or buries them at a distance in the snow. ** Drifts of snow 
often conceal the repositories thus made of the martens from 
the hunter, in which case they furnish a regale to the hungry 
fox, whose sagacious nostril guides him unerringly to the spot 
Two or three foxes are often seen following the Wolverene for 
this puq>ose." Richardson discredits the accounts which had 



eome down from Buffoo of the destruction of Beavers by the 
Wolrerene. ♦' It must be only in summer, " he says, " when 
those industrious animals are at work on laud, that it can sur- 
prise them. An attempt to break open their house in winter, 
even supposing it possible for the claws of a Wolverene to pene- 
etrate the thick mud walls when frozen as hard as stone, would 
only have the effect of driving the beavers into the water to 
seek for shelter in their vaults on the borders of the dam."» 

Hearne gives a much more credible account of the depre- 
dations of the Wolverene upon another of the valuable fur- 
bearing animals of the north— the Fox— during the period 
of reproduction. Being directed by scent to the burrow of 
the Fox, which its great strength enables it to enlarge if 
necessary, it enters and destroys the whole family. In evi- 
dence of its amazing strength, of that sort most effective in 
palling, pushing, and prying, the same author mentions that a 
Wolverene had been known to upset the greater part of a pile 
of wood nearly seventy yards around, in order to get at some 
provisions which had been deposited in this c&che. Audubon's 
article, although entertaining and accurate, is chiefly a com- 
pilation from previous accounts, as he appears to have met with 
the animal iu a state of nature but once, the result of which 
occurrence is bis principal contribution to the subject. This 
was in Rensselaer County, near the banks of the Hoosac River. 
He tracked a Wolverene iu the snow to its den, which was 
among rocks, and shot it after prying away some heavy firag- 
ments. '' There was a large nest of dried leaves in the cavern, 
which had evidently been a place of resort for the Wolverene 
during the whole winter, as its tracks from every direction led 
to the spot. It had laid up no winter store, and evidently 
depended on its nightly excursions for a supply of food. It 
had however fared well, for it was very fat." 

The fur of the Wolverene is highly valued both by civilized 
and uncivilized people. A number of skins sewn together 
makes a very beautiful carriage robe or hearth-rug, and the pelts 
are in common use for these purposes. The Indians and Esqui- 

* An anonymoas writer, doubtless General D. S. Stanley (" D. S. 8., Fort 
Sally, Dakota " ; American Naturalist, ii, 1868, p. 215), notes the depr dations 
committed by the Wolverene upon Beaver, in the following terms : — "The 
wolverene follows the Beaver and preys upon them; in northern latitudes, 
the wolverene is almost always present where the beaver is abundant. The 
beaver has a beaten path on the bank of the stream near his lodge. There 
the wolverene lies in wait for him, and often cuts short his career." 



manz use the far as they do that of the Wolf, for friogiug their 
garments, the skin being cut in strips for this purpose. I have 
already given (p. 2) some statistics of the trade in this kind 
of pelt, which indicate the comparative standing of the animal 
among the fur-bearing species of this country. The following 
methods of its capture are taken firom Qibson : — * 

<i The wolverine is a dangerous foe to many animals larger 
than itself, and by the professional hunter it is looked apon as 
an ngly and dangerous customer. There are several methods 
of trapping this horrid creature, and in many localities sue* 
oessfhl trapping of other animals will be impossible without 
first ridding the neighborhood of the wolverines. Dead-falls 
of large size will be found to work successfully, baiting with 
the body of some small animal, such as a rat or squirrel. A 
piece of cat, beaver or muskrat flesh is also excellent, and by 
slightly scenting with castoreum success will be made sure. 
SevertU of these traps may be set at intervals, and a trail made 
by dragging a piece of smoked beaver meat between them. 
The gun-trap, . . . will also do good service in exterminating 
this useless and troublesome animal. Steel traps of size No. 3 
or 4 are commonly nsed to good purpose. ... In all oases the 
trap should be covered with leaves, moss or the like, and the 
bait slightly scented with castoreum. Like all voracious ani- 
mals, the perpetual greed of the wolverine completely over- 
balances its caution, and thus renders its capture an easy 

The Wolverene '•> an animal of circumpolar distribution in 
both hemispheres. In North America, it exists in all suitable 
comtry north of the United States to the Arctic Ooast, and 
even on some of the islands of the Polar Sea, traces of itS' 
presence having been discovered on Melville Island, about 
latitude 75^. Our notes upon its distribution in this country 
may relate chiefly to its southern limits. Of an erroneous quo- 
tation, by which it has been supposed to occur as far south as 
Carolina, I have already spoken. Its southern limit has been 
fixed more properly between 42^ and 43°; this is probably 
nearly correct for the eastern portions of the continent, aside 
from what recession of the species northward may have re- 
cently occurred, although, as we shall see, the species reaches 

* Complete Amerioan Trapper, [etc.] p. 200. New York. 16mo. 1876. 

t A statement at Tariaoce with the experience of others, as detailed on a 
following page, from which it would appear that the wary creature is par- 
ticularly difficult to entrap. 



fartber soath In the West. lu Massachusetts, accordiuR to Mr. 
Alleo, It still Uogered a few years since, in that portion where 
the Canadian, as distinguished from the Alleghanian, fauna is 
represented. But the Massacliusetts reports are all probably 
traceable to a Hoosac Mountain reconl some years prior. Dr. 
Hitchcock and Dr. De Kay both quote Dr. Emmons for this, 
although the species is not given in the latter's report. In 
New York, it was rare In the time of Audubon and De Kay : 
the former notes specimens from Rensselaer (1810) and Jefferson 
(1827) Counties. Dr. Z. Thompson, writing in 1833, states that 
it was then extremely rare in Vermont, none having been met 
with to his knowledge for several years. Though occasionally 
found when the country was new in all parts of the State, it 
was never very plentiful, and for years had been known only 
in the most wooded and unsettled parts. I have met with but 
one record of its presence in the United States from west of 
New York to the Rocky Mountains, though it is to be pre* 
sumed that it inhabits, or has lately done so, the wooded por- 
tions of our northern frontier. Maximilian speaks ({. o.) of the 
occurrence of the species o j the western border of Canada and 
near the month of the Red River of the North, and surmises 
that the species may extend to the Missouri River, especially 
as he saw a skin, but without indication of locality, at one of 
the trading posts. I never saw the Wolverene in Dakota or 
Montana, where most of the country is altogether too open. 
Baird, oowever, speaks of its occasional occurrence in the Black 
Hills, and registers a specimen from " northwest of Fort Union"* 
(probably Montana, toward the base of the Rocky Mountains); 
and Mr. C. H. Merriam (as recorded I. s. c.) procured a speci- 
men on the Yellowstone River, Wyoming, in August, 1872. 
In the Rocky Mountains, as was to have been expected, its 
extension southward has been traced to the farthest known 
point, between 40^ and 39<^. Professor Baird notes a specimen 
obtained by Captain Stansbury from the Great Salt Lake, Utah, 
which lies wholly south of 42o. This individual is still (1877) pre- 
served, mounted, in the National Museum. It is probable that 
its extreme limit is even somewhat farther than this, reaching in 
the mountains to the borders of Arizona and New Mexico and 

"This locality (Fort UDion), frequently mentioned in the works of An- 
dabon, Baird, and others, no longer exists as snob, being now a heap of rob- 
bisb. It is replaced by Fort Buford, commanding the mouth of the Yellow- 
stone, at the extreme southwest corner of Dakota, acyoining the southeast 
corner of Montana. 

'■' I 


■IS '■ ■■ 



corresi)onding latitudes in California. Of this, I was assured 
by hunters whose statemeLts I had no reason to doubt, and 
who were evidently acquainted with the species. But I could 
not confirm their statements by actual observation, and, for 
all that is positively known, the Salt Lake record remains the 
southernmost, excepting that very recently furnished by Mr. 
Allen {(^. cit). He saw the skin of an individual taken in 
the vicinity of Montgomery, Colo., near the limit of timber, 
and the animal was stated to be not uncommon. This locality 
is somewhat south of 40<^, and the occurrence is strongly 
corroborative of the accounts I received, as just mentioned. 
I have myself lately seen a mounted specimen among a collec- 
tion of animals made by Mrs. M. A. Maxwell, in the vicinity 
of Boulder, Colo. I have no record from the region west of the 
main chain of the Bockies in Oregon or Washington Territory, 
although it is not to l>b presumed, upon this negative evidence, 
that the species does not occur there. 

The Wolverene ranges, as we have seen, in greater or less 
abundance, all over the northern portions of this country. It 
appears to be particularly numerous in the Mackenzie Biver 
region, and it fairly infests the whole country bordering the 
lower portions of this river and the west side of the mountains. 
From this country, many accounts have reached me, from vari- 
onr cflBcers of the Hudson's Bay Company, through the liber- 
al* ~ of the Smithsonian Institution, which placed in my hands 
all tbe matter represented in its archives upon the mammals of 
the far north. These manuscripts witness the wonderful cun- 
ning and sagacity of the beast, as well as its ferocity, and repre- 
sent it to be the greatest enemy with which the hunters and 
trappers have to contend in the pursuit of fur-bearing animals. 
Messrs. Kennicott, Macfarlane, Boss, and Lockhart have each 
recorded their experiences, which together afford the material 
for a complete biography. 

The hunter, says Mr. Lockhart, may safely leave an animal 
he has kiPM for one night, but never for a second time, with- 
out placing i '. in a strong c^he of logs. The first night the 
Wolverene is pretty sure to visit the place, but will touch 
nothing. The next night he is certain to return, and, if he can 
possibly get at the meat, he will gorge himself, and then make 
away with the rest, which he cunningly hides, piece by piece, 
under the snow, in different directions. At every c^he he 
makes he voids his urine or drops his dirt, probably to prevent 



Foxes, Martens, or other animals from smelling the hidden meat 
and uigging it np. Gd.chcs must be made of green wood, and 
be exceedingly strong, or the animal will certainly break into 
them. He has been known to gnaw through a log nearly a 
foot in diameter, and also to dig a hole several feet deep in 
frozen ground, to gain access to the coveted supply. Should 
he succeed in gaining entrance for himself, and yet be unable 
to displace the logs sufSciently to permit of removal of the 
meat, the brute will make water and dirt all over it, rendering 
it wholly unfit to be used; even a dog will then scarcely touch it. 

To the trapper, the Wolverenes are equally annoying. Wi!<»n 
they have discovered a line of Marten traps, they will ?»orc<r 
abandon the road, and must be killed before the trapping can 
be successfully carried on. Beginning at one end, they proceed 
from trap to trap along the whole line, pulling them success* 
ively to pieces, and taking out the baits from behind. When 
they can eat no more, they continue to steal the baft>3 and cftche 
them. If hungry, they may devour two or three of the Martens 
they find captured, the remainder being carried ofi and hidden 
in the snow at a considerable distance. The work of demoli- 
tion goes on as. fast as the traps can be renewed. 

The propensity to steal hide things is one of the strongest 
traits of the Wolverene. Vo such an extent is it developed 
that the animal will often secrete articles of no possible use to 
itself. Besides the wanton destruction of Marten traps, it will 
carry off the sticks and hide them at a distance, apparently in 
sheer malice. Mr. Boss, in the article above quoted, has given 
an amusing instance of the extreme of this propensity: — "The 
desire for accumulating property seems so doeply implanted in 
this animal, that like tame ravens, it does not appear to care 
much what it steals so that it car^ exercise its favorite propen- 
sity to rx>mmit mischief. An instance occurred within my own 
knowledge in which a hunter and his family having left their 
lodge unguarded during their absence, on their return found 
it com\A^tely gcitted— the walls were there but nothing else. 
Blankets, guns, kettles, axes, cans, knives and all the other 
paraphernalia of a trapper's tent had vanished, and the tracks 
left by the bea#; snowed who had been the thief. The family 
set to work, and by carefully following up all his paths recov- 
ered, with some trilling exceptions, the whole of the lost prop- 

Though very clumsy animais, the Wolverenes manage to cap- 

1 1<1 





tare, at times, such prey as Hares or Groase, and they successfully 
attack disabled Deer. We have already seeu how they destroy 
Foxes in their burrows; and they are usually found in excel- 
lent oonditioD. They also feed on offal or carrion ; in fact, any- 
thing that they can catch or steal. Their own flesh is only 
eatable in the extreme of starvation. They bring forth in bur- 
rows under ground, probably old Bear washes, and have four 
or five young at a birth. It is very rarely that they are discov- 
ered at this period oc whilst suckling their young. One rea- 
son, however, may be that they reproduce late in June and 
early in July, wheu the mosquitoes are so numerous that no 
one who can avoid it goes abroad in the woods. Tbe rutting 
season is in the latter part of March. The femais is ferocious 
in the defeose of her youn^*, and if difiturbed at this time will 
not hesitate to attack a mau. Indeed, Indians have been heard 
to aver that they would sooner encounter a she-bear with her 
cubs than a Oarcajou under the same circumstances. In Octo- 
ber, when the rivers set fast, the Wolverenes reappear in fam- 
Ses, the young still following their dam, though now not much 
her inferior in size. They are full grown when about a year 
old. In early infancy, the cubs are said to be of a pale cream 

The Wolverene may be captured in wooden traps similar to 
those used for JNIarteus, but of course made on a much larger 
scate, as the animaVs strength is enormous, even for its size. 
The traps are sometimes built with two doors. But so great is 
the cunning and sagacity of the beast, that the contrivance for 
its destruction must be very perfect. The traps are covered 
up with pine-brush, and made to resemble a c^he as much as 
possible ; the Wolverene is then likely to break in and get 
caught. The bait, ordinarily the conspicuous feature of a trap, 
must iu this instance be concealed, or the animal will either 
faxeak in from behind, or, failing in this, will pass on his way. 
It is sometimes also taken in steel traps, or by means of a set 
gun ; but both these methods are uncertain, great " medicine '' 
being required to outwit the knowing and suspicious beast. 

The eyesight of the Wolverene is not very bright, but his 
sense of smell is extremely acute. 

"The winter I passed at Fort Simpson", writ^ Mr. Lock- 
hart, '' I had a line of Marten and Fox traps, and Lynx snares, 
extending as far as Lac de Brochet. Visiting them on one 
occasion I found a Lynx alive in one of my snares ; and being 



indisposed to carry it so far home, determined to kill and skin 
it before it should freeze. But how to cache the skin till my 
return ? This was a serious question, for Carcajou tracks were 
numerous. Placing the carcase as a decoy in a clump of willows 
at one side of the path, I went some distance on the opposite 
side, dug a hole with my snow-shoe about three feet deep in the 
snow, packed the skin in the smallest possible compass, and 
put it in the bottom of the hole, which I filled up again very 
carefully, packing the snow down hard, and then strewing 
loose snow over the surface till the spot looked as if it had 
never been disturbed. I also strewed blood and entrails in the 
path and around the willows. Beturning next morning, I found 
that the carcase was gone, as I expected it would be, but that 
the place where the skin was cached was apparently undis- 
turbed. 'Ah! you rascal,' said I, addressing aloud the absent 
Carcajou, ' I have outwitted you for once.' I lighted my pipe, 
and proceeded leisurely to dig up the skin to place in my mnski- 
moot. I went clear down to the ground, on this side and on 
that, but no Lynx skin was there. The Carc^ou had been 
before me, and had carried it off along with the carcase ; but 
he bad taken the pains to fill up the hole again and make every- 
thing as smooth as before ! 

" At Peel's River, on one occasion, a very old Carcajou dis- 
covered my Marten road, on which I had nearly a hundred and 
fifty traps. I was in the habit of visiting the line about once 
a fortnight ; but the beast fell into the way of coming oftener 
than I did, to my great annoyance and vexation. I determined 
to put a stop to his thieving and his life together, cost what it 
might. So I made six strong traps at as many different points, 
an nlso set three steel traps. For three weeks I tried my best 
to caiou the beast without success ; and my worst enemy would 
allow that I am no green hand in these matters. The animal 
carefully avoided the traps set for his own benefit, and seemed 
to be taking !■«« delight than ever in demolishing my Marten 
traps and CAiing the Martens, scattering the pdes in every 
direction, and caching what baits or Martens he did not devour 
on the spot. As v>e had no poison in those days, I next set a 
gun on the iMHik of a little lake. The gun was concealed in 
some low bushea. hoc the bait was so placed that the Carcajou 
must see it on his way up the i>ank. I blockaded my path to 
the gun with a small pine tree which completely hid it. On 
my first visit afterward I found that the beast had gone up to 






■i * ' It'' 


III i 



the bait and smelled it, but had left it antoached. He had 
next pulled up the pine tree that blocked the path, and gone 
around the gun and cut the line which connected the bait with 
the trigger, just behind the muzzle. Then he had gone back 
and pulled the bait away, and carried it out on the lake, where 
he laid down and devoured it at his leisure. There I found my 
string. I could scarcely believe that all this had been done 
designedly, for it seemed that faculties fully on a par with human 
reason would be required for such an exploit, if done intention- 
ally. I therefore rearranged things, tying the string where it 
had been bitten. But the result was exactly the same for three 
successive occasions, as I could plainly see by the footprints ; 
and what is most singular of all, each time the brute was care- 
ful to cut the line a little back of where it had been tied before, 
as if actually reasoning with himself that even the knots 
might be some new device of mine, and therefore a source of 
hidden danger he would prudently avoid. I came to the con- 
clusion that that Carcajou ought to live, as he must be something 
at least human, if not worse. I gave it up, and abandoned the 
road for a period. 

'^On another occasion a Carcajou amused himself, much as 
usnal, by tracking my line from one end to the other and de- 
molishing my traps, as fast as I could set them. I put a large 
steel trap in the middle of a path that branched off among 
some willows, spreading no bait, but risking the chance that 
the animal would ' put bis foot in it' on his way to break a trap 
at the end of the path. On my next visit I found that the trap 
was gone, but I noticed the blood and entrails of a hare that 
had evidently been caught in the trap and devoured by the 
Careajon oii the spot. Examining his footprints I was satisfied 
that iie had not been caught, and I took up his trail. Proceed- 
ing about a miie through the woods I came to a small lake, on 
the banki of which I recognized traces of the trap, which the 
beast bad laid down in order to go a few steps to one side to 
make water on a stump. He had then returned and picked up 
the trap, which he had carried across the lake, with many a 
twist and turn on the hard crust of snow to mislead his ex- 
pected pursuer, and then again entered the woods. I followed 
for about half a mile farther and then came to a large hole dug 
in the snow. This place, however, seemed not to have suited 
him, for there was nothing there. A few yards farther on, 
however, I found a neatly built mound of snow on which the 

H ) 










animal had made water and left his dirt ; this I knew was hia 
cache. Using one of my snowshoes for a spade I dug into the 
hillock and down to the ground, the snow being about four feet 
deep ; and there I found my trap, with the toes of a rabbit still 
in the jaws. Could it have been the animal's instinctive im- 
pulse to hide prey that made him carry my trap so far merely 
for the morsel of meat still held in it ? Or did his cunning 
nature prompt him to hide the trap for fear that on some 
future unlucky occasion he might put his own toes in it and 
share the rabbit's fate ? " 

This propensity of the Wolverene to carry off traps receives 
confirmation from other sources. In Captain Cartwright's 
Journal (ii, 407), a similar instance is recorded in the follow- 
ing terms :— " In coming to the foot of Table Hill I crossed 
the track of a Wolvering with one of Mr. Callingham's traps 
on his foot : the foxes had followed his bleeding track. As this 
beast went through the thick of the woods, under the north 
side of the hill, where the snow was so deep and light that it 
was with the greatest difficulty I could follow him even on In- 
dian rackets, I was quite puzzled to know how he had con- 
trived to prevent the trap from catching hold of the branches 
of trees or sinking in the snow. But on coming up with him I 
discovered how he had managed : tor after making an attempt 
to fly at me, he took the trap in his mouth and ran upon three 
legs. These creatures are surprisingly strong in proportion to 
their size ; this one weighed only twenty-six pounds and the 
trap eight ; yet including all the turns he had taken he had 
carried it six miies." 

The ferocity of the Wolverene, no less than its cunning, is 
illustrated in some of the endless occasions on which it matches 
its powers against those of its worst enemy. A man had set a 
gun for a Carcajou which had been on his usual round of dem- 
olition of Marten traps. The animal seized the bait unwarily, 
and set off the gun ; but owing to careless or improper setting, 
the charge missed or only wounded it. The Carcajou rushed 
upon the weapon, tore it from its fastenings, and chewed the 
stock to pieces. It is added to the account of this exploit that 
the beast finished by planting the barrel muzzle downward up- 
right in the snow ; but this may not be fully credited. The 
stories that pass current among trappers in the North would 
alone fill a volume, and they are quite a match for those that 
Glaus Magnus set down in his book centuries ago. How much 



r t 

wiser are we in our geDeration ? Is there anything new under 
the san T But we need not go beyond the strict fact to be 
impressed with the extraordinary wit of the beast, whom all 
concur in conceding to be " as cunning as the very devil ". 

With so much for the tricks and the manners of the beast 
behind our backs, roaming at will in his vast solitudes, what of 
his actions in the presence of man T It is said that if one only 
stands still, even in full view of an approaching Carcajou, he 
will come within fifty or sixty yards, provided he be to wind- 
ward, before he takes the alarm. Even then, if he be not 
warned by sense of smell, he seems in doubt, and will gaze 
earnestly several times before he finally concludes to take him- 
self ofi; On these and similar occasions he has a singular 
habit— one not shared, so far as I am aware, by any other beast 
whatever. He sits on his haunches and shades his eyes with 
one of his fore paws, just as a human being would do in scruti- 
nizing a dim or distant object. The Carcajou then, in addition 
to his other and varied accomplishments, is a perfect skeptic — 
to use this word in its original signification. A skeptic, with 
the Greeks, was simply one who would shade his eyes to see 
more clearly. To this day, in sign-language among some of the 
North American Indians, placing the hand to the forehead sig- 
nifies " white man " — either in allusion to this habit, or to the 
shade given the eyes by the straight vizor of the military cap, 
which the Indians see oftener than they desire. Mr. Lockhart 
writes that he has twice been eye-witness of this curious habit 
of the Wolverene. Once, as he was drifting down stream in a 
small canoe, he came within a short distance of one of the ani- 
mals on the bank ; it stopped on perceiving him, squatted on 
its haunches, and peered earnestly at the advancing boat, hold- 
ing one fore paw over its eyes in the manner described. TSot 
seeming to take alarm, it proceeded on a few paces, and then 
stopped to repeat the performance, when Mr. Lockhart, now 
suf&ciently near, fired and killed the beast. On another occa- 
sion, when the same gentleman was crossing the Rocky Mount- 
ains, a Wolverene, which had become alarmed and was making 
off, stopped frequently and put up his paw in the same manner^ 
in order to see more clearly the nature of that which had dis- 
turbed him. 

On other occanions, the Wolverene displays more boldness 
than this in the presence of man. It has been known to seize 
upon the carcase of a deer, and saffer itself to be shot rather 



than relinquish possession, though the hunter had approached 
vithin twenty yards of his game. When pressed by the pangs 
of hunger, still bolder exploits are sometimes performed, as in 
the instance narrated by Capt. J. C. Ross. In the dead of an 
Arctic winter, his ship's company were surprised by a visit 
from a Wolverene, which clambered over the snow wall sur- 
rounding the vessel, and came boldly on deck among the men. 
Forgetful of its safety in the extremity of its need for food, 
the animal seized a canister of meat, and suffered himself ta 
be noosed while eating. 


This portion of the subject is translated from J. F. Brandt's 
elaborate article.* 

According to Georgi (?. ». c. [i. e. Geogr. Phys. Beschr. 1786) 
p. 1547), the Glutton is found in the temperate, and particu- 
larly in the cold regions of Bussia and Siberia ; that is to say, 
from Lithuania and Gurland, where, however, it is rare, to 
Finland, Eola, Archangel, Wologda, Perm; and in Siberia, 
from the mountains which bound this country (the Altai, the 
Sajan, and Danrian Alps, the Stannovoi, &c.), to the Arctic 
Tundras. Brincken (Mem. sur la For^t de Bidlowicza, p. 45) 
speaks of Gluttons in the forest of Bidlowicza. Eichwald, 
however, two years later (1830), states that formerly they were 
only found in some few forests of Podolia and Pinsk (Skizze, 
p. 237). In 1791, Fischer says (Naturgesch. von Li viand, 
Livonia, 2d edition, p. 141) that the Glutton was already rare 
in Livonia, though still common in Bussia, Poland, Lithuania, 
and Lapland, as well as in Gurland; though in Derschaa 
and von Eeyserling's description of the Province of Gur- 
land, published as early as 1805, the Glutton is not mentioned 
among the animals of Gurland, and it is likewise wanting in 
Lichtenstein's Catalogue of the Mammals of Gnrland, 
published in 1829 (Bull. Nat. Hist. Moscou). Eessler only 
mentions the Glutton incidentally, stating that there were 
reports of its casual appearance, and that a specimen was 
once captured, though giving no particulars. According 
to Bczaczynski (Anctnar. Hist. Nat. p. 311), two Glut- 
tons were killed in Podolia at the beginning of the last 
century. It is, therefore, unquestionable that the Glutton 

* Bemerknogen ttber die Wirbelthiere des nordlichen earopaischea Rasa- 
lands, besonders des nordlichen Ural's. Ein Beitrag zur nuheren zoolo- 
gisch-geographischen Kenntniss Nordost-Europa's. 

I ! 




was occasionally found in Gurland, Litliuania, and Podolia 
dnring the last centary, but that it no longer extends so far 
westward and southward, so that we may rely, concern- 
ing its appearance in Russia, upon the statement of Pallas 
<Zoog. B.-A. i. p. 74) that the animal was seldom found in 
European Russia, except in the northerly forests, though com- 
mon in Siberia. In East Siberia, Sarytschew (Reise, i. p. 77) 
discovered it on the middle portions of the Indigirka. W r a n • 
gel (Reise, ii. pp. 274, 238) indicates the occurrence of the Glut- 
ton in WcTchojansk and the country of the Tschukts. G e b 1 e r 
(Uebersicht d. Eatuuisehen Geb. p. 84) calls Gulo borealis 
a bolitary inhabitant of the Altai forests, and we once received 
from him a specimen from the Altai region. According to vo u 
Middendorff, the Glutton is also found on the Boganida 
River, whence it makes excursions to the Tundra, to plunder 
the traps set for the Yulpeslagopus. It was lately observed 
by Wosnesseuski in Kamtschatka, where it was more nu- 
merous in northern than in southern portions. There, particu- 
larly in the Anadyr regions, it is said to inhabit the Tundras 

rather than the forests Georgi (7. c.) designates the 

Ural in general, Lehman n (Brandt in Lehmaun's Reise 
Zoolog. Append, p. 301) and Eversmanu, probably more 
rightly, only the middle and northerly Ural as its habitat. 
According to Hoffmann's verbal communications, the ani- 
mal is to be found in the northerly Ural, at least as far as 
forests exist, as before indicated by Georgi, and seems to be 
not rare there, for a skin costs but three silver roubles, and the 
Samojeds are in the habit of trimming their garments with the 
fur. Ermann (Reise-, i. 1, p. 562) states that the Glutton 
occurs on the Obi River. Schrenck (Reise, i. pp. 10, 66, 97) 
reports that it is found in the forests of the District of Mesen, 
particularly on the Pinega River, and sometimes on Onega 
Lake. The government of Wologda annually delivers 300 to 
500 Glutton skins (von Baer and Helmersen, Beitrage, vii. 
p. 251). I do not recall, after more than twenty years' experi- 
ence in the government of St. Petersburg, a single instance of a 
Glutton's having been captured there. Wallenius (Fauna 
Fenn. p. 11, and Forteckning o^ver Sallsk. Samlingar, p. 7) cites 
the Glutton as inhabiting the Finnish provinces of Tawastland 
and Osterbotten. We may safely fix its present distribution in 
the Russian possessions from Finland and Russian Lapland (?) 
to Kamtschatka, and from the middle Ural and Altai to the 
northerly Tundra. 


MUSTELIN^E— Continued : The Martens. 

The genas Ifuste/a— Generic characters, &c.— Analysis of North Aiaerioaa 
species— MuiUla pennatiti, the Pekan or Pennant's Marten— Synonymy- 
Habitat— Specific characters— Description of external charactera— Dimen- 
aions— Skull and vertebrte— General history, habits, and geographical dis- 
tribution—Interpolated matter relating to exotic species of Mustela—M. 
wiar/e»— Synonymy— Description of its skull and teeth— If. /oIho— Syn- 
onymy— Notes on its characters— Jlf. jibe//i«a— Synonymy— Measoreme"*? 
of skulls of the three species— Comparative diagnoses of M. martes, 
amerkana, and foina— if ustela americana, the American Sable or Marten — 
Synonymy — Description and disenssion of the species — ^Table of measure- 
ment*— Gteographical variation in the skull— General history and habits 
of the species. 

IN this chapter are treated the genus Muatela and the two 
species by which it is represented iu North America. Sev- 
eral closely allied species of the Old World are also introduced, 
as seemed to be required for the adequate discussion of their 
intimate relationships. 

The Genus MUSTELA. (Linn., 1758, e»i«Mflf.) 

< Mvstela, Linn. Syst Nat. 1 10th ed. 1758, and of many authors. 

< Tlverra, Shaw, Gen. Zool. i. 1600 ; not of anthors. 

< ORlOt H. Smith, (fide Oray); not of Storr. 
=: Maries, Author*, after Bay. 

>.PekaalB« J. E. Oray, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1865, 107. (Type M. pennanti.) 

> Foiiai J. E. Oray, Proo. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1865, 107. (Type If. martt* var. fagontm.) 

> CfearrOBia, J. E. Gray, Proo. Zoiil. Soo. 1865, 108. (Type M. flavigula Bodd.) 

Generic chars. — Dental formula : 


3-3 . 
3-3 ' 

1-1 t P™'4_4> 




2^= 38 (as in OuJo; one more premolar,* a'oove and below, on each side, 
than in Putoriua). Sectorial tooth of lower jaw usually with an internal 
cusp. Anteorbital foramen presenting vertically or somewhat downward as 
well as forward (as in Putorius ; reverse of Gulo) ; canal-like, opening over 
interspace between last and penultimate premolars (as in Gulo ; the open- 
ing is over the last premolar in Putoriua). Skull much constrioted at the 
middle, the rostral portion relatively longer, mure tapering than in Gulo or 

" As a not infrequent anomaly, the small anterior premolar which consti- 
tutes the increment in the dental formula as compared with that of PutoriuB 
fails to develop. Thus it 'is wanting on the right side above in a skull, No. 
7159, from Fort Good Hope, though present on the lelv side and on both sides 
below. Similarly, an incisor occasionally aborts. 

I , •<* 




n ii^" 

Putoriu "'1 much more obliciuely truncated flian in Putoriui, lew ao tban 
in Oulo \ 'ital prufile more or less concave. Nasal bunos narrower in tbe 
middle than at either end. General upper outline of skull moderately 
arched. Production of mastoids and auditors l>all(e and fjeneral prominence 
of periotio region intermediate between Oulo and Putorius. Zygomatic arch 
high behind (usually higher than in front) ; nowhere vertical, nor developing 
a posterior convexity. Depth of emarginution of palate greater than dis* 
tanoe thence to the molars. Skull as a whole less uussive than iu either 
Gulo or Putoriut. 

Vertebral formula. — According to Oerrard, the vertebrie of M. tnartes, type 
of the genus, is c. 7, d. 16, 1. *>, a. 'A, cd. 18 or 19 ; other species of the genus 
differ in tbe number of caudals. 

Size medium and large for this subfamily. Form moderately stoat ; claws 
strong, cnrved, acute. Tail longer tban tbe bead, bushy, cylindrical or taper- 
ing. Soles dbS«Hl7 furry, with nuked pads. Pelage long and soft, but not 
fibaggy ; whol«3-colored, or nearly so, never whitening in winter. Progression 
digitigrade. Habits highly arboreal as well as terrestrial ; not aqoatio. 

This fcenuB forms the liuk between Gulo and PutoritM, as will 
be evident upon comparison of tlu- diagnoses of the three. Tbe 
ski 11, however, is lighter than in either of the two other genera 
of Mu8telin(B, with more produced aud tapering rostrum ; in 
height, relative to length or breadth, it is intermediate. The 
spt di have a somewhat Fox like or Cat-like superficial aspect, 
rather than that appearance we usually associate with the name 
of " WeaseF, being much stouter-bodied, more copiously haired, 
and bushier-tailed ; one species, indeed, is commonly called 
black " fox " or black " cat ". They appear to be more decid- 
edly arboreal than the Weasels, spendiug much of their time in 
trees, and are not aquatic, like several of the Weasels propei*. 
They are agile and graceful iu their movements ; and, if not really 
more active than the Weasels, their actions seem to possess 
a quality of lightness and elasticity different from the writhiop' 
and insiuuative motions of the very slender-bodied, short-. ■ "r .j. 
Weasels. Although strictly carnivorous, predacious, and de- 
structive to many kinds of small Mammals and Birds, they 
appearless ferocious and bloodthirsty than the Weasels, whose 
sanguinary impulses seem insatiable ; and at times they exhibit 
a playful and comparatively amiable disposition. 

The name of tbe genus is the Latin mustela or miutella, a 
kind of Weasel ; the word being apparently derived from, or 
related to, the more general term mtis.* Its adjectival deriva- 

* This seems to have inolnded, besides Mice, various kinds of small de- 
structive animals, snob as now might be collectively referred to aa " vermin". 
Thns, mutpontiouB is supposed to have probably been an Ermine. The word 
may be simply a long form of maa, like maxilla or axilla from mala and ala. 



tive, mu8telinu», refers primarily to general Wea«el-!ike quali- 
ties ; secondarily, to tbn peouliar tawny color of moat species 
of Weasels in sammer, and is* transferable to other animals, 
just as "foxy" signifies the peenliur red of the Oommou Pox. 
For Au example, familiar to ornithologists, the "tawny" thrush 
of Wilson, Tardus ^^ mustelinu*^, may be cited. 

This genns comprises the Martens and Sables, of which there 
are several species, inhabiting the northern portions of both 
Old and New Worlds, and particularly abundant in the higher 
latitudes. Aside from the very distinct Fisher, or Pekan, Mua- 
tela pennanti, peculiar to North America, the species are so 
closely related that some authors have contended for their 
identity. There appear, however, to be good grounds upon 
which at least three if not four si ecies may be established; 
one confined to America, the rest belonging to the Old World. 
The high commercial value of the pelts of these animals, and 
their corresponding economic importance, has sharpened the 
eyes of those pecuniarily interested to such degree that nu- 
merous kinds of "sable" and "marten'* are recognized by the 
furriers; and the caprices of imperious fashion set a wholly 
fictitious value upon slight shades of color or other variable 
conditions of pelage, which have no zoological signiflcanee 
whatever. The Sable par excellence is the Russian and Asiatic 
animal, Mustela zibellina, a variety of the common European 
Marten, M. niartes, or a closely allied species; but, as all Sables 
are Martens, it is perfectly proper to speak of our species, M. 
americanttf as the American Sable or Marten. Some of its for- 
tuitous conditions of pelage — the darker shades — represent the 
" sable " of furriers, while in the ordinary coloration it may be 
called by another name. The meanings of the various terms 
employed to designate animals of this genus are more fully 
discussed elsewhere, under heads of the several species. 

The two North American species of Mustela may be readily 
distinguished by the followiujj characters : — 

Analysis of tfie Is'orth American species of Mustela. 

Xiarger : length two feet or more ; tail a foot or more, the vurtebree about half 
the length of head and body, tapering from base to point. Bars low, wide, 
aemicircolar. Blackish ; lighter on fore apper parts and head ; darkest 
below ; no light throat-patch M. pennanU. 

Smaller : length under two feet ; tail less than a foot long, the vertebne leas 
than half the length of the body, uniformly bushy. Ears high, subtrian- 
gnlar. Brown, &c.; not darker below than above ; usually a large ydlow- 
ish or tavroy throat-patch M. amerioana. 

'I li: 









■ 1 






The Peknn, or Peniinnrii Garten. 

Mnstcla pemaantli 

Plati II. 

MasleU poaiMlllt Era. Sy«t. A.d. 1777, 470, DO. 10 (bailed on the FUher of P»nnant: for 
dUouMlon of nam*, in <inf jiton o> nrioiity over eanadtiudi Scbreber, o£ Bd. op. ityfrA 
eit. p. liD.—Zimm. Qeo^. Oeich. 11. 1760, 310, no. 908.— J. Sab. Frank. Joam. 1633, 
esi.-fifri/. Cut. R. A. t. 1837, 133. no, 354.-£««t. Man. 1837, 190, no. iOi—rUeh. Syn. 
Mam. 1839, 317.— Oodm. Am. K. H. i. 1831, W3.-Bd. M. X. A. 18ST, 14B, pi. 36, f. 1.- 
Xtwb. P. R. R. Rep. ▼!. 1857, 41.-0oop. <« SueU. N. H. W. T. 18W, 99, 114.-Am«, 
Canid. Nat. tI. 1881, ii.—Oilpin, Tr. Nov. Soot. lout. 11. 1870, 0, 59.— AU. Ball. M.C. 
Z. 1. 1869, 161 (Mats.) I BalL £h. Init. vl. 1874, 54 (Colorado^. —AmM, BaU. Minn. 
Acad. Xat. Sol. 1874, 69. 

Manes fCBRUdli ^«V< P- Z. S. leeS, 107; cat Carnlv. Br. Mas. 1869, 8S. 

Mrntela raaadeasll, Sehr«b. Stfng. ill. 1778, ''.99, pi. 134 (bated on the P*ktm of Bnltot 
not M. i;atKuUmii of Erxl., which is Putoriut oUon).—Zimm. Qeog. Oesob. IL 1780, 309, 
no. WJ—Bodd. Elench. An. 1. 1784, 86.— Om. S. N. 1. 1788, 05.— Titrt. S. K. i. 1606, 50 
(not eame name on p. 57, which Is the American Otter).— JTuAI, Beitr. 1690, 74. — Ditm. 
Mamm. i. 1890, 183, no. 384 ; Ency. M6th. pi. 80, f. 4 j Noot. Diet xix, 370.— ffarl. Fn. 
Amer. 1835, 65.- X«m. Man. 1837, 149.— <7rt/. Cav. R. A. t. 1897, 194, no. 3Sa.—IUch. 
Syn. 1839, 916.-iNeA. F. B. A. i. ie3», S3, no. IH.-Rieh. Zodl. Voy. Blossom, 1639, N*.— 
JfV. Ouv. Diet Soi. Kat. xlz. 356.- Martin, P. Z. S. 1833, 97 (anat.).— .SnMNOtM, Rep. Qnad. 
Mass. 1840, 36.'-Wagn. Sappl. Scbreb. il. 1841, 333.— i>eJray,X. Y. Zotfl. i. 1643,31, 
' pi. 13, f. 1 (sknlD.-Aud. <t Baeh. Q. N. A. 1. 1849, 307, pi. il.—DtKay, Fifth Ann. 
Rep. Reg. Univ. N. T. 1863, 33, pi. (oriR. fifi).-TAomp«. N. H. Vermont, 1893, 39.— 
Kenn. Trans. III. State Agric. Soc. 1853-4, 578 (Illinois.)- fnwl. Proc. Boat. Soo. 
Ti. 1858, ii6.-aUbel, Odontog. 36. pi. 13, f. 1 ; Sttag. 1855, 773. -Afacim. Aroh. Katarg. 
1861, 9i».—aiUing$, Canad. Oeol. and Natii. 1837, l\6.—Knuland, Proo. Boat Soo. vl. 
1659, 418 (skeleton).— Hail, Canad. Nat. vi. 1661, 396.— Afoxim. Vera. K. A. SKng. 
1863, 43. 

MHStel* eanaiensls var. alba. Rich. op. eit. 54 ("White Pekan"; albinism). 

Maitela (Maries) caaaieasls. Schim, Syn. Mamm. 1. 1844, 334. 

Maries eaaateasls, Gray, List Mamm. Br. Mas. 1643, 63.— Oerrard, Cat. Bones Br. Mas. 
1863, 91. 

TWerra caaaieBsU, Shaw, Qfin. Zool. i. 1600, 439. 

Mutela melaaorhyacha, Sodd. Elench. An. 1784, 88, na 13 (based on Fither of Pennant) — 
Zimm. in Penn. Arkt. Zool. 1767, 85. 

Tlverra piscator, Shaw, Gen. Zoiil. i. 1600, 414 (based on Fislur of Pennant). 

Maitcia alffra. Turt. ed. L. S. N. i. 1806, 60 {= Fither Wtanl of Pennant). 

Masteia godnaai, Fisek. Syn. Mamm. 1839, 317.— £m«. Mamm. 1843, 150. 

Mastela piscatorla, Let$. Man. 1897, 150, no. 403 ((jaotes pennwnti Eral. with qaery). 

"Oalo castaaeuB •( ftrruglBens, H. Smith."— {J. E.Qray.) 

Pekaa, OharUv. Xoav. France, ill. 1744, 134.— Bu/. Hist Nat. xiil, 1765, 304, pi. 49 (basis of 

M.eanaden*i$ Sohreb.).— Bom m, Diet. d'Hist. Nat. Ul. 1768, 401 Pthano, Seataglia, 

An. Qaad. iv. 1775, pi. 155, f. 1 (ex Baffon).— P«to>t, Penn. Syn. Qaad. 1771, 934, no. 
159; Hist. Qnad. 1781, no. 304 ; Arct. Zuol. i. 1784, 78, no. 38 (apparently aame as the 
animal of Brisson and Baffon).— PeJtan of French Canadian. (' ' Peean " is also foand.) 

Pekaa-maNer, Maxim. I. e. 

Fisher, P«nn. Syn. Qaad. 1771, 323, no. 157; Hist. Qnad. 1781, 338, no. 303; Arot Zool. 1. 

1784, 83, no. 31 (basis of Jf. pennantii, Erxl.).— Fisher, American, Tulgo. 
Marte«ptcbenr, Detm. op. eit. 164. 

FeaaaBt's Martea, Oofm. op. et loe. eit. 

W<)|ack, Heamt, Joam. —,378. (Also written Weejaek.} 

OtCfcoek, Oree Indians (Jtiehardson) = Otsehilik, Ojibwayi {Maxim.) = Wejaek, Fur Traders= 
Woodihoek, Angliei. 

TfeA*ChA, Chippovtayani (Xois). 

Black Foi, Black Cat, rxdgo. 

Hab.-— North America, approximately between 35° and 65°, in wooded 
portions of the oonntry. 

U. S. OeoloKio*! 8nrT«.T. 

MniteUda. PLATE II. 

91aatela peanaBtl. (Mat. size.) 

n i ^ 





Specific CHARACTERS. — Black or blackiab, lightening by mixture of brown 
or gray on the apper fore part and bead ; no conspicuons ligbt tbroat- 
patoh ; generally darker below than above ; very large and stoat ; length 
2 or 3 feet ; tail over a foot long. 

Description of external characters.* 

Form. — With its large size, tbis auimal combines a stout- 
ness of form not seen in other species of the genus. The 
general aspect is rather that of a Fox than of a Weasel, but, in 
place of the acute muzzle and pointed ears of the former, we 
have a fuller face, somewhat canine in physiognomy.t The 
muzzle is thick and short ; the prominent nasal pad has the 
ordinary T-shape, and is definitely naked; it is black. The 
whiskers are stiff, scant, and short, hardly reaching to the ears ; 
there are other stoutish bristles over the eye, at the corner of 
the mouth, on the cheeks and chin ; they are all black. The 
eye is rather large and full for this group. The ears are low, 
but remarkably broad, being about twice as wide at base as 
high ; they are rounded in contour, and well furred, both sides, 
to the entrance of the meatus. The feet are broad and flat, 
furred both sides, and armed with very stout, compressed, 
much curved, acute claws, not hidden by the bristles at their 
base; they are light-colored. On the palm may usually be 
seen the following pads (though they are sometimes hidden by 
the overgrowing fur): one at the end of each digit ; a V-shaped 
area of four nearly coalesced pads, indicated by mere sulci be- 
tween them, situated opposite the first digit, and indicating the 
bases of, respectively, the first, the second, the third and fourth 
combined, and the fifth digit. There is a tenth pad, .aolated 
from the rest, far back, on the wrist, near the outer border. 
On the hind feet, the arA ngement of the naked bulbs is essen- 
tially the same, excer'ini^ that the hiudermost (tenth) one is 
wanting. The tail-veitebrse are about half as long as the head 

*From -varions specimena in the Sraithsoniau Institation. 

t«The physiognomy of the Pekan is very different from that of the Marten. 
When the latter is threatened, its featnres resemble those of an enraged cat, 
bat the expression of the Pekan's coantenance approaches to that of a dog, 
though the apparent obliqaity of its eyes gives it a sinister look. The head 
has a strong, ronndish, compact appearance, and contracts suddenly to form 
the nose, which terminates rather acutely. The ears, low and semicircular,, 
are far apart, so as to leave a broad and slightly rounded forehead. They 
are smaller in proportion than the ears of the Pine-martin. The eyes, situ- 
ated where the head carves in to form the nose, appear more oblique than 
they really are."— (Richardson, I. c.) 

it ■ 



» i: 

and body. The tail is cylindric-coDic, rapidly tapering to a 
iibarp point from the enlarged and bushy base. The general 
pelage is mach coarser than that of the trne Martens, and 
looser, if not longei ; it consists of the asi;ial under fur, with 
long, glossy, bristly hairs intermixed. The pelage is very short 
on the head. 

Color. — Color is very variable, according to age, season, or 
other fortnitous circumstances ; in general, however, a particu- 
lar pattern, if not also tone, is preserved. The animal is darker 
below than above, at least on parts of the belly, contrary to the 
usual rule in this group. The belly, legs, and tail, in most ma- 
ture examples, are black or blackish-brown, and the hinder 
part of the body above is much the same. On the rest of the 
upper parts, however, there is a progressive lightening toward 
the head, from increasing admixture of light brown and gray 
shades, which colors, occupying but little, if any, of the length 
of the hairs on the dark parts of the body, on the lighter parts 
so increase in extent that they give the prevailing tone, over- 
powering both the smoky-brown bases and the blackish tips of 
the hairs. The ear has usually a light bordering. On the 
under parts, even of the blackest individuals, are usually found 
irregular white (not tawny or buflfy) blotches on the chest, in 
the arm-pits, and on the lower belly between the thighs.. The 
throat may also show a few white hairs, though I have never 
observed anything like the conspicuous light gular area com- 
monly displayed by the Marteu. 

Smaller specimens before me lack much of the general black- 
ishness above indicated ; still the feet, tail, and at leabt a me- 
dian abdominal area are darker than the upper parts in general, 
though the darkness is rather brown than black. The light 
upper parts are pale or hoary gray, overlaid with the blackish 
tips of the hairs. Both Bichardson and Audubon note nearly 
white specimens. 

Dimensions. — Of the full-grown animal, about 30 inches from 
nose to root of tail (many specimens are only about 2 feet long, 
while others a third larger than this are noted). Tail-vertebrre 
about 14 inches (12 to 16), the terminal hairs 2 to 4 inches 
longer. Nose to eye 2 inches ; to occiput, over curve of head, 
6J ; ear 1 inch high, about tvrice as broad ; distance between 
tips of ears 7 inches : hind foot 4i ; fore leg, from elbo^r, 6 or 
7 inches ; iiind leg, from hip, nearly 12. Individuals are said 
to range in weight from 8^ to 18 pounds. 



Skull and vertebra: 

Cranium. — The skull of this species is iuatautly distingaished 
from that of Jf. martes by its obviously superior size. The larg- 
est of six examples before me measures 4.40 iu extreme length 
by 2.40 in greatest zygomatic width. The under jaw is 3.00 in 
length. There are other points. The zygomatic arch is nota- 
bly lower. The skull is more contracted behind the orbits. 
The larabdoidal (occipital) crest is stronger and more flaring ; 
its termination as a broad flange back of the meatus audito- 
rius is conspicuous when the skull is viewed from above, 
whereas in the skull of M. martes, held in the same position, 
the terminations of this crest are almost hidden by the bulge 
of the brain-box. The bony palate is more narrowly and deeply 
emarginate behind. The bullae auditorii« are relatively smaller 
and flatter; the meatus is absolutely smaller. Some other 
minor points might be established. I observe no noteworthy 
dental peculiarities, aside from superior size of the teeth. 
This skull exceeds iu length the large fossil one mentioned by 
Prof. Baird from the Bone Cave of Pennsylvania, which is 
little over 4 inches long. Several New York skulls are Jess 
than 4 inches in length by little over 2 in greatest breadth. 
One skull, of a very old animal, iu which the sutures are all 
obliterated, is remarkably massive, and broad for its length, 
measuring only just 4 inches long by full 2.40 in breadth. 
This series of skulls, like others in this group, shows that the 
character of the sagittal crest, or elevation, is wholly transi- 
tory ; in old specimens, the crest is a thin laminar ridge, while 
in others there is a median longitudinal elevation half an inch 
or more in width. The lambdoidal crest is subject to the same 
modifications. The constriction of the skull back of the supra- 
orbital processes also increases with age. 

Vertebrcv :—c. 7, rt. 14, 1. 6, s. 3, cd. 20 or 21 (Gerrard). Knee- 
land {loc. supra cit.) gives the caudals as 20; the rest of his 
formula agrees with Gerrard's. Of the 14 ribs, he gives 10 as 
apparently " true " (sternal). 

The Pekan is much the largest of the genus, and indeed of 
the whole Weasel kind (subfamily Mustelina), excepting only 
the Wolverene and (riisoii. In size, as in some other points of 
form, vigor, and ferocity, it approaches the W^olverene, and is 
obviously the connecting link between Mustcla and Gulo. It 
has no immediate representative in the Old World. 
5 M 

^ ^ 




As this species is confined to North America, and as it pre- 
sents marked zoological character.^, its written history is less 
extensive and less involved than that of animals which have 
a circumpolar distribation in both the Old and New World. 
In tracing up this matter, we go back to the works of Baffon, 
Brisson, and Pennant, all of whom appear to have described 
the animal from the same specimen — one in the cabinet of M. 
Aubry at Paris. It is the Pekan of Bnflfon, 1765, and the 
Fisher of Pennant, Syn. Quad. 1771. Pennant's account of 
his Fisher is unmistakable ; but he describes, in addition, the 
Jt*ekan of Buft'on, not re • gnizing in it the same species. These 
two accounts furnished /" many years the bases of all the sci- 
entific binomial names ir osed by various authors. The Mus- 
tela canadensis of Schrebei,.1777, is the Pekan of Bnffon ; the 
M. pennantii of Erxleben, 1777, and Jf. melanorhyncha of Bod- 
daert, 1784, are the Fisher of Pennant. This is perfectly plain ,• 
but a question of pnoiity arises between the names pennantii 
Erxl. and canadensis Schreb., owing to some uncertainty of 
actual date of publication of the works of Erxleben and 
Schreber, since the supposed eari author quotes the other in 
various places. Judging, however, by the printed dates of 
publication, as the proper means of arbitration, pennantii of 
Erxleben takes precedence. The question is, however, further 
complicated by the fact that Erxleben has also a Mustt>la cana- 
densis (p. 455), which Included both the Vison and Pekan of 
Buffon — the Mink and the Fisher; and many authors have 
adopted the name for the latter. But, as Prof. Baird has 
clearly shown, Erxleben's description of M. canadensis applies 
solely to the Mink, and, indeed, will take precedence over M. 
vison, if Brisson be not quotable as an authority in biDorjinal 
nomenclature. As a summary of the subject, therefore, it may 
be said that M. canadensis Erxl. goes to the Mink, wuile M. ca- 
nadensis Schreb. and authors sinks to a synonym of M. pennantii 

In later years, various nominal species have been established 
upon the Pekan, none of which, however, require special dis- 

The naLie Fisher, very geuf .?l'f -i-oplied to this species by 
others as well as authors, \ o< n nee; tain origin, but probably 



arose from some misconception of its babits, or from confound- 
ing tbem with those of the Mink. The name is entirely inap- 
plicable, as the animal is not aqaatic, does not fish, nor habitu- 
ally live upon fish, and it should be discarded, as likely to 
perpetuate the confusion and'misunderstanding of which it has 
alw M o a greater or less extent been the cause. Pekan is a 
word of unknown,* or at least of no obvious, application, but 
is less objectionable, inasmuch as it does not mislead. As to 
the supposed piscatorial exploits of the Pekan, we find refuta- 
tion in some of the very earliest accounts of those who, unlike 
certain compilers of books, bad actual knowledge of the ani- 
mals they recounted. Thus Bartram, who is quoted by Pen- 
nant, states that " though they are not amphibious, and live on 
all kinds of lesser quadrupeds, they are called Fi8hers^\ Hearne 
states that they dislike water as much as cats do. In fact, the 
universal testimony of those who are best informed is that the 
economy of the Pekan is as nearly as possible like that of the 
Pine Marten, as indeed one would expect, judging by analogy. 
Godmau, a naturalist who has perhaps not always been fully 
appreciated, states ihe case correctly in criticising the same 
points: — "That it will eat fish when thrown on shore there is 
little doubt, as almost all the carnivorous animals are delighted 
with such food : but we have no proof that this Marten is in 
the habit of fishing for itself." Sir John Richardson has a para- 
graph which may be quoted in continuation of this point, as 
well as for its affording further insight into the character of the 
species : — 

"The Pekan is a larger and stronger animal than any variety 
of the Pine Marten, but it has similar manners ; climbing 
trees with facility, and preying principally upon mice. It lives 
in the woods, preferring damp places in the vicinity of water, 
in which respect it differs from the Martin, which is generally 
found in the dryest spots of the pine forests. The Fisher is 
said to prey much upi-.i frogs in the summer season; but I 
have been informed tay,t its favorite food is the Canada porcu- 
pine, which it kills by biting on the belly. It does not seek its 
food in the water, although, like the Pme-martin, it will feed 

upon the hoards of frozen fish laid up by the residents 

It brings forth, once a year, from two to four young." 

Doubt has been cast by A udubon upon Richardson's state- 

* Compare Ptan or Fctan, the AseiDiboine name of the Otter, which may 
possibly ha'o become traneferred with modification to the present Gpecies. 








1 1 

ment tbat tbe Pekan i Us the Porcupine ; but its accuracy is 
attested by Mr. Gilpiu lu tbe article above quoted, who states 
that Porcupine quills have beea found in its stomach. 

A modified derivation of the name Fislier is given by De 
Kay : — " We are informed by a person who resided many years 
near Lake Oneida, where the Fisher was then common, that 
tbe name was derived from ics singular fondness for the fish 
used to bait traps. The hunters were in the practice of soak- 
ing their fish over night, and it was frequently carried off by 
tbe fisher, whose well known tracks were seen in tbe vicinity. 
In Hamilton County it is still [1842] numerous and trouble* 
some. The hunters there have assured me tbat they have 
known a fisher to destroy twelve out of thirteen traps in a line 
not more than fourteen miles long." The same author contin- 
ues : — " The hunting season for the fisher, in the northern part 
rf the State, commences about the tenth of October, and lasts 
to the middle of May, when fhe furs are not so valuable. The 
ordinary price is $1.50 per skin; but it is not so fine, nor so 
highly valued as tbat of tbe sable." According to all ac- 
counts, the animals were formerly very abundant in the State 
of Kew York, where, however, they have latterly become re- 
stricted to (lortbern mouutainous aud thinly settled portions. 

The bone caves of Pennsylvania, accoi'ding to Baird, have 
furnished numerous remains of Pennant's Marten, among them 
one skull larger than some recent ones examined (but compare 
p. 65). The animal may be still found occasionally in the 
mountains north of Carlisle, in Perry County, where the liv- 
ing animal figured by Audubon was procured. 

The distribution of tbe Pekan is general in wooded districts 
throughout the greater part of North America. As indicating 
approximately the southern limit of its distribution (for, like 
the Marten and Ermine, it is essentially a northern animal), we 
may refer to its occurrences in North Carolina and Tennessee, 
as atte«ited by Audubon and Bacbman. The i)arallel of 35° 
may be near its limit. Mr. Allen recently ascertained its pres- 
ence in Colorado. West of the Rocky Mountains it was long 
ago noted by Lewis aud Clarke, whose accounts of the " Black 
Fox " are checked by numerous later observers, as Newberry, 
Cooper, and Suckley, who found it in Washington and Oregon 
Territories. From California, however, I have no advices, 
though the animal probably inhabits at least a part of tbat 
State. Dr. Newberry says it is rare in Oregon, but less so in 

I. n. 




Washiogtou Territory. Accordiug to Dr. Suckley, it is found 
quite plentifully in the thickly wooded districts nlong the 
eastern, and probably also the western, slopes of the Cascade 
Range, especially in the neighborhood of streams ; it also in- 
habits the Blue Mountains of the same region. In the eastern 
United States, it must not be presumed that it actually occurs 
now throughout its ascribed range ; for the settlement of the 
country practically restricts it to the more inaccessible or at 
least unfrequented wooded districts. Many years ago, as we 
have already seen, it had become greatly thinned out in the 
Middle States, and this process has been steadily progressing, 
until, at the present day, the Pekan is almost unknown in most 
of the United States east of the Mississippi. Writing in 1853, 
Mr. Kennicot states it "used frequently to be seen" in Illinois 
in the heavy timber along Lake Michigan. Il New England, 
according to Mr. Allen, it probably still occurs, though rarel}', 
iu the Ilocsac ranges. In 1840, Dr. Emmons reported it as 
occasionally found in the vicinity of Williamstown, Mass., 
especially in the mountainous ranges which extend through 
Stamford, Vt. It is stated to bo rare iu Canada, and not found 
at all in the populous districts. In Nova Scotia, according to 
Dr. Gilpin, it was never very plenty, and is being rapidly 
exterminated, only two hundred at most being taken yearly, 
chiefly in the high wild region of the Cobequid Hills in Cum- 
berland. In British America, Sir John Kichardson states that 
it is found as far north as Great Slave Lake, latitude G3^ ; and 
the specimens I have examined confirm this dispersion, ex- 
tending it to include Alaska also. 

The Pekan is stated to breed but once a year: it brings 
forth its young in the hollow of a tree, usually 30 or 40 feet 
from the ground. Two, three, and four young, but not more, 
so far as I have learned, ire produced in a litter. It has been 
known to offer desperat*^ esistance in defence of its young, as 
on the occasion when lue individual figured by Audubon was 
procured. This animal, a young one, was kept in confinement 
for several days. " It was voracious, and very spiteful, growl- 
ing, snarling and sp'f-ting when approached, but it did not 
appear to suffer much uneasiness from being held in captivity, 
as, like many other predacious quadrupeds, it grew fat, being 
becter supplied with food than when it had been obliged to 
cater for itself in the woods." Another mentioned by the 
same author as having been exhibited in a menagerie in 





Charleston, S. C, some months after its capture, continued 
sullen and spiteful, hastily swallowing its food nearly ^vhole, 
and then retiring in growling humor to a dark corner of its 
cage. Hearne, however, has remarked that.the animal is easily 
tamed, and shows sone affection at times. When taken very 
young, it may becon^e perfectly tame, and as playfnl as a 
kitten ; such was the oase with a pair mentioned by Mr. B. K. 

The Pekan is sometimes forced, by failure of other sources 
of supply, to a vegetarian diet, when it feeds freely upon beech- 

In continuation of the history of this animal, which I have had 
no opportunity of studying in the living state, the following 
paragraphs are quoted from the authors just mentioned, as 
illustrative of its habits and manners: — 

"Pennant's Marten appears to prefer low swampy ground; 
we traced one which had followed a trout stream for some dis- 
tance, and ascertained that it had not gone into the water. 
Marks were quite visible in different places where it had 
scratched up the snow by the side of logs and piles of timber, 
to seek for mice or other small quadrupeds, and we have no 
doubt it preys upon the Northern hare, gray rabbit, and ruffed 
grouse, as we observed a great many tracks of those species in 
the vicinity. It further appears that this animal makes an 
occasional meal on species which are much more closely allied 
to it than those just mentioned. In a letter we received from 
Mr. Fothergill, in which he furnishes us with notes on the habits 
of some of the animals existing near Lake Ontario, he informs 
us that ' a Fisher was shot by a hunter named Marsh, near 
Port Hope, who said it was up a tree, iu close pursuit of a pine 
marten, which he also brought with it.' . . . 

" Whilst residing iu the northern part of our native State 
(New York), thirty-five years ago, the hunters were in the habit 
of bringing us two or three specimens of this Marten in the 
course of a winter. They obtained them by following their 
tracks iu the snow, when the animals had been out in quest of 
their prey the previous night, thus tracing them to the hollow 
trees in which they were concealed, which they chopped down. 
Th€j informed us that as a tree was falling, the Fisher would 
dart from the hollow, which was often fifty feet from the ground, 
and leap iuco the snow, when the dugs usually seized and killed 
him, althoagh uot without a hard struggle, as the Fisher was 



iofloitely more dangerous to their UouuiU than either the gray 
or red fox. They usually called this species the Black Fox. 

"A servant, on one occasion, came to us before daylight, ask- 
ing us to shoot a raccoon for him, which, after having been 
chased by his dogs the previous night, had tP.Ken to so large a 
tree that Ue neither felt disposed to climb it nor to cut it down. 
On our arrival at the place, it was already light, and the dogs 
were barking furiously at the foot of the tree. We soon per- 
ceived that instead of being a raccoon, the animal was a far 
more rare and interesting species, a Fisher. As we were anx- 
ious to study its habits we did not immediately shoot, but teased 
it by shaking some grape vines that hac crept up nearly to 
the top of the tree. The animal not only became thoroughly 
frightened, but seemed furious ; he leaped from branch to 
branch, showing his teeth and growling at the same time ; now 
and then he ran half way down the trunk of the tree, elevating 
his back in the manner of au angry cat, and we every moment 
expected to see him leap off and fall among the dogs. He was 
brought down after several discbarges of the gun. He seemed 
extremely tenacious of life, and was game to the last, holding 
oh to the nose of a dog with a dying grasp. This animal proved 
to be a male: the body measured tweuty-flve inches, and the 
tail, including the fur, fifteen. The servant who had traced him, 
informed us that he appeared to have far less speed than a fox, 
that he ran for ten minutes through a swamp iu a straight 
direction, and then took to a tree. . . . 

" Species that are decidedly nocturnal iu their habits, fre- 
quently may be seen moving about by day during the period 
when they are engaged in providing for their young. Thus the 
raccoon, the opussum, and all cur bares, are constantly met 
with in spring, and early summer, in the morning and after- 
noon, whilst in autumn and winter they only move about by 
night. In the many fox hunts, iu which our neighbours wer^ 
from time to time engaged, not far from our residence at the 
north, ... we never heard of their having encountered a single 
Fisher in the daytime; but when they traversed the same 
grounds at night, in search of raccoons, it was not unusual for 
them to discover and capture this species. We were informed 
by trappers that they caught the Fisher in their traps only by 

" On several occasions we have seen the tracks of the Fisher 
in the suot ; they resemble those of the pine marten, but are 





double tlieir size. To judge by them, the animal advances by 
short leaps in the manner of a miuk." 

I will supplement this aucouiit with the interesting experi- 
ences of ]Mr. B. K. Koss (as recounted I. 8. c.) with this species 
in the Mackenzie Kiver region : — " In this district it is not found 
except in the vicinity of Fort Resolution, which may be con- 
sidered as its northern limit. In the numerous deltas of the 
mouth of Slave River it is abundant, frequenting the large 
grassy marshes or prairies, for the purpose of catching mice, its 
principal food. In appearance it bears a strong family likeness 
to both the martin and the wolverene. Its general shape assimi- 
lates more to the former, but the head and ears have a greater 
similitude to those of the latter. It is named by the Chippei- 
wayan Indians 'Tha cho,' or great martin. Its neck, legs and 
feet are stouter in proportion than those of the martin, and its 
claws much stronger. Incolor and size it varies greatly. Young 
full-furred specimens, or those born the previous spring, can 
scarcely be distinguished from a large martin except by a 
darker pelage and a less full, more pointed tail. As it advances 
towards old age, the color of the fur grows lighter, the long 
hairs become coarser, and the grayish markings are of greater 
extent and more conspicuous. 

"The largest fisher which I have seen was killed by myself 
on the Riviere de Argent, one of the channels of the mouth of 
Slave River, about 15 miles from Fort Resolution. It was fully 
as long as a Fulvus fox, much more muscular, and weighed 18 
pounds. In the color of its fur the greyish tints preponderated, 
extending from half way down the back to the nose. The fur 
was comparatively coarse; though thick and full. The tail was 
long and pointed, and the whole shade of the pelage was very 
light and had rather a faded look. Its claws were very strong 
and of brown color; and as if to mark its extreme old age the 
teeth were a good deal worn and very much decayed. I caught 
it with difficulty. For about two weeks it had been infesting 
my martin road, tearing down the traps and devouring the 
baits. So resolved to destroy it, I made a strong wooden trap. 
It climbed up this, entered from above, and ate the meat. A 
gun was next set but with no better success, it cut the line 
and ran off with the boue that was tied to the end of it. As a 
* dernier resort' I put a steel trap in the middle of the road^ 
covered it carefully, and set a bait at some distance on each 
side. Into this it tumbled. From the size of its footprints my 



impressiou all along was that it was a Hinall wolverene that was 
annoying lue, and I was surprised to tiiul it to be a fisher. It 
shewed good fight, hissed at me much like an enraged cat, bit- 
ing at the iron trap, and snapping at my legs. A blow on the 
nose turned it over, when I completed its dt-ath by compressing 
the heart with my foot until it ceased to be.»t. The skin when 
stretched for drying was fuUy as large as a middle sized otter, 
and very strong, in this respect resembling that of a wolverene. 

<'In their habits the fishers resemble the martins. Their 
food is much the same Hut they do not seem to keep so gener- 
ally in the noods. They are not so nocturnal in their wander- 
ings as the foxes. An old fisher is nearly as great an infliction 
to a martin trappfi is a wolverene. It is an exceedingly pow- 
erful animal for its size, and will tear down the wooden traps 
with ease. Its regularity in visiting them is exemplary. In 
one quality it is however superior to the wolverene, which is 
that it leaves the sticks of the traps where they were planted : 
while the other beast if it can discover nothing better to hide, 
will cache them some distance off. It prefers meat to fish, is 
not very cunning, and is caught without difficulty in the steel- 
trap. Fishers are caught by methods similar to those employed 
in fox-trapping.*' 

It may not be generally known that the Pekan successfully 
assaults an animal as large as the Raccoon; indeed, that the 
abundance of the latter in some districts depends in a measure 
upon the rarity of the former. The following letter, addressed 
to Prof. Baird, in 1857, by Mr. Peter Reid, of Washington 
County, New York, sufficiently attests these facts: — "Raccoons 
are more numerous here now than they were at the first set- 
tlement of the country, or for some time subsequent. Thirty 
years ago they were so seldom found, that many boys 15 or 
18 years old had scarcely seen one. Before the increase In 
their numbers I once witnessed a circumstance that satisfied 
my mind on this score. Whilst hunting, early one winter I 
found the carcase of a freshly killed sheep, and by the tracks 
around it in the light snow perceived that a Fisher had sur- 
prised a Raccoon at the feast. A hard chase had ensued, the 
Raccoon tacking at full speed to avoid his pursuer, the Fisher 
outrunning and continually confronting his intended victim. 
I saw where at length the Fisher had made an assault, and 
where a bloody contest had evidently ensued. The Raccoon, 
worsted in the encounter, had again broken away, and the chase 








?^ m 12.2 

£ 1^ 12.0 
















(716) 177-4503 






was resumed, but with dimiuished energy on the part of the Rac- 
coon ; the animal had been soon overtaken again, and a still more 
desperate encounter had taken place. The Goon had failed 
fast, and it had at length become merely a running fight, when 
both animals had entered a swamp where it was impossible for 
me to trace them further; but I have no doubt the Goon was 
killed. 1 have witnessed similar engagements between the 
Mink and Mnskrat, the Weasel and House Rat, always ending 
in the death of tho assaulted. The Fisher has been nearly 
extinct in these parts for about twenty-five years, and this to 
my mind accounts for the great increase in numbers of the 


Before euteriug upon the disouasiou of the iutimate relatiouships of the 
American Sable or Pine Marten with its extralimital allies, some notice of 
the latter seems to be required in order to a better understanding of the in- 
tricate questions concerned. I accordingly present the three exotic species, 
with such remarks as seem called for and as I am able to offer. The ma- 
terial before me indicates, with little hazard of error, that the American 
form is specifically distinct from both the Beech Marten and the Pine Marten 
of Europe. Its relationships with the Asiatic Sable seem to be closer, but 
these I am unable to discuss satisfactorily, owing to lack of specimens of the 
Asiatic animal. 

Note, — Much of the synonymy r«Utiug to these esotlo specie* has been rather gnmnia- 
rily compiled at second hand, and shouid be taken with the alluwanoe for " probable error " 
which uanally obtains in such cases. 

1. The European Pine Marten. 

Mnatela marles. 

Plate in. 

Maries, Antiquorum.—Sldrot. Quad. Digit. 1645, 331.— CharUt. Esercit. 1677, 90.— Wa^n. 

Helvet \9D0, ldl.—8ibb. Soots. Illust. 1664, iL II.— Szaet. Polon. 1741, 339; irj6, 314— 

Linn. 8. K. L 9d ed. 1740, ii.—Jontt Xbeatr. Quad. 1 755, pL 64. 
MartM Sjrif CSlrlS, a»m. Quad. 1551, 865, tg.—Jon$t Tbeatr. Qaad. 1755, 156. 
MartM arkerea, BdiunnOtf. Theriotroph. 1603, llO. 
Martet !■ arkorlkas, Affrie- Anim. Snbter. 1614, 38. 
Varies akitlaa, Ray, 8yn.Qaad. 1693. 300.— KUin, Qaad. 1751, 64 —FUming, Br. An. 19M, 

14.-JMI, Brit Quad. 1837, 174 ; 9d ed. 1974, 917.— 0«rr. Cat. Bones. Br. Mns. ll:<69. 90.— 

Oray, LUt Uamm. Br. Mas. 1843, 63 ; P. Z. S. 1865, 104 ; Cat Carn. Br. Mus. 1669, Bl.— 

FUt. Naturg. S^ng. L 1661, 335, f. 67. 
Martcs aklctiH var$. aartcs, raltaris, allaica, Oray, P. z. S. iseis. 104; Cat. Cam. Br. 

Mna. 1669, 89 (but obvlonaly not MutUta altaica Pall., which is a Puloriut). 
MntCla fllTO aivricaas, gala MlUte. Linn. Fn. Sueo. 1st ed. 1746, 3, no. 7 ; Syst Nat «d. 

6th, 1748, 5, no. 3 —aiU, Hist An. 175-2, 546, pi. 97.— Cram. Elencb. An. 1756, 311. 


U. 8. OeoIoKieal Snrvey. 

MniteUd*. PLATB m. 

aimtcto aiarlM. (Nat. sIm.) 



■ntel* mmtin, Bri»$. Quad. 17M, 947, no. 8 — L. Fn. 8ae«. 9<i «d. 17«1, 6, na IS ; S. V.. 10th 
•d. 1758, 40, na 9; i. 1766, 67, no. 6.— Jf u(L Zool. Dan. Prod. 1776, 3, no. li.—Erxl. Syat. 
1777, 435, na 4.— «aAr«6. Siiag. HI Wi, 475, pi. VM.—Zimtn. 0«oL OoMh. ii, 1780, 303, 
no. 107.— Mrm. Oba. ZooL 4i.— WUdung. Tasoh. 18U0. 34, pi. 3.— (Tm. S. 2f. L 1788, 05, na 

8.— 3MM. ITatnrg. Denttobl. i , 769.— Vtelol M«m. Soc. Kat Moao. L 1806, 840 (by- 

bridity with e«t) Turt. 8. X. i. 1806, SO.—PaU. Zoiig. i. 1811, m.—Ihtm. Mamm. i. 

1890. 101, na 980 i Ency. Mith. pi. 81, f. 4.— Fr. Cuv. Mauim. UL llvr. 69 ; Diet ScL Kat. 
xxix.9S5,flg.l.— Geo/.Dict.CU8S.s.909.— £«««.MaDi. 1897, 148.— i^.V Syn. 1899,914.— 
Jengtu, Brit. Vert 1835. 11.— Siem.Piet. Arch. Naturg. 1839, 351.— £«]/*. <• BIm. Wirb. 
Ear. L 1640, «J.—StlyiL. Fn. Belg. 1843, 8.— Biatne. Compt Rend. ziv. 1843, p. 910 
Mq. pis.; Oat6ogr. 1849, —.—Bark. X. Act Leop. xsv. 1843, «60.—8«him, Syn. 1844, 

X.—Bp. Fn. Ital. !▼. f. —.—CH*b. Fn. Vorw. Sang. , 56 ; Odout , 33 ; SKof . 1859, 

774.— MnMi, Arob. NatafK- xlz. 1853, 17.— Brandt, B«m. Wirb. Nord. Ear. RaniL 93 i 
Beit Kennt SJiag. RumL L 1855, pi. iv.-Midtt. Sib. SiiuK. 69, pi. 9, t.—.—Sehrenek., 

Reiae AmarL , 36.-Bto«. TViib. DenUcbl. 1857, 313, f. 131. liH.-JHcktl, Zool. Oart 

xlT. 1873, 457 (albino). 

MnleU urntttt var. •Mctna. L. S. N. i. 1766, 67. 

TIrcm ■•rtcs, Bkaui, O. Z. i. 18OO, 410. 

MartM BjriTaties, Aib*. Skand. Fn. {MartM tyltestri* Oesn). 

MutelS VH|(«rl8, OHf. Cav. R. a. r. 1837, 133, ua 349. 

MllNer, Riding. Abbild. Tbiere. 1740, pi. la.—ilUU. Saranil. Hi. , .'13 ; Xaturit. 17:3, 367.— 

Martetu, ZooL Gart zi, 1870, p. 334 (philological).— 0«rm<i». 

M«Hre« CkarUv. Kour. France, iii. 1744. 13*.— French. 

MnrnwUkHtr, Hatter, Vaturg. Vierf. Tb. 1757, 4il.—0erman. 

MartCi BfUi. L 0. Baft Hiat Xat viL 186, pi. 33.— Bom. Diet iii. 1768. •.il.-Frtneh. 

Marte coaaiae. Our. R. A. i. 149. 

HsrMr, .ffoutt Xat Hiat Dieren, ii. 1761. m.—Belffie. 

MMf. Pontopp. Dan. i. 1763, 610— Danith. 

Martoni, Seatag. An. Quad, ii, pL 69. (from haffon).— Italian. 

VtUmmttr, Mart. Buff. Vierf. Tb. iv. ISO. 

Mclmarter. Otrm. 

M«rt«, apanUk. 

HMrt, SwedUh. 

MartlB,l/>«nn. Syn. Quad. 1771, 815, no. 154 ; Brit Zool. 3^, fle. 

Plae ■wteii, Sweet Martei, VelIow*breaale4 M»rtt».-Englith. 

Description of the skull and tseth of M, martes. 
' (See Plate III.) 

The HkuU and teetb of M. martes may be described in general terms to 
illustrates this part of the structure of the genua, and to serve as a standard 
of comparison for the 'ither closely related species. The points in which they 
specially differ froui that of Putorius are elsewhere' summed. The skull 
indioafws considerable strength, particularly in the rostral portions, where it 
is maraive (still it is not so strong relatively as in either Gulo or Putorius); 
the cranial part is thinner, and usually gives indication of the cerebral folds 
within. Most of the sutures are early obliterated ; those of the nasals, bullie 
auditoriie, and zygomatic processes of sqnamosal and malar are the last to 
disappear. The nasals persist separate from each other long after they fnae 
with the maxillaries. 

The zygomatic width of the skull is more than half its length ; these 
Arches are upright, but are borne well away from the skull by the outward 
obliquity of their roots, both fore and aft. From an egg-shape cerebral 
part, the skull tapers to a decided postorbital constriction ; this is approxi- 
mately of the same (more or less) width as the rostral part. The cerebral 
part is rather broader than high. The upper profile of the skull is slightly 




convex, H]opiiig more rapidly down behind, with a frontnl concavity and 
oblique nasal oriflce. The roof of the brain-box is convex in every direction ; 
a temporal "fossa" lieiug only indicated by the ridges (sagittal and lamb- 
doidal), which indicate the extent of the tt^mporiil muscle. The sagittal crest 
divaricates anteriorly to run out to each Rupraorbital process; in old ani- 
mals, it is a thin high ridge ; in the yonng, a tablet of greater or less width. 
The occipital crest rises and flares with nge, but is always a thin edge. The 
occipital depression below this is well marked ; the condyles are notably 
projecting, and connected by a sharp ridge below the foramen magnum. 
The mastoids are not conspicuous. The bnllie are large, elongate, oblique, 
convex forward ; a slight constriction across them, and some outward pro- 
longation, develops a tubular meatus. Excepting the bnllie, the general 
floor of the skull is quite flat. The palate is completely ossified some dia- 
tancc back of the molars, and nearly plane. A broad, deep emargination 
lies between the pterygoids ; these are simply laminar, vertical, and terminate 
in a well marked hamular process. The palatal plates of the intermazil* 
laries, when not fused, are seen to be of very slight extent ; the small inoisiTe 
foramina do not reach as far back as the hinder border of the canines. The' 
orbits are pretty well defined by the curve of the zygoma and presence 
of supraorbital processes, but are not otherwise distinguished from the 
general temporal cavity. The anteorbital foramen is large, high up over the 
fore edge of the last premolar. The nasal orifice has a well-marked and little 
irregular bony parietes. 

The jaw has a lightly and somewhat irregularly convex inf :.ior profile. The 
coronoid plate is large, erect, its apex reaching or slightly overlapping the 
zygomatic arch. The angle of the jaw is a slight sbarp process. The con- 
dyle is low, about on the level of the teeth, broad from si(7e to side, bnt very 
narrow in the opposite direction. Its reception in the gle loid fossa is close, 
bnt the articulation does not lock as in Mdes or Tajcidea. 

The single upper molar is completely tubercular, low, flat, with irre^lar 
minor elevations and depressions, much broader transversely than length- 
wise, subquadrate in general contour, partly divided by a slight median 
constriction (both vertical and horizontal), with an inner and outer moiety, 
whereof the former more or less considerably exceeds the outer in length. 
The inner border of this inner moiety is always strongly convex, with m 
raised brim. In typical M. marten, the inner moiety is twice (to speak 
roundly) as large as the outer. In Jf. americana, much as in /oiiia, the 
disproportion is obviously less. The outer border of the outer moie^-' in 
ni<ir(e« is simply convex ; in the other forms just mentioned it is more or 
lessemarginate. The inner moiety shows one tubercle within the brim ; the 
outer has two such. 

The next tooth — lijst premolar— is tho largest of all, and sectorial in «har- 
acter, bnt with a prominent fang projecting inward from the anterior end. 
In profile, it shows a large, pointed, central cusp, flanked before and behind 
with a small one. There is quite an excavation between the large central 
and small posterior cusps. The next two molars, of nearly equal size, are 
much smaller than the lost, but repeat its characters in diminishing degree, 
minN« the antero-intemal fang. The remaining anterior premolar is very 
small. It is a simple conical cusp, with a slight heel behind, bnt none be- 
fore; it occasionally aborts. The large canines are not peculiar. The six 

U. 8* Geological 8arvey. 

MnitoUdM. PLATl lY. 


li««t«l» tolna* (Vat aiM.) 



Inoiaon are oIomIj crowded ; the outer pair are tnnoh larger than the reek ; 
tbeee are all alike. The outer are regularly curved, with an enlarged oin- 
galnm around the base ; the others etart obliquely forirard flroni the Jaw, 
then turn vertically downward with an appreciable angle. 

In the lower Jaw, of the two molan the hinderuiost ia email, olroular, and 
completely tuberculous. The next is the largest of the under teeth, ehiedy 
tectorial in character, but with a depressed, rimmed, tubercular, posterior 
moiety. This rim at each of its ends rises into a alight cusp, but the inner 
one is merely a slight heel to the central cusp, instead of a prominent point 
aa in M. foitia. The two main ouaps of the tooth are much higher, the 
hinder one highest, compressed, with cutting edge, forming with each other 
the usual V-sbape reSotrance, continued further down as a closed slit. The 
last premolar is a conical cusp augmented posteriorly by a secondary cusp 
half aa high, and with a heel both before and behind at the base. The next 
premolar is like the last, but smaller, with a mere trace of the secondary 
■cusp, though it is well heeled fore and aft. On the next premolar, the seC' 
•ondary cusp entirely subsides in a general gentle slope from the summit of 
the tooth to its base behind, and the front heel is not developed. The tirst 
premolar is simply a minute knob. It looks like a tooth hardly yet estab- 
lished, or else about to disappear. The lower canines are shorter, stonter, 
«nd more curved than the upp«!r. The six incisorH are greatly orowdetl be- 
iween the canines, so much so that, through lack of room, one at least some- 
times fails to develop, leaving only /Ire, as in more than one specimen before 
me. They are smaller than the upper ones, and not so regular, for one or 
A pair— most frequently the middle one — on each side is crowded back out 
-of the plane of the rest. As in the upiier Jaw, the outer pair of under inoi- 
aon are the largest, and have slightly clubbed and bilobate tips. 

3. The European Beeck marten. 

Muatela roin«» 

Plate IV. 

Hartes iOMesilca, Ot»n. Quad. 1551, 865, lAg.—Aldrov. g,iad. Dixit. iniS, 33i.—Jontt. 

Thestr. Quad. 1735, 156. 
Martcs laxalills, Sehwtnckfeld, Tberiotropb. 1603, 110. 
Mar««S la taxis, Agrie. Anlm. Subter. 16U, 38. 
Maries flicarMai, Buy, Syn. Quad..l693, aoo.-Ffem. Dr. An. lf«8, u. 
VartM saxema, KUin, Quad. 1751, 64. 

Matlela fejraa, Briu. Quad. 175H, 346, no. 7.— Pan. Zoiig. K. A. i. 1811, M. 

Haslcla fMaa, WkiU, Pbil. Trans. Ixiv. 1774, VJ6.—Erxl. Syat. An. 1777, 458, no. 5.-«cAre6. 

Sitng. iii. 1778, 494, pi. 139.— Ztotm. UMftr. Qeacb. li. 1780, 303, no. 196— Om. S. K. 1. 

1788, as, no. 14.— H«rm. Obs. ZoSi. 4'i.—Witdung. Taacb. fUr 1600, —.—B«eh$t. Naturg. 

i. , 755.— Dmm. Mamm. L 1890, 183 ; Nouv. Diet xlx. 380 ; Enoy. M^tb. pL 81, f. 1.— 

Fr. Cuv. Diet. Soi. Nat. sxix. 334.— /«. <7«o/. Diet. ClaM. x. 909.— Ori/. An. Kingd. 

V. 1897, 193, no. 350.— /en. Br. Vert. 1833, II.— 8tlyt-L. Fn. Belg. i. 1849, 9.— jr«v«. <e 

KlM.Wirb. Eur. 1840, 67.— Sekiiu. Syn. Mamm. 1. 1844, 336.—B(a<nv. Compt. Band. 

xiv. 1849, 910 seq. p\n.—Oieb. Odont. 33, pi. 13, f. 3; saug. 1855, m.—Benut, Arch. 

Naturg. six. 1833, 17.— Ptoicer. Ann. Maji- >'• U- S<1 "«r. xx. 1857, 416.— Brandt, 

Bemerlc. Wirb. Eur. N. E. Raaal. , 94.—Bliu. Wirb. Dentachl. 1857, 917, f. 193.— 

JOekd, Zool. Gart. xiv. 1873, 457 (albino). 
''iTiTerra ftolaa, Shaw, Gen. Zool. i. 1800, 409. 



U»rit% M**, U*U, Urit. q»mi. I(U7, 107 ; iKl •<!. 1(C4, 'Mxt.—em^. Llat lIiiniB. Br. Uua. 

IM3, 63i I'. Z. S. It)'i3, l(M; Cat. Ciiro. Ur. Ma*. Irttu, <^.—ii*rr. CaC BonM Br. Una. 

IMS, Wl. 
MMtcU ■•HW vmr. talis, I. 8. N. I KM, r.7. 
MMItlainitoM, OA««ii. Ann. Hcl. Mat. Mb (vr. lU. ie7l. 97 (anat.). 
FMlir, Brit$. op. toe. oit.—BomMrf, Ulct. d U. N. il. ItW. •ua.—Buf. Hiat. Xat. riL Ml.— 

Ote». K. A. I. U9.—Frtneh. 
P«lM», AvMir. giud. U. pi. m.— Italian. 
MrlBMSNer, //«/(. Xatarg. Vierf. Tb. 1757, i'o9.— (itn»an. 
NleliaaNer od*r BHCkaMNcr, Jr«{/#r, Vontcll. Tblrre. III. 4.— r>'«nN<»i. 
■■■•■•Ner, JKarf. Buff. Vierf. Tb, 147, pi. «l a.—8rhr. Fn. Bote. I. no. 9.—U«rmmi». 
MartlM. iVnn. Byn. Qaad. 1771, 919. no. IM -, Br. Zoiil. 3«. (//omm, Stom. and BmcA JTar- 

f«n. itarUm, Mtrttrun. Martklt.) 
Palaat A>>an<«A. 

The Beech or Stone MarttMi, wbicb He«ins tn be troll establisbeJ nsa spectea, 
may asually be diatiodniabed from tbe Pine Marten by the pare white throat 
and acme other external features, as well as by some difference in babita. 
Bot stronger characters are foand In the sknll and teeth. Some differences 
in tbe proportions of the sknll are obvionn, and snflScient to confer a ncog' 
nizably different physiognomy ; the rostral part of the sknll is mach shorter. 
The flrontal profile above is more sloping ; the zygomatic width is relatively 
greater. The zygoma is regularly arcbeil tbronghoat, instead of rising ab- 
ruptly behind and then sloping down gradually forward. 'The anterior root 
of tbe zygoma, owing to the shortness of tbe mnzzle, is nearly half-way 
from the supraorbital process to the end of tbe sknll ; it is mnob farther 
back in if. mtirtet. Tbe palate is much shorter and broader fpr its length. 
The back upper molar is very notably less massive; its inner moiety is bat 
littl'j larger than tbe outer ; the latter is nicked on the outer border, whereas 
in M. martea the inner moiety of tbe same is nearly twice as large as tbe outer, 
and the border of the latter is strongly convex. In if./oina, tbe inner anterior 
fang of the last premolar is very small and oblique ; in M. martm, it is much 
larger and projects inward at a right angle. Tbe next premolar is appreciably 
smaller than the same tooth in M. martes. These dental peculiarities, taken 
ttotu specimens before me, are confirmatory of Blasius' dia)rnosi8. Tbe skulls 
are 3.35 or less in total length by about 1.90 in greatest width ; those of M. 
marte$ are 3.oU or more in leugtb, with a width scarcely greater than in 
if. marici. It seems a slight difference in the figures, but tbe resulting mod- 
ification in shape is decided. Similarly, the palate of M.foina is about 1.40 
in length by 0.90 in greatest width inside tbe teeth ; that of if. siartet is 
1.70 in length, with no greater width. As a practical means of appreciating 
these differences, let one take the Jaw of if. martn, and try to fit it to a 
skull of if. /oiaa, or conversely. Cautions and accurate observers, like Dau- 
benton and Bell, have recorded their doubts of the specific distinctness of 
the two forms; bat Bell, at least, has found reason to change his opinion, 
while the views of many equally good judges are concnrreat with thosejbere 



3. The Avintie «iible. 

.Vaatvla ■Ibvlllnn. 

MNUrlM Mkf lU, Qt$n. ^}\im\. IUI, ma.—Rtaez. Anct. Polon. 1730, 317. 

MNilel* MkriM. Fortr. Atig. Thlerb. 0«toer, Xtxif, 347. 

MNdela IlkelllM, SUtrot. Qutd. Diftt. 1043, 333.— CAirbr. Exereit. l«n, Va.—Ray, Syn. 

(juMl. 16tf3. JtOl— Linn. S. X. Sii ed. 1740. 44 1 Oth ed. 1740, 5, no. l.—KUin, Quul. 1731, 

64.— /oiuf. Tbeatr. Qiuul. 1733, 130— Linn. 8. X. lOtb ed. 173a, 46, no. 8; 19th ed. 

1706, 00. no. 9.—^. a. am. N. C. Petrop. t. 330. pi. 0.— £rx(. Syst An. 1777, 407, no. 

9.-8chrtb. Sttag. Iti. I77e, 47d, pi. 130.-/imiN. Oeofcr. OMoh. 11. 1740, 309, no. 100.— 

Pnll 8pio. Zool. xir. KM, 34, pi. 3, f. 9; Zotfrt- K. A. 1. 180, 83, pi. t.-Turt. 8. N. i. 

18U0, 39.— (^m. 8. N. i. 17M, 90, no. 9.—3im. Kom. 0«Mh. 111. 493.— Dwm. Hnnim. I. 

IMO, IM, no. 989; Nonv. Diet. zix. i^\ Snoy. ll«tb. pi. 89.— IV. Cm». Diot. 8oL Nat. 

xxlx. 1893, 9S3.-/«. Qtof. Diet. ClaM. z. 910.— OK/. An. Klngd. v. 1897, 194, no. 331.— 

L«M. Man. 1807, 14d.-iVwA. Syn. 1809, 310.— Biaiiwf. Compt. Road. xiv. 1849, 910 Mq. 

pU.—8ehiM, Syn. Main. i. 1S44, 330.-Oi«6. Sitag. lefSS. 776.— firamit, B«merk. Wirb. 

X. E. RoMl. 91.— JTidd. 8iblr. SXng. 68, pi. 9.— Sehr«nek, RetM AmnrI , 97. 

NastcU ■•riM ItkCllllt, JBiiM.Qnad. 1730, 348, no. 9. 
TlTcrra ilbelllas, 8hnw, 0«n. Zodl. i. 1800, 4li. 

.««H« IIMIlia, Oray, P. Z. & 1803, 103 (" JfiuMla" Uiptw) : Cat. Carn. Br. Mn«. 1869, R3. 
M«?t«l llkellllia var. MiallM, Brandt Beit. Kennt. Siiag. KumI. 183.V 0, pll. 1, li, and pi. 

Ill, f. 7,8,9 (many "•ubrarietiea" nameil). 
ZokeU. Agrie- Anim. Sabt«r. 1014, 39. 
Mckelllaa, Schef. Lappon. 1073, 343. 
Zeliel, StnhUnb. Ear. a. Asia, 1730, 430.— J. O. am. Reise. (. 1731. 391.-i7(iU. Katurg. Vlerf. 

Tbiorv, 1757, 439.— jra/{. Natura. 1773, 379.— SMf. Kauitacht. 1774, 119.— itarttn», Zuol. 

0-*-t. xi, 1870, 334 (philological). 
takcldirr, Boutt Xat. Hist Dieren, U. 1761, 904.-i>i/f<'A. 
XlbcIlM, Bnff. Hist. Xat xiii. 1703, 309.-Iiomar«, Diet iv. 176i>, 6iO.-Freneh. 
CehCllIlM, CeTeilina. SpanUh.—l\h«lUmo, Italian.— Suhbtl, Hivedith.—^bol, Poliih, Kim- 

Sable, Pmn. .Syn. Qnad. 1771, 917, no. 156 ; Hist Qnad. 339, no. 901 ; Arot. Zo6l. i. 1784. 79, no. 

30. (Saphilina* PiUu, aable akins, is foand in Jornandes; Zomboliitu ooours in 

Marco Po)o.— ITebitor.) 

Lack of specimens of tbis form nnfortnnateJy prevents me from bringing 
it into the discnssion upon any original investigations ; tbe views of aathors 
are discnssed beyond. I have, however, careftally examined both skins 
and skolla of Jf. martet, fvina, and americana. Such is the variability 
of the pelage, that probably no decisive indications can be gathered from 
comparisons of tbe skins, however widely these may differ in extreme cases. 
The skulls and teeth afford the readiest means of separating these three 
closely-allied forms. 

The following measurements of three skulls, selected as fairly expressing 
averages of If. martet, foina, and americana respectively, will show in 
what the cranial differences consist. The sknll of M. foina differs more 
from those of both M. martet and M. americana than these latter do from 
each other; bnt these latter are readily distinguished by their dental- 



Mta»iirtmmt$ of $ktilh of MM. roiKA, martu, «n4 ambmcaka. 

M. folna 


ToUllenith { las 

OfMlMt width ' 1.M 

LaMt width (eseluntT* of buuU) 0. W 

IMaUBM batwiMQ orblta 0.M 

Upper Inolaon tntn front hinder auriin 

of palate 1.35 

ITpporiiMlaraaBd pnimoUra, leogth Ukon 

lOEathar olM 

Lower Jaw, lensth, fhnu apei of •yaphy- 

ala to back of condyle 9.05 

Lower Jaw, height anule to top of coro- 

Mid 0.M 

Front border of orbll, aad of Intermaz. 

Illary , 0.M 

Width of mm sle behind caniaeo 5lM 

Oreateat leacth of tygouia i 1.80 

Oreateat width of paUte inaide teeth 0. «« 

Width aoroea anpraorbltal proceaaea 1. <I0 

Oreateat length (longltuduial) of baok , 

opper moUr 0.83 

Width of craninm proper 1.10 

M. martea 








1. 75 

















The indioations afforded liy the t'oreKoiug meiMurements. tugether with 
tome other cranial aud dental charaoters, may be oammiMl in the following 
diagnoatic paragraphs. It wiVi be seen that moot of the cranial points brought 
out by Prof. Baird {op. eit. p. Vht) are substantiated, but it must be borne 
inHmiud that they are matters of degree, which may not always hold, except 
of averages. The remarkable difference iu the baok upper molar, as insistetl 
upon by Oray, is the principal character upon which to rely between marlea 
and americaHO. 

Comparatire diagnotn. 

M. martet. — Inner moiety of book upper molar one-third lunger than outer 
moiety, and altogether aboat twice as large (ooinoideatly with which the 
entire dentelure of martet is stronger than in the other two forms, though 
differences in particular teeth are not readily expreosed) ; outer border of 
outer moiety regularly strongly convex. Fang of last upper premolar large, 
traosyerse. Penultimate under molar with a cusp well developed at the 
poptero-internal base of the main cusp. Sides of muzzle nearly parallel. 
Supraorbital processes midway between greatest constriction of craninm and 
anterior root of zygoma ; the constriction moderate. Zygomatic width more 
than half total length of skull. 

M. am«rioaiui.— Inner moiety of back upper molar scarcely longer or larger 
than the outer [in 35 skulls examined] ; outer border of outer moiety double- 
convex, <. «., with an emargination. Fang of last premolar small, oblique. 
Penultimate under molar with merely a slight heel at base inside of the main 
eosp. Sides of muzzle sensibly tapering. Supraorbital processes nearer point 
of greatest constriction than anterior root uf zygoma ; constriction great. 
Zygomatic width about half total length of skull. 

M. foina. — Molar and last upper premolar as in americaHa ; pt:nnltimate 
lower molar with prominent supplementary cusp as in martet. Sides of mnz- 
ale sensibly tapering. Supraorbital processes much nearer point of greatest 
constriction than anterior root of zygoma ; oonstrirtion slight. Zygomatic 
width much more than half total length of skull. 






1. 10 


1. 10 

0. M» 



iier with 
I bronght 
be borne 
d, except 
I insisted 
n marlet 

lan outer 
liioh the 
I, though 
lorder of 
lar Urge, 
[1 at the 
linm and 
1th more 

or larger 
IT double- 
the main 
rer point 
n great. 

I of mnz- 


U. 8. Geological Survey. 

MniteUdn. PLATE Y. 

MuMtcIa auiertcMUM. (Nat. aiM.) 



The Americnii ^.ibBe or .llarten. 

Mnstels ninerlcnnn. 

Plate v. 

MDMlr:* marleil, For»t. Phil. Irana. Ixii. 1773, 372.— 7^. Snb. Frankl. Jonrn. 1893, Ml.— Earl 
Fn. A mer. ISSS, 67 (qnot«s a "MutteU vUnn var.")— Warden, Hist U. S. t. ldl)», 613.— 
Rich. F. B. A. i, 1809. 51, no. n.—Oapp. Zuol. Joaro. ▼, 1630, 903.— Oodm. Am. N.|H. 
i. lau, WO.—Emmont, Rep. Qnad. Masi. 1^40, 40.— D* K. N. Y. Zoiil. i. 1H9, Sil, pL 11, 
f. a, pi. IS. f. 3 {akn\\).—Aud. <t Saeh. i). N. A. iii. 1853, 176, pi. 13S.—Tkompi. N.|H. 
Vermont, 18S3, 9il.-Bming$, Canod. Nat. and Geol. U. 1857, 463.— AOm, Bull. H.C. 
Z. i. 1870, 161 (eritioal).-ir«nn. Xr. III. State Agric. Soc. for 1853-54, 1855, 578.— AU. 
Bnll. Esa. Inst vi. 1674, 54, 59 (Colorado and Wyoming).— Hall, Canad. Nat and 
6eoL Tl. 1801, 295. 

MHNielA ■■erinas, TurUm, ed. L. 8. N. i. 1$(H>, 60— Bd. M. N. A. 1857, 153, pi. 36, f. 3 (aknll), 
pi. 37, f. 1 (aknll).— A'eipft. P. R. R. Rep. vi. If57, n.-Kntel. Proo. Boat. Soc.,::. H. vL 
1858, 418.— Coop. <C Sueki N. H. W. T. 18<iO, n.—Rois, Canad. Nat vi. 1861, 35.— iT^pin, 
Tr. Nov. Soot. Inst ii. 1870, 10. S9.—Ame$, Ball. Minn. Acad. Nat Sci. 1<>74. 69.— 
Coue* <t rarroic, Zool. Expl. \V. 100 Merid. v. 1875, 61 (Taos, N. y[.).—AlUn, Bull. U. S. 
Geol. Sarv. vol. ii. no. 4, 1876, 338 (skull). 

M«HCB aBCrlCIIBa, Gray, P. Z. S. 1865, 106 ; Cat. Cam. Br. Mas. 1869, 84. 

Maitcs •■erim* van. ablctlaoMefi, karo, et leuropHs, Gray, U. ee. 

Maslela Ilkelllnt var. amerlcuna, Brandt. Beit. Siiag. Knasl. 1855, 16, pL 3, f. 10 (critical). 

MnMela llbclllaa, Oodm. Am. Nat. Hist. i. 1831,308 (refers to trne Sable, but the Amer. 
loan speciea described). 

XustCia \uWm», Ruf. Am. J. Sc. i. 1819. fi; Phil. Ma^. 1819, 411; Isis, 1834, 453 (Upper 
Missouri River) (tail white at eniD.—Fifeh. Syu. 1839, 315. 

Mustela (Martea) rnlplaa, Sehim. Syn. Mamm. i. 1844, a't7. 

MaMCia leucopas, Kuhl, Beit 1820, U.—Fhch. Syn. 1839, 316. 

MBKtela (Maries) leacopui, Sehimi Sya. Mamm. i. 1844, :)i7. 

Martn leucopas, Gray, List Mamm. Br. Miis. 1843, 63.— 0'«rr. Cat. Done* Ur. Mua 1863, 91. 

MttSlela leacopus, Griff. Cav. R. A. v. 1837, 136, no. 357. 

Mustela hnro, f. Cuv. Diet Sci. Nat xxix. 1833, a.^G; Snppl. Unlf. i. 1831, 331.— /«. Geoff. 
Diet Class. X. m.—fisch. Sjn. 18S9. 317. 

Mustela (Martea) huro, Sehim, Syu. Mauim. i. 1844, xn. 

Mustela martlans, Amet, Bnll. Minn. Acad. Nnt. Sci. 1874, 69. 

MartiB or Martea, Plae Marteu, Amerlrau Hablr, of American writors. 

Wawpeestau, Wawbeechlns, Wappanvw, Indian (Richardson). 

Description ontl (liscitsiiion of the species.* 

This animal is about the size of a large House Gat, though 
standing much lower on account cf the shortness of the legs. 
The length of the head and body is about a foot and a half, 
more or less ; the tail with the hairs is a foot long or less ; the 
tail-vertebrte are less than half as long as the head and body. 
The tail is very full and bushy, particularly toward the end, 
the reverse of the tapering pointed shape which obtains in M. 
pennanti. The longer hairs of the tail at and near the end 
measure abont 3 inches. The head is quite broadly triangular, 
or rather conical, with the contraction of the muzzle beginning 

* Prepared from naineroaa specimens id the Smithsonian Institation. 





at the site of the eyes. These are oblique, and situated about 
over the angle of the mouth, midway between the snout and 
the ears. The latter are quite high, somewhat pointed, though 
obtusely so, but not regularly orbicular as in M. pennanti f their 
height above the notch is rather greater than their width at base; 
they are closely hairy on both sides. The longest whiskers 
reach to the back of the ears ; there are other bristles over the 
eyes, on the oheeks, and chin. The end of the snout is defi- 
nitely naked in T-shaped area, as usual in this genus. The 
limbs are short and stout ; ihe feet appear small in comparison 
with the calibre of the legs. The outstretched hind legs reach 
more than half-way to tbo end of the tail. The soles are ordi- 
narily densely furred, only the ends of the pale-colored claws 
appealing. But in the frequent specimens observed with scant- 
haired soles, the tubercles may be distinctly seen, without part- 
ing the fur ; they have the ordinary disposition. 

The pelage is long and extremely soft and full. It consists 
of three kinds of fur. The first is very short, soft, and wool- 
like, immediately investing the skin, as may be seen upon pluck- 
ing away both kinds of the longer hairs. The second is soft 
and kinky, like the first, but very much longer, coming to the 
general surface of the pelt. The third is the fewer, still longer, 
glossy hairs, bristly to the roots. 

It is almost impossible to describe the colors of the Pine 
Marten, except in general terms, without going into the de- 
tails of the endless diversities occasioned by age, sex, season, 
or other incidents. The animal is *< brown", of a shade from 
orange or tawny to quite blackish ; the tail and feet are ordi- 
narily the darkest ; the head lightest, often quite whitish ; the 
ears are usually rimmed with whitish ; on the throat, there is 
usually a large tawny yellowish or orange-brown patch, from 
the chin to the fore legs, sometimes entire, sometimes broken 
into a number of smaller, irregular blotches, sometimes want- 
ing, sometimes prolonged on the whole nnder surface, when 
the animal is bicolor, like a Stoat in summer. The general 
" brown " has a grayish cast, as far as the under fur is con- 
cerned, and is overlaid with rich lustrous blackish-brown in 
places where the long bristly hairs prevail. The claws are 
whitish; the naked nose-pad and wMskers are black. The 
tail occasioBally shows intersi^ersed white hairs, or a white tip. 

Upon this subject, I cannot do better than quote again from 



the artiole of Mr. B. R. Boss, who describes the Marten frooi 
long exfierietice of its vartations :-^ 

•< The winter far of this species is full and soft, abottt an 
inch avd a half deep, with a number of coarse black hairs 
interspersed. The tail is densely covered with two kinds of 
hair, sitaiilar to those of the bAck but coarser. The hairs «n 
the tol|) ate longest, measnri'ng 2^ inches, and giring the end a 
very bushy appearance. The fur is in full coat from about the 
end of October until the beginning of May, according to locality. 
When in such condition the cuticle [sic, meaning skin viewed 
from inside] is white, clean, and very thin. From the latter of 
these dates the skin acquires a darker hue, which increases 
until the hair is renewed, and then gradually lightens until the 
approach of winter, the fur remaining good for some time 
before and after these changes. When casting its hair the 
animal has far from a pleasing appearance, as the under fur 
falls off leaving a shabby covering of the long coarser hairs, 
which have then assumed a rusty tint. The tail changes later 
than any other part, and is still bushy in some miserable look- 
ing summer specimens now lying before me. After the fall 
of these long hairs, and towards the end of summer, a fine 
short fur pushes up. When in this state the pelage is very 
pretty and bears a strong resemblance to a dark mink in its 
winter coat. It gradually lengthens and thickens as winter 
approaches, and may be considered prime after the first fall of 

'• It is difficult to describe the color of the martin fur accu- 
rately. In a large heap of skins (upwards of fifty) which I 
have just examined minutely there exists a great variety of 
shades darkening from the rarer of yellowish-white and bright 
orange, into various shades, of orange brown, some of which 
are very dark. However, the general tint may with propriety 
be termed an orange brown, considerably clouded with black 
on the back and belly, and exhibiting on the flanks and throat 
more of an orange tint. The legs and paws as well as the top 
of the tail are nearly pure black. The claws are white and 
sharp. The ears are invariably edged with a yellowish white, 
and the cheeks are generally of the same hue. The forehead 
is of a light brownish fr-^v. darkening towards the noso, but 
in some specimens it is nearly as dark as the body. The 
yellowish marking under the throat, (considered as a specific 
distinction of the pine martins) is iu some well defined and of 




'f I 


i 'i 

an orange tint, while in others it is almost perfectly white. It 
also varies much in extent, reaching to the fore legs on some 
occasions. At other times it consists merely of a few spots, 
while in a third of the specimens under consideration it is 
entirely wanting. 

"After minutely comparing these skins with Prof. Baird's 
and Dr. Brandt's description of the martins, and the latter 
gentleman's paper on the sables, I find that the if. Americana 
of this district agrees in general more closely with the latter, 
and am therefore disposed to coincide with that gentleman in 
his opinion that they are only varieties. The martins of this 
district bear a greater resemblance to the sables of Eastern 
Siberia than to the martins of Europe, holding, as it may be 
with propriety said, an intermediate position. I am also in- 
clined to believe that the various colors found in these regions 
are simply varieties of the same species, and that the difter- 
ences if any, seen in the Zib. [«{c, lege zibellina] are merely 
continental. In summer, when the long hairs have fallen off, 
the pelage of this animal is darker than in winter. The fore- 
head changes greatly, becoming as deeply colored as any other 
part of the body, which is of an exceedingly dark brown tint 
on the back, belly and legs. The yellow throat- markings are 
much more distinct at this season, but vary much both in color 
and extent, though in only one summer skin are they abso- 
lutely wanting. The white edging ou and around the ears still 
remains, but tte cheeks assume a grayer tint. The tail is not 
so full, but from the high North latitude (the Arctic coast) 
from which these skins were procured it is still rather bushy. 
One of the specimens has the dark hairs laid on in thin longi- 
tudinal stripes, causing a curious appearance." 

The last paragraph, brings us directly to the consideration 
of the position which the American Marten holds among its 
congeners. Upon this vexed question it is incumbent upon 
me to review the testimony for and against the specific dis- 
tinction of this animal from the Old World Pine Marten and 
Sable, and to state clearly the grounds upon which my own 
conclusions rest. Passing over some earlier accounts, which, 
owing to inadequacy or lack of point, are entirely superseded 
by later and better investigations, we may examine four au- 
thors who have made the subject a matter of special examina- 
tion, namely. Gray, Brandt, Baird, and Allen. 

In the first place,' M. foina may be thrown entirely oat of 



the question. It is now almost universally admitted to be a 
distinct species, even by the most cautious and conservative 
writers, some among whom, like Bell, were formerly inclined 
to the contrary opinion. Some external characters, more or 
less obvious and constant, like the white gular patch, are 
correlated with perfectly definite and satisfactory cranial and 
dental peculiarities, as elsewhere detailed in this paper. 

In discussing the European and American Pine Martens, to 
which I will now direct attention, Gray, Brandt, and Baird 
were agreed upon specific distinction. Allen dissented from such 
view, reviving the case as presented by Richardson, Audubon, 
and others. Dr. Oray made the separation entirely upon the 
character of the posterior upper molar. Dr. Brandt elaborately 
detailed external characters of size, propo. :d, color, and char- 
acter of pelage. I^aird adduced certain crauial and dental as 
well as external features. Allen confined himself to external 
prints. Finding that the accounts of authors are unsatisfac- 
tory or conflicting in these respects (as may be truly said to be 
the case), observing the great admitted range of variation, and 
not examining the skulls and teeth, he disallowed specific valid- 
ity. I myself, with ample material before me, do not find suffi- 
cient grounds derived from examination of the skins alone for 
admitting the specific distinction of M. americana and martes 
(but it is otherwise when the skull and teeth are considered). 
Some of the alleged distinctions obviously fail. Thus, there is 
no difference in the furring of the soles (cf. Baibd, op. cit. p. 
154); in the animal from either country, the pads may be ex- 
posed or concealed according to season or locality. Many of 
the minute points of coloration adduced by Brandt cannot be 
verified, and, indeed, are negatived in the examination of suffi- 
cient series of specimens. Prof. Baird has, I think, most perti- 
nently summed the case in the following terms {I. c): — "The 
Swedish specimens are much larger, although the skulls appear 
to indicate the same age. The fur is harsher and coarser, and 
the prevailing tints paler ; the tail and feet are not very dark 
brown, instead of being almost black. The color of the fur at 
base is lighter. The throat-patch does not touch the fore legs. 
The tails of the European specimens appear longer in propor- 
tion to the boily . . . . " This greater length of the tail is 
also attested by Brandt, who says that the tail-vertebrte in M. 
martes equal one half or more of the length oi head and 
body, and extend nearly one-third beyond the outstretched 




hind leg«. This distiDction is confirmed, as an average char- 
acter, by the speciinens before me, thongb, like other matters 
of mere degre-e, it is subject to some uncertainty of determina- 
tion. I similarly endorse, on the whole, a lighter, grayer, more 
uniform coloration of M. martesj t^lthough in the interminable 
variations of M. americana probably no infallible distinctions 
can be substantiated. But all these points Lave a certain value 
when correlated, as they should be, with the cranial and dental 
peculiarities. These are decided, and, I think, not open to 
reasonable question as affording good specific characters. 
Baird has tabulated most of them, and the specimens I have 
examined confirm nearly all the distinctions he has soaght to 
establish. While lie has not, as asserted by Gray, overlooked 
certain dental peculiarities, he has perhaps not laid the stress 
upon them which is warranted. Gray rests secure, I think, in 
basing the primary distinction upon the remarkable features 
presented by the back upper molar. We may bring the points 
to mind by saying that in M. martes we find an hourglass- 
shaped tooth with one bulb (the inner) very much larger than 
the other ; while in M. americana there is less median constric- 
tion, nearly an equality in size of the two bulbs, and an emar- 
g'nate instead of simply convex exterior contour of the outer 
bulb. There are coordinated dental characters : the last upper 
premolar in M. martea ha« a strong, directly transverse, inner 
fang ; the same in M. americana Is smaller and oblique. The 
penultimate lower molar in M. martes develops a compara- 
tively strong supplementary cusp at the base on the inner side 
iff the main cusp, represented in M. americana merely by a 
slight heel. It is to these dental characters that I primarily 
refer in predicating, as I do, specific validity of M. americana. 
I coordinate them with the cranial characters elsewhere de- 
tailed, and supplement them with the less essential external 
features already noted, in coming to the conclusion that the 
American is not the Pine Marten of Europe. 

The question then narrows to the characters of M. americana 
in comparison with those of M. zibeUina, the true "Bussian'' 
Sable. Gray separates the two upon dental peculiarities ; the 
Sable having, according to his determination, the same dental 
characters as M. martes. I regret that I have not been able to 
verify this. If it indeed holds, it would be sufficient ta settle 
the issue between M. zibellina and M. americana^ whatever 
might then become of the ascribed and supposed differences 



between toe former of these .and M. niartes. Viewing the un- 
questionably close relations between the American and Asiatic 
Sables, it becomes very desirable to clear up this point. With- 
out reference to dental or cranial characters, Baird says that 
''the true Sable is readily distinguishable by the short tail, 
which does not extend as far as the end of the outstretched 
hind feet, and by the balls of the toes covered entirely with 
woolly fur". The latter distinction does not hold, as we have 
seen; the former is disallowed by Brandt, who finds that in 
both the Asiatic and American Sable the tail has much the 
same length, being, without the hairs, about one-third the body, 
and not reaching as far as the outstretched hind feet. Certain 
supposed color distinctions which Brandt found in the Ameri- 
can specimens he examined are clearly negatived by the more 
extensive series before me. He, however, finds in the Ameri- 
can animal a pelage less dense and lighter-colored, with a less 
bushy tail, and, upon such consiilerations, is induced to regard 
it rather as a variety of the ziheUina than as a distinct species 
or as the Pine IVIarten of Europe. The very close relationships 
of the American and Asiatic Sables are unquestionable. Brandt 
properly alludes to intermediate si)ecimens he had seen ; Mr. 
Koss reaffirms such a state of the case ; in fine, external char- 
acters, when thoroughly sifted, are seen to be inadequate as a 
means of specific diagnosis. The case really hinges upon the 
validity of the dental characters ascribed by Gray, of which it 
is seen that Brandt makes no note. If these characters hold, 
there is no doubt of the propriety of separating M. americana 
specifically ; otherwise, it must be referred to Jf. zibelUna as a 
continental race, as Brandt has done. 

In the present state of the case, this may be considered the 
proper reply to the often-asked question, have we the true Sable 
in America ? The animal is, to all external api)earance, indis- 
tiuguisbable except in some of those slight points of pelage 
which, through the whims of fashion, a£feot its commercial 
value, but there may be a technical zoological character of im- 
portance in the teeth. 

I will only add that I see nothing tending to give weight to 
a supposition that there might be more than one species or va- 
riety of Marten on this continent. All the endless diversity in 
minor points* which inspection of large series reveals comefr 
clearly within the range of individual variability as a result of 
climate, season, age, sex, or other incidents. 


MtoMurfmenls' of thirty-four frtMh «j*(d»ieM 0/ Mustcla a^iericama. 




Takon ( November).. 

.do . 
. . . .do . 

.(October) ... 
.(December) . 

• • • ■ Utl ■•••■• I 

• • • > uo •••••■ I 

. (March) .... ... 

Peel's River (December) . 

.do. .. .. .. 

do .. .. 
— do.. .. .. .. .. .. 
. . do . . .. 
. . .do . . .. .. .. .. .. 


■ ■ * > a lUO ••••■• 

• ••>•• U V ■••••■ 




. . (November) . 

■ ■•••• no ■•■••• 

• ■ > • ■ ■ UO ■■•••• 



. . (December) . 
..(October) ... 

• ■>■■• UO ■•■••• 
>■•••• UO •••■•• 

• •••■• UU ■•■••• 

. .... do 


>•■••• UO ■•••■• 
»■•>•■ UO ■••■•* 


From tip of DOM 

1.60 3. 


I. Hi. 
It. 3313. 

1.63 3. 

1. 75 3. 
!l. 453. 
1 1. 4513. 
11.60 3. 
|1. 40:i 
1 1.703. 
11.63 3 
ll. 60 3 
1. 60;3. 
ll. 40 3. 
1. 43,3. 
1. 603. 
1. «5 3. 
1.33 3. 
1. 611 3. 
1. 60 a. 
1.60 3. 
1.60 3. 
1.30 3. 
1. 40 3. 

00 4.40 
60!3. 80 
HOili. 43 
60 3.60 
90{3. 93 
901.1. 93 
73>3. 90 
65 3. 60 
10:4. OS 

«v 3. 50| 
90 3. 85 
70 3. 45 
M 4. lO' 
00 3. 95 
90'3. 851 
90;3. 90 
0IH3. 83 
83|3. 73 
60;:l. 60 
10 4. lOj 
80 3. 80; 
90 3; 83 
30 4. 110' 
95.3. 95; 
75 3. 85 
10 4. 00 
90 3.80; 
80 3. 851 
70,3. 50' 



Tail to 
end of— 



10.00 3. 


10.60 3. 






17. 60 7. 30 
18. 3018.00! 
18. 40!7. 80 
17. 40 7. 90' 
17. 40 7. 30; 

16. ooh. 00! 

16. 3017. 95 
17. 90'7. 90 
18.30 7.80 
17. 10 7. 40 
18. 00'7. 15 
17. 60 7. 75 
17. 30 7. 60 
17. 707. 33 
13. 80 6. 90 



93 4. 43 L 40 

404. to. ...| 
903.63'!. 33, 
80 3. 80' 1.901 

00 4. 301. ...I 
104.401 1. 351 

303. 6:.i 1.90; 

104.10: 1. 60i 

63 3. 80 1. 30: 




934.43 1.63; 

60 3L 70 1.401 





10. 00>3. 
11. 10!3. 
10. 8013. 
10. 703. 
10. 353. 
10. 3013. 
11. 03a 
11. 103. 
10. 70 3. 


9. 80:3. 






104.90 1.40, 
703.701 1.93! 
154.10 1.35 
034. 90 1. 601 
00 4. 9311.33! 


. . .do. 

"As recorded by the collectors on the Ia1>els of the specimens. 


The foregoing table of careful fresh measuremeuts satisfac- 
torily indicates the average diuieusioos and range of variation 
of this species in the higher latitudes. The female is seen to 
be considerably smaller than the male on an average, though 
the dimensions of the sexes inosculate. The range is from 15^ 
to over 19 in length of head and body, with an average near 
17^. The tail-vertebrte range from little over 6 to 8}, averaging 
near 7}. With the hairs, this member ranges from 9} to 12 
inches, being generally about 11 inches. Etar from about I4 to 
If* generally about 1 ^. Fore toot 2f to 3f , settling near 3. Hind 
foot 3f to nearly 4}, generally a little over 4. These eztrem??.< 
it will be remembered, are those between the largest males and 
smallest females ; neither sex has so wide a range. 


Mr. J. A. AUeu has recently * given a table of measurement of 
length and breadth of forty-six skulls of this species, prepared to 
show the range of geographical variation. His results are here 
reproduced, together with his critical commentary on the 
specific validity of M. americana. It will be seen that he aban- 
dons his former t position, and endorses the distinctive charac- 
ters of the dentition of J/.U. niarteSf foina, and americana. 

The forty-siz male akulln of this of which messuretueuts are 
given belovr are Liainly from four or tive localities ilifferi'ig widely in lati- 
tude. A comparison of the average size of a cousiderabld number from each 
shows a well-marked decrease in size soutbwanl. Four skulls from Peel 
River, the largest, and also from the most northerly lucnlity, have an aver- 
age length of 3.39, and an average width of 2.07, the extremes l)eing 3.50 and 
3.35 in length and 2.12 and 2.02 in width. Nine skulls from the Yukon (prob- 
ably mostly from near Fort Yukon) give an average length of 3.34 and an aver- 
age width of 1.98, the extremes being 3.55 and 3.0U in length and 2.15 and 1.73 
in width. Five skulls from Fort Good Hope give au average length of 3.24 
and an average width of 1.95, the extremes in length being 3..37 and 3.15 and 
in width 2.05 and 1.73. Ten skulls from the uorthern shore of Lake Superior 
average 3.14 in length and 1.76 in width, the extremes iu length being 2.23 
and 3.02 and in width 1.89 and 1.65. Eight skulls from the vicinity of Um- 
bagog Lake, Maine (Coll. Mus. Comp. Zool.), average 2.90 in length and 1.72 
in width, the extremes in length being 3.10 and 2.73 and in width 1.85 and 
1.50. Five skulls from Northeastern New York average 3'.02 iu length and 
1.61 in width, the extremes being in length 3.10 and 2.92 and in width 1.69 
and 1.50. There is thns a gradual descent in the average length from 3.39 
to 3.02, and in width from 2.07 to 1.61. The largest and the smallest of the 
series are respectively 3.55 and 2.92 in length. Several fall as low as 3.00, 
and an equal number attain 3.50. The difference between the largest and 
the smallest, excluding the most extreme examples, is one-sixth of the dimen- 
sions of the smaller and one-seventh of the size of the larger. 

The sexes differ considerably in size, relatively about the same as in Puto- 
riuB vi$on; bnt the above generalizations are based wholly on males, and in 
each case on those of practically the same age, only specimens indicating 
mature or advanced age being used. 

The series of fully one hundred skulls of this species contained in the 
National Museum presents a considerable range of variation in details of 
structure, involving the general form of the skull, the relative size of differ- 
ent parts, and the dentition, especially the form and relative size of the last 
molar. In a former paper,| I had occasiou to notice somewhat in detail the 
variations in color our American Martens present, and the difficulty of find- 

* Bull. U. S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, vol. ii, 
no. 4, pp. 328-330 (July, 1876). 

t Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Cambridge, i, pp. 161-167 (Oct. 1869). 

t " Mammals of Massachusetts ", Bull. Mus. Comp. Zuol. vol. i, pp. lGl-167 
(Oct., 1869). 



r: ' 





ing aD> fentiires of coloration that iMeuie<l to iudioate more thiio • ■ingi* 
Aiuericau H|)ecieH, or that would Mvrve to diatiuguUh thia eren from the Mar* 
t«UB of the Old WorUl. Dr. J. E. Gray, it is true, bad already oalled atten- 
tioo to the Hiiiall size of the lovt uiolar in the American Martens a* compared 
with the size of the ttame tooth in the Old World Martens ; but, as his obser- 
vatiou was apparently ba.'ted on a single American skull, and as I was at 
the time strongly impressed with the wide range of individual variatioa I 
had found in allied groups, even in dental characters, and also with the great 
fre<inency of Dr. Gray's characters failing to be distinctive, I was riialad 
into supposing all the Martens might belong to a single cironmpolar speoiet, 
with several more or less strongly-marked geographical races. My friend 
Dr. Cones some months siuoe kindly called my attention to the validity of 
Dr. Gray's alleged difference in respect to the size and form of the last molar, 
which I have since had opportunity of testing. This character alone, however, 
fails to distingaisb Muttela foimt from Mnntela americana, in which the laat 
molar is alike, or so nearly so that it fails to furnish distinctive diffiorenoeo. 
The size and general form of the skull in the two are also the some, the 
shape of the skull and the form of the last upper molar failing to be diag- 
nostic. The second lower true molar, however, in MMtela /oiHa presents a 
character (shared by all the Old World Martens) which serves to distinguish 
it from MtttMa americana, namely, the preMuce of an inner cusp not found 
in the latter. In Hiittela jUwigula, the last molar is relatively tuuilUr than, 
even in Muttela americana, and of the same form. JJutUla loarta* differ* in 
its more massive dentition and in the heavier structure of the sknll, but 
especially in the large size of the last molar aud the very great development 
of its inner portion. Hence, while the size and shape of the l&at upper molar 
serves to distinguish Mantela marte$ from Muateta americana, it U\l» as a valid 
distinction between Muatela americana aud Muatela flarigula and Mtiakla /oIko, 
As already remarked, however, Muslela americana locks the inner cusp of the 
second lower molar, which is present in the Old World Martins, or at least 
possesses it only in a very rudimentary condition. 

Meaauremcnts of fori y- nix ahtlU of Mcstela americana. 

Locality. ' 




Vnkon lli ver 























do : 






TCfin&i AIbbUa .................... 


Fort noml Hone 


. do ■ ■...-. ....••....-...•• 


^. do - 



••do . k ,■.•..•..«.•••••.••••••• 


Peel River ..........•••......•.•. 


. do 





Red River 



MvanHrvmeHlt of forijf-»U tlulhof Mcatrla amrkicana— ConiiuiMd. 





Lak« Su|>«iior (north ihorp) . 

, (lu 

, do 


















WaabiDKton Territory 



, do 

Eaaex Conoty, New York. 







Saranac Lake, New York. 
UoibagoK Lake, Maine . . . 




























1.79 I 
1.69 . 
1.09 I 
1.69 I 

1.83 { 

1. c^ 

1.80 I 
1.69 i 
1.83 I 
1.90 I 


Rntlier young. 




According to the foregoiog considerations, tlie history of 
this iuterestiog auimal, one highly valuable iu an economic 
point of view, is to be disentangled from that of the Europeau 
and Asiatic species, with which it has always been to a greater 
or less degree intermixed. The first specific name, so far as I 
have become aware, is that bestowed iu 1S06 by Turton, in an 
edition of the 8y»tema Xaturw; if there be an earlier one, it 
has escaped me. This name, however, appears to have been 
generally overlooked, or at least unemployed, until of late 
years revived by Professor Baird. His usage of the term, 
however, has received but partial support, some of the later 
writers agreeing with the custom of earlier ones in referring 
our animal to the European Marten, from which, as I have 
shown, it is well distinguished. Previous to the appearance of 
Dr. Brandt's elaborate memoir, only one author, it seema^ 
among those who denied its specific validity, came so near the 
mark as to refer it to the Asiatic Sable. This was Dr. God- 
man, but even he used the name nnder the impression that the 
tarue Sable existed in America, as well as the Pine MarteOy. 






^' i 


wbich be refers to as .1/. Marten. As will be seen by refereooe 
to tbe list of synouyius, several uoiniQal species bave been 
established at tbe exi)euse of tbt* Aiu%riean Sable, ui>on slight 
individnal peculiarities. Tbe earliest of these is the M. tulpina 
of M. Rafiuesque, which re|>re.seots the occasional anomaly of 
tbe tail white-tipped, as alluded to by Mr. Ross in the article 
already quoted. A similar couditiou of the feet constitutes 
KubPs ilf. leucoput ; while the M. huro of F. Cnvier is appar- 
ently only light-colored individuals. Dr. Gray seeks to estab- 
lish these last two varieties, and adds another, ^1/. abietinoidetf 
based upon dark-colored examples, with the " tbroat-8|K)t large 
or broken up into small 8pot8'\ But these pretended species 
are not such, nor even as varieties are they entitled to more 
than passing allusion, as indicating to what extent some indi- 
viduals may depart from the usual style of coloration. 

Although the American animal was known in very early 
times, long before it received a distinctive name, having been 
referred alternately to tbe European Pine Marten and Asiatic 
Sable, or to both of these species, very little definite informa- 
tion upon its range and habits was recorded for many years. 
Pennant, our principal early authority on tbe animals of the 
North American fur countries, and tbe source of much subse- 
quent inspiration on these species, considered it tbe same as 
M, martes, and drew its range accordingly. He states that it 
inhabits, in great abundance, tbe northern parts of America, 
in forests, particularly of pine and fir, nesting in the trees, 
bringing forth once a year from two to four young ; that its 
food is principally mice, but also includes such birds as it can 
catch ; that it is taken in dead-falls, and sometimes eaten by 
the natives. As an article of commerce in comparatively early 
times, we notice the sale of some 13,000 skins in one year (1743) 
by tbe Hudson's Bay Company, and the importation from Can- 
ada by tbe French into Kochelle of over 30,000. *^ Once in two 
or three years,'' he adds, they " come out in great multitudes, 
as if their retreats were overstocked : this the hunters look on 
as a forerunner of great snows, and a season favorable to the 
chase." Such periodicity in numbers thus early noted is con- 
firmee! by later observi^tions. 

Sir John Richardson has tbe fuUowiug observations upon the 
distribution of tbe Sable in British America : *'Tbe Pine-martin 
inhabits the woody districts in tbe northern parts of America, 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in great numbers, and have 


beeu observed to be particularly nbnmlanc where the trees have 
been killed by Are but are still staudiug. It is v^ry rare as 
Heame has remarked, iir the district lyiog north of Gharchill 
River, and east of Great Slave Lake, known by the name of 
Chepewyan or Barren Lands. A similar district, on the Asiatic 
side of Behring^s Straits, twenty-five degrees of longitude in 
breadth, and inhabited by the Tchutski, is described by Pen- 
nant as equally unfrequented by the Martin, and for the saui0 
reason, — the want of trees. The limit of its northern range 
in America is like that of the womis, about the sixty-eighth 
degree of latitude, and it is said to be found as far south as New 
England. Particular races of Martins, distinguished by ohe 
fineness and dark colours of their Air, appear to inhabit certain 
rocky districts. Therocky and mountainous but woody district of 
the Nipigon, on the north side of Lake Superior, has long been 
noted for its black and valuable Martin-skins. . . . Upwards 
of one hundred skins have long been collected annu- 
ally in the fur countries." 

But the range of the American Sable is now known to be 
more extended in both directions than appears from the fore- 
going. In some longitudes, at least, if not in all, it reaches the 
Arctic coast, as mentioned by Mr. B. R. Ross, and as attested 
by specimens I have examined. Mr. Ross states that it is found 
throughout the Mackenzie River District, except in the Barren 
lands, to which it does not resort, being an arboreal animal. It 
occurs abundantly in Alaska, apparently throughout that vast 
country ; and, in short, we cannot deny it a less highly Arctic 
extension than that of the Asiatic Sable. Along the Pacific 
side of the continent, west of the Rocky Mountains, the Sable 
has been traced to the Yuba River of California by Dr. J. S. 
Newberry, who represents it as not uncommon in Oregon ; and 
Dr. George Suckley procured specimens in Washington Terri- 
tory. Mr. J. A. Allen found the animal in Wyoming and Colo- 
rado, and considers it as common in the last- mentioned Territory 
in Park County. But however far south it may extend in such 
longitudes, there is apparently a great stretch of treeless country 
in which it is not found at all. I obtained no indications of its 
presence in any of the nnwooded portions of Dakota and Mon- 
tana, which I have explored with special reference to the dis- 
tribution of the Mammals and Birds. It is represented as coui- 
mon in Canada, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador. In 
New England, according to Dr. Emmons, writing in 1840, it 

M li 




was ::oi Infrequent in tbe pine and beech forests of Massaoha- 
setts, and Mr. Alien states that it is still occasionally s^en in 
the moantaius of Berkshire Gountj. It itihAbits l^e raoantaio- 
oas regions of New York and some parts of Pennsylvania; bat 
in tracing its extreme southern limit in the Atlantic States, we 
see that it b^s not been found so far south as the Pekan has. I 
find no indication of its occnrfence in Maryland or Vir^nia. 
The southern limit, which hfis been set at abcnt 40° north, is 
probably correct for this longitude, though in the mountainous 
regions of the West it may require to be somewhat e&tended. 
Oeneral Considerations aside, its local distribution is determined 
primarily by the presence or absence of trees, and further 
affected by the settlement of the country. Being of a shy and 
suspicious nature, it is one of the first to disappear, among the 
Bmaller animals, with the advance of civilization into its woody 
resorts. In unpeopled districts, even the vast numbers that 
are annually destroyed fot the pelts seems to affect their abund- 
ance less materially than the settlement of the country does. 
Notwithstanding such destruction, they abound in the northern 
wilds. Even in Nova Scotia, a thousand skins are said to have 
been exported annually within a few years, and they may justly 
be regarded as among the most important of the land fur-bearing 
animals. Respecting their comparative scarcity at times, Mr. 
Boss has recorded a remarkable fact of periodical disappear- 
ance. ** It occurs in decades," he says, " or thereabouts, with 
wonderful regularity, and it is quite unknown what becomes of 
them. They are not found dead. The failure extendts through- 
-out the Hudson's Bay Territory at the same time. And there 
is no tract, or region to which they can migrate where we have 
not posts, or into which our hunters have not penetrated. . . . 
When they are at their lowest ebb in point of numbers, they 
will scarcely bite at all fat the bait of the traps]. Providence 
appears thus to have implanted some instinct in them by which 
the total destruction of their race is prevented." 

The Sable is ordinarily captured in wooden traps of very 
simple construction, made on the spot. The traps are a little 
enclosure of stokes or brush in which the bait is p^ced upon 
a trigger, with a short upright stick supporting a log of wood; 
the animal is shut off from the bait in any but tbe desired 
direction, and the log falls upon its victim with the slightest 
disturbance. A line of such traps, several to the mile, often 
extends many miles. The bait is any kind of meat, a mouse, 



squirrelf piece of flsb, or bird's head. One of the greatest ob- 
staclei thftt the Sable huuter has to contend with in many 
looalitiee is the persistent destruction of his traps by Uie Wol- 
verene aod Pekan, both of which display great cunning and 
persererance io following ap his line to eat the bait, and even 
the SaUes themselves which may be captured. The exploits 
of these animals in this respect may be seen from the accoants 
elMwb«« given. I have accounts froi*^ Hudson's Bay trappers 
of a Sable road fifty miles long, containing 150 traps, every one 
of which was destroyed throughout the whole line twiee^^onoe 
by a Wolf, once by the Wolverene. When thirty miles of 
this same road was given up, the remaining 40 traps were 
broken five or six times in succession by the latter animal. 
The Sable is principally trapped during the colder mouths, from 
October to April, when the fur is in good condition ; it is nearly 
valueless daring the shedding in summer. Sometimes, however, 
bait is refused in March, and even early that month, probably 
with the coming on of the rutting season. The period of full 
furring varies both in spring and autumn, according to lati- 
tude, by about a month as an extreme. 

^Notwithstanding the persistent and uninterrupted destruc- 
tion to which the Sable is subjected, it does not appear to 
diminish materially in numbers in unsettled parts of the 
coontry. The periodical disappearances noted by Mr. Boss 
and the animal's early retreat before the inroads of population 
are other matters. It holds its own partly in consequence of its 
shyness, which keeps it away from the abodes of men, and 
partly because it is so prolific; it brings forth six or eight young 
at a litter. Its home is sometimes a den under ground or be- 
neath rocks, but oftener the hollow of a tr<^e ; it is said to fre- 
quently take forcible possession of a Squirrel's nest, driving off 
or devouring the rightful proprietor. Though frequently called 
Pine Marten, like its European relative, it does not appear to be 
particularly attached to coniferous woods, though these are its 
abode in perhaps most cases, simply because such forests pre- 
vail to a great extent in the geographical areas inhabited by 
the Marten. 

The Sable is no partner in guilt with the Mink and Stoat in 
invasion of the farm-yard, nor will it, indeed, designedly take 
up its abode in the clearing of a settler, preferring always to 
take its chances of food supply in the recesses of the forest. 
Active, industrious, cunning, and predaceous withal, it finds 





ample subsistence in tbe weaker Rodents, Insectivora, and birds 
and tbeir eggs. It bunts on tbe ground for Mice, which con* 
stitute a large share of its sustenance, as well as for Shrews, 
Moles, certain reptiles, and insects. An expert climber, quite 
at home in tbe leafy intricacies of tree tops, it pursues Squirrels, 
and goes birds'-nesting with success. It is said ^o also secure 
toads, frogs, lizards, and even fish. Like the Wolverene and 
Fekan, it sometimes makes an entrance upon the hoards of meat 
and fish which are cached by the natives in the higher latitudes. 
It is said not to reject carrion at times. It has been stated to- 
eat various nuts and berries, as well as to be fond of honey; but 
we may receive such accounts with caution, viewing the very 
highly carnivorous character of the whole group to which the 
species belongs. 

The Sable has some of tbe musky odor characteristic of its 
family, but in very "mild degree compared with the fetor of 
the Mink or Polecat. Hence the name " Sweet Marten ", by 
which its nearest European ally is known, in contradistinction 
from Fonlimart, or *' Foul Marten '', a name of the Polecat. 
With a general presence more pleasing than that of the spe- 
cies of PutorittSj it combines a nature, if not less truly preda- 
ceous, at least less sanguinary and insatiable. It does not kill 
after its hunger is appeased, nor does a blind ferocity lead it 
to attack animals as much larger than itself as those that the 
Stoat assaults with success. Animals like tbe Babbit and 
Squirrel form less of its prey than the smaller Rodents and 
Insectivores. In confinement, tbe Marten becomes in time 
rather gentle, however untamable it may appear at first ; it is 
sprightly, active, with little unpleasant odor, and altogether 
rather agreeable. 


MUSTELINE— Continued: The Weasels. 

The genus Putoriiis — Generic characters and remark'j — Division of the genns 
into sabgenera — Analysis of the North American species — The subgenus 
Gale — Putorius vulgaris, the Common Weasel — Synonymy— Habitat— Spe- 
cific characters — Oeneral characters and relationships of the species — Geo- 
graphical distribution — Habits — Putorius erminea, the Stoat or Ermine — 
Synonymy — Habitat — Specific characters — Discussion of specific charac- 
ters and relationships — ^Table of measurements — Note on the skull and 
teeth — Description of external characters — Conditions of the change of 
color— General history and habits of the species — Its distribution in the 
Old World— Ptttortu* longicauda, the Long-tniled Weasel — Synonymy — 
Habitat— Specific characters — Description — Measurements — General ac- 
count of the species — Putorius hrasiliensis fre^iattis, the Bridled Weasel — 
Synonymy — Habitat — Specific characters— General account of the species. 

CONTINUING with the sabfamily Mustelinee, but passing 
from the genns Mmtela, we reach the next genus, Puto- 
riu8f which contains the true Weasels or Stoats (subgenus 
Oale), the Ferrets and Polecats (subgenus Putorius proper), 
the American Ferret (subgenus Opnomyonax), an<r the Minks 
(subgenus Lutreola). This chapter is devoted to the considera- 
tion of the species of the first of these sections, after presenta- 
tion of the characters of the genus at large. The other sec- 
tions are reserved for succeeding chapters. 

The Genus PUTORIUS; (OuviER.) 

< Mastela, or IlartM, of aome anthon. 

X Tlvem (p., Latra ip. of aome anthors. 

= Putorius, OuvUr, Rdgne Anim. L 1817, and of aathors generally. 

— FnlorlUB, Ksys. d Bku. Wirbeltb. Ear. 1840. 

> SyMBOpm, Oray, Cat Mamm. Br. Mas. 1843. 

> Lntreola, ■' Wagntr ", Oray, P. Z. S. 1865, 117. (Type JftMtela {utrvoto L .) 

> eale, "Wagntr", Oray, P. Z. S. 1865, 118. 

> Neocsle, Oray, P. Z. & 1865, 114. (Type P. bratiHmuit.) 

> f 1801, €hray, P. Z. S. 1865, 115. (Type P. vison.) 


Genkric characters.— DcMtol formula: I. ~j; C. i^ ; Pm. j^, 
M. 1=^ =11 =34 (one premolar above and below less than in Gu lo and Mus- 
tela). Seotorial tooth of lower jaw (anterior true molar) w ithoat an inter- 
7m W 


: ,1' ■! 
1' I 




nal cusp. Anteorbital foramen presenting downward-forward (as in JifiM- 
tela; reverse of Gulo), a mere orifice, not oanal-lilce, and opening over ttie 
last premolar (tlie opening more anterior in Gulo and Mustela). Skull as a 
rule* little oontraoted at the middle ; the rostral portion extremely short, 
stout, turgid, scarcely tapering, and much more vertically truncated than in 
Gulo or Mustela; frontal profile convex, and usually more nearly horizontal 
than in Gulo or Mustela. Nasal bones widening forward from an acute base. 
General outline of skull in profile scarcely arched — sometimes quite straight 
and horizontal in most of its length. Production of mastoids and auditory 
buUte and general prominence of periotic region at a minimum ; the buUio 
flatter than in Mustela or Gulo, and sci cely so constricted across as to pro- 
duce a tubular meatus. Zygomatic arch usually not higher behind than in 
front, nowhere vertical uor developing a posterior convexity. Depth of 
emargination of palate little if any greater, or less than, distance thence to 
the molars. Skull as a whole more massive than in Mustela, though smaller. 
Size medium and very small (including the smallest species of the whole 
family). Body cylindrical, slender, often extremely so; legs very short; 
tail long, terete, uniformly bnshy or very slender and close-haired, with a 
terminal pencil. Ears large, orbicular. Soles commonly furry. Pelage 
usually close and short, whole-, or oftener, parti-colored ; turning white in 
winter in Northern species. Progression digitigrade. Habits indetermin- 
ate — terrestrial, arboreal, or aquatic. 

The foregoing characters are drawn up from consideration of 
the European and North American forms, and may require 
some qualification, in ultimate details, to cover all the modifi- 
cations of this extensive genus, containing, as it does, several 
sections or groups of speeies, probably of snbgeneric value. 
From Oulo or Mustela it is at once distinguished by the differ- 
ent dental fofmnla. The skull, as compared with that of its 
nearest ally, Mustela, differs notably in the shortness and 
bluntness of the muzzle, position and direction of the ante- 
orbital foramen, slight convexity of the upper profile, and other 
points noted above. There is a decided diffbrdnce in the char- 
acter of the auditory bullae, more readily perceived on compar- 
ison than described ; the bulla) are* usually less iiiflated — some- 
times quite dat, as in P. vison; and even when^ as in somie 
cases, the inflation of the basal portion is not much less than 
in Mustela, we miss the constriction ■ which in the latter genus 
produces a well-determined tubular meatus. The sknll of Pit- 
torius is decidedly heavier for its size than that of Mtistela, in 
this respecc more like that of Gulo, though it is comparatively 
much flattened and otherwise dissiihilar from the latter. 

The name of the genus is from the fjiatin putor, a stench 

* In some species of Putorius, however, the constriction is as great as is 
ever found in Mustela. 



{pnteo, to stink), as on^of its synonyms, Feetoriusy is from 
fcetoVf fceteoj of the ^^e signification. The relation of the 
EngMsh putridffetid^ &c., is obvious. 

The extensive genus Put<yriu» is divisible into several well- 
mfM'ked sections, doubtless of subgeneric valne. Three such 
gi )nps exist in North America. These may be analyzed as 
follows, in connection with a fourth group, Putorius proper, 
introduced to farther elucidate the position and relations of a 
new subgenus 1 propose for the reception of the Putorim n<- 

Dtvinon of the genttn into mhgenera. 

1. Gale. * — The Stoats or Ermin&t, and Weasels. — Skull amootb, without 
well-developed sagittal crest. Frontal profile strongly convex and deoli- 
vous. Pterygoids with small haniiUar processes, or none. Balli anditoriu) 
nicked at end by orifice of the meatus. Skull moderately vbraptly con- 
stricted near the middle ; postorbital processes slight. Species of small and 
smallest size, with very slender, oylindrioal, " vermiform " body, very long 
neck, and tail (of variable length) slenderly terete, with terminal pencil, 
usually black ; pelage, including that of the tail, short and close set (the 
Northern species usually turning white in winter), bicolor, of uniform color 
above, lighter below. Ears large, high, and orbicular. Palmar pads all 
separate Toes scarcely webbed. Htibits terrestrial, and somewhat arbo- 
real ; not aquatic. Of general distribution in both hemispheres. 

2. CYNOMVONAXt (uob., subg. Dov.).—A»terican Ferret. — Skull developing 
sagittal crest. Frontal profile scarcely or not convex, strongly declivous. 
Pterygoids with slight hamular process. Bnlln? anditorite nicked by orifice 
of meatus. Sectorial tooth of upper jaw with its outer border nearly straight, 
developing no decided antero-external process, and the antero-internal pro- 
cess merely a slight spur. Skull abruptly and strongly constricted in ad- 
vance of the middle, with strongly developed postorbital processes. Last 
molar of ntider jaw minute, merely a cylindrical round-topped stump, without 
trace of cusps or other irregularity of surface. Animal of large size, equal- 
ling or exceeding a large Mink, yet retaining the attenuate, elongate and 
cylindrical body, long neck, large suborbioular ears, slenderly terete black- 
tipped tail, and close short pelage of Gale. Coloration not distinctively 
bieblor; legs darker than body; peculiar facial marking. Toes not semi- 
palmate. Palmar pads discrete. Habits terrestrial. No seasonal change of 
colors. One species known, peculiar to North America. 

3. PuTOBiusi (proper). — The Ferrets or Poieoa**.— Skull finally develop- 
ing sagittal crest, and roughened muscular impressions. Frontal profile 

*Etym. — ^Tlie Greek yak^, a weasel. 

tJSfym. — Greek kvuv, dog, //Uf, mouse, uva^ (or ava^), king. — ^The genus 
Cynomys {kvuv, five) is that of the so-called " prairie-dogs", among which the 
species lives, and upon which ic largely subsists.-.-C'j/nomj^on(ur, " king of 
the prairie-dogs ". 

t Etynu — See above. 



convex, strougly deolivoos. Pterygoids dev^lopiug large hamnlar processes. 
BnlltB auditorifB nicked by orifice of meatus. Sku^t scarcely constricted near 
the middle, where, if anything, it is broader than histrnm ; postorbital pro- 
cesses poorly developed. Sectorial tooth of upper jaw as in Cunomymax. 
Back molar of lower jaw of ordinary size, circular, developing irregularities 
of the crown. Animals rather large, comparatively stout-bodied, less length- 
ened, with rather bushy, tapering tail, and low, orbicular ears; pelago 
long and loose, instead of close-set, variegated above, or there not notably 
darker than below ; do not tuta white in winter. Palmar pads separate. 
Toes not semipalmate. Terrestrial in habits. The species confined to the 
OldJ World. 

4. LUTRKOLA*.— TA« JlftnA^g.— Skull of ad..!^i developing sagittal crest and 
muscular impressions. Frontal outline nearly straight and scarcely declivous. 
Pterygoids with strong hamular process. BuUsb auditoriie notably less 
inflated than in the foregoing, prolonged into a somewhat tubular meatus, 
not nicked at orifice. Coiistriction of skull and development of postorbital 
processes intermediate in degree between Putoriua proper and Cynomymax. 
Sectorial tooth of upper jaw with its outer border concave, owing to devel- 
opment of a strong antero-exterior spur, which lies out of the axis of dentition, 
and forms with the antero-interior cusp (present in all MustelUuB) a rather 
open V, into which the antecedent premolar fits, the antero-internal process 
developing to a conical cusp. Back lower molar as in Ptitorius proper. 
Animals of large to largest size in the genus, stout-bodied, rather long and 
very bushy tail, cylindrico-tapering ; pelage moderately loose, but thick, 
to resist water, very bristly and lustrous, dark-colored, nnicolor or only 
varied with irregular white patches on under parts ; no seasonal changes of 
pelage. Ears very low. Feet semipalmate, natatorial. Palmar pads with- 
out hairy intervals. Habits highly aquatic. Species common to both hem- 

The first of these subgenera is represented in North America 
by several species, some of which are not clearly distingaished 
from their congeners of Europe, while another is specifically 
identical with an animal which ranges through Central intoSoath 
America. The seco^^^ and fourth each contain a single North 
American species, a .ar as known, the fourth having a closely 
allied European congener ; while the second, peculiar to Amer- 
ica, is the nearest analogue of the third, which has no exact 
American representative. 

The North American species of Putorim at large may be 
determined by the following analysis of subgeneric and specific 
characters : — 

• £(;ym.— "Lutreola", " Little Otter "—.'-ainutive form of the Latin Mra, 
an Otter, which the Mink much resembles. For von Marten's exposition of 
the word lutra in its several forms, and discussion of the philological ques- 
tions involved, see p. 39. 



JnaJyaU of Xorth An'ricun »fiecie8 of PutoriuB. 

A. (Oah.) Of smalleHt size (length of uaad and body nnder 12 inohus), nioMt 

slender and attennate body, and longeut neck. Ears conspicuous, 
orbicular. Tail slenderly terete, with the tip nsnnliy (rarely in 
vitlgnria) bleok. Toes cleft. Palmar pads separate. Coloration 
bicolor, in distinct upper and under areas, latter not darker than 
former, feet not black; or, entirely white, excepting black tip of 
tail. (Weasels, Stoats or Ermines.) 

a. Head not darker than rest of upper parts, nor variegated with stroaks 

or spots. 
a'. Tail pointed at end, scarcely or not black-tipped, 2 inches or less 

in length, including hairs; belly white or scarcely tinged with 

sulphury 1. P. vulgakis. 

V, Tail with a terminal pencil of black hairs, and over 2 inches long, 

including hairs. 
a'l. Belly pure sulphury -yellow ; tail-vertebra3 2-5 inches long, the 

black tip not confi'netl to the terminal pencil. . . 2. P. kkmixea. 
h". Belly tawny, saffron or salmon-yellow ; tail 6-7 inches long, the 

black tip reduced to terminal pencil. . . . 3. P. longicauda . 

b. Head darker than rest of upper parts, with light stripes or spots ; belly 

as in b" 4. P. brasiliensis fkkxatus. 

B. (Cynomyonax.) Much larger; length of bead and body over It inches; 

body scarcely stouter, and equallv close-haired, and tail very 
short, slenderly terete, black-tipped. Ears conspicuous, orbic- 
ular. Toes cleft. Palmar pads separate. Coloration not bicolor 
in distinct i.^eas. (American Ferret.) 
Pale brown, nearly uniform, or brownish-white, scarcely darker on 
the back ; feet, end of tail, and broad bar across the face black. 


C. {Luireola.) Size of the last, or rather less ; body as stout or stouter. Ears 

low. Toes semipalmate. Palmar pads fused. Tail uniformly 
bushy. (Mink.) 
Dark chestnut-brown or blackish, uniform, or only varied by white 
patches below ; tail without differently colored tip. 

6. P. VISON. 

The Subgenus GALE. (Wagneb.) 

This sabgenas, which iuclndes the Weasels proper aud the 
Stoats or Ermines, comprises a large majority of the species of 
PutoriiMj widely distributed over the globe. The leading char- 
acters which distinguish it from its nearest allies have already 
been given (p. 99), together with an analysis of the four species 
known to inhabit North America. Further details of the skull, 
teeth, and external form are presented beyond, uuder head of 
G. erminea, which, as a typical member of the subgenus, may 
serve as a standard of comparison. We may at once, there- 
fore, proceed to consider the several North American species. 



" II 

The ITeaMel. 

Putorlns (Snle) vulgiirla. 

Plate VI, Fiob. 9, 4. 

(rt. Old Wo Id re/ereneet.) 

MustCia, Vni-iomm {"Oem. Qaad. 1551, 851, f.—.—JleAivenclu- Tlioriotroph. 1803, 116.— 

OkarM. Bxercit 1677, 20.—Rtaei. Polon. 1731, 3:i5"). 
Mustela VHlgarlS, Aldrov. Qoad. Digit. 1645, dfft.-SM. Scot. Illast. ii. 1681, 11.— Kav. Syn. 

161)3, 195.— Z>. 8. N. eds. 3d-5tli, 1740-47, U.—KUin, ( jii»d. 1751, m.—Jontl. Tbeatr. 1755, 

153, pi. 64.— Brt«(. Quad. 1756, 341, no. \.—Erxl. Syst. Auim. 1777, 471, no. 13 (synon. 

luuchmixedwitbthatof other »^ao\ei»).—Hehreh. SUug. Hi. 1778.— 6m. S. K. i. 1788,99.— 

Bechtt. Xitturg. i. , 813.- Turt. S. X. i. 1806, 61.— De«m. Mamm. i. 1830, 179, no. 375; 

Konv. Diet. xix. 373; Knoy. M6tli. pi. 84,f. \.—Fr. Ouv. Diet Soi. Kat. xxix.1833. 351, uo. 

7.— ft. Geo/. Dlot.Cla»a. x. 313.— £<■««. Mau. 1827, 146.— F»*cA. 8yn.l839, 333.- FI«m. Dr. 

An. 1838, n.—Jen. Br. Vert 1835, 19.— Bell, Br. Quad. 1837, 141 ; 3d ed. 1874, 183. f. — .- 

Selyt-L. Fn. fielg. 1843, 10.— Gray, List Matntu. Br. Mus. 1843, Si.—Oieb. SSug. 1855, 

783.— Fits. Natarg. Saug. i. 1861, 335, f. 69.— Wov. Cat. Br. Mas. 1863, i>3.—Farwiek, Zool. 

Gart. xi V. 1873, 17 (albino) . 
JMnteU vulgaris a. ieUlr», ff. nivallii, '7m. S. X. i, 1788, 99, nos. 11 a, 11 b. 
Vlverrn VUlgarlN, Shaw, O. X. i, 1800, 420, pi. 98, apper Hg. 
Mustela (dale) vulgaris, ScftiH;,Syn.Mamm.i.l844,344.-0my,P. Z.S. 1865, 113; Cat. Carn. 

Br. Mus. 1860, 00. 
Putortus vulgaris. Griff. An. Kiugd. v. 1837, 13l, no. 344 (bat not same name on p. 130, no. 

y39).—Brandt, Wirb. Eur. N. E. Bussl. , 36. 

FoetoriUH vulgaris. Keys. cC Blai. Wirb. Eur. 1840, 69, no. 147.— £;«r«. Wirb. Deutitchl. 1857, 

^l.—Jtiekel, Zool. Gart xiv. 1873, 4%; (albino). 
Mustela nivalis, Unn. Fn. SuecSd ed. 17ei, 7, no. 18; S. N. i. 1766, 69, no. II.— mUl. Zool. 

Prod. 1776, 3, no. li.—Erxl. Syst An. 1777, 476, no. U.—Sehreb. Siiug. ili. 1778, pL 138.— 

BeU. Kon. V^et. Akad. Stockh. vi. 1785, 213, no. 9, pi. l.—Leg». Man. 1837, 146. 
Mustela gale, raU. Zoog. B.-A. i. 1831, 94, no. 32. 
Belette, Brim. op. et loe. eit.—Buff. Hist. Xat. vli. 225, pi. 29, f. l.—Bomare., Diet. 1. 1768, 

368.— fVen«A.— Mareot, Marcotte, French. 
VOMMvn Weesel, Penn. Syn. Quad. 1771, 313, no. 151 ; Brit Zool. i. , 95, pi. 7, f. n.—Shaio, 

op. loe. cit.— Weasel or Weesel, English. 
Scheenwiesel, Mull. Xaturs. i. 1776, 276 (= M. nivalis). 
Wiesci, Klelne WIeSel, German (of. v. Martens, Zool. Gart xi. 1870, p. 376, philological).— 

Wezel, Belffie.—y'tewl, LiekatI, I>an{«A.— Mneemuus, Danish (whit«).— Saonus, 

Swedish (white).— Ballottula, Italian.— Com»irti», Spanish. 

(6. American resfereruses.) 

Mustela nivalis, Forst. Phil. Tr. Ixii. 1772, 373. 

Mustela vulgaris. Earl. Fn. Amer. 1. 1825, 6l.—Maxi,n. Reise, ii. 1641, m.-Thomp$. K. H. 
Verm. 1853, JO.— Hall, Canad. Xat and Geol. vi. 16U1, 295. 

Mustela (Futorius) vulgaris, RUh. v. b.-a. i. 1829, 4S. 

Putorlns vulgaris, Emm. Rep. Quad. Mass. 1840, 44.— >i2;.Pr. Bost.Soc. xiii. 18C9, 183; Bnll. 

M. C. Z. L 1870, 167. 
Mustela (Gale) vulKaris var. americana. Gray, P. Z. S. 186.'>, 113 ; Cat Can. Br. Mas. 1869, 91. 
Mustela pusllla, De K. N. Y. Zool. L 1843, 34, pi. 14, f. l.—Beesley, Geol. Cape May, 1857, 137. 
Futorius pusillus. And. A Bach. Q. K. A. iL 1851, 100, pL 64.— £d. M. K. A. 1857, \33.—8uea. 

N. H. W. T. 1860, 9St.—Bam. Rep. Mass. Agric. for 18C1 (1862), 154, pL 1, f S, 4.— JfoxiM. 

Aroh.Xaturg.1861,— ; Vcrz. X.Am. Siiug. 1862,4!).— i?OA«, Canad. Xat and Geol. vi. 

1861, 441.— Jfcrriam, Rep. U. S. Geol. Surv. Terr. 1872, 661 (Idaho).— ilme«, BaU. Minn. 

Acad. Xat Soi. 1874, 69. 
Futorius "CiCOgnanr*, Rich. Zool. Beeohey's Voy. 1839, 10* (err.). 
Comnion Weesel, Penn. Hist Qaad. 1781, no. 193; Arct Zoiil. i. 1784, 75, no. 35. 

Hab. — In America, the northern portions of the United States and north- 
vrard. Earope and Asia, northerly. 

U. 8. Cteologloil Survey. 

MaiteUda. PLATE VI. 

•rias ermlneii. Figs. 1. 3, 5, 6. ) ^^^^ g,^^. j 
lorlii* vnli^nrla. Figs. 8, !. S ' 




SPKCiric CHARACTERS.— Very amall ; length of head and body 6 or 6 inches ; 
of tail-vertebrn) 2 inches or lem; tnil-verlebnc nboiit one-fourth or lewi of 
the head and body; tail slender, oylindrical, pointed at tip, which is con- 
color or not obvionsly black ; nnder parts white, rarely, if ever, tin|;e<l with 
sulphury; coloration otherwise as in P. erminea. Caudal vertehrw 15 
( Gerrard). 

Oeneral characters and relationships of the species. 

To describe tbe general body-colors of this animal would be 
to repeat, in substance, most of what is beyond s&id of P. erminea. 
I find no differences susceptible of intelligible description ex- 
cepting those given in the foregoing diagnosis, although, as 
usual in this genus, there is considerable individual variation 
in the shade of tbe mahogany-brown upper parts, in tbe details 
of the line of demarcation with the white of the under parts, 
and in the color of the feet, which appear to bo indifferently 
like the back or like the belly. I do not observe, however^ in 
any of the specimens before me, that the under parts are nota- 
bly tinged with sulphury-yellow, as is frequently or usually the 
case with'P. erminea. They are quite purely white. 

The points of this animal to which attention should be di- 
rected in comparison with its ally, P. erminea^ are the general 
dimensions and the color of the tail. This member is both abso- 
lutely and relatively shorter than in P. erminea; it is cylin- 
drical, very slender, and usually terminates in a point, without 
the slightest bushy enlargement. In most specimens, as in all 
the European examples I have seen, there is no black whatever 
at the end of the tail ; on the contrary, the tip is frequently 
mixed with a few white hairs. In other specimens, however, 
the end of the tail is dusky, as in No. G491, from the Yukon 
{Kennicott) ; while in No. 3316, from Oregon ( Wayne), the tip 
is 'quite blackish. The tail-vertebrso range from rather less 
than an inch in length to full two inches, if not a trifle more, 
though the latter dimension seems to be rarely reached ; the 
terminal pencil of hairs from ^ to ^. According i;o Gerrard, 
there are fewer (15) caudal vertebriB than in P. erminea. 

Accounts of authors are surprisingly at variance in assigning 
dimensions to this animal. De Kay says in one place 12-13 
inches (nose to end of tail), but this is probably a slip of the 
pen, for his detailed measurements amount to 8.80 for head and 
body and 1.80 foi tail-vertebne ; Audubon, 8 ; Bachman gave 
7 inches, the tail-v»rtebrp<i 2. Baird gives 6 ; the tail from 0.83 
to 1.60; the head, 1.45; fore foot, 0.58; hind foot, 0.92. The 




I I I 


smaller dimeusious seem to be nearer the average. Tbe Hkiu 
from the Yukon, above mentioned, probably well stretched, 
measures 7.50; tail-vertebras 1.2.5 ; hind foot, 1.10. The Ore- 
gon specimen was apparently uliout 7 inches ; the tall 2. Two 
skins from British America (4411, Fort Itosolution, Kennicottj 
and 4231, Moose Factory, Drexler) are notably smaller and 
shorter-tailed than any others I have seen. They are about G 
inches long, the tailvertebni' an inch or less, the hind feet 
about 0.75.* They are also somewhat peculiar in the intensity 
of a liver-brown shade. 

With only such small and dark-colored si>ecimenH as these 
last before us (strictly representing P. pmiUun of Audubon and 
Bachnian), there might be littlcditliculty in distinguishing at least 
an American race; but, as already indicated, such distinctions 
disappear on examining larger series, and consequently fail to 
substantiate a geographical race. Whatever minute discrep- 
ancies may be noted in comparing certain American with cer- 
tain other European examples, assuredly these do not hold 
throughout the series ; and, moreover, the diflferences inter m 
between animals of either continent are as great as any of those 
which can be detected when the animals of the two continents 
are compared. Thus, holding in my hands the Ynkon speci- 
men and No. 2290, from Leeds, England, I find that I have in- 
con testably the same species. In size and color, these two are 
much more nearly identical than Nos. 2290 and 2279, the latter 
being also from Leeds. The Yukon animal has, indeed, a bushy 
tip to the tail ; but, again, the one from Moose Factory has not. 
A specimen from Scotland (No. 1058} has proved susceptible of 
overstuffing up to more than 10 inches for length of head and 
body ; but No. 2290 was scarcely 7 inches long. The presence 
of true M. vu^aris on our continent may be considered estab- 
lished. So that the question practically narrows tb whether 
we have not also an additional species. This I cannot admit ; 
for if minute differences of the grade allowed to distinguish a 
supposed ^^pusillus " be taken into account, we must, to be con- 
sistent, also separate from this latter the specimen from Oregon.t 
with its longer blackish-tipped tail, and so have three North 

* Reliable European writers assign a length of about 8 inches of head and 
body, the head If, the tail 2. The female is usually an inch, if not more, 
smaller than the male. 

tThis furnishes a case parallel with that of Henperomya "boylii" and H. 
" aiisterus". There is a strong local intlueuce exerted upon various animals 
in this region. 


AmeiioaD ^'speoief)'' of the vulgaHx t.vpe, namely, rulgnrh m 
attested by the Yukon siteciinen ; ^^itusillm ", as by the Hudson's 
Bay example and others ; and a nameless Oregon species. We 
should obviously be reduced to this dilemma in any such at- 
tempt to describe Hpecimem instead of characterising s]>ecies. 
And in determining our species and races, it is quite sufHcient 
to note the minor variations from a common type without giv- 
ing the subjects of such variation a name. 

Nevertheless, as it is desirable to carry investigations of the 
characters of animals into minute particulars, fh» following 
summary is presented : — 

Var. 1. An animal averaging slightly less than P. vulgaris of 
Europe, with the end of the tail blackish. Alaska, &c. 

Var. 2. Bather smaller than the last; the tail relatively longer 
(vertebrto about two inches) and distinctly dusky-tipped. Ore- 
gon and Washington Territories. 

Var. 3. Very small — about six inches long; tail-vertebrro one 
inch or less; color darker than in P. vulgarin, but tail concolor. 
Hudson's Bay, &c. 

Oeographical distribution. 

The area over which this species turns white in winter may 
be approximately deduced from the accounts of various au- 
thors. This is nearly coincident with what is now known of 
the American range of the animal. Mr. J. A. Allen states that 
it tarns in northern New England, but not so far south as 
Massachusetts, where the change sometimes, but not always, 
occurs to P. erminea. Dr. De Kay denies any change in New 
York, though I suspect this may not hoU^ for the northern 
mountainous portions of the S^ate. According to Maximilian, 
the change takes place in the region he explored, as it doubt- 
less does in all higher latitudes. 

The range of the Least Weasel extends entirely across the 
continent on this hemisphere ; but its north and south disper- 
sion are less definite, in the present state of our knowledge. 
To the northward, Richardson formerly limited its extension 
to the Saskatchewan; but my specimens, from the Yukon, 
Fort Resolution, and Hudson's Bay, largely extend the sup- 
posed range, and I infer that the animal is generally distrib- 
uted in British America and Alaska. Audubon's examples 
were from the Gatskills and Long Island; and this author 
alludes to others from Lake Superior. The Bed Biver and 






Upper Missouri regions, Oregon and Washington Territory, 
are other recorded localities. According to Mr. Allen, it is 
rather rare in Massachusetts — much more so than P. erminea. 
The total lack of citations of the species from Southern or even 
Middle districts in the United States is in evidence, though of 
a negative character, of the geographical distribution at pres- 
ent assigned. , 


Cur accounts of the habits of this animal are lamentably 
meagre; nor can I add to them from personal observation. 
De Kay says it is by no means a rare animal, but one difficult 
to capture ; that it feeds on mice, insects, young birds, eggs, 
&c., and possesses al! the rapacity characteristic of the tribe. 
Audubon repeats this, in substance, with the inference that, 
ow;ing to its small size, it would not be mischievous in the 
poultry-house, and would scarcely venture to attack a full- 
grown Norway Rat. 

In this dearth of facts respecting the animal in America, we 
turn to other authors. One of the most particular, and at the 
same time interesting and apparently reliable accounts, is that 
given by Thomas Bell (who was evidently familiar with the 
aiiimal) in the work above cited. Comparing its habits with 
those of the Stoat, Bell finds them considerably distinct, 
and believes that the accusations current against the Weasel 
should mostly be laid rather at the door of the Stoat. He 
continues : — 

"It is not meant to be asserted that the Weasel will not, 
when driven by huiiger, boldly attack the stock of the poultry 
yard, or occasionally make free with a young rabbit or sleep- 
ing partridge ; but that its usual prey is of a much more igno- 
ble character is proven by daily observation. Mice of every 
description, the Field and Water Vole, rats, moles, and small 
birds, are their ordinary food ; and from the report of unpre- 
judiced observers, it would appear that this pretty animal 
ought rather to be fostered as a destroyer of vermin, than ex- 
tirpated as a noxious depredator. Above all, it should not be 
molested in barns, ricks or granaries, in which situations it is 
of great service in destroying the colonies of mice which infest 
them. Those only who have witnessed the multitudinous num- 
bers in which these little pests are found, in wheat-ricks espe- 
cially, and have seen the manner in which the interior is 
drilled, as it were, in every direction by their runs, can at 



all appreciate the amoant of their depredations ; and s .rely 
the occasional abduction of a chicken or duckling, supposing 
it to be even much more frequently chargeable against the 
Weasel than it really is, would be but a trifling set off against 
the benefit produced by the destruction of those swarms of 
little thieves. 

« The Weasel climbs trees with great facility, and surprises 
birds on the nest, sucks the eggs, or carries off the young. It 
has been asserted that it attacks and destroys snakes; this, 
however, I believe to be entirely erroneous. I have tried the 
experiment by placing a Weasel and a sommon )jnake together 
in a large cage, in which the former had tut? opportunity of 
retiring into a small box in which it w is accustomed to sleep. 
The mutual fear of the two animals kept them at a respectful 
distance from each other; the snake, however, exhibiting quite 
as much disposition to be the assailant, as its more formidable 
companion. At length the Weasel gave the snake an occa- 
sional slight bite on the side or on the nose, without materially 
injuring it, and evidently without any instinctive desire to feed 
upon it; and at length, after thc^ had remained two or three 
hours together, in the latter part of which they appeared 
almost indifferent to each other's prt;>ence, I took the poor 
snake away and killed it. 

<* Far different was this Weasel's conduct when a Mouse was 
introduced into the cag'<>; it instantly issued from its little box, 
and, ia a moment, one single bite on the head pierced the 
brain and laid the Mouse dead without a struggle or a cry. I 
have observed that when the Weasel seizes a small animal, at 
the instant that the fatal bite is inflicted, it throws its long 
lithe body over its prey, so as to secure it should the first bite 
fail ; an accident, however, which I have never observed when 
a Mouse has been the victim. The power which the Weasel 
has of bending the head at right angles with the loug and 
flexible, though powerful neck, gives it g^eat advantage in this 
mode of seizing and killing its smaller prey. It also frequently 
assumes this position when raising itself on its hinder legs to 
look around. 

" The disposition which has been attributed to the Weasel 
of sucking the blood of its prey, has, I believe, been generally 
much exaggerated. Some persons have positively denied the 
existence of such a propeimity, and my own observation, as far 
as it goes, would tend ti confirm that refutation of the com- 




monly received notion. The first gripe is given on the head, 
the tooth in ordinary cases piercing the brain, which it is the 
Weasel's first act of Epicurism to eat clean from the skall. 
The carcase is then hidden near its haunt, to be resorted to 
when required, and part of it often remains until it is nearly 

" The Weasel pursues its prey with facility into small holes, 
and amongst the close and tangled herbage of coppices, thick- 
ets and hedge-rows. It follows the Mole and the Field Mouse 
in their runs; it threads the mazes formed in the wheat- 
rick by the colonies of Mice which infest it, and its long fiexi- 
ble body, its extraordinary length of neck, the closeness of its 
fur, and its extreme agility and quickness of movement, com- 
bine to adapt it to such habits, in which it is also much aided 
by its power of hunting by scent — a quality which it partakes 
in equal degree with the Stoat. In r.ursuing a rat or a mouse, 
therefore, it not only follows it us L^ug as it remains within 
sight, but continues the chase after it has disappeared, with 
the head raised a little above the ground, following the exact 
track recently taken by its destined prey. Should it lose the 
scent, it returns to the point where it was lost, and quarters 
the ground with great diligence till it has recovered it ; and 
thus, by dint of perseverance, will ultimately hunt down a 
swifter and even a stronger animal than itself. But this is not 
all. In the pertinacity of its pursuit, it will readily take the 
water, and swim with great ease after its prey. 

" It is, however, sometimes itself the prey of hawks, but the 
following fact shows that violence and rapine, even when ac- 
companied by superior strength, are not alwn v^> <i match for the 
ingenuity of an inferior enemy. As a gentit ■• . ii of the name 
of Pinder, then residing at Bloxworth in Dors ,i ..ire, was rid- 
ing over his grounds, he saw, at a short distance irom him, a 
kite pounce on some object on the ground, and rise with it in 
its talons. In a few minutes, however, the kite began to show 
signs of great uneasiness, rising rapidly in the air, or as quickly 
falling, and wheeling irregularly round, whilst it was evidently 
endeavoring to force some obnoxious thing from it with its feet. 
After a short but sharp contest, the kite fell suddenly to the 
earth, not far from where Mr. Pinder was intently watching the 
manoeuvre. He instantly rode up to the spot, when a Weasel 
ran away from the kite, apparently unhurt, leaving the bird 
dead, with a hole eaten through the skin under the wing and 
the large blood-vessels of the part torn through. . . . 



<> The Temale Weasel .... brings forth fonr, or more fre- 
quently Ave young, and is said to have two or three litters in a 
year. The nest is composed of dry leaves and herbage, and is 
warm and dry, being usually placed in a hole in a bank, in a 
dry ditch, or in a hollow tree. She will defend her young with 
the utmost desperation against any assailant, and sacrifice her 
own life rather than desert them ; and even when tbe nest is 
torn up by a dog, rushing out with great fury, and fastening 
upon his nose or lips." 

The signification of the name ' Weasel -, or, as it is also some- 
times written, ^WeesePy is obscure. Webster states that he 
does not know the meaning, but observes that the German 
^wiese^ is a meadow. Yon Martens, as quoted on p. 26, dis- 
cusses the subject in its philological bearings. The name 
'WeaseP in strictness should pertain to the present species, as 
distinguished from its various larger allies, as the Stoats and Fer- 
rets ; but it has come to have rather a generic application to the 
various species of the same immediate group. 

The iStoat or Ermine. 

Pntorlaii (Gale) erinfnea. 

Plate VI, Figb. 1, 3, 5, 8, 7. 

(a. Oeneral r^ereneet.) 

Mus pontlcus, queid hodle Toeait HermeUm, Ayrie, "De Anim. Sabter. 16U, 33". 

Mustela Candida, h'hwene^f. " Theriotroph. 1603, lie ". 

MusteU caidiiA la extrea* MUdA alsrlMis, .IMrov. "Quad. Digit 1645, 310, fig ". 

Mttsteia alpln* csHdid*, Wagn. " Hist Nat Helvet 1660, 180' . 

MuslelA Candida «. animal Emlnenni reoeatiorna, Bay, " Syn. Quad. 1693, 198 ". 

MuBtcIa alba, Rzacz. " PoIod. 1731, 335 ". 

Mnstela caudie aplce atro, Linn. Fn. Saeo. lat ed. 1746, 3, na 90. 

Mustela Candida t. ermlacam, Linn. Syat Nat eds. 6tb, 7.tli, 1748, 5, no. 6. 

Mr tela araelliaa, KUin, "Qaad. 1751, 63 ". 

Mnstela alvea aarikas aafastU, caadc aplce algro, HiU, " Hiat Anim. 1758,548 ". 

Mutela hlcBie allM, lestale aapra ratlia lafra alba, caadie aviee aigro, Bri$§. Quad. 

Mnstela ermlaea, Unn. Maa. Adolpb. Frid. lat ed. 1754, 5 ; S. N. i. lOtti ed. 1758, 46, na 9 ; 
Fn. Sueo. Sd ed. 1761, 6, na 17; Syat Kat 13tb ed. i. 1766, 68, na 10.— flout. Katunrl. 
Hist. iii. 1761, 906, pL 14, £5.— A G. OmA. Reise, iL 1770, pL S3 (erminmmmajut).— 
Mm. Zool. Dan. Prod. 1776, 3, na U.—Brxl. Syst An. 1777, 474, na 13.—8chreb. S&ug. 
iU. 1778, ^96, pi. 137, A, B.—Zimtn. Geogr. Oesoh. IL 1780, 308, na 305.— &m. S. N. i. 1788, 

98, no. 10.— florm. Obs. ZottL 45.- £«ciU(. Katnrg. ;. , Wt.—Turt. S. N. L 1806, 61.— 

Pall. Zoog. B..A. L 1831, 90, no. 31 {ermitteum),—JDetm. Mamm. i. 1890, 180, na 977 ; Kouv. 
Diet, xix, 376; Enoy. M«tb. pL 83, f. 9, 3.—Fr. Ouv. Diet Soi. Nat xxiz, 1893,950— 
Ii. Geo/. Diet CbMs.x. 919. -J>M. Man. 1837, 146.— Kcoft. Syn. 1890, 999.— i'fem. Br. 
Ad. 1898, 13.— .Ten. Br. Vert 1835^ 13.— BeU, Br. Quad. 1837, 148 ) 9d ed. 1874, 191, flg.- 
Selyt-L. Fn. Belg. 1843, 10.— Oray, List Mamm. Br. Mas. 1843, 6i.-8Miu, Syn. 

Mamm. L 1844, 349.— AeAreiwJfc. Beise AmnrL , W.—Oi«b. Sttug. 1855, 781.— 0«rr. Cat 

Bones Br. Mas. 1869, 03.—9HU, Zo(d. Oart iii. 1869, 938— tfray, P. Z. S. 1865, HI i Cat. 
Cam. Br. Mas. 1869. 88. 



MMstklS e^HlBMl a. mi T*, b. IjrKen*, am. S. N. i. 176S, 98, noa. lOo, lOfr. 

Tlverr* eralnra, /STAkw, "^a. Zodl. L I8OO, 49«, pi. 99. 

PHtorlM eralHM, Orif, An. Klngd. V. 18-27, 123, no. 345.— Oi««n, Br. Fosa. Hamm. , 116, 

f. 40, 41, 48 (sknll).— Brand;. Wlrb. Eur. K. E. Rusal. ,94. 

FatorlHS eralasil, Keyi.<t Blat. Wirb. Ear. 1840, 6»,n«K 185. —Bto*. 'Wtrb.Dbat80hl.18S7, 

S29.—Jaekel, Zool. Ghtrt. xiv. 1874, 459 (albim). 
Araiellnas, Oem. Quad. 1551, 852. 
HePaelidlS, Seluff: Lappon. 1673, 343. 

Heraeli»eHHB« Oharht. Exerolt 1677, 20.— /oimL Theatr. 1755, 153. 
HemlHe, OharUv. Konv. France, ili. 1744, 134.— Brim. Quad. 1756, 243, no. 2.— Bu/. Hiat. 

Kat viL 240 ; Diet Anim. iL aO.—Fr«nek. 
Hemelln, Hail. Vierf. Tliiere, 1757, 455.— A O. Qm. Reiae. 11. 192, pi. 23, ill. 370.— Patt. Reiae, 

1771, 129.-Jfart. ButT. Vierf. iv. 196, pi. 67.— JfiiW. .Naturayat. i. 1773, 274, pi. 14, f.5.— 

Bun. Kamtavh. 1774, IK.-MarUMi, Zool. Oart. xi. 1«70, p. 878 (philological). 
H«raijra*Wezel, HoutU Nat Hist Dieren, iL 1761, 206, pi. 14. f. 5.— Beiyic 
BraelllBO, Seatag. Anim. Quad. ii. pi. 74, fig. from Buffon.— Ztolian. 
SIMt, Erakltifr, i>«nn. Brit Z^oSL — ,84.— Engliih. 
BOMlet (summer), Fi-eneh.—\nU%o, AmelllM, jrpanifft.— AmclllBO, itotian.— Lekatt, 

Swedish.— Qronostf, Poligh.-GnrutmM, Ruttian. 

{b. Ameriean rtifereneet.) 

a. erminea. < 

HlUteU erninea, Font. PbiL Traiia. Ixii. 1772, 373.— Ifarton, Fn. Amer. 1825, 62.— Oodman, 
Am. N. H. L 1831, 193.— TAomps. N. H. Verm. 1853, 31.— fliiU, Canad. Kat and OeoL yL 
1861, 295. 

Mustela ermlOM var. amerimna, Qray, P. Z. S. 1865, 111; Cat Cam. Br. Mna. 1869, 89. 

PatoriUS ermtnea, Aui. it Baeh. Q. N. A. iL 1851,56, pL59.— r Wood. Sitgr. Rep. 1853,44 
(Indian Territory).— AU. Bull M. C. Z. L 1870, 167 (critical).— 2tiUinj;«, Canad. Kat and 
OeoL iL 1857, 455 (biographical).— AUen, Pr. Boat Soo. K. H. xiiL 1869, 183. 

PutorlUB noTeboraeensls, De Kay, Rep. K. Y. Survey, 1840, 18; K. Y. ZooL iL 1842, 36, pL 12, 
f 2 (winter) and pL 14, f. 2 (aammer).- fmfmww, Rep. Quad. Maaa. 1840, 45.— Bd. M. 
K. A. 1857, 166, pi. 36, f. 3 (skull).- f «nn. Tr. HL State Agrio. Soo. 1853-4, 578.-Bo««, 
Canad. Kat and GeoL tL 1861, 441.— J/emm. Arch, t Katurg. 1861, 220.- Ferz. K. A. 
Sftug. 1862, U.—Gapin, Tr. Kov. Scot lust iL 1870, 15, SO.— Sam. Ann. Rep.lMaaa. 
Agric. fur 1861, 1862, 156, pL 1, f. 1.— Amet, BulL Minn. Acad. Kat ScL 1874, 69. 

0. eicognani.) 

MHBtela (Putorlag) erailnea, Bieh. F. B. A. L 1839, 46. 

Mustela erninea. Thompi. K. H. Vermont, 1853, 31. 

Mustela cIcogBaal, ^. Charleaw. Mag. ii. 1838, 37; Fn. Ithl. 183^ auk M. boeeamda.— 

Wiegm. Arch. 1839, 423.— Oray, Cat Mamm. Br. Mna. 195. 
PntorlUS elcasil«al,Bd. M. K. 4. 1857, 161.— Aieftloy, P. R. R. Rep. xiL pt iL 1859, 92.— 0^>m, 

Tr. Kov. Soot Inst iL 1870^ 13, 50.— ifoin. Ann. Rep. Maaa. Agrie. fbr 1861, 1862, pL 1, f. 6. 
Miutela richanlsoal, Bp. Charleaw. Mag. ii. 1838, 38 (baaed on Richardaon).— Ofay, P. Z. S. 

1865, 118: Cat Carn. Br. Mas. 1860, 90. 
PutOPlM rlUMmlSOBt, JUak. Zo«L Beeohey'a Voy. 1839, 10*.— Bd. M. K. A. 1857, 164.— <7roy. 

Cat. Mamm. Br. Mna. 195.- <8am. Rep. Maaa. Agrio. for 1861, 1868, 158, pL 1, f. 3, 5, 7.— Bow, 

Canad. Kat MdtJeoL vL 1861, 441.-<H{ptn, Tr. Kov. Scot Inat i: ^370, 1959.- (?) SUv. U. 

a GeoL Sorv. T«t. 1870, 461 (Wyoming).- AflMt, BnU. Minn. Aoad. Kat Soi. 1874, 69. 
MB»t»la tmni And. <e Bodt J. A. K. S. P. vUi. pt iL 1843, 288.- Be Kay, K. Y. Z. L 1849, 35 — 

ira0i. Wiegai. Aitth. 1843, Bd. iL 38. 
M«atel» (Sale) ftaea, SMtu, Syn. Mamm. L 1844, 348. 
PatiOriM rBBCttfl, Avd. a Bach. Q. K. A. ilL 1853, 834, pi. 148. 
PBtMffl* «Clin» J ttd. <£ Baeh. q. K. A. ilL 189;<, 184, pL 1 10.— Kftm. Tr. nilnois State Agrio. 

Soa fbr 1853-4, 1855, 578 (Illinois). 
PBt«ri«a 1i«bM« Bd. M. K. A. 1857. 173 (KamtMhatka and SIbeiria). 
PatorlNB tmlBca far. kaael, Gray, P. Z. S. 186S, 111 ; Cat earn. Br. Mna. 1869, 89. 

Hab. — ^Arotogiea : Earope, Asia, and America, uortb to the limit of exist- 




ence of Mrreatrial Mammalfl. In Americb, sonth to very nearly the soathern 
border of the United States, bat no speoimeus seen from the Qulf States, 
New Mexico, Arizona, or Soathern California. The range meets that of P. 
hrasilieHgia, which conducts the gen is into South America. 

Specific characters. — Length of head and body 8-11, of tener 9-10 inches ; 
of tail-vertebr»B 2-5 inches, averaging 3^-4, only exceptionably passing the 
first-named limits. Tail at all seasons brnshy, conspicuously black-tipped 
for i-i, generally about f, its total length. In summer, dull mahogany- 
brown above, pale sulphury-yellow below ; in winter, in most regions pure 
white all over except the black end of the tail, tinged in places with sul- 
phury-yellow. Caudal vertebriB 17 or 18 (Garrard). 

Discmsion of specific characters and relationships. 

lu entering upon the sabject of the Ermines, the following 
prmnonendaj which will be attempted to be proven in the 
course of the article, will assist to an appreciation of the 
points of the discussion : — 

1. The Ermines of Europe, Asia, and America are specifi- 
cally identical. 

2. None of the supposed characters which have been relied 
upon to separate them have any existence in nature except as 
peculiarities of individual specimens examined. 

3. The American Ermines are of two forms according to size 
alone, which in the extremes stand widely apart, but which 
grade insensibly into each other. 

4. Within certain limits (to be hereafter defined), length of 
the whole animal, length of tail, both absolutely and relatively 
to that of body, and length of the black portion, either abso- 
lutely or relatively to that of the tail, are utterly fallacious as 
a means of specific diagnosis. 

5. No question of coloration, of stoutness of body, of shape 
of ear, of furriness of feet, of character of pelage, and the like, 
can enter into the question, since such details are proven fortui- 
tous circumstances of sex, age, season, locality, or merely hormal 
individual variability. 

I have before me a considerable suite of specimens of the 
Ermine, taken at various seasons in Great Britain, France, 
Germany, Sweden, Siberia, and Kamtschatka, together with 
an immense colliaction from all portions of North America 
inhabited by the animal. I may therefore set forth my conclu- 
sions without hesitation. The Ermine is the same animal in 
Europe, Asia, and America. Bespccting the various trivial and 
insignificant distinctions which Gray and others have sought 
to establish, upon obviously insufficient material and inadequate 



investigation, it may be stated anequivocally that they fail as 
bases of specific or even varietal separation. Not that the 
alleged trifling dilferenoes do not exist ; I can find them all and 
others besides : bat they occur equally in the specimens from 
all countries, are not in the least correlated with any supposed 
geographical limits, and are, in short, an expression merely of 
the normal individual variability of the animal. As perfect 
duplicates as I ever examined came from Alaska and Northern 
Europe respectively: in all those nice points of pelage, shades 
of color, &c., which the practiced eye recognizes, they are 
more exactly alike than, for example, several specimens from 
England and France are among themselves. Every point which 
has been seized upon to separate an American from the Old 
World animal is nullified by sufficient series of specimens. 

In seeking either resemblances or differences in the nicer 
minor points, we must not look at the animals as limited by 
certain continental areas, nor in any way by longitude : experi- 
ence proves that this would be useless. A creature of thoroughly 
and conspicuously circumpolar distribution, extending probably 
as near the pole as any land Mammal, it is modified, when 
changed at all, by latitude, as expressed in the climate to which 
it is subjected, state of its food-supply, &c. These points are 
thoroughly understood in the commercial world by those whose 
wits are sharpened by their pecuniary interests; and it is 
surprising that some naturalists have failed to appreciate them. 

The existence in North America of the true Ermine being 
established, there yet remains the question whether there be 
not also in this country other species of the same type, for we 
must not hastily assume that, because we have the true Er- 
mine, all our other Stoats must be identical with it. 

Throwing out of consideration the quite different P. longi- 
eattda^ three species have of late years been currently recog- 
nized. These are the P. nov^oracenm of De Kay, P. richarA' 
soni of Bonaparte (= agilis Aud. and Bach.), and P. oieognani 
of Bonaparte {=fu8ous A. and B.). Of the first-named it may 
be said, simply, that it is based upon the ordinary United States 
animal, of dimensions exactly corresponding to an average 
English specimen, for instance, and not otherwise different. 
This may be accepted as a convenient standard of comparison 
for the ordinary United States animal, identical with that from 
corresponding latitudes in the Old World. The P. richardsoni 
of Bonaparte was originally a mere presumptive attempt to 



separate the Eriuine of America, being based upon P. erminea 
of liicbardsoD, who does not bint at any supposed distinction 
from the Old World animal, and whose description and 
measurements indicate identity with ordinary P. erminea. Later, 
the name was adopted by Prof. Baird for specimens from Massa- 
chusetts and northward, considerably smaller than the average 
(8 inches), but with proportions of body and tail much as usual. 
P. agilia of Audubon and Bach man is obviously the same as 
Baird's richardsoni. Specimens from Massachusetts and north- 
ward, of about the same size, but shorter tail, were separated 
by Baird as P. cicognani. He compares richardsoni with oicog- 
nani as follows : — " This species is readily distinguished from 
P. cicognani by the longer tail, the vertebrie alone of which are 
half the length of the body." Measurements of the tail-vertebra) 
of P. cicognani given range from 2.25 to 3.00. 

As a matter of fact, I find the tails to present all the several 
dimensions given by Baird, together with other intermediate 
dimensions, constituting an unbroken series from the shortest 
to the longest ; and with additional dimensions which connect 
them as closely with the largest exami^lcs of " novehoracensis ". 
It will be observed from Baird's tables that the difference 
among the various examples of ^^ cicognani ^^ (2.25 to 3.00 = 
0.75) is about the same as that supposed to distinguish rich- 
ardsoni (3.00 as against 4.00). In regard to total size, the same 
minute gradations are before me, from specimens scarcely 8 
inches long to others over 10. The points of relative lengths 
of the black tip, amount of white on the upper lip, &c., are 
wholly matters of individual variability, to be thrown out of the 
discussion. It may be said in brief that the American Ermines 
are inseparably connected by the most minute intergradations 
from the smallest and shortest-tailed to the opposite extreme. 

This fact ascertained, however, should not blind us to the 
equally notable fact of the existence of such differences. All 
the points laid down by Baird are substantiated. * There are 
the larger and smaller Weasels, living side by side, in New 
York and Massachusetts, for instance — the one scarcely 8 inches 
long, with the tail-vertebrae under 3, and the other 11 inches, 
with the tail over 5. And I find the same thing to hold through- 
out the country to the Arctic Ocean. The P. hand of Baird, a 
type of which is before me, is merely one of these smaller 
Ermines from Arctic regions. The author indeed says it 

is about the size of the P. cicognani, " which it otherwise greatl v 
8 m 




resembles and represents". The point I make is, that it is im- 
possible to draw any dividing line between the extremes. 
Whatever character, or whatever set of characters, we assume 
as deflnitive,is instantly negatived by sufflcientmaterial. There 
is no dividing line. The differences may be relegated to the cate- 
gory of individual variability in size ; and as such they possess 
for the zoologist quite as much interest as if they were " specific 
characters". To facilitate the recognition and handling of this 
range of variation, I have above thrown the synonyms in two 
batches, assorting them as far as practicable ; though it must 
always be remembered that the name refers, in most cases, not 
to either extreme, but to various intermediates, so that exact 
location of the names is in the nature of the case impossible. 
The smaller Stoat may be recognized, by those who desire to 
give it a name, as P. crminea var. cicognani. 

So far from there being anything remarkable or exceptional 
in this, it seems that a similar case occurs in Europe. Though 
I am not cognizant of any species based upon this distinction 
in size, the specimens before me indicate the same range of 
variation. Thus, one from France, in winter pelage, and there- 
fore full-grown, is quite as small as typical cicognani; for all 
I can discover, it is as nearly identical with a small Massachu- 
setts skin as if the two had been born in the same litter.* 

Those engaged in investigating the points at issue here 
should not fail to consult, further, Mr. Allen's paper upon the 
subject above quoted. It will be found an admirable historical' 
summary of the case, an acute analysis of imaginary distinc- 
tions, and a logical conclusion. With the exception of the case 
of P. hmgicauda, which Mr. Allen had not seen, his views are 
substantially the same as those I have since been led to adopt 
from my own studies, though I would lay a little more stress 
upon the actually existing differences than he was inclined to 
do when arguing solely against that absence of specific distinc- 
tion in which I wholly agree with him. I wish to here bring 
out the differences as strongly as he did the resemblances. Since 
the point at issue is entirely a matter of dimensions, relative 
and absolute,the following table of measurements is presented 
without comment as a fair resume of the whole question : — 

* " Earam inter Americes aninialia <iuoqn» meminit Charleeoix hist, de la 
Nonv. France vol. iii. p. 134. Statnra ibi paulo minore sunt. Sic at in Daon- 
rioe densieibiniis sylvis occurrent spithamam vix excedentes." — (Paixas, Zoog. 
LoasO'JsiaHca i. 1811,9-2.) 













aimpdds JO 3in)BX 

"666' • o d 

•«» JO ^qajan 

'ji«to JO paa o; aeus 



JO pna o% Aoqia 





100J pam 






.9 -.; 




n n ^ ci n vi n 



















00**0 ^^ 



>• «i i-i sl ei ei ei 

«-* p4 ^ ^*J^^ 









J'3 >•« bCS>3'Oi3'* 

S o^-S^-fi^'S 

■jaqtnna ivoiSpo 

1 b ' 



















yote on the skull and teeth. 

Skull and teeth. — A deccriptioD of tbe cranium and dentition 
of ibis typical species will answer well for that of the subgenus 
Oale (see p. 09). The skull, though strong, is smooth in its gen- 
eral superficies, lacking almost entirely the sagittal ridge and 
roughness of muscular attachment which characterize the crania 
of the larger forms, like fuetidus and rison for instance. The 
forehead is turgid and convex in profile ; the muzzle very short, 
swollen, and nearly vertically truncate. The zygomata are very 
slender, regularly arched throughout; the anterior root is a 
thin flaring plate, perforated by a large foramen anteorbitale. 
The cranium proper is peculiarly cylindrical rather than ovoidal; 
tbe postorbital constriction is abrupt, though slight. Supra- 
orbital processes are moderately developed. The palatal emar- 
gination is slight; the pterygoids send out a spur to embrace 
the adjacent foramen, and terminate roundly, without a hama- 
lar process, so conspicuous in the larger Putorii and in Muatela, 
or with only a slight one. The bullai auditorio) are very large, 
llattisb, parallel rather than divergent, and not in the least 
produced into a tubular meatus; on the contrary, the orifice of 
the meatus shows from below as an emargination. The glen- 
oid fossie have so prominent a hinder edge thr.t they seem to 
present forward rather than downward. 

The teeth scarcely furnish occasion for remark, as they pre- 
sent no peculiarities. In a specimen before me, the' middle 
upper premolar of the right side has failed to develop. This 
is rather a large tooth to thus abort. Among the incisors 
(much as elsewhere in this subfamily), various irregularities are 
observable in different specimens, owing to the crowded state 
of these small teeth. (For cranial and dental peculiarities as 
compared with longieauda, see beyond.) 

Description of tJie external characters. 

A general description of this animal, herewith given, neces- 
sarily^ embraces many points shared with its congeners. It may 
be taken in amplification of the generic characters already 
given, and serve as a standard of comparison for other species, 
in the several accounts of which a repetition of non-essential 
specific characters is by this means avoided. 

In general form, the Stoat typifies a group of carnivorous 
Mammals aptly called ' vermiform ', in consideration of the ex- 
treme length, tenuity and mobility of the trunk, and shortness 


/ / 



of the limbs. Tbis olongution is specially observable iu tbe 
neck, the head being set exceptionally far in front of the shoul- 
ders. The trunk is nearly cylindricp.1 : it scarcely bulges in 
tbe region of tbe abdominal viscera slopes a little over the 
haunches, rises slightly about the shoulder muscles, is a little 
contracted behind those; the neck is but little less in calibre 
than the chest. The greatest circumference of body is little 
more than half its length. 

The head is shorter than the neck ; it is notably depressed, 
especially flattened on the coronal area and under tbe throat ; 
it is broad across the ears, whence it tapers with convex lateral 
outline along the zygomatic region, thence contracting more 
rapidly to tbe snout. The bulging of the sides of tbe head is 
in great measure due to the bulk of the temporal and masset- 
eric muscles, which form swollen masses meeting on the median 
vertical line. This also contributes to the flattening of the 
frontal outline. The width of the head across the ears is about 
two-thirds its length. The eyes are rather small, situated mid- 
way between the nose and ears; they glitter with changing 
hues, and contribute, with the low forehead and protruding 
canine teeth, to a peculiarly sinister and ferocious physiognomy. 
The ample gape of the mouth, thin-lipped, reaches to below the 
eyes. The nasal pad at the extremity of the muzzle, is entirely 
and definitely naked; it is obscurely marked with a median 
furrow. • Tbe nostrils are small, circular, with a lateral projec- 
tion below. The ears are conspicuous, rising high above the 
short surrounding fur ; they are rounded in contour, about as 
wide across as high above the notch. Most of the auricle is 
flat and closely furred both sides. The rim completes about 
three-fifths of the contour. There is a conspicuous lobule 
reaching half-way up the border behind. The concavity of tbe 
vestibule is slight, naked, but hidden by a close-pressed pencil 
of long, upright hairs from the base of tbe auricle in front, ex- 
tending nearly to tbe top of the ear. Tbe back of the ear is 
on the occipital cross- line. 

Tbe whiskers are few but long, tbe longest reaching far be- 
yond the head. A few shorter, very slender bristles spring 
over tbe eye and on the malar region. 

The short forelimb is stout, and not fairly separated from the 
body much above the elbow. The forearm tapers rapidly to tbe 
wrist, causing tbe feet to appear slender in comparison, though 
they are really relatively stouter than in many unguiculate 







animals. From the wrist the feet are little shorter than the 
forearm ; they are broad and depressed. The 3d-4th digits are 
subeqaal and longest; the 2d-5th are subequal and shorter to 
the extent that their claws scarcely or not reach the base of 
the claws of the longer digits. The thumb is much shorter still. 
All the digits are alike clawed. The claws are moderately 
developed as to length, stoutness, and curvature ; though not 
properly retractile, they remain sharp, and serviceable for climb- 
ing, though probably not effective weapons on the chase. The 
back of the hand is always full furred, the hairs reaching about 
to the ends of the claws; the terminal and marginal hairs have 
a peculiar stiff bristly character, different from that of the gen- 
eral pelage. But the furring of the feet, no less than the general 
character of the pelage, is very largely dependent in quantity 
and quality upon season and latitude. In the most boreal 
specimens, in winter, the whole foot is densely hairy, like that 
of a Polar Hare or Ptarmigan ; no trace of palmar tubercles is 
seen. In southern and summer examples, the foot-pads are 
usually distinctly visible ; and this is their character : there are 
ten rounded balls on Ve foot ; one at the end of each digit (5), 
four on the palm ne at the wrist (10). The latter is far 

back, and nearly mc^iau, commonly overhung with fur. There 
is one at the base of respectively the 1st, 2d, and 5th digits ; 
and another larger, like two bulbs in one, at the bases of the 
3d and 4th digits. The four strictly plantar pads are close 
together, without intervening hairy spaces; that on the wrist, 
like those on the ends of the digits, are isolated. 

The hind limbs repeat the characters of the fore, in their 
stoutness, taper, and little discrimination of the upper portion 
from the trunk. The resemblance extends to the feet, which 
are almost duplicates of the hands in size, shape, and in rela- 
tive lengths of the digits. The same conditions of furring 
occur; the tuberculation is likewise the same, except that a 
tubercle corresponding to the tenth one ab »ve enumerated is 
not found. But the length of the foot from heel to end of toes 
is about half as much again as that of the fore foot. 

The tail is of moderate length. In proportion to the length 
of head and body, it is rarely if ever so short as in P. vulgaris^ 
or so long as in P. Unt^cauda. The vertebral portion, not includ- 
ing that which runs into the body to join the sacrum, will 
probably average between f and ^ the length of the body and 
head; with the hairs, the proportion is about ^f. This num- 

1 1 



bur U cyliudrioal, with some eulargement of the brunUy black 
tii>, and well furred throughout. The terminal pencil of hairs, 
an iuuh and a half or two inches in length, commonly repre- 
sents about half the length of the vertebral portion, and more 
than half the length of the part that is black. Uut no other 
portion of animars frame is so variable as this. 

Of the general character of the pelage of this prixed " fur- 
bearing" animal, it would be useless to speak otherwise than us 
a zoiilogist. Those differences which tue whims of imperious 
fashion render all-important in the co* imercial world have no 
further interest for us than inasmuch as they indicate the 
variable conditions resulting from season, climate, or particular 
locality. Nevertheless, these points are evident to the prac- 
tised eye when not altogether obscured by the furrier's art. 
The rule is increase in softness, fineness, and density with 
increase of latitude, and during the winter in all latitudes. 
During summer and to the southward, the fur is stiffer, thinner, 
and of the particular harsh gloss which comes from admixture 
with longer bristly hairs — something different from the smooth 
soft sheen of the opposite condition. In specimens from the 
same regions, there is also observed a difference according to 
freshness or worn condition of the coat, according to vigor of 
the animal, and doubtless other causes. 

In its summer dress, the Stoat is a good example of a " bicolor'' 
pattern of coloration. The upper parts are continuously and 
uniformly of one color, the under of another, with strict line of 
demarcation of the two. The color above ranges, according to 
locality, season, or still more fortuitous circumst^Lces (as, for 
example, age of the particular coat and health of the individ- 
ual), from a rather light dull " yellowish " brown, to a rich dark 
mahogany brown, not very different from that of a Muskrat or 
Mink. The tail, excepting the black brush, agrees in color. 
The shade is nearly uniform, though an intensified dorsal area 
may oftea or usually be traced. Below, the animal is white, 
almost invariably tiilged with sulphury-yellow — often of a 
decidedly strong shade of t}"';^ color. Exceptional specimens 
aside, we may say, in round ter J9S, the animal is sulphury-yellow 
below — not white, as in P. vu{; v. ^ nor salmon nor buffy, as in 
P. longieauda or P. frenata. The chin, throat, and insides of 
the legs are usually excepted from this sulphury discoloration, 
being quite purely white. The tail is invariably black-tippet*, 
to the extent and in the manner already sufficiently indicated. 



Now, as to the details of coloration, especially the line of 
demarcation of the two bod3'-coIors, we must remember, in the 
beginning, th^.^ we here have an animal which, under ordinary 
conditions, turns entirely while once every year, and resumes 
its bicoloration as often ; that consequently we must expect to 
find skins showing every possible step of the transition ; and 
that, moreover, various odd little matters of coloration arecer* 
tain to appear in different oases. Taken in its perfected sum- 
mer dress in average latitudes, the animal ordinarily shows a 
line of demarcation, beginning at the snout, involving the edge 
of the upper lip, running thence straight along the side of the 
head and neck to the shoulder ; there dipping down the fore 
edge of the limb to the paw, returning on the opposite border 
of the limb, running thence nearly straight to the hind leg, 
dipping down the outside of this also, returning to the 
perinioum, there meeting its fellow. The tail all around and 
upper surfaces of the paws are like the back. A slight lower- 
ing of this line would leave the end of the muzzle and the 
whole upper lip dark, as is frequently the case, showing how 
absurd are any distinctions based on ''araonnt of white on the 
upper lip". The line also frequently encroaches upon the belly, 
narrowing the sulphury band. But, as might be anticipated, 
the chief deviations from this complete summer dress are in 
the other direction — lessening of dark area. The commonest 
point here is whiteness of the paws, the dark spurs stopping at 
the wrist and ankle. Another common state is whiteness of 
the anal region and under surface of the tail. Frequently 
light patches reach irregularly up the sides of the head, par- 
ticularly about the ears. These points may be witnessed in 
midsummer, and appear to be purely fortuitous — that is, not 
traces of the regular change. 

Coming now to this matter of the change, we find it under 
several aspects. I am not now speaking of the mode of change, 
but of the appearances presented at different stages. A fre- 
quent state of incipient change leaves much of the snout, ears, 
legs, and tail, sulpbury-white, with considerable elevation of 
the general line of demarcation. This progresses until thfre 
D^ay be a narrow median dorsal stripe along the whole length 
of the animal. In this kind of change, the fur of the dark 
parts is often found without the slightest admixture of white, 
the hairs being, uniformly as dark as in summer, to the very 





roots. In other cases, however, with little or no restriction of 
the general dark area, this insensibly lightens by progressive 
whitening of the hairs from the roots outward, at first appear- 
ing merely paler brown, then white with brown streakiness of 
uniform character all over. The animal finally becomes pure 
white except the end of the tail. But this white is generally 
tinged in places, particularly on the belly and hind quarters, 
with sulphur-yellow. 

Conditions of the change of color. 

Much has been said of the mode in which this great change 
is ett'ected, not only in the case of the Ermine, but of the Arctic 
Fox, Northern Hare, Hudson's Bay Lemming, and other animals. 
As I have not personally witnessed the transition, I can only 
display the evidence afibrded in the writings of others. Some 
contend that the change is rapid and abrupt, resulting in a few 
hours, simply from lowering of temperature to a certain point. 
Others argue that the change is gradually accomplished ; and 
of those favoring the latter view, some maintain that the brown 
coat is shed and a wliito one grown, while others hold that the 
extinction of pigment is gradually effected without a renewal of 
the pelage. 

We will first review the evidence adduced by the author 
of Bell's Quadrupeds (p. 150, seq.): — " The winter change of 
color which this species so universally assumes in northern 
climates .... is effected, as I believe, not by a loss of the 
summer coat, a 1 the substitution of a new one for the winter, 
but by the actual change of color of the existing fur. It is 
perhaps not easy to offer a satisfactory theory for this phenom- 
enon, but we may perhaps conclude that it arises from a similar 
cause to that which produces the gray hair of senility in man, 
and some other animals ; of this instances have occurred in 
which the whole hair has become white in the course of a few 
hours, from excessive grief, anxiety or fear ; and the access of 
very sudden and severe cold has been known to produce, almost 
as speedily, the winter change, in animals of those species 
which are prone to it. The transition from one state of the 
coat to the other does not take place through any gradation of 
shade in the general hue, but by patches here and there of the 
winter colour intermixed with that of summer, giving a pied cov- 
ering to the animal It appears to be established that 

what ever may be the change which takes place in the structure 






I ;, 

of the hair, upon which the alteration of colour immediately 
depends, the transition froLi the summer to the winter colours 
is primarily occasioned by actual change of temperature, and 
not by the mere advance of the season." The author quotes 
in support of his views, and as tending to confirm them, the 
observations of Mr. John Hogg (Loudon's Mag. vol. v.), and 
details an experiment upon a Lemming which turned white by 
a few hours' exposure to severe cold. 

As a supporter of the view that the change results from 
renewal of the coat may be cited the eminent naturalist Mr. 
Blyth, who communicates his conclusions to Mr. Bell in these 
terms (op. eit. 153) : — ^'Authors are wrong in what they have 
advanced respecting the mode in which this animal changes 
its color, at least in autumn; for in a specimen which I lately 
examined, which was killed during its autumnal change, it was 
clearly perceivable that the white hairs were all new, not the 
brown changed in colour." 

Once again we have the minute and detailed observations of 
Audubon and Bachman, made from March 6 to 23, upon an 
animal they kept in confinement, and which was observed dur- 
ing this period to nearly complete the change from white to the 
summer colors. These authors agree with Mr. Blyth : — " We 
have arrived at the conclusion, that the animal sheds its coat 
twice a year, i. e., at the periods when these semi-annual 
changes take place. In autumn, the summer Lair gradually 
and almost imperceptibly drops out, and is succeeded by a 
fresh coat of hair, which in the course of two or three weeks 
becomes pure white ; while in the spring the animal undergoes 
its change from white to brown in consequence of sheddiug its 
winter coat, the new hairs then coming out brown." 

This conflicting testimony, which might be largely added to 
if this were desirable, is perhaps not so difficult to harmonize 
as it appears at first sight ; nor is it in the least required to 
impugn the credibility of the witnesses of observed facts. I 
should state in the beginning, however, that it seems to me to be 
like straining a point to find any analogy between this periodi- 
cally recurring change in a healthy animal and the tardy senile 
change coincident with flagging of the vital energies, or with 
the sudden pathological metamorphosis due to violent mental 
emotions of a kind to which, ferce naturw are not ordinarily ex- 
posed. This poiut aside, I would readily agree with Mr. Bell 
that subjection to sudden severe cold may materially hasten 






the change. But it is to be remembered in this connection 
that the difference in temperature is necessarily coordinated 
more or less perfectly with the progress of the seasons, so that 
it becomes in effect merely a varying element in the periodical 
phenomena. The question practically narrows to this : Is the 
change coincident with renewal of the coat, or is it independ- 
ent of this, or may it occur in both ways ? Specimens before 
mei prove the last statement. Some among them, notably those 
taken in spring, show the long woolly white coat of winter in 
most places, and in others present patches — generally a streak 
along the back — of shorter, coarser, thinner hair, evidently of 
the new spring coat, wholly dark brown. Other specimens, 
notably autumnal ones, demonstrate the turuing to white of ex- 
isting hairs, these being white at the roots for a varying distance, 
and tipped with brown. These are simple facts not open to 
question. We may safely conclude that if the requisite tem- 
perature be experienced at the periods of renewal of the coat, 
the new hairs will come out of the opiK)site color ; if not, they 
will appear of the same color, and afterward change ; that is, 
the change may or may not be coincident' with shedding. 
That it ordinarily is not so coincident seems shown by the 
greater number of specimens in which we observe white hairs 
brown-tipped. As Mr. Bell contends, temperature is the im- 
mediate controlling agent. This is amply proven in the fact 
that the northern animals always change ; that in those from 
iotermediate latitudes the change is incomplete, while those 
from farther south do not change at all. 

The good purpose subserved in the animal's economy — in 
other words, the design or final cause of this remarkable alter- 
ation, is evident in the screening of the creature from ob- 
servation by assimilation of its color to that of the predomi- 
nating feature of its surroundings. It is shielded not only from 
its enemies, but from its prey as well. Another important 
effect of the whiteness of its coat has been noted. Mr. Bell 
has clearly stated the case : — ^< It is too well known to require 
more than an allusion, that although the darker colours absorb 
heat to a greater degree than lighter ones, so that dark-coloured 
clothing is much warmer than light-coloured, when the wearer 
is exposed to the sun's rays — the radiation of heat is also 
never greater from dark than from light-coloured surfaces, and 
consequently the animal heat from icithin is more completely 
retained by a white than by a dark covering ; the temperature 



therefore of an aDimal having white fnr, would continue more 
equable than that of one clothed in darker colours, although the 
latter would enjoy a greater degree of warmth whilst exposed 
to the sun's influence. Thus the mere presence of a degree of 
cold, sui&cient to prove hurtful if not fatal to the animal, is 
itself the immediate cause of such a change in its condition as 
shaH at once negative its injurious influence." 

The latitudes in which the ?ha.:)ge occurs in this country in- 
elude the northern tier of States, and the entire region north- 
ward. In this area, the change is regular, complete, and uni- 
versal. Complete change is also usually effected — but not 
always — nearly to the southern limits of dispersion in mount- 
ainous regions. White winter specimens are the rule in MaS' 
sachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania ; and I have seen 
others, pure white, from Illinois, Wyoming Territory, and Cal- 
ifornia (Fort Crook). For the Southern States, from which I 
have no white examples, I will quote Audubon and Bachman : — 
" We received specimens from Virginia obtained in January, in 
which the colours of the back had undergone no change, and 
remained brown ; and from the upper and middle districts of 
South Carolina, killed at the same period, when no change had 
taken place ; and it was stated that this, the only species of 
Weasel found there, remained brown through the whole year. 
. . . Those from the valleys of the Virginia mountains have 
broad stripes of brown on the back, and specimens from Abbe- 
ville and Lexington, South Carolina, have not undergone the 
slightest change." It may be presumed that in the debatable 
ground some individuals may change and others not, and that, 
again, character of successive seasons may make a difference 
in this respect. 

General history and habits of the species. 

For the meaning of the name of this animal, we may refer 
again to Bell : — " The derivation of the word Stoat is very prob- 
ably, as Skinner has it, from the Belgic 'Stout', bold; and the 
name is so pronounced in Cambridgeshire and in some other 
parts of England to the present time. Gwillim, in his * Dis- 
play of Heraldrie ', gives the following etymology of Ermine : — 
'This is a little beast, lesse than a Squirrell, that hath his 
being in the woods of the land of Armenia, whereof hee taketh 
his name.' " The latter word is sometimes written in English 
♦ermin' or 'ermelin'; and the same term occurs in several 




other languages, as in the French 'hermine', the Italian 'ar- 
mellino', the Spanish ' armino', Portuguese 'armiuho', Dutch 
<herine!yn', German, Danish, and Swedish ^hermelin', and 
Armoric *erniinicq'.* Barbarous nations of the northern por- 
tions of the globe would appear to have each their own name 
for an animal well known to them as an object of the chase 
and of profit; names of very various signification, according 
to the diffiBrent points which attracted their attention. Thus, 
Pallas enumerates nearly fifty names, most of which have no 
evident connection with each other. The technical appellation 
of the animal is derived from putor, a bad smell. Foetoriua, 
proposed as a substitute for Putorius by Keyserliug and 
Blasius, has the same signification. The name is highly appro- 
priate ; for the stench emitted by the animals, of both sexes, 
is horribly offensive at times, as whan under the influence of 
fear, anger, or the sexual passion; it is only less penetrating 
and more fugitive than that of the Skunk itself. It may be 
emitted at pleasure, as in case of the Skunk, and is scarcely 
perceptible, except at certain periods, when the animal is at 
rest. The source of the odor is a peculiar fluid contained in 
special glands situated about the anus, opening upon two con- 
ical papilliB, one on each side of the anus, just within the 
verge of the opening. On slightly everting the anus, these 
papilla} may be readily perceived ; slight pressure will cause 
them to stand erect, while at the same time the fluid may be 
caused to spirt several inches in a fine spray, or even trickle 
in a stream about the parts.t 

The female Ermine is provided with these glands, the same 
as the male. She is much smaller than the opposite sex ; but, 
this and her sexual characteristics aside, she is quite identical. 
She makes her home in an underground burrow, beneath the 
stump of a tree, under a pile of rocks, in a decaying log, or 
the hollow of a tree trunk, and brings forth a large litter. 
The number at ti birth is, however, very variable ; four or five 
may be an average number. They have been found newly 
born from March to June, according to latitude, but are ordi- 
narily produced in April or May. In northern latitudes, the 
litter may be born while the fnmale is still in her white pelage, 
as in the case mentioned b^ Pal!as ; he found two young of a 
white mother, early in May, in the hollow of a tree. The 

* Compare ospor.ially vuu Martens, anie&, p. 2S. 
t Compare anted, p. I'ii. 



cavity was separated into several compartments, arranged 
witb some care. One of these contained a heap of fresh mice 
and shrews, another a quantity of the rejected skins, feet, and 
tails of these animals. The nest was extremely foal. The cry 
of the young is represented by Pallas to be like that of a 
newly-born kitten. At the age of ten or twelve days, the little 
animals were ashy above and white beneath. The mother, 
courageous in defence of her offspring, could scarcely be driven 
away, and followed the captor of her brood for a long time. 
The same author details the methods of capturing Ermine in 
Siberia — by me^.ns of a noose set at the entrance of their 
burrows, of spring-traps (at least so I understand by decipulis 
compressoriis ine«' "Us), and of a bent stick with slip-knot, set 
off with a thread crossing their pathway, and placed before a 
hollow made in the snow where the bait is put. The skins, 
used for vestments, were sent, he says, chiefly to China, Turkey, 
and parts of Europe, being little used in Bussia, where the 
tails, the principal ornaments, were reserved by law as the ex- 
clusive perquisite of royalty {privilegic Majeatatis reservaio)). 
The body was withdrawn from the skin through a single incision 
across the posteriors; and it is added that not even those 
tribes '' who eat all sorts of nasty things " will consume the 
flesh, so thoroughly impregnated is it with the fetor. The 
weight of a male is stated to be from i\ve to eight ounces, 
more or less ; of the female, scarcely four. 

Mr. Hogg's observations on the British Stoats, in Loudon's 
Magazine, v., 718 et seq., as already mentioned, relate chiefly 
to the changes of pelage as affected by temperature rather 
than season ; but further remarks, bearing upon some of the 
habits of the animal, will be found interesting: — '^ Whilst walk- 
ing along a footpath in a field, one day in the last week of 
December, 1831, I observed a Stoat, or a Weasel, coming in 
the same path towards me. I immediately stood still, and, as 
he approached, I found that he carried his nose in the same 
relative bearing to the ground, and was in the act of running 
the scent of some bird, or other small animal, exactly after the 
manner of a dog *on scent', and in chase after game. His 
whole attention bein^ to the ground, with his head down, he 
did not see me until close to me, when, suddenly catching 
sight of me, he turned a little aside, stopped short, looked up, 
and then scampered back along the path, with his tail erected 
into somewhat of a carve, from the black end of which I was 




'esh mice 
feet, and 

The cry 
hat of a 
the little 

)e driven 
mg time. 
Irmine in 
of their 

knot, set 

before a 
^e skins, 
, Turkey, 
here the 
s the es- 
i incision 
en those 
ume the 
ttr. The 


) chiefly 
3 rather 
of the 
st walk- 
w^eek of 
ruing in 
and, as 
le same 
/fter the 
le. His 
own, he 
ked up, 
h I was 

able to distinguish him from a Weasel, and, bounding into a 
hedge near the path, he there concealed himself; whence he 
would probably go forth again, when he perceived that all was 
safe, and would perhaps follow up the scent from which I 
had disturbed him. I was thus an eyewitness to the fact of a 
Stoat being able to pursue its prey on scent, and I have little 
doubt that nature has given the sense of smelling, in a similar 
degree, to the Weasel and Polecat; which will therefore 
readily account for their being go destructive to game, and 
chiefly for their instinct in finding the nests of partridges and 
pheasants during the breeding season. 

"... A Stoat does sometimes take to swimming. Walk- 
ing on a fine evening in the spring, a few years ago, by the 
banks of the Wear, between Schincliffe Bridge and Old Dur- 
ham, I noticed an animal swimming in the water; and, making 
haate to the place, which was just below the same bank 
whereon I was walking, I saw that it was a Sto»t; it then swam 
gently across the river, which is there both tieep and of con- 
siderable width, to the opposite bank, where, owing to the 
thick brushwood, I lost sight of it. In the act of swimming, 
it lifted its head and neck well out of water, like a dog ; and 
so diifered from a water rat, which nsually keeps its head 
close along the surface." That the Stoat readily takes to the 
vater, and swims well, has, however, been long known. Pallas 
makes this statement : " habitat .... uecnon circa aquas, 
in quibns e iam prsedam non illibenter quosrit, optime natans", 
and siraila* testimony is afforded by the writings of various 
authors, i^vudubon, however, says nearly the reverse: — "The 
Ermine avoids water, and if forcibly thrown into it, swims 
awkwardly like a cat." But this should be taken with qualifi- 
cation, like the same author's further statement, that the ani- 
mal "does not, like the Fisher and Pine Marten, pursue its 
prey on trees, and seems never to ascond them from choice, 
but from dire necessity, when closely pursued by its impla- 
cable enemy, the dog." The Ermine indeed is neither so 
aquatic as its congener, the Mink, nor so much at home on 
trees as the Martens ; but it has too frequently been observed 
in such situations to admit the doubt that it both swims and 
climbs with ease ant ./ithout reluctance. 

The always pleasing pen of Mr. Wm. Macgillivray has fur- 
nished us with the following general account of the habits of 
the Stoat as observed in Great Britain : — " It appears that in 



England geuorall.v the Ermine is less common than the ^y ea- 
sel; but in Scotland, even to the south of the Frith of Forth, it 
is certainly of more frequent occurrence than that species; and 
for one Weasel I have seen at least five or six Ermines. It 
frequents stviny places and thickets, among which it finds a 
secure retreat, as its agility enables it to outstrip even a dog 
in a short race, and the slimnoss of its body allows it to enter 
a very small aperture. Patches of furze, in particular, afford 
it perfect security, and it sometimes takes possession of a 
rabbit's burrow. It preys on game and other birds, from the 
grouse and ptarmigan dowuwards, sometimes attacks poultry 
or sucks their eggs, and is a determined enemy to rats and 
moles. Young rabbits And hares frequently become victims to 
its rapacity, and even full-grown individuals are sometimes 
destroyed by it. Although in general it does not appear to 
hunt by scent, yet it has been seen to trace its prey like a dpg, 
following its track with certainty. Its motions are elegant, 
and its appearance extremely animated. It moves by leaping 
or bounding, and is capable of running with great speed, 
although it seldom trusts itself beyond the immediate vicinity 
of cover. Under the excitement of pursuit, however, its cour- 
age is surprising, for it will attack, seize by the throat and 
cling to a grouse, hare or other animal, strong enough to carry 
it off; and it does not hesitate on occasion to betake itself to 
the water. Sometimes, when met with in a thicket or stony 
l)lace, it will stand and gaze upon thi) intruder, as if conscious 
of security ; and, although its boldness has been exaggerated 
in the popular stories which have made their way into books 
of natural history, it cannot be denied that, in proportion to 
its size, it is at least as courageous as the tiger or the lion." 

With a mind preoccupied in contemplation of the exploits of 
the chase of great Carnivora — those grand exhibitions of pred- 
atory instincts on the part of some of the strongest beasts, 
one is apt to overlook, or at least to underestimate, the compara- 
tive prowess of some lesser animals. Doubtless, the entomolo- 
gist would give instances of equal courage and perseverance 
in pursuit of prey, of vastly greater comparative strength and 
skill in its capture, and superior destructiveness. Probably 
the great mass of insect-eating animals — an immense and 
varied host^— are in no whit behind in this respect. And in 
noting the instincts and predacious habits of the Weasels and 
Stoats, we observe that, to grant them only equal courage and 



equal comparative prowess, we must nevertheless accede to 
them a wider and more searching range of active operations 
against a greater variety of objects, more persevering and 
more enduring powers of chase, and a higher grade of pure 
destructiveness, taking more life than is necessary for immedi- 
ate wants. The great cats are mainly restricted each to partic- 
ular sources of food supply, which they secure by particular 
modes of attack; and, their hunger satisfied, they quietly 
await another call of nature. Not so, however, with the Wea- 
sels. No animal or bird, below a certain maximum of strength, 
or other means of self-defence, is safe from their ruthless and 
relentless pursuit. The enemy assails them not only upon the 
ground, but under it, and on trees, and in the water. Swift 
and sure-footed, he makes open chase and runs down his prey ; 
keen of scent, he tracks them, and makes the fatal spring 
upon them unawares ; lithe and of extraordinary slenderness 
of body, he follows the smaller through the intricacies of their 
hidden abodes, and kills them in their homes. And if he does 
not kill for the simple love of taking life, in gratification of 
superlative bloodthirstiness, he at any rate kills instinctively 
more than he can possibly require for his support. I know not 
where to find a parallel among the larger Carnivora. Tet once 
more, which one of the larger animals ^ /ill defend itself or its 
young at such enormous odds f A glance at the physiognomy 
of the Weasels would suffice to betray their character. Tho 
teeth are almost of the highest known raptorial character; ha 
jaws are worked by enormous masses of muscles covering all 
the side of the skull. The forehead is low, and the nose is 
sharp; the eyes are small, penetrating, cunnr^g, and glitter 
with an angry green light. There is something peculiar, more- 
over, in the way that this fierce face surmounts a body extraor- 
di'>arily wiry, lithe, and muscular. It ends a remarkably long 
and slender neck in such way that it may be held at right 
a gle with the axis of the latter. When the creature is glan- 
ci.ig around, with the neck stretched up, and flat triangular 
head bent forward, swaying from one side to the other, we 
catch the likeness in a moment — it is the image of a serpent. 

In further illustration of the character of the Stoat, I con- 
tinue with an extract from Audubon, which represents nearly 
all that has appeared to the point in this country : — 

" Graceful in form, rapid in his movements, and of untiring 
industry, he is withal a brave and fearless little fellow; con- 






Hcioas of secarity within the windings of his retreat among the 
logs, or heap of stones, "lie permits ns to approach him within 
a few feet, then suddenlj'' withdraws his head ; wc remain still 
for a moment, and he once more returns to his post of observa- 
tion, watching curiously our every motion ; seeming willing to 
claim association so long as we abstain from becoming hia per- 

" Yet with all these external attractions, this little Weasel 
is fierce and bloodthirsty, possessing an intuitive propensity 
to destroy every animal and bird within its reach, some of 
which, such as the American rabbit, the ruffed grouse and 
domestic fowl, are ten times its own size. It is a notorious 
and hated depredator of the poultry house, and we have 
known forty weH-grown fowls to have been killed in one 
night by a single Ermine. Satiated with the blood of proba- 
bly a single fowl, the rest, like the flock slaughtered by the 
wolf in the sheepfold, were destroyed in obedience to a law of 
nature, an instinctive propensity to kill. We have traced the 
footsteps of tbis bloodsucking little animal on the snow, pur- 
suing the trail of the American rabbit, and although it could 
not overtake its prey by superior speed, yet the timid hare 
soon took refuge in the hollow of a tree, or in a hole dug by 
the Marmot, or Skunk. Thither it was pursued by the Ermine 
and destroyed, the skin and other remains at the mouth of the 
burrow bearing evidence of the fact. We observed an Ermine, 
after having captured a hare of the above species, first behead 
it and then drag the body some twenty yards over the fresh 
fallen snow, beneath which it was concealed, and the snow 
lightly pressed down over it ; the little prowler displaying 
thereby a habit of which we became aware for the first time 
on that occasion. To avoid a dog that was iu close pursuit, it 
mounted a tree and laid itself flat on a limb about twenty feet 
from the ground, from which it was finally shot. We have 
ascertained by successful experiments, repeated more than a 
hundred times, that the Ermine can be employed, in the man- 
ner of the Ferret of Europe, in driving our American rabbit 
from the burrow into which it has retreated. In one instance 
the Ermine employed had been captured only a few days be- 
fore, and its canine teeth were filed in order to prevent its 
destroying the rabbit ; a cord was placed around its neck to 
secure its return. It pursued the hare through all the wind- 
ings of its burrow, and forced it to the month, where it could 




be taken in a net, or by the band. In winter, after a snow 
storm, the ruffed grouRe has a habit of plunging into the loose 
8U0W, where it remains at times for one or two days. In this 
passive state the Ermine sometimes detects and destroys it. 

"Notwithstanding all these mischievous and destructive 
habits, it is doubtful whether the Ermine is not rather a bene- 
factor than an enemy to the farmer, ridding his granaries and 
fields of many depredators on the product of his labour, that 
would devour ten times the value of the poultry and eggs 
which, at long and uncertain intervals, it occasionally destroys. 
A mJMsion appears to have been assigned it by Providence to 
lessen the rapidly multiplying number of mice of various spe- 
cies arid the smaller rodentia. 

"The White-footed Mouse is destructive to the grains in the 
wheat fields and in the stacks, as well as the nurseries of fruit- 
trees. Le Conte's Pine Mouse is injurious to the Irish and 
sweet potatoe crops, causing more to rot by nibbling holes in 
them than it consumes, and Wilson's Meadow-mouse lessens 
our annual product of hay by feeding on the grasses, and by its 
long and tortuous galleries among tLeir roots. 

" Whenever an Ermine has taken up its residence, the mice 
in its vicinity for half a mile around have been found rapidly 
to diminish in number. Their active little enemy is able to 
force its thin vermiform body into the burrows, it follows them 
to the end of their galleries, and destroys whole families. We 
have on several occasions, after a light snow, followed the trail 
of this Weasel through fields and meadows, and witnessed the 
Immense destruction which it occasioned in a single night. It 
enters every hole under stumps, logs, stone heaps and fences, 
and evidences of its bloody deeds are seen in the mutilated re- 
mains of the mice scattered on the snow. The little Ghipping 
or Ground Squirrel, Tamias Lysteri [sc. striatus] takes up its 
residence in the vicinity of the grain fields and is known to carry 
o£f in its cheek pouches vast quantities of wheat and buckwheat, 
to serve as winter stores. The Ermine instinctively discovers 
these snug'retreats, an^ in the space of a few minutes destroys 
a whole family of these beautiful little Tamice; without even 
resting awhile until it has consumed its now abundant food, its 
appetite craving for more blood, as if impelled by an irresistible 
destiny, it proceeds in search of other objects on which it may 
glut its insatiable vampire-like thirst. The Norway rat and the 
Common Ilouse Mouse takepossession of our barns,wheat stacks, 



and granaries, and destroy vast quantities of grain. In some in- 
stances the farmer is relaotantly compelled to pay even more 
than a titbe in contributions towards the support of these pests. 
Let however an Ermine find its way into these barns and gran- 
aries, and there take up its winter residence, and the havoc 
which is made among the rats and mice will soon be observa- 
ble. The Ermine pursues them to their farthest retreats, and 
in a few weeks the premises are entirely free from their depre- 
dations. We once placed e. half domesticated Ermine in an out- 
house infested with rats, shutting up the holes on the outside 
to prevent their escape. The little animal soon commenced his 
work of deHtruction. The squeaking of the rata was heard 
throughout the day. In the evening, it came out licking its 
mouth, and seemed like a hound after a long chase, much fa- 
tigued. A board of the floor was raised to enable us to ascer- 
tain the result of our experiment, and an immense number of 
rata were observed, which, although they had been killed in 
different parts of the building, had been dragged together, form- 
ing a compact heap. 

" The Ermine is then of immense benefit to the farmer. We 
are of the opinion that it has been over-hated and too indis- 
criminately persecuted. If detected in the poultry house, there 
is some excuse for destroying it, as, like the dog that has once 
been caught in the sheepfold, it may return to commit further 
depredations; but when it has taken up its residence under stone 
heaps and fences, in his fields, or his barn, the farmer would 
consult his interest by suffering it to remain, as by thus invit- 
ing it to .. home, it will probably destroy more formidable ene- 
mies, relieve him from many petty annoyances, and save him 
many a bushel of grain." 

The same author, alluding to the Weasel's want of shyness, 
and its ready capture in any kind of trap, continues with a 
matter that may next interest us — its relative abundance in 
different localities : — " This species does not appear to be very 
abundant anywhere. We have seldom found more than two or 
three on any farm in the Northern or Ea^ern States. We have 
ascertained that the immense number of tracks often seen in the 
snow in particular localities were made by a single animal, as 
by capturing one, no signs of other individuals were afterwards 
seen. We have observed it most abundant in stony regions ; 
in Dutchess and Ontario counties in New York, on the hills of 
Connecticut and Vermont, and at the foot of the AUeghanies 



iu Pennsylvania and Virginia. It is solitary in its habits, as 
we have seldom seen a pair together except in the rutting season. 
A family of yonng, however, are apt to remain in the same 
locality antil antumn. In winter they separate, and we are 
inclined to think that they do not hnnt in couples or in packs 
like the wolf, bnt that, like the bat and the mink, each indi- 
vidnal pursues its prey without copartnership, and hunts for 
its own beneflt." In Massachusetts, according to Allen, it is 
comparatively common. I myself saw none in Labrador during 
my summer visit ; bnt it must be quite abundant, to judge firom 
the number of skins I saw in possession of the natives at various 
places. According to Richardson, " Ermine-skins formed part 
of the Canada exports in the time of Gharlevoix ; bnt they have 
so sunk in value, that they are said not to repay the Hudson's 
Bay Company the expense of collecting them, and very few are 
brought to the country from that quarter.'' Nevertheless, it 
would appear that the Ermine is much more abundant in British 
America generally than it is in the United States. Over three- 
fourths of the large miscellaneous collection of skins we have 
examined in trie preparation of this article came from this conn- 
try and from Alaska. The writer last mentioned speaks of It 
as "common'', and adds that it often domesticates itself in the 
houses of the fur traders, where it may be heard the live-long 
night pursuing the white-footed mouse. Up to a certain limit of 
latitude it would appear to increase in numbers to the north- 
ward. The abundance of an Ermine, either the present or suc- 
ceeding species, on the Missouri is attested by the regalia of 
ceremony of some of the Indian tribes — picturesque costumes 
decorated with the tails, in rude imitation of royal fashion. 

Like a majority of thoroughly predacious animals, the Ermine 
is somewhat nocturnal ; that is to say, it is active and success- 
ful in the dark. Nevertheless, it is too often abroad in the day- 
time, either in sport or on the chase, to warrant our reckoning 
it among the truly nocturnal Carnivores. In the choice and 
construction of its retreats we see little evidence of burrowing 
instincts, or, indeed, of any considerable fossorial capacity. It 
retreats beneath stone heaps, under logs and stnmps, in hol- 
lows of trees, and also in true underground burrows, though 
these, it should be observed, are usually those made by Bodents 
or other burrowers whom it has driven off or destroyed. Nev- 
ertheless, there is evidence that the animal sometimes digs. 
Thus Captain Lyon, as rendered by Bichardson, states, that he 



: I'll :-! 



obroTved a curious kind of burrow made by Ermines in the snow, 
<< which was pushed up in the same manner as the tracks of 
moles through the earth in England. These passages run in a 
serpentine direction, and near the hole or dwelling place the 
circles are multiplied, as if to render the approach more intri- 
cate." Audubon has a passage of similar e£fect :— " We have 
frequently observed where it had made long galleries in the 
deep snov for twenty or thirty yards, and thus in going from 
one burrow to another, instead of travelling over the surface, it 
had constructed for itself a kind of tunnel beneath." 

Accounts of different writers indicate a great variation in the 
number of young produced at a birth — from two to twelve. We 
may safely assume that these are unusual extremes, the aver- 
age litter being five or six. As in case of the Mink, the rutting 
season is early; in the United States, during a part of Febru- 
ary and Maruh. Young have been noted, toward the southern 
extreme of the range of the species, before the end of March ; 
but most are produced in May or late in April. Without defi- 
nite information respecting the period of gestation, we may sur- 
mise this to be about six or seven weeks. Information is also 
wanting of the length of time that the young nurse or require 
to have food brought them by the parents. 

On the distribution of the Ermine in the Old World.* 

" Georgi (toe. cit. [i. e., Geogr. Phys. Besch. iii. 6], p. 1539) 
indicates, with regard to the distribution of the Ermine in 
Eussia, the southern temperate, and the cold regions almost 
to the Arctic Ocean. He mentions, as special localities, the 
Polish-Russian aud Dnieper governments, Gurland, Livonia, 
and Ingermannland, also Finland, the governments on the 
Volga and its tributaries, and also the governments of Arch- 
angel, Wiburg, Wologda, Perm, those of the southeast to 
Bucharia; Siberia from the Ural to the Jenisei, Daurla, the 
Lena River, Kamtschatka, and finally the Kurile and Aleu- 
tian Islands; and calls attention to its abundance in Siberia. 
Pallas (Zoogr. R.-A. i. p. 92) gives the Ermine as inhabit- 
ing not only the whole of Europe, and Asia to India, but 
also asserts it^ extension into America, remarking, however, 
its absence from the Kurile and Aleutian Islands. Accord- 
ing to Wosnessenski's observations, communicated to me 

* Translated from Braudt's article already quoted with reference to Gulo 



personally, and oontrarj to the opinion of Pallas, Ermines are 
met with on the Aleutians and Behring Islands, where they 
are hunting the Mice and Shrew-mice marching after the food- 
provisions of man. The same author also speaks of their fre- 
quent occurrence in Kamtschatka and on the coasts of the sea of 
Ochotsk. Von Saritsche w (Beise, i. p. 92) observed Ermines 
on the middle course of the Indigirka, and von Wrangel 
(Beise, ii. p. 238) near Werchojansk, in latitude 67°, longitude 
33°; Gebler (Katun. Gebirge, p. 85) mentions their existence in 
West Siberia; Eversmann in the governments of Kasan and 
Orenburg; Lehmanu (Reise, Zool. App. by Brandt, p. 3U2) 
names, besides Orenburg, the couutry of tb* Bashkirs and 
Fort Spask; Hohenacker (Bull. Nat. Hist. Moskon, 1837,2, p. 
137) enumerates them among the Mammals of the countries of 
the Caucasus; Nordmann mentions their appearance in Bes- 
sarabia, EkaterinosFaw, and Asia Minor (Demidoff, Yoy. iii. 
p. 17); and Ozernay (BuU.Nat. H. Moskou, 1851, p.274)iQ the 
governments of Gharkow and Ekaterinoslaw. Kessler calls 
them frequent inhabitants of all the four go^ernmenls of the Dis- 
triatofKiew. Briucken (Mem. p. 47) and Eichwald (Skizze, 
p. 237) number them among the animals of Lithuania. Their ap- 
pearance in Curland is mentioned in the Description of the 
Province of Curlaad by v. Derschau and v. Keyserling (p. 
130), and also by Lichtenstein (Bull. Nat. H. Mosc. 1829, p. 
289). According to a communication from Fischer, Ermines 
are met with in Livonia only in certain localities and a very few 
places (Naturg. v. Livland, p. 144). Their fi^equent appearance 
near St. Petersburg I am able to attest by many years' experience. 
In Finland, they are mentioned by SadeJiu (Fauna Fenn. p. 10, 
and tho Forteckning ofver Siillskapets p. Fauna Fenn. Sam- 
lingar, p. 7). OseretsHiowski indicates them also on the coast 
of Lapland. Schcenk (Beise, i. pp. 66, 9!) reports them on tbrj 
Pinega Biver and in the District of Mesea. From the latter 
regum, a specimen was received by the Academical Museum 
through the kindness of Mr. Bystrow, inspector of schools (see 
uiy report in the Scientific Bull, of the Acad, of Sciences of St. 
Petersburg, v. x). In the government of Wologda there are 
said Ut be c^leeted annually from 5,000 to 10,000 skins ( v. B ae r 
Beitr. vii. p. 251). Suj<^w (Pallas, Tra v. iii. p. 87) numbered 
them among the inhabitants of the lower Obi, and this was 
lately confirmed by Ermann (Reise, i. p. 562). The Ural expe- 
dition brought back with them a male specimen killed on June 




iJ 'i 

7, 1847, on the Wischera, in latitade 62^. The summer coat 
of this individual agreed substantially with that of other 
Ermines killed at the same season in other regions. The tail 
of the above mentioned animal shows a white ring before its 
black end, very likely only an individual pecuUarity. The balls 
of the feet and the joints of the toe& were distinctly visible. 
Von Hoffmann informed me that the Ermines follow the 
Lemmings to the ^^ retic Sea. 

The many Ermines killed near St. Petersburg are always 
brown in summer bat white in winter, which, Pallas says, is 
also the caso with those living nea the Caspian Sea (Zoogr. i. 
p. 93). In my memo r on the periodical change of pelage of 
animals of the Weasel kind (Bull. Sc. GI. Phys. Mat. v. ix. n. 12, 
Melanges Biolog. i. p. 185), I mentioned the capture of au Er- 
mine in the brown or summer pelage, in the month of Novem- 
ber, on the island of Oesel, and doubted then the likelihood of 
such an occurrence. The following communication, however, 
from Dr.Moritz,of Tiflis, respecting Mttstela vulgaris^ permits 
me to believe that many individuals do not change when the 
winter is mild. The northern limits of the animal's distribu- 
tion in the Bussiau possessions are the shores of the Arctic 
Ocean ; the southern limits include the whole region south of 
the Caucasus; the western, Poland; and the eastern, Kamt- 
achatka and East Siberia. Concerning the value of the fur, and 
the yearly proceeds, see v. Baer, Beitr. viii. p. 183. 

The Long^-tailed Weasel. 

i: %\ 

ir I 

Patorlns Isnvlcanda. 

? Mnstela longicauda, Bp. Charlesw. Mag. K. H. 183R, 38 (based on long-taUed variety of P. 

erminea ttora Carlton Honae, iZic/i. F. B. A. i. 1689, 47, In text).— fi'ray, List Mamm. 

Br. Mus. 195. 
fPatorius longicauda, Rioh. Zool. Beechey's Voy. 1839, lO', (in text; same as foTegolag). 
PutorlUH iOBgicania, Baird, M. N. A. 1857, 169 (Nebraska, Montana).— /SueUe;/, P. R. R. 

Rep. xii. 1859, pp. 93, 114 (Milk River).— ITayd. Trans. Am. Philos. Soo. xii. 

1863, 142.— (?) Jtow, Canad. Nat. and Greol. vi. 1861, 441.— Coum iC Farrow, ZooL Expl 

W. 100 Merid. 1875, 591 (Colorado and New Mexico). 
PutorlBR cuibcrtsonl, Bd. M88. Mns. Smiths, (labels of nos. 4330, 4325). 
HemcllB des olwren Missouri, Maxim. Verz. N.- A Sttag. 1863, 46, pL " 8", f. 8 (penis-bone). 

Hab. — Region of the Upper Miasoari and its tributaries ; Minnesota, Da- 
kota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming; also Colorado. Utah, New Mexico, 
Arizona. North apparently to Carlton House ; west probably to the Paciilo. 

Specific characters. — Size of P. erminea ; tail absolutely and relatively 
longer, with hairs f to ^ the head and body. Below tawny or bnflfy, with a 
salmon (not sulphury) tinge abruptly defined against whit9 of cheeks and 



chin. Black on end of tail almost rednoed to the terminal pencil alone, 
scarcely i the whole length. Color entirely white in winter. Male, total 
length of head and body, 10.50 ; tail-yertebre 6.75 ; tail with hairs 8.50. Fe- 
male, total length of head and body, 8.50 ; tail vertebrso, 5.75 ; tail with 
hairs, 6.75. 

Description. • 

The size is entirely within the range of that of P. erminea, 
and there is little to note in this respect, excepting the greater 
length of the tail ; the general build, however, appears stonter 
than is usual in P. erminea, the muzzle blunter. The tail is 
remarkably long — not that it is entirely beyond the maximum of 
that of erminea^ but that when shortest it is about at such 
maximum, and that its normal F;verage is beyond the average 
of that of P. erminea. The twr animals being of substantially 
the same size of body, the tail is relatively longer — including 
the hairs it is three-fourths to four-fifths the length of the body 
and bead. The black on the tail is normally restricted to the 
minimum — or even beyond this — of ordinary erminea; it occu- 
pies scarcely anything more than the terminal pencil alone, 
extending less than half an inch on the vertebrae. The upper 
parts are much as in erminea, but there is a peculiar olivaceous 
cast, owing to admixture of some green in the brown — not that 
any green shows as such, but it gives a particular tone to the 
parts. Below, and on both sets of paws, the color is a rich and 
beautiful buffy -yellow mixed with salmon color, ^uite different 
from the clear sulphury of P. erminsa. This color is abruptly 
displayed against the pure white of the chin and cheeks. The 
female is considerably smaller than the male, as usual in this 
genus, but is not otherwise different. (This particular specimen 
is much lighter than her mate, but such distinction will not 
hold.) The following measurements were carefully taken in the 
flesh :— 

'From a pair in the Cones collection, killed in August, 1874, in North- 
wftjtem Montana. 

















88 i 



■namioods joun^vx 


^ i 

•»«9qo JO qwO 


•JTO JO qtpiii 


•a«9 JO !)q8l9H 



•SA«|o JO pno 0^ oensf 





JO paa 

o» Moqia 



•»ooj pniH 



•»ooj ejo J 












































a a 

Q P 


ann i«a)S]JO 
















General account of the species. 

The subject of the present article differs notably in the above 
particulars from the common type of Ermine. It is probably 
the same as the hngicauda of Bonaparte, though it must be 
observed that we have no assurance of this. It is the longicauda 
of Baird. In case Bonaparte's animal should prove not the 
same, the present must be called P. culbertsoni Baird, MSS. 

After dwelling at the length I have upon the variability in 
the length of tail of P. erminea^ and on the extent of the 
black pencil in that species, it may seem inconsistent to intro- 
duce such features in a specific diagnosis. But it will be 
observed that the character of the member is something over 
and above that shown by P. erminea in any of its interminable 
variety, and that I use it in combination with another pe* 
culiarity, the color of the under parts. Taken together, these 
seem perfectly distinctive ; at any rate, I find the same features 
preserved throughout a considerable series of specimens, with- 
out the slightest intergradatiou with P. erminea. The speci- 
mens are distinguishable at a glance. While I make no doubt 
that this animal is an offshoot from P. erminea^ yet the differ- 
entiation is complete, and no intermediate specimens are 
known ; while, for that matter, it is doubtless true that all of 
the species have come from an original stock. This particular 
offshoot is a step toward those members of the genus which 
extend into tropical America. This is evident in the coloration 
of the belly, very little increased intensity of which would 
assimilate it to the rusty and orange-brown shades prevailing 
further south. 

Besides the types of my description, I have examined a 
dozen or more additional specimens — those recorded by Baird 
in his work, and others since received at the Smithsonian. 
None show any gradation with P. erminea. In Fo. 4325, from 
old Port Union, "Nebraska" (now Montana), the tail-vertebrse 
(the tail has not been skinned) measure 6.50 inches, with the 
hairs about 8.00. No. 4320, from Port Laramie, Wyoming, 
taken in December, 1859, is pure white ; the black tip under 
1.50 long ; the vertebrae (unskinned) are about 6.00 ; the speci- 
men in its winter dress is readily recognized by these features 
as pertaining to P. longicauda. Another specimen is in winter 
dress from Fort Clarko. There are several from Utah. A 
skin, too defective for satisfactory identification, but probably 



belonging here, is in the collection from Puget's Sound — a 
locality which, if substantiated, would considerably extend 
the known range of the species. It is the individual which 
formed the basis of P. "richardaoni" in Dr. Snckley's report 
above cited. 

Since writing the foregoing, I have examined the skull of 
this species in comparison with that of P. erminea, and I find 
remarkable distinctions. Ooordinately with the shorter and 
broader head, the skull shows differences of shape as well 
marked as those subsisting between M. inartes and foina. An 
example of P. noveboracenais measures 1.90 by 0.95; a female 
specimen of longicauda 1.80 by 1.03, th^ resulting difference 
in contour being obvious. The cranial portion proper of P. 
longicauda is much more expanded and ovate, the width there 
(0.90) being half the total length, while the same measurement 
of P. noveboracenais (0.80) is much less— only about half the 
length of the skull exclusive of the rostral portion. The skull 
of P. longicauda is notably more constricted behind the orbits. 
The zygomata are much more obliquely offset ftom the skull. 
The anteorbital foramina are narrowly oval and very oblique. 
There is a remarkable inward obliquity of the last upper 
molar, different from anything I have seen in P. erminem. I 
have not seen a male skull ; it will be found larger by about a 
fourth of an inch in length. We may tabulate the cranial 
characters of the two species as follows : — 

P. erminea. — Zygomatic width of sknll one-half its length. Cranial width 
much less than half the total length. Width of skull at point of greatest 
oonstrictioa half the zygomatic width. Anteorbital foramina large, suboir- 
cnlar. Set of back upper premolar nearly vertical. 

P. longicauda. — Zygomatic width of skull about three-fifths its length. Cra- 
nial width half the total length. Width of skull at point of greatest con- 
striction about two-fifths the zygomatic width. Anteorbital foramina small, 
very obliquely oval. Set of back upper premolar obliquely inward. 

I think that after all the relationships of this species are 
closest with P.frenattia, notwithstanding the absence of the 
facial markings peculiar to the latter. It shares with P. frenatus 
the rusty-reddish or salmon-colored under parts, well contrast- 
ing with the clear sulphury-yellow of P. erminea. Moreover, 
southern examples, such as those from New Mexico, show a 
decided approach to P. frenatua in darkening of the color of 
the heau. This is sometimes so decided, that .^ere white spots 
present in these cases, the specimens would unhesitatingly be 
referred to P. frenatua; and we know that in Central Ameri- 



cau and Mexican skins the facial markings of P. frenatm are 
not seldom extinguished. 

The Long-tailed Stoat is the characteristic form of the genus 
throughout the region of the Missouri and itd tributaries. 
While I am not assured that it inhabits this country to the 
exclusion of P. erminea^ I may state that I never met with the 
latter in any of my travels, and that I have not seen specimens 
from fairly within this region, though some from its confines 
are before me. It is the Weasel of the Bocky Mountains too, 
for a corresponding extent, and, as above indicated, very prob- 
ably reaches to the Pacific. Mr. Bidgway informs me that he 
found a specimen, whjch he satisfactorily identifies from mem- 
ory of its creamy-yellow under parts, in the Wahsatch Mount- 
ains, near iSalt Lake City, Utah. I have also seen the species 
in the mountains of Colorado. 

I found the animal to be quite numerously represented in 
Northern Montana, on the boundless prairies of the Upper 
Missouri and Miik River, living in burrows underground along 
with the Gophers (Spermophilus richardaoni), Badgers, and Kit 
Foxes. In these treeless domains, it occupies as its home the 
deserted burrows of the Gophers. I once surprised a family 
of five or six in such a retreat ; I could hear tbem spitting 
angrily below, but did not succeed in my endeavor to dislodge 
them. This was late in July ; the young were well grown at 
this period. Later in the season, at Chief Mountain Lake, one 
of the headwaters of the Saskatchewan, on the eastern base 
of the Bocky Mountains, latitude 49°, several specimens were 
secured. Here the species was living on wooded ground; 
indeed, one of my specimens was caught up a small tree, and 
killed with a stick. It climbed and leaped among the branches 
with ease and agility, much like a Squirrel. Skins were in de- 
mand by the men of our party for the manufacture of tobacco- 
pouches ; they made very pretty ones, and many were killed 
for this purpose. 

The specimen mentioned above from the Wahsatch Mount* 
aius was found dead by Mr. Bidgway in the nest of a Buteo 
swaimoni. This shows that the animal, despite its ferocity 
and activity, may I'all a victim to the rapacity of the larger 
Hawks. The individual had its neck torn, and was already 
partly eaten by the two strong and voracious young Buzzards 
which occupied the nest. The nest contained also the remains 



of a Chipmunk, and of a filack-headed Grosbeak {Ooniaphea 

When irritated, this species diffuses a foetid odor quite as 
strong as that of the Mink. 

The Bridled ITeasel. 

Pntorlna (Gnle) brnslIleiiBla frcnstna. 

a, bratilientia (Sewast.)* 

MustrlA brasniensii, <8^ioa»f. Mem. Acad. St. Petersb. iv. 1813,356, pi. 4.— IKmA. Syii.1839, 
m.—Burm. Abb. Nat. Oes. Halle, ii. 1854, W.—Oerr. Cat Bones Br. Mas. 1863, 94.— 
Gray, Ann. MaR. N. H. xlv. 1874, 374. 

Mustela (Putorlus) brmlllensl!), D'Orhig. Voy. AiD«r. M6ri4. — , pL 13, f. 3 (skull). 

MUfitCill (flale) bnulllenslR, Sehim, Syn. Mamm. L 1844, 346. 

Muslela (Neogale) brMniensIs var. brasiilaaa, Oray, P.Z.S. 1665,115 (type ot NeogaU); 
Cat. Cam. Br. Mas. 1869, 93. 

h. cequatorialU Couea. ' 

Mustela anreoventrlK, Gray, P. Z. S. 1864,5.5, pi. 8 (Quito; very yoong) (not M. auriventer 
Hodg».).—Qray, T./i.S. 1865,115 (Ecuador and Kew Grenada; adult); Cat Cam. Br. 
Mim. 1869, 93. 

Pulorlus braslllensia var. leqnatorlalls, Cmua (merely as a snbstitate for Gray's preoc- 
cupied name). 

f Musteia maerura, Taez. P. Z. S. 1874, nil, pi. 48 (Central Pera). 

f .Mnstela afflnis. Gray, Ann. Mafj^. N. H. xiv. 1874, 375 (Kew Granada). 

c. frenaius (Licht.). 

Mustela frenata, lAeht, Darstellnng . . . Siiug. 1837-34, pL 53 (Mexico).— Aud. tC Back. 

J. A. N. S. P. viiL pt ii. 1843, 391.— Omj/, ZoSl.Yoy. Salphur, 1844,31, pL 9 (bead).— 

Tomei, P. Z. S. 1861,387 (Guatemala).— &my, List M. Br. Mas. 1843, 65.— titerrard, ctat. 

Bones Br. Mas. 1863, 94. 
.Mustela (Gale) fk«nata, Wagn. Sappl. Scbreb. Sfiag. ii 1841, 234. 
Pttlorius frenatus Bach. J. A. N. S. P. viii. 288.— Aud. <t Baeh. Q. N. A. ii 1851, 71. pi. 60 

(Texas to Mon<«rey and soutbward).— £d. M. N. A. 1857, 173, pi. 19, fig. 5a; Mex.B. 

Snrv. ii. pt ii (859 ; Mammals, 19, pi. 17. figs. 1 and 9, a-e.—Oouet, Am. Nat. i. 1867, 353. 
MUHtela xanthfigf nyg, Gray, Ann. Mag. N. H. xL 1843, 118; Zool. Yoy. Salph. 1844, 31, pi. 9 ; 

iiit.toPaU. Zoog. 92); List M. Br. Mas. 1843,66; P. Z. S. 1865,115; Cat Cam. Br. 

Mas. 1869,93; Ann. Mag. K. H xiv. 1874, 375.— 6«rr. Cat Bones Br. Mas. 1863, 94. 

Pntorlus xanlhOKenyM, Bd. B. N. A. 1857, 176, p). 19, f. 3 a (California).- J\r«w&. P. R. R. Rep. 
yi. 1857, 42 (San Francisco). 

Putorius mexlcanns, Berlandier, MSS. ic. ined. 4 (Tamnnlipas and Mata'noras). 
' I'omadreja' of tbe Mexicans. 

(Compare Mmtela javonica Seba, Thes. i. pi. 48, fig. 4 — if. leucogeni* Sohins, Syn. !. 344 ; not 
Japanese.— Cf. Pall. Zoog. K.-A. i. 1811, 93, footnote.) 

Hab. — Soathern Texas to California. Up the Pacific side to San Francisco, 
Fort Crook, and probably Astoria, Oregon. Gonth to Guatemala. Var. 
aqnatorialia, thence to Ecuador. Yar. hraailienais, Brazil. 

Specific chakactbrs.— Size and proportions of P. erminea; top of bead 
notably different in color (darker) from the back, and blotched with white ; 
chia white; other under parts more or less strongly tinged with tawny-yel- 
low or orang 3-brown ; tail tipped with black. No seasonal change of pelage. 


Oenernl account of the species. 

In respects of size and form, this species scarcely differs from 
P. erminea. Tbe pelage appears to be coarser, tbinner, and 
more glossy than it usually is in the P. erminea^ evidently as a 
consequence of the more southern habitat of the animal. The 
palms, soles, and ears are rather more scantily haired. There 
are no indications that the animal turns white in winter. 

Tbe pattern of coloration is as usual in this genus, with the 
addition of the peculiar head-markings, to be presently de- 
scribed. Tbe upper parts are of a mahogany-brown, as in the 
summer coat of other Stoats, but difi'er in tbe shade much as 
polished mahogany differs from that wood in the ro'^f;h, being 
darker and richer in tint. This color deepens insensibly into 
blackish on the head. Tbe darkest examples before us, from 
Guatemala, are almost chocolate-brown, and quite black on 
tbe bead. This intensity of coloration is quite coincident with 
decrease of latitude; and the northernmost examples, from 
California, are much paler — of a lighter and more yellowish- 
brown than the average of P. erminea. There is a similar paral- 
lelism in tbe color of the under parts. Aside from the chin 
and throatf which usually remain quite purely white, tbe under 
parts range from a tawny-yellow to a rich orange-brown. In 
running through tLe series from California to Guatemala, I have 
seen nothing quite like this in any of the northern Stoats, in 
which any yellowish of the under parts which may exist is sul- 
])bury; the only approach to it being a salmon shade on P. 
Jongicauda. In the orange-bellied Guatemalan skins, moreover, 
tbe line of demarcation from the white of tbe throat is quite 
abrupt ; in others, tbe transition is by insensible degrees. The 
light color of the under parts runs down both fore and hind 
limbs to the feet; but the tops of the feet are indifferently ool« 
ored like tbe belly or like the back ; at any r^te, I find specimens 
varying in this respect, without finding any clue to a rule which 
might determine this condition. Tbe tail is like tbe back all 
around ; it blackens insensibly at tbe tip, for a shorter distance 
than is usual in northern Stoats ; tbe defined black only occu- 
pying, on an average, about an inch of the end in addition to 
tbe terminal pencil of hairs, which is about another inch 

1 i 


Measurements of two apteiwuiu of Pittorius brasiuen8I.s frrkatus. 



MaMmorus, Mex 

Fn>ui tip of noM to— 







S.95 11.00 
3. 90 8. 95 

Tail to end 















The facial white markings of this species deserve special 
cousideration. Upon the most cursory examination, one may 
satisfy himself of their irregalar, indeterminate character, and 
would expect to find them, as they really are, variable to the 
last degree. They are similar in this respect to the white on 
the chin and about th;> lips and along the belly of the Mink, 
or on the chest of the Marten, and of a part with the variation 
above mentioned in the color of the paws of the present spe* 
cies. They appear to be, in fact, simply an exaggeration and 
permanent retention of certain white markings that occur in 
P. erminea (uuassociated with beginnings or remains of the 
winter dress). lu several JBuropean examples of P. erminea, 
I find a little white coronal or two white supraciliary or auricular 
spots, uud a wholly variable extent of white upon the cheeks. 
The usual pattern in P./renatus is this : a triangular or quad- 
rate white frontal spot just between the eyes, and a broad 
oblique white stripe on each side of the head. In addition, 
there may or may not be an occipital white spot between the 
ears. The frontal spot is usually isolated from ^ 3 white 
stript^s, but may fuse with them, completing ^he " lie". It 
is sometimes reduced to a mere nasal stripe, \viul. 'yrrespond- 
ing reduction of the preauricular markings. In a specimen 
from Fort Crook, California, which I refer to this species, 
there are only a few white hairs on the muzzle, and a slight 
patch at the base of the ear. But the malar stripe, on the 
variations of which P. xanthogenys chiefly rests, is still more 
unstable in character ; for its width and the outline it forms 
with the black of the cheeks are wholly indetermicate. 

I am inclined to think that this animal has become fairly 
differentiated from an original stock which comprised P. er* 
minea, although traces of a former connection may still subsist 
on the confines of its present habitat. The Fort Orook speci- 





















e special 
oue may 
iCter, and 
ie to the 
white OQ 
he Mink, 
sent spe- 
tion and 
occur in 
3 of the 
) cheeks, 
or quad- 
a broad 
veen the 
3 white 
lie". It 

I slight 
on the 

II more 
t forms 

e fairly 

I P. er- 



men above mentioned imperfectly represents the species. It 
18, morover, asstvciated in that locality with an animal which 
turns perfectly white in winter, and is in other respects insep- 
arable from northern Ermines. Thus, No. 2839, from Fort 
Crook {Feilner)j is pure white underneath, has the head like 
the back in color, and both of the usual undressed mahogany- 
drown ; yet it shows the white frontal npot and has a decided 
trace of the malar stripe. It is accompanied by No. 3872, pure 
white all over. Still, the white markings of No. 2839 may be 
remains of a seasonal change, or merely like the similar ap- 
pearances that some specimens of the European P. erminea 
present. I refer these two specimens to P. ermineaj but in- 
clude the other from Fort Crook, No. 3830, in the beginning of 
the brasiliensia series. I reft r to this Bpecies, with some hesita- 
tion, a very young Stoat from Astoria, Oregon (No. 3520, June 
IS), 1858, J. Wayne). Although the head is not darker than 
the back, and no head-stripes are apparent, the belly shows 
strongly the characteristic fawn color of frenatus. 

There remains the discussion of the relationships of the 
South American forms. Although I have not specimens from 
Brazil or Ecuador, the sufficient descriptions of authors enable 
me to speak with confidence respecting them. Thero is evi- 
dently but one series of linked forms. We have already seen 
that frenata begins in CJpper California, as xanthogenysy 
which is merely the northernmost palest form, between which 
and true frenata (City of Mexico, &c.) there is no difference 
requiring recognition by name. In Guatemala, frenata already 
assumes the rich coloration that culminates further south In 
brdsiliensis. Oray, indeed, who usually subdivides altogether 
too much, does not attempt to separate frenata and hrasiliensis 
except varietally. P. wquatorialis (as I call what Gray named 
M. aureoventris, a, term preoccupied to all intents and purposes 
by auriventer of Hodgson) was origmally described from a 
very young animal (" length 6 inches, tail 4J" — the adult is after- 
ward described us length 12, tail 8), without facial markings, 
but the adult has the auricular blotch, though the frontal spot 
appears to be extinguished. It is described as very darkly 
and richly colored, the under parts and ear-spot " golden-yel- 
low "j the coloration of the plate is almost precisely that of 
Guatemalan specimens before me. But that the facial mark- 
ings may be completely extinguished, as a matter of individ- 
ual variation, is shown by a specimen before me from Costa 
10 M 




Si: I 



Bioa. 7^ is very dark and richly colored, with the merest trace 
of white markiDgs behind one eye — not both. 

I find nothing in the ascribed characters of Mtutela maorura 
Taczanowski forbidding its reference to the Middle American 
series ; nor is there anything in Dr. Oray's brief and uusatis* 
factory account of M. ajffinia incompatible with the characters of 
the present species in their now ascertained range of variation. 

There is nothing peculiar in the relationships of the various 
forms as here advanced. It is paralleled in the oases of other 
Mammals and many Birds, and, in fact, might have been pre- 

We are in posseosiou of no spi)cial information apon the hab- 
its of the Bridled Weasel, which, however, may be presumed 
to differ little, if at all, from those of its allies. Dr. Newberry 
represents it a8 abundant about San Francisco. 


MUSTELIN^E—Contiimed: The Amebicau Ferret. 

The sabgenns CifHomyonax — Subgenerlo oharsotera— Puloriu* {Cynomyomu) 
nitjripet, the Auerioan or Blaok-footed Ferret — Hynonyiny — Spooiflo ohor- 
actorj — Habitat — General aocount of tlie speoiea — Addknuum : On the 
specieB of the HiibgenuH I'utoriHS—l'. fir^tldut, the Polecat or Fitch — Syn- 
onymy — Deaoription — P. fietidiu var. furo, the Ferret — Synonymy — Re- 
marks — Ferret bree<ling and handling — P. fntiduB var. evemnanni, the 
Siberian Polecat — Synonymy— Kemarka — /'. aarmaticua, the Spotted Pole- 
oat — Synonymy and remarks. 

I HAVE bceu obliged to establish a new subgenus for the 
reception of the singular Putoriua nigripet of Audubon and 
Bachman, which curiously combines some features of both Oale 
and Putorius proper, with others peculiar to itself. As indi- 
cated by the name of American or Black-footed " Ferret", it is 
the strict analogue in this country of the European Ferret, or 
Polecat, with which it agrees so closely in some respects that I 
was at flrst inclined to refer it to the subgenus Putoriua itself. 
But further examination has satisfied me that the sum of its 
peculiarities ranks as high, at least, as that characterizing 
other ad mitted subgenera of Putoriua. I ha ve already concisei/ 
contrasted its characters with those of other sections of the 
genus (p. 99), and shall devote this chapter to further consid- 
eration of the remarkable animal. 

The Subgenus CYNOMYONAX. (GouES, 1877.) 

The dental formula of this subgenus is the same as that of 
the genus Putorius at large (pm. |~). 

The details of the dentition agree most closely with those of 
subgenus Putoriua, though peculiar in one respect. The back 
lower molar is a mere cylindrical stump, with hemispherical 
crown, too small and weak to develop the little cusps seen plainly 
in P.foetidus and P. viaon. The inferior incisors, in the speci- 
men examined, are so crowded that the 'middle one on each 
side sets entirely back of the line of the rest, exactly as in a 
specimen of P.foetidua before me. The dou^elure of the upper 
jaw might be described in terms identical with those applicable 




to P.fvetiduSf though the back molar seems to be rather weak. 
P. foetidm and C. nigripea both differ from L. vison in the char- 
acter of the upper sectorial tooth, which in vison develops, as 
elsewhere described, an antero-exterior process, wholly wanting 
in the other subgenera. 

The skull of Cynomyonax differs notably from that of Oale, 
and agrees with those of Putorius proper and Lutreola in its 
size, relative massiveness, and development of ridges and de- 
pressions. It is nevertheless at once distinguished by the 
extreme degree of constriction behind the orbits, where the 
width of the cranium is much less than that of the rostrum. 
(In L. vison, the constriction is moderate; in P. fcetidus, there is 
scarcely any.) Coincidently with this narrowing of the skull 
near the middle, tho postorbital processes are better developed 
than they are in either of the two genera last named, and the 
postmolar production of the palate is extremely narrow. The 
interpterygoid emargiuation is comparatively shallow as well 
as narrow, not nearly reaching half-way to the molars; the 
palate ends (in the specimen examined — it may not in others) 
transversely instead of with strongly concave or even acute 
emargiuation. The pterygoids, as in Gale, do not develop 
decided hamular processes (conspicuous in P.foetidus and L. 
vison). The bullae auditoriae, as in both Gale and P. fcetidus (they 
are notably flatter in L. vison), have considerable inflation, with 
scarcely a tubular prolongation and nick at end. In brief, 
the skull combines the size, massiveness, and roughness of 
Putorius proper and Lutreola, with other characters rather of 
Gale, and some peculiarities of its own. 

In external details, Cynomyonax is similarly Interrelated to 
Gale and Putorius proper, though nearer the former {Lutreola 
being more specialized in adaptation to aquatic habits than 
either of the other subgenera). Though of such large size, 
<Jynomyonac7 retains the attenuate body, long neck, very short 
legs, slim tail, large orbicular ears, and close-set pelage of a 
true Stoat. On the other hand, the pattern of coloration, ex- 
cepting the black-tipped ta>il, is different, and more like that of 
tbe Ferrets in some respects, while it is entirely peculiar in 

It is interesting to observe that this sinrle American ana- 
logue of a special Old World group occurs in the western portion 
of the country, furnishing' another among many instances of 
the closer relationships oi the Western than of the Eastern fauna 
with that of the other hemisphere. 



U. 8. Geological Survey. 

MusteUdsB. PLATE VH. 

futorliis nlirrlpeit. (Nat. size.) 



American or Blackorooted Ferret. 

Piitorlas (Cynomyonax) nlsrlpes. 

Plate VII. 

Putorlns nlKrlpes, Atid. & Bach.* Q. N. A. li, 1651, 297, pi. 03 (Lower Platte Rivor).— iJd. 
M. N. A. 1857, 1-jO (from the foregoing).— Ocaj/, P. Z. S. 186.5, 110 ; Cat. Cam. Br. Miis. 
1869, 88 (its validity queried).— Obwea, Am. Sportsman Nov. 20, 1874 (call for speci- 
mens). —«, Bai;. Minn. Acad. 1874, 69 (prosump lively attributed to Alinnesota) . 

Hab. — Region of the Platte Riv'er, aud other portions of the central 
plateau. Has been foand in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and 
Colorado; north to Milk River, Montana. 

Specific characters. — Above pale brownish, mixed with a few blackish- 
tipped hairs, especially on the lower back ; below nearly white ; hairs every- 
where white at the roots; general color-aspect brownish-white; a broad 
stripe across forehead, the feet and the end of the tail, black. Length 19 
inches ; tail-vertebne 4, with hairs 5i ; fore leg 4. Skull 2.60 long ; rather 
under 0.50 broad at point of greatest constriction (zygomatic width un- 

General account of the species. 

Until very recently, nothing was known of this remarkable 
animal beyond what was given by Audubon. The original of 
his figure, if ever preserved, does not appear to have been ex- 
amined by other naturalists. Doubt has been cast upon the 
existence of such an animal,! and the describer has even been 

* Digest of the original description. — Dentition strictly as in Puioriiis (teeth 
34). Form elongate ; forehead arched and broad ; muzzle short; ears short, 
broad at base, triangular, closely furry both sides ; feet covered with uair 
on both surfaces. Tail narrowly cylindrical. Pelage finer than that of the 
Mink or Pine Marten, and even shorter (relatively) than that of the Er- 
mine ; the outer hairs few, short, and coarse. All the pelage white at the 
roots ; the bases of the longer hairs with a yellowish tinge, their ends broadly 
reddish-brown ; soft under fur white, with a yellowish tinge, giving the 
animal on the back a yellowish-brown appearance, in some parts approach- 
ing to rufous ; on the sides and rump, the color is a little lighter, gradually 
fading into yellowish-white. Nose, ears, sides of head, throat, under surface 
of neck, belly, and under surface of tail white ; a shade of browpish on the 
chest between the fore legs. A broad black patch on the forehead, enclosing 
the eyes and reaching near the tip of the nose ; legs to near the shoulders 
and hips brownish-black ; end of tail black for about two inches. 

Type procured by Mr. Alexander Culbertson on the lower waters of the 
Platte. Stated to inhabit the wooded parts of the country to the Rocky 
Mountains, and to be perhaps found beyond that range, though not observed 
by any travellers from Lewis aud Clarke to the present day. Habits said to 
resemble those of the Ferret of Europe. " It feeds on birds, small reptiles 
and [other] animals, eggs and various insects, and is a bold and cunning foe 
to the rabbits, hares, grouse and other game of our western regions.' 

t Dr. J. E. Gray, for instance, with characteristic sagacity, (luoried it 
amidst a number of jiurely nominal species he admitted without (question. 

I- K' 






suspected of inventing it to embelliRli his work. I have, there- 
fore, the greater pleasure in being able to present a full account 
of the species. 

The first specimen known after the type was a fragment of a 
skin which for some years lay unrecognized in the National 
Museum at Washington. According to my present recollec- 
tion, the object being not at hand, it consists of a squarish 
piece of the skin of the lower back, with the tail attached. 

A second specimen (No. 11932) lately reached the same mu- 
seum, but unfortunately in very defective state of preservation. 
It was procured from some point on the Flatte Eiver, and pre- 
sented by Mr. J. W. Munyon, or Munyou. The skull was 
smashed to r^eces. I was only enabled to determine that the 
animal had ■ irty-four teeth, and was therefore Puiorius, not 
Mustela^ and hat its relationships appeared to be with the 
European P.^ Mdus group.* 

Being so short of the necessary material when I began to 
study this group, I caused an advertisement of my wants, with 
a description of the species, to be inserted in several of the 
sporting newspapers, and extensively copied by papers of the 
region inhabited by the species. This had the gratifying re- 
sult that in a short ti "^he required specimens were received 
at the Smithsonian lu^u. :ution ; and my thanks are due to 
several gentlemen who kindly interested themselves in the 

The third specimen (counting the above-mentioned scrap of 
skin as one) was brought to Washington by Dr. F.- V. Hayden, 
Director of the United States Geological Survey. This one 
was taken by Dr. Law, in the valley of the Cache La Poudre 
Kiver, near the northern border of Colorado. It was iu better 
condition than Mr. Munyon's, but still defective, having Ic^ 
part of the tail and most of the head, which had been shattered 
by a rifle-ball. The length of this individual was about eighteen 
inches to the root of the tail. Dr. Haydrn informed me that it 
had been shot at the mouth of a prairie-dog hole, of which it 
had taken possession, and that its stomach contained remains 
of one of these quadrupeds. He also spoke to me of another 
individual, kept for some time in confinement at Greeley, Colo- 


*The wbitishness about the mouth and ears of F fcetidiia, contrasting with 
dark parte, gives some''- h:*r i)?. appearance of a stripe across the face, which 
is perfected in C. ,,"■«*' *;/t«, io w.Ui^h ihe face-marliiugs recall those of the 
Orison, Galictis vUiaaa. 



, with 

rado, which had also been secured in a prairie-dog towo ; and 
represented the species as being not at all rare, though very 
difficult to obtain, cwing to the facilities for its retreat into the 
safe recesses of the burrows of the Marmots. 

Shortly afterward a fourth specimen came to hand from Fort 
Wallace, Kansas, where the animal is said to be cal^jd the 
"prairie-dog hunter", from the habits indicated in the preced- 
ing paragraph. This individual, sent by Mr. L. H. Kerrick, 
fairly well mounted, was the first I had seen with the head and 
tail complete and in good preservaaon. 

Another specimen, from Wyoming or the contiguous portion 
of Colorado, was sent to Prof. Baird by my friend, Capt. James 
Gilliss, of the Army, then stationed at Cheyenne Depot, Wyo- 
ming. This one I think I have not seen. 

Still another specimen, important as extending the known 
geographical distribution of the species, was very recently re- 
ceived at the Smithsonian Institution, from Mr. C. Cavileer, of 
Pembina, Dakota. This was procured on Milk Kiver, Mon- 

I am informed by Prof. Baird that two living specimens were 
sent from some part of the West to New York, one of which 
died en route^ and was probably thrown away ; of the ultimate 
disposition of the latter I do not know. 

Mrs. M. A. Maxwell, a well-known naturalist and taxidermist, 
of Boulder, Colorado, who made a remarkably fine Centennial 
exhibit of the animals of Colorado at the late International 
Exposition, at Philadelphia, procured two or three specimens 
in the vicinity of Denver. They were taken on the prairie 
land in dog- towns. These specimens, very nicely prepared, I 
had the pleasure of inspecting when Mrs. Maxwell's collection 
was on exhibition in Washington, during the winter of 1876-77. 
One of them bad been "drowned out" of a prairie-dog hole, 
and kept for somo time in captivity. It became, I am informed, 
quite tame, ^iough it was furious when first captured. 

The skull from which the foregoing cranial and dental charac- 
ters were drawn up was sent from Nebraska by the late Mr. W. 
F. Parker, formerly editor of the "American Sportsman", in 
which one of my advertisements was inserted. I do not know 
whether or not it was accompanied by a skin. It is No. 14530 
of the National Museum. 

No. 11932 shows the characteristic black facial stripe, black 
^ "^t, and black end of the tail. The general light brownish- 




white color ai I character of the pelage are peculiar. The coat 
is very short uuil close, the individual hairs appearing scarcely 
longer than those of a Stoat ; there is nothing of the length ot 
pelage of either Mink, Polecat, or Marten. The fur is every- 
where, even on the darkest part of the back, white at the roots, 
and on the under parts it is entirely white, excepting a faint 
brownish discoloration. There is a stronger tinge of pale brown 
on the back, and a certain dorsal area shows blackish- brown 
tips of the hairs, not strongly pronounced enough, however, to 
materially alter the general cast of the parts. The tail has 
nothing of the bushy character seen in a Mink or Polecat, be- 
ing cylindrical, close-haired, scarcely enlarged at the terminal 
brush, and relatively as slender as that of a Stoat. As far as 
can be judged, this specimen agrees closely with the dimensions 
assigned by Audubon. 

Dr. Hayden's specimen in better order, corresponds closely 
in coloration with that just described: it is dingy whitish all 
over, with a slight brownish cast on the upper parts, and a 
dorsal area of sparse dark brown streakiness. All four paws 
are quite black ; on the fore legs, these black stockings run up 
to the shoulder all around the limb, except on the outer sur- 
face, where a pale line extends down from the body. On the 
hind limbs, the black is more restricted, soon fading into smoky- 
brown below the knee. A line along the soles is whitish. There 
is a curious blackish stripe through the umbilicus. The feet 
are remarkable for the great length of the numerous bristles on 
the toes, projecting far beyond and almost hiding the claws; the 
palms and soles are densely furry. The specimen et^uals a very 
large Mink in size. 

The Kansas specimen affords some additional characters, es- 
pecially relating to the general shape. The body seems pro- 
portionally as slender and the neck as long as in an Ermine. 
The tail-vertebrae are only about five inches long, decidedly less 
than one-third of the length of the head and body, which is 
apparently some eighteen or nineteen inches, but is perhaps 
stretched. The circumference of the body is about seven inches. 
The slender tail has no enlarged terminal brush. The physi- 
ognomy and general aspect is rather that of an overgrown Wea- 
sel than of a Mink or Ferret. The ears ars very prominent, 
perhaps even more so than those of a Stoat, and are not per- 
fectly orbicular, having an obtuse point at the highest part of 
the border; they measure, in their present state, 1.10 above 





notch, 0.70 above head. The longest whiskers (black) reach 
to the back of the ear; others grow ou the chin, the cheeks 
back of the angle of the mouth, and on the forehead. The 
brownish-black mask is well contrasted with nearly white sur- 
ronndings, except on the forehead, where the dingy brownish 
of the upper parts extends to it. The ears are mostly white, 
with a dark touch at the lower front border. The dingy brown- 
ish of the upper parts is a little stronger than in either of the 
two other specimens here described. The blackish tip of the 
tail is about one and a half inches long. 

I made no written memoranda of my examination of Mrs. 
Maxwell's specimens, but remember that they presented nothing 
requiring special comment, being fairly illustrative of the char- 
acters here detailed. 

Audubon's figure is unmistakable, and gives a very fair idea 
of this interesting animal. As remarked by Prof. Baird, it 
is siiigular that so conspicuous a species should have so long 
eluded the observation of the many explorers who have trav- 
ersed the region it inhabits, and where, apparently, it is by no 
means rare. Its retiring habits, and the nature of its resorts, 
doubtless tend to screen it. In the summer of 1876, 1 conducted 
a natural history party through the region supposed to be its 
centre of abundance, where Dr. Hayden's and Captain Gilliss's 
specimens were secured ; but I failed to obtain a sight of it, 
though I was in the midst of prairie-dog towns, and continu- 
ally on the watch for this particular animal. The geographical 
distribution above assigned will probably require to be consid- 
erably enlarged. 


On the species of the extralimital nubgetms PuTORius. 

In further illustration of the genus Putorms, I wish to introduce a notice 
of the extralimital species of the subgenus PiitoHua, which, as already said, 
includes the Fitches, Ferrets or Polecats.* 

No representatives of this particular group are indigenous to America, but 
the Ferret is extensively bred, in confinement or semi-domestication, for the 
purpose of hunting rats, rabbits, &c. 

*■ The untechnical reader must not confound the proper use of the term 
" polecat" for the Ferret group, with its frequent application in this coun- 
try to the Skunks (MephUiiKe). 



The Subgenus PUTORIUS. 

For the characters of this group see anteA, p. 99. The nonpareil note on 
p. 74 is equally applicable to the synonymy of the following extralimital 
species of the subgeuuH. 

1. Pntorlu* tmtMum.— Polecat or Fiteh. 
Plate VIII. 

MUMlrlR putortu t, L. S. K. i. lOth ed. r. J8, 46, no. 5 ; S. N. ^j. 1766, 67, no. t—Sehrfb. Saiig. iii. 

1778, 48;;, >l. 131.— (/m. 8. N. 1. 1788, Ol.—Heehst. Naturg. 1. 479.— J'«M. Zoor. R -A. 1. 1811, 

87.— 7)i'«m. Mamiti. i. 1820, 177, no. sni.-Fr. Cuv. Mamm. il. Zi.—Flem. Br. An. 18iJ8, 

li.—Jen. Br. Vert. 1835, 1 l.—Bdl, Br. Quad. 1837, 15ti, llg.; ad ed. 1874, iOX—SflytL. Fn. 

Bulg. 1843, 'J.—niainr. Compt. Kend. xiv. 1842, 210He(i. pU. -.—Schim, Syn. 1844, 339.— 

(ixt'b. Odont. 33; Sang. 1855, 779. 
Tlverra putorlUN, Shaw, Oen. Zoiil. i. 1800, 415. 
FieturlUM puloriUN, Key$. <t Bias. Werb. Eiir. i. 1840, 6u, no. U3.—1ila4. Wirb. Deutsohl. 1857, 

ri% t. Ii5.~0halin, Ann. Sci. Nat. 5th ser. xix. 1874, 98 (anatomioal). 
MwM»r(BHi»," Klein.' 
PutorlUN fOBlldUS, Gray, LiatMamm. Br. Mus. 1843, 64; P. Z. S. 1865, 109; Cat. Cam. Br. 

Mu8. 1869, 87.— Oez-r. Cat. Bones Br. Mua. 1862, 92. 
PutorluN Torus, Br.— Brandt, Beni. Wirb. Nord. £nr. Russl. M. 
PutorluH communis " Ouv.K A."—{aray.) * 

Futorlus typuft, "F. Ouv."—{Grau.) 
PutorlUN vulgaris, Orif. Cuv. R. A. v. 1827, 120, no. 339 (no. p. 121, no. 344).— lYt;. Naturg. 

Siiug.i. 1861, 338,1'. 68. 

PutOls, Btif. Hist. Nat vii. , 199, pi. 123. 

Polecat, Fitch, FItoliet, Fitchew, Foumart, Fulmart or Fullmart, EnglUh.—Penn. Brit. 

Zool. i. 89, pi. 6. 
litis, Oertnan, cf. v. Martent, Zoul. Gart. xi. 1870, 275 ^philological). 
WiCba, MadraE, Selyi-L. l. e. 

Form stout ; ears short and rounded ; tail rather bushy, cylindrio-tapering, 
about oue-third the head and body ; fur very long and loose on most parts 
of the body (the well-known "fitch" of commerce), yellowish-brown, over- 
laid with glossy blackish brown, the tail, legs, and chest mostly blackish ; 
head dark, the ears, a space in front of them, lips and chin, usually white. 
Varies interminably in proportion of the yellowish and blackish. Length 
about 16 inches ; tail 5^ ; bead 2| ; ears i. The name Polecat is probably 
a contraction of Polish cat. Foumart, &c., are merely Foul Mart, in distinc- 
tion from the Mustelas, or " Sweet " Marts, the odor in this species being much 
more disgusting. The animal inhabits Europe. 

la. Var. furo.— Tft« Ferret. 
Mustela furo, L. S. N. i. 1766, 68, no. S.—Schreb. Saug. iii. 1778, — , pi. 133.— G»n. S. N. i. 1788, 
m.—Desm. Mamm. i. 1820, 178, no. 273.— ./en. Br. Vert. 1835, U.—Fiich. Syn. 1829, 219.— 
Bell, Br. Quad. 1837, 161, ig.—Schim, Syn. 1844, 340.— Fr. Ouv. Mamm. ii. 'ii.—Oieb. 
Odont. 33, pi. 12, f. 8 ; Siiug. 1855, 780. 
Tlverra furo, Sha^v, Gen. Zoiil. i. 1800, 418. 

Fcetorlns furo, Ohatin, Ann. Sci. Kat. 5tb ser. xix. 1874, 98 (anatomical). 
Mustela pntorius var., Flem. Br. An. :.828, 14. 
Putorius vulgaris var. Hiro, Griff. Cuv. R. A. v. 1827, 120, no. 339 a. 
Putoriiis fffilldus vars. furo, SUbfuro, Gray, P. Z. S. 1865, 110; Cat Carn. Br. Mus. 1869, 87. 

Ferret, Entfligh.—Penn. Brit Zoiil. i , 91. 

Furet, Purel Putolre, French.— Buff. Hist Nat. vii. , 209, pi. 26. 

Fre«4, Frettel, Frettchen, German.— Bleu. Wirb Dentschl. 1857, 225. 

This is the well-known tame Ferret, now only recognized in a state of do- 
mestication. It is smaller aud slenderer than the Fitch, yellowish-white or 
white, with pinkeyes. This is an oxcellout example of a "variety", prop- 
erly so called, in distinction from a geographical race. The root of all the 

U. 8. Ooologlcal Survey. 

MnstelidflB. PLA1E VUI. 

Piitorius feettdnr. (Nat. size.) 


iii! 1 




''' ^m 





f M 











various vernacular uaiium (there arr' iiiiiny otliurit tbaii tbuHv abovt* Kiven) 
Boems to be the Latin /ur, a thief. I'bere may alHO, ati ban been suggiwteil, 
be a relationabiii witli the Latin rinrra, by which name the preHont, anioDK 
other apeclen, iMiemH to have been kuuwit to the anciontH. 

The reiiiiug of Ferretn Heems to \w ii m^ ving iiidiiHtry in this country, 
though still not practiced to the ext<;nt it > iu Kurope. The foHowing 
article, entitleil '' Ferrot Breeding and Handling. ', by Mr, F. Mather, appeared 
in the "American Sportctn.iin " (newspaper) of November 28, 1874 : — 

"I have had several iii<iuirieH of late from readers of the Spokthman con- 
cerning the breeding;, maniigeni'^nt and hunting of ferrets, together with 
invitations to writ** ; up. It appears somewhat singular that nu one has 
done this before, iit least I do not remember to have seen anything on the 
subjet i in any American paper, and this fact canses me to comply with the 
request mort* reac.ily than I should have done had others with more experi- 
ence volunt) t^rtMl to publish it. 

" Practical details having been asked for, we will consider them as they 
are in our day, and not stop to trace their origin nor where first used. We 
have two varieties, the brown or ' fitch-ferret,' and the white one. The 
latter is probably an albino, as its eyes are pink ; but it breeds true to color 
every time, possibly a ' sport,' as the florists say, that has been perpetuated. 
The white ones seem to be in most favor for some unknown reason, judging 
from the inquiries that I have received. I keep both kinds, and have them 
mixed, and don't see any difference in hunting qualities, and can only account 
for the preference on the ground that the white ones are thought to bo the 
prettiest pets. Having no strong local attachments, they require to be con- 
stantly confined, although instances have been known where they were at 
liberty and did not go away ; still, as they are Just as good for chickens as 
for rats and rabbits, it is best not to trust them too far. Two or three ani- 
mals may be kept in a common shoe-box with slats or wire-cloth fronts, a 
box for a nest in one corner, and a drawer containing coal-ashes or earth in 
another. This should be emptied often and renewed ; they will make all 
their muss here and will then keep clean and healthy. A cellar is not a 
good place for them — too damp and cold ; a yard or wood-shed is better. I 
have a ferret-yard made for the purpose, built of hemlock boards ; it u six- 
teen feet long by six wide; the sides are four feet high, the boards running up 
and down to prevent climbing ; it is also tloored to prevent digging. I have 
in this at present eighteen ferrets, but could accommodate fifty, as tiiey only 
foul one corner. A tin spout conveys milk into the feeding-pan, and meat 
is thrown over. Their nest is a box with a cover ; it is full of straw, and a 
hole in one side is the door. One-half will be covered this winter to keep 
the snow off. 

" They will shiver in the summer, and it is not good to keep them in too 
warm a place if they are expected to hunt in the snow ; but a small box of 
straw where they can huddle up together and so keep warm is sufficient. I 
saw three ferrets last summer in a small box that was sheet-ironed inside 
(the owner thought that they could gnaw like rats), where the poor things 
had lived for a month in their filth. It was horrible enough to breed a pes- 
tilence ; in fact it did breed one for the ferrets. I told the owner so, but he 
thought not. Mr. Bergh should have seen that ! 

" They will keep very clean if they have a chance, but will drag food into 
their nests and store it if they have too much at any time. This can be 






1.0 Sfut m 

^^5 HI m 112.2 

1.1 l"^^ 

yg iu 11.6 

w^^^^^S^^^^^p fHn^^^H^^^^^E ^^H^^^^^^^^B 








\WIUTn,N.V. 14SM 
( 71* ) 173-4504 






i!-' 'H 

partiaHy guarded against, in the case of bonus and large pieces, by making 
the entrance aa small as posHible. We feed skimmed milk, beef-ueads, and 
other meats ; salt meat is said to prcMluce scurvy. Milk fattens a ferret very 
rapidly, and they are apt to get too fat on this diet. 

" My menagerie is run upon economical princ'^des, and it is a hard specimen 
of either animal or V4!getablo that <loes not ilnd a consumer. A kingfisher 
hovering over the ponds is apt to tumble in ; be is then skinned, and if the 
fish are not hungry it goes to the ferrets. A fat woodchuck goes in — there's 
provision for several days. A hen-hawk " towering in his pride of place" 
over n>y young fowl, often finds a lusting repose in the ferret-yard ; while 
the refuse of fretth fish is also eagerly devoured. Chicken heads often afford 
an occasional variety. I have a pair of mink who will eat as much in one 
day as two ferrets would in three ; they will devour the entire carcass of a 
muskrat in twenty-four hours. 

" In handling a ferret take it with the hand around the ribs, and if it 
struggles let its fore lego go through the fingers ; they do not like to be held 
below the ribs. Do not handle young ferrets until nearly grown ; do not 
handle m female about to have a litter. Their period of gestation is about 
forty-five days I think, — can't speak positively on this point, — it may be a 
few days more or less ; they usually hare a litter of from five to ten in May 
or June. I have heard of their having two litters in one season, but it has 
never occurred with me. When abojt to have young, put each female in a 
box by herself, and don't lot tha young run with the old male until they can 
use their teeth to defend themselves. I prefer to say male and female, 
though some call them dog-ferret and bitch ; and last winter a man in Buf- 
falo said, ' In the hold country we calls 'em a 'ob and a gill.' 

" In handling wild ferrets put on a pair of leather gloves and pick them 
up, rub their heads and pat them, and in a few days you can take your bare 
hand. Now a word about ' trained ' ferrets. That is all humbug. A fer- 
ret that is tame and well handled will go into a hole and go to the bottom 
of it, and come out if it finds nothing; hunting '-i their nature, and a little 
fasting stimulates them wonderfully. Those kept for rats are generally 
worked with dogs ; and althongh I have often run the rats out of my bam 
with them, it is especially for rabbit hunting that I keep them. They aro 
of no use for the largj white rabbit, but I used to find that the little gray 
fellow that abounds in the vicinity of Honeoye Falls bad a very unsocial 
way of sitting in his hole under ground and declining to come out and have 
fun, but since I have used ferrets he has changed his habits. With the 
sneaking method of netting the rabbit at the mouth of the hole when driven 
out with a ferret I have no kind of sympathy, but as ' Molly Cotton ' clears 
the hole with a ten-foot bound after passing a ferret, and keeps going 
faster if possible, often into a thicket, it is sport to stop her. Some prefer a 
very small ferret, as they use them without a muzzle and they cannot hold 
a rabbit as rt large one does ; but I prefer a good stout fellow, and if he is 
disposed to kill a rabbit (their dispositions vary) I muzzle him. A muzzle* 
is made of a small piece of leather shaped like a letter T, a little wider at 
the bottom however ; a string is put in each end of the top and one in each 
lower corner, the leather is put under his chin and the top piece tied 
aronnd his nose ; the other two strings are tied liehind his ears. Some have 
the lips pierced, and after healing they are tied shut. I have never tried 
this, nor breaking the teeth, which latter practice is brutal. The ferret can 



be carried in a bag, with drawn string, strung over the Bhonhlcr, or in n 
tightly-buttoned coat pocket. Ah the animal enjoys its short liberty when 
hunting and, however tame it may be, does not wane to go into the bag 
again while you move on ; it is always best to let it get ten feet or more 
from the hole before yon attempt to pick it up or it may dodge back and 
refuse to come out. In this cose tie a rabbit on a stick and put it down and 
the ferret will follow out. 

*' If the leather muzzle .don't work, or gets lost, you can improvise one 
with a string by making a loop that will not get larger oi smaller, and put 
it over his nose and then tie behind his ears, taking care to iiave the knot 
under his throat and the last tie on top of his head. 

" In England I believe they use small bells on their rat-ferrets to tell their 

whereabouts. In conclusion I would say, if you use ferrets for rats don't 

trust a strange do^ with them, and if for rabbits don't stand in front of the 


1^. Tar. evermmmnnt.- Siberian I'oleent. 

MiiHlela pntoriHsf , Lieht. Eversm. Roise, 23 ; ref. to Pallat, i. Zook. 89, note, bnt not ifutUln 

tibiriea Pall. ibid. p. 90. 
llHfile!« pulo?IU8 var. everHmannl, Fischer, Syu. 1(^). 319. 
MuAlela evrntmanill. Lp$ii. Man. 1837, U4, no. ■Jn9.—Schim. .'^yn. 1844, 339. 
PttlorlHit rvrrNHanal, (tray, V. Z. S. 1865, 109; Cat. Cam. Br. .Mas. 1869, 87. 
MuMrla pulorlUS Blyth, "J. A. 8. n. xi. 381."-(arai/.) 
.VuMelr. putoriUH thlbrlanlUH, Bodgs. "J. A. S. B. xxiii, 1849, 446.' — (f?rr.y.) 

This is the Asiatic Polecat, which appears to have been first noted by 
Pallas, in text of p. 89 of the Zoographia, from Siberia. This is to be care- 
fully distinguished from the Mmtela aibirica of Pallas, p. 90, a very different 
animal, elsewhere noticed in the present work. It is apparently but little if 
any ditterent from P. feetidiu, to which Blasius assigns it.without query. Cer- 
tain cranial differences adduced by Gray may require confirmation. I have 
seen no specimens of the supposed species. 

3. Patoriati mmnnmticn»,—SpiiUed Polecat. 
MHfttela Mrnalira, Pall. Itin. i. 1771. 453 ; Spic. Zool. 1790, xiv. 79, pi. 4, f. 1 ; Zoog. R.A. i. 

1831, 89.— £rxl. Syst. Anim. 1777, 460, no. 6.—Sehreb. SHttg. Hi. 1778, 490, pi. 133 (from 

Gttldenstiidt).-Ztmm. Oeogr. Oeiell. ii. 1780, 305, no. 3^1.— (7m. S. N. i. 1788, 07, no. 1.1. - 

Trirt. S. N. i. 1800, W.—Bitm. Mamm. i. 1830, 178, no. 304 ; Konv. Diet. zix. 371 ; Ency. 

M^tb. pi. 89, f. A.—Fr. Ouv. Diot Sci. Nat xxiz. 1833, 353, no. 9.—/*. <ieoff. Diet. Claat. x. 

813 FUeh. Syn. 18S9, 330.— Lcm. Man. 1837, Ui.-Sehint, Syn. 1844, 340.— Oi«6. S&ug. 

1855, 780. 
Tiverra Mrattic*, Shaw, Gen. ZoAI. i. 1800, 430 ("Sannatla Weeael "). 
PctorlHH MraatlCUB, Key*. itBtcM.Wirb. Enr. 1840, 68, no. \Ai.—Blat, Wirb. Denta. 1857, 396. 
PHtorlHK »arMatlens, Onff. Cnv. K. A. t. 1837, 131, no. 3«3 — Omy, List Mamm. Br. Mvu. 

1843, 64; P. Z. S. 1865, 110; Cat. Cam. Br. Mna. 1861), 88. 
UHKtcIa pf rrttHRiia, Otild. N. Comm. Petrop. xiv. 1769, 441, pL 10 (pereguriTut is alw found). 
MHRtcIa priFCiRCta, Kxaeiytuki, Hiat Nat Pol. 1736, 338. 
Voracla, Gem. Quad. 1551, 768. 

PeregiM** PewwlMka, Przewlwtka, Panelasta, Pall. Itin. <. e. 
TlgerlltK Geflerkte !ltl«, Qerman. 
Naraatler, .IliUt. Natnra. SappL 1776, 33. 
Peroianni, Buf. Hist Nat. xv. 
PvtolR 4t Pologae, Out*. R. A. i. 148. 
Marte k ttimturt, Lett. i. & 

This remarkably distinct species is black, on the upper parts brown spotted 
with yellow, the ears and a frontal baud white. It inhabits Eastern Europe, 
Poland, and Russia. 



11 , 





MUSTELIN.E— Continued: The Mink. 

Thn Biibgenns Lutreola — Siibgenerio cbaractera and remarks — Putoriua rinon, 
the Aiiiericaii Mink — Synonytuy — Habitat — Specitlc characters — Descrip- 
tion of external characters — Measurements — Variation in external char- 
acters — Variation in the skull — Comparison with the European Mink — 
Notice of allied Old World species, /'. lutreola and /'. aibirUiu — General 
history and habit« of the Mink — " Miukeries". 

WE come now to consider a particular modification of the 
genas Putorim^ in adaptation to an aquatic mode of life. 
Both the foregoing subdivisions of the genus comprehend ter* 
restrial and more ot less arboreal species ; the present one, Lu- 
treola^ consists of opecies which are scarcely less aquatic than 
the Otters themseives; and the consequent modifications, both 
in cranical and external characters, are decided. 

The Subgenus LUTREOLA. (Waqneb.) 

The leading iieculiarities of this section have been already 
pointed out (p. 100), and contrasted with those of Qale^ Cynomy- 
omur, and Putorius proper. 

The skull of the Mfhk bears out the general points of " build '^ 
which distinguish Putorim at large from Mustela — such as the 
short, turgid, truncate rostrum, comparatively shallow inter- 
pterygoid emargination, position of anteorbital foramen, &c. A3 
might be expected from consideration of the habits of the ani- 
mal, a resemblance to the cranium of an Otter is better marked 
in this than in other sections of the genus, the bulIaB auditorite, 
in particular, being notably flattened, and the whole upper out- 
line of the skull being straightened. In its own genus, the 
resemblances of the skull are with that of PutoriuM proper and 
of CynomyonaXj rather than with that of Oale. In addition to 
the absolutely much greater size in LutveolOj the massivenes^ 
of the skull, with the strong flaring sagittal and lambdoidal 
crests defining temiwral fossiv, contrasts strongly with the 
smooth condition of the parts in Qale. In L. vison, there is, iu 




addition to the comparative flatness of the anditory bnllii', some 
constriction and outward prolongation of the meatus, which is 
not seen in Gale or Cynomyonax, and scarcely indicated in Pu- 
torius proper. The frontal outline is nearly straight, and but 
little sloping (much as in Lutra). The pterygoids develop 
strong hamular processes, also seen in Putorius proper, but 
which are weak or wanting in Oale. There is much constric- 
tion of the skull near the middle, and the postorbital processes 
are well developed. 

The dentelure of Lutreola is probably the strongest to be 
found in the genus Putorius at large, and there is reason to sup- 
pose that it reaches a maximum in the large North American 
species of this subgenus. In L. vison,* the teeth, aside from the 
lesser number of premolars, are singularly like those of Mustela 
marten, as a matter of superficial resemblance ; and the supe- 
riority m size and strength over those of Putorius proper, or of 
Cynomyonax (not to mention Gale), is very evident on compari- 
son. In the American, if not in other species of Lutreola, the 
following points may he specially noted : — 

The back upper molar is of relatively large size, conspicu- 
ously exceeding that of Putorius foetidus or Cynomyonax nigripes 
in relative as well as absolute bulk. The inner moiety is much 
larger than the outer ;f its free border is nearly circular ; it is 
divided from the outer by a strong constriction ; the outer is 
somewhat trefoil-shai)ed. The inner moiety presents a raised 
rim and a central tubercle ; the outer has a corresponding 
tubercle, but the border is divided into two prominences, mak- 
ing three in all on this half of the tooth. The posterior upp^r 
premolar (sectorial tooth) shows certain characters not shared by 
any American species of the genus H large. There is devel- 
oped, at the aut^Toexternal corner ci' the tooth, a decided pro- 
cess or spur, only less in size than the ordinary Autero-internal 
one ; and the projection of this gives to the outer border of the 
tooth a decidedly concave outline.| This process, together with 
the internal one, gives the fore end of the tooth a V-like re- 

*I have not been able to examine the teettt of any O'd World HpecicH of 
this anbgenns. 

t This is not the case either with P. fntiius or C. nigriptt, bnt is Hcarcely a 
Hnbgeneric character, for it is said not to oeour in the European npecios of 

t Tliere is a trace of this process in P./atidus and C. Higripe«, but it is not 
safficlently develoiied to render the outer liotder of the tooth concuve, nor 
to make a V-rei-ntrance at the fore end. 




entrance, into which the antecedent premolar is set. Moreover, 
the autero-internal process, instead of being a mere heel or spur 
standing o£f from the tooth, as in the other subgenera here 
compared, develops into a strong, conical, acute cusp, some- 
times with two points. The back lower molar, contrary to what 
might have been expected, is absolutely not larger than that of 
P.foeti(hi8j* and therefore smaller relatively to the general de- 
velopment of the teeth. The anterior lower molar (sectorial 
tooth) develops on the inner side a slight but unmistakable 
supplementary tubercle, like that so evident in Mttstelttf but 
smaller ; the other species of Putorius which I have examined 
have no trace of this lobe, or a mere rudiment. And, in gen- 
eral, it may be said of the molars and premolars of Lutreola, 
that their various cusps are better developed than in most, if 
not all, other sections of Putorius. 

The details of external form of Lutreola are so fully given 
beyond in the description of L. vison that they may be here 
omitted. There ia but one species known to inhabit North 
America, very closely related to the Mink of Europe. The al- 
leged differences between the two are presented further on, in 
concluding a discussion of their affinities. 

The American Iflink. * 

Pntorlas (I.atreolii) vison. 

Plate IX. 
MttSteU rlKon, nris$. Qnad. 1756, 946, no, 6 (from Canadian specimenl same as described by 

Butfun and Pennant).— Sehreb. Sttng. liL 1778, 463, pi. 137 b.—Otn. S. K. L 1788, »i.—Turt. 

S. N. i. 1806, 58.— Out). R. A. i. 1817, 150.— flaW. Fn. Amer. 1835, e3.—Les». Man. 1837, 

U9.— Maxim. Reise, i. 1839, 313.— Bteinv. Ost^ogr. Mustela, pL 13 (teeth).— Uiompt. 

K. H. Verm. 1853, 31. 
MU8t«l« (Miines) Tison, Detm. Mamm. i. 1830, 183.— On/. Cay. R. A. v. 1837, 134. 
Muslel* (Putorius) VlSOn, Rich. F. B.-A. i. 1839, 48, no. 16. 
Mustela (LutreolM) tIsob, Wagn. SnppL Schreb. ii. 1841, 341. 
Lain ViSOn, Shaio, Oen. Zofil. i. 1800, 448 (based on the Viton of Baffon). 
Putorius VlSOD, Oapp. Zool. Joum. v. 1830, 90il.—Emmotu, Rep. Quad. Mass. 1840, 43.— i)e K. 

N. V. Z. i. 1843, 37, pi. 11, f. 1 (animal), pi. 8, f. 3, A, D (skull).— Aud. <£ Baeh. Q. N. A. i. 

1849, 350, pi. n.~Eenn. Tr. lU. State Agric. Soc. for 1851-4, 1855, yjB.—BeeiUy, Geol. 

Cape May, 1857, 137.— Bnird. M. N. A. 1857, 177, pL 37, f. 3, 3 (skulls).— y«w6. P. R. B. 

Rep. vi. 1857. 43.— Coop. <£ SueU.TH. H. W. T. 1860, 93: lU.-BUlingt, Canad. Nat. and 

Geol. ii. 185V, 448.— Bom, op. eit vi. 1861, 99.— Maxim. Vers. Am. Sfiug. 1869, 53.— 

Sam. Am. Kep. Mass. Agrio. for 1861, 1863, 157, pi. 1, f. B.—aHpin, Tr. N. Scotia Inst 

ii. 1870, 13, 59.— AfliM, Bull. Minn. Acad. Kat. Sci. 1874, 69.— Oouet <t rarrow.ZooI. 

Ezpl. W. 100 Merid. t. 1875, «0.-A{{«n, Bull. U. S. Geol. Sor. vol. ii. no. 4, 1876, 336 

Mustela lutreola, For*i. Phil. Trans. Izii. 1773, 371— <Sf<ib. Frank. Journ. 1833, 653.— l^SfcA. 

Syn. 1689, 391 (partly).— Oodm. Am. Nat. Hist. i. 1831, 306.— Jff^aH, Canad. Nat. & 

Geol. vi. 1861, 395. 

* As elsewhere stated, in Cynomyoiiaj: this tooth is singularly minute. 

U. S. Geological Sarvey. 

MnsteUda. PLATE IX. 

on, in 

Pntortas tIssb. (Nat. «ise.) 



Pitorim lltrMlM, l"Ouv."\ ^Om.Dnll. M. C. Z. i. 1809, 179 (oritloallk il. 1870, 100 (Flor- 

III*).— ilUm, Pr^lkMt Soo. N. H. xlil. 1860, IKI. 
ratorlMB latrMlM var. viMHt AUtn, Ball. Bu. Iniit vl. 1874, 94, 99, 09. 
NmMcIs (LMlrMlA) lalrcola mir. •■eriraiia, Sehim, Syn. Munm. 1. 1844, .147. 
¥lMl iNlrcolRt Oray, LUt Msmm. fir. Man. 1843, 04 (p«rtly) Qerr. Cat. Bones Br. Mai. 

1803. 03 (iwrtly). 
MvMcIa nUHMleRRlSf Krxl. Syitt An. i. 1777, 4.'i.'S (mixed witli aynonymy of Another HpecIeK, 

hut clearly referable here from the description, which can only apply to thr Mink. 

Hee Bd. M. X. A. text on p. 151). 
MnMrla raaMMIIl mr. vliioil, nndl Elxnch. An. i. 17H4, 8n (niter nnlTon). 
Mnlrla wIiIrKMR, .Barton, Am. Phil. Tr. vi. D'OO, 70 (no dcMir. ; 8t. Louiii, Mo.). 
XllSleia nidi. Tart. H. N. i. 1H06, .Ifl —Ord, Giithr. QeoK. 3il Am. ed. il. \Sl\ 3UI, 308. 
MHHlrU InlreocephaU. Ilml. Fn. Amcr. 189.5, r>:i. 

TIMI lnireoeeM«l>l> Oran, P. /. 8. I80.\ 1 16 ; Cat. Cam. Br. Mnn. IRHO, 04. 
t MmilclM rufa, U. SmUh, J.m\. Xat. Lil>. xiii. lM4'i, It^O. 
PalorlHB nlfrtseeas, Au4.4 Bach. (j. N. A. iil. H.VI. iOI. pi. I9i (not in orig. tiA.).—Baird, M. 

V. A. lt<.%7, MO.—(Htpin. Tr. N. Hootia loHt. il. 1870. 13, 6C. 
Milk, Umith't Virginia, 1634.-A'aim, Itiu. Hi. 33. 
MlRk, I'oaaoa .Viik, AaeriniB Mink, Authon and others. 
MIIX, LflioMm, Carol 1700, 131.— Briekett, Nat Hist. North Car. 1737, 118.— Pmn. Arct. Zoiil. 

17h4, 87, no. 35. 
m*J, Sagn^Thiodat, Hist. Canad. 1630, 748 (ed. of 1860, iil. 680). 
PBNtcrMM, IM HotUan, Voy. i. 1703, 81. Also of French Oanadinni. 
VIMI, Bi^f. Hist An. xiii. 1705, 304, pi. 43 (baaod on specimen in Mas. Aabry, as weiw the 

descrs. of Briss. &. Penn.).— Bomarf, Diet iv. 1708, 015.— i>«»n. Hist Quad. 1781, no. 

30.'« ; Arot Zoiil. i. 17<*4, 78, no. 90. 
ViMlie, Seata^ia, An. Qnad. iv. 1775, pi. 155, f. 9 (from Bnffon). 
Aaerlcaa tImm, Oray, P. Z. S. 1865, lie. 
Leuer Oiler, Pmn. Hist Quad. 1781, 338.— For«(. Phil. Trans. Izii. 1779, 371. 

JtrkMk, Heame, Jonm. , 370. 

Skakwmfeew or A||ackMhew, Oree Indtam (= " Jacka$h"}. 
MoMiUla-krook Mink, Aud. it Back. I •. 
llUle RiMk Mink, Bd. I. e. 
MonnUIn Mink of Hunter*. 

Habitat. — North America, at large. North to the Arctic cor at, bnt not 
abundant north of Fort Resolntion. 

Specific characterh. — Larger and atonter than the Stoata ; eara ahorter ; 
tail uniformly bushy, nearly c^ in Muntela; feet aemipalmate; color dark 
cliestnut-brown ; tail, and usually a dorsal area, blackish ; chin white, the 
edges of the upper lip rarely also white, the throat, breast, and belly often 
with irregular white patches. Length 15-18 inches ; tail-vertebriB 6-8. 

Description of external characters.* 

This animal, with the essential characters of dentition, &c., 
of Putorius, differs notably from the typical Stoats and Weasels 
{Oale) in its larger size and much stouter form, in which re- 
8i)ects it approaches the true Martens. It shares with these 
the uniformly enlarged, bushy, and somewhat tapering tail, in- 
stead of » slenderly terete tail with enlarged bushy tip, as in 
the Stoats. The tail-vertebrse are one-half (more or less) as 

* From unmeroua specimens in the Smithsonian Institntion from all parts 
of North America. 
11 M 



long as the head aud body ; the terminal pencil is only as long 
as the hairs of the tail in general. Unlike the Martens, the 
Miuk has small low ears, smaller than those of the Weasels. 
The ears are scarcely longer than the adjacent f^r, though they 
overtop it a little, as the far lies flat; they are rounded, and 
well furred both sides. The general shape of the head — long, 
low, flat, subtriangular — is as in other Putorii. The small eye 
centres over the angle of the mouth, half-way between the nose 
and ear. The whiskers are in four or flve series, the longest 
reaching opposite the occiput ; they are stiff and strong ; other 
bristles grow over and behind the eyes, on the cheeks, and on 
the middle of the chin ; similar bristles are usually seen upon 
the wrists and ankles. The extremity of the snoiit is protub* 
erant and defluitely naked. The feet are broad ; the hinder 
have a slightly oblique set ; the fore have ten balls, the Mind nioe, 
as in other Putorii (flve digital pads at the ends of the digits, 
flve palmar, and four plantar). The palmar and plantar pads 
are not separated by hairy spaces (except the hindmost outer 
palmar one), there being only a crease between them. Ordi- 
narily, the pads are conspicuously naked, but in northern and 
some winter skins they must be searched for amidst the over- 
growing hair. This is a purely fortuitous circumstance. The 
palms and soles are always furry around the pads. On the 
top of the feet, the hairs reach to or rather beyond the ends of 
the nails. The digits are all webbed at bases for a considerable 
distance, especially the middle ones. The third and fourth fln- 
gers are snbequfd and longest ; the second and flfth not so 
neiH'ly equal, and both much shorter ; the first is quite short. 
The toes of the bind feet have almost the same relative propor- 
tions. The pelage consists of a dense, soft, matted under fur, 
mixed with long, stiff, lustrous hairs, on all parts of the body 
and tail. The gloss is greatest on the upper parts; on the tail 
the bristly hairs predominate. Northern specimens have the 
finest and most glistening pelage, though the long hairs are the 
stoutest; in southern specimens there is less difference be- 
tween the under and over fur, and the whole pelage is coarser 
And harsher. 

In color, the Mink ranges from a light dull yellowish-brown, 
not very different from that of a Marten, or of some styles of 
the European P. fceUdm^ to a rich blackish chocolate-brown. 
These extremes (which will be presently considered) aside, the 
animal is ordinarily of a rich dark brown, scarcely or not paler 



below than on the general npper parte ; bat a doraal area is 
usually the darkest, and the tail is quite blackish. A strong 
mark of the species is the white chin ; this is rarely absent, but 
still ite indeterminate character is shown in the fact that ite 
extent and posterior contour are wholly irregular. As generally 
found, it occupies the whole under jaw about as far back as the 
angle of the mouth. It is sometimes prolonged as an irregular 
streak down the throat ; sometimes it is indicated only by a 
few specks, or it may be altogether absent. This wh^te seldom 
invades the upper lip ; that it sometimes, however, does so is 
attested by the specimens before me, one of the ditlerences 
claimed from the European P. lutreola being thus obviously 
negutived. Besides the white on the chin, there are often, 
perhaps usually, other white patches on the under parts, par- 
ticularly on the chest, between the fore legs, and on the lower 
belly between the hind legs. These markings are wholly inde- 
terminate in extent and contour. To reconnt their vagaries 
would be futile. In very rare instances, the tail is tipped with 



^ I 











'iioniiAiMl* jo(Mn)«j( 

JO Hm/A. 




•Mnp fo pna ot Mn}{ 

'tM«t;i JO ^a ir) MOtug 



•»ooj piUH 

88 :S^S 

•»oo.i wo^^ 


:-i : 




ad ixJ t* cj <x! 91 oi 






1^ i-i irf »- H '»5 a! 


M^ td 9> kfi id od r* 


©I rt rt w rt rt 

S :882 




^c> *^ *** ^ ^ 


■joqmnn nni)8{J0 

■joqumn !)a«uno 





Variation in external characten. 

In the extensive series of Minks l)efore uie, two extremes of 
size and color are apparent. One of these, represented by a few 
Hkins from \Va8hin((tou Territory and the Upper MisMouri, is 
rather larger than any others I have s«3eu — some 18 or 2U inciios 
long, exclusive of the tail. (But the ordinary dark Mink hiis 
been found over 20 inches in length.) They are remarkably 
light-colored, pale dull yellowish-brown all over, the tail but 
little darker, with the usual white marks on the ohl^ and else- 
where underneath. Such specimens are noted by Prof. Baird, 
p. 170, in text. Although by no means to be overlooked in any 
formal account of the species, the fact that this style shades 
insensibly into the ordinary state shows that it is merely one 
phase of individual variation, which need not bo recognized 
by name. The other extreme has been described and figured 
as Putoriuft nigreaoens by Audubon and Bachman,* as above. 

*In order to set forth fully tbe oharaoters claimed for tliin sappoeod 
species, the foUowiDg digest of the original description is civen : — 

Smaller than I'. vi$on; teeth in the under Jaw larger than the correHpond- 
ing teeth in the upper Jaw; feet less deeply pulmated than in /*. riaon; 
ears broader and longer ; fur soiter and more glossy. Color dark browuish- 

In form, in dentition, and in the shape of the feet, thisspecies beant a ntrong 
resemblance to a stout Weasel ; the head is broad and deprcHsed, and Hhorter 
und blunter than that of P. viaon. Ears large, oval, and slightly acutts cov- 
ered on both surfaces with fur ; legs rather short and stout ; feet huiuII and less 
webbed than in P. r'uon. The callosities under the toes are more pr»uiiueut 
than in that species, and the palms scarcely half as long. Toes covered 
with short hairs almost concealing the nails, and the hairs between the toen 
leaving only the tubercles visible. Fur blaokish-brown from the roots to 
the tips; whiskers and ears blackish-brown ; a white chin-pntoh (not shown 
in the figures); under surface of body a shade lighter and redder than the 
book; tail biackish-brown, blackening on the end. Length of head and 
bo'ly 11 inches; tail-vertebrie 6, with hairs? ; soles 2);; ear i. 

Mountain Mink of hunters. From Pennsylvania, New York, New Eng- 
land, and Canada, and supposed to be more northerly than P. rigoii. 

"We have bad abundant opportunities of comparing maay specimens 
[with P. vison]. We have seen some with their teeth mu^^h worn, and 
females which from tbe appearance of the teats had evidently sucklsd their 
young. They were all of the size and colour of the specimen above described, 
and we can no longer doubt that the latter is a distinct species from P. viaon. 
The comparison in fact is n(}t required to be made between these species, 

but between the present species and P. lutreola of Europe We had 

no opportunity of placing this little species by the side of the European. 
We are inoliued to believe, however, that distiaotive marks will be found 



It coDsiste in i;he combination of small size and dark colors. 
The Hiiecimens representing it are a foot or little more in length, 
and of a rich blackish chocolate-brown ; the white on the chin 
and elsewhere is found as usual. It has been claimed that this 
cannot be merely a young " Mink**, on the ground that it has 
been focnd breeding. Hunters and trappers practically recog- 
nize as distinct a *' Mountain Mink " of this character, the dif- 
ferences which resuic in the enhanced value of the pelt appealing 
to them strongly. But, in any event, the specimens before me 
establish one fust, namely, that it id impossible to draw any 
dividing line between ^^ P. nigrescem'" and the common Mink. 
They melt into each other insensibly. The question is nar- 
rowed to whether the supposed species is a reasonably marked 
variety, or whether it is merely a fortuitous state under which 
the Miuk may anywhere present itself. The latter is my 
present view. It is certain that young Minks are darker than 
the old ones, and that the animal incre(»ses in stature for some 
time after it is '^mature'', i.e., in possession of reproductive 
powers. The fiu;t that the small blackish individuals are found 
breeding is therefore by no means conclusive. Nor is the 
supposed " nigrescens " characteristic of any particular faunal 

In this connection, the remarks of Mr. B. B. Boss in the paper 
above cited have much practical pertinence, and his opinion, 
based upon long experience, is entitled to weight. Speaking 
of the ordinary Mink, he remarks : — "The color of its pelt varies 
greatly. In winter its shades range from a dark chestnut to a 
rich brownish black. The tint of all the body is uniform, 
except that the belly is sensibly lighter, and that there is a 
series of white blotches, running with greater or smaller breaks 
from the end of the chin to some distance below the forelegs, 
and again contiuued with more regularity from the middle of 
the Ix'Ily to the anus. In some skins these markings are of 
small extent, but I have never seen them entirely wanting. 
There are commonly spots under either one or both of the 
forelegs, but not invariably. I have remarked that the color- 
ation of this animal, as well as of the Otter and Beaver, grows 

in the small roanded feet and abort taniu of oar present epeoies, in its 
longer and rather more pointed ears, its shorter head and longer lower 
incisors, together with a more general resemblance to oar common weasel 
(P. ermiuea) in summer dress." 



lighter as it advances in years, and that the white blotches or 
spotA are of greater size and distinctness in the old than in the 
yonng. The fur of a yonng Mink (under three years) when 
killed in season is very handsome ; its color is often an almost 
pure black. The skin is thin and pliable, approaching nearly 
to the papery consictency of that of the Martin. When aged, 
the hide is thick and the color more rusty. The summer peliige 
is short, but tolerably close, and is of a reddish brown color, 
and the tail, though still possessing black hairs, shows dis- 
tinctly the under-fur of a decidedly rusty hue. Its feet are 
rather pointed and not large. Its legs are short but muscular, 
and its track in the snow is easily distinguished from that of 
the Martin, whose longer and well-covered paws do not sink so 
deeply. Indeed, when the snow is at all deep and soft, the 
Mink makes a regular furrow, similar to that made by an Otter 

under like circumstances, though of course smaller 

I am strongly inclined to the opinion that there is only one 
species of Mink on this continent, and consider it highly prob- 
able that the P. Nigrescentes of And. & Bach, are merely 
common Minks under three years of age. I have seen humbers 
of skins here of exactly the same color, size, and furring as 
those described under that head in Prof. Baird's work on North 
American Mammals, which were simply young P. visones. This 
gentleman also states that the American species of Mink never 
has the edge of the nppev lip white. I have never seen the 
whole of that part so colored, but in one specimen now on my 
tabic there is a white spot beneath the nostrils." 

To the above account of the variations in pelage must be 
added another source of change in specimens, namely, the 
fading by long exposure to the light. Some mounted Individ* 
uals which have been in the Smithsonian museum for about 
twenty years are now bleached to a dingy white nearly all 

The time that the Mink requires to attain full stature is seen 
from the foregoing. As usual in this genus, the female aver- 
ages considerably smaller than the male. 

Variation in the skull of the Minh 

Having already given tht^ principal characters of the skull 
in treating of the subgenus Lutreola^ it only remains to note 
the variation presented by th? present species. 

I f 3 

i I' 

'i m 

:i * I 


ii I 



Skulls of It. vison ordinarily range firom 2.35 x 1.35 to 2.75 
X 1.65,* bat the extreme limits of variation are considerably 
furtlier apart than these. Mr. J. A. Allen t has tabulated and 
discussed the variations according to geographical distribution. 
I present bis article in full : — 

** Eighteen skulls from the northern parts of the continent, 
mainly from Alaska, average 2.66 in length and 1.58 in width, 
the extremes being, length, 3.02 and 2.30; width, 1.90 and 1.40. 
Thirteen skulls from the highlands of Northeastern New York 
average 2.40 in length and 1.34 in width, the extremes being, 
length, 2.60 and 2.17. Three skulls from Pennsylvania (un- 
doubtedly males) average 2.49 in length and 1.48 in width. 
In the northern series, the sex of the skull is given by the 
collector, whence it appears that the twelve males have an 
average length of 2.81, and the six females an average length 
of 2.48, showing a considerable sexual variation in size. Yet 
the smallest males (2!i54 and 2.63) fall below the largest female 
(2.68), if the skulls are all correctly marked. None of the 
other females, however, exceed 2.55, and only three of the 
males fall below 2.70. In the New York series, the sex is not 
indicat/ed; but, judging from the proportion of the small to 
the large skulls, the sexes are about equally represented in 
the two series, but in the New York series there is a very 
gradual decline firom the largest to the smallest. The northern 
series of eighteen is selected from a series of twenty-three ; 
the New York series of thirteen from a series of thirty. In 
each case only very old skulls were chosen, the immature 
specimens in each case being thrown out in order to have a 
fair basis for comparison. The immature and middle-aged 
specimens greatly predominate in the New York series, owiug, 
doubtless, to the species being more closely hunted there than 
in the mere unsettled diHtricts of the far north. 

*< Taking these two series as a basis for a general compari- 
son, there is indicated a considerable decrease iu size from the 
north southwai'd, amounting to 0.26 in length and 0.24 in 
width, or about one-tenth of the average size of the New York 

* A skull of the commoD Ferret, P. foetidua var. furo, before me, is almost 
exactly of the former dimensions. Tame Ferrets' skulls I have examined 
show i) 'urions depression of the cranial portion — even a concavity of the 
upper rofile, which I have not observed in P. /cbMub. A skull of the latter 
measures 2.60 X 1.&5. 

tBull. U. S. Geol. and Geogr. 8urv. Terr. voL IL no. 4, 1876, pp. 327, 328. 



series. A single specimen, marked < Brookhaven, Miss.', and 
another marked 'Tascaloosa, Ala.', however, have a length 
respectively of 2.60 and 2.80, the former equaling the largest 
New York specimens, nnd the latter nearly equaling the aver- 
age size of the males of the northern series, while a single 
male aknll from Fort Randall, D. T., 2.90 in length, is the sec- 
ond in size of the whole series; one Fort Yukon specimen 
only being larger! Other specimens from the Upper Missouri 
region, however, are much smaller, as are other specimens 
from Prairie Mer Rouge, La., indicating that the specimens 
above mentioned are much above the average for their re- 
spective localities. 

" Meaaiiremenia of thirty-aeren skulls of FutORius vison. 






Fort TukoD, Alaska 







Very old. 

— do. 

— do. 

— do. 
— do. 
— do. 
— do. 
— do. 


Old. P. • nigrescent ' J 
— do. 











Alaska (Kadiak) 



Alaska.' .' 







Nelson Kiver 

. f 


Fort SiniDSon 

4305": :.... 



Fort Randall 


Saaex Couutv. New Vork .... 





• ■•■■■ Hit •■■■ ■■•••«>•>■■•>*■■ •••• 


I.. JtR 






Sarai^ao Lake. New Vork ..... 









PenuBvl vauia ................. 






Tnscalooaa, Ala ....... ..... 



Brookhaven. Miss .... 

Comparison with the European Mink. 

I have only been able to compere luj series of American 
Minks with one European specimen, which, being mounted, 
does not permit examination of the teeth. But as we have 
seen that the curious difference in the character of the molar 







and last premolar of Mugtela martes and If. americana holds 
good, there is reason to presame that the same difference may 
constantly obtain in the Minks, as held by Dr. Gray. In this 
case, very curioasly, it is the American animal which has the 
larger molar, not the Enropeun. This could never have been 
predicated by analogy ; it illustrates the constantly recnrring 
lesson of the danger of this mode of reasoning; in zoology, and 
the necessity of appeal to observed facts in every case. All 
the many skulls of American Minks examined (about forty) 
show the massive last molar with an inner moiety very much 
larger than the outer, as against the opposite which is alleged 
of the Old World species. A discrepancy in average size of 
the American and European Minks is obvious ; but the differ- 
ence is within the range of variation of the former. The white 
upper lip, the rule in the European species, is the rare excep- 
tion in the American. As far as external differences go, it 
would be impossible to separate the two forms speciflcally ; 
we could only predicate a geographical race upon the average 
superior stature and generally dark upper lip of the American 
form. Attending only to these superficial details, Mr. Allen * 
came to the justifiable conclusion of the specific identity of the 
two animals ; but had his able and pertinent discussion em- 
braced consideration of the dental peculiarities, his views would 
doubtless have been materially modified. I am unable to en- 
dorse his general statement (loc. cit.) respecting the Lutreola 
group, that "we have here again but one circumpolar and 
widely dispersed species, with possibly two continental or geo- 
graphical races which may be more or less easily recognized". 
For aside from the question of P. vison, the P. sibiricus (see 
foot-note), which Mr. Allen would bring into the same connec- 
tion, is an entirely different species, to judge from the single 
excellent specimen before me. In justice to this writer, however, 
I should not omit to add that since his examination of the skulls 
he has presented P. vison as a distinct species. 

The comparative diagnosis of P. lutreola and P. vison would 
be as follows : — 

y. lHtr«>Ia.t — Back upper molar small, quadrate, transverse, the inner 
moiety scarcely larger than the outer [.fide Gray]. Averaging smaller; 
upper lip normally white. 

* Bull. Mus. Oomp. Zool. i. 1H69, pp. 175-177 — an article important as a 
contribution tj the present discussion, and as satisfactorily showing that 
the external characters supposed to distinguish two species do cot hold. 

1 1 introduce short notices of the two Old World species allied to F, riMm, 
as further oontribotioni to the liistoiy of the group. 




P. vUon. — Back opper molar large, with great oonstriotion across the mid- 
dle, making an honrglass-shape, the inner moiety of which is nearly twice 
as large as. the outer [40 specimens seen]. Averaging larger; upper lip 
normally dark. 

Pntorlas (Lntreola) Intrtnlm.— European Mink. 

TIf erra latreola, L. Fu. Saeo. Sd ed. 1761, S, no. l3.—raU. Spia Zool. xlT. 178U, 46, pL 91, £ a.; 

Zoog. R.-A. i. 1831, 80, na 33. 
Muiela laircoia, L. S. N. 1. 1766, 66, no. 3 (1iinlmd).-«;Ar«(MT, SKok. iii. 1778, 463, pi. 139— 

UpeeK Itin. i. , 176, pi. 13.— Urn. S. N. i. 1788, M, n. 3.— I^rt S. K. i. 1806, 56.— ATUm. 

Skand. Fu. 11, lilS.—Le$: Mm. 18», Ul.—FaUk, Act Sue. So. Fenn. IL 1847, iaS.—Oitb. 

sang. 1855, 484. 
MMRtrIa (Latreola) Intreola, Sekinx, Sjm. Mamm. L 1844, 346. 
Latra iHtreola, ffkaw, Q. Z. i. 1800, ii3.—aiog. N. Act Acad. Nat Curio*, xiii. 50i. 
PulorlHS lulrcola, Orif. Cot. R. A. v. 1837, 138, na 347.— JBraiidt, Bern. Wirb. Xord. Ear. 

Kussl. 1856, 37.- An/ubautt, Ball. Hoc AfTic. Sarthe, xiii; Rev. Mag. ZooL 1863. 77 (see 

Brehmer, Arch. Verelna Meoklenb. 1863, SSI; Tanu^oti, Rev. Zool. xt. 3.'>7; HeiuM^ 

Verb. Ntrf. Vereii.-. Biiinn. i, 1863, 18). 
FOBtorlUt lutreola, K. <e U. Wirb. Eur. 1840, 69, n^ 148.— BUM. Wirb. Deutachl. 1817, 334, t • 

(der Xorz).— iSftrtwt. Arch. Nat Heoklenb. xVA 1858, 139.— ITraioe, Peterm. Oao^. 

Hitth. Itm, 435. 
TlMI lutreola, Grau, Liat Mamm. Br. Mna. 1843, 64 (includea botb species) ; P. Z. S. 1865, 

117 Cat Cam. Br. 11. . 1869. 94.— Gerr. Cat Bones Br. Has. 1863, 93 (includes both 

species).- if. Schmidt, Zool. Oart 1865, 168, flg. 
Lalra ■Inor, £rxl. Syst An. i. 1777, 451, no. 3 (mixed witb P. vUon). 
Haak, Nnrek, TnhcHrl, Nana, Norz, Nora, Kierz, Nartz, A«(Aor«. ^ 

KIclae FlMkolter, Haaprotlcr, Oerm. 
Norz, MarUnt, ZooL Oart^ xi. 1870, 378 (philological). 

The characters of this species are sufficiently indicated in the text above. 
Gorrard gives the caudal vertebra) as 17. 

Pntorlna (Lutreola?) alblrlcoa.— A'ben'an Mink. 

MU9tela8illlrlca,i>aU. Itin. 701; Spio. Zool. 1780, xiv. 89, pl.4,<lg.3; Zoog. R.-A. i. 
1831, 90, pL r—ErxL Syst 1777, 471, na U.—SekrOt. Siing. iii. 1778, 495, pi. 1.13 B.— 
Zimm. Oeogr. Gesch. U. 1780. 306, na 903.— Om. S. N. i. 1788, 98, na la.—Turt S. N. i. 
1800, ei.—Leam. Mamm. i. 1890, 177. no. 273 ; Nouv. Diet xiz. 369.— Fr. Ouv. Diet SoL 
Nat xxix. 349.- i«. Oeoff. Diet CUss. x. 313.— Oray, List Mamm. Br. Mua 1843, 66.— 
a»rr. Cat Bones Br. Hos. 1863, 94.— Oieb. S&ug. 1855, 781. 

Tlverra slblrica, Shaw, Gen. Zo6l. i. 1800, 431. 

FutortHB siklrica, Oriff. Cuv. R. A. t. 18i7, 139, na 346. 

VlMI Biblrlea, Gray, P. Z. a 1865, 117; Cat Carn. Br. Mas. 1869, 94. 

(t) " MHBleta italal, Temm. Fn. Jap. 34, pi. 7, f. 3 (na/«i by misprint on plate)."- (Cray.) 

Pilols «e SIkirle, Our. R. A. i. 148. 

Ckorock, "Sonnini'i Buffon, xxxt. 19." 

EllOB, Tartar*. 

KuloBBok, Ckorok, Buuiart, 

(No. 1451, Mus. Smiths., from the Bremen Museum.) This animal is a Pa- 
toriut (teeth 34), and may come near the Minks, as the toes appear to be ex- 
tensively semi-palmate and the ears are very short. The general aspect, 
however, is that of a Ferret or Polecat, P. ftetidua, like which species, and 
liko P. nigripea, it has dark facial markings contrasted with white surround- 
ings. The tail is long and bushy, about as it would be in a Marten (Muattla) 
of the same size. The color is peculiar — a uniform, clear, rich, fulvous or 
tawny brown ("buff" or "fawn" color), scarcely paler below, the tail 



Oeneral history and habits of the Mink, 

The history of the American Mink, to which we will confine 
our attention, begins at an early date, long before Liunteas con- 
ferred precision upon zoological writing by establishing the 
binomial nomenclature. Says Sagard-Th^odat, in 1636, refer- 
ring to the Hurons : — " lis ont vers les Nentres une autre espece 
d'animaux nommez Otay, ressemblant ^ un escurieux grand 
comme un petit lapin, d'un poil tres-noir, & si doux, poly & 
beau qu'il semble de la panne. lis font grands cas de bes peaux 
desquelles ils font des robes & couuertures, o^ il y en entre 
bien une soixantaine qu'ils embellissent part tout d, I'entour, des 
testes, & des queues de ces animaux qui leur donnent bonne 
grace, & rendent riches en leur estime." Early in the seven- 
teenth century we find the animal unmistakably indicated under 
the name of Mink or Minx.* The derivation of these words — or 
rather of this terra, for the two are obviously the same — is from 
the original Swedish maenk, applied to the P. lutreola of Eu- 
rope. The term otay had long been in use at that time, and 
foutereau was an Early French designation, used, for instance, 
by La Hontan (1703) for " & sort of small amphibious weasels". 
Of the meaning of the term vison^ generally adopted since 
Buffon as the specific designation, I have only to remark, on 
the authority of von Martens, it;* apparent relatiou with 
weasel, through veso. The word jackash, sometimes found, is 
obviously a rendering by an English tongue of the Gree name, 
which is given by Richardson as Shakwceshew or Atjackaslieic. 

*' The Minx ", says Lawson, about the beginning of the last 
century, " is an animal much like the English Fillemart or 

thronghout the same. Throat aud soles of feet whitish. Forehead, cheeks, 
regiou arouud eyes, and naked nasal pad blackish-brown ; end of snout all 
aronnd (isolating the dark nose-pad), edge of upper lip, and chin white. 
Length apparently about 15 inches; tail-'vertebne 6or 7; hairs at the end 
full 3 inches longer. 

Pallas says bis animal is peculiar to Farther Siberia, from the Yenisei 
River eastward to the sea, to the 60° parallel, but is not found in Kam- 
tschatka nor in the Tschuctschi region. Gray attributes it to the Himalayas, 
China, Japan, and Formosa, quoting Temminck, as above. 

" The identity in form with the Eaglish minx may possibly be more than 
fortuitous. Minx was a name of a female puppy, and subsequently signified 
a port, wanton girl, doubtless through the same association of ideas that 
caused the vnlgar name of a she-dog to become a shameful term of reproach 
for a lewd woman. There is something in the forward, prying, and spite- 
ful nature of tho animal to render minx applicable. 



Polcat. He is long, slender, and every way shaped like him. 
His Hannts are chiefly in the Marshes, by the Seaside and Salt- 
Waters, where he lives on Fish, Fowl, Mice and Insects. . . . 
These are likewise found high up in the liivors, in whose sides they 
live ; which is known by the abundants of Fresh- Water Muscles 
Shells (such as you have in England) that lie at the Month of 
their Holes. This is an Enemy to the Tortoise, whose Holes, 
in the Siind, where they hide their Eggs, the Minx finds out, 
and scratches up and eats," — with more in the same quaint style. 

Button described " Le vison " in I7(>5 from a Canadian speci- 
men in M. Aubry's museum, the same ap|>areutly that served 
as the basis of Brisson's earlier and Peuuant's subsequent ac- 
count. Pennant indeed has also his Minx or Lesser Otter, but 
this is simply because he did not recognize that this was the 
same as his vison. 

Since these earlier authors, the Mink, a very common animal 
of this conntry, has been frequently mentioned by writers, and 
taken its place in all the systematic works. It has served as 
the basis of several nominal species, but these have occasioned 
little if any confusion, the zoological characters of the animal 
being well marked. The only question, indeed, is as to its re- 
lationships with the European P. Intreola. For many years a 
specific distinctness was seldom doubted, bnt of late the opin- 
ion has tended the other way. The Mink has been placed 
alternately in the genera Mvstela and Putoriusj partly owing to 
a varying acceptation of these names by authors, partly to a 
misconception of its dental characters. It is a true " Weasel ", 
with 34 teeth, not a Marten, which has 38. It is of larger size, 
stouter form, and bushier tail than an average species of Pu- 
toriua^ approaching in these respects to the Martens, Mmtela. 
In those points in which it is modified for its eminently aquatic 
mode of life, namely, the half-webbing of the toes, short ears, 
and the dose-set, bristly, glistening pelage, it makes an ap- 
proach toward the Otters. In fact, the specific term lutreolay 
*' little otter ", applied to the European form by Linntens, is 
highly appropriate. The non-essential modifications which the 
animal presents have been unnecessarily made by Dr. G^ay 
the basis of a subgenus Visoa. 

The peculiar odor which the animals of this genns have in 
common attains in this large and vigorous species a surpassing 
degree of fetor, though of the same quality. No animal of this 
country, except the Skunk, possesses so powerful, penetrating, 





and lasting an efSaviam. Its strength is fally perceived in 
taking the animal from a trap, or when the Mink is otherwise 
irritated. Ordinarily the scent is not emitted to any noticeable 
degree ; it is nnder volantary control, and the fact that the 
Mink spends most of its time in the water is another reason 
why its proximity, even in numbers, is not commonly perceived 
by smell. Both sexes possess the scent-bags ; they lie in the 
perinseum, one on each side of the rectam, and open upon a 
papilla on either side of the anus, just within the edge of the 
external orifice. As usual, the apparatus pertains primarily to 
the sexual relations, and, in fact, can have no other office of 
consequence, since the effluvium is not powerful enough to 
deter pursuit on the part of a determined enemy, as is the case 
with the intolerable emanations of the Skunk. Its service 
seems to be that of attracting the sexes. It is used with advan- 
tage, like the castorenm of Beavers, by trappers, to increase 
the efficacy of their bait. It belongs to the class of musky 
odors, which, in minute quantities, are not disagreeable to most 
persons ; and, indeed, a moderate amount of mink scent is to 
me less undesirable than the ineffably rank odor of a he-wolf 
for instance. The former is special and peculiar; the latter 
seems to convey all that is obscene in the nature of the animal. 

The distribution of the Mink in this country is scarcely 
limited. In a word, it is found in suitable places throughout 
North America. Sir John Richardson found it on Mackenzie's 
Biver as far north as 66° ; ** and there is every reason to believe 
that it ranges to the mouth of that river, in latitude 69°". 
Audubon says that he has seen it <4n every State in the Union", 
and remarks its abundance in the saH marshes of the Southern 
States. Although he could at thai time only speak at second 
hand of its occurrence in regions west of the Rocky Mountains, 
I have sufficient evidence in the way of specimens that it is 
there equally well represented. Its essentially aquatic nature 
leads it to seek, in general, well-watered sections, and it will 
never be found far away from water, except it be caught during 
the journeys it makes from one stream or pool to another. 
Nevertheless, I have fonnd it in great plenty along the water* 
courses of some of the driest portions of the interior of the 
continent, as in Dakota and Montana. 

The very scarcity of water in such regions is one cause of 
the apparent abundance of certain aquatic animals in spots, as 
around the pools and along the few streams; they become 



aggregated in a few places rather than generally dispersed over 
the coantry, so that their numbers appear greater than they 
really are. In the region last mentioned, there was scarcely any 
water, running or stagnant, even if enduring fur only a part of 
the year, the muddy banks of which were not dotted with num- 
berless tracks of Mink, Muskrats, and Meadow Mice. All 
around the permanent pools, the entrances to the burrows of 
the first named were to be found. The holes were noticed more 
or less nearly at water-level, according to the state of evapora- 
tion of the water ; they wer generally dug in a rather steep 
part of the bank, and from the entrance of the burrow a *' way ^ 
led far out into the pool. 

Whilst encamped for a month or more in the autumn of 1873, 
on Mouse River, in Northern Dakota, a friend with me pro- 
cured a large number of Minks without difficulty. In addition 
to our steel traps, we built numerous deadfalls, and were equally 
successful with both means. The Minks were not at all wary 
about the traps. Any contrivance by which a small log could 
be made to fall against another on touchiog a trigger, the bait 
being covered so that the animal could only reach it from the 
desired position, sufficed perfectly well. Such a trap may be 
built, where there is wood, with a hatchet and pocket-knife in 
a few minutes. We set them at intervals for several miles 
along the stream, wherever, judging from the number of tracks, 
we were most likely to be successful. They were placed as 
near as convenient to the water's edge, baited with a duck's 
head or breast, and scented with the Mink's odor. In setting 
the steel traps, we placed them in the "ways" leading into the 
burrows, and iu very shallow parts of the stream, where a little 
water rippled over pebbly shingle. It was found best, on the 
whole, not to bait the trap itself, but to build a little box of flat 
stones, with a narrow entrance, at which the trap was set, the 
bait being placed further iu. The Mink of this region seemed 
to me rather smaller and darker than average, and they rarely 
showed white along the chest or belly. 

The tenacity of life of the Mink is something remarkable. 
It lives for many hours — in cases I have known for more than a 
day and night — under the pressure of a heavy log, sufficient to 
hold it like a vice, and when the middle of the body was pressed 
perfectly flat. Nay, under one such circumstance which I re- 
call, the animal showed good fight on approach. When caught 
by a leg in a steel trap, the Mink usually gnaws and tears the 




captivo member, sometimes lacerating it in a manner painfnl 
to witness ; but, singular to say, it bites the part beyond the 
jaws of the trap. This does not appear to be any intelligent 
attempt to free itself, bnt rather an act of the blind fnry ex- 
cited by consciousness of capture. Some have averred that it 
is an instinctive means of lessening pain, by permitting a How 
of blood from the portion of the limb beyond the point of 
seizure; but this Hceins to me very problematical. The violence 
and persistence of the poor tortured animal's endeavors to 
escape are witnessed in the frequent breaking of its teeth 
against the iron — this is the rule rather than the exception. 
One who has not taken a Mink in a steel trap can scarcely form 
an idea of t^e terrible expression the animal's face assumes as 
the captor approaches. It has always struck me as the most 
nearly diabolical of anything in animal physiognomy. A sullen 
stare ft-om the crouched, motionless form gives way to a new 
look of surprise and fear, accompanied with the most violent 
contortions of the body, with renewed champing of the iron, 
till breathless, with heaving flanks, and open mouth dribbling 
saliva, the animal settles again, and watches with a look 
of concentrated hatred, mingled with impotent rage and fright- 
ful despair. The countenance of the Mink, its broad, low head, 
shv;rt ears, small eyes, piggish snout, and formidable teeth, is 
always expressive of the lower and more brutal passions, all of 
which are intensified at such times. As may well be supposed, 
the creature must not be incautiously dealt with when in such 
a frame of mind. 

Th« gun is not often used to procure Mink, not only because 
of the injury to the pelt which would ensue, but because its 
use is difficult and unsatisfactory. I have never secured one 
in this way, though I have more than once fired at them swim- 
ming in the water. If on the lookout, as they usually are, 
they may dive at the flash, and evade the shot. They immedi- 
ately disappear likewise if only wounded ; and even if killed 
outright, which is not often the case, they sink, and are not 
likely to be recovered. Shots at a Mink on land bnt rarely 
offer ; I do not remember to have had bnt a single one, and 
then the animal escaped me. 

From what has gone before, the prime characteristic of the 
Mink in comparison with its congeners may be inferred : I 
mean its amphibious mode of life. It is to the water what the 
other Weasels are to the land or the Martens to the trees. It 



is as essentially aquatic iu its bnbits as tbc Otter, Beaver, or 
Muskrat, and spends perhaps more of its time in the water 
than it does on land. In adaptation to tbis mo<le of life, the 
pelage bas that peculiar glosi^iness of the longer bristly hairs 
iiud felting of the close under fur which best resists the water, 
nuicb as in the cases of the other animals just mentioned. 
Were not fashion so notoriously capricious, Mink pelts would 
maintain a conspicuous place in the fur marts of the world ; 
certainly few surpass them in richness of color, gloss, and fine- 
ness. Yet they have been found under some circumstances 
not to repay cost of transportation, although it should be 
added, at times the price they fetch shows them to be better 
appreciated. The darkest colored samples are regarded as the 
most valuable — such as those coming from the so-called Puto- 
riu8 nigretcena. As in other cases, the quality of the fur de- 
pends largely upon season, and other varying circurostancos. 
Nova Scotian pelts have been regarded with particular favor. 
On this subject, the following extract from Dr. Gilpin's article 
above quoted is given : — " This fur once valueless has steadily 
increased in price, till last winter [ISOd] not seldom five dollars 
was paid for a single skin. Our Indians trap but very little 
now. The idle boys about the >illage8 take many. The 
farmer, indignant at his slaughtered fowl yard, adds a few 
more. In ev^ry land and every village, there is a social gi))- 
sey who loves sport and hates work ; who fishes, and fowls, 
and traps, eats his own trout or po.acbed salmon or moose 
meat, taken out of season, and exchanges his little pile of fur 
for tea and tobacco at the country store. Many come from 
this source. Thus a gathering pile collects and dangles at t^e 
country store. The owner packs and sends them to the Hali- 
fax market, where of late years it has become the habit for the 
fur dealers to tender in writing for them. About six thousand 
are annually exported from Nova Scotia proper." 

Goincidentally with the aquatic habitat, the food or the 
Mink is somewhat modified, in comparison with that of the 
land species of the genus. It is probably our only species 
which feeds habitually upon reptiles, fish, molluscs, and crusta- 
ceans — more particularly upon frogs, fresh-water bivalves, 
crawfish, and the like. Nevertheless, it is not confined to 
such diet, but shows its relationships with the terrestrial Wea- 
sels in a wide range of the same articles of diet as the latter 
secure. It is said to prey upon Muskrats — a statement I have 
12 M 




•' * 

uo hesitatlou iti believing, though I cannot personally attest it. 
A recent writer,* in an article which I would quote were it 
written in a style Nuitcil to the present connection, narrates an 
incident which may be here briefly related, as showing that 
the Mink is a formidable enemy of the Muskrat, though yield- 
ing to the latter in weight. Whilst snipe-hunting on a marshy 
island below the Kickapoo Rapids of the Illinois Uiver, the 
writer noticed an object, which appeared like a ball some six 
or eight inches in diameter, rolling toward the water ; and 
Hoon ascertained that it was a Mink and a Muskrat clinched 
together, and so completely covered with mud as not to have 
been at first recognized. At his approach, the Mink released 
its hold and made its escape ; but the Muskrat was already 
dying of severe wounds in the head and neck, from which the 
blood was flowing profusely. The Muskrat had evidently been 
captured and overcome in fair fi;;ht by broad daylight, and the 
Mink would have devoured its victim had not the hunter inter- 
fered. It is also destructive to our native rats and mice — the 
Arvicolas, Hesperomys, ^igmoihn, and Xeotoma; it is known to 
capture Rabbits, especially the Lepus palustris, its associate in 
many marshy or swampy tracts ; while its not infrequent vis- 
its to the poultry-yard have gained for it the hearty ill-will of 
the farmer. Various marsh-inhabiting birds are enumerated 
in the list of its prey, among them the rails and several 
smaller species ; and we may jVresume that it does not spare 
their eggs. But most birds are removed from its attack ; for the 
Mink is not a climber, at least to any extent. In resi)ect to poul- 
try, its destructiveness seems to result rather from the regularly 
repeated visits of an animal that has located in the vicinity 
than the wholesale slaughtering sometimes accomplished by the 
Ermine. According to those who have excellent opportunity of 
judging, the Mink does not as a rule kill more than it eats. 
Still, the opposite case has been recorded. Its modes of hunt- 
ing offer nothing peculiar. Like the Weasel and Stoat, it has 
been known to pursue its prey by scent. 

The Mink often annoys hunters by stealing the game they 
have shot before they have an opportunity of bagging it. An 
incident related by a recent anonymous writer in " Forest and 
Stream" is in point, and furthermore illustrates the wonderful 
energy and perseverance sometimes displayed by the Mink in 

* M. A. Howell, jr. " The trapper nut the ouly eueniy of .the Muskrat. 
< Forest and Stream of Dec. 21, 1876. 



MccuriDg its food. Speaking of a dudishootin); excursiou, 
during which some of the birds that had been killed were not 
recovered till next day, the writer goes on to say :— *' The tlrst 
spot which claimed attention, was where our *hen mallard' 
had ' struck hard pan/ Here was a sight ! feathers and blood 
marked the scene of a terrific struggle for what remained of a 
duck's life. Here, for at least ten feet io circuit, the snow, 
grass and twigs, were whipi)eil into a confused mass, here and 
there besprinkled with blood, and quite as often decorated 
with feathers ; then there was a trail, leading directly to the 
river bank, and out upon the ice ; the trail thence proceeded 
up the bank of the river on the ice for about half a mile, when 
it disappeared directly in line of a hole in the bank, where we 
discovered the bird half buried, head foremost, into a hole 
about one-half the size of the bo<ly, frozen stiff. When discov- 
ered we worked, not without difficulty, at iXm extrication of the 
bird. It required all our force to draw it out, when, as it broke 
from its fastenings, two large minks suddenly appeared, and 
darted back into their retreat, the last we saw of the varmints 
after a half hour of close watching. The ground along the 
shore was rough, covered with heavy grass, brush, drift wood, 
and many willows. Here the natural obstacles precluded the 
possibility of such a trip by land, and the little piece of engi- 
neering practiced by this one mink, in capturing and convey- 
ing home its prize was truly marvellous. That there was but 
one mink, the trail bore direct evidence throughout its entire 
length from the scene of the struggle. As we followed the line, 
we could easily trace the wide trail of the uallard, as it was 
dragged bodily along over the fresh snow, and the deep pene- 
tration of its claws into the new ice, spoke volumes of the force 
exerted by that small animal in the completion of so severe 
an undertaking, and the excessive amount of mink potter ex- 
pended in the completion ot a successful foraging expedition. 
Here and there throughoat the line of trail were frequent halt- 
ing places, where our mink had stopped for a rest. Every 
time there appeared numerous tracks around the body of its 
victim, as though pleased to inspect its trophy before the next 
heat, and then as the distance shortened, the strokes of its tail 
at regular intervals of march, marked upon the snow upon either 
side of the trail the determined intention of the animal to go 
through with its meat before it was too cold to squeeze into a 
small space, where the sharp h'ost would soon fix it perma- 



uently. Wbeu drawn out, we found that a couple of < square 
meals' had been made from the head, neck and breast, and 
enough left for several da.ys to come." 

This account of the Mink's theft called forth shortly afterward 
in the same paper the following instance of its stealing fish; the 
editor, Mr. Charles Hallock, remarking that he had known 
Minks to carry off fish weighing no less than twelve pounds: — 
"We were spending our vacation in the woods of Maine, tlsh- 
ing, and traveling about for a good time in general. One day we 
came across an old dam made to flood a piece of lowland. As 
this looked like a good place to fish we stopped, seated our- 
selres upon the edge of the dam, and cast in our line. The 
fish were quite plenty, and as fast as we caught one we threw 
it behind us upon the scaffolding. After a dozen or so had 
been caught, I thought I would light my pipe, pick up the fish 
and put them in the shade, and I started to do so. I accom- 
plished the first object, but upon looking for the fish I could 
not find a single one. I thought that my chum must have re- 
moved them, and was playing a joke upon me, but on mention- 
ing it to him he was as much surprised as I was. They could 
not have fallen through the cracks, nor leaped over the side 
without our knowing it. Where were theyf That was the 
question. He returned to fish, and I seated myself upon the 
bank to digest the subject. Presently he caught another fish 
and threw it upon the boards. Immediately I saw a Mink run 
out from a hole near by, snatch the fish and carry it oft". This 
explained the mysterious disappearance of the others." 

The movements of the Mink on land, though sufficiently 
active, lack something of the extraordinary agility displayed 
by the more lithe and slender-bodied Weasels, as a conse- 
quence of the build of its body ; while, for the same reason, it 
does not pursue the smaller animals into their extensive under- 
ground retreats, nor so habitually prowl about stone heaps 
and similar recesses. It is altogether a more openly aggres- 
sive marauder, though not less persistent and courageous in 
its attacks. It appears to be more perfectly at home in the 
water, where it swims witb exactly the motions of an Otter, 
and in fact appears like a small specimen of that kind. It 
swims with most of the body submerged — perhaps only the 
end of the nose exposed — and progresses under water with per- 
fect ease, remaining long without coming to the surface to 
breathe. This may be partly the reason of its long survival 
under the pressure of a deadfall. 



The Mink is uot properly a migratory auimal. In most sec- 
tions it remains permanently where it takes up its abode. In 
others, however, it may be forced to remove at times, owing to 
scarcity or failure of its food-supply, such as may ensue from 
the freezing of the waters in northern parts. Under such cir- 
cumstances, it may perform extensive journeys overland. Trap- 
pers have indeed spoken to me of a *' running'' time with the 
Minks, but I cannot satisfy myself that reference .s here had 
to' anything more than periods of sexual activity, when the ani- 
mals are hunting mates. I do not think that whatever '* migra- 
tion" may take place is anything more than casual. 

The rutting season begins early — generally in February — and 
April is for the most part the mouth of reproduction. Five or 
six young are ordinarily produced at a birth. Litters have been 
found in the hollow of a log, as well as in the customary bur- 

The Mink has been frequently tamed, and is said to become, 
with due care, perfectly gentle and tractable, though liable to 
sudden fits of anger, when no one is safe from its teeth. With- 
out showing special affection, it seems fond of being caressed, 
and may ordinarily be handled with perfect impunity. The 
following account of the semi-domestication of Minks on an 
extensive scale will be read with interest, not alone for its 
novelty, but also because it gives some precise information 
respecting the reproduction of the species. 


The Mink appears to be the only species ot its genus which 
has been systematically reared and trained for ratting iu this 
country as the Ferret is in Europe. The relationship of the two 
animals at once suggests the feasibility of an experiment, which 
has been tried with complete success, as we learn from an in- 
teresting article lately published in "Forest and Stream" (Oc- 
tober 22, 1874 — apparently taken from " Fancier's Journp.l and 
Poultry Exchange" of October 15, 1874). I reproduce the pas- 
sage in substance. 

Mr. H. Resseque, of Verona, Oneida County, N. Y., has fre- 
quently exhibited at fairs two tame female Minks, which he 
hands to the by-standers to be caressed and passed from one 
to another. The animals were perfectly gentle, submitting to 
be handled, but it was noticed that they kept their eyes on their 



keeper, to whom they would frequently extend their paws like 
a child wishing to be taken to its parent. Seven years ago, 
Mr. Besseque came in possession of a live wild Mink, and through 
her progeny his stock has on some occasions amounted to ninety 
individuals, besides the numerous specimens disposed of. At 
the late Albany County fair, his " minkery " was one of the novel 

Mr. Besseque's minkery consists of twelve stalls, each twelve 
feet square, of stale soil, and surrounded with a fence and some 
special precautions to prevent the escape of the animals. In 
each stall is placed a dry-goods' box for the home of the female; 
it has two openings for ingress and egress, opposite each other, 
besides a door on top to allow of inspection and cleaning. The 
animals are fed on sound, fresh meat, as they do not relish 
tainted flesh. In summer it is given to them daily, but in cold 
weather a large quantity is thrown in at once and allowed to 
freeze, the Minks helping themselves at pleasure. In February, 
their allowance is shortened, to get them into condition for 
breeding. Mr. Besseque claims that this slight degree of fast- 
ing makes them more lively and playful, and it is a part of his 
plan *o imitate nature as closely as possible — their supply of 
food, in the wild state, being restricted at this season. 

In the minkery, the sexes are not allowed to run together ex- 
cept during the month of March, which is considered the run- 
ning season in a state of nature. If allowed together for a 
longer period, the male teases and annoys the female. At this 
time, the males fight desperately, and if not soon separated one 
always gets the mastery. The females come in heat with great 
regularity, all being ready for the male within ten days; and the 
period of excitement lasts about four days. One male serves 
six females. The females reproduce when one year old. The 
duration of gestation scarcely varies twelve hours from six 
weeks. There is but one litter annually. The litters run from 
three to ten in number ; the young are born blind, and remain 
so for five weeks. When newly born, they are light-colored, 
hairless, and about the size and shape of a little finger. By 
the time the eyes are open, they are covered with a beautiful 
coat of glossy hair. The young females develop sooner than 
the males, attaining their stature in ten months, while the males 
are not full-grown until they are a year and a half old. It is 
noted that in every litter one or the other sex predominates in 
numbers, there being rarely half of them males and the other 



half females. If taken in hand when their eyes are first open, 
they are readily tamed ; they should not subsequently be al- 
lowed to remain with the mother or in each others' society. By 
continual petting and handling, they become like domestic rat- 
ters, and have all the playfuluess of the young of the feline 
tribe. They may be handled, without fear of their sharp teeth, 
but they prove extremely mischievous, their scent leading them 
to food not intended for them. Their fondness for bathing will 
prompt them to enter a tea-kettle or any open vessel ; and when 
wotted they will roll and dry themselves in a basket of clothes 
fresh from the laundry, or even upon a lady's dress, occasion- 
ing much inconvenience. 

Minks are not burrowing animals in a state of nature, but 
freely avail themselves of the holes of Muskrats and other ver- 
min. They cannot climb a smooth surface, but ascend readily 
where there is roughness enough for a nail-hold. The grown 
male will weigh about two pounds ; the female is heavier than 
she looks, averaging between one and a half and one and three- 
fourths pounds. These tame Minks make excellent ratters, 
hunt vigorously, and soon exterminate the troublesome pests. 
Rats will make off on scenting them ; they are so bewildered 
in flight that they give no battle, but yield at once; and the 
Mink severs the main vessels of the neck so quickly and skil- 
fully that an observer would scarcely imagine the deed had 
been done. 

When wild Minks are confined with the tame ones, the latter 
always prove stronger than the former, and come off victorious 
in the contests that ensue. They have been observed to beat 
off a cat that imprudently invaded the minkery in quest of food. 
So completely domesticated are the animals that a person may 
enter the inclosure with impunity, and observe the animals 
playing about him like kittens. 

Mr. Eesseque states that he finds rea<ly sale for his Minks — 
in fact, that he cannot supply the demand. His prices are $30 
per pair— $20 for a female, $10 for a male, and $25 for an im- 
pregnated female. It is to be hoped that this novel branch of 
industry will be perpetuated and extended. There are plenty 
of Minks in this country, the services of which are available 
without diflSculty for the purpose of destroying vermin, and in 
the aggregate their good services would have a very decidedly 
appreciable result. They have a great advantage over terrier 
dogs in being able to enter any ordinary rat-hole and drive their 
prey from its hidden resorts. 



From the "Forest and Stream" of July 2, 1874, the followiug 
article is extracted in further illustration of this branch of 
industry: — 

"Messrs. Phillips & "Woodcock, of Gancadea, New York, 
commenced two years ago the business of breeding mink for 
their fur. A correspondent of the Buffalo Express describes 
the 'Minkery' in the following terms: — 

"'The "Minkery," designed to accommodate one hundred 
minks for breeding, consists first of an enclosu.e about forty feet 
square, made by digging » trench one foot deep, laying a plank at 
the bottom, and from the outer edge starting the wall, which 
consists of boards four feet high, with a board to cap the top, 
projecting upward eight or ten inches to prevent their climbing 
over. Within this enclosure is a building 14 by 24, supplied by 
running water, from which the mink catch living fish, that are 
often furnished, with the greatest delight. 

"'The building is constructed by an alley three feet wide 
around its circumference. Within are two rows of cells four 
feet deep and two and a half wide, each having a door venti- 
lated at the top and bottom with wire screens, as is also the front 
entrance, what the proprietors call the anteroom, four by four 
feet, which must be fastened within every time the building is 
entered, to prevent the escape of the imprisoned animals. On 
entering the main hall, which the minks have access to (when 
not rearing their young), they present a very playful group. 

"'The person feeding them is often mounted, for their food 
and their tenacity of hold is so strong that they may be drawn 
about or lifted without releasing their hold npon the food. The 
nest of the female is very peculiarly constructed with grass, 
leaves, or straw, with a lining of her own fur so firmly com- 
pacted together as to be with difficulty torn in pieces. The 
aperture leading to the nest is a round opening, just sufficient 
to admit the dam, and is provided wich a deflected curtain, 
which covers the entrance and effectually secures her against 
all invasion when she is within. About the middle of March 
the females are separated from the males until the young are 
reared. The necessity for this arises from the fact that the 
males seem inclined to brood the young almost as much as the 
dam, when both are permitted to remain together. 

'"The expense of feeding these animals is almost nominal, 
being supplied pretty much entirely from the usual offal of a 
farm yard, with occasional woodchucks and game in general. 




Tbey eat this food with equal avidity after decoiupositioD has 
taken place, devouring every particle of desb, cartilage, and the 
bones. The flesh and bones entire of the woodchuck are con- 
sumed often at a single meal. While the expense of keeping 
is thus trivial, the profitable yiold of the animal is compara- 
tively immense, it oeibg considered a moderate estimate or 
claim that the mink with her increase will equal the avails of a 
cow.' " 

We find in Audubon and Bachman several paragraphs upon 
the same subject, which will be transcribed : — " The Mink, when 
taken young, becomes very gentle, and forms a strong attach- 
ment (?) to those who fondle it in a state of domestication, 
liicbardson saw one in the possession of a Canadian woman, 
that passed the day in her pocket, looking out occasionally 
when its attention was roused by any unusual noise. We had 
in our possession a pet of this kind for eighteen months ; it 
regularly made a visit to an adjoining fish-pond both morning 
and evening, and returned to the house of its own accord, where 
it continued during the remainder of the day. It waged war 
against the Norway rats which had their domicile in the dam 
that formed the fishpond, and it caught the frogs which had 
taken possession of its banks. We did not perceive that it 
captured many fish, and it never att£\?ked the poultry. It was 
on good terms with the dogs and cats, and molested no one 
unless its tail or foot was accidentally trod upon, when it inva- 
riably revenged itself by snapping at the foot of the offender. 
It was rather dull at midday, but very active and playful in the 
morning and evening and at night. It never emitted its dis- 
agreeable odour except when it had received a sudden and 
severe hurt. It was fond of squatting in the chimney corner, 
and formed a particular attachment to an armchair in our study. 

" The latter end of February or the beginning of March, in 
the latitude of Albany, N. Y., is the rutting season of the Mink. 
At this period the ground is usually still covered with snow, 
but the male is notwithstanding very restless, and his tracks 
may every where be traced, along ponds, among the slabs around 
sawmills, and along nearly every stream of water. He seems 
to keep on foot all day as well as through the whole night. 
Having for several days in succession observed a number of 
Minks on the ice hurrying up and down a millpoud, where we 
had not observed any during the wliole winter, we took a 
position near a place which we had seen them pass, in order to 



procure some of them. We shot six in the coarse of the morn- 
ing, and ascertained that they were all larp;e and old males. Ah 
we did not find a single female in a week, whilst we obtained 
a great number of males, we came to the conclusion that the 
females, during this period, remain in their burrows. About 
the latter end of April the young are produced. We saw six 
young dag from a hole in the bank of a Carolina rice-field ; on 
another occasion we found five enclosed in a large nest situated 
on a small island in the marshes of Ashley river. In the State 
of New York, we saw five taken from a hollow log, and we are 
inclined to set down that as the average number of young the 
species brings forth at a time." 

-■• '•. !(,■, : ■ '■'- -.., 


:t. '-x- ■,::>■ 



Subfamily MEPHITIN.E : The Skunks. 

General considerations — Cranial and dental characters — The anal armature — 
Division of the subfamily into genera — Note on fossil North American 
species — The genus MephUh — ilephitia mephitica, the Common Skunk — 
Synonymy — Habitat — Specific characters — Description of external charac- 
ters — Description of the skull and teeth— Variation in the skull with 
special reference to geographical distribution — Anatomy and physiology 
of the anal glands and properties of the secretion — Geographical distri- 
bution and habits of the Skunk — History of the species — Audekd'tm : on 
hydrophobia from Skunk-bite, the so-called " rabies mephitica ". 

General considerations. -. 

A CONCISE diagnosis of this subfamily will be foand on 
p. 10, where the characters of the group are contrasted 
with those of the other North American subfamilies. 

The subfamily is confined to America, its nearest Old World 
1 ''presentatives being the African Zorillin(C. It is a small group, 
of only two or three genera and perhaps not more than four or 
five really good species, among the great number of nominal 
ones indicated by authors. More precise knowledge than we 
now possess will be required to fix the number of species, espe- 
cially in the genus Conepatits. No more than three species are 
known to inhabit North America north of Mexico, each one 
typical of a different genus or subgenus. There is a Mexican 
species of Mephitis proper, apparently perfectly distinct from M. 
mephitica. One North American and Mexican species of a sec- 
ond allied subgenus, Spilogale, and one or several North, Cen- 
tral, and bouth Au'erican species of the very different genus, 
ConepattiSj complete the list as far as known. 

In entering upon the Mephitinw, we pass to a group quite 



different from the Mmtelina in general external appesTance as 
well as in structural characters. The closest relationships ot 
the Skunks are with the Badgers (subfamily Melince) ; t^e 
affinities of these two being so well marked that some authors 
have combined them in the same subfamily. The Skunks and 
Badgers agree in many points of external conformation ; in fact, 
Conepatus mapuritOj one of the Skunks, is almost as much of a 
Badger, to all outward appearance. They are terrestrial ani- 
mals, of more or less perfected fossorial habits ; the walk is 
plantigrade; the fore claws are enlarged, straightened, and 
well fitted for digging. The general form is very stout ; the 
legs are short, and the body consequently low ; the tail is more 
or less bushy, and the whole pelage is loose. The physiognomy 
is somewhat hog-like, especially in the Badgers and in ConepaUts, 
owing to the production and <jnlargement of the snout. These 
animals neither climb trees nor swim in the water ; their gait 
is comparatively slow and lumbering ; their retreats are bur- 
rows in the ground, dens in rocks or logs, or sometimes the 
shelter afforded by out-of-the-way nooks in human habitations. 
Some of the species hibernate. 

Cranial and dental characters. 

There is also a singular cranial character by which the Skunks 
And Badgers may be collectively distinguished from any other 
l^orth American Mustelidw. The conduit of the posterior nares 
is completely separated into right and left passages by a vertical 
bony septum, which extends to the hind end of the palate. lu 
all the other Mustelidte treated in this work, the posterior nares 
are thrown into one channel by total lack, posteriorly, of any 
such partition. 

Nevertheless, the structural characters of most weight in 
classification are abundantly sufficient to mark off Mephitinw 
and MelinK as groups differing from each other as much as most 
other subfamilies of the Mustelidce do. Reference to the tables 
of characters already given (pp. 7, 8) will show this. Here I 
may recall some of the leading peculiarities of the Mephitinoi. 

The skull of any Skunk may be known at a glance, on com- 
parison with that of any other Musteline animal, by the depth 
of the emargination between the pterygoids, which is always 
much greater than the distance from the end of this emargina- 
tion to the molars. The post-molar portion of the bony palate 




in Mephites and Spilogale is ml, or almost so ; that is, the palate 
ends nearly or exactly opposite the posterior border of the last 
molar. In Conepatusj the palate reaches a little farther back, 
but still not nearly half-way to the ends of the pterygoids. In 
other North American Mustelidw, the palate usually extends 
half-way or more to the extremities of the pterygoids. Tlie 
cranium of the M^hitinw is further peculiar in the periotic 
region. The auditory buUie themselves are small, and but 
moderately inflated at the base, with well-marked constriction 
of a tubular meatus;* while the parts lying behind the bulhi^ 
are unusually expanded, presenting a flattish and more or less 
horizontal large surface, which widely separates the paroccip* 
ital processes from the bullse.t In Lutrhuc and Enhydrinw, the 
paroccipitals are remote from the bullse, but there is no such 
inflation of the mastoid region as is witnessed in some of the 
Mepkitinw, as in Spilogale, where the swelling of the mastoid 
cells results in a convexity of the parts only less than that of 
the bullre themselves. The anteorbital foramen is remarkably 
small, circular, canal-like, Mid occasionally divided into several 
smaller openings. The postorbital processes are small or 
obsolete; the postorbital constriction of the skull is compar* 
atively slight. The glenoid fossa is shallow, presenting much 
forward as well as downward, and never locks the condyle of 
the jaw, as so often happens in Melina'. The coronoid process 
of the mandible is variable in Mephitina', for while in Mephitis 
and Spilogale it is erect and conical, as usual in Mustelida:, in 
Conepaim it takes a backward slope, and is obtusely falr^te, as 
in Enhydrince. 

The teeth of Mephitince are also diagnostic in the combina- 
tion of a large quadrate back upper molar with pm. |;3 or ^^ (the 
latter formula peculiai' to Conepaim, but not always obtaining, 
even in that genus)4 

The detailed descriptions of the skull and teeth given beyond 
under heads of the several genera of Mephitinac render further 
account unnecessary here. I would, however, advert to the 
extraordinarily high rate of variability inherent in the crania 
of these animals. In other groups, genera might very well be 

* In Melina, the inflatioD of the bullse is at a maximum for the family, 
tin Melina, and also in MmUlina, the paroccipitals are close to, or in con- 
tact with, the bailee. 

3-3 ' 

t Melina, with pm. ^-^, have a perfectly triangular back npper molar; 


Lutrina, with quadrate back upper molar, have pm< 





1 1 J :,, 

established upon dififereDces which are here nothing bat fortu- 
itous individual variations, or even the progressive changes 
with age during the life of the same individual. A Skunk'H 
skull is as variable in shape as its pelage is in color. (Oompare 
Plate X with XI, or Plate XIII with XIV, and see what ex 
traordinary differences skulls of the same species may show.) 
The general pattern of coloration, and the colors themselves, 
are likewise diagnostic of this subfamily, as all the species are 
black and white. 

The anal armature. 

No general sketch, however cursory, of leading features of 
this subfamily should fail to note the point which renders the 
Skunks infamous, makes their very name an opprobrious epi- 
thet, and almost forbids its use in the ordinary conversation of 
the polite. The matter is so notorious that comment may be 
confined to the zoological aspects of the case, including a refu- 
tation of various absurd notions still current among the vulgar. 
Special interest attaches to the subject, since it seems probable 
that there is some occult connection between failure of the sup- 
ply of the fluid and a state of the system in which the saliva 
of the animals is capable of inoculating a disease similar to 

It was supposed for many- years that the intolerably offensive 
fluid was the animal's urine, voided by an ordinary act of mic- 
turition, but with malice prepense. Its wide diffusion was 
sometimes fancied to be secured by means of the bushy tail, 
which, charged with the liquid, served as a mop to flirt it 
around. The obvious difficulties in the way of anatomical in- 
vestigation long kept the facts in the case concealed. 

The fluid is the secretion of certain glands situated in the 
perinieum, on each side of the rectum. So far from being pecu- 
liar to Skunks, similar glands exist throughout the Mustelidce, 
and are, in fact, among the characteristic structures of the fam- 
ily. In the Mephitime, however, they reac h the maximum of 
development, and their secretion acquires qualities which make 
it the most penetrating, diffusible, and intolerable of animal 
effluvia. The anatomical structure is fully described beyond ; 
here I need only advert to some leading features. 

Each gland is a secretory sac enveloped with a muscular tunic, 
and furnished with a duct to convey the secretion ; the orifice 



of this duct is upon a papilla, which is situated on the side oi 
the anus, just within the verge. Coutraction of the muscular 
investment compresses the sac, and causes the fluid to spirt 
from the anal pore ; the action is precisely that of a syringe 
with compressible bulb. The Skunk is as cleanly as any 
other animal, and the peculiar action observed at the moment 
of the discharge prevents the wetting. of the fur. Forcible 
erection of tbe tail is accompanied by a tension of the periuanim, 
and an eversion of the anus, most favorable to forcible, unim- 
peded, and direct evacuation of the contents of the sac. The 
operation is wholly under the voluntary control of the animal, 
and seems to be chiefly resorted to in self-defence, although 
there is reason to suppose that the evacuation must recur at 
intervals simply to avoid over-distension of a continually secret- 
ing organ with its own products. Ordinarily, however, the 
iSknnk is not more odorous than many other animals ; it may 
even be captured, under some circumstances, without provok- 
ing an emission ; nor do the horrible possibilities of the stench 
always render the flesh of the animal uneatable. In contem- 
plating this singular provision of nature for the protection of 
an otherwise iuofteusive and almost defenceless creature, wo 
cannot but admire the simplicity of the means employed. Some 
little further development of glands common to the Slmtelida; 
and some inscrutable modification of the operations of the 
secretory follicles, which gives a peculiar character to the fluid 
elaborated, result in means of self-preservation as singular as 
it is efficacious, habitual reliance upon which changes the 
economy of the animal and impresses its whole nature. 

Division of the subfamily into genera. 

There are t wo strongly marked generic types of the Mephitinw, 
one of them susceptible of subdivision into two subgenera. In 
a former paper,* in which the skulls and teefth of the Mephitinw 
were described, I allowed three full genera, following Dr. Gill ;t 
but I am now rather inclined to consider Spilogale as only a 
subgenus. It certainly differs much less from M^hitis proper 
than Conepatm does, and the degree of differentiation seems to 
me to accord closely with that subsisting, for example, among 
the subdivisions of the genus Putorius. 

• Bull. U. S. Geol. & Geogr. Sarv. Terr, "id ser. ao. 1, 18/5, p. 12. 
t Arrang. Fam. Mamm. 1672, 66. 



The (liviBious of Mephitimv are expressed iu the follovrinii; 
diagnoses: — 

A. Tfcth 34; pm. j|-i|. DorRnl outline of hUuII not in one continnoiiB 

curve. Lad ut° muzzle truncate vertically, or with little obliquity. 
Palate ending opponile Inst luolar (naore or less exactly). (Feriotic 
region varying with the subgenera.) Curonoid process of Jaw coni- 
cal, erect, its fore and bind borders converging to a vertical apex in 
advance of condyle. Angle of mandible nut exflected. Snout not 
notably produced nor depressed. NostrilM lateral, ^ail very lon^ 
and very busby. Soles comparatively narrow, bairy at least in part. 
North, Middle, but probably not Sonth American. Genua MEriliTlH.* 

a. Skull not depressed, the dorsal outline irregularly convex, highest 

over the orbits. Zygomata moderately arched ujtward, highest be- 
hind. Postorbital processes usually obsolete. Mastoid processes 
flaring strongly outward, much beyond orifice of meatus. Feriotic 
region not particularly inflated. Size large. Colors massed in large 
areas Suhg. MephitiM. 

b. Skull depressed, the dorsal outline approaching straigbtness, particu- 

larly over the orbits. Zygomata strongly arched upward, highest in 
the middle. Postorbital processes well developed. Mastoid pro- 
cesses slight, scarcely produced beyond orifice of meatus. Periotic 
region peculiarly inflated by development of mastoid sinnses, the 
under surface swollen, and giving a quasi appearance of a second 
bulla auditoria behind the real one Subg. SpUogale.i 

B. Teeth normally 32; pm. ^"3, sometimes, however, j^aifrtJiu presence of an 

additional minute premolar.^ corresponding to the anterior one of Alt- 
phUii. Dorsal outline of skull one continnous curve, more or less 
regular, from occipital protuberance to ends of premaxillaries, owing 
to the great obliquity of truncation of the end of the rostrum, which 
brings the profile of nasal orifice into line with that of the forehead ; 
skull highest in parietal region. Palate produced decidedly past the 
last molars, yet not half-way to ends of pterygoids. Perio Uc region 
much as in Mephitis proper, but the mastoids rather as in Spilogale, 
projecting more downward than outward. Postorbital processes 
usually obsolete. Zygomata slightly arched npward. Coronoid pro- 
cess u jaw sloping backward, obtusely falcate, with convex anterior 
and concave posterior margin, the apex nearly overtopping condyle. 
, Angle of the mandible strongly exflected. Of large size, extremely 
stout form, and somewhat Badger-like appearance. Snout strongly 
produced, depressed. Nostrils inferior. Tail short and little bushy 
(for this subfamily). Soles very broad, entirely naked. Coloration 
massed in large areas. South, Middle, and (scarcely) North Ameri- 
can Genus Conepatu8.(i 

" Etym. — Lat. mephitis, a foul or noxious exhalation. 

t Etym. — Greek airiTioc, a spot ; ) a?ii, a kind of Weasel. 

t The anterior lower premolar is said to be sometimes wanting. 

$ A barbarous word, like many other of J. E. Cray's genera, derived from 
Conepatl or Conepate, the name of the animal in the vernacular (probably 
Mexican) of countries it inhabits. 


Note on/oaail North Amtricun apeeicHo/ MephitiH. 


IVIephllla fronlalA, Ooum. 

NeykllU riroiUtN, Oout». Bull. U. S. Qool. and Ueog. SiirT. Torr. 9d Mr. no. 1, 1873, 
7, with woodcut. 

From the bone-caves of Penimylvania. Post-pliocene. 

Sprcikic ciukactrhs.— Skull oztremuly hi^h in tlio miildle ; thn protilo ot' 
the upper oiitliue very rapidly (UmoeudinK in a nearly atrniitht lino from thin 
point to the occiput and niiizzlo. Greatest depth of Hkull without Jaw littlu 
leHs than half its length. Zygoma highly arched; the lM>ne in front uoui- 
preoued vertically instead of laterally. 

This species is founded on a skull, No. 3232 of the Sinitli- 
Honian Museum, obtained by Prof. Baird in the bone-caves of 
Pennsylvania. The animal was a true Mephitin^ closely related 
to M. mephitica^ if really difterent. Though the frontal region is 
always tumid in Mephitia, there is seen in the recent species 
nothing like the protuberance and angulation of the vertex of 
M. frontata. The prominence is also decidedly more posterior ; it 
is something over and above the general tumidity of the inter- 
orbital region of recent Mephitis; the shape is rather as in Oulo, 
but even the profile of the latter is here exaggerated. The 
prominence appears to be mainly due to enlargement of the 
frqptal sinuses, as may be seen in this specimen, in which the 
outer tablet of the skull is abraded in places, exposing the 
interior. With this general elevation is associated a notably 
higher arch of the zygoma, and the malar is slenderer than in 
recent species at its anterior portion, where it is curiously nar- 
rowed vertically instead of being laminar throughout. None 
of these characters obtain in any of the numerous recent skulls 
examined, notwithstanding the great variability of the latter. 
The animal was of the size of the common species. The skull 
in general bulk is intermediate between various specimens of 
that of M. mephitica. 

Mr. J. A. Allen* takes exception to the specific validity of 
the species in the following terms : — • 

" Dr. Goues has ventured to describe a * new 

species ' {M^rontata)^ based on a fossil skull from one of the 
bone-caves of Pennsylvania, as it seems to me, unadvisedly. 
The specimen, though that of a very aged individual, is scarcely 
larger [....] than the average of specimens from the 
Eastern States, its chief difference from the average skull con- 

* Bull. U. S. C^ol. and Geog. Surv. Terr. vol. ii, no. 4, 1^76, p. 333. 
13 m 



sistiiig in an abnormal tumidity of the frontal region, arising 
evidently from disease. It is a feature by no means confined 
to the present example, but is merely an extreme enlargement 
of the sinuses of the frontal region often seen in specimens of 
the existing animal, evidently resulting from disease. In No. 
917 (Albany, N. Y.), No. 8099 (Fort Cobb, Ind. T.), No. 1878 
(Calcasieu Pass, La.), and No. 1620 (Indianola, Tex.), the same 
tendency is strongly marked, which, in some of these speci- 
mens, had they attained equal age, must have resulted in a 
malformation nearly or quite as great as is seen in the fossil 
skull in question. 

'' In this connection, I may add that a pretty careful exam- 
ination of the fossil remains of Camivora^ collected by Profes- 
sor Baird many years since from the bone-caves of Pennsylva- 
nia (of ^"i'hich this fossil skull of the Skunk forms a part), has 
failed to show any of them to be specifically di£ferent from the 
species now or recently living in the same region. Many of 
them are remains of individuals of large size, but not exceed- 
ing the dimensions of the specimens of the recent animal from 
the same or contiguous regions. These remains include, among 
others, the following species : — Lynx rufm^ Urocyon virgimamMj 
Mmtela pennanti, Mmtela americana^ Putorius vison, Lutra earyi- 
densis^ Mephitis mephitiea (other specimens than the ^frontata^ 
skull), Procyon lotoTj Ursm americanus, et«." 

Granting that the probabilities are against the validity of 
the species, it may be observed that the disease theory is not 
proven, and that no recent specimens of Mephitis have been 
found to match this one. 

Tlms oipecies, so far as I am aware, is the only fossil Skunk 
described as such ; but compare anted,^ p. 18, on the question 
of " Oalera " perdicida. 

The Genus MEPHITIS. (GuYiER.) 

X Tlverra sp., of some early authors. 

<Mepllltl8t Ouvier, "Lemons d'Anat i. 1890" (coextenaive with the anbfamily), and of 
authora generally.— Baird, M. N. A. 1857, 191. ^ 

< CklBCtaft, Lett. Nonv. Tab. B. An. 1843. . 

> SpilogAle, (Troy, Proa. ZooL Soc 166&, 150. (Type, 8. itUerrupta = M. frntorttw.) 

> MephillBt am, Arrang. Fam. Mamui. 1S73, 66 (restricted to snbg. Mephitii as ohar- 

actericed in this paper).— Obti««, BolL V. S. G«ol. Snrr. 9d ser. i. 1875 (same re- 

For characters, see a preceding page (p. 192). 
The several North American species of Mephitis proper (as 
restricted to exclude Spihgale) indicated by authors are re- 


U. 8. Geological Sarvey. 

MniteUdflB PLATE X. 

! I 

M«i^kltla mcphttlca. (Xat. t»izu ) 





(lucible to one, possibly divisible into two or three geograph- 
ical races. There is a second Mexican species, apparently 
valid, which will be brought into the present connection to 
complete a review of the genus. A fossil species is also de- 
scribed in the foregoing pages. Mephitis proper and Spilogale 
are both confined, as far as known, to North and Middle 
America, Conepatm being the only South American type of 
Mephitinee, but also extending through Middle America to the 
Mexican border of the United States. 

The Common Skunk. 

Mephitis mepliltlca. 

Plates X, XI. 
(a. mepkitiea.) 

Tlferra mephltica, Shaw, Mas. Lever. 1793, 173, no. 4, pi. 6; Oen. Zool. i. 1800, 390, pi. 94, mid- 
dle fijT. 

Meptallls ■ephltlca, Bd. M. N. A. 1857, 195.— Ooop. <£ SuekL N. H. W. T. 1860, 94.—Hai/d. 
Trans. Am. Philoa. Soc. xiL ISfi, US.—Samueh, Kinth Ann. Rep. Mass. Agric. for 1861, 
1863, 161.-6en-. Cat. Bones Br. Mas. 1863, 97.— A lien. Bull. M.C. Z. i. 1869, 178; ii, 1871, 169 
(critical).— A({«n, Pr.Bost. Soc. xiii. 1869, 183.— Qilpin, Proc. and Tr. N. Scotia Inst. ii. 1870, 
eO.—Steti. U. S. Geol. Surv. Terr, for 1870, 1871, 461.— Pfflrter, Am. Nat. v. 1871, 346 (anat. 
of anal glands, iio.).— Alien, Ball. Kss. Inst. vi. 1874, 46, 54, 59, 63.— Alien, Proc. Boat. Soc. 
XTii. 1874, p. 38.— A MM, Ball. Minn. Acad. Nat. Soi. 1874, 69.— (7oue«, BulI.U. S. Gcol. and 
Geogr. Sorr. Terr. 3d ser. no. 1, 1875, 8 (sknll and teeth).— OawM <£ Yarrow, Zool. TizvX. 
W. 100 Merid. V. 1875, 62.— AOm, BnlL U. S. Geol. Snnr. vol. iL no. 4, 1876, 333 (skall). 

MepkltIS Chlnga, Tied. Zool L 1808, 363 (pa.ti'vh-Lieht DarstelL S&ag. 1837-34, pL 45, f. 1 ; 
Abh. Akad.Wi8S. Berl. for 1836, 1838,380.- Jfcurim. ReiseN.A.i. 1839, 350; Arch.f. 
Natarg. 1861,— ; Vers. N. A. Saag. 1803, 4i.—Wagn. Snppl. Schreb. ii. 1841, 19e.—Schiiu, 
Syn. L 1844, 333, no. 13.— Aitd.ttBMih. Q. N. A. L 1849, 317, pi. ii.-Oiebel, Saag. 1855, 766.— 
FUzinger, Natarg. Sttag. i. 1861, 315, f. 63. 

Mephitis •merlCADM var. K, Dem*. Mamm. i. 1830, 186 ("Musteia", laptu. Inclades all the 
American Skanka, vars. A— R); Noav. Diet xxi. 515 (var. 7).— ./. .Sial*. App. Frankl. 
Jonrn. 1833, 653.— ffaW. ^n. Am. 1835, m.—Orif. An. Eingd. v. 1827, 137, no. 358 (partly). 
Leu. Man. 1837, 151, no. *06.—Godm. Am. Nat. Hist i. 1831, 313, pi. -f. l.—lHmghty'»VAb. 
N. H. ii. 1833, 193, pL 17. —Rich. Zool. Beeohey 's Voy. 1839, i.—Emmon», Rep. Quad. Mass. 
1840, 49.— 1>« fay, N. Y. Zool. L 1843, 39, pi. 13, f. 1.— TTyman, Pr. Best Soc. 1844, 110 
(anat.).— WatT^n, Pr.Bost Soa iiL 1849, 175 (anat).— 2?komp«. K. H. Vermont, 1853,33.— 
IToodh. Sitgr. Rep. 1853, 44.— Kenn. Tr. Illinois AgricSoc. for 1853-4, 1855, S76.— Bees- 
ley, Geol. Cape May, 1857, ia7.—BiUingt, Canad. Nat and Geol. L 1857, 360.— Soil, 
CuumL Nat and GeoL vi 1861, 396. 

Mephitis merleaiia var. hntaomlt*, Biek. F. B.-A. i. 1639, 55, na 19. 

ChlachK aaerteaBft, Lett. Noav. Tabl. R. A. 1843, 67. 

Mephitis ehlaehe, JFVteA. Syn. 1839, 160 (inclades other species ; qaotes Tiedemann primarily). 

Mephltlp TMrlMS var. chlBgA, Oray, P. Z. a 1865, 148 ; Cat Cam. Br. Mas. 1869, — . 

Ohiiche, Shaw, I. e.—aeof. <t Cm. " Hist Mamm. ii. 1819, — , pL — (Looisiana)." 

Mephltle Weesel, Shaw, Mas. Lever. 

Onlicsque, Sag.-TMod. Hist CaukL 1636, 748 (ed. of 1866, iU. 660). 

EbAd <■ DUhle, ChurUv. N. France, v, 1744, 196. 

Poient, Kalm, Voy. , 453. 

8kuk, FortU PhlL Trans. IxiL 1773, 374.— P«nn. Arot Zool. L 1784, 85, na 3a.—Htarm, Joum. 

Chile*, Sehinz, (. e. 



Mniifetie d'Am^riqae, Lesa. &c. &c. 
Flskatta, SwedUh. 
Bete puantr, French. 
SliPktbler, German. 

(6. mesomelaa.) 

Mephitis me)toinrlM,Xi«A«.DarHt. Siiug. 1837-34, pi. 55, f.2; Abb-Ak-Wiss. BerL forl836,ie3?. 

^m.— Maxim. Reiae, 1. 1839, 240 ; Arch. Naturg. xxvii. 1861, 818 ; Verz. N. A. Sang. 1862, 

36.— &;Attu,Syn. L 1844, 322, uo. 11.— <S(. Hil. ZooI.Voy. V^naa, L 1855, 133, pi. —.—Bd. M. 

X. A. 1857, 199 (after Licht.). 
Mephitis mesomeles, Oerr. Cat. Bones Br. Mua. 1862, 97. 
Mephitis occiiientalis.JBd. M. X. A. 1857, 194.— .Vewb. P. K. R. Rep. vi. 1857, 44.— Coop, db Sw](. 

X. H. W. T. 1860, 116. 
Mephitis mephltira var. occldcntalls, Merriam, U. S. Geol. Shft. Terr, for 1872, 1873, 662. 
Mephitis varlans var. a, Gray, 1'. Z. S, 1865, 148 ; Cat Cam. Br. Mus. 1869, — . 

(c, varians.) 

Mephitis varians, Gray, Mag. K. H. i. 837, 5Sl.— Gray, List Mamm. Br. Mas. 1841, dS.—Bd. M. 

N. A. 18.'>7, 193; Mox. B. Surv. ii. pt 11, 1859, Mamin. 19.— Oerr. Cat. Bones Br. Mus. 1862. 

'JT.—Oray, P. Z. S. 1865, 148 j Cat. Cam. Br. Mus. 18(9, — . 
Mephitis macroura, And. cC Bach. Q. K. A. iii. 1853, 11, pi. 10/i.—Woodh. Sitgr. Rep. 1853, 44. 

(But not of Lichtenstoin.) 

H.\B. — Entire temperate North America. North to Hiidaou's Bay and Great 
Slave Lake. South into Mexico (Matamoras, Monterey). 

Spkcific CHARACi'ERS. — Black or blackish ; a frontal streak, nuchal spot, 
and two dorsal stripes white ; tail black, more or less mixed with white or 
white-tipped. Tail with hairs not as long as head and body ; the vertebrn> 
about half this dimension. Length from nose to root of tail over one foot ; 
soles about 2^ inches. 

Description of external characters.* 

The Skuuk is a stoutly built animal, with a small head, lovr 
ears, and short limbs, the trunk thick-set and especially large 
behind, the back naturally arched as well as broad ; tail long 
and very bushy. The head is pointedly conoidal, with a con- 
vex frontal profile and sloping occiput; there is little of the 
breadth and depression characteristic of the Weasels, the 
regular conoid being nearly expressed. The eye is small, and 
nearer the nose than ear. The nasal pad is of considerable size, 
and protuberant, definitely naked for a closely circumscribed 
area, the outline nearly circular; the face of the muffle is bevelled 
a little obliquely downward and backward; the nostrils are 
chiefly lateral, but their anterior extremity is visible from the 
front. The ears are low, though the pinna is decidedly better 
developed than in Conepatus ; the general set of the conch is 
rather backward than upward, as its anterior extremity is 
inserted little below the highest point of the brim ; the contour 

* From a large series of specimens in the Smithsonian Institution from 
various portions of North America. 


U. S. Oeologiral Snrvey. 

MnsteUdsB. PLATE XI. 

Hepliltis mepliltien. (Nat. size.) 







of the free edge Is nearly orbicular, with, however, a slight 
obtuse angnlatioD. The feet are not so broad and flat as in 
Conepatus, yet they show large plantar and palmar surfaces. 
These are usually naked, except for a varying distance behind ; 
the soles, in particular, being generally hairy for about a third 
way from the heel. The piilms present behind^ just in advance 
of the wrist, a padded prominence, more or less completely 
divided lengthwise ; in advance of this is a crosswise depres- 
sion ; at the bases of the digits is a crescentic padded area, 
divided more or less evidently in different specimens into three 
or four smaller pads. This division is sometimes very evident, 
the lines of impression being deep and sharp ; in other cases, 
little more than a general horseshoe-shaped padded area is 
recognizable. There is no constancy about this ; and the differ- 
ence which has been claimed between Mephitis and Spiloyale 
cannot be satisfactorily substantiated. The digits are short — 
in fact, they are exceeded in length by the longer ones of the 
claws they bear. Of these, the third and fourth are subequal 
and longest, the second is little shorter, the fifth reaches hardly 
half-way along the fourth, and the first scarcely attains the 
base of the second. The middle three claws are very long, 
strong, compressed, little curved, acute and fossorial in cliar- 
acter; the lateral ones are shorter, stouter for their length, and 
more curved. The claws of the hind feet are quite different, 
being all short, stout, and obtu^.e, and covered with hairs ; the 
middle three are approximatetly equal in length, the fifth is 
much shorter, and the first falls short of the base of the second. 
The naked part of the sole presents a general broad flat area 
behind, succeeded by an irregular depression, and this by the 
padding at the bases of the toes, which is imperfectly divided 
into three. The terminal balls of the toes almost immediately 
succeed, these digits being very short and extensively connected 

The tail of the Skunk is remarkably bushy, with long harsh 
coarse hairs, almost like a kind of tow. Tlie hairs are loose 
and flaccid, their ''set" depending in a great measure upon the 
movements or position of the member. In the bushiest-tailed 
examples, the hairs fall loosely all around when the tall is ele- 
vated, like the plumes of a pompon, as well represented in Audu- 
bon's plate of his so-called "wocrMra" {nee LichU). In other 
cases, the set of the hairs is more stable. No distichous arrange- 
ment is recognizable. There is no fine under fur on the tail. 





The hairs of the tail which are entirely white (all are usually 
white basally) are somewhat differeut io texture from the rest, 
being even coarser and looser. They appear at the end of the 
tail in a white tuft that seems to have little connection with the 
general pelage, and may be early deciduous; or, more curiously, 
they grow irregularly in various places along the tail, in some- 
what isolated fascicles. These singular little bundles are aUo 
likely to exceed the rest in length, measuring sometimes seven 
or eight inches in length. Even without taking these into 
consideration, the bnshiness of the tail is sometimes so great 
that the width when the hairs are extended sideways, rather 
exceeds the total length. The strictly terminal hairs of the 
tail are ordinarily not so loig a^ some of those along the sides. 
Notwithstanding the endless diversity in the extent and de- 
tails of the white marking, a certain pattern may be indicated 
as one of reasonable constancy. This is essentially a sharp, 
narrow, frontal 8trii>e, and a broad nuchal area, from which 
last proceed obliquely backward a pair of stripes toward or to 
the tail, continued or not upon this member, and whiteness, to 
a greater or less extent, of nearly all the hairs of the tail at 
base, even when this member is blackest and least bushy. I 
have not found the frontal stripe either wholly wanting {Cone- 
patna) or enlarged into a spot [Spilogale)', but it varies from a 
mere trace to a long streak continuous with the nuchal area, 
and, donbt'ess, sometimes fails altogether. This last is usually 
a large spot, beginning squarely and broadly on the occiput in 
a line between the ears. From the back of it, the two oblique 
stripes may immediately diverge, forming a V, or it may con- 
tinue for a considerable distance as a single median stripe be- 
fore forking into two. The nuchal spot may be again entirely 
disconnected with the dorsal stripes (rare), or may be broken 
up into a pair of spots; i. e.y the dorsal stripe extended sepa- 
rately on to the nape. The dorsal stripes may extend scarcely 
any distance beyond the nape; i. e., may be represented by 
only a slight prolongation of a pair of nuchal spots. They may 
start over the shoulders independently of the white nuchal 
area. Ordinarily, they reach, widely divergent, more than half- 
way along the back; again, they are more nearly parallel, and 
reach to the tail. They may curve toward each other over the 
flanks, and even meet there, then completely onclosing an oval 
vertebral area ; or msjj be interrupted to resume again. They 
may extend along either side of the tail, in such cases ordina- 
rily being broken into the curious isolated fascicles of white 


hairs already described, but being sometioies continuous, when 
the tail is mostly white. In the blackest tails seen, there is 
always more or less white on the bases of the hairs. 

The foregoing may indicate the general range of variation 
in color. Reference to Audubon's figures of this species and 
his supposed ^^macrura^ wiU give a fair idea of two conditions 
very nearly extreme. I have never seen an entirely black 
Skunk, but in some specimens before me the white is reduced 
to such mere traces that I have no doubt it may occasionally' 
disappear, as is stated by some. One young specimen has the 
entire upper half of the body pure white, as in the strongest 
cases of Conepatus^ except a slight emargination from behind, 
just at the root of the tail. Fully aware, as I am, of the end- 
less variability, even in individuals belonging to the same 
litter, I am satisfied that there is nevertheless a tendency, 
generally well expressed, to increase of white, in a measure 
according to certain geographical areas. An average in this 
respect is the rule in the Eastern and Middle States, where we 
have a fair frontal stripe and nuchal area sending out obliquely 
stripes which do not reach the tail, this being black, only white 
at the end or among the roots of the hairs. In Florida and the 
South Atlantic and Gulf States generally, the white is at a 
minimum, frontal stripe a mere trace, nuchal spot .small or broken 
in two, and the stripes almost wanting. Throughout the West, 
and in British America even as far east as Hudson's Bay, pro- 
longation of the lateral stripes to the tail, or on this member to its 
end, is the rule; and the stripes do not usually at once diverge 
from the nuchal spot, but more gradually separate from a single 
vertebral stripe, into wiiicb the nuchal spot is prolonged. As- 
sociated with such a couditiou of the white, we find, almost 
invariably, in the western forms, a much bushier tail, its width 
across equalling or even exceeding its total length. Such cases 
as these, in their minor diversities, have furnished the meso- 
melas of Lichtenstein, varians of Gray, occidentalia of Baird, 
and ^^macroura^ of Audubon. The figure of the last named 
represents an extreme of white, with length and bushiness of 
tail, and might readily be mistaken, as it was, for the altogether 
different M. maerura of Lichtenstein. 

Independently of the size of the tail, we may observe a gen- 
eral decrease in stature with latitude. Floridan specimens are 
notably smaller than those from Njqw England, some, appar- 
ently full-grown, being little larger than Spilogale at its maxi- 
mum, about thirteen or fourteen inches long. 

Sill . 





Description of the skull and teeth. {See Plates A', XI.) 

Tbe craaium of no animal with which 1 am acquainted 
varies more than that of the Skunk, and few exhibit such re- 
markable differences, independently of age and sex. Some 
specimens are more than a fourth larger than others, and 
twice as heavy; and there is a corresponding range of varia- 
tion in contour. Compared with au ordinary ratio of osteo- 
logical variability, the discrepancies are almost on a par with 
those exhibited by the coloration of tiie animal when set over 
against the more constant markings of most animals. In the 
series of twenty or thirty skulls examined, I find that the 
western ones, and especially those from the Pacific coast, 
representing occidentalis of Baird, are, as a rule, larger and 
heavier than others, more widened and flattened behind, with 
stronger and' more flaring sagittal and especially occipital 
crests. Bat these extremes shade insensibly into an ordinary 
pattern, and I can draw no dividing line. Tables of meas- 
urements would show these variations, though they would 
scarcely render that realizing sense of the discrepancies that 
is gained by laying the two extremes side by side. An average 
cranium. No. 3816, from New York, is selected for description, 
in the course of which the variations of the whole series will 
be brought under review. 

The greatest zygomatic width is to the length as I to 1.55, 
or slightly less than two-thirds such length. A similar pro- 
portion is generally preserved. Viewed from above, the cra- 
nium presents a short, tumid, rostral portion, high at the nose, 
tapering on either side, but with a protuberance indicating the 
course of the canine tooth in the bone, subtruncate in front, 
with large subcircular nasal aperture, in this view much fore- 
shortened. The rostrum js about a third of the whole length, 
if measured frcsu extreme front to anterior root of zj'goma ; 
the zygoma, and then the rest of the skull, being respectively 
another third. In other skulls, the rostrum is shorter than 
this, and less vaulted. The general convexity of the rostrum 
continues on to the forehead in the broad, smooth, interorbital 
space. Supraorbital i>rocesses are very slight, being only indi- 
cated in a little bulging at the front, where the anterior forks 
of the sagittal crest come to tbe brim of the orbit. There is 
thus scarcely any definition of the orbit from the general tem- 
poral fossa. The point of greatest constriction of the skull is 



considerably behiDd the supraorbital process, Just about half- 
way from end of rostrum to occiput, and opposite tho apex of 
the mandibular coronoid, when the jaw is closed, l^ is a 
gradual pinchinf^-together of the sides of the cranium for some 
distance, rather than an abrupt constriction at a particular 
point. It is sometimes unsymmetrical, one side being moro 
emarginate than the other; is sometimes scarcely narrower 
than the interorbital space, sometimes about three-fourths as 
much. Back of this point, the skull widens rapidly to the 
hinder root of the zygoma and mastoid; the latter being the 
broadest point of the skull proper, separated from the former 
by an emargination, in which lies the opeuin^? of the meatus 
anditorius, not visible from above. From each mastoid, the 
skull narrows in an approximately straight line backward and 
upward for a distance, and then ends with a straight-across 
contour, more or less emarginate on the median line. This 
whole posterior boundary, representing the lamodoidal crest, 
is extremely variable, not only according to age, but fortui- 
tously. In some skulls — those with the broadest back part and 
most flaring occipital crest — there is a deep emarginatiou in 
the middle line of the skull, boldly salient angles on either 
side of this, and a concave outline thence to the mastoid. 
This occipital flange hides all the parts beneath it. For the 
rest, the top of the skull shows a sagittal crest (only in very 
young skulls a raised tablet), well marked in all but young ex- 
amples, forking anteriorly (at or a little in advance of the point 
of greatest constriction) to send a curved leg outward to either 
supraorbital process. Aside from this crest and the occipital 
one, the general cranial surface is vaulted. The zygomatic 
arches, viewed above, show the point of widest divergence near 
their posterior roots, whence they gradually and regularly con- 
verge forward with slight curve. 

Viewed in profile, the skull shows its highest point at the 
interorbital space, whence it slopes gradually with a general 
slight convexity to the muzzle and occipital protuberance. 
This highest point is generally a little, sometimes decidedly, in 
advance of the middle of the skull. The frontal profile may 
acquire a slight concavity, and the opposite one may be 
slightly sinuous, owing to irregularity of the sagittal crest. 
The muzzle is cut squarely off, with an obliquity of perhaps 30 
degrees from the perpendicular. The zygoma shows but a 
slight upward arch, and no bevelling or special curve to define 



the portion of the orbit which it represents. It is laminar, 
narrowing midway, stoutest near posterior root. The ante- 
orbital foramen* is a short perforation of a thin upper plate of 
its anterior root; behind, the glenoid fossa presents rather for- 
ward than downward. The prominent orifice of the meatus 
presents laterally between the root of the zygoma and the 
mastoid, which latter is a protuberant but blunt process imme- 
diately b.^hind the meatus. Behind this, there is an emargi- 
nation, termi:!ated by the prominent downward-projecting par- 
occipital; back of this, the semicircular outline, foreshortened, 
of the occipital condyle appears. 

The back of the skull is a subtriangular face, flat and 
perpendicular in general superficies, bounded above by the 
overhanging sagiUal crest; either lateral corner being the 
prominent paroocipital, between which appear the faces of the 
oblique condyles, the upper border of the foramen being trans- 
verse with a slight curve. 

The skull from below shows a broad, flat, palatal surface for 
about two-fifths of its total length. Th^^ oalate ends about 
opposite, or a little back of, the posterior i "s. This terminal 
shelf, representing the emargination bet>\ w„^ the pterygoids, is 
always broad and quite transverse ; but the edge varies greatly 
in detail. It is commonly transverse, with a small median, 
backwardly-projecting point, producing a double emargination. 
It may be simply a broad curve, or it may present a median 
nick. The latter case is oftenest observed in specimens from 
the West, and constituted a chief character upon which M. 
occidentalis rested ; but, with a larger series than Prof. Baird 
examined, it is shown to be wholly fortuitous. The general 
shape of the palate is triangular; including the teeth, its great* 
est width behind is about as much as its length ; anteriorly, 
it presents broad but short incisive foramina, scarcely reaching 
opposite the molars. The depth of the pterygoid emargina- 
tion is considerably less than the length of the palate. The 
pterygoids are simply laminar, with strongly hamulate ends. 
They are usually parallel, but sometimes converge a little poste- 
riorly, making the inclosed space club-shaped. The general sur- 
face of the base of the skull behind is quite flat, owing to slight 

*A8 a carious bat not very infreqaent anomaly, this foramen is some- 
times divided into several separate canals, throagh which branches of the 
facial nerve pass ont apart from each other. I have observed the same 
thing in Cone^attu, 




iaflatioD of the buUsB. Those are decidedly oouvex only at oae 
place, interiorly, elsewhere flat, and outwardly produced to 
form a tubular meatus. Traces of separation from surrounding 
parts long persist, at least in front. About the bulhu are seen 
the following foramina: cue in advance, just inside the glenoid 
fossa ; two at the anterior extremity of the bulla ; three along 
its inner border ; one more exterior, near the mastoid ; one far 
posterior, in the occipital. The basi-sphenoid suture, early 
obliterated, is straightly transverse in advance of the middle 
of the bullsB. The general basilar area is Hat, narrowing for- 
ward, unmarked, or with merely a slight median ridge. The 
lK)rder of the foramen magnum represents a deep omargination 
of the posterior border of this area, with the condylar protuber- 
ance on either side. 

All the bones of the skull finally coossify, excepting, of course, 
the mandible, and most are joined at a comparatively early age. 
The periotic and internasal sutures persist the longest; the 
latter after the nasals are consolidated with the maxillaries, and 
the former after the basi-spheno-occipital suture is obliterated. 
When found separate, the nasals are seen to be regularly con< 
cave along their exterior border, truncate anteriorly, with a 
produced autero-lateral corner, and received by a pointed pro- 
cess in a recess of the frontal. The intermaxillary bone forms 
leas than half of the general naso-maxillary suture. The max- 
illary extends within a short distance of the supraorbital pro* 
tuberance. The malar is rather small, and fuses early with the 
rest of the zygomatic arch. The occipital bone is rather late to 
coossify; the supraoccipital is then seen to represent most of 
the lambdoidal crest, reaching, on either hand, from the median 
line half-way to the mastoid process ; thence crossing this crest 
to the paroccipltal, whence the suture runs on the floor of the 
skull along the border of the periotic by the foramen lacerum 
posterius to the basi-sphenoid ; thence straight across the me- 
dian line. 

The lower jaw in Mephitince is never locked, as far a" known, 
in the glenoid by the clasping of the condyle in the embrace of 
the fossa, as is the rule, in adult life, in Melea and i^ Taxi- 
ilea, and as sometimes occurs in the Otters {Lutrinte). The 
ramus of the mandible is stout and nearly straight along the 
tooth-bearing portion ; the symphysis is thick, short, abruptly 
ascending obliquely forward. Between the ramus proper and 
the angle of the jaw, the lower border is decidedly emarginate. 



and the angle itself iR scarcely or not at all exflected (cf. Cone- 
patiis). The angle itself is 'btase, and there is a decided neck 
in the oatline thence to the condyle. The condyle is horizontal, 
transverse, very narrow, and acute internally; on the outer 
half, its articular surface looks upward; on the inner half, 
backward. The coronoid process rises straight and high, nearly 
aniformly tapering to the apex, a perpendicular from which 
falls decidedly in advance of the condyle (cf. Conepatua). The 
general muscular impression on its outer face is well marked. 
It is pointed below, and reaches forward on the ramus to a point 
underneath the last lower molar (cf. Conepatm). 

As remarked under the head of Gonepatus, the dental formula 
of the genera of Mephitinae does not, in point of fact, differ. 
The difference is nil as between Mephitis and Spilogale, while'in 
Gonepatus a supposed lesser number of teeth is only true in the 
very small size of the abortive, deciduous, or, at any rate, not 
functionally developed anterior upper premolar. In Mephitis^ 
also, the tooth may be very small, or even abortive, on one or 
both sides of the jaw : it is, however, normally present and 
readily recognizable. 

Selecting an average skull, of middle age, with fully devel- 
oped, yet little-worn, dentition (for in very old skulls the teeth 
are so ground down as not to furnish fair characters), we ob- 
serve the following points : — 

The back upper molar is the largest of the grinders, about as 
long as broad, quadrate, with rounded inner corners, and en- 
tirely tuberculous. It is completely divided across lengthwise 
b^^ a sulcus, on the outer side of which is a narrow portion, much 
higher than the broad inner portion, and separated from it not 
only by the groove across the face of the tooth, but by a nick 
in the hinder border. This elevated outer moiety is oblique on 
its face from the general level of the dentition ; it runs to a 
point at its fore and hind ends, and has a central, slightly exca- 
vated field, with irregular-raised boundary. The flatter inner 
moiety of the tooth is chiefly occupied by a large antero-internal 
tubercle, separated by a carved sulcus from a posterior raised 
margin. The next tooth — back premolar — differs altogether 
from the same flesh-tooth in the Mmtelinae. It is relatively 
smaller, and has not a prominent isolated antero-internal fang. 
On the contrary, it is trianguUr in general outline, the inner 
corner of the triangle representing the fang of the Mmtetitue 
jast named; this is cuspidate, but this whole inner moiety is 



low and *' tuberculous " in comparison with the elevated and 
truly sectorial character of the rest of the tooih ; for, viewed in 
profile from the outside, the tooth seems wholly sectorial, with 
two cusps, an anterior, produced, acute one, and a posterior, 
shorter and obtuse, separated from the other by an acute re- 
entrance. Taken together, these two external cusps make the 
trenchant edge of the tooth. The next premolar is immediately 
and very markedly reduced in size ; it is a small, simple, two- 
rooted, conical, acute cusp; with a slight posterior "heel" and 
well-marked cingulum on the inner side. The next — anterior — 
premolar is exactly like the foregoing, but very much smaller 
still, and single-rooted ; it sometimes aborts. In very old skulls, 
the foregoing descriptions can hardly be verified. The back 
molar wears down to a perfectly smooth face, with raised inner 
and outer borders; the flesh-tooth loses its edge and inner cusp, 
and becomes almost tuberculous throughout; the other pre- 
molars become mere stumps. The canines oflfer no points for 
remark. Of the upper incisors, the lateral pair is much larger 
than the rest, though not longbr. I fail to appreciate any tan- 
gible difference in this respect between Conepatus and Mephitis. 
The tips of the teeth all fall in the same line; they are even and 
regular; the ends are obscurely lobate. These teeth start from 
the sockets quite obliquely, but soon turn perpendicularly down- 
ward, with an appreciable elbow. 

In the lower jaw, the back molar, as usual, is small, simple, 
circular, single-rooted, with a ceTitral depression and irregu- 
larly raised margin. The next molar is much the largest of the 
series, and very notably different from the same tooth in Mus- 
telinag. It is fair!y sectorial throughout ; for the back portion, 
though lower than the rest, is decidedly of the same character 
as the other part. This tooth consists of five cusps : a posterior 
pair, side by side, inner and outer, of equal size and similar 
shape; a middle pair, side by side, the outer of which is larger 
and sharper than the inner ; and a single anterior cusp. The 
latter forms, with the exterior middle cusp, the main trenchant 
edge of the tooth. The interior middle cusp is a higher devel- 
opment of the "heel", more or less prominent on the inner face 
of the main cu ^p of the Musteline tooth. The posterior pair of 
caspa is the I0.7 tuberculous part of the tooth in Mustelinw. 
The first premolar from behind is a simple conical cusp, two- 
rooted, with evident heels, both before and behind, and a well- 
marked cingulum. The next tooth is similar, but smaller, with 




less of a girdle, and scarcely an anterior heel. The anterior pre- 
molar is like the last, bat smaller still, a*jd single-rooted. I 
have not seen its abortion. In very old skulls, the two moiars 
become ground almost perfectly flat, and the premolars becorne 
stubby cones. The lower canines are shorter, relatively stouter, 
and more curved than the upper ones } there is usually quite 
an elbow at the point of greatest curve. The inferior incisors 
are more nearly of a size than is usual in MusteliiuCj and more 
regular, t. «., none are crowded out of the general plane ; but 
this is a matter of degree only. The outer pair is larger than 
the rest ; viewed from the front, they widen from base to tip, 
and the apex is emarginate. The next pair sets a little back 
from the general plane ; for, though their faces are generally 
quite flush with the others, yet their greater thickness causes 
them to protrude behind. All the under incisors are approxi- 
mately of one length. The cutting edge of the outer pair is 
oblique; of the others, horizontal. The cutting edge of the 
outer pair is nicked, as already said, and the front faces of the 
rest are marked by a sulcus ending in a slight bilobation of their 
cutting edges. 

Variation in the shull with special reference to geographical distri- 
. bution. 

Having already called attention to this matter in a general 
way, I cannot do better than continue the subject with Mr. J. 
A. Allen's tables of measurements and critical comment, which 
set forth the subject in more precise detail:* — 

" The twenty-nine skulls of this species of which measure- 
ments are given below show a wide range of variation in size, 
and a decided decrease southward. The localities embrace such 
distant points as Galifornia and the Atlantic seaboard on the 
one hand, and Maine and Texas on the other ; but, with one or 
two exceptions, the specimens from any single locality are un- 
satisfactorily few. The specimens range in length from 2.60 to 
3.50, and in width from 1.60 to 2.25 1 Yet there is not a speci- 
men included in the series that is not so old aa to have all the 
cranial sutures obliterated. A portion of the difference is doubt- 
less sexual, but the specimens, unfortunately, have not the sex 
indicated. Ten of the specimens may be considered as western, 
coming mainly from Utah and Galifornia ; ten others are from 

* Bull. U. S. 0«ol. and Oeog. Sorv. Terr. vol. ii. no. 4, 1676, pp. 333-334. 



Maine aud Massachusetts, and one from Northeastern New 
York ; three are from Pennsylvania ; and of the remaining five, 
four are from Texas, and one from Louisiana. The western 
series of ten average 3.10 in length and 1.95 in width, ranging 
in length from 2.85 to 3.50 and in width from 1.70 to 2.25. The 
New England series of ten average 2.88 in length and 1.72 in 
width, ranging in length from 2.70 to 3.25 and in width from 
1.53 to 1.85. The single New York specimen scarcely varies 
from the average of the New England series, while the Penn- 
sylvania specimens fall a little below. The five southern speci- 
mens average 2.73 in length, or a little below the New England 
series, ranging in length from 2.60 to 2.90.* 

" It thus appears that the western specimens are decidedly 
the lar^^st of all, and that the northern are somewhat larger 
than the southern, the specimens compared being of correspond- 
ing ages, though of unknown sex, but doubtless comparable in 
this respect also. 

''The difference in size amounts to above one-fourth the size 
of the largest specimen and above one-third the size of the 
smallest. Between the western and southern series, the aver- 
age difference amounts to one- third of the average size of the 
larger series! The western series includes the so-called Me- 
phitis occidentalia of Baird, based on California specimens, and 
whose chief difference is merely that of larger size ; yet the 
four specimens from Ogden, Utah (Coll.Mus. Gomp. Zool.), con- 
siderably excelled in size the three from California. The south- 
ern series represents the so-called M. variana of Gray and Baird. 

"The unsatisfactory character of the several species of North 
American Skunks of the mephitica group, and the wide range 
of color-variation among individuals from the same locality, I 
have previously had occasion to notice, t and a re-examination 
of the subject confirms the conclusions then announced, which, 
I am happy to find, have recently received the support of Dr. 
Cones, who has lately made a study of this group.| As Dr. 
Cones has remarked, and as the subjoined measurements show, 
few species of animals vary so much in size and in cranial char- 
acters as the present, independently even of sex and age. Some 

* " The range in \ridth is not fairly indicated, owing to two of the smaller 

specimens being imperfect.'' 
t " See Ball. Mus. Comp. Zool. vol. i. pp. 178-181, Oct. 1869." 
t " Bull. U. S. GU90I. and Qeog. Sarv. of the Territories, vol. i. no. 1, pp. 7-15, 






specimens are not only more than one-foarth larger than others, 
but Hhere is a corresponding range of variatiou in contour. 
Compared with an ordinary ratio of osteological variability,' 
says Dr. Cones, Hhe discrepancies are almost on a par with 
those exhibited by the coloration of the animal when set over 
against the more constant markings of most animals.' 

" Measurenunla of twenty-nine skulls of Mrphitis me ?hitica. 










Petalnma, Oil 


a 08 


a 10 


a IS 


a 35 
a 00 


















- -■ 


Port Townaend. Oroir .... 


Fort Crook. Gal 


Ogden, TTtah 



Very old. " 






Wvominir Torritorv 



Fort Laramie 


UDton. Me .' 

Very old. 









Norwav. Me 

■ * 





If afloaohnoetto . 







Essex Cotm^, New York 


Bone-oAvea. PennsvlvAiiift. ........ 

Fossil; If. frontata Cones. 


Carlisle. Pa 


Chester County, PennsylTania .... 


Indianola. Tex". '. 


Kaele Pass. Tex. .. 





Matamoras, Tex 


Caloasieu, La 


Anatomy and physiology of the anal glands a)id properties of 

the secretion. 

The almost insuperable repugnance which the Skunk natur- 
ally excites has always been an obstacle to the investigation of 
its peculiar defensive organs. Until quite recently, when M. 
Chatin minutely examined the anal glands of Conepatiis tnapu- 
ritOf no adequate account of any species had been rendered, 
though these parts in M. mephitioa had long since been briefly 
noticed. The first, and for a long time the only accurate, record, 
was that given by Dr. Jeffries Wyman in the first volume of the 
Boston Natural History Society's Proceedings (1844, p. 110). 
This indicated, though briefly, the general structure of the 
parts which obtains throughout the family, as far as known. 



The organ is a true anal gland, without connection with the 
genito-urinary system, nor yet of a special character ; being 
upon the same plan as othet anal glands throughout Mustelida;, 
though more muscular, with more capacious reservoir, and 
more abundant secretion. It consists of a strong central cap- 
sule, enveloped in muscular tissue, and by the same connected 
with a bone of the region, the reservoir of a fluid secreted by 
several small glandular bodies by which it is surrounded, and 
which is voided by voluntary muscular effort through an ori- 
fice on top of a nipple-like eminence, situated on each side of 
the anus, just within its verge, partially concealed when not 
in use by a fold of integument. The organ is paired with a 
fellow on the opposite side. Dr. Wyman's original remarks 
may be here transcribed : — " The anal pouches ", he writes 
"consist of two glandular sacs of an oval shape, about three 
quarters of an inch in diameter, covered with a muscular en 
velope, and opening into the rectum, quite near to the anus 
by two papilla?. These last, when not protruded, are sur 
rounded by a fold of mucous membrane, and very nearly con 
cealed by it. The fluid is ejected by the contractions of the 
muscular covering. A small band passes from each sac to the 
ischium, which rotates these bodies on themselves, and serves 
to bring their orifices to the anus. The fluid is a peculiar 
secretion like that of the Civet, and not the urine, as is com- 
monly thought. The common opinion, that the animal scatters 
it with its tail is erroneous. The fluid is limited in quantity ; 
and, having been discharged, the animal is harmless until the 
sacs are again filled by gradual secretion." 

This account was shortly supplemented in the same publica- 
tion (vol. iii. p. 175) by a notice from Dr. J. M. Warren, which 
adds further particulars, though not strictly of an anatomical 
character. The passages are transcribed as part of the history 
of the species : — 

"Dr. J. M. Warren exhibited, preserved in alcohol, the 
glands which secrete the acrid fluid which furnishes a means 
of defence to • the American Skunk, Mephitis Americana. 
These glands are situated on either side of the intestine, at 
the root of the tail, just within the anus, and are about an 
inch in diameter. When the animal is pursued, the lower part 
of the intestine is prolapsed through the anu j, the tail is ele- 
vated over the back, and by the contraction of the muscles of 
the anus the acrid fluid is ejected in two streams to the dis- 
tance of six or eight feet. 
14 m 




" Dr. Warren also exhibited to the Society a living specimen 
of Mephitis Americana, which had been deprived of its power 
of annoyance by a surgical operation. The animal was first 
made partially insensible by enclosing aim in a barrel in which 
was placed home chloric ether. As he became stupefied, a 
sponge containing the anaesthetic agent was placed over the 
nostrils and kept there until entire insensibility was produced. 
Dr. Warren then cut down, on the outsidt< of the intestine, 
upon the ducts of the glands and divided them, suffering the 
glands to remain in situ. The animal recovered, being en- 
tirely deprived of his means of annoyance by the adhesive 
inflammation following the operation." 

Here the matter rested (so far un I am acquainted with the 
record) until 1871, when Dr. J. S. Parker published an account 
of a dissection in the American Naturalist, as above quoted. 
Besides being not quite accurate in effect, though the observer 
really recognized the condition of the parts, the account is too 
diffuse to justify transcription as a whole ', yet it is particularly 
noteworthy as giving the first and probably the only account 
to date of the physical properties of the fluid itself : — *' .... 
I dipped the point of my scalpel in the yellow fluid, put the 
tenth or twentieth of a drop of it on a glass, covered it with 
another strip of glass, and placed it under a power of forty 
diameters in my microscope. The appearance was peculiar. 
It looked like molten gold, or like quicksilver of the finest 
golden color. Pressure ou the strips of glass made it flow like 
globules of melted gold. By a power of sixty diameters the 
same color still appeared, but seemed as if it would by a higher 
power resolve itself into globules, with some peculiar mark- 
ings To the eye, the peculiar and odoriferous secre- 
tion of this animal is of a pale bright or glistening yellow, with 
specks floating in it. By the microscope it looks like a clear 
fluid, as water with masses of gold in it, and the specks like 
bubbles of air, covered with gold, or rather bags of air in 
golden sacks. The air I take to be the gas nascent from the 
golden fluid. Had I known that my interest in the dissection 
would have rendered me so forgetful of the pungent surround- 
ings, I would have had chemical reagents to test the substance 
so easily obtainable. 

^'Another thing was a matter of interest. If I correctly made 
out the capsule of fluid, the commonly called < glands ' are the 
muscular tunic enveloping and capable of compressing the 




reservoir, and their sole use is to eject the liquid. The teat- 
like projections have one large orifice for a distant jet of the 
substance, and also a strainer, with numerous holes — like the 
holes in the cones in the human kidney — for a near but diffu- 
sive jetting of the matter [?]. The substance is secreted by 
small glands, dark in color, and of small calibre, connected 
with the capsule by narrow ducts." 

We gather from these accounts that, as already intimated, the 
secretory apparatus of this species is essentially the same as that 
of Conepatm, described at length by M. Chatin. It iSj, of course^ 
no longer necessary to refute the vulgar notions once prevalent, 
that the secretion was that of the kidneys, whisked about by 
the bushy tail. There remains little to be said on this subject. 
The fluid is altogether peculiar and indescribable in odor, pun- 
gent, penetrating, and persistent to a degree, perhaps, without 
parallel, outside this subfamily, in the animal kingdom, though 
probably not more subtilely diffusive than some other analogous 
emanations. It has been called '' garlicky", but this is a mild 
term. The distance to which the substance, in liquid form, can 
be ejected, is, in the nature of the case, difficult to ascertain 
with precision, and doubtless varies with the vigor of the ani- 
mal and amount of accumulation in the reservoir. But there 
is no doubt thaf ihe squirt reaches several (authors say from 
four to fourteen) feet, while ^he aura is readily perceptible at 
distances to be best expres -ed in fractions of the mile. The 
appearance of the animal dii -ing the act of emission is unmis- 
takable, as I have observed c n several occasions. The zigzag 
course, with mincing stops, by which it leisurely recedes from 
a pursuer, is arrested for a moment, when the hinder parts are 
raised and the tail elevated over the back, so that the long hairs, 
heretofore trailing in one direction, fall in a tuft on all side^, 
and the sense of smell immediately indicates what has taken 
place. The discharge is ordinarily invisible in the daytime, 
but several observers attest a certain phosphorescence, which 
renders the fluid luminous by night. This is doubtless true, 
though I have net verified it by actual observation. State- 
ments to the effect that emission is impossible when the animal 
is held suspended by the tail are, in ./he nature of the case, 
not likely to be often proven by experiment. Nor have I found 
that instantaneous death is always a sure preventive of 
escape of effluvium. A Skunk which I shot with my pistol, 
held within a foot of its head, the bullet traversing the whole 







body from the forehead to the groin, was too offensive to be 
slcinned, though it died without a perceptible struggle, and 
had certainly not opened its reservoir up to the moment when 
shot. Nevertheless, there is abundant evidence that life may 
be taken in such manner that the flesh is eatable, with due care 
iu the preparation of the carcase ; and the meat is said to form 
a regular part of the food of some savage tribes and semi- 
civilized people. I have seen it stated that emission does not 
take place when the animal is captured in a deadfall in such 
way that the small of the back is broken by the falling weight. 
The " staying " qualities of the effluvium are certainly wonder- 
ful ; some of the accounts seem incredible, yet they are well 
attested. Audubon says that at a place where a Skunk had 
been killed in autumn, the scent was still tolerably strong after 
t>e snows Lad thawed away the following spring. The same 
author adds that the odor is stronger by night and iu damp 
weather than under the opposite circumstances ; and, in speak- 
ing of tainted clothes, he continues : — '•'■ Washing and exposure 
to the atmosphere certainly weaken the scent, but the wearer 
of clothes that have been thus infected, should he accidentally 
stand near the fire in a close room, may chance to be mortified 
by being reminded that he is not altogether free from the con- 
sequences of an unpleasant huntin'g excursion." The persist- 
ence of the scent in museum specimens depends allogether 
upon circumstances. Some specimens, in which the fluid had 
apparently not been discharged at death, and in which care had 
been taken iu the preparation, come directly into our hands with 
little or no scent ; iu others, those probably in which the pelage 
had become impregnated, or in which the fluid had escaped 
upon surrounding parts, retain their characteristic odor for 
many years, whether immersed in alcohol, or dried and buried iu 
tobacco-leaves, insect-powder, and other vegetable aromatics. 
I have also noticed that the scent may be drawn out of seem- 
ingly odorless specimens, after several years' keeping, by plac- 
ing them in the sun. But in proof of the possibility of absolute 
freedom from scent may be instanced the use, especially of late 
years, of Skunk furs as wearing apparel, immunity being gained 
by processes similar to those used by furriers iu purifying the 
pelts of other Mustelida, as well as of Wolves, Foxes, &c. The 
enduring and mortifying consequences of actual contact of the 
fluid with the person or the clothing, as well as of its dissemi- 
nation in dwellings and outhouses, can hardly be exaggerated. 



but require no further cotumeut, as these matters h<ave fur- 
nished staDdlug accouuts siuce the history of the species begau. 

It seems, however, that the disgusting qualities of the sub- 
stance have been given undue prominence, to neglect of a much 
more important and serious matter. The danger to the eye- 
sight, should the acrid and pungent fluid actually fall upon the 
eyes, should not be forgotten. Dogs are not seldom perma- 
nently blinded by the discharge, and there are authentic cases 
in which human beings have lost their sight in the same way. 
Sir John Uichardson alludes, on the authority of Mr. Graham, 
to the cases of <' several " Indians who had lost their eyesight 
in consequence of inflammation resulting from this cause. 

The efifect upon dogs is described by Audubon and Bach- 
man: — " The instant", they say, "a dog has received a discharge 
of this kind on his nose and eyes he appears half distracted, 
plunging his nose into the earth, rubbing the sides of his face 
on the leaves and grass, and rolling iu every direction. "NV'e 
have known several dogs, from the eyes of which the swelling 
and inflammation caused by it did not disappear for a week." 

These authors also speak of the nauseating qualities of the 
effluvium. "I have known a dead Skunk", says Sir John, 
"thrown over the stockades of a trading post, produce iust; Jt 
nausea in several women iu a house with closed doors upwards 
of a hundred yards distant." " ^Ve recollect an instance," write 
Audubon and Bachman, ^' when sickness of the stomach ami 
vomiting were occasioned, in several persons residing in Sara- 
toga County, N. Y., in consequeuce of one of this species haviug 
been killed under the floor of their residence during the night." 

The fluid has been put to medicinal use in the treatment of 
asthma. One invalid is said to have been greatly benefit- 
ed by the use of a drop three times a day ; but he was soon 
obliged to discontinue the use of the remedy, owing to the in- 
tolerably offensive cl' •'acter which all his secretions acquired. 
The story is told* of a asthmatic clergyman who procured the 
glands of a Skunk, which he kept tightly corked in a smelling- 
bottle, to be applied to his nose when bis symptoms appeared. 
He believed he had discovered a specific for his distressing- 
malady, and rejoiced thereat ; but on one occasion he uncorked 
his bottle in the pulpit, and drove his congregation out of 
church. In both these cases, like many others, it is a question 
of individual preference as between the remedy and the disease. 
* By Audubun and BachmaD, Quad. N. A. i. '6'i'3. 


I m 

' 'i 




The supposed conuectiou between tUe suppreision of the iecre- 
tion and the possibility of iuoculating hydrophobia is treated 
beyond under head of *' rabies mephitica". 

There is one point connected with the varying ofifensiveness 
of the substance which has received little attention. It is cer- 
tain that if its penetration were correspondent with actual 
quantity of the substance present, no dissection of the parts 
of a vigorous animal would be reasonably practicable. But the 
fluid, like other highly odoriferous substances, is perceptible in 
degree according to its diffusion in the air by minute division 
of particles. This is well illustrated under the annoying and 
too frequent circumstance of a Skunk taking up its abode be- 
neath dwelling-houses for the winter, which season is passed 
in a state of incomplete hibernation in some latitudes. 'At 
irregular intervals, the animal arouses, and, to judge from the 
efduvium, empties its distended pouches; but the stench, 
when thus caused, soon censes, as is not the case when it is 
spirted under irritation or in self-defence. 

Chloride of lime has been recommended as the most effectual 
disinfectant, and there are doubtless other agents which, by 
chemically decomposing the substance, deprive it of its offen- 
sive properties. The professional "earth treatment", of late 
extensively employed in hospital practice, was long anticipated 
in this connection, it being a common custom to bury clothes 
in ground to rid them of the scent. There is also said to be a 
belief among trappers that the odor may be dispelled by pack- 
ing the clothes for a few days in fresh hemlock boughs. 

The physiological role of this special secretion is obvious. 
Its relation to the perpetuation of the species, though over- 
shadowed by its exaggeration into a powerfully effective means 
of preservation of the individual, is evidently the same as in 
other species of Mustelidw, each one of which has its own ema- 
nation to bring the sexes together, not only by simply indicat- 
ing their whereabouts, but by serving as a positive attraction. 
In the case of the Skunk, it would seem that the strong scent 
has actually tended to result in a more gregarious mode of life 
than is nsual in this family of mammals; and it is certain, at 
any rate, that the occupancy by one animal of a permanent 
winter abode serves to attract others to the same retreat. 
Burrows are sometimes found to contain as many as a dozen 
individuak, not members of one family, but various adult 
animals drawn together. Ooe other effect of the possession of 




sa3h unique powers is seeu not so much in mode of life as in 
the actual disposition of the creature. Its heedless familiarity, 
its temerity in pushing into places which other animals in- 
stinctively avoid as dangerous, and its indisposition to seek 
safety by hasty retreat, are evident results of its confidence in 
the extraordinary means of defence with which it is provided. 
In speculating upon the development of this anal armature to 
a degree which renders it subservient to purposes for which 
the glands of other Mustelina:, though of similar character, are 
manifestly inadequate, it may not be amiss to recall how de- 
fenceless the Skunk would otherwise be in comparison with its 
allies. A tardy terrestrial animal of no great strength or spiri t, 
lacking the sagacity and prowess of the Wolverene, the scau- 
sorial ability of the Martens, the agility, small size, and 
tenuity of body of the Weasels, the swimming and diving 
powers of the Otters, and even much of the eminent fossorial 
capacity of its nearest relations, the Badgers— lacking all these 
qualities, which in their several exhibitions conduce to the 
safety of the respective species, it is evident that additional 
means of self-protection were required ; while the abundance 
of the animal in most parts of the country, and its audacity in 
the face of danger, show that its confidence in the singular 
means of defence it possesses is not misplaced. 

GeograpMcal distribution and habits of the Skunk. 

Leaving now that portion of the subject which is properly 
most prominent in the history of the species of this subfamily, 
we may turn to other matters. Skunks are common in most 
portions of temperate North America, and very abundant in 
some districts. I am not aware that any qualification of the 
broad statement of their general distribution in this country is 
required ; for the animals seem to be independent of those 
matters of physical geography, such as mountain or valley, 
woodland or i>rairie, which impose restrictions upon the distri- 
bution of many quadrupeds. Skunks, moreover, are obviously 
less affected by the settlement of a country than the more 
defenceless, wary, and instinctively secretive carnivores, which 
are sure to be thinned out and gradually forced away by the 
progress of civilization. In some parts of the West, indeed, I 
have found Skunks more numerous in the vicinity of the sparse 
settlements than they are in regions still primitive; they seem 
to be actually attracted to mau's abodes, like some other quad- 






rnpeds and not a few birds, which are more abundant in 
*< clearings" than in the depths of the foresi or in the lonelincHs 
of unreclaimed prairie. I was struck with this circumstance 
during my recent travels in Colorado, where Skunks were a 
never-failing nuisance about the ranches, though I never saw 
or smelled one, to my pre8ent recollection, in the uninhabited 
mountains of that State. Their entire absence, however, is not 
to be predicated ou this score, but simply their relatively lesser 
numbers; and I have rarely found Skunks more numerous iu 
the West than they were in the entirely unsettled stretches of 
country in Montana northwest of Fort Benton, and thence to 
the region of the Saskatchewan. Richardson notes their fre- 
quency iu this latter portion of the country, and fixes the north- 
ern limit of the species at about 56° or 57<^ North latitude. In 
the opposite direction, the habitat of the Skunk overlaps that of 
the Conepate, reaching into Mexico; but exactly bow far remains 
to be ascertained. It is probably replaced, southerly iu Mexico, 
by the closely allied though apparently distinct M. macrura of 
Lichteustein, treated ou a following page. A recent local writer 
on the quadrupeds of oue of our States noted that out of the 
large number of Skunks attributed to North America only one, 
the present species, was found in his locality, humorously adding 
that one, however, was generally considered sufficient. Through- 
out British America, and most of the northern tier of States, 
New England, the Middle States, and some of the Southern 
States, the ^ : }seut is the only spi. ies of the subfamily certainly 
known to occur ; in most parts of the West, and some of the 
South, it is assoc. ited with the smaller species, Spilogaleputorius; 
while the extreme Southwest may rejoice in the possession of 
all three of the duited States species. 

The Skunk yields a handsome fur, lately become fashionable, 
under the euphemism of ''Alaska sable" — for our elegant dames 
would surely not deck themselves in obscene Skunk skins if 
they were not permitted to call the rose by some other name. 
Pelts to the number of a thousand or more have annually passed 
through the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company ; and this 
kind of "sable" is one of the staples of American furriers, 
many thousands being yearly exported to Europe. The black 
furs are the most valuable, ranging in price, according to qual- 
ity, up to $1 apiece for prime; the "half-stripe" and the white 
bring much less. The trapping of the animal seems to be an 
easier matter than the subsequent disposition of the prize ; for 



the Skaok is far from cunniug, aud uo special skill is required 
for its capture. A variety of traps are used with success ; the 
deadfall is particularly recomuieuded, since, if properly con- 
structed, it causes the death of the animal without emission of 
the fluid.* Audubon and Bachmau's statement that the fur " is 

* GibHOD's " Complete American Trapper ", pp. 1U8, 8(^3, 266. 

The following on the subject of trapping Skunks was contributed by C. L. 
Whitman, of Weston, Vt., to Forest and Stream of February 17, 187fi:— 

" I am often asked by friends and brother trappers how I manage to rid 
my fox traps of skunks without being defiled by their odor. For the benefit 
of the uninitiated I will state that if there are any skunks living in the 
vicinity where fox traps are set they are sure to be taken, and till all are 
thus disposed of there is little chance of capturing foxes. When there id 
reason to suppose the presence of many skunks, it is best to set the traps 
early, in order to get them out of the way at once ; setting in a manner not 
to take the fox — that ie, less skillfully. To the fox trapper this animal is a 
pest and annoyance, for where tlie trap is made fast — as in dirt trapping is 
desirable — he will in a brief time with teeth and claws greatly impair, if 
not wholly ruin a good setting-place. Sometimes he frees himself by self- 
amputation ; in such case it is good riddance. They seldom get in a second 
time, as in their weak aud mutilated couditioc they fall an easy prey to the 
fox, who is fond of their llesh ; so much so that he will sometimes gnaw off 
the leg by which the akunk is held in the trap, aud carry off his booty to be 
eaten at his leisure. Trappers cognizant of the above trait do not fail to 
use skunk's flesh for bait. Sometimes he is found asleep after a night of 
ceaseless toil to get free, when, if in good position, he may be carefully ap- 
proached from the leeward, and by stepping upon his tail, at the same time 
dealing a smart blow i,pon the head with a club, he is easily and safely dis- 
patched. But this seldom occurs, and the attempt to dispatch him when on 
the alert with clubs or stones, is to risk and often receive defilement. Fire-- 
arms are out of the question, as a good trapper is chary of their use on his 

" My favorite method of dealing with them is as follows : With a tough 
annealed No. 15 or IG iron wire I form a slip noose about five inches in diam- 
eter on one end, and a standing loop of two inches on the other, and a apace 
of five inches between. The loop is attached to the smaller end of a light, 
stiff pole of eight or ten feet in length. With this firmly grasped in both 
hands I slowly and carefully approach, and slip the noose over his head, and 
with a quick jerk backwards and upwards lift him as high as the chain of 
the trap will allow, and thus hold him until be is strangled. The butt end 
of the pole may be brought to the ground and there held by a foot, the hands 
moved further in advance for greater ease. When taken by a hind leg I at 
once lower the trap to the ground and release the same with one foot pressed 
upon the spring ; the pole may then be set in a secure position against a rock 
or other support while the trap is being reset. If the jerk upward has not 
been adroitly made, the wire may not draw as tight as it ought, in which 
case a discharge of the pungent odor wUl usually follow ; but in this per- 
pendicular position the discharge descends directly downwards, so that if the 
attack has been made from the windward, as it ought, there is no danger. 



seldom used by the hatters, and never we think by the furriers ; 
and from the disagreeable task of preparing the skin, it is not 
considered an article of commerce" was wide of the mark, 
unles"^ it was penned before " Alaska sable " became fashiou- 

Like other auimals of the present family — like most carni- 
vores, in fact — the Skunk is somewhat nocturnal in habits, 
chiefly prowling for food in the dark, though often abroad iu 
the daytime. In northern portions of its range, it hibernates 
to some extent, but its torpidity is very incomplete ; it appears, 
moreover, to be under some necessity of arousing itself, perhaps 
for the periodical evacuation of its reservoirs. In the South, it 
ranges freely at all seasons. In instances in which the animal 
has taken up its abode for the winter about dwelling-houses, its 
temporary activity, during warm spells of weather, is not likely 
to be overlooked. This propensity to seek retreats iu human 
habitations is strikingly at variance with the disposition of other 
Musiieline quadrupeds, which instinctively shun man's abodes, 
except when, in foraging for tood, the poultry-yard tempts their 
appetite and their courage. In travelling iu some portions of 
the West, it did seera as if I never could approach a ranch 
without being aware of the visit, past or present, of some 
prying Skunk ; and the outhouses I entered were almost invari- 
ably scented. '^ a Skunk '9 an occasional robber of poultry and 
eggs, and is said to be fond of milk. When away from human 
habitations, the retreats of the Skunk are underground burrows, 
the hollows of decayed logs and stumps, the crevices among 
rocks — in short, any natural shelter not away from the ground. 
Audubon and Bachman describe the underground burrows 
which the Skunk excavates for 'tself as less difficult to dig out 
than those of the Fox, generally running near the surface of 
flat ground for six or eight feet^ and ending in a chamber lined 
with leaves, where may be foun*' during winter from five to 
fifteen individuals huddled together. Sometimes, these authors 
add, the burrow divides into two or three galleries. The ani- 

" The approach ia sometiiuea itisenied at first, but the gradual arching of the 
tail gives timely warning, and a careful retreat is necessary for a moment. 
The second or third attempt is successful. The animal by that time recovers 
from the alarm, and at most will merely sniff the air iu your direction. 
With this device I have destroyed many hundred during the past thirty 
years, and do not recollect an instance where I bore any of the odur about 
uie, except I had inadvertently trod upon dirt that was defiled, and now offer 
it for the consideration of brother trappers." 



mals are eviUoutly more gregarious than other Mnstelida', and 
the nambers which congregate in one burrovr are not neces- 
sarily members of the same family. They are very prolific, 
bringing forth in May, it is said, to the number of eight or ten ; 
the period of gestation is probably unknown. Their natural 
increase is at so high a rate that were they not systematically 
persecuted, not only for the value of their furs, but on account 
of their peculiar offensiveness, they would become a serious 
pest. The reaction of their principal means of self-preservation, 
In fact, becomes one of the factors in the problem of their uudue 
increase, so nicely are the balances of Nature adjusted. 

Skunks are attacked bydogsand othercaninequadrupeds, who 
destroy and devour them in spite of their scent; and some of the 
larger birds of prey, like the Bubo virginianusj or Great Horned 
Owl, have been observed to capture and eat them. Their own food 
is of rather an humble nature in comparison with that of other 
Mustelidw of corresponding size and streugth; for they have 
neither the speed nor the address required to effect the des*;rnc- 
tion of many animals which the Martens and Weasels, for 
instance, prey upon. They feed largely upon insects, birds' 
eggs, such small reptiles us frogs, and small quadrupeds, such 
as the various species of mice. Tjey are also said to capture 
rabbits in the burrows into whic'a these timorous beasts some- 
times take refuge, though they are manifestly incapable of 
securing these swift-footed animals in the chase. The depre- 
dations committed by the Skunk in the poultry-house have been 
already alluded to. I recur to the fact tt> note the way these 
awkward animals conduct themselves under such circum- 
stances, when their blundering pertinacity and appareuv neglect 
of the most obvious precautions agai»jst detection contrast 
strongly with the stealth, cunning, aud sagacity of tht Fox, 
Mink, or Stoat wlien engaged in similar freebooting. Kven 
after discovery, the Skunk seems to forget the propriety of 
making off, and generally falls a victim to his lack of wit. 

I once tested the si>e<^d of a Skunk in a fair race over open 
prairie. The wind was blowing "half a gale" at my back, and 
my courage was c<jt>sequently unchallenged. The animal 
seemed to be aware of its [Hiwerlessness under these circum- 
stances, and, after once or twice vainly discharging its battery, as 
I saw by its peculiar motions, though the wind carried off the 
effluvium, made oft' at its best pa(#. But I had no difficulty in 
keeping up with it at an easy jogtrot, scarcely faster than rapid 



walking, aud, after notiDg its gait auil other actions, I shot it 
(lead. The specimen was too offensive to be skinned, however, 
as some of the fluid had been blown upon its fur. In the course 
of my. various campaigns in the West, I have witnessed not a 
few ludicrous scenes, and have known the srartliug cry of 
" Skunk !" to throw a camp into as great commotion, to all out- 
ward appearance, as that other graver, yet not less sudden, 
warning of Indians. But to recount stories of Skunks would be 
to go on i'jdefinitely ; like the pelt to the furrier, anecdotes to the 
historian are '' staple", and may be read in all the I ooks, such 
is the facetiousuess which tiiis subjec* seems to inevitably call 

History of the species. 

The Skunk has figured in literature for more than two cen- 
turies, as can be said of comparatively few American animals. 
The earliest account I have found, one which Eichardson also 
said was the first he had met with, is that given by Gabriel 
Sagard-Theodat, " Mineur Kecollect de la Prouince de Paris", 
in his History of Canada, 1()36. The quaint passage runs as 
follows: — 

"Les enfans du diable, que les Hurons appelleut Scangaresse, 
& le commun des MontagnaisBabougi Manitou, ou Ouiuesque, 
est un beste fort puante, de la grandeur d'un chat ou d'un ieune 
renjHrd, mais elle a la teste uu peu moins aigne, & la pean cou- 
nerte d'un gros poil rude & enfume, et sa grosse queue retrous- 
see de mesme, elle s^ cache en Hyuer sous la neige, & ne sort 
point qu-au commencement de la Lunedu mois de Mars, laquelle 
les Montagnais nomment Ouiniscou pismi, qui signifie la Lune 
de la Ouiuesque. Get animal, outre qu'il est de-fort mau- 
uaise odeur, est tres-malicieux & d'un laid regard, ils iettent 
aussi (a ce qu'on dit) parmy leurs excremens de petits serpens, 
longs & deliez, les quels ne viuent neant moius gueres long 
temps. I'en pensois apporter uue peau passee, mais un Fran- 
cois pasiskger me I'ayant demaudee ie la luy dounay." 

From the way in which this passage opens, we may presume 
or infer that "eufan du diable" was already a recognized name 
among the French, in spoken at least, if not also written, lan- 
guage. The "devil's own" beast is also mentioned by various 
other early writers, amongst whom Charlevoix may be cited. 
It was the "Fiskatta" of Kalm (17 . . ); but the date of the 
introduction of the terui " Skunk " 1 have not been able to as- 



certain, nor do I know its meaning. A likeness to the word 
most suggestive of the animal, and which appears in the Ger- 
man StinJcthier, is too obvious to require comment, but the 
resemblance may be fortuitous. It may be observed that the 
Cree or Knistenaux word is seeoaick, which is quite likely the 
origin of the name, as the sound i« not so very different, though 
the literal discrepancy is great. The American-English name 
"pole-cat" or "pol-cat", by which the Swedish of Kalm is 
rendered, and which has long been an appellation of this and 
other species of Skunks, is simply a transferring of the Euro- 
pean-English name of the Fitch, Putorius foctidus, the worst- 
WMlling species of its own continent, to the Western animal, 
«Mch has the same enviable notoriety. The terms pol-cat or 
polecat and skunk were both used by Lawson about the be- 
ginning of the last century. " Polcats or Skunks in Amer- 
ica," says he, " are diiierent from those in Europe. They are 
thicker and of a great many Colours; not all alike, but each 
differing from another in the particular Colour. They smell 
like a Fjx but ten times stronger. When a Dog encounters 
them, they void upon him, and he will not be sweet again for a 
fortnight or more. The Indians love to eat their Flesh, which 
has no manner of ill smell, when the Bladder is out." " Skunk" 
was formerly used adjectively, as we see in the " Skunk Wee- 
sel" of Pennant, which may be deemed exactly equivalent to 
the "Mephitic weesel" of Shaw. "Chinche" was a term ap- 
plied by early French zoologists to this and other MepMtince, 
and in its various forms of chinche or chincha, chinge or chingaj 
was lonjr current. The last-named form, indeed, became with 
many au. rs, after Tiedemann, the specific name of the spe- 
cies in btnominal nomenclature. 

The early history of the species in technical nomenclature, as 
distinguished from that of the animal in non-scientific accounts, 
is much involved. It may be well to state that authors have 
gone to opposite exo-emes in treating of Skunks as species. 
Some, like Cuvier. " lumped " them all together, whilst others 
made every streak or spwt tne basis of a species. We do not 
find the presenr >*i)ecies elf nrly and unequivocally indicated by 
the founder aad t^arut'^: supporters of the binomial system; on 
the contrary, the Linn.-Gmel. accounts, though undoubtedly cov- 
eroig this even then well-known species, are so infiltrated with 
reference to other species as to be not properly citable in this 
connection. Linnseus put the Skunks in his genus Viverra^ 

■ 'I 




transferring this Plinian name of certain Musteline ani- 
mals to those of the Civet-cat group, and in 175S named a 
species Viverra putorius. His si)ecies at this date was partly 
based on Ealm's Fiskatia, and in so far means the present 
animal, but the primary reference is to Catesby's Pole-cat, and 
the description rather suits the Spilogale. In 1766, Linnreus 
made confusion worse confounded by resting his Viverra puto- 
rius not only upon Gatesby and Kalm, as he had done in 1758, 
but by citing also Hernandez, Ray, Seba, and Brisson, his 
species being consequently a conglomeration of animals not 
only specifically but generically distinct from each other, though 
the drift of his descriptive text is toward the present species.* 
These accounts, and such as hang upon them, are not properly 
citable in the present connection. About the end of the last 
century, Dr. G. Shaw introduced a species, Viverra mephitica, 
which indicates the present animal with sufficient pertinence 
and exclusiveness, and furnished a specific name, the first tena- 
ble one I know of. In consequence, however, of its literal re- 
semblance to the name of the Cuvierian genus Mephitis, the 
term slept until revived by Baird in 1857, when, with those to 
whom the alteration is not objectionable, the binomial name 
Mephiti* ittephitica became current. 

Shortly afterward, in 1808, Tiedemann introduced a species, 
M. chimga, adapted from the earlier chinche as a specific name. 
This was adopted by Lichtenstein in his special memoirs, by 
Aubu<k>n and Bachman, and by others. It undoubtedly refers 
to the present animal, though vitiated to some extent by in- 
applicable ♦'xpressious. 

Desmar»-st called all the Skunks Mephitis t Americanu, hav- 
ing a long array of varieties, from A to R, his var? R being 
the one which more particularly refers to the present species. 
In 1829. Fischei rendered the " chinga'' of Tiedemann as chinche, 
reverting to the more customary orthography. The same year 
Riciiardson introduced a new term, hudfumica. Later, nominal 
species multiplied, not that there were not already names 

* "Habitat iu America septeutrionali. Colore variat. Irritatus (cum orina 
forte) halituui explodit, quo nihil fcetidius; incessn tardus, nee Homines 
uec Ferae metuens; ve^tes fa>tore iDqninatff purgantur sepeliendo per diem. 
A. Knhn." (p. 65.> Liunwus's next species, J'ivirra zibetha, the Civet-cat of 
the Old World, is also tinctured with Sknnk, or some other American animal 
not distantly related. 

t Written " Mustela " by an obvious slip. 



enough, bat apparently in the impossibility of sifting and fixing 
earlier accoants. M. rarians was proposed by Gray in 1837 
for the southwestern variety, afterward called macroura by 
Aubndon and Bachman ; and in 1865 Gray had the assurance 
to set his term over all the prior ones as the specific designa- 
tion, recounting numerous varieties of the species. Mephitis 
mesomelaa of Lichtenstein and M. occidentalis of Baird are 
names of the western strain of ordinary mephitica. 

Other points in the history of Skunks are reviewed under 
heads of species to follow. 




The importance of this subject induces me to present such 
facts as have come to my knowledge. Though it has long 
been known that the bite of the Skunk under certain condi- 
tions, like that of various other animals, is capable of inoculat- 
ing a disease like hydrophobia, it seems that only lately has 
the subject been thoroughly investigated and adequately pre- 
sented. This has been done, notably, by two writers, whose 
respective accounts are here transcribed in full, without fur- 
ther comment. 

The points that the Eev. Mr. Hovey makes are these: — 
That hydrophobia from Skunk-bite is a different species of 
the disease from rabies canina; the term rabies mephitica being 
proposed for it. That rabies mephitica is caused by a special 
hydrophobic virus generated by Skunks. That "possibly 
there may be a causative connection between inactivity of 
the anal glands and the generation of malignant virus in the 
glands of the mouth". That the bite of Skunks in apparently 
normal state of health {i. e., not rabid in the usual sense of 
the term) is usually fatal. That " we might go further and 
seek a solution of the whole dread mystery of hydrophobia 
in the theory that this dread malady originates with the allied 
genera of Mephitis^ Putorim, and Mustela, . . . being from 
them transferred to the Felid(e and Canida and other families 
of animals". He also suggests that the mephitic secretion 
might be found to be the natural antidote to the salivary 




The article attracted considerable attention, from the uov 
elty of the views put forth, and the intrinsic importance of 
the subject. 

Some months afterward Dr. Janeway replied in an elaborate 
article, detailing cases and criticising Mr. Hovej's views, com- 
ing to the conclusion " that the malady produced by mephitic 
virus is simply hydrophobia". Following are the two articles 
in question in full : — 

[From Amor. Joarc. Sci. and Art, 3(1 ser. vol. vil. no. 41, art. xliv. pp. 477-493, Maj, 1874.) 
"EaUes Mephitica; by Kei: Homcv C, Hovey, M. A. 

"My subject concorna alike medical science aud natural biatory. For 
while proving the exiateuce of a new diaease, some singular facta will be 
brought to light about a familiar member of the American Fauna. It is 
cruel to add aught to the odium already attached to the common skunk 
(Mephitis viephitica Shaw ; M, chinga Tiedemanu). But, clearly, he is as dan- 
gerous as he is disagreeable. In a wild state he is by no means the weak, 
timid, harmless creature commonly described by naturalists ; although it is 
said that, if disarmed of his weapons of offence while young, he may be 
safely domesticated. 

"A peculiar poison is sometimes contained in the saliva of animals be- 
longing to the canine and feline families, the production of which, it baa 
been generally supposed, ia limited to them. Other animala, of the aame or 
of different species, may be inoculated with this virus ; the result being a 
mysterious malady, which men have observed from the days of Homer and 
Aristotle, but which has never been either cured or understood. This 
frightful disease has been called, from its origin. Babies canina, and from 
one of its symptoms, hydrophobia. Probably it is not communicable by any 
species but those with which it originates. A few instances have been re- 
corded to the contrary ; but they were so imperfectly observed as merely to 
stimulate us to further investigation. It is stated by the best medical 
writers (e. g., Watson, Gross, and Aitken), as an nndeniable fact, that no 
instance is known of hydrophobia having been communicated from one 
human being to another, although many patients, in their spasms, have 
bitten their attendants. An interesting case, but inconclusive, being the 
only one of its kind, is reported by M. Guillery, in which an aged man expe- 
rienced spontaneous hydrophobia (Bulletin of Belgian Academy, No. 8, 
1871). In such exceptional instances there may have been previous inocula- 
tion, unnoticed or forgotten ; for the least particle of this deadly poison 
will be efSoient, and yet it is always tardy in its period of incubation. 

"The facts now collated will show, it is thought, one of two things, 
either that the hydrophobic virus is both generated and communicated by 
some of the Mufitelid^t as well as the Felida and Canidoe; or else, that a new 
disease has been disoovered, whi'~ l T^nerioally resembles Rahiea canina, while 
differing from it spaoifically. My judgment favors the latter opinion, de- 
cidedly, fCi reasons to be adduceu ; and accordingly I may name this new 
malady, from the animal in whose saliva it is generated, Rabies Mephitica. 



"The varieties of ilephilia are notorious for the singular battery with 
Avhich they are provided by nature. It consists of two anal glands 
from which, by the contraction of suh-caudal niuscleH, an ofifnusive fluid 
can be discharged in thread-like streams, with such accuracy of aim as to 
strike any object wiibin fifteen feet. This secretion is either colorless, 
or of a pale yellow hue. It is phosphorescent. Viewed from a safe distance, 
its discharge looks like a paif of steam or white smoke. Its odor is far more 
persistent than that of musk. If too freely inhaled it causes intense nausea, 
f«)llowed by distresHiug gastric cramp. In minute doses it is said to be a 
valuable anti-spasmodic. If so, why not experiment with it as a cure for 
hydrophobic convulsions? It is not known what the effect wouhl be of 
injecting this fluid beneath the skin. Interesting results might be attained 
by any one who is willing, in behalf of science, to investigate further in 
this inviting path! There certainly seems to be some connection between 
it and the disease under consideration; for, in every instance, the rabid 
skunk has either exhausted his mephitic battery, or else has lost the projec- 
tile force by which it is discharged. Perhaps the secretion is only checked 
by the feverish state of the system. Possibly there may be a causative con- 
nection between this inactivity of the anal glands and the generation of 
malignant virus in the glands of the mouth. 

" An adventure, while on a summer tour amid the Rocky Mountains, first 
called my attention to the novel class of facts about to be presented. Our 
camp was invaded by a nocturnal prowler, which proved to be a large coal- 
black skunk. Anxious to secure his fine silky fur unii^ured, I attempted 
to kill him with small shot, and failed. He made characteristic retaliation; 
and then, rushing at me with ferocity, he seized the muzzle of my gun 
between his teeth ! Of course the penalty was instant death. An experienced 
hunter then startled us by saying that the bite of this animal is invariably 
fatal, and that when in perfect apparent health it is always rabid. He re- 
sented our incredulity and conlirmed his statement by several instances of 
dogs and men dying in convulsions shortly after being thus bitten. 

" On mentioning this adventure to H. R. Payne, M. D., who had been 
camping with miners near Cafion City, Col., he said that at night skunks 
would come into their tent, making a peculiar crying noise, and threateuing 
to attack tbem. His companions, from Texas and elsewhere, bad accounts 
to give of fatal results following the bite of this animal. 

" Since returning to Kansas City, I have had extensive correspondence with 
hunters, taxidermists, surgeons and others, by which mitans the particulars 
have been obtained of forty-one cases of rabiea mephitioa, occurring in Vir- 
ginia, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Texsts. All were 
fatal except one ; that was the cose of a farmer, named Fletcher, living near 
Gainsville, Texas, who was twice bitten by if. maoroara [of And. &. Bdch.=: 
M. mephitica var. — £. C], yet recovered and is living still. On further inquiry 
it was found that he was aware of his danger, and used prompt preventive 
treatment. Another case was alleged to be an exception ; that of a dog which 
was severely bitten in a long fight with a skunk, but whose wounds healed 
readily and without subseqient disease. It seems, however, that this dog 
afterward died with mysterious symptoms like those of hydrophobia in 
some of its les^ aggravated forms. 

" Instead of burdening this article with a mass of circumstantial details, 
15 X 



a few CAHOH only will be given bngt fitted to show the peculiiirities of the 
n>alady ; and tliose are preferred that are located on the ulinost uninhabited 
{ilains of weatern Kanaan, because there the mephitio weasoU would be 
least liable to be inoculated with canine virus. 

"A veteran hunter, Nathaniel Douglas, was hunting buffiilo, in June, 187'i, 
fourteen miles north of Park's Fort. Wiiile asleep he wim bitten on the 
thumb by a skunk. Fourteen days afterward singular sensations caused 
him to seek medical advice. But it was too late, and after convulsioim 
lasting for ten hours he died. This case is reported by an eye-witness, Mr. 
E. 8. Love, of WyandotlJ, Kansas, who also gives several »iniilar accountH. 

" One of the men employed by H. P. Wilson, Esq., of Hayes City, Kansits, 
was bitten by ar' ank at, night, while herding cattle on the plains. About ten 
duys afterward he was seized with delirium and fearful con vulsiouH, which fol- 
lowed each other until death brought relief. Mr. Wilson also reports other 
cases, one of which is very recent. In the summer of 1873, a Swedish girl 
was bitten by a skunk while going to a neighbor's house. As the wound 
was slight and readily cured, the affair was hardly thought worthy of j;e- 
membrance. But on Jan. 24th, 1874, the virus, which had been latent for 
five uiunths, asserted its power. She was stMzed with terrible paroxysms. 
Large doses of morphine were administered, which ended both her agony 
and her life. 

" In October, 1871, a. hunter on Walnut Creek, Kansas, was awakened by 
having his leil ear bitten by s^me animal. Seizing it with his hand, he found 
it to be a skunk, which after a struggle he killed, but not until his hand 
WHS painfully punctured and lacerated. He presented himself for treatment 
to Dr. J. H. Janeway, army surgeon at Fort Hayes, from whom I have the 
facts. The wounds in the Stands were cauterized, much to the man's d'u- 
gust, who thought simple dressing sufficient. He refused to have the wound 
in the ear touched, and went to Fort Harker to consult Dr. R. C Brewer. 
Twelve days afterward the latter reported that his patient had died with 
hydrophobic symptoms. 

"Another hunter, in the fall of 1872, applied to Dr. Janeway to be treated 
for a bite through one of the alsB of the njse. He had been attacked by a 
skunk, while in camp on the Smoky River, two nights previous. He had 
been imbibing stimulants freely and was highly excited and nervous. A 
stick of nitrate of silver was passed through the wound several times. He 
was kept under treatment lor two days, when he left to have a ' madstoue ' 
applied. He afterward went home to his ranch, and died in convulsions 
twenty-one days from the time be was inoculated. 

I •' I give but one more of the cases reported to me by Dr. Janeway^ In 
October, 1871, he was called to see a young man living in a ' dug-out,' a few- 
miles from the fort. He had been bitten by a skunk, seventeen days previ- 
ous, in the little finger of the left hand. His face was flushed, and he cor.i- 
p*ained that his throat seemed to be turning into bone. On hearing the 
sound of water poured from a pail into a tin cup, he went into convulsions, 
that followed each other with rapidity and violence for sixteen hours, ter- 
minating in death. This man's dog had also been bitten, and it was sug- 
gested that he bad better be shut up. He chanced at the time to be in the 
hog-pen, and he was confined in that enclosure. Ere long he'began to gnaw 
furiously at the rails and posts of the pen and to bite the hog«i ; until the by- 



stnnrlerH, convinced that he was mad, ended the mcodo by shooting; all the 
aniinnlH in the pen. 

•'It is evidently the opinion of Dr. Janeway that the malady produced by 
mepbitic virus is simply hydrophobia. Should he bo correct, tben all that 
is established by these facts would be this, viz: that henceforth tlie varie- 
ties of Mephitis must bo classed with tliose animals thatspontanuously gen- 
erate poison in the glands of Mie month and communicate it by salivary 
inoculation. From this, as u starting-point, we mi<rht go further and seek a 
solution of the whole mystery of hydrophobia in the theory that this dreud 
malady primarily originates with the allied genera of Mephitis, I'litoriua ami 
Muntela, widely scattered over the earth :* being from thoiu transferred to 
the Felidw and Camdw and other families of animals. And then, if it could 
be proved experimentally that the characteristic mephitic secretions con- 
tained an antidote for the virus of the saliva, we should have the whole 
subject arranged very beautifully ! 

"I am favored by Dr. M. M. Spearer, surgeon in the 6th U. S. Cavalry, 
with notes from his case-book, of four oases in which persons have died 
from the bite of the skunk; and he also mentions additional instances 
reported to him by other observers. He thinks there is a marked ditfor- 
ence between the symptoms of their malady and those of hydrophobia. 
I shall refer to his testimony again, but x>anse for a moment to notice his 
final conclusions, from which, original and interesting as they are, I must 
dissent. He says: 'I regard this virus as being as peculiar to the skunk as 
the venom of the rattlesnake is to that creature ; and not an occasional out- 
break of disease as the (vstiia veneris of the wolf or the rabies canina,' Singu- 
lar as this theory may seem, it is not wholly without support. It is remark- 
able that of all the cases thus far reported to mj there is but one instance of 
recovery. It is stated in Watson's Physic (vol. i, p. 615) that of one hundred 
and fourteen bitten by rabid wolves only sixty-seven died ; and of those bit- 
ten by rabid dogs the proportion is still less. But mephitic inoculation i^ 
snre death. Tlien again it is to be observed that the only peculiarity notice- 
able in these biting skunks is the arrest of their eflinviura. They approach 
stealthily, while their victims are asleep, and inhict the deadly wound on 
some minor member — the thumb, the little finger, the lobe of the ear, one of 
the alte of the nose. How different from the fierce assault of a mad dog ! 
Hew subtle and snake-like ! It may be remarked, also, that dogs are gen- 
erally as cautious and adroit in attacking these odious enemies as they are 
in seizing venomous snakea. But we must remember, on the other hand, 
that thousands of skunks are killed annually, partly as pests and partly for 
the fur trade ; and it is incredible that au animal whose ordinary bite is as 

* " Since forvarding this article for publication, I have obtained au answer 
to my inquiries made in California through my friend, Dr. J. G. Tidball, 
respecting the Mephitis zorilla [i. c, M. (Spilogale) putorius — E. C.]. He de- 
scribed it as a very pretty animal which usually allows itself to be killed 
without resistance. £ut he adds that its bite is highly dangerous, causing 
a fatal disease like hydrophobia. 

"I regret that he gives no particulars of ac'aal cases ; but his testimony 
is interesting, as it brings into coudemnation a species of Mephitis quite dif- 
ferent from M, chiitgu." 



venomons an that of a ru lesnake, bUouUI so seldom rosorl to tbnt mode of 
defence, if it be liia. 

" The remiltitift diseone reseniblen hydropbobia morn tban it does tbe effect 
of o|,bidian venom. But bere, as observed at tbe ontHet, tbu likeness is only 
general, while npeciflually there are marked diltHrenceH. TIicha have pnr- 
posely been kept in tbe back-ground until now. And in giving a ditferontiiil 
diagnosis, I sball avoid repetitious detiiils, and combinu facts gathered from 
many sources with the close and accurate observations which Dr. Sbeurer 
Los pnt at my dispoHiil. 

" 1. The period of incubation is alike in rabies canlna and rahiea mrphilica. 
That is, it is indefinite, ranging from ton days to twelve months, with no 
opportunity meanwhile for subsoquent inoculation. Hut during the incu- 
bative perio«1 of R, mephitica, no perceptible changes take place in tbe con- 
stitution as in hydrophobia- In only one instance was there nnnsual nerv- 
ousness, and that might have been due to alcohol. In every case whem 
there was time for it, the wounds healed over smoothly and permanently, 
and in several instances not even a scar was visible. In no cjise was there 
recrudescence of the wound, always seen in hydropliobla. Indeed, there 
were so few pren nitionsof any kind that, in most instances, the attending 
physicians themselves supposed tbe ailment to be simplo and trivial, until 
the sudden and fearful convulsions came on to baffle all their skill. 

"2. Characteri."* • pustules form in hydrophobia bent-ath the tongno and 
near the orifices the snb-maxillary glands. (See Aitkeu, Sci. and Pract. 
Med., vol. i, p. (i'>.\.) These were not reported in a single case of B. mephitica. 
Dr. Shearer looked for them carefully in all his cases, but did not find them. 

"3. The specific action of hydrophobic virus affects the eighth pair of 
cranial nerves and their branches, ospeoially the tn-iopbageal branch, the 
result being great diiflculty in swallowing ; and the motor nerve of the layx 
[larnyx — 8to], causing sighing, catching of the breath, and difficulty in 
expelling the frothy mucus accumulated in the throat. These invariable 
accompaniments of B. eanina ure usually wanting in B. mephitica; the ex- 
ceptions being in the case of the Swedish girl, who complained of pain in 
her chest ; and the young man. Dr. Janeway's patient, whose constriction of 
the throat was decided, as well as his sensitiveness to water. Dr. Shearer's 
patients had no snch trouble. A taxidermist, who has seen four dogs die 
from R. mephitica, in Michigan, says they did not seem to have nny fear of 
water, or other signs which he had supposed were characteristic of R. eanina. 
Ordinary hydrophobia, again, is marked by constant hyperoesthesia of the 
skin, so tbat the slightest breath of air will precipitate convnlsions. But, 
in B, mephitica, fanning tbe face affords relief, and even cloths dipped in 
w^ter and laid on tbe forehead were soothing I 

" 4. In hydrophobia the perceptions are intensified, so tbat even the deaf 
are said to have their hearing restored ; the pupils are strongly dilated, im- 
parting to the eyes a wild, glaring expression ; the spasms are tonic, i. e., 
steady and continnous; the pulse is feeble; and delirium is occasionally 
relieved by lucid intervals. But the symptoms are wholly different in R. 
mephitica: thefe is oscillation of the pupil; the spasrns are clonic, i. e,, 
marked by rapid alternate contraction and relaxation of tbe muscles ; small, 
but wiry radial pulse and rapid carotids ; positive loss of perceptiqp and 
volition throughout, until delirium ends in persistent unconsciousness, 
simultaueoasly with cold perspiration and relaxation of the sphincters. 




"5. Tho iiiudo of tloiith ia by astbonia in both forms of rabies; but iu R. 
caiiiia till) frightful Htrug}(lu8 of nature to ;)ljminate the poinon aro more 
prolungod than in H. mephilioa ; and in the latter they'uiay, on ocoaMioii, Ito 
still further abriilt;ed by the mho of morphine, which had no nurcotiu etfect 
upon the former, oven in the larjfeHt doseH and injected into tht; vhIuh ! 

"I have thuH endeavored to describe, and also to explain, thuMr< strnnge 
and painful phenomena. I must leave the reader to form his own deuiHion. 
01. ly hoping; that some oii*^ may be inducud to follow this pioneer work iu a 
new path, by further and more able investigations of his own. 

" KauMs City, Mo., Feb. '^Uh, 1874," 


[From tlio Now York Medioal Record, rol. x. no. 337, pp. 1:7-1C0, Mar. 13, 1875.] 
"On IJydrophohia. — Py John G. Jantwny, M, D., AsHlstant ■'fiirgeon, V. S. A. 

"A writer* in the American Journal of Science and Art, May, 1H74, states 
that ' it is evidently the opinion of Dr. Janeway that the malady produced 
by themephitic virus is simply hydrophobia. Should he be correct, then 
all that is established by these facts would be this, viz.: that henceforth the 
varieties mephitis must be classed with those animals that spontaneously 
generate poison in the glands of the mouth and oommuuicatu it by salivary 
inoculation.'[t] The personal observation of fifteen fatal cases of hydropho- 
bia, produced by the bite of rabid animals, skunks, wolves, and hogs.t and 
the reliable statements of a number of other cases, has fully coiiKriued me 
in the opinion above stated, that the malady produced by mepliitic virus is 
simply hydrophobia. 

" The following five cases are taken from the fifteen fatal coses that have 
fallen under my observation : 

"Case I. Brri'; of Skunk. — Was called to visit Win. P., aged nineteen, a 
herder, whom I was told by the messenger had been acting strangely ail the 
morning. I found him lying on a bed in a s(Hl-honse, dressed, with several 
of his companions around him. Face flushed, pulse very rapid, the beat of 
skin intense and dry, eyes brilliant and pupils dilated rather more than 
natural, extremely restless and frequently catching at his throat ; upon 
questioning, replied that his throat was turning into bone. Hud not felt 
well for two or three days ; did not know what was the matter with bim. 
Upon pouring out some water from a pail ucar by, to administer morphia to 
him, he wont suddenly into convulsions. 

" Suspecting hydrophobia immediately, as soon as he regained conscious- 
ness I learned that he had been bitten by a skunk, just before uay break, 
seventeen days before, iu the little finger of the left baud ; that the wouud 
was small and soon healed ; that for two days preceding my seeing him bis 

• " Kev. Horace C. Hovey, M. A." 

t [There is some typographical confusion in the qnotation-marks at the 
opening of Dr. Janeway's article ; and Dr. .Tanewii y does not quote Mr. 
Hovey'^ literally, leaving it liable to be misunderstood whose opinion is be- 
ing quoted. I have slightly altered the text in this place, to reproduce the 
quotation literally from the original. — ^£. C] 

t " Skunks 10, wolves 3, hogs 2." 



finder aihI nrm hn«1 fttit niiin1». Upni. oxnuiiiiiiiK tlin tiiiKi^r, nli){1it rMlneHM 
wuH (iltM>rvud at tlio pliicu liittuii, toDKUH Hiiglitly fiirrud itiiil H<>iii«wliiit 
awoUen, no Ho-oalle:! ' gliarnuterifttic piiNtuluH ' wttre tu be miuii. Thirst iii- 
tciiNo niul li«>K){«<l fur water, but the hoiiuiI of ilippiiij; the water from tlie 
pnil threw him immediately into Htill more terribh; convulHioiiH, frequent 
HigliiuK, Hud catehiuK bin breath. AdminiNter bypoderniiu injectiouH of 
morphia without avail. Upon the arrival of oiiloroform, wiiich I had sent 
for, itM adminiHtrntion ){ave partial relief for a Hbort time. Hin endeavors 
to free hinmelf of the tenacious mucus were terrible, when the iivcaatioug 
npsettinftof a pail of water a^ain threw him intoconvulsiouH, opisthotonouH 
in character, followed by attomptH at biting; those holdin<{ biin, and wlieu 
consuiousneHH waH retrained, aNkiuK pardon for ho doin^. HypeneHthcHia 
existed in a very marked degree in this case. Death ca'.uo to his relief in 
abont eighteen hours from the time 9f his tirst convulsion. 

<* Cahb II. DiTK OF Skunk.— An emigrant from Wisconsin, camped on the 
north fork of Uig Creek, about seven miles from Hays, applied to mo in the 
fall of 1872 for dressing for bis hand, which bad been bitten between the 
thumb and index finger of bis left hand, the night previously, by a skunk. 
Cauterized the wound well, and directed him to repeat the cauterization 
twice a day. 8aw nothing of him for twelve days, when I was sent for, and 
upon arriving at bis camp found bim in convulsions, which were repeated 
rapidly. Face iluHbed,eyes brilliant, pupils rather contracted, skin hot and 
dry, pulse small and rapid, 120, no so-called ' obaractoristio pustules ' under 
the tongue. When not in convulsions, mind clear and fully aware of the 
fate that awaited him. From his wife I learned that after the third day of 
using the caustic the wound healed and gave him no further trouble ; that 
for three days he had been complaining of some fulness in the hea<l, and a 
general ' malaise,' neither sick nor well ; that the ounvulsions came on 
about seven hours previous to my seeing bim, suddenly, upon attempting to 
take a drink from a spring close to their cump; that he would go into con- 
vulsions whenever water or tea was ottered him, and that the faintest 
breath of air would cause him the greatest anguish, so that she had to put 
a blanket up before the door. Death followed in tweuty-one hours after 

" Case III. Bite of Skunk.— A hunter, in the latter part of October, 1872, 
applied to- me to be treated for a bite through the right ala of the nose. 
He had been attacked by a skunk while in camp on the Smoky Hill river 
two nights previous. Having learned, previous to my seeing bim, that 
skunk-bites would produce hydrophobia, he had imbibed freely, and was 
decidedly under the influence of liquor when I saw him, evidently nnrvons 
about himself, but trying to conceal the fact. 

"A stick of nitrate of silver was passed repeatedly through the wound. 
Actual cautery was proposed, but he would not consent to its use. After 
being nnder treatment two days he left and wenf to Missonri, to have the 
mad-stone applied; returning from there, he followed his occupation'. 
Twenty-one days after he was bitten he was taken with convulsions, and 
died abont an hour after I got to his ranch, nearly thirty hours after the 
seizure. From one of his companions I learned that after his return from 
Missouri be was cheerful and in apparent health up to the day before bis 
seizure, when he complained of paiu in bis nose and face, headache, chilly, 



Hml f««liiiK tirntlv but hitd no ii|i|>rfhi*nHion riinctTiiiiiK hiiiiHflf. Tim llrnt 
R.vmpfoiii, tlio iiioi'iiiiiK tliu iliHotwo «ltiv<tlo|U(«l itHt'lf, wuH » fueling of coii- 
Htrieiioii ill tliu tliniat, toK«ttliur with ilryiiuHH, upiHtliotoiioM, wilii duoidfd 
iiiaiiiu preoediiiK the HpiMnm. 

•' Cask IV. Hitk ok \VfH,K.— A private of Co. F, Sixth Ciivnlry, was bitten 
by a wolf one evening, Jnnt after he hail uonie otT poHi, in the lobe of the 
left ear, in the early part of Octtolter, 1H7:{. The wound wim freely cauter- 
ized with nitrate of Hilver by the Hur){eon of the camp. On the '.28th of the 
aame month he applied to me for medicine for headache, which wan );iven 
to him. On the 30th he aKiiin applied for ntedicine, Htating that he diii not 
feel Hick enough to go on the Hick report. Knowing the nuin'H liiHtory, I 
cantiouHly examined him, and questioned him in Huuh a way an not to ex- 
cite IiIh fearn. I found that the lobe of the ear that had beenjiitten waH 
quite numb to the touch. No other Hymptomii presented theniHelveH promi- 
nently. There wan, however, a general malaiw). The day following, the 
man was in the ranks for muHter and inspection. Observing him, I saw at 
once that something was wrong, and upon reporting his case he was ordered 
to his quarters, by the coiiiiiianding ot1l(;er. Fifteen niiiititeH later I was 
Hent for to see him, and found him in coiivulsioiis, whush the on'erly in- 
formed me came on upon his atttimpts to take a drink of water. He was at 
once removed to the hospital. He sutt'ereit from cohl, he tohl iiie, whilst 
being conveyed there. Examination revealed alternately contracting and 
dilating pupils ; skin very hot ; tem|M)ratnre 102^, 102.5^, lUU", by three 
examinations, with the thermometer in the axilla ; pulse 120-12.''^ alternat- 
ing in volume before and aft«r a spasm, but constantly rapid. Tongue some- 
what swollen and indented by the teeth on the edge; thick, whitish fur ; 
no so-called 'characteristic pustules' under the tongue. Thirst intense; 
no irritability or sensation in the wound of the ear ; constriction of the 
pharynx; increasing violent attempts to relieve himself of ^he thick and 
tenacious saliva ; sound produced resembling more the bark of a wolf than 
any sound ever heard. Complete inability to swallow any liquid, the at- 
tempt ending in acouvulsion. Mental faculties perfect when not in spasm ; 
inlly aware that death must end the sceue. Towards the close the convul- 
sions were longer and of greater strength, with frequent furious attempts 
to bite his attendants, for which he would beg their pardon time and again. 
Death took place suddenly in thirty hours. 

" Case V. Bite of Dog.— A man, aged about 46, attached to a hay-camp, 
applied to me in August, 1873, to dress his hand, which had been terribly 
lacerated by a favorite hound that day. He stated that his dog bad been 
acting rather strangely for several days, but that up to that time bad 
always come to him when called, and had appeared as affectionate as ever ; 
that a strange dog had appeared in camp, and that his dog had attacked it 
furiously; he attempted to separate them, when his dog turned and bit him 
through the hand, his teeth passing completely through from side to side; 
that immediately after biting bim he (dog) had run off a short distance and 
laid down in a pool of water. Cauterizing the wound freely I directed him 
to report at the hospital next morning, when the eschar was removed and 
his hand was again cauterized. The following day he called at the hospital 
and stated that he had shot bis dog, and was satisfied that be was inad, and 
that he waa going that duy to Missouri to have a mad-stone applied, lie 



retnaineil there a week, and tlion returned and rejoined the hny-cnmp. On 
the twenty-fourth day after he was bitten, I was sent for to visit him at tho 
bay-camp, on the Smoky Hill river, lying in a wagon-bed, and was saluted 
with, ' Doctor, that dog has killed me ; I know that I have got the hydro* 
phobia, and that I shall die.' His face flushed ; skiu hot ; pulse v )ry rapid 
and small, 125; tongue fui'red, brownish, swollen; complained his 
throat was turning into bone, and that he could not swallow; if he saw 
any liquid, thought he would like to drink a bucketful of water just once. 
On attempting to give him some morphia in solution tho convulsions were 
ushered in. He had been well up to the morning he sent for me. Tho first 
symptom he noticed was the feeling of constriction in his throat, and be 
noticed a slight increase of redness in the wounds on his hand, though there 
was no pai«. Had seen several cases of hydrophobia, and at the earnest 
solicitation of his wife had sent for me. Left hiui powders, of twenty grains 
each, hydrate chloral, to be given in moist sugar every three hours, and 
promised to see him next morning. I saw him the following morning, and 
found him decidedly worse ; convulsions more frequent and stronger ; pulse 
smaller and extremely rapid ; tongue more swollen ; no so-called ' charac- 
teristic pustules' to be found after caieful search; eyes brilliant, with 
rather a contracted pupil ; great difflculty of swallowing, though he whs 
able to sup up a little water through some straw from a covered cup; had 
considerable sleep from the chloral, but his stomach had rejected the last 
dose, and he was unable to take any more ; mental faculties clear, could tell 
the approach of a convulsion, and begged his wife and attendants to take 
care ; much incrense of the thick tenacious saliva, and greater difficulty in 
freeing himself of it. No alteration in appearance of wound. The con- 
vulsions became mere frequent, stronger, and longer in duration. Ho in- 
sisted upon being chained down to the wagon bed to prevent his injuring 
any one. Chloroform was left, with directions as to use. The day follow- 
ing I found him barely alive, unconscious, with frequent feeble spasms. 
Death ended the terrible scene after thirty-seven hours of sufferings. In 
this case there was no marked hypericsthesia of the skin complained of. 

" Neither can I agree with the writer of the paper mentioned above, that 
mephitic inoculation is sure death. For the result of one case of bite fron\ 
a rabid skunk, which will be detailed more fully hereafter, the repbrt of 
eight others (six hunters and two soldiers) that were bitten, and also from 
having in my possession two dogs, one a setter and the other a black-and- 
tan, which aave been repeatec ly bitten in encounters with these animals 
and have as yet never evinced any symptom of the disease, will not permit 
me to concur with him. That more cases, proportionally, may rciiult fatally 
from the bite of this animal, than from the bite of rabid dogs or wolves, is 
probably, if not actually, the rase ; still, there are obvious reasons for it to 
be so. An animal nocturnal in its habits, generally timid, but armed with 
a powerful battery to resist any injury or affront ; one that will not attempt 
to bite in defence until the secretion provided for it by nature is exhausted, 
loses that secretion by the disease. It is a well-authenticated fact that 
rabid skunks are entirely free from the odor so characteristic of these ani- 
mals, which could not occur if the secretion was not ^rhausfed, and forget- 
ting its normal timidity will attack any4)ersou or ar;mal he may come in 
contact with, biting the most exposed art of the boay, the aim of the nose, 



tlie lobe of the ear, the thumb, or one of the fiagers, and passes on. Here 
is probably the reason these bites are more fatal than those of other ani- 
mals — always in a vascular part not protected by clothing, which prevents 
by wiping away the poisonous saliva in the lierce attacks of the mad dog 
or wolf, and thus saves the life of the one bitten. At a frontier post* this 
was well illustrated. A mad wolf suddenly sprang upon the officer of the 
day, who was making his round, and bit him on the arm, through his cloth- 
ing; pa.ssing on, he bit a sentinel on post in the wrist, between the sleeve 
of his coat and glove, and then sprang upon a woman who was nursing a 
child near by, and bit her on the shoulder through a thick woollen shawl. 
All the cases were treated the same. Tlie officer and the woman escaped 
the dread disease, but the soldier died of hydrophobia. A recent writer t 
says m reference to bites of rabid dogs : 'The documents of investigation 
furnish indications full of interest in regard to the nune or less innocuous- 
ness of bites, accordli g to the different parts of the body upon which they 
were inflicted. If we compare the fatal with the harmless bites made upon 
the same region, we find that out of thirty-two cases where the face was 
bitten, twenty-nine proved fatal, which gives these wounds a mortality of 
ninety per cent. Out of seventy-three cases, in which the wounds were 
upon the hands, they have been fatal in only forty-six cases, harmless in 
twenjy-seven, giving an average mortality of sixty-three per cent. In 
comparing wounds of the arms and logs with those of the face and hands, 
the ratio is inverted; twenty-eight wounds upon the arms were followed by 
only eight fatal terminations, and twenty-four bites upon the lower limbs 
gave only seven fatal cases; seventeen remained harmless, showing a mor- 
tality of twenty eight to tsventy-nine per cent., and an innocuousness of 
seventy to twenty-one per cent., and, lastly, the ratio mortality for wounds 
upon the body is shown as follows: Out of nineteen bitten, twelve cases 
were fatal and seven bites proved harmless.' 

"Tbese facts are confirmatory of those affon'.ed by other statistics, demon- 
strating also that rabid wounds upon uncovered or unprotected parts, such 
as tiio face and hands, are much more readily contagious thaii those of the 
arms and legs, which the teeth of the animal cannot reach without passing 
through a portiou of the clothing, which wipes off the virulent moisture 
from the teeth. It is true the conseqv ^nces of bites upon the body seem to 
conflict with this statement: but we remember that generally these 
wounds are more severe, and amor theii: some are uncovered parts, such 
as the neck and chest, and that, when a man is attacked by a rabid animal 
and bitten upon tb^ body, he is also bitten i pon his hands, which are his 
material means of defence. Another reason ^.or the apparent large propor- 
tion of fatal cases from skunk bite is, that it is only since 1871 that these 
cases have been collected, or that the fact of hydropliobia existing in and 
following the bites of these animals has been generally known, and only 
those cases proving fatal have been reported, the non-fatal cases, from the 
trivial character of the wound, not being considered of suflicient importance 

to report. 

"a case of skl'nk iutb not fatal. 

"W., ayoung man, twenty-two yearsold, born in Missouri, commonly known 

"" Fo.t Larned, Kansas." 

t " H. Bouley, Gtu. Inspector Vet. Schools of France, ttc, etc." 



l>y the soiibiiqiiet ' Piko County,' driving a, team for a party of oinigrantH for 
Colorado, was bitten at night, in the early part of May, 1874, ui»on left cheek, 
by a Hkuuk, whilst camped at Park' - Fort,* Kansas. A companion, who was 
bitten by the same animal, freely cauterized the wound. Early the next 
day he presented himself at the hospital for treatment. Removing the eschar 
I cauterized it again freely with caustic, and directed that ho take i^tli grain 
of strychnia every three hours during tlio day, with vegetable tonics and full 
diet, the wound to be cauterized morning and night, and a poultice to be 
applied one hour before retouching to remove the eschar and promote sup- 
puration. No characteristic symptoms being produced by the strychnia on 
the fourth day, it was increased to y'^th grain dose, given as before. Siip- 
l)uration was fairly set np in the wound and continued ; four days after, 
strychnia increased to grain ^th, and continued at that for four days without 
any symptoms of its toxic effects. The dose was then increased to grain 
^th, and continued for six days without the patient being conscious of any 
jerkings, though the night nurse and some of the patients stated that he 
jerked somewhat more than natural when asleep. Suppuration of the wonnd 
continued free under the caustic and poultices: the dose of strychnia was 
then increased to grain i, and I watched him very carefully, for the slightest 
appearance of the effect of the medicine, for six days. On the last day I 
detected some slight involuntary twitching of the muscles of the face, and 
reduced the dose. Two days after reducing ho remarked that he guessed' that 
he was safe from hydrophobia, as the strychnia had not killed him. The 
wonnd was allowed to heal np, which it did rapidly, and a few days after ho 
left the hospital, and I saw him three months after perfectly well. 

" The above case shows either, first, that the man was not inoculated by 
the virus when bitten ; second, a wonderful tolerance for the drug if he was 
not so inoculated ; or, third, that acting primarily as a tonic to the nerve 
elements it enabled them to resist the invasion of the disease, and together 
with the frequent cauterization and free suppuration, to eliminate the poison 
from the system. (That the strychnia used was a good article was proved 
by the effect of a small dose upon an obnoxious cur of medium size.) I am 
inclined to the latter, for that the animal causing the wound was (indoubt- 
edly rabid is proved by the fact that the companion who was bitten by the 
same animal, in the camp, on the same evening, was reported to have died 
from hydrophobia about ten days after being bitten, and shouUl another case 
l)resent, would adopt the same treatment and pi^h the drug until its char- 
acteristic effects upon the system presented. 

" Rabies Mephitica, like Rabies Canina, is evidently epidemical, no cases of 
it having been reported previous to 1870 in this region. 

" The period of incubation is alike in Rabies Canina and Rabies Mephitica 
(so called), that is, it is indefinite, ranging from ten days to niuety days, no 
opportunity in the meanwhile being afforded f)r subsequent inoculation of 
hydrophobia. Statistics ?jhow that the manifestations of the disease have 
been most numerous during the first sixty days, and that after a bite from a 
rabid animal the probabilities of escape increase considerably when sixty 
days have passed and no symptoms of the disease have shown themselves, 
aad that aftei tho niuety days entire immunity is almost certain. Still, I 
am aware that cases are repDrted of a longer period of incubation. These 

* •' Park's IWt, K. P. R. \V."~ 
















are exceptional, and when reportcfl to extend beyond the fourth month it 
may be qnestioned whether the patient has not been unconsciously inocii- 
Inted by the caresses of a pet dog, suffering from the disease Unsuspected, 
from tetanus, or, as Baron Larrey* remarked, when commentating upon Dr. 
Fereol's case of hydrophobia with two years and a half incubation : ' For 
my part I should be disposed to regard his case not as an example of rabies, 
with an incubation of two years and a half, but as one of cerebral hydro- 
])hobia or symptomatic of acute delirium, provoked or aggravated by the 
coincidence of the bite of a dog presumed to be mad.' In all the cases from 
the bite of a skunk the prodroniic stage of the disease was more or less 
marked, though none of them amounting to acute melancholy. An indefinite* 
feeling of dread and a general malaise — the most prominent symptoms, 
together, in most cases, with pain or numbness at the seat of the wound, 
were present from one to three days. To most of these unfortunates the 
fearfnl result of the trivial wound they had received was unknown, and 
unaware of their perilous condition were not incessantly tormented with 
sad forebodings or dread. of the onset of the malady. 

"2. The characteristic pustules which the writer of Rabies Mephitica lays 
stress upon were not found in any of the cases of hydrophobia produced 
either by the bite of the skunk, Avolf, or dog. Niemeyert states that 'the 
assertions of Marochetti, who claims that during the incubation stage vesi- 
cles form beneath the tongue, and that by destroying these vesicles the out- 
break of the disease can bo averted, have not been substantiated.' 

" 3. That the invariable accompaniments of Rabies Canina were not want- 
ing in the cases of R, Mephitica. The specific action of the poison was made 
manifest first by the oesophageal branch of the eighth pair, giving rise to 
the characteristic symptom of the disease, or to the extreme difficulty of 
swallowing, especially of fluids ; then the frequent catching of breath no- 
ticed in all cases, showing that the recurrent nerve was also affected ; later 
brilliant eye, and the sense of touch becomes painfully excited, hypenesthe-' 
flia existing in a marked degree, with the exception of the case reported of 
R. Canina, all of which point to some lesion of the central and spinal nerves. 
That the brain itself, and espeoially the region of the medulla oblongata 
becomes affected by the terrible convulsions and delirium in the more ad- 
vanced stage of the malady. Tbi spasms in all the cases were unlike those 
of .tetanus, less continuous, remittent, and often intermittent. In none of 
the cases produced by the skunk bite was there any loss of i)erception. In 
no case that I saw did morphia have any effect in abridging the fearful 
struggles; death either ended with convulsions, or exhausted by the terrible 
exertions a sudden calm took place, ami, as if nature gave up the conflict, 
died without a groan." 

* " Loudon M(dical Txmen <nn1 Hazclle, Aug, 8, 1674, p. 159." 
t " Nienieyer, Pract. of Med." 






1* . 


ME PHITIN^— Continued: Skunks. 

The genns Mephitis, continued — Mephitis macrura, the Long-tailotl Mexican 
Sknnk — Synonymy — Habitat — S|»ecific characters — Description — Thesub- 
ffenwi Spilogale — Mephitis (Spilogale) putoritis, the Little Striped Skunk — 
Synonymy — Habitat — Specidc characters — Description of external char- 
acters — Description of the skull aud teeth — History of the species — The 
genus Couepatm — Conepatm mapurito, the White-backed Skunk — Synon- 
ymy — Habitat — Specific charactei -Description of external characters — 
Description of the skull and teeth • Description of tlie anal glands — Geo- 
graphical distribution aud habits. 

TUB length of the foregoing chapter having rendered a 
division of the parts of the work relating to Mephkinw 
advisable, I continue directly with an accouut of the other 
species of the genus Mephitis, and ef the genus Conepatm. 

l<oiig^-tailed Hexicaii 9'\unk. 

Mcphitla macrnra. 

Mephllls marrourn, itWit. Darst. Siiug. 1827-34, pi. 46, "f.1,2"; Abh. Ak. Wiss. Berl. IRSe 
(UM), -in.— Wagner, Suppl. Schreber, ii. 1841, i^.-Sehim, Syu. i. 1844, 3i:». no. 1-2.— 
Baird, M. N. A. 1857, 200.— I'oi/ie*, P. Z. S. 1861, 280.— Ocrr. Cat. Bouea Br. Mus. 1802, 07. 
[Not miicroura of Aud. &. Bach., nor of Woodhouse.] 

Mi-phUiH mcxicaiia, Gray, Maj,'. N. U. i. 1837, 581; P.Z.S. 1865, 149; Cat. Carn. Br. Mna. 
IPCit, — . - , • 

T Memphitig edulis, Jiirlandier, MSS. ined.* ^ 

Quid .Uephllisi loiigicaudata. Tomes, P. Z. S. 1861, -.^80 (Guatemala) ? 

* The animal referred to by Berlandier is probably this species. " Smaller 
than the Polecat. Length of head and body 13 inches; tail 11; black ; a 
white frontal line ; auothtu* on the uape, dividing into two lateral ones, after- 
ward converging near the root of tlie tail, on which they unite ; tail white- 
tipped. Inhabits most of Mexico. I have found it about San Fernand'- de 
Bexar, aud iu eastern interior States, where it is improperly called Zotillo. 
It may be tamed; is rather nocturnal ; hunts various small animals; is slow 
and heavy iu its movements, and bites forcibly. The fluid is highly phos- 
phorescent by night. The natives are fond of its flesh; they kill it, taking 
cu'e not to irritate it, remove the anal glan Is entire, cut off the head and 
feet, singe off the hair, and broil the flesh. I overcame my repugnance on 
one occasion and tasted the meat, which I found not disagreeable; it le- 
eembled young pork." (Freely translated witl; -.i i; i^ire-'t from the original 




Hah. — Mexico. (Not known to occur in the United States.) 

Specific characters. — Tail very long, tbe vertebne alone nearly as long 

at* tlie beaa and body; tail with hairs not nhorter than the head and body. 

A broad undivided white dorsal area (as in Conepatns), with lateral stripe 

and frontal streak (in the specimen examined). 


The apecimeD which I refer withont hesitation to this species 
is considerably smaller than M. mephitica, in fact little exceed- 
ing Spilogale putoriuH, with a tail (including hairs) longer than 
the htad and body, and other characters indicating specific 

I have no doubt that this specimen represents Lichtenstein's 
animal, described as above cited, from JNfexico. The M. rittata 
of the same author, op. cit. pi. 47 (also Abhaud. Akad. Wiss. 
Berlin for 1836,1838, 278; Wagner, Snppl. Sclireb. ii. 1841; 
Baird, M. N. A. 1857, 200), from Oaxaca, is based npon certain 
slight pecnliarities of color, and does not seem to be specifically 
distinguishable. But I have seen no specimens corresponding 
with Lichtenstein's descriptions, and consequently do not ven- 
ture to commit myself in the matter. 

The general physiognomy is that of true Mephitis, the snont 
very acutely pointed but not produced, and closely furred to 
the small, rounded, deiinitely naked nasal pad. The nostrils are 
autero-lateral. The ears are much as in M. mephitica — perhaps 
rather smaller. The fore claws seem to be remarkably long, 
slender, and cnrved ; the outer readies more than halfway to 
the end of the fourth, while the first barely attains the base of 
the second. There may be some peculiarity in the tubercula- 
tion of the soles, but this cannot well be made out in the dried 
specimen. The palms are perfectly naked ; the soles the same, 
excepting a little space on the side of the heel. The tail-ver- 
tebrae appear just to about e«;nai in length the head and body, 
which is . ot the case in any r.tJier species of the family I have 
seen. The tail is much less bushy than usual in Mephitis proper, 
but seems to have been in this specimen somewhat worn away. 

In coloration, this species curiously combines the broad white 
dorsal area of Conepatus with lateral dorsal stripes and frontal 
streak of Mephitis mephitica. The white dorsal area begins 
squarely on the nope and continues uninterrupted to the tail, 
but is otily i)ure white anteriorly, being elsewhere of a grayish 

* From No. vuo6, Mus. Smiths., Orizaba, Mexico, Bollvri. 




HH ; 


111 ; 



east, and between the sliuulders a small irregular 'black sjiot 
appears, leading to the supposition that the white dorsal area 
in this species is liable to the same variations that are known 
to exist in other speci s. In addition to this general white area, 
a slight white lateral stripe starts independently over each 
shoulder and is continued for a little distance along the sides — 
in this specimen further on one side than on the other. The 
frontal streak is short and slight. There is a white area 
on the breast between the fore legs, prolonged backward as a 
streak — it is probably not constant, but then I have never seen 
any white on the under surface of M. mephUica! (compare 
expression in LinnsBus's diagnosis of his Viverra viemphitia ot the 
10th editioy— "«M6iM« ex albo et nigro variegatus"). The tail 
is entirely and intimately mixed black and white — viewed from 
below, we see chietly hairs pure white at base and black at end, 
from above, mixed white and black-and-white hairs, producing a 
grizzled gray cast, and in direct continuation of the dorsal stripe. 
(This is exactly as given by Lichtenstein ; Gray's description 
gives the tail as black ; the variation is thus seen to be as in 
the allied species.) 

The dimensions of a dried but fairly wellstuifed specimen 
are as follows: Nose to root of tail about 13 inches (Lichten- 
stein says 14) ; tail-vertebra} nearly the same, but ratlier less 
(13 inches — Licht), the haiiS in this instance under three inches 
longer (5 inches — Licht). Fore foot 2 inches, of which the 
longest claw is 0.65 ; hind foot 2.25. 

This species was supposed (but erroneously as far as known) 
to inhabit the United States by Audubon and Bachman and by 
Woodhouse, the auimal described by these authors being simply 
the common M. mephUica under one of its interminable color- 

The Subgenus SPILOGALE. (Gray.) 

The characters of this subgenus having been indicated on a 
preceding page (p. 192), we may at once proceed to consider 
the single known species. 

U. 8. Geological Survey. 

MniteUdsB. PLATE XII. 

Xeyliltl* (Spilo jrtt > putorias. (ii^ins, xreatl> reduced.) 


The Little Striped iiEiiiiiii. 

MephltiN (Siillogale) iiiiluriim. (I<.) 


VIverra putorlni*, L. S. N. i. lOfh eil. \V>e, iA, no. 3; i. I'fifi, 04, no. i (partly. B.nscd prininilly 
upon I'utiiritu amenennus ttrintuii, Cafeol). Car. ii. 1731, (i2, jil. (W Qiuitcs bIho Kiiliii, 
Itin, ii, 378. IncluilBS 8yn8. and iltiHcr. of V. meinpliitijiot lOili ml. l)la;;iii(!tlN iinrrcij 
Hiilticieiitly with Spihyale; gciKiral beariiiK lutlier upon MephitU mepliitictt).—(iin, 
S. N. 1. 178y, H7, no. 4 (partly). 

SpllOKUle puJorlus, Oowc«, Bull. U. S. Gcol.nndOeogr. Surv. Terr. 2il 8er. no. 1, 187.'i, p. IJ 
(Hkull and ti'xtli). 

.MrphitiM Intrrrupln, Jtaf. Ann. Nat. 1>*18, ;5, no. 4 (" Lonisiana ").—I.e»ii. Ma 1. 1H-J7, l.">9, no. 

411 (in/. An. Kingd. V. 1827, I'Jil, no.3.')»ic.— /V«c/i. S.\n. Ifilt, 102 - l.icht. Alili. AUnd. 

WiMH. litrl, 1p3(. (1W8), 2t'3, pi. 2, C. l.—Schim, Syn. i. 18-14, 32.'), no. Iti. (All ultir Jinji- 

NpilOKUlc illtrrriipdl. Gray, P. Z. S. 186.% I.IO; Car. Cam. I?r. Mii.t. iHdil, — . 

MophltlM birolor, (Inij/, Maj:. N. fl. 1. 1837, !,S\.—Iiali <K M. X.A. If57, \\)-.—I'nikn; Am. Xat. 

Iv. 1870, 37lii Iv. 1871, 7G1 (Iowa, and probably New Vork).— .W/oi, Hull. M. C. Z. 11. 1p7I, 

11)9 (Florida, conuuou).--J/t';'c. U. S. Geol. Surv. Turr. 1872, G<i2 (Idaho). 
Mephitis zorlllu, LicM. Abh Akad. \Vis8. Berlin, 18;J(J (p\ib. 1838), jil. 2, I'. 2 (not of Liclit., 
• DarHt. pi. 48, f. 2, which is an African species — wlietlicr the Zoi ille of Bull'., xiii. nCi, 

302, pi. 41 ; ? ).— Wagn. Suppl. Schreber, ii. 18 11, 1!M», pi. X'ia.—Hchim, Syn. i. 1844, 32;'), no. 

\:>.—Aud. 16 lUich. Q. N. A. ill. 1854, 270 (tab. nulla). 
Mephlli!* timcrlCUlia mr. R., Desm. Manini. i. 1820, 187 (-- interrupta Baf). 
Mephith (|UaterllHCuri!i/ IJ. W. Winans, wcitinK from WillianiHpoi t, Kunn., in a (Kanna.s ?) 

newspaper, iiaiiit; unknown, date 18.V.).* 

* My endeavors to complete tlie reference, iiiul tliiis j»lii<!e tlie Hyiioiiyiu 
properly oil recoril, have been miavailing. Tlie uewsp.iper clip|>ing wliicli 
cunie into my possession does not include even the nanic of the paper — 
nothinji bnt a date, " 1H59", in MS., which I recognize as that ol Prof. Haird, 
who, however, ha* uo recoilectiou*of the c^onrce of the clip. The following 
is the article in full, with typography copied as closely as possible : — 

•'Mephitis Cluaterlinearis.— Win.— Four-striped Skunk. 



22} iuche.s. 

"Incisive G-6; Canine 1-1— l-l ; Molar 4-4— u-u: 

" From point of iittso to end of tail, vertebrae, 

" From heel to top of shoulder, 

" Length of hair in end of tail, 

" Middle toe nail, |. 

" General color, pure black ; a spot of white on either side of the bead be- 
tween the eye and ear, another between the eyes, making three on the head. 
Four parallel lineaof white about one fourth of an inch in breadth and three- 
fourths of'an inch apart, have their origou about the posterior part of the 
head, the two upper on either side of the oucipnt, while the two 
lower have their commencement behind and at the l(*wer part of each ear, 
all of which are carried directly backward to the posterior ribs, where the 
lower lines terminate and the upper curving downward and forward then 
father ascend to the him' part of the shoulder where they descend one inch 
to the elbow joint. A tiansverse band of white crosses the fore part of the 
hips with an interruption of one inch at the side of the back. A spot of 

U, i 






ff tMrphltiN myollH, Fheh. Syn. lH-29, IGl (hafiednn BMtpmnte, Du Prntr., Louis, il. 07, li;;, 

(not iilfnliniililfe, liiif very likely belongiDK liere). 
Little ntrlp«d Skunk. Authort. 
Moufette Intrrrompur, Li-ii». I. e. 
Hllnklhler mil uiilerbrorhrnen Hlniivn, 8ekim, I. e. 

Hah. — Unitod St.itos, sonthorly. Carolina, Georgia, Florida. Iowa, Kan- 
Has, VVyoniinjif, Mabo, Colorulo. Washin<;ton Territory. Soiithwuitern 
StatoH and Territories. Cap« 8t. Lncas. (f N«w York.) 

Si'Kciric cii.AHAC'TKKH. — Itlack or blackish, with nninorouH white stripes 
auil spots, and tail white-tipped. Small; a foot or less long; tail (with 
1 airs) obviously shorter than the body. 

Description of external characters.* 

This animal ia the sraallest of the American species, as 
fully incficated by the measurements given beyond. In form, 
it agrees closely with the common species, excepting in the 
shortness of the tail, in which there is a decided approach to 
Conepatus. The tail-vertebrcB are considerably less than half 
as long as the head and body, the tail with its hairs being 
obviously less than the length of the head and body, although 
this member is full and bushy. The pelage differs from that 
of M. mephitica in being notably finer, softer, and closer. In 
other respects of external form, the species agrees closely with 
M. mephitica — so closely that further details are not required. 

white on the upper part ot'eauh thtgli ; one ou either side of the rout of the 
tail; and a tuf^j of white hair arises from the tip of tlie tail; nose covered 
with short hair which is naked. More or less fur is interspersed with the 
long hair to the extremity of the tail differing in respect from the common 
American Skunk (Mephitis Chinga); and, also in being less in size and 
weight ami having a finer and denser pelage ditferently striped and spotted 
and being of a more slendor form. Its habits, so far as they are known, 
agree with those of the last named species. 

" Its geographical distribution is not yet determined the specimens which 
I have cx.aniined were obtained in Kansas and vary in their markings as oth- 
ers of the genus. The above specimen was a ni.ile taken on the 16th of Doc, 
ISijrt, excessively poor and weighed only one pound three ounces avoirdupois. 

"Another male specimen which I examined weighed two pounds; his meas- 
urements being rather less than the above; his markings were sinrtliar ex- 
cepting they were tiner. The three white spots about the head and the tuft 
of white hair in the end of the tail do not appear to be subject to any varia- 
tion. The female differs from the male in being smaller. — After a careful in- 
vestigation I now venture to introduce this n amnal as bere-to-fore being a 


" Williamsport, Shawnee Co., K. T." 

"From No. 11839, Mus. Smiths. Inst., Fountain, Colorado, C. E. Aiken. 

07, Hg. 



IT. 8. Geological Siirvry. 

MuttelidsB. PLATE Xni. 

Mephitis (HpilovHie) put«rlHS. (Nat. 8iz<;.; 










1 1.1 

lii|21 125 
£ 14° 12.0 











(7t«) •72-4503 

>^'°^**' ^ 







In color, this animal is black or blackish, relieved with white, 
like the other species. But the number and disposition of the 
markings are peculiar, afTordiiig specific characters in spite of 
an almost endless diversity in detail of the numerous white 
spots and stripes by which it is superficially distinguished from 
all its allies. The fantastic harlequin-like coloration is scarcely 
duplicated in any two specimens; in fact, the opposite sides of 
the same specimen show sometimes an appreciably different 
pattern. The markings are difficult of adequate expre.«sion in 
words that shall cover all their modifications; and tliose of the 
same specimen might easily be described in such different ways 
as to convey an impression of distinct species — ivs indeed has - 
been done. The following formula, drawn from the most com- 
monly observed state of the markings, probably covers most 
cases : — 

Black. A white spot on forehead between eyes. A white 
spot on each cheek in front of ear more or less confluent witU 
a white stripe which starts behind the ear. Indefinite white 
touches on chin and about angle of mouth. Four parallel equi- 
distant white stripes on fore part of body above, beginning op- 
posite the ears; the lower, lateral or external pair of tliese end- 
ing back of the shoulder, the median pair curving around the 
end of the lateral pair, downward and then forward to the fore 
leg. A white stripe transversely across the flanks, broken in 
two by an interruption on the median line of the back. A pair 
of white spots on the middle of the back just in advance of the 
last-named stripe. A white spot over each hip. A pair of white 
spots at base of tail. A white tuft at end of tail. 

The notorious inconstancy of the white markings of Skunks, 
even of those in which the pattern is normally simplest, finds 
room for exaggeration in the highest degree in this case where 
the normal markings are numerous and complicated. In some 
cases, owing to interruption of the usual stripes, I have counted 
no less than eighteen' separate white marks, exclusive of tail- 
tip and the vague chin-spots. The three head-spots a id the 
four parallel dorsal stripes on the anterior part of the bo<l> are 
the most constant, and may, so far as I have seen, be always 
traced, though the median pair of stripes are liable to slight 
interruption. The lateral pair are the firmest of all the mark- 
ing:j. There is special liability to a break in these stripes where 
they begin to curve downward on the side. Complete break 
here, tosion of the solitary pair of dorsal spota with the trans* 
16 M 



verse flank stripe, and lengthening into a stripe of the hip-^pot, 
result in three vertical crescentic stripes succeeding each other 
behind the end of the main lateral stripe, that runs from the ear 
over the shoulder. Interruption of these transverse crescents 
may give a set of numerous spots, without tracetible stripes, on 
the hinder half of the body ; indeed, the markings of this part of 
the body are wholly indefinite. The lateral spots at the root of 
the tail often fuse into one. The tail is ordinarily black with 
definite white tip, but may have white hairs mixed with the 
black throughout, or be all black or all white. The shoulder- 
stripe sometimes sends short spurs around toward the throat 
and breast The chin and upper throat may be perfectly black, 
or streaked throughout with white. The part of the ear corre- 
sponding to the white markings about it is commonly light- 
colored; the rest of the ear is black. The naked muflle is 
dark-colored. The claws are dull horn-color. 

The black of this animal is generally quite pure and glossy 
on every part; but sometimes it has a brownish tinge, espe- 
cially notible in old museum specimens. 

In this connection, the reader will refer, if he is snfBciently 
interested to do so, to Plate XII, on which is a wood-engraving 
of a photogiaph of two skins, showing the complicated mark- 
ings very clearly. 

Description of the skull and teeth. : 

Numerous specimens before me, labelled " bicolor " and " zo- 
rilla^t exhibit surprising variation in size and shape, without, 
however, warranting presumption that they are not all of the 
same species. Independently of the usual differences accord- 
ing to age, there is a remarkable range of variation in the 
width and depression of the skull behind and development of 
the occipital crest An average specimen is selected for de- 
scription, in which the range of variation will be also noted. 
Comparative expressioas used have reference to the skull of 
Mephitis mephitica. 

The skull is smaller than that of mephitica; excepting one 
abnormally large example, all are much less in every dimension 
than the smallest (adult) skulls of m^hitica which I have seen. 
Viewed from above, the muzzle appears more tapering, if not 
also relatively shorter; the angle of obliquity of truncation of 
the nasal orifice is much the same. Supraorbital processes are 
small, bat well defiueili as acute eminences, prolonged from 

U. S. Geological Survey. 

MnttelidsB. PLATE XIY. 




ai«pliltto (Bpllovslc) putorlns. (Nat sise.) 


wetl-deAiied ridgefi of bone divaricatiiif; from the sagittal croMt. 
Tbis crest is a single and acute ridge in adult skulls; in young 
ones, it is a tablet of bone, the sides of which separate almost 
at once from the occipital protuberance. There is little [MNtt- 
orbital constriction of the skulls ; the least width there bein g 
little, if any, less than the interorbital width. The lateral 
divergence of the zygomata is much as in the last s()ecies; but 
their upwanl convexity is usually greater, and the summit of the 
arch is at its middle. Behind, the skull is notably widened 
and flattened, almost as in Taxidea, the intermast.oid diameter 
being relatively much greater than it is in either Conepatm or 
Mephitis; in fact, it is not very much less than the interzygo- 
matic width, in some cases at least. Nevertheless, the mastoid 
processes are themselves less developed than in Mephitis proper, 
extending little, if any, beyond the orifice of the meatus, instead 
of flaring widely outward. The occipital crest is strongly de- 
veloped, and its outline is characteristic in the great convexity 
of contour on each side and deep median emargination ; in other 
genera, the median emargination is always slight, sometimes 
nil; and the lateral outline from the mastoid to the |)oiut where 
the sapraoccipital bones leave the general occipital crest is 
about straight— if anything, concave. 

A notable i>eculiarity appears in the profile view of the skull. 
The dorsal outline in Mephitis mephitica is strongly convex, with 
a high point about the middle, and this is carried to an extreme 
in M.frontata; in the present case, the same outline is nearly 
straight from the ends of the nasals to near the occipital pro- 
tuberance ; in fact, the skull i& as flat on top as an Otter's, and 
flatter than a Badger's. The zygomata are strongly arched 
upward, with a regular curve throughout, instead of being 
highest behind ; the prominence of the bulla ossea on the floor 
of the skull is sufficient to bring this part fairly into view from 
the side, as is scarcely the case in M. mephitica; tbis feature is 
also due,Mn part, to an abbreviation of the mastoid process, 
which is hardly at all produced downward. 

On the floor of the skull, the principal feature is the width 
behind, which, being simply coordinate with the general lateral 
dilatation alreaily noticed, requires no further comment. The 
paroccipitals are very small — in fact, mere nibs of bone, hardly 
able to bear the term " process". There are also strong points 
in connection with the bullse auditori» and periotic region gen- 
erally. The buUffi are not only more swollen at the usaal point 



of f^reatest iiiflntioii, but, behind thorn, the part that reachcH 
lietweeii the lateral elements of the occipital bone and the 
lateral |>ortioii of the lainbdoidal crest is also turgid, having; a 
general smooth convexity instead of an irregular concavity. 
The general turgescence is due to the greater development of 
the maHtoid sinuses. The bony palate ends in the same rela- 
tive position MS in M. mephiticttt and shows the same variation 
in the chardcter of the edge of this shelf. 

The mandible, th6ugh, of course, proportionally smaller than 
in M. mephitica, is identical in shape, contrasting equally well 
with the peculiarities of Conepatusj elsewhere mentioned. 

The smaller size aside, there is scarcely anything in the 
dentition of this species calling, for comment in comparison 
with Mephitis. The anterior premolar is well develo[)ed, and, 
as far as I can see, the dentition is, in other respects, nearly 
identical with that of Mephitin; the upper sectorial tooth (pos- 
terior premolar), however, has the cusp of its inner moiety 
rather a pointed process of the border itself thi;u a conical 
cusp, surmounting this inner part. . 

It should be noted that in one specimen, as an abnormality, 
the anterior upper premolar has aborted entirely on the right 
side, though present on the left ; while the lower jaw of the 
same specimen shows an abortive ponterior premolar on the 
left side. But, in general, in MephitinWy abortion or other 
irregularities of dentition are less frequent than in the Muate- 
Untv^ where the smaller teeth are more crowded. 

Ristory of the species. > 

In the case of an animal whose markings are so variable as 
those of the Striped Skunk, recognition of the species in jiature 
becomes a matter requiring some judgment and exi)erience; 
and it is not in the least remarkable that compilers of- vague 
and often conflicting descriptions, or of inaccurate figures 
badly drawn from stuffed specimens, or even prepared from 
poor descriptions, should have made inextricable confusion. lu 
an attempt to trace the written history of Mephitis putoriusy it is 
probably not possible to identify all the names which have been 
imposed npon it, nor even to fix the date of its first ap|)earanoe 
in literature. It is certain, however, that the a ..imal was known 
to the earlier writers ; its characters being clearly traceable in 
some of the descriptions of the last century, long before the 
period when Rafinesque and Gray respectively bestowed those 



tiAtneoi which have become mont extensively current. Koferring 
to the above Hynonymatio list as a renuint' of the views enter- 
tained concerning the record of tlie species, some points of 
special pertinence to M.putoriuH may be here noticed. 

Le Zorille of Buffon (Hist. Nat. xiii. 1763, pp. 28<.), 302, pi. 41) 
is a starting-point of a number of compilations, as at the hands 
of Erxleben, Gmelin, Shaw, and others; it does not reappear 
in Linnicns, who carried his grudge against his French rival so 
far as to ignore him in the "8ystema Naturn;*', thereby hurting 
only the book. It is described from South America, and is to be 
carefully distinguished from an African species, of an entirely 
different group, also called Zorilla, Descriptions of a Vimrra 
or Mephitis zorilla agree substantially in points of small size 
and much variegation with white; and thus, perhaps without 
exception, bear hard upon the present 8|>ecies, if tliey may not 
actually represent it. In many cases, however, the accounts are 
complicated or negatived by introduction among the synonyms 
of some names which apparently appertain to ConepatuHj or to 
Mephitis pro[ier. Whether or not we agree with Prof. Lichten- 
stein that Buffon's Zorille was this species, various indications 
of Viverra zorilla which flow from it cannot be satisfactorily 
and exclusively located here, and are to be passed over. They 
are, in effect, as they stand upon the pages, compounds which 
have no actual existence in nature. 

The Polcat of Gatesby, as above quoted, described with five 
narrow white lines, is a species which authors have found it 
difficult to locate, as the Common Skunic, M. mephitioay the only 
one supposed to inhabit Carolina, presents no such character. 
But since the discovery of the existence, in this portion of the 
United States, of a Spilogak^ which is the only species having 
several white lines, the pertinence of Catesby's reference here 
is evident. Catesby is primarily the basis of Viverra putoriwtj 
the only species of Skunk in the 12th edition of Liunu^us; and 
Linnreus's diagnosis '^ V. fusca litieis quatuor dorsalibus albis 
parallelis^^ is exactly and exclusively pertinent to the present 
species, which is, moreover, the only animal that presents this 
character. The four white stripes upon the anterior half of 
the body are its strong and constant character. It is true that 
the remainder of Linnnsus's account does not agree well, but 
neither does it agree with any Skunk known to me (*^subtus 
ex albo et nigro variegatus^^ &c.) ; and he also cites some refer- 
ences that probably belong elsewhere. In adopting the name 



S. i)utoriu» from LinniBiis, as I recently did {I. ». o.)t I reated 
uiioii the exclusive pertiueuce of his diaguoais, aud his quota- 
tion of Catesby. 

The Mephitin interrupta of RaflneMqno may or may not have 
been **a pure figment of his imagination". It probably, how- 
ever, had some basis, and if his account does not wholly agree 
with specimens of Spilogale putorius examined, it will be re- 
membered that even his elastic imagination would be put to 
the stretch to describe a spotted and stri|)ed Skunk in terms 
too exaggerated to be met by the reality which this species 
offers. We may accept his name as undoubtedly belonging 
here, and in fact we should adopt it, as a more definite appella- 
tion than zorillat were it not anticipated by Linnteus, as just 

Among earlier accounts, the best description I have seen is 
that presented by Shaw, page 380, vol. i. of the General Zool- 
ogy, under head of ^ var." of his Striated Weesel. Shaw refers 
to some miscellaneous plates of animals published a short time 
jtreviously by Mr. Catton, among which is a representation of 
an animal " having only four white bands on the back, and the 
tail almcdt entirely white ; a patch of white appears below each 
ear, and a small triangular white spot on the forehead. In the 
description accompanying the plate the animal is said to have 
measured twelve inches from nose to tail, and to have been 
brought from Bengal." The probably erroneous locality aside, 
the whole account is perfectly, and indeed exclusively, pertinent 
to Spilogale putorius. 

In Du Pratz's Louisiana, there is a description of a " bSte 
puante", which certainly conforms to no known species, but 
which was probably meant to be this one, to judge from the 
locality and the ascribed size. It is the basis of Mephitis myotis 
Fischer, {. c. 

In 1837, Dr. J. £. Gray bestowed upon this species the name 
of M.bioolor, by which it has been generally known of late years. 
About the same time, Lichteustein adopted the name of ill. 
zorilUif after Buffon, in which he was followed by Wagner and 
Audubon. Lichtenstein's earlier M. zorilUtj of the Darstellun- 
gen neuer Saugethiere, u. s. w., is the entirely different African 

The only description I have seen in which /our white lines are 
prominently indicated since those of LinnaBus and Shaw is an 
account given in 1859, when a certain Mephitis quaterlinearis 



was formally named and described in a Kansas (f) newspaper, as 
above quoted. It is singular that upward of a century inter- 
vened between tbese two curiously concordant accounts. Mr. 
Winans's description is accurate in tbe minutest particulars ; 
it was evidently taken from a specimen exactly like sumu of 
those now before me. 

Geographical distribution and habit». 

The geographical distribution of this species is much more 
extensive than has been generally supposed. Thus, Prof. B.iird, 
in 1857, gave its habitat as merely "Southern Texas and Cali- 
fornia ", and the indications of most authors are of a western 
and southwestern animal. But there is no doubt now of its 
inhabiting the greater part of the Southern States, and of the 
United States west of the Mississippi. I have examined speci* 
mens from Georgia and Florida, in which last State Mr. Allen 
considers it common, from various portions of the West, and 
from Gape St. Lucas. Mr. H. W. Parker, in his notes in the 
American Naturalist, as above quoted, records the species from 
Iowa, where at least fifty pelts were obtained one season, near 
Des Moines, and as probably occurring in the State of New 
York: — "There is reason to believe that the species may be 
found even in central New York. Dr. S. J. Parker, of Ithaca, 
N. Y., has twice seen by the roadside, in that region, a small, 
many-striped skunk, very different from the common one/' 

Respecting the habits of the species, I have no information to 
offer. It is not to be presumed that it differs materially from 
the common species in this regard. Mr. Maynard has stated 
that in Florida the animals are domesticated and used like cats, 
the scent-glands being removed at an early age ; they become 
quite tame and efficient in destroying the mice (Heaperomys) 
that infest the houses. 

The different species of Skunks, in fact, seem to be suscep- 
tible of ready semi-domestication, in which state they are, like 
the Fitch or Ferret, useful in destroying vermin, if they do not 
also make agreeable pets. Writers speak of the removal of the 
anal glands in early life, to the better adaptation of the ani- 
mals to human society, and such would appear to be an emi- 
nently judicious procedure. For, though Skunks may habitu- 
ally spare their favors when'accustomed co the presence of man, 
yet I should think that their companionship would give rise to 



IB > 


a certain senso of insecurity, utilavorable to peace of mind. 
To <le|>enU U|k)U the good will of ito irritable and bo formidable 
a iKMiHt, wlioHe temper may be ruftlud in a moment, in hazard^ 
ottA — like the enjoyment of a cigar in a powder-magazine. 

The Genua CONEPATUS. (Gray.) 

:< Tlrrrni »p., «■■• *p., of Mm* auttaor& 

< MrMnit of niiMit aiitliora. 

< MarpaHam »niy. CharlMW. Mar- N. B. i. IKH, 981. 

- {'•»r9»tWi,fira)i. <.'harlMW. M«r. N. H. I. IKiT, Vl. 

- ThlMHHii, LiehUtutHn, Abb. Akad. Ikirl. for leM, 1838. 

The very well-marked obaraoters of this genus have already 
been given (p. 102). The peculiarities of the skull and teeth are 
corrchited with certain modifloations of external contour, which 
give the animal a somewhat Badger-like aspect, though there is 
no mistaking it for anything but a Skunk. It is the only known 
representative of the subfamily in Sjuth America. 

I have not been able to examine any specimens of this genus 
from other than Unite<l States and Mexican localities, represent- 
ing in strictness the Mephitis {Thiosmus) maioleuouM of Lichteu- 
stein and late American writers, the leuoonotus of Lichtenstein, 
and the M. tMHuta of Bennett. The synonymatic list given 
beyond must be regarded as somewhat tentative or presump- 
tive, indicating that I see nothing in the deaoriptions of authors 
forbidding the 8upix>sition that the seemingly interminable list 
of nominal sfiecies really refers to more than a single good one. 
In adopting a name for the ^^Gonepatl", I simply take the oldest 
one I find. Should there prove to be more than one species of 
this genus included in the synonyms given, my article is to be 
held to refer solely to that one which occurs in Mexico and the 
southwestern portion of the United States, and upon which the 
descriptive matter herewith given is exclusively based. 

Nowhere, perhaps, in the literature of mammalogy have 
greater confusion and uncertainty prevailed than in that por- 
tion which relates to the Skunks, and the history of the Cone- 
patl is certainly not less hopelessly involved than that of other 
Skunks. Views of authors have oscillated between such ex- 
tremes as those held by Guvier and his imitators, for whom a 
Skunk was a Skunk, and those of other persons for whom an 
inch of tail or a speck of color was a good specific character. 
Into the tedious discussion of the names cited below I do not 
propose to enter, but shall content myself with giving a faithful 
description of the United States animal. 

U. 8. Oeologioal Survey. 

MniteUdaB. PLATE XV. 

CoB«|Mtna ntaparlt*. (Mat ■!■«.) 



Gray's barbarous term for this genus, ConepatuSy is obvionsly 
the same as the old Mexican Conepatl. Of its meaning I am 
not certain ; but it probably refers to the burrowing of the atii- 
mal ; for, it may be observed, nepantla in theNahaatl language 
signified a subterranean dwelling.* Gray's other generic name, 
MarputiuSy is Wmilarly related to Mapurito. This word 
compared with Mephitis itself through such forms as Mafuti- 
liqui, French Moufette^ &c. 

The l¥hite«ibacked Skunk. 

Conepatns mapurito. 

Plate XV. . ' 

Tlverni patorlUH, Hutu, "Act. Holm, xxxii. 1769, 68" {non Linn.). 

Tlverra mapurito, Qm. S. N. i. 17e8, es, no. is (ex Mutis).— £Aaw, G. Z. i. 1800, 39-2.-2^rt S. 

K. i. 1806, 53. 

Gulo mapurito, Humb. "Reo. Oba Zool , i. 350". 

MepbitiM mapurito. Lets. Man. 1837. 151, no. im.—Fi*eh. Syn. 1829, \6\.—8ehint, Sjn. i. 1844, 

318, no. l.-XicAt. Abb. Ak. Wiss. Berlin, 1836 (1838), S70 (THo»m%u).—T»ehwH, Fd. 

Pera. 1844-46, 113.— Otefrel, Saug. 1855, 764. 
ConepatUK mapurito, Couet, Bnll. U. S. Geol. and Geogr. Surv. Terr. 2d ser. no. 1, 1875, 14 

(skull and teeth). 
t Tlverra mepliitis, Om. S. N. i. 1788, , — ("Ohinche, Buff., xiii. pi. 39").— fl^rton, S. N. 

i. 1806, 53. 
Tiverra conepatl, Om. S. X. i. 1788, 88, no. 12 (Conepatl, Hern., Mex. 333). 
HeptaitlN coRepall, Fueh. Syn. 1829, 160. 
? Mephitis cliileiisiH, "Oeo/.Cat Mas." (Moufette du Chili Buff. H. N. SoppL rii. 333, pi. 

57).— Pr. Ow». "Diet Sc. Nat. xiii, 18—, 136".-" Onff. Anim. Kingd. ii , — , t -."— 

Leal. Man. 1837, 152, no. Afm.—FUeh. Syn. 1829, 160.— X>icA(. Abb. Ak. Wias. Berlin, 1836 

(1838), 272(r*»o««M4*).— SeAifw, Syn. L 1844, 319, no. 4.— "Oray, P. Z. S. 1848, , — . ' — 

OUb. Sfiug. 1855, 765. 
r Marputius chlleBSis, Gray, "Mag. N. H. i. 1837". 
f ConepatUS "ehinensls", Oerr. Cat. Bones Br. Mus. 1862, 97 (by typog. err. for ehiletuit). 

t Gulo qaitensls, Humb. " Beo. Obs. Zool L , 346 [or] 347 " {Atok, Zorra, Olontm de Quito). 

t Mephitis quiten8i8,£e««. Man. 1837, 153, no. 410.— iYteA. Syn. 1829, 161.— £<«At Abb. Akad. 

Wiss. Berlin, 1836 (1838), 373 (Thxoimu»).—Sehim, Syn. i. 1844, 319, no. 4. 
tOulOSUffocans, "JU. Verb. BerL Akad. WisMmsch. 1811, 109 {Taguari, Azara, i. 311. of 

French trausl.— OAincAe, Feuittie, Journ. Obs. Phys. 1714, 372)" (Brazil and Paraguay). 
f Mephitis BUffocans,2:>uiA(.Dar8t. Sang. 1837-34, pi. 48,f.l; Abh. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1836 

(1838),p.— (TAto«mu«).— SeAinz, Syn.i.l844, 320, uo.5(TAio»>ntM).— Oieb.SSug. 1855,763. 

f IMephltls feulllel, ^ " ZooL de la Bonite, , — , pL 3, f. 1-3 " {Sehim). 

f Vonepatus humboltitil et var., Gray, Mag. N. H. i. 1837, 581; List Mamm. Br. Mus. 1843, 

6a.—0errard, Cat Bones Br. Mus. 1863, 97. 
? Mephitis humbolitil, Blainv. "Osteog. Mustela, pi. 13, f.— (teeth)". 
t Mephitis patagoniea, Lieht. Abb. Akad. Wiss. Berl. 1836(1838), 3*5 {Thiotmu$) {" Yaguari, 

Maika, Falk. Patag. 128").— S^itur, Syn. i. 1844. 330, no. 6 (Thxo$mus).—" Burm. La 

Plata, ii , 409."-CfMb. S&ug. 1855, 763. 

? Mustela (Lyncodon) patagoilca, D' Orb. " Voy. Ain6r. M6rid." 

t. Mephitis amazontca, Lieht Abb. Ak. Wiss. Ber;. 1836 (1838), 275 (TA{o»mti*).—iSE(;A<»U!, Syn. 

i. 1844, 331, no. l.—Tehudi, Fd. Pern, 1844-46, 113. 
tConepatus amazonlca, Oray, List Br. Mus. 1843, 69. 
f Mephitis molinie, Litht. Abb. Akad. Wiss. lierl. 1836(1838), 373 (rAtonniM) {"Ohinehe, 

Molina, Hist. Nat. Chili. 340 ') (Chili).— JI^Ainz, Syn. 1844, 331, no. 8. 

* Fide Pruf. 6. Barrueta, of San Luis PotoBi, Mexico, to whom I appliea pur- 
Bouully for this iuforuiation. 



fMephlllHKnmlllie, £ieke. Abh. Ak. Wiaa. Borl. 1636(1838) ("illuttr«((em«rimn7r'iii ir<i(/H- 

tUiqui, GnmilU, Orinoco, iL 376 ").—8ehing, Syn. 1. 1844, 331, no. 10. 
McMKIh ■etioleaai, £{«%(. Darat Mat. 1837-34, , pi. 44, £3; Abb. Akad. Wisa. B«rL 1836 

(1K)8), 371, pi. 1, f. 1 {Thiotmwt) (Chioo, Mexico).— ITt^n. Sappl. Schreb. ii. 1841, 103, 

pi. 131 A..—SeMtu, Syn. i. 1844, 319, no. 3.— ilud. <t Baek. Q. N. A. li. 1851, 18, pL 53.— 

Ota. Siiug. lau, 764.— Baird, M. N. A. 1857, 1U3 (aabg. 7Ato«mu«).— roniM, P. Z. S. 1861, 

380 (Guatemala).— JIfiUiim. Arch. f. Katurg. xivii, 1861, 313. 
Tklotms aesoleHca, Leu. Noav. Tabl. R. A. 1843, 66. 

ThIOSHM HMOlcaeos, Ohatin, Ann. Sci. Xat. 5th aer. xiz. 1674, 100, pi. 6, f. 50-63 (anat). 
Me»hltlS ICHCOBOts, Lieht Darat Skng. 1837-34, , pL 44, f. 1 ; Abh. Akad. Wisa. Berl. 1836 

(ie3e),'S71 (rAuwmu*) (AWarado, Mexico).— .SeAtKZ, Syn. i. 1844, 319, na 3.— <K«&. Sang. 

1855, lii.—Baird, M. N. A. 1857, 900.— Tonwn, P. Z. 8. 1861, 380 (Onatemala). 
Hepkltts lenconotii latcraeilM, Dt Senut, B. M. z. i860, 6. 
MephltlH B»8Uta, Bennett, P. Z. S. i. 1833, 39 (Ciaifornia).— Gray, Mag. K. H. i. 1837, -.- 

Frater, Zo6l. Typ. na 4, pi, — . 
Mar»«tlH8 DMUtM, Oray, Mag. K. H. L 1837, 581. 
ThlWBiUS BMUta, Leu. Kouv. TabL R. A. 1843, 66. 
ConepatBH Bftsntn, van. BMVtii, humboldtii, clilleBsis et lIchteBStelBtl, Gray, P. Z. S. 

1865, 145, i46, 147; Cat Carn. Br. Mna. 1869, — . 
tt" Mephlllg CMtBaeUB, D'Orbig. Voy. Am6r. M«rid. 31, pi. 13, 13, f. 3."-" Giebel, Odontoj;. 

35, pi 13, f 1."—Gieb. Sftiig. 18.55, 765 (Sonthorn South America). 
t"Mt)phltl8 niKSta, Wofrn. Sappl. Sobreb. ii. 1841, 193" (ChiU).— r«(A. Arch. Naturg. 1843, 

348; Fn. Peru. 1844-46, 114 (Peru).- 
t Mephitis westcrmaBBl, Beinh. Yid. Selak. Forh. 1856, 370. 

? Mephitis BBierlcaBa, van. D f , E, F, 6, H, I, M.f « Q, £««m. Marom. L 1830, 186-187.' 
t Mephitis BBierleaBB, van. •, At , h, bi, b, o, p, s, Oriff. An. Kingd. ▼. 1837, 137, na 358. 
TMBlkel, FatNgOBlBB Malkel, Gray, I. «. 

Hab. — Southwestora border of the TJoited States aud soathward tLroagh 
Mexico and Ceutral and Sontb America. 

Specific characters. — Black or blackish, with a white dorsal area sotne- 
tiuies divided by a black vertebral stripe, rarely broken into several por- 
tions ; tail white, or black and white. 

Description of external characters.* 

This species differs materially from the North American and 
Mexican Mephitis proper, in many iK>ints of external anatomy, 
as well as the more essential straetural peculiarities upon 
which the genus Conepatus primarily rests. These secondary 
generic characters are the same, as far as known, in all the 
several slight varieties of the (probably) single species which 
represents the genus. The general conflguration of the body 
and limbs is much the same as in Mephitis; but the physiog- 
nomy is wholly peculiar, while the short scrubby tail, almost 
rudimentary ears, and a particular arrangement of the sole- 
l)ads, are all highly characteristic. 

The Conepate is the largest of the Skunks, some specimens 
attaining a length of about two feet, exclusive of the tail; but an 
ordinary dimension is about a foot and a half from the nose to 

* f'rom specimens from Texas and Mexico, with uninterrupted white 
dorsal area aud white tail. 



the root of the tail. The head is more leogthened and nar- 
rowly conical than in Mephitis. The facial aspect is highly 
characteristic in the prodactioo and attenuation of the snout 
and lowuess of the ears. The long snout is broad and de- 
pressed ou top, obliquely truncated in front, with a backward 
bevelling, so to speak, which brings the nostrils antero-infe- 
rior — they are not at all visible from above. The muzzle is 
almost a little rStromsS, and recalls that of a Pig rather than 
of a Weasel or Badger. It is furthermore peculiar in being 
entirely bald and callous on top for nearly an inch, this naked 
part narrowing to a point behind. Underneath, the nasal pad 
is closely and definitely circumscribed by the line of fur which 
closely approaches the nostrils. There is no sign, on the front 
of the snout, of the usual vertical groove, nor of such a division 
of the hairy part thence to the middle line of the lips. The 
organ looks as if it were fitted for rummaging among fallen 
leaves, or even for ** rooting" in the ground. The whole muzzle 
is beset with sparse short bristles, apparently growing irregularly 
in no determinate direction ; the longest moustaches scarcely 
reach to the eyes. There are similar bristles over the eyes and 
on the cheeks and chin. The proper pelage of the cheeks and 
snout is scanty, and it growis upward and forward from the lips. 

The external ears are so slightly developed that they have 
been described aa wanting. The pinna is a mere low orbicular 
rim completing about two-thirds of a circle, lower than the 
surrounding fur. The entrance of the ear remains i,roadly 
open. The eye is considerably nearer to the ear than to the 
end of the snout. The mouth is wholly far inferior, with short 
gape ; it is nearly an inch from the end of the lips to the ex- 
tremity of the snout. 

The short and rather close-haired (for this group) tail is quite 
different from the long, full, busby member in Mephitis and 
Spilogale — in fact, it is only superior in these respects to the 
stumpy tail of Tetxidea. It is difScult to estimate its relative 
length accurately, owing to the character of the base ; but the 
vertebrsB are certainly less than half the length of the head 
and body, and with the hairs the whole member is only about 
half such dimension, more or less. The terminal pencil of hairs 
is from only about two to four ?■ ^"'^i inches in length, in dif- 
ferent specimens; the width of the hairs in the middle, pressed 
flat sideways, is from six to ten inches. The tail, especially 
wheu white, or the white portion of it when black and white, 




. -• 

frequently presents a worn scrubby appearance, as if abraded ; 
and the white tip, when occurring in connection with bhick, 
may seem as if imperfectly connected with the remaining por- 
tion. There is something very peculiar in the character of the 
white hairs of the tail of this or other Skunks; it is very 
coarse, stiff, 3'et weak and brittle, almost like Antelope hair, to 
which it has been aptly compared ; it seems as if partially de- 
vitalized, and readily falls or breaks off. The same character 
is observable in the white portion of those hairs which are 
black at the end. In general shape, the tail is rather depressed, 
or slightly distichous, than uniformly cylindrical or bushy. 

The soles of the fore feet are perfectly naked from the wrist- 
joint, but overhung along the sides with a fringe of long hairs. 
The tuberculation is not well marked ; but at the bases of the 
digits, in advance of a general broad bare area, two incom- 
pletely divided pads are observable. The fore claws are very 
large, long, strong, compressed, little curved, not excavated 
underneath, and eminently fossorial. The middle three claws 
are of approximately the same size, though they are a little 
graded in length from fourth to second; the lifth is notably 
smaller, reaching to the middle of the fourth ; the ttrst is much 
shorter and more curved, reaching little beyond the base of the 
second. The terminal bulbs of all the toes are large. 

The soles of the hind feet, like the palms, are perfectly 
naked from the heel in all the specimens examined, fringed 
along the side with long hairs. The tuberculation of the soles 
is better marked than that of the palms, and somewhat pecu- 
liar, but not to the extent which Dr. Gray's remarks would 
indicate. The general broad flat area of the posterior part is 
divided by a transverse sulcus of variable depth and distinct- 
ness from the bulbous part at the base of the toes. This latter 
is not a continuous pad, as indicated by Dr. Gray — not always 
at any rate ; even in the dried specimens before me it is dis- 
tinctly divided into three bulbs, much as in Mephitis — one at 
the bases of the three middle toes, and another at the base of 
each lateral toe. The claws are very much smaller than those 
of the fore feet^ short, stout at base, moderately curved, obtuse, 
excavated beneath. The third and fourth are subequal and 
longest, the second is little shorter, the fifth much shorter, and 
the first shorter still. 

The pelage is very coarse and harsh throughout. The pecu- 
liarity of the white hairs of the tail has beeu already indicated. 





In coloration, this animal presents greater variations than 
those of ^Vipp/itfM mephitieaj in which the differences are mainly 
in the extent or restriction of the two normal white stripes. 
The pattern is essentially a white dorsal area, which may in< 
dude all or most of the tail. The white, in all the specimens I 
have seen, begins fairly on the sinciput, in advance of the ears, 
instead of on the nape, as in M. mephitica. This may be the 
only point of detail that is constant. The white begins squarely 
in a transverse line, or in a curve, or in a point; it is broad and 
uninterrupted to the end of the tail, or fails to reach the tail 
(which then usually only has a white brush at the end), or 
is divided by a median vertebral stripe of varying width, or, 
finally, may be interrupted in its continuity. 

Viewing tlie wholly indeterminate character of th\s wL o area, 
and comparing it with corresponding variations in Mephitis 
mephitieaj it is easy to account for the extraordinary confusion 
which prevuub in the accounts of this group, by authors who 
sought to establish species upon the character of the markings. 
These masses of black and white distracted the attention of 
all the early authors from the essential generic and speciflo 
characters; in fact, it is only about forty years since the true 
points of distinction were perceived at all, and even subse- 
quently species continued to be made upon a wrong under- 
standing. Some repugnance to handling and closely exam- 
ining the noisome beasts may not have been entirely inoper- 
ative in perpetuating error and confusion ; and certainly the 
group as a whole is not among those best represented in muse- 
ums, owing to the obviously disagreeable task it becomes to 
capture and prepare the animals. Once again, the perfect 
ease with which a fair description will answer to Conepatus and 
Mephitis has had its weight in provoking and perpetuating 

Let me illustrate this last point with the following example 
of fair diagnosis based upon color : — 

" Black ; back with two broad white stripes meeting on the 
head ; tail end white." 

This is a perfectly applicable and exact description of both 
Mephitis mephitica and Conepatus mapurito when the latter has 
the dorsal area divided. Again : — 

** Black : back with a single broad white stripe ; tail black 
and white." 



Tbis is entirely pertinent to both Mephitis macrura and Cone- 
patus mapurito when the latter has the dorsal area undivided. 
I do not know where to look for the parallel to this curious well- 
spring of error. 

Even after the full rec^ognition by Lichtenstein and Gray of 
the different genera of Skunks, many nominal species endnred, 
uiion the basis of coloration alone. In the case of Coi^epattm^ 
these have all latterly been reduced to varieties by Dr. Gray, 
because, as he very truly says, '* the differences in the colora- 
tion appear to pass into one another". This is a step in the 
right direction, but, as it appears to mo, does not go quite far 
enough. The ascribed differences are not of the character to 
which recognition by name is usually granted ; they are appar- 
ently not characteristic of particular geographical areas ; nor 
are they accompanied, for all that appears, by any other char- 
acters. I see no alternative to regarding them as wholly within 
the normal range of individual variability of the species. 

Nor are the ascribed differences, when sifted of genera1itit.s 
and cleared of mere verbal discrepancies, anything remarkable. 
I can make nothing more of them than this : the white dorsal 
area may be entire, or divided by a line of black of varying 
length or ^vidth (giving the "two" stripes of authors); it may , 
stop short of the tail, or go to its end, or may be broken up in 
its continuity. This is the whole sum of the various accounts 
I have seen. 

In compiling the foregoing extensive synonymy of ConepatuSf 
I have not been unmindful of Dr. Gray^s judicious caution : — 
** When we have the iM>wer to compare the living animal and 
the skeleton of each [of his nominal varieties], we may discover 
that some of them are distinct species, having a peculiar geo- 
graphical range." This is improbable, yet quite possible ; and 
its prudence impresses me especially, as I have not inspected 
specimens from South America. But I would urge these points 
in defence of the synonymy I have prepared: that all the 
supposed species whose names I have cited rest upon no other 
basis than that variability which is proven to be merely indi- 
vidual, and that, therefore, they are ipso facto synonymous; 
that should the synonymy be ever shown to embrace more 
than one species, an attempt to distribute it among two or 
more species, and to fls upon the pro[)er name for each, would 
be well-nigh futile, so inextricably blended has it become; 
that should a second species of Conepatus be hereafter estab- 


lished, it should properly receive a new name upon the new 
basis, as the best means of avoiding further confusion. 

It may not be amiss to add, that all the recognized South* 
American references are to Conepatm alone, Mephitis proper 
being not known to occur on that continent. This is a simplifi- 
cation of matters which does not hold for Central America and 
Mexico, where the two genera are found together. Neverthe- 
less, the supposed absence of Mephitis proper from South 
America rests upon negative evidence. 

Description of the skull and teeth. 

In the following description, reference is had to the same 
parts of M. mephiticaj to which all expressions of comparison 
apply. The account is based mainly upon No. ^\ Mus. Smiths. 
Inst., from Texas, but several other specimens are examined at 
the same time. 

Viewed from above, the rostrum is notahij,' tapering— decid- 
edly more so than in M. mephitica, though the calibre at the 
base of the zygomata is even greater. The nasal aperture is 
much less foreshortened in this view. Supraorbital processes 
are barely, or not at all, recognizable; the prongs of the sagittal 
crest are faintly indicated or entirely inappreciable. The point 
of greatest constriction of the skull (about midway between 
muzzle and occiput) is well marked and abrupt ; the skull im- 
mediately swelling behind it, forming a decided projection into 
the temporal fossa, hardly or not seen in M. mephitica. The 
cranial dome is rather biglier and fuller. The zygomatic arches 
are comparatively shorter, more divergent, and more regularly 
curved. In profile, the differences are more striking. The 
highest part of the skull is back over the cranial dome, not at 
the iuterorbital space; the slope is but slight thence to the 
occipital protuberance, but is long and regular from the same 
spot to the incisor teeth ; for so great is the obliquity of the 
nasal orifice that the end of the muzzle comes into this general 
curve, instead of rising, with slight obliquity, from the teeth 
to then bend abruptly backward at an angle. None of tne 
specimens, unluckily, are young enough to show the nasal 
sutures ; but I have no doubt that these bones, if not also the 
neighboring part of the maxillaries and intermaxillaries, will 
be found to afford good characters. The anteorbital foramen 
(as in other species, sometimes subdivided into several separate 
canals) is farther forward and higher up, piercing a thicker 





zygomatic root, and couseqnently being rather a tube than a 
bole. The zygomatic bones are slenderer and less laminar than 
^n Mephitis. The arch, as a whole, is shorter and more an- 
terior ; in skulls of the same length laid together, the back 
roots of the arch in Conepatua fall in advance of the other when 
the muzzles are together. Viewed from behind, the occipital 
surface is much higher and narrower; thus the distance from 
the bottom of the foramen magnum to the occipital protuber- 
ance is greater than the interparoccipital width ; in MepkitiSj 
it is, if anything, less. Beneath, the palate is seen to end some 
distance back of a line drawu across behind the molars ; the 
pterygoids and contained interspace are correspondingly shorter 
than in M^hitiSf in which the palate ends more nearly opposite 
the back molars. The edge of the palatal shelf is simply trans- 
verse in some specimens, while in others it shows a little median 
process backward, and we may presume that in other cases it 
is nicked, for all this variation is now well known to occur in 
both Mephitis and Spilogale. 

The lower jaw gives excellent characters. The angle of the 
mandible is strongly exflected and the emargiuation between 
this and the condyle is slight. The coronoid process rises with 
considerable backward obliquity, with a very convex anterior 
border, and concave posterior one, carrying the a^iex of the 
bone backward to a point nearly or directly over the condyle. 

A peculiarity of the dentition of Conepatus has been unduly 
exaggerated by some authors, who assign a different dental 
formula (pm. ^, as against pm. ^ in Mephitis). But the sup- 
posed wanting anterior premolar is often present ; though it is 
always minute, probably never functionally developed, and 
deciduous or abortive on one or both sides. I see this small 
tooth plainly in two skulls before me, but do not find it in a 
third ; in which last there is instead an unusual diastema be- 
tween the canine and the nearest premolar. This point dis- 
posed of, nothing in the dentition of Conepatus calls for special 
remark. The detailed account given under the head of Mephitis 
mqphitica is here equally applicable. 

Vertebrre: 0. 7; D. 16; L. 5j S. 3; Cd. 18 (Gerrard). 

Description of the anal glands. 

The anal armature of this species has been investigated by M. 
Ghatin, who has published a thorough description, illustrated 
with excellent figures, in the Annates des Sciences NatureHes^ as 



above quoted. Although the specimen bad been preserved ia 
alcohol for several years, it was still extremely offensive, and 
the preservative fluid was tainted with the same fetor. M. 
Chatin's account is substantially as follows: — The anus presents 
55iniu behind the root of the penis, iti a large irregularly 
elliptical depression, crossed by numerous grooves; the sur- 
rounding integument forms a sort of flap folded about the anus 
and excretory pores of the glands. These appear as openings 
pierced in the centre of two thick, prominent, umbilicated 
papillie, situated on er>'^h side of the anus, about O""" from the 
middle line. Moderate pressure suffices to bring up to these 
orifices the dirty brown fetid liquid which has made Skunks 
famous. Keuioval of the cutaneous fold which partially covers 
these nipples shows that they are situated in a kind of recess 
rising about 5"^^ above the floor of this small pouch; the 
calibre of the pore which opens at the summit is sufficient to 
admit a probe about a millimetre in diameter. Dissection of 
the perinieum brings to view the whole secretory apparatus, the 
size of which is so considerable that it is surprising Cuvier 
had nothing to say on the subject in his chapter upon anal 
glands and those of neighboring parts. Stannius and Siebold 
were also silent, while Owen confined himself to mere mention 
of the anal glands of the Skunks. 

The glandular mass is nearly trapezoidal; it begins 33'"™ 
from the prostate, on a level with the origin of the corpora caver- 
nosa, the roots of which thus extend upon the posterior or pro- 
static portion of the gland ; superiorly it lies in relation with 
the urethra, which passes over it. It is enveloped in a thick 
muscular tunic, the origin of which may be readily determined. 
It is well known that the ischio-cavernous muscle (ischio-penial 
of German authors) passes obliquely downward and inward to 
the root of the corpus cavernosum, where it ends in tendinous 
or muscular fibres. <' But sometimes", says Leyh, "there are 
found below this muscle some isolated muscular fibres which 
appear to have no function." They may be so regarded in 
domestic animals ; but, in the present case, nature furnishes 
another instance of her economy in giving them no inconsider- 
able part to play. These same fascicles form a large part, but 
not the whole, of the muscular envelope of the gland; the bulbo- 
cavernous muscle is equally concerned in the formation of the 
tunic ; nor can we entirely separate from it the prostatic muscles 
which are blended with it, and which cover the apper portion 
17 m 



E ii 


of the urethra in those animals that, like the present species 
and ihe Dog, have no Cowper's glands. The muscular coat, 
about 3"*'" thick, is comi^sed of two layers readily distin- 
guished by the direction of their fibres ; those of the superlicial 
layer being transverse, that is to say, perpendicular to the 
median or antero-i)osterior axis of the gland, while the Hbres 
of the deep layer run in the opposite direction, parallel with the 
same axis. 

Below these muscular layers, that is to say, within the general 
muscular envelope, is found the follicular or glandular portion 
proper of the organ ; it is not regularly distributed around the 
central reservoir, as in most Camirora, but occupies only a 
limited portion of the surface of this receptacle. The follicles 
are rather large, and of a reddish-brown color; their numerous 
well-developed culs-de-sac measure on an average 0""".55 in 
diameter, and are variously rounded, ovoidal, club-shaped, &c. 

The reservoir, which is of great size, is covered with a thick 
whitish tunic composed of dense laminated tissue and elastic 
fibres, the presence of which is readily determined by means of 
acetic acid. In the si)ecimen examiued,^the receptacle was 
empty, containing only a few dirty brown pellicles, which 
showed under the microscope nothing but laminated fibres and 
fine granules. Toward the anterior extremity of this cavity is 
found the opening of a duct, through which the fluid secreted 
is conducted to the lateral anal pore, as may be easily ascer- 
tained by passing a probe. The surface of the reservoir, marked 
with numerous folds and furrows, resembles to some extent that 
of Herpestes fasoiatM». 

It is an established fact, then, that the fetid humor which 
was long supposed to be urine is the secretion of true anal 
glands. It is to be regretted that ihe anatomy of the various 
species of Mephitis is not better known, for it would be interest- 
ing to compare them in the detai's of this structure. Much is 
still required to complete their history, and it is to be hoped 
that the missing links may be soon supplied. 

Qeographical distribution and habits. 

The general extra-limital dispersion of the species southward 
has been already indicated. Lichtenstein's M. mesoleuca was 
procured by Deppe, in 1825, near Chico, Mexico ; his leucotiota 
was from the Bio Alvarado, Mexico. Bennett's M. nasuta came 



from " California '\ Audubon and Baclnnan denoribe the ani> 
iiial from Texas. Tlie only spejiimen Baird had seen in 1857 
was also from this State (Llano Kstacado), beyond which I am 
not aware that the animal has been actually observed north of 
the Mexican border. I obtained no evidence of its presence in 
New Mexico, Arizona, or Southern California during my resi- 
dences in those regions, and the species may be confined, in the 
United States, to the valley of the Lower Rio Grande, like vari- 
ous other quadrupeds and birds. 

From Audnboirs account, it is to be inferred that the animal- 
is not rare in portions of Texas, where the specimen which is 
figured in his work was procured by his son, John Woodhouse. 
His notice of its habits is as follows : — 

*'The Mephitis meHoleuea is found on the brown, broomy, 
sedgy plains, as well as in the woods, and the cultivated dis- 
tricts of Texas and Mexico. Its food consists in part of grubs, 
beetles, and other inse(;ts, and occasionally a small quadruped 
or bird, the eggs of birds, and in fact everything that this 
carnivorous but timid animal can appropriate to its Sustenance. 

" The retreats of this Skunk are hollows in the roots of trees 
or fallen trunks, cavities under rocks, &c. ; and it is like the 
northern species, easily caught when seen, (if any one has the 
resolution to venture on the experiment,) as it will not endeavour 
to escape unless it be very near its hiding place, in which case 
it will avoid its pursuer by retreating into its burrow, and there 
remaining for some time motionless, if not annoyed by a dog, or 
by digging after it. 

"The stomach of the specimen from which our drr.wing was 
made, contained a number of worms, in some degree resembling 
the tape-worm at times found in the human subject. Not- 
withstanding this circumstance, the individual appeared to be 
healthy and was fat. The rainy season having set in (cr at 
least the weather being invariably stormy for some time) after 
it was killed, it became necessary to dry its skin in a chimney. 
When first taken, the white streak along the back was as pure 
aad free from any stain or tinge of darkness or soiled color as 
new fallen snow. The two glands containing the fetid matter, 
discharged from time to time by the animal for its defence, 
somewhat resembled in appearance a soft egg. 

"This species apparently takes the place of the common 
American skunk {Mephitis chinga), in the vicinity of the ranchos 
and plantations of the Mexicans, and it is quite as destructive 



to poultry, eggs, &c., as its northern relative. We have not 
ascertained anything aboat its season of breeding, or the time 
the female goes with yonng ; we have no donbt, however, that 
in these oharaoteristios it resembles the other and olosely-allied 

« The long and beantifnl tail of the BIcank makes it oonspic- 
nons among the thickets or in the musquit [mezquite] bushes of 
Texas, and it most f^qnently keeps this part elevated, so that 
in the high grass or weeds it is first seen by the hunter who 
may be looking for the animal in such places." 


Subfamily MELIN-^: Tue Badgers. 

The genua Taxidea — Qenorio obaraotorH un«1 oompariHori with .)fe1e» — Taxidea 
americuna, the Auierloun Badger— Syiioiiyniy— Habitat — Spucitio clmrac- 
ten — DeHoription of external obarncterH — DoHuription of the skull antl 
teeth — Qoographical variatioa in the skull — History of the Ainitrioan 
Badger— lUi geographical distribution — HahitM— Taxidea amerifana var. 
herUtHdieri, the Mezicau Badger— Synonymy — Habitat— Subspecitlo char- 
acters — General remarks. — Adukndum : Description of the i>«rinii>al glands 
of the European Badger, ilele» nilgarh. 

ANIMALS of this subfamily inhabit Europe, Asia, and 
America. There are /bur well-marked genera, though 
the species are so few : the European Meles^ the Asiatic My-^ 
daus and AretonyXy and the American Taxidea^ long time con- 
founded with Hfeles. 

I have already (p. 10) given the characters by which the 
North American representative of the Melina is distinguished 
firom our other subfamilies. The expressions used, however, 
are rather diagnostic of the particular genus Taxidea than of 
the subfamily Melino} at large, the virions members of which 
differ snfBciently to require greater latitude of definition. It 
being not to my present purpose to consider the Melitwe fur- 
ther, than as represented by the American genus, we may' at 
once take up the latter. 

The Genus TAXIDEA. (Watebh.) 

X Vnm, pt, of Sohreber. 

< MeleSi TaxBSi of anthors referring to the Korth American Badger, 
s TaxMea, Waterhoute, Proo. ZoJil. Soo. Lond. vi. 1836, 194 ; Trans. Zoftl. Soc. Lond. ii. pt. ▼. 
1841, 343 Bttird, Mamm. K. A. 1897, 901, and of late aattaors generally. 

3-3 1-1 
M' "• 1-1' 

Generic characters.— i>«ntoljformu7a: i. 
34.* Back upper molar a right-angled triangle, with hypothenuse postero- 

*Prof. Baird (M. N. A., 201), after correctly at&ting the dental formula, 
makes the total "32" instead of 34, by an obvious slip of the pen. He 
further states, " In young specimens there is an additional premolar, (first,) 









exterual. Back upper premolar similar in sixe ami Bbape (thouirli the emi- 
iienc«H of tbe crown very different), but the bypothenuse postero-iuterual. 
Back under premolar witb two tubercles. Anterior under molar compara- 
tively small, not dilated bebind, mostly opposing tbe back upper premolar 
(instead of tbe upper molar as in Melen). Cerebral jiortion of skull de- 
pressud-uuneiform, very wide across tbe daring occipital crest ; tbe inter- 
mustoid diameter nearly equalling tbe iuter-zygomatic ; sides of tbe brain- 
case straightened and strongly convergent anteriorly. Bony i)alate reach- 

whicb soon disappears ; this will add 1-1 premolar to tbe lower jaw, making 
34 in all." But such additional under premolar of tbe early dentition 
(which I have not seen, though I have examined skulls with the teeth 
scarcely cut) would make 36 in all, not " 34", tbe latter being tbe correct 
total of tbe adult formula. 

Audubon and Bachman state (Quad. N. Am. i. 301) that " the present spe- 
cies has one tooth less than tbe latter [Meles vulgaris'] on each side in the 
lower jaw", which is certainly not the case, as the dental formula is the 
same iu the two genera. Quoting Waterhouse, Trans. Zool. Soc. ii. pt. v, p. 
343, these authors continue : — "' The subgeneric name, Taxidea, may be ap- 
plied to the American Badger, and such species as may be hereafter dis- 

covered with incisors^; caninas j^^ ; 

false molars 


molars g 

I have not Waterbouse's article at hand to verify tbe quotation ; if his words 
and figures are correctly quoted, Waterhouse did not give the right formula, 
for his total is only 32, instead of 34 ; besides which be reckoned the upper 
sectorial tooth as a molar, instead of a premolar, as it is. Making this 
change, but retaining his original numbers, Watei'house's formula becomes 
pm. ^g, m. g^g- But there are five grinding teeth on each side of the lower 
jaw of Taxkha. I have never seen an American Badger's skull with teeth 
otherwise than as given iu the text above. 

A peculiarity in dentition of Melea vulgaris, which may account for dis- 
crepant statements of tbe dental formula, has been pointed out by Professors 
Moseley and Lankester ( Journ. Anat. and Phys. iii. 1868, 79) : — " Mr Flower, 
in bis recent admirable paper on tbe Dentition of Marsupials, has laid some 
stress on the fact that, iu several diphyodont mammalia, some of tbe anterior 
maxillary teeth never have any predecessors, as in the case of tbe second an- 
terior maxillary teeth of tbe dog, and the corresponding lateral mandibular 
teeth, and in the hog also. We are led to believe, from the examination of 
a line series of Badgers' skulls iu the university museum, that this animal 
furnishes an wlditional example. In three skulls, possessing tbe permanent 
dentition, we found a small peg-like tooth implanted in tbe jaw immediately 
behind the caniniform maxillary, and somewhat internally to the general 
line of tbe teeth, and obviously corresponding to the small anterior lateral 
tooth (pra>molar) of the lower series abutting against the large caniniform. 
W-j found no trace of this tooth in a young skull with tbe perfect deci('".ous 
dentition, nor in De Blainvilio's figure of. the same. It is described neither 
by Owen nor De Blainville, and is evidently easily lost, since it has dropped 
out of one skull, leaving only its alveolus as evidence of its former pres- 
ence ; and in two other skulls no traces of it were to be seen at all. The 
addition of this tooth makes the dentition of the Badger the same as that 
of the Glutton." 



MoiteUdn. PLATE XYI. 

'I'NxldcH amerlcnuM. (Uvducua.) 



ing half-way to ends of pteiygoids. BiiHib anditoria' at a maximum of 
iuflation, impinging behind upon paroccipitals. Condyles of jaw often 
locked in the glenoid. Coronoid of jaw erect, pointed, its posterior edge 
aiigulated by the meeting of two straightish lines. (For further cranial char- 
acters see page 369.) 

Body extremely stont, squat, and clums' , owing to great depression ; tail 
short, broad, flattened ; pelage loose ; coloration ditfiise ; fore claws ex- 
tremely large, highly adapted for digging. Habits thoroughly terrestrial 
and fossorial. 

Taxidea is confined to North and Middle America. " This 
genus," as Prof. Baird* has remarked, " is so strikingly differ- 
ent from Meles as to render it a matter of astonishment that 
the typical species were ever combined." It is represented by 
a single species, divisible into two geographical races. 

The American Badger. 

Taxidea amerlcaua. 

Plate XVI. 

trSMS taxus, Schreb. "SaiiR. iii. 1778, 520, f. 142 li. (After Buffou.)" 

Meles taxus var. amerlcanus, Bodd. Blench. Anim. i. 1784, 136. ' 

Meles americanus, Zimm. Penn. Arktiache Zool. i. 1787, 74. (Qaotes Boddaert.) 

* Mamm. N. Am. p. 201. From direct comparison of skulls, which I have 
not made, this author has concisely set forth many leading points of dissim- 
ilarity. I quote his article, with some abridgment:— 

" The most striking peculiarity of Taxidea consists in the great expanse of 
the occipital region, the width of the occiput being [nearly or about] ecjaal 
to that of the skull, measured between the outer surfaces of the zygomatic 
arches. Thus the general shape is that of a depressed wedge, widest behind 
and truncated anteriorly, instead of being very much widest across the 
zygomatic arches, as in Meles, . . . The occipital crests are well developed 
in Taxidea, the sagittal very moderate. The auditory bulhe are very large 
and convex. The processes of the glenoid cavity are not so well developed 
as in Meles, though occasionally sufficiently developed to lock the condyles 
of the lower jaw. The corouoid process has its apex pointed instead of 
rounded or truncated ; its posterior margic is formed by two lines, the lower 
rising nearly perpendicularly a little in udViince of the condyle, the other 
rather longer than the first, making a very obtuse angle with it. The difler- 
ences in the character of the teeth are equally striking, though their number 
is the same. The penultimate or sectorial upper molar [last premolar] is 
very large and triangular ; fully e<iual in size to the last molar, instead of 
being much smaller ; it has likewise a large tubercle ou the inner lobe, 
scarcely observable in Meles. The last molar is also triangular, (nearly right- 
angled,) somewhat resembling half of the quadrilateral tooth of Meles. In the 
lower jaw the last premolar is larger than in Meles, and nas two tubercles. 
The penultimate molar is smaller and not dilated behind. The portion of its 
crown which is applied agaiusD the upper sectorial malar [premolar] is larger 
than that in contact with the last upper molar, instead of being smaller, as 
in Meles." 

i 1 

i I 







Taxlie* ■■cri«M«. Baird, M. K. A. 1857, 203, pi. 39, f. U.—Xewb. P. R. K. Rep. vi. 1857, 45 
(haWta).— Coop. N. H. W. T. 1860, n.—SuckUy, ibid. 9i.—Suckley t£ Gibbi, ibid. 117.— 
Hayi. Trans. Am. Pbiloa. Soc. xii. 1862, 134 (Upper MiBSoari country).— Omj/, P. Z. S. 
1865, 141 ; Cat. Cam. Br. Mus. 1309, —.—Ooop. Am. Nat. ii. 1868, 539 (Montana).— S(eu. 
V. S.6eol. Snrr. Terr, for 1870, 1871, 461.— Allen, Pr. Boat. Soo. N. H. xiii. 1869 (pablished 
February, 1870), 183 (Iowa, still numerons) ; Bull. Ess. Inst vi. 1874, 46 (Kansas), 54 
(Colorado), 59 (Wyoming), 63 (Utah) ; Pr.Bost. Soo. xvii. 1874, 38.— AmM, Bull. Minn. 
Acad.Kat Sci. 1874, 69 (Minnesota).- Coue« di Yarrow, Zoiil. Expl. W. lOOMerid. ▼. 
1875, 63.— AUen, Bull. TT. S. Oeol. and Geogr. Snrv. Terr. vol. ii. no. 4, 1875, XIO (skull). 

Unns labnriorlns, <hn. S. N. i. 1788, 102, n. r—Kerr, S. N. i. 1792, Ifft.—Shaw, G. Z. i. 1800, 
469, pi. 106 Turt. S. K. i. 1806, 63. 

Meles labnuiorlm, M^jer, "Zool. Arcb. U. 1796, 45."— J". .S'c' App. FranklinisJoum. 182.3, 649 
(compared with European).- ITaW. Fn. Amer. 1825, oT.— Griff. An. Kingd. v. 1827, 116 
("labradoriea"}.—Lest Man. 1. 1827,141, no. 372 {"labradorica").—Fiseh. 8yn. 1829, 
151.— iNcA. F. B. A. i. 1829, 37, no. 12, pi. 2.— Gtodw. Am. Nat. Hist. i. 1«31, 119.— Rich. 
Zool. Beecbey '8 Voy. 1839, 4.— Wagn. Suppl. Sohreb. ii. 1841, 182.— Z)e Kay, N. Y. Zool. i . 
1842, 27.— «*in«, Syn. i. 1844, 315 {"labradonis").—Sud. <t Baeh. Q. N. A. i. 1849, 360, 
pi. n.—Bd. Stansbury's Kop. 1853, 311.— fenn. Tr. Illinois Agric. Soc. for 1853-4, 
1855, 578.— (?i«6s{, Siing. 1855, 761 ("labrodorius").— f oil, Canad. Nat. and Geol. vi. 
1861, 294 {"labradorieiu").— Maxim. Arob. Katurg. 1661, — ; Yerz. Siiug. 1862, 33. 

Tmxos labraiorlcus. Say, Long's Exp. i. 1823, 261, 369. 

Taxlira labrMlorlB, B. Smith, Nat. Lib. xiii. 1842, 210.— Gray, List Mamm. Br. Mus. 1843, 
70.— Bnird, M. N. A. 1857, 745 (expl. of pls.).-Oerr. Cat. Bones Br. Mus. 1862, 99. 

?TasMe« labradorla, Waterh. P. Z. S. vi. 1838, 154; Tr. Z. S. ii. 1841, 343, pi. 59 (may be tbe 
other subspecies). 

Meles Jcffrnonll, Harl. Fn. Amer. 1825, 309 (based on Lewis and Clarke). 

Anerlran Batiger, Penn. Syn. Quad. 1771, 202, no. 143; Hist. Quad. ii. 1781, 15, no. 998 b.— 
Erzl. Syst. i. 1777, 164 (in text).— And of authors generally. 

CoHBioa Baiger, Penn. Arct Zool. i. 1784, 71, no. 23 (in part; Includes the European). 

Blalreaa i'lmerlque, "F. Ouv. Hist. Nat. Mamm." 

Blalreaa 4n Labrador, Let$. L o. 

AHerlkaalscbe Dachs, Sekinz, I e. (Daeht, of. Martens, Zool. Gart xi. 1870, 251, philological). 

Braro, Lewi» it Clarice, Trav. Allen's ed. ii. 1814, 177; Kees'sed. 4to, 471 ; Kees's ed. 8vo, iii. 
40 (also called "badger" j)a«8tm in this work; rendered " blaireau " in the MoYiokar 
ed. ii. 349; basis of ilelea jeffersonii, Harlan). 

Prarow, " Gass's Journ. p. 34."—{Itiehard»on.) 

Br.iiiro or LacyotI, Gray, List Mamm. Br. Mus. 1843, 70. 

BralbO or LaCfOtl, Gerr. I e. 

Carc^lOH, Bwf. "Hist. Nat. Suppl. iii. 342, pi. 49" (cf. Desm., Mamm. i. 1820, 173; Enoy. pi. 
38, f. 2). 

Carci^oa ou Blairean am^rlcaln, F. Ouv. Suppl. Buff, i, 1831, 267. 

CarluUoa ou Blaireaa i'laerlque, Gervait, Proc. Yerb. Soo. Philom. Paris, 1842, 30. 

Brat ro et Blflenr, French Canadians. 

Bfannaspachie-HecAkmhew, MistonuMk, Awawteekieoo, Cree Indiant (Richardson). 

Hab. — United States, from Wisconsiu, Iowa, and Texas westward. Brit- 
ish America, east to Hudson's Bay at least, ncrth to 58°. Replaced near the 
Mexican border by var. herlandiei'i, which extends into Mexico. Formerly 
farther east (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois). " Ohio, near Toledo, about 20- 
years since ; now extinct " (£dw. Orton, in epiat^). 

Specific characters. — Top of head darker than other upper parts, with 
a median white stripe ; sides of head below the eyes, and its under surface, 
white, with a dark patch before the ear ; limbs blackish ; body-coloration 
above a grizzle of blackish with white, gray, or tawny, or all of these ; be- 
low uniform whitish, shaded or not with gray or tawny. Length about 24 
inches to root of tail ; tail 6 ; head 5^ ; longest fore claw 1^. 


Description of external characters.* 


Form stout, thick-set, indicative of great strength and little 
agility ; body broad depressed ; head flattened, couoidal ; tail 
and limbs short; feet broad and flat; fore claws enormous, 
h ighly fossorial Pelage of oody and tail long, loose, shuggy, 
and of coarse texture ; shorter and closer on the head and feet. 
Coloration blended, diffuse, grizzly above ; below, uniform ; on 
the head definitely marked in certain areas. 

The head is nearly one-fifth of the total length exclusive of 
the tail ; it is couoidal, but depressed very broad across the 
temples and cheeks, contracting gradually to the prominent 
snout. It is covered with short, close, coarse hair, only length- 
ening about the ears. The muzzle is completely furry, except- 
ing the nasal pad itself; this is completely anterior, with a 
downward-backward obliquity ; there is a median vertical fur- 
row ; the nostrils, not at all visible from above or laterally, are 
pyriform, lengthening slitwise at the lower outer corner. The 
naked pad is black ; below it, the upper lip is completely furred 
across, and the fur elsewhere extends to the very edges of the 
rather thin lips. The rictus is ample ; the canines are visible 
in life. The eye is remarkably small, and rnther high up, a lit- 
tle back of the angle of the mouth. The vibrissa) are sparse 
and short, the longest scarcely or not attaining the eye ; here 
and there other bristles grow about the eyes and on the chin. 
The ears are low, rounded, and very broad, with remarkably 
large external meatus, partly defended by long loose hairs 
growing in front, completely hairy outside and for some dis- 
tance inside around the border ; but most of the concavity of 
the conch is naked, with some sparse isolated tufts. 

The fore limbs are short, stout, and the fore feet very large, 
broad, and flat, bearing immense claws. The digits are much 
abbreviated and consolidated, appearing from above almost 
entirely grown together, from below as five closely appressed 
oval pads. They are shorter than the claws they respectively 
bear ; the 2d-5th, are subequal and longer than the 1st or 5th, 
which are mere claw-bearing bulbs. The back of the hand is 
hairy to claws, the bases of which are overhung by the longer 
anterior hairs ; the palm shows the following disposition : a 
crescent of five large closely apposed liaked digital bulbs, sep- 
arated by a profound excavation from a single large irregu- 

* From nnmerous specimens it the Smithsonian Museum. 

i : 


' :'' 



larly shaped palmar pad, either entirely naked or partly over- 
grown with coarse hair extending crosswise from the inner 
border over more or less of its extent ; this main pad divided 
by a decided transverse groove from a much smaller postero- 
exterior one, which is entirely hairy, or partly so, or perfectly 
naked, in different cases. The claws are all compressed, 
arched, with rounded ridge and sharp edge underneath, origi- 
nally acute but generally blunted with use. The three middle 
ones are suhequal in length, much longer than either of the 
lateral ones, and project still further, owing to the shortness of 
the lateral digits ; they aie also stouter than the others. The 
lateral claws are subequal to each other, and they reach half- 
ivay (more or less) to the ends of the middle ones ; they are 
more compressed and not so strong, the inner one especially 
being thin, sharp, and falcate. As usual in such cases of spe- 
cial developments of parts, the rate of variation in size, both 
absolute and relative, is high, not permitting more strict state- 
ments than the above. Either one of the three larger middle 
claws may exceed the other two in size, and, of the lateral ones, 
either may surpass the other. The inner claw, however, appa- 
rently preserves its decidedly thin and falcate condition. 

Thu hind feet are much like the fore, on the whole, with, how- 
ever, a decided reduction in size, and especially in the develop- 
ment of the claws. The foot is about four times as long as 
broad, of nearly equal width throughout, hairy above and 
completely so below, more than half-way from the heel to the 
ends of the toes. Much as in the fore foot, the digits under- 
neath present a crescent of five bald pads, of which the lateral 
ones, and especially the outer one, are somewhat disconnected ; 
with a deeply excavated inte .1, these pads are succeeded by 
a single large bald callosity, heart-shaped in general contour, 
incompletely divided by several radiating impressions into 
four, sometimep. five parts. These grooves are not constant,* 
nor are the resulting partitions always of the same size and 
shape. The relative lengths of the digits, and of the claws 
they bear, are essentially the same as in the fore foot ; but all 
the claws are very much smaller, and the lateral ones scarcely 
or not attain the base of the 2d and 4th redpectively. These 
hind claws, however, as compared with the fore, differ remark- 
ably in construction, though of much the same shape ; they 
are less compressed, and, instead of being sharp-edged along the 
median line below, they are deeply excavated underneath — 



sometimes so deeply as to be merely a i!Mn shell of horn, the 
edges of which only unite at the base ot the claw. 

The short, broad, flattened tail has no sharp distinction from 
the body at its base, but the body tapers toward it somewhat 
as in the Porcupine. It is densely covered, in a somewhat dis- 
tichous manner, with long coarse hair like that of the body ; 
the end is obtusely rounded. 

The perinatal region shows, immediately beneath the root of 
the tail, a large transverse fissure leading into the peculiar sub- 
caudal x)ouch of the Melince, and, in advance of this, a large 
hemispherical protuberance, more or less naked, or covered 
with a few sparse hairs, and imperfectly divided by a median 
raph^ into lateral oval masses. (The anatomy of the peculiar 
organs of these parts, as illustrated in the European Melea 
taxus, is given beyond.) 

The Badger varies greatly in color, as a fortuitous matter of 
age, season, or condition of pelage, aside from certain geo- 
graphical differences, to be shown in the sequel. The varia- 
tion, however, is mainly in the relative amounts of the black- 
ish tawny-gray and white which produce the general grizzle, 
the pattern of coloration being well preserved, especially as to 
the markings of the head. T>'<^ top of the head is dark brown 
or blackish, generally increasing in intensity and purity from 
the nape to the snout, since it is commonly more or less 
blended with gray or hoary encroaching from behind. This 
dark area is divided lengthwise by a sharp white or whitish 
median stripe, which runs from the snout, or from just back of 
the snout to the nape, where it is gradually lost in the grizzle 
of that part. I have never known this stripe to be entirely 
wanting; but it varies much in extent, both laterally and 
longitudinally. The sides of the extreme muzzle are dark, 
like the top of the head ; from about opposite the canines, the 
sides of the head and che ears are white, continuous with the 
white of the chin and throat, but interrupted by a large (gen- 
erally crescentic) dusky patch in front of the ear. Another 
dark patch usually shows, though less conspicuously behind 
the ear. The whole body and tail above are an intimately 
blended mixture of blackish with white, hoary gray, and 
tawny, or pale dull fulvous (dilute helvolus). The individual 
hairs are for the greater part of their length of one of the 
lighter colors above mentioned, then black or blackish for a 
distance, and finally tipped with hoary gray or whitish. This 



pale ending of the hairs seems constant, even when there is 
most tawny in the body of the fars. Owing to the lei^^'h and 
coarseness of the pelage, the animal usually presents, when 
prepared for the museum, a patchy or streaky appearance, the 
completely blended grizzle being interrupted by the slightest 
disturbance of the set of the hairs. Beneath, the animal is 
uniformly as above, minus the black or blackish. The feet are 
dark brown or blackish ; the claws are generally light-colored, 
especially those of the fore feet. 

In examining a large suite of specimens from various locali- 
ties in the United States west of the Mississippi, I find decided 
expression of a variation dependent upon climatic influences. 
Specimens from the comparatively fertile aod well-watered 
regions upon the eastern border of the great central plateau 
are identical in tone with others from the Pacific slopes, and 
both much more heavily colored than those from the arid 
intermediate region. In the former, the fulvous or tawny tinge 
predominates among the lighter colors, mixed with a large 
amount of nearly pure black. As remarked by Prof. Baird, 
the resemblance of these specimens to the Woodchuck {Are- 
tomys monax) is striking. In all the specimens from the inte- 
rior dry region, and especially from the Upper Missouri, where 
the animal is extremely common, there is little if any of the 
fulvous. At a distance, the animal appears nearly white ; the 
general color is white, soiled with a faint tawny or dirty yel- 
lowish-tinged and mixed with but little blackish, the dark 
part of the individual hairs being less extensive than even the 
terminal hoary portion, and the area where the black occurs at 
all being restricted. In these cases, also, the general grizzle 
encroaches most on the head, and the frontal white stripe 
reaches farthest along the nape. Under these conditions, the 
animal very closely resembles in coloration the brindled gray 
Wolves of the same geographical area. 

It is almost needless to add that the gradation between the 
extremes above noted is unbroken and insensible. 
- None of the specimens now under consideration show the 
slightest trace of a vertebral white stripe beyond the nape. 
Those exhibiting this peculiarity are treated under the next 

Without alcoholic specimens, or measurements taken in the 
flesh, I cannot give the dimensions with desirable precision, as 
all the dried skins before me are more or less distorted. The 



range of variation in size, though considerable, is nothing un- 
usual. To the figures above given may be added : Noso to eye 
about 2^ inches ; to ear about 5 ; fore foot from the posterior 
callosity, and including claws, 3^ ; hind foot from heel, includ- 
ing claws, 4. Lowest hairs of the back 3 or 4 inches ; of the 
tail, 2 or 3. Height of the ear above the bottom of the meatus 

Penis bone 4 inches long, clubbed at one end, compressed, 
and with shallow sulcus in the continuity; the other end bent 
nearly at right angle, abruptly and irregularly flatteued and 

It is surprising that thii. animal should ever have been con- 
founded with the Meles tax^us of Europe, since the decided 
structural characters upon which the genus Taxidea rests are 
coordinated with readily appreciable superficial distinctions. 
In the European Badger, the snout is much larger, more pro- 
tuberant, more extensively naked, and difiTerently shaped, be- 
ing not very dissimilar to that of a hog in miniature. It is def- 
initely naked on top for some distance, as well as in ft*ont for 
a space below the nostrils ; these occupy but a small part of 
its subcircnlar front. The fore claws are much smaller and 
weaker. There are some differences in the details of the pads 
upon the palms and soles. The general body-color above is 
not dissimilar ; but the under parts are •black like the limbs, 
this color extending on the chin, where our species is white. 
The head is otherwise white, with a broad black stripe begin- 
ning on each side opposite the canines, running Dack, embrac- 
ing the eye and ear, and losing itself on the side of the nape. 
The edge of the ear is white in this otherwise uninteiTupted 
black bar. In the dried specimen before me, the naked part 
of the snout appears to have been flesh-colored, and the claws 
are dark. 

Description of the skull and teeth. 

I have no skull of Melss in hand for direct comparison, but 
this is less to be regretted in view of the numerous striking 
differences which any accurate and detailed description will 
show, even without use of strictly antithetical expressions. 
(See also anted,^ p. 263, note.) 

A striking peculiarity of the adult skull is perceived in a 
view from above, in the great width behind, the distance across 
the terminations of the occipital crest being equal to (a little 
more or less than) the iuter-zygomatic width ; the 'lateral out- 



line in general i» therefore wedge-Hhapeil. The rostral part of 
the skull (all that in advance of the x^'goinatic arches) is aboat 
one-third, or rather less, of the total length. The sides of the 
rostrum are approximately parallel in old skulls, owing in a 
measure to the swollen tract of rooting of the canines, in young 
specimens somewhat tapering; ihe nasal extremity is abruptly 
narrower than the rest; the obliquity of bevelling of the nasal 
aperture is about 45<^. In old skulls, the nasal and maxillary 
sutures are obliterated; in young ones, the nasal bones are 
seen to be narrow, with approximately parallel edges for the 
anterior half of their length, where they begin to narrow, and 
extend as slender acute processes very far back — to opposite 
the middle of the orbits. Their suture with the superior max- 
illaries is very brief; for the intermaxillaries reach far up, and 
for nearly all the rest of their extent they are received betwixt 
long, pointed processes of the frontal. Similarly, the superior 
maxillary ruiM up in a recess of the frontal to a point opposite 
the ends of the nasals. This deep wedging of lateral processes 
of the frontal between processes of the nasals and maxillaries 
forms a complete letter W, better marked than in any other 
North American genera of the family, though they all, excepting 
Lutra and Enhydris, show an approach to the same character. 
The anteorbital foramen is large and rather triangular than cir- 
cular. The orbits aye much better defined than in MmUUnce 
and Mephitina: — not that supraorbital processes are stronger 
than usual, but because the zygoma sends up a spur to mark 
the orbital brim below — much as in the others. The approxi- 
mation of these two (zygomatic and supraorbital) processes 
completes about two- thirds of a circle. The point of greatest 
constriction of the skull is a little back of the supraorbital pro- 
cesses, at a point about midway in the whole length of the 
skull ; except in some very old skulls, the constriction is little, 
if any, greater than that of the interorbital space. The top of 
the skull is marked with an average sagittal crest, whence 
forks curve outward to the supraorbital processes. In young 
specimens, there is little or no trace of these ridges. The occip- 
ital crests appear more flaring than they really are, owing to 
the general breadth of the skull behind ; they are in fadt only 
moderately developed in the oldest specimens, excepting at 
their lateral extremities. From a moderate median emargina- 
tion, the crests proceed on either hand with a moderate con- 
vexity, which suddenly increases at the bend around to the 



mastoid. The cranial dome considered alone has little infla- 
tion; the lateral outlines run nearly straight from the point of 
greatest constriction to the back root of the zygoma. This 
wedge shape contrasts with the greater inflation of the cranial 
dome in most otiier Mustelidtv^ notably Lutra and Knhydris. 

The back of the skull has a general triangular shape, with 
perpendicular flat face and irregular strong muscular impres- 
sions. The paroccipital processes are rather short, wide, and 
blunt; they descend to the level of the lower border of the 
foramen magnum, which latter is low and broad across. The 
condyles are short and very broad, their articular surfaces 
being prolonged toward the paroccipitals. 

In profile, the skull shows a single general declivity from 
near the occiput to the end of the' nasals, thence an abrupt 
bend down to the teeth. This general curve is sometimes a 
little sinuous, owing to slight depression just behind the orbits, 
and elevation over them. The posterior outline is truncate, 
with the occipital crest curving into full view below. The 
zygomata are very little arched indeed — almost straight ; they 
are stoutly laminar, with a strong superior orbital process an- 
teriorly, and remarkably developed borders of the deep glenoid 
fossa. Such development of the glenoid, in connection with 
its peculiar shape (the front border overlaps on the outer half, 
the hinder on the inner half), is sufScient to ordinarily lock 
the jaw in old age. But this peculiarity is not so strongly pro- 
nounced as it is said to be in Meles. The same thing occasion- 
ally occurs in old Otter skulls. The orifice of the meatus an- 
ditorius lies wholly between the border of the glenoid and the 
well-developed mastoid process. 

The floor of the skull, aside from its mere shape, resembles 
that of the Mmtelimv in the two prominent features of far back- 
ward extension of the bony palate and great inflation of the 
bullae. In the skulls, with moderately inflated bullie, the palate 
ends nearly opposite the last molars ; in the Otters, with the 
same extent of palate that Taxidea shows, the bullae are quite 
flat. The palate reaches considerably more than half-way from 
the incisors to the foramen magnnm ; about half-way from the 
molars to the end of the pterygoids the palate is quite plane ; 
the incisive foramina are verj short and broadly oval. The 
palate ends behind with a simple concave edge, or nearly 
straight transverse one, indifferently nicked on the median line 
or with a little median process. The i,lvelolar borders are ap- 




proximately parallel — more nearly so thau usual in this family. 
The spread of the zygomata is rather more thau three-fifths 
the total length of the skull ; the outward curvature is greatest 
behind. The great width of the skull behind leaves a very 
broad basilar space, notwithstanding the size of the buUiu. 
This space narrows but little as it advances between the ptery- 
goids, and is nearly tlat throughout. A curious character is 
seen in the division of the posterior nares into two by a ver- 
tical bony septum running to the very edge of the palate, and 
thence projecting into view. Skunks and Land Otters have 
such a septum, but it is not complete to the end of the bony 
palate. In the Sea Otter, it is represented by a lamina depend- 
ing from the roof of the nares, but not reaching the palate for 
about an inch from the end of the latter. In the Martens, 
Weasels, and Wolverene {Mustelinw), there is nothing whatever 
of the kind. The pterygoids are simply' laminar, with some 
little irregularity outside, as usual; they are moderately hamu- 
late. The (comparatively) immense inflation of the large bullae 
occupies nearly all the extent of the periotio bones ; the swell- 
ing is immediate all along the interior border; outwardly it 
subsides in a moderately tubular meatus, and behind it is re- 
placed by a concavity around the foramen. 

The mandible is massive; the ramus lower and thicker before 
than behind; the symphysis long, strong, and early completed; 
the coronoid low and of peculiar shape. Its apex is obtuse; its 
front border nearly straight, but its hinder border divided at 
an abrupt angle into a lower perpendicular par% and an upper 
strongly oblique portion. The lower border of the ramus is a 
gentle curve along the symphyseal portion, thence a straight 
lin»> to a considerable angle abreast of the last molar, thence 
straight again to the proper angle of the jaw, which is small 
and not at all exflected. In young animals, the same border is 
more nearly a continuous slight curve from symphysis to the 
end. The condyle is very broadly transverse ; its articular sur- 
face is extensive, with a peculiar twist to correspond with the 
above described formation of the glenoid fossa. 

A young animal should be examined with reference to the 
teeth, as the characters of the molars become much obscured 
by wear. The back upper molar is neither narrowly transverse 
as in the Martens and Weasels, nor quadrate as in the Skunks 
and Otters, bat triangular; and in size and shape it is not very 
dissimilar to the last premolar. Details aside, it is a right-an- 



glud triangle of uuarly equal buHe aud per{)eii(liciilar, tbe rigbt 
angle being auterointernul, tbc longuMt side poateroexteroal. 
Wbuu entirely unworn, it HbowH six or eigbt irregularly dia- 
(losed tubercleH, all aniall, tbe general surface being quite Hat, 
and tbere being no notable diviMJon, by huIcus or otberwise, 
into different portions, sucb as tbe crown of tbis tooUi presents 
in n)ost MitHtelida: Tbe lowest part of tbe tootb is a small cir- 
calar area posteriorly. Tbis toutb roots by a long fang exte- 
riorly, but is otberwise simply set in an irregular sballow 
depression. Tbe last premolar is liUewise api)roximately an 
equilateral rigbtangled triangle ; but in tbis case tbe rigbt 
angle is auteroexterior, tbe bypotbenuse postero-interior. It is 
well divided into an outer and inner moiety. Tbe former is 
produced into a large main cusp, witb prominent becl on its 
front base, aud a smaller posterior cusp. Tbc low inner moiety 
sbows two perfectly distinct conical cusps; one anterior, tbe 
larger, witb a cingulum around its base, and a smaller posterior 
elevation directly from tbe border of tbe tootb. Tbe middlo 
premolar is a simple conical cusp witb a sligbt beel posteriorly ; 
it is two-rooted. Tbe front premolar is like tbe last named, 
but still smaller. I bave never seen, in tbe adult dentition, 
tbe small first premolar whicb is said to occur *' in young ani- 
mals", nor do I observe any trace of sucb tootb in a young 
specimen wbich was just sbedding wben killed. In tbis one, 
tbe first aud last permanent premolars bave just displaced the 
earlier oues, but tbe middle railk-premolar is still present, with 
tbe future one visible below it, about to push it away. Tbe 
presence of four upper premolars can, therefore, only charac- 
terize the milk dentition.* 

The upper canines offer no special points. Of the incisors, 
the outer is very much larger than tbe rest; indeed, it is hardly 
more exceeded by tbe lower canine than the latter is by the 
upper canine, and its superficial resemblance to a canine is 
striking. The other incisors are of tbe same size, regular, with 
dilated trilobate ends. 

The back lower molar, as elsewhere in tbe family, is small, 
circular, with a border a little higher before and behind than 
at the sides. It abuts against the depressed back part of the 

* The Binall anterior upper premolar is tbe most variable tooth iu MuateUda;. 
It persists in tbe Lutra, Enhydris, Gulo, Mnsiela, and usually for a time in 
Conepaiua; it is absent in the adult dentition of Taxidea, MephitU, Spilogale, 


18 m 

il^, ir 






upper molar. The next molar is large ami more complicated 
than usual. It presents, in front, a large cusp, which, with the 
outer one of a pair of median cusps, constitutes the trenchant 
edge of the tooth ; the inner cusp of the median pair is little 
smaller than the other. The lower back part of this tooth, or 
its tuberculous portion, which abuts against the back upper 
molar, is seen, when entirely unworn, to present four cusps, 
three transversely abreast, whereof the middle one is the 
largest, and a posterior one. These all wear down level in the 
course of time, and indeed very old skulls show this whole 
tooth almost flat. The next tooth — last premolar — is a strong 
conical cusp, -with a secondary cusp half-way up its back 
border, and well- developed posterior heel ; the anterior border 
is straight. The remaining premolars, successively decreasing 
in size, are like the last, but without the secondary cusp. The 
lower canines are not peculiar. The lower incisors are smaller 
than the upper; the exterior pair are little larger than the 
rest, and obscurely trilobate. The next pair reach backward 
further than the rest, but all are flush on the front face ; the 
four inner teeth are slightly bilobate. 

OeograpMcal variation in the sTcuIl. 

Like other species of the present family, the Badger has 
been discussed in this regard by Mr. J. A. Allen.* His results 
are here transcribed : — 

"The subjoined measurements of eleveu skulls of this species 
(embracing all at present available) show also a well-marked 
southward decrease in size. A fuller series would be more 
satisfactory, but would doubtless only confirm what is here in- 
dicated. Six of the specimens are from rather northern locali- 
ties and five from rather southern localities, the region repre- 
sented extending from the Upper Missouri southward to the 
Lower Klo Grande. The specimens composing the two series 
are of very nearly corresponding ages. The northern series 
(four from different points on the Upper Missouri, one from 
Iowa, and one from Oregon) average 5.00 iu length and 3.18 in 
width, the extremes being, in length, 5.^2 and 4.92 (4.75 if we 
include one rather young example), the width ranging from 
3.50 to 2.97. The southern series (including two or three from 
the vicinity of Matamoras, Mexico, and one each from New 

* Bull. U. S. Geol. and Gt'oj;r. Snrv. vol. ii. no. 4, pp. 330, 331. 



Mexico and Ccilifornia) averagaa 4.62 in leiigtU a:iJ 2.92 in 
wiiUb, the extremes being, in length, 4.75 and 4.50, and iu 
width, 3.07 and 2.80. 

"The skulls, and especially the molar teeth, in the American 
Badgers, vary considerably in different individuals, as long 
since pointed out by Professor Baird.* Sout!»orn specimens 
differ from northern ones not only in being smai'cr, but some- 
what in color, so that the T. herlandieri of Professor Baird maj' 
perhaps be entitled to subspeciflc rank (T. americana subsp. 
berlandicri), though the material at hand indicates that the 
two forms will be found to thoroughly intergrade. The ^.hief 
differences in coloration consist in the more reddish-gray tint 
of the southern form, with a decided tendency to a continuous 
light dorsal stripe, instead of this stripe being restricted to the 


"MeaHiiremeHta of eleven nJculla of Taxidea americana. 

o . 

s ^ 








Upper ilissonri , 

Quisqnaton, Iowa 

Fort Kandall. Dak 

Upper Des Chutes, Greg . 

Fort Crook, Cal 

Now Mexico 

M.atanioras, Mexico 








3. HO 


Rather yjiing. 

Rather ^oung ; herlandieri. 



History of the American Badger. 

The early history of the American Badger is curiously in- 
volved, not only with that of the European species, but with 
several entirely different animals. The celebrated traveller, 
Ealm,f speaks of the occurrence of the common Badger in 
Pennsylvania, where, he adds, it is called "ground hog''. But 
this is a common appellation of the Woodchuck, Arctomys mo- 
na<Cj to which, doubtless, Kaim's note is to be considered to 
apply. In 1756, Brisson| describes a ^^Meles alha^ fro\n New 
York ; but this, it seems, proved to bo an albino liaccoon, Pro- 
cyon lotor. "Buffon," (says Sir Johnnichardson,§) "in the body 
of his great work, doubts whether the Badger be an iiiliabitant 
of the American continent," .... "bnt altcrwanl.s, in the first 

•" U. S. and Mex. B lund. Siuvey, Zotil. p. il.'.' 
t Rhine Auim. p. 'i')5. 

tTiav. i.p. Ir^'J. 
\^ F. B.-A. i. p. W. 




additiou to bis article on tko Glutton, described the skin of a 
true Badger, which be received, it is said, from Labrador, under 
the misapplied name of Carcajou." We find the same confusion 
with a vernacular name of the Oulo Imcm or Wolverene to con- 
tinue for many years among French naturalists; thus, in 1842, 
Gervais still speaks of the ^^Garkajou, ou Blaireau d'Am^rique". 
I am not able, at the time of present writing, to consult Buffon's 
work. His figure, given in the supplement of the Histoire Na- 
turelle ("pi. 49"), is stated to have been afterward given by 
Schreber, in 1778, as plate 142 B of the " Siiugthiere ". Schre- 
ber's work is not just now accessible to me. He is cited for a 
name, ^^Ursus faj7M«", as applicable to the American Badger, 
though quoted as considering our species as distinct from the 

Pennant, one of the more accurate and reliable among the 
early writers, is sadly at fault in the present case. After treat- 
ing of an "American Badger" in his earlier worL^, ue afterward, 
in the Arctic Zoology, as above quoted, united it with the Eu- 
ropean Mel'tis, and, besides thus confounding it with a totally 
different species, he perpetuates several errors. Thus he quotes 
Kalm (see last paragraph) for its supposed occurrence in Penn- 
sylvania, and speaks of its being " sometimes found white in 
America", evidently having Brisson's albino liaccoon in view. 

Boddaert, in 1784, seems to have been the first to bestow a 
technical appellation upon our animal, calling it Meles taxm var. 
americanus. Zimmermann, citing Boddaert, adopted the name 
Meles americanus in his German translation of Pennant's Arctic 
Zoology. This name has priority over all others that have come 
to my knowledge, though it was suffered to rest almosr unno- 
ticed until very recently, when, in 1857, it was formally ** iopted 
by Prof. Baird, whose example has been generally iollowod '>y 
subsequent writers. 

Linnteus (1766) makes no mention whatever of an American 
species of Badger. Supposing him to have had any knowledge 
of the animal from Buffon, bis unworthy jealousy of the great 
French naturalist would have led him to studiously ignore the 
fact, in gratification of his absurd and puerile whim. 

The name lahradoria^ or lahradoritta, by which our Badger 
has been usually known, was imposed by Gmelin in 1788. His 
Vrsus lahradorius is based primarily upon Schreber's plate 
142 B. Other citations given by him are, the "American Bad- 
ger" of Pennant, Quad. no. 143, and the " Carcajou" of Buffon, 



Suppl. pi. 40. The habitat is given as " Labrador to Hudson's 
Bay". But there is grave reason to doubt that BuflFon's animal, 
which furnished the material for his and Schreber's plate, came 
from Labrador, as implied in Gmelin's name. This point was 
brought up by Richardson, who, quoting Buffou's words " qu'il 
venoit du pays des Esquimaux", adds, "but in fact it may 
have been brought actually from the banks of the Saskatche- 
wan by some of the Canadian fur hunters. " In this uncer- 
tainty, it is fortunate that Graelin's name, most probably ob- 
jectionable on the score of geographical inapplicability, is also 
anticipated in point of date. Gmelm's diagnosis is also incor- 
rect, for it seems that his phrase " palmis tetradjiotylis" arose 
in the circumstance that Buffon's specimen bad accidentally 
lost one of its fore toes. 

Early in the present century, the Badger attracted the atten- 
tion of Lewis and Clarke, being then as now extremely abundant 
in the regions traversed by these intrepid explorers. Under 
the curious name of "braro", the animal is fully described by 
them in the narrative of their journey, published under the 
editorship of Paul Allen in 1814, for the first time, and in many 
subsequent editions. This word " braro" is obviously a corrupt 
rendering of the French " blaireau ", like " brairo ", by which 
name the animal was known to the Canadian voyageurs; the 
orthography is corrected :n the McVickar edition. It is curious 
to trace the further typographical mangling of this word, 
originally written wrong by the travellers, being phonetically 
rendered according to the sound which caught their ears. It 
is spelled "brarow" or "prarow" in the Journal of Gass, one 
of their comp<>nions; and "braibo" is found in Gerrard's work 
above cited.* The animal described by Lewis and Clarke fur- 
nished Harlan, in 1825, with the basis of a nominal species, 
Meles jeffersonii, considered distinct from M. labradoria, which 
is also given by this author. 

In 1823, Thomas Say treated of this species, under the name 
of Taxus lahradoricus ; and the same year Mr. Sabine gave us 
a detailed and the first satisfactory account of the actual dlfier- 
ences in external characters between the American and Euro- 
pean Badgers. His comparison was transcribed by Sir John 
Richardson, in the Fauna Boreale-Araericana, 1829. The latter 

•The old Mexican name of the Houthoru BiidKer, said to be rendered "Tla- 
coyotl" by Fernandez, has suflered as 1 ft:lly, l;ein:^ rendered " Laeyotl" and 
" Flucoyole" by some late writers. 




J ' 



autbor's article reinaius o«lay one of the best, on tbe whole, 

that has appeared, covering as it does the then known ground, 

with a history, description, account of habits and geographical 

distribution, a synonymy, and a very chrir?<*tmstic plate, drawn 

by Landseer. Sir John, however, noted none of the characters 

by which our animal is generically distinguished from the Earo- 

pean Meles, the establishment of a genus Taxidea being left to 

Waterhouse, 1838. 

An index to the generiil later history of this species is afforded 

by the synonymatic list given on a preceding page (p. 2G3) ; it is 

unnecessary to recite the various authors who have contributed 

to our knowledge of the subject. Audubon and Bachman's 

article, however, is specially noteworthy as illustrating the 

habits of the animal in confinement. Portions of it are quoted 

beyond. Baird's notice of tho species enters^very fully into 

the technicalities of the case. J. A. Allen hsis discussed the 

variability of the skull, with special reference to geographical 


Geographical distrihution. 

I am not aware that the Badger has ever been traced north- 
ward beyond the limit of its distribution long ago assigned by 
Bichardson, namely, latitude 58° north. " The Meles lahradoria ", 
says this author, " frequents the sandy plains or prairies which 
skirt the Rocky Mountains as far north as the banks of the Peace 
Eiver, and sources of the River of the Mountains, in latitude 
58°." The doubts respecting its extension in British America 
to the Atlantic Ocean have already been expressed. Mr. Don- 
ald Gunn, in some inedited MSS. which have come into my 
possession, temporarily, through the Smithsonian Institution, 
speaks of the animal in the following terms : — " The Badger, 
called by the Indians *Weenask', inhabits all the woody dis- 
tricts south and west of Iludsoii's Bay. It hybernates during 
the long winters, entering its retreat early in October and 
remaining under ground until the middle of May. It is not 
often met with on the shores of the Bay, but is found at a dis- 
tance of thirty to fifty miles. It does not appear to inhabit the 
woody districts east of Lake Winipeg, but is found in open 
places to the westward of that lake, and is occasionally met 
with along the river of the same name." It is well known to 
abound in the region of the Saskatchewan, and the British 
territory in general lying immediately north of Dakota and 
Montana Territories. 


Audubou aud Bachman, writing in 1851, state that they 
were not able to trace the Badger within a less distance from 
the Atlantic than the neighborhood of Fort Union (which 
stood at the southeastern corner of the Territory of Montana 
as at present bounded). But there is abundant evidence that 
the species formerly occurred far east of the Mississippi ; and 
even now its range extends to that river. One of the States 
along the Mississippi has in fact acquired a cant name from 
this animal, being known by the soubriquet of the " Badger 
State ". In 1858, Prof. Baird gives the habitat as " Iowa and 
Wisconsin to the Pacific coast, and from Arkansas to 49^ N. 
lat. (To 58"^ N. lat. Rich.)" The animal formerly extended 
eastward in the United States to Ohio at least. A letter ad- 
dressed by Mr. Edward Orton, not long since, informs me of 
its occurrence near Toledo in that State, about twenty years 
previously, and of its extinction there. Mr. Robert Kennicott, 
in 1853-54, has the species among the mammals of Illinois; 
while in Iowa, writes Mi-. xUlen in 1869, "the species is 
probably nearly as numerous as formerly." The eastward 
range in the United States to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Mich- 
igan, Iowa, aud Minnesota, as well as the oblique trend in 
BilMsh America to Hudson's Bay, thus makes the distribution 
of the animal more or less closely coincident with that of some 
of the Spermophiles; these animals, with the Badger and Kit 
Fox, being highly characteristic species of the central treeless 
region of the United States, where they occur in countless 

To the southward, the range of the typical Badger cannot 
be precisely given, for the reason that there the characters of 
the animal melt insensibly into those of the Mexican subspe- 
cies berlandieri. The change becomes marked in Texas, New 
Mexico, Arizona, aud Southern and Lower California. I have 
personally traced the typical form into Colorado, and it is said 
by Drs. Cones and Yarrow to be very common throughout 
Western Utah and Eastern Nevada, but less abundant in New 
Mexico and Arizona. To the extraordinary abundance of the 
animal in the Upper Missouri country I shall again refer in 
speaking of its habits. Dr. J. S. Newberry has indicated its 
abundance in Eastern California, Utah, aud Oregou. Mr. 
George Gibbs says that the Badger, called by tbe Yakima In- 
dians Weehthla, was not seen by him west of the Cascade 
Mountains of Washington Territory, though very common on 







the drj' barreu plains on the Yakima River, and also on the 
timberless mountains between the Yakima and the Columbia. 
In certain sections of that Territory, as for instance the Sim- 
coe Valley, the species is represented by Dr. SucKley as so 
abundant that riding becomes dangerous from the number of 
the burrows. The writer last mentioned adds a paragraph on 
the general east and west distribution of the species, as fol- 
lows : — 

" Found sparingly in the eastern portion of Minnesota ; be- 
ing more abundant near the Missouri. From thence, after 
entering Nebraska [i. e., the present Territories of Dakota and 
Montana], it extends almost all the way to the dividing ridge of 
the Cascade Mountains, near the Pacific coast. Farther west 
it does not go, at least north of the Columbia. I have seen it 
in the St. Mary's Valley, at the western base of the main 
chain of the Rocky mountains, and as far south in Oregon as 
the vicinity of Fort Bois6 on the Snake or Lewis river. They 
are most abundant (north of Utah) in the vicinity of Powder 
river, Oregon, and the YakimR, one of the northern tributa- 
ries of the Columbia." 


The Badger is one of the most secret animals of this country — 
one whose habits and whose whole nature tend to screen it from 
observation so thoroughly that much of our knowledge is a re- 
salt of reasonable inference rather than a matter of actual expe- 
rience, while some of the most important points respecting its 
economy remain to be ascertained with precision. As will have 
been gathered from what has preceded, it lives altogether in 
holes in the ground, for the excavation of which its whole struct- 
ure is adapted. Other animals are as decidedly fossorial as 
the Badger, and like it live underground, but the Badger, un- 
like its usual associates, the Prairie-dogs {Cynomys) and other 
Spermophiles, does not continually appear in view ; rather, it 
leads a life almost as completely subterranean as that of the 
Gophers {Oeomys audThomomys), or even of the Mole itself. In 
the colder latitudes, moreover, it hibernates during a consid- 
erable portion of the year. I have travelled for days and weeks 
in regions where Badgers abounded, and where their innumer- 
able burrows offered the principal obstacle to progress on horse- 
back or by wheeled conveyance, yet the number of Badgers I 
have actually seen alive, in a state of nature, might be told off 



on the fingers of either hand. Most of the individuals I have 
laid eyes on were in sight but a few moments, as they hurried 
into the nearest hole. On one occasion, however, a Badger, 
crouching at the mouth of its burrow in fancied security, allowed 
me to approach and kill it with a shot ; but I should add that 
this imprudent individual was but half-grown, and probably 
had never seen a man before. 

I have found Badgers in countless numbers nearly through- 
out the region of the Upper Missouri Kiver and its tributaries. 
I do not see how they could well be more numerous anywhere. 
In some favorite stretches of sandy, sterile soil, their burrows 
are everywhere^ together with those of Kit Foxes, Prairie-dogs, 
and Spermophiles,*and, as already said, these holes are a source 
of annoyance and even danger to the traveller. In ordinary jour- 
neying, one has to keep constant lookout lest his horse suddenly 
goes down under him, with a fore leg deep in a Badger-hole; 
and part of the training of the western horse is to make him 
look out for and avoid these pitfalls. In the Buffalo country 
particularly. Badgers live in extraordinary numbers, attracted 
and retained by the surety of abundant food-supply; and there 
are places where the chase of the Buffalo on horseback is abso- 
lutely impracticable, except at a risk to life or limb which few 
are willing to run. 

The burrows of the Badger are known from those of the 
Prairie-dog and other Spermophiles by their greater dimensions ; 
besides, they differ from the former in never being built up 
around the entrance into the regular mound or circular buttress 
which usually surmounts the well-kept domicile of the Cynomys. 
From the holes of Kit Foxes and Coyotds, they are not dis- 
tinguishable with any certainty ; in fact, it is probable that these 
animals frequently or almost habitually occupy deserted bur- 
rows of the Badger, remodelled, if need be, to suit their con- 
venience. But it must not be supposed that all of the innumer- 
able Badger-diggings are the residences of these animals. The 
Badger, too slow of foot to capture the nimble Rodents which 
form its principal food, perpetually seeks them in their own 
retreats ; and it is the work of a few minutes for this vigorous 
miner to so far enlarge their burrows that it can enter and reach 
the deepest recesses. In places where the Badgers and Spermo- 
philes most abound, the continual excavation of the soil by 
these animals fairly undermines and honeycombs the ground. 
The Badgers, though not migratory, are sometimes attracted 




or focussed as it were, from a largo area ia some particalar spot 
which tcuiporarily offers special attraction in the way of a food- 
supply. Thus, I have in mind a place on the Mouse River, 
Dakota, where there had been not long before a grand battue 
of Buffalo by the Indians, and where the number of Badger- 
holes, then deserted, exceeded anything I had before seen or 
have since witnessed. 

The abundance of the Badgers might be expected, in view of 
the fact that they have very few enemies. The animals are 
stout and determined enough to stand off Wolves and Foxes ; 
they seldom venture far from their secure retreats ; and in fact 
I know of no indigenous mammal which habitually preys upon 
or otherwise destroys them. A Badger ensconced in its hole 
would be a formidable antagonist which few animals would care 
to molest. Their immunity from danger, partly the result of 
their physical prowess, partly secured by the practically impreg- 
nable nature of their resorts, together w\|th the abunuuuce of 
food and the ease with which it is secured, tends to the firm per- 
petuation and continual increase of the species in all unsettled 
portions of the country. Man is the principal enemy of the 
Badger, destroying thousands annually for his convenience or 

Besides the Spermophiles, Arvicolas, and other small quadru- 
peds which furnish its staple diet, the Badger is said to prey 
upon a variety of humbler animals, even insects and snails, and 
to eat birds' eggs. As to the last named, there is a large sup- 
ply on the western prairies, where many kinds of small birds, 
in great multitudes, nest upon the ground. Mr. W. H. Gibson 
refers to an especial fondness of the Badger for the stores of 
wild bees ; the honey, wax, and grubs being alike devoured.* 
Audubon has figured the Badger with a Shore Lark (Eremo- 
phila alpestris) in its grasp. Mr. J. A. Ailen speaks of finding 

* I am not sare, however, that the actual reference is not to the European 
Badger, whose apivoroua habit has long been known. " Buffou states that it 
digs np wasps' nests for the sake of the honey ; — a fact which has received 
an interesting confirmation from the observation of a correspondent of Lou- 
don's Magazine of Natural History, who seems, however, to attribute the 
destruction of these nests to the fondness of the Badger for the larva: of the 
wasp, as he says that the combs were found scattered about, but none were 
left that contained the maggots. This predilection of the Badger for honey 
offers a striking aialogy to several others of the group, particularly to its 
Oriental relation the Ratel, MelUvora Capensis, which is known to live 
principally upon it."— (Bkll's Jiritish Quadrupeds, ed. of 1837, pp. 123-4.) 



the bones and wool of lambs iu its burrows, though the animal 
is not generally regarded as injurious by the farmers. 

The Badger has been called a " timid '' animal. So it is, in 
the sense that it avoids rather than confrunu impending danger ; 
but this is simply the instinctive prudence and discretion of a 
creature which prefers the absolute immunity of its subterra- 
nean resorts to the chances of unequal combat in which it is at 
disadvantage. Certainly', no lack of courage, determination, 
and physical endurance is seen when the creature, captured or 
cut off from its retreat, is brought to bay. Its pluck is then 
as conspicuous as its really formidable strength. The cruel 
sport of "Badger-baiting" is sometimes indulged in the West ; 
and if the animal be given a barrel or similar retreat in which 
it is secure from attack in the rear, it may prove more than a 
match for a strong dog. Indeed, the fighting qualities of the 
Badger, and stubborn resistance it offers at whatever unfair 
odds, have supplied our language with a word of peculiar sig- 
nificance : to " badger'' is to beset on all sides and harass and 
worry. The stout, thick-set, and depressed shape of the animal 
is greatly in its favor, combining with the long loose hair to 
prevent a dog from reaching vulnerable parts, and to embarrass 
it in attempting to take hold ; the snap of the jaws inflicts a 
serious wound ; and, finally, the tenacity >f life is at a high 

A sketch of this animal, from the pen of Dr. J. S. Newberry, 
gives corroborative evidence of the Badger's powers of self- 
defence; I transcribe the passages at some length, as they 
afford other items in the natural history of the species: — 

" In traversing the arid surfaces of the sage plains of eastern 
California, Utah, and Oregon, there is, perhaps, no one thing 
which the traveller may be more sure of seeing every day of 
his journey than the burrow of a badger ; and, after cursing the 
country, and the folly which led him to cross these barren, hot, 
and dusty surfaces, there is nothing he will more certainly do, 
whether on foot or mounted, than tumble into one of these 
same badger holes, and yet the chances are more than equal 
that ho never sees u living badger on which to revenge him- 
self; for the badger is a shy and timid animal, and the country 
he inhabits is so open, it rarely happens that he is surprised at 
a distance from his burrow. During our march of several 
hundred miles through the country inhabited by the badger 
this did occur, however, on one or two occasions, and gave rise 

hiiil ' 

'It' ■' 



to some liullcroua scenes. The badger, though far from formi- 
dable, is too well provided with teeth to be handled without 
.gloves ; and knowing that his only safety when attacked is in 
plunging to the bottom of his burrow, his pig-headed pertinacity 
in endeavoring to reach it is such, that an unarmed man finds 
it difficult to stop him. 

" Mr. Anderson, who gave me most efficient aid in collecting, 
came one day suddenly upon a badger at some distance from 
his hole; of course he made for it with all possible speed, which, 
it should bo said, is not so great but that a man could easily 
overtake one. Mr. Anderson at first endeavored to trample 
him under his horse's feet, but, though he ran over him several 
times, the badger avoided the hoofs and received no itijury. 
As we had not then obtained a specimen, he was particularly 
anxious to secure this one, so he drove his horse before him, and 
brought him to bay. He then jumped off, hoping, by means of 
kicks and his sheath-knife, to dispatch him ; but the badger, 
instead of retreating, came at him open-mouthed, and with 
such a show of ferocity that he was fain to let him pass, trust- 
ing to find a club to kill him with ; but in that region clubs do 
not *grow on every bush,' for most of the bushes are sage 
bushes, and before he found any sort of stick the badger hr.d 
reached his hole. Two days after I became indebted to him 
for a fine specimen, which a long rifleshot had dropped at the 
entrance of his burrow. Another, while leisurely following an 
old trail, apparently on a journey, was overtaken and killed 
by some of our soldiers. Seeing, perhaps the hopelessness of 
the attempt, he made no effort to escape, but a vigorous defence, 
and was only dispatched with some difficulty." 

Sir John Bichardson narrates an incident which further illus- 
trates the prowess of this stubborn, sullen customer. " The 
strength of its fore-feet and claws is so great," says he, '< that 
one which had insinuated only its head and shoulders into a 
hole, resisted the utmost endeavors of two stout young men 
who endeavored to drag it out by the hind legs and tail, until 
one of them fired the contents of his fowling-piece into its 
body." This is quite a match for the stories told of the Arma- 
dillo itself. " Early in the spring, however," the author con- 
tinues, '' when they first begin to stir abroad, they may easily 
be caught by pouring water into their holes ; for the ground 
being frozen at that perio:!, the water does not escape through 



the Baiiil, but soon tilU the hole, and its tenant is obliged to 
come out." 

The author of the <' Complete American Trapper " um refers 
to this method of taking Badgers, and adds others : — ''Although 
his general appearance would not indicate it, he is a sly and 
cunning animal and not easily captured in a trap of any kind. 
He has been known to set at defiance all the traps that were 
set for him, and to devour the baits without suffering from his 
audacity. He will sometimes overturn a trap and spring it 
from the under side, befor<) attempting to remove the bait. 
Although not quite as crafty as the fox, it is necessary to use 
much of the same caution in trapping the badger, as a bare 
trap seldom wins more than a look of contempt from the wary 
animal. The usual mode of catching the creature is to set the 
trap, size No. 3 [the so-called fox-trap, with springs at each 
end], at the mouth of its burrow, carefully covering it with 
loose earth and securing it by a chain to a stake. Any of the 
methods used in trapping the fox will be found to work ad- 
mirably. The dead-fall or garrote will also do good service. 
Bait with a rat, mouse, or with whatever else the animal is 
specially fond, and scent with oil of anise or musk. In early 
spring, while the ground is still hard, badgers are easily cap- 
tured by flooding." 

The reproduction of the si)ecies does not appear to be fully 
known. I have no personal information on this score, beyond 
the fact that I once secured a still ungrown animal in Colorado 
during the latter part of August. The writer last quoted says 
that the nest is made in the burrow (as indeed is unquestion- 
able), and that the young are three or four in number. Kich- 
ardson, referring to the hibernation of the Badger in British 
America from November to April, states that, like Bears, the 
animals do not seem to lose much flesh during the winter, for 
they are observed to be very fat when they come abroad in the 
spring; and adds that, as they pair at once, they soon become 
lean. The periods of gestation and lactation are probably un- 

The habits and manners of the Badger iu confinement, to 
which we will next turn attention, have been attentively studied 
by Audubon and Bachman, who have given an interesting ac- 
count, here transcribed iu full : — 

"During our stay at Fort Union, on the Upper Missouri River, 
in the summer of 1843, we purchased a living Badger from a 

"a ! •' , 




squaw, who had brought it from Home distanco to the fort for 
sale; it having botMi cautrht by another .squaw at a phicc nearly 
two hundred and flfty inileM away, among the Crow Indians. 
It was (irst phiced in our common room, but was found to be 
80 very mischievous, pulling about and tearing to iiieces every 
artiulo within its reach, trying to dig up the stones of the hearth, 
^:c., that we had it removed into an adjoining apartment. It 
was regularly fed morning and evening on raw meat, either 
the flesh of animals procured by our hunters, or small birds shot 
during our researches through the adjacent country. It dranic 
a good deal of water, and was rather cleanly in its habits. In 
the course of a few days it nmnaged to dig a hole under the 
hearth and fireplace nearly largo and deep enough to conceal 
its body, and we were obliged to drag it out by main force when- 
ever we wished to examine it. It was provoked at the near 
approach of any one, and growled continuously at all intruders. 
It was not, however, very vicious, and would suffer one or two 
of our companions to handle and play with it at times. 

''At that period this Badger w- ibout five months old, and 
was nearly as large as a full gro^ >odchuck or ground-hog, 

{Arctomys monai.) Its fur was ot the usual colour of summer 
pelage, and it was quite a pretty looking animal. We concluded 
to bring it to New York alive, if possible, and succeeded in doing 
so after much trouble, it having nearly made its escai>e more 
than once. On one occasion, when our boat was made fast to 
the shore for the night, an»l we were about to make our 'camp,' 
the Badger gnawed his way out of the box in which he was con- 
fined, and began to range over the batteau ; we rose as speedily 
as possible, and striking a light, commenced a chase after it 
with the aid of one of the hands, and caught it by casting a buf- 
falo robe over it. The cage next day was wired, and bits of tin 
put in places where the wooden bars had been gnawed through, 
so that the animal could not again easily get out of its prison. 
After having become accustomed to the box, the Badger became 
quite playful and took exercise by rolling himself rapidly from 
one end to the other, and then back again with a reversed move- 
ment, continuing this amusement sometimes for an hour or two. 

"On arriving at our residence in New York, we had a largo 
box, tinned on the idside, let into the ground about two feet and 
a half and filled to the same depth with earth. The Badger 
was put into it, and in a few minutes made a hole, in which he 
seemed quite at home, and where he passed most of his time 



(luriiij;; the winter, although ho always oaine out to take his food 
nrnl water, and did not appear at all sluggish or inclined to 
hibernate even when the weather was so cold as to make it 
necessary to pour hot water into the pan that was placed within 
his cage, to enable him to drink, as cold water would have 
frozen immediately*, and in fact the pan generally hiid a stratum 
of ice on the bottom which the hot water dissolved when poured 
in at feeding-time. 

" Our ]Ja<1ger was fed regularly, and soon grew very .'at ; Its 
coat changed completely, became woolly and a buff-irown 
color, and the fur by the month of February had become in- 
deed the most ett'ectual protection against cold that can well 
be imagined. 

" We had an opportunity in Charleston of observing almost 
daily for a fortnight, the habits of a Badger in a menagerie ; 
he was rather gentle, and would suffer himself to bo played 
with and fondled by his keeper, but did not appear as well 
pleased with strangers; he occasionally growled at us, and 
would not suiter us to examine him without the presence and 
aid of his keeper. 

" In running, his fore feet crossed each other, and his body 
nearly touched the ground. The heel did not press on the 
ground like that of the bear, but was only slightly elevated 
above it. He resembled the Maryland marmot in running, 
and progressed with about the same speed. We have i>ever 
seen any animal that could exceed him in digging. He would 
fall to work with his strong feet and long nails, and in a min- 
ute bury himself in the earth, and would very soon advance to 
the end of a chain ten feet in length. In digging, the hind, as 
well as the fore feet, were at work, the latter for the purpose of 
excavating, and the former, (like paddles,) for expelling the 
earth out of the hole, and nothing seemed to delight him more 
than burrowing in the ground ; he seemed never to become 
weary of this kind of amusement ; and when he had advanced 
to the length of his chain he would return :.nd commence 
a fresh gallery near the mouth of the first iiole ; thus he 
would be occupied for hours, and it was necessn-^ to drag him 
away by main force. He lived on good terms with the rac- 
coon, gray fox, prairie wolf, and a dozen other species of 
animals. He was said to be active and playful at night, but 
he seemed rather dull during the day, usually lying rolled up 
like a ball, with his head under his body for hours at a time. 




"The fiadger did not refuse bread, but preferred meat, 
making two meals during the day, and eating about half a 
pound at each. 

" We occasionally saw him assuming rather an interesting 
attitude, raising the fore part of his body from the earth, 
drawing his feet along hi^ sides, sitting up in the man ner of 
the marmot, and turning his head in all directions to make 

The assuming of this attitude may have been a result of 
confinement, as I have not observed it when I have seen the 
animal in a state of nature, nor does it appear to have been 
noticed by others. The Badger, above all our other animals, 
is notable for its flatness ; even when running it looks broad 
and flat, and the belly seems to sweep the ground during its 
rather slow, heavy, and awkward progress. Seen when 
crouching in fancied security or hoping to escape observa- 
tion (and it will sometimes remtiin long motionless in this 
posture, permitting near approach), the animal might easily 
be mistaken for a stone or clod of earth ; the very hairs lie 
flat, as if "parted in the middle", and form a fringe along 
either side, projecting, as one writer has remarked, like the 
shell of a turtle or the eaves of a house. The peculiar pattern 
of coloration is then displayed to best advantage. Under 
anger or irritation, the animal bristles up its hair, and appears 
much larger than it really is. 

The flesh of the Biidger, like that of the Skunk, is eatable, 
and doubtless often eaten by savage tribes, though not to be 
recommended to a cultivated palate. The specimens I have 
skinned, even the young one before mentioned in this article, 
emitted during the process such rank and foul odor as to be 
simply disgnating. The Badger yields a valuable and at times 
fashionable fur, used for robes, and for muffs, tippets, and 
trimmings. Thousands of shaving-brushes are said to be an- 
nually made from the long hairs, which are also extensively 
used in the manufacture of artists' materials, one of which is 
a " badger-blender ". In 1873, the London sales cf Badger 
skins by the Hudson's Bay Company were 2,700, at prices 
varying from one to seven shillings, averaging 1«. Qd. The lead- 
ing American journal of the fur trade in 1876 quoted Badger 
skins at $L for prime, 50 cents for " seconds", and 10 cents for 
" thirds ". The colors of the Badger pelt, though not striking, 
are pleasing, being an intimate and harmonious blending of 
gray, tawny, black, and white, the colors ringed in alternation 



gray, tawny, black, aud white, the colors ringed in alternation 
on individual haira. The gray predominates, the general 
*' tone " or effect being a grizzled gray, which has given rise 
to the well known ad«)ge, " as gray as a Badger". 

The Mexican Badg^er. 

Taxlden amerlcana berlandlerl. 

MelM iKbndoria, Bennett, p. Z. S. 1833, 43 (" California ". Yertnbral Rtripe oontinnonB).- 

Rich. Zool. Beectany'a Voy. 1839, p. 9*. 
f TaxtdM iMbnUlorU, Waterh. P. Z. S. 1838, 154. 
Taxliea berlanileri, Baird, M. N. A. 1857, 205, pi. 39, f. l.-Bd. Mex. B. Snrv. ii. pt. ii. 1S59, 

Mainm. 91. 
Taxlim amerleaaa var. eaUfonlea, Oray, P. Z. S. 1865, 141 (from Bennett); C«t Carn. Br. 

Mus, 1861», p. — . 
Taxldra aaierleaua var. berlandierl, amy, P. Z. S. 1865, 141 (from Baird) ; Cat. Cam. Br. 

Mi»8. ie69, p. — . 
Taxidea amerlcana «u6«p. berlandlerl, Alien, Boll. U. S. Geol. aud 6eog. Snrv. Terr. vol. 

ii. no. 4, 1876, 331. 
Meles tIaeojoM, Bert. MSS. ined. 
Tialcoyoti, Nahuatl. 
TIacoyoll, "Femandez." 
TIacoyote, Hex. VtOg. 
Texon or !({,''<«■, Mex. (of. Taxui, Tasno, Taisson). 

Hab. — Southwestern border of the United States and soathward. Llano 
Estacado, Texas, Pope; Canton. Bur({wyu, N. M.,/rtDtn; Cape St. Lucas, 
Xantm. "Interior and Eastern States of Mexico, especially Nuevo Leone 
aud Tamaulipas. — {Herlandier, MSS.) 

SuBSFRCiFic CHARACTEKS. — Similar to T. amerioana, bat with a white 
dorsal stripe, sometimes interrupted, from nose to tail. 

Genera remarks. 

The extreme manifestation of this form of Taxidea which I 
have seen is exemplified in a specimen in the Smithsonian 
Museum, collected at Cape St. Lucas by Mr. John Xautus. 
Here the white frontal stripe is remarkably broad, nearly 
equalling in width the dark part of the head, and it continues 
uninterrupted thence to the tail as a sharp white vertebral 
line. This is a conspicuous character, and, were it constant, 
there would need be no hesitation in recognizing a second 
species, even in default of correlated difference from T. ameri- 
oana. But it is not constant; on the contrary, other speci- 
mens show various degrees of interruption of the white dorsal 
line. Thus, the one from Texas noticed by Prof. Baird in the 
works above cited shows a prolongation of the white frontal 

19 M 



line past the nape to a point opposit€> the shoulders, its iut4?r- 
r ption there for aboat three inches, and its reappearance for 
about four inches at the middle of the back. I fail la appre- 
ciate any other decided pecaliarities of this form, though it 
may average rather smaller, and somewhat more heavily col- 
ored, owing to its southern habitat. Certain cranial charac- 
ters noted by Prof. Baird, according to the material then in 
hand, are negatived in the later examination I have made of 
much larger series of specimens. 

This is clearly the animal referred to by Bennett, as above, 
as a Californian variety, with darker ground-color, and a white 
line showing in several places along the back, or continuous to 
the tail. In the CTiiited States it has only been noticed, to my 
.knowledge, in the localities already indicated; but there ia no 
doubt that this form, more or less decidedly pronounced, ranges 
over the intermediate ground. I find it noticed at considerable 
length, with an unmistakable description, under the name of 
Meles tlacoyoU, in Dr. Berlandier's manuscripts, whare it is con- 
sidered to be the Tlacoyotl of Hernandez. The fore claws are 
described as "blackish"; otherwise the account agrees exactly 
with the specimens before me named berlandieri by Baird. Dr. 
Berlandier was evidently familiar with the animal, which he 
represents as common in Northeastern Mexico, and gives sev- 
eral biographical notices — nothing, however, to indicate any 
ditferences of moment in its habits as compared with those of 
T. americana. The following aro'his measurements of a female 
in the flesh : — Nose to end of tail 24 inches ; head 5 ; tail 5^ ; 
whole fore leg 6; hind leg 5^; stature at shoulders 7. 


Description of theperinaial glands of the European Badger, Meles vulgaris. 

The American Badjier has not, so far as I am aware, been examined ana- 
tomically with reference to the pecniiar organs of the perinteum and neigh- 
boring parts. These, however, hare been studied in the European species 
by M. Cbatin, whose results may be here reprod:iced in substance, in default 
of information respecting our own species, ae it is improbable that any mate- 
rial difference in these respects subsists between the two. It does not appear 
that the Meles vulgaris itself bad been sufficiently studied prior to M. Cha- 
tin's investigations. The Badger is found to be peculiar * in the presence 
not only of anal glands of an ordinary character, but also of anoth'^r, per- 

* Bat is the anatomy of Mydaus and Arctonyx known T 



fectly distinct gland, the secretion of which is emptied into a pocket back of 
the anas, jast beneath the root of the tail. 

1. Anal glands, — The parts present, near the termination of the rectnm, as 
apiiendages at its sides, two oval slightly recurved masses, 20""» long and 
about half as broad in the middle. Uimn the slightest pressure, a liquid 
gushes from the two excretory pores, which open at the sides of the anus at 
the bottom of well-marked recesses. This substance is very viscid, of a rosy- 
yellow color, and extremely fetid ; it is almost entirely soluble in sulphuric 
ether, and contains numerous fatty particles and epithelial remains. The 
two glands are embedded in adipose tissue, and entirely covered with a 
muscular tunic arising from the anal muscles, especially the retractor. The 
secretory portion is of tlie same general character as in allied species ; the 
tissue enveloping the cnls-de-sac is principally of laminated fibres, strength- 
ened, however, by elastic ones ; the diameter of the culs-de-sac is from 0.04 to 
O.OHinm. On longitudinal section of the gland, the centre is seen to be occu- 
pied by a large reservoir lined with a delicate brownish membrane, much 
as f . other Carnivores. The product of secretion is turned by a small open- 
ing into a rather narrow duct, leading to the external orifice already indi- 

2. Glands of the subcaudal pouch. — In the Badger, as in the Porcin and 
domesticated Carnivores, the rectnm is attached to the sacrum and first coc- 
cygeal bones by a strong muscular band, which, in the present species, leaves 
the rectum at a point 25""" from the insertion of the anal glands, at an 
angle of about 60° from the axis of the iptestiue, and proceeds to its inser- 
tion upon the sacro-coccygeal bones. At a point in front of the insertion of 
this muscle is found a deeply bilobate mass, apparently formed of two sepa- 
rate glands, each of oval shape, and apposed along a fiat internal face, the 
exterior surface being convex and lobate ; but the organ is really single, as 
it has but one receptacle for the product of all the follicular portion of the 
apparatus. This is a new glandular organ peculiar to the coccygeal region. 
Each moiety measi ires 24'"™ in depth with an average breadth of 11"""; for 
the rest, they are embedded in abundant adipose tissue, and the surface is 
whitish and papillate. The secretory portion is about 2""" thick ; it is com- 
posed of follicles, each comprising a large number of cnls-de-sac, of an aver- 
age diameter of O.Ofi"""*, lined with polyhedral epithelial cells. The product 
of secretion is received in an extremely large central sac, the surface of which 
is furnished throughout with numerous short, stiff, brownish hairs. This sac 
is distended with a yellowish fetid substance mixed with numerous hairs, 
like the viverrenm of the Civet. This central reservoir may be regarded as 
the beginning of the pocket which opens beneath the tail ; it communicates 
freely, and, in fact, is part of one and the same cavity. 

In the female, it is observed that the end of the genital organs and the rec- 
tum form, by their union, a kind of cloacal vestibule, in front of which is 
the clitoris, with the urethra immediately below. Beneath this sexual por- 
tion of the vestibule is the orifice by which the rectum opens externally, 
after receiving at its sides the excretory ducts of the acal glands. Finally, 
back of these parts, is a broad transverse depression, — the subcaudal pouch ; 
it measures ^S™"* across. The anal glands are IS™"* long and about 9""" 
broad ; they are club-shaped, and quite similar to those of the male. To the 
subcandal poach there is also attached a secretory apparatus like that 
already desorlbei, but smaller; its internal struoture is the same. 

' I 

3 ft 




Briefly, then, the Badg^er^ posseases perinseal glands, remarkably peonliar 
not only in their formation, but in their general relationB, since the true anal 
glands are supplemented with another special glandular mass. This latter 
is not situated between thd genitalia and the anus, as in Firerra, but between 
the tail and the anus, so that it is liehiud the latter and not in front of it, 
like the soent-bags of the Civets. We cannot, however, deny their analogy, 
as seen in the central cavity, clothed with hairs, and the bilobation of the 
gland ; but they differ in situation, in the nature of the product, and to a 
certain extent in histological structure, thus warraiiting, from the present 
standpoint, recognition of two quite distinct types. 


Subfamily LUTEINS: The Otters. 

General oonsiderationa — ^The genua Lutra — Generic characters and remarks— 
The North American Otter, Lutra oanodeAsio— Synonymy — Habitat — 
Specific characters— Description of external characters — Description of 
the skull and teeth — Variation in the skull — History of the species — Geo- 
graphical distribution — Habits of Otters — Extinct species of North Amer- 
ican Otter. 

IN the Otters, we eDcoanter a fourth decided modification of 
the family characters in adaptation to a highly aquatic 
mode of life. Among tho true MmtelinoB^ indeed, we found 
some aquatic species, like the Mink, Putorius vison; but in none 
of the foregoing subfamilies is the structure modified to any 
great extent with reference to natatorial abilities. The short, 
broad, fully webbed feet of the Otters, the cylindrical body, the 
stout tapering tail, and very turgid blunt muzzle result in an 
unmistakable physiognomy, as characteristic of the LutHnm as 
are the more important structural modifications of the skull 
and teeth. 

The LutriruB have been defined as Mastelida with the number 
of teeth equal in both j.. /s. This expression, however, is 
equally applicable to the Unhydrince, or Sea Otter, in which, 
very curiously, lack of one pair of under incisors brings about 
the same adjustment of total teeth of the two jaws, though the 
grinders are unequal in number. 

The LutrituB as here limited to the exclusion of Enhydris may 
be recognized as the only Mustelida in which the number of 
grinding teeth (molars and premolars together) is the same in 

both jaws, the formula being pm. ^^', w. ^ = j^. The total 
of the teeth is j| = 36. The upper molar is large and quadrate 
in shape. 

After throwing out the very different geuns Enhydria as type 
of a separate subfamily, the Lutrinee stili include a number of 
well-marked genera. Of these, Lutra is the principal genus, 






with the {greater namber of species and most general distribu- 
tion, ocunrring in both hemispheres. Nearly allied genera, by 
some considered only as subgenera, are based chiefly upon 
modifications of the claws, which, in some of the Old World 
Otters, are small, rndimentary, or even wanting, as in Lep- 
tonyx and Aonyx. Tbe most remarkable genus is the South 
American Pterura or Pteronura, peculiar in the lateral dilata- 
tion of the tail. 

Lutra itself is the only North American genus of the sub- 
family, onr species having been unnecessarily, if not unwarrant- 
ably, distinguished by generic name from the European type of 

The Genus LUTRA. (Linn.) 

G><:nkric characters.— Dentol formula: i. 

m. 2-2 — iff — 36. 

8-S . 

1-1 . 




Teeth of ordinary carnivnroas pattern. Molar of upper 
jaw large.qnadrate. Baok apper premolar with a large internal shelf, mak« 
ing the contour of the whole erown triangular. Skull much deiiressed and 
flattened on top, the dorsal ontline more or less nearly straight and hori- 
zontal ; rostmm extremely short, bringing the fore ends of the nasals nearly 
opposite the anterior root of the zygoma, tbe sides of the rostrum erect, tbe 
top flat. Cerebral portion of the skoU swollen backward, with strongly con- 
vex lateral ontline. Postorbital processes variable (well developed in some 
species, as in the North American, wanting in others). Anteorbital foramen 
very large, bounded above by a slender bridge of bone. Posterior nares 
thrown into one conduit.* Palate extending far baok of molars. Ptery- 
goids strongly bamulate. Body st'out, hot lengthened and cylindrical; 
muzzle very obtuse; ears very small. Feet short, broad, naked, or partly 
hairy on the palm and sole, the digits full-webbed. Tail long, tapering, cylin- 
drico- depressed, but without special lateral dilatation. Claws, though small, 
well formed. Pelage without striking color-contrasts. 

Many of the foregoing expressions are applicable to the sub- 
family at large, as well as to the present genus. Particular 
points of Lutra proper are the presence of perfect claws, in 
comparison with their absence or rndimentary condition in 
some other genera, and the lack of special dilatation of the tail. 

The uniformity of coloration and the great individual varia- 
bility in size throughout this genus render the determination 
of the species difficult. The poi^its which I have found most 
available in specific diagnosis, when cranial and dental charac- 
ters fail, are, the size and shape of the nose-pad and the con- 

* In some species, there is an incomplete septum extending further back 
than in MiuteUnm, but never, so far as I know, to the very end of the bony 
palate, as in MephitiHW and MtUHte. 


U. S. Geological Survey. 

MnsteUdn. PLATE XVn. 

liUtra canndenslH. (Nat. site.) 



dition of farriuess or nakedness of the soles, together with the 
special tuberculation of the latter. The various American 
species may readily be determined by attending to these par- 

There is but a single well-determined North American species 
of this genus. This is so distinct from the European, with 
which it was long confonnded, that 1 am tempted tfl place it in 
a ditt'erent subgenus, grounded on various cranial peculiarities 
that might be enumerated, and only refrain from so doing 
in my ignorance of what intermediate forms of crania other 
species may present to connect the extremes seen in L. vulgaris 
and L. canadensis. Other American species agree closely with 
L. canadensis in cranial characters ; and it is not improbable 
that the species of this hemisphere may all be subgenerically 
different from those of the Old World. I shall, however, con- 
sider them as simply Lutra, 

Besides L. canadensis^ moreover, there is a perfectly distinct 
Mexican species, Lutra calif ornica of Gray (not of Baird), which 
is said, and I believe correctly, to extend into the United 
States along the Paci&c side. I think it will be found, as 
already supposed by some, to be very extensively di-opersed 
along the western shores of North, Middle and South America. 
It appears to be as distinct from the L. brasiliensis as it is from 
L. canadensis, and I have no doubt will ultimately be estab- 
lished as a second good species of Otter of the (Juited States, 
though under a name long prior t) that imposed by Gray. Buc 
as I have seen only Mexican skins of this animal, I cannot now 
introduce it to our fauna. The point is discussed beyoud. 

The IVorth American Otter. 

I<atra canadensis. 

Plats XVIL 

MutelS MBSdeBSiB, Tur >n, S. N. i. ie06, 37 (not MuMtela eatuidentit, id. ibid. 59, which 
is M. pennanti, the Pekan. Not of Sohreber nor of Erxleben nor of anthora). 

Latni canadensis, "F. Ouv. Diet. Sc. Nat. xxvii, 1823, 24st.— /«. Oeoff. Diet. Class, ix. 530."— 
J. Sab. App. Franlti. Joaro. 1823, eSt.—Leu. Man. 1827, IM, no. ili.—OHff. An. Kingd. 
r. ie3(, i30, na 36i.— Finch. Syn. 1839, 225.— JZicA. F. B- A. i. 1829, 57, no. 20.—I!mmont, 
"Rep. Quad. Mase. 183m, 35"; Rep. Quad. Mass. 1840,46.— ilicA. Zuol. Voy. Beechey, 
1839, 4.— Maxim. Reise N. Am. i. 1839, 211 ; Arch. Natnrg. 1881, 236; Verz. N. A. Sfing. 
1862, 60, pi. 8, r. 6 (oa penis).— i>« Kay, N. T. Z08L i. 1842, 39, pi. 3, f. 1, pL 33. £ 
1, 2, 3 (skull).— £in«(«y, Am. Joiim. SoL xliii. 1842, —.—Sehitu, Syn. 1. 1844, 349, 
no. 5.— Aud. <e Baek. Q. N. A. ii. 1851, 2, pL Sl.—Woodk. Sitgreaves's Rep. 1853, 
44.— JTmn. Tr. Illinois Axrio. Soo. for 185»-4, 1655, 578.-0t«6«I, Siiug. 1855, 789.— 
Beetley, Geol. Cape May, 1857, 137.— £(t M. N. A. 1^7. 184, pi. 38. f. a. b, e, d, «.— 
BUlingt, Cauad. Nat. and GeoL L 1857, 228.- ^amiMU, Ninth w\Dp. Rep. MabS. Agric. 





for 19(11, lf>«», leo.— 17<ty<f. Tr. Am«r. Phil. Soe. xii. 18(i3, \4X-ITaU, Canad. Nitt. 

aiid OeoL ri. 1861. 9U7.-Am«, CmimI. Nat and Oeol. vL 18A1, 35.— AariMton, Canatl. 

Nat. and 0«ol. yill. IM3. . f. —.—Otrr. Cat Di>nes Hr. Mu*. 18(13. \Ol.—AlUn, Pr. 

Boat Soo. xili. 1860. 183.— Bu«. M. C. Z. i. lH69, 178; it. 1871, 169 (Florida) —0«ptn, 

Pmo. and Tr. N. Sootia Innt it. 1870, 60.— All. Hull. Km, Timt tI. 1874, 46, 63 (Kaunna 

and nub).— Amm, Bull. Minn. Acad. Nat. Hci. 1874, m—Oottei tt Yarrow, Zoiil. Expl. 

W. 100 Merld. v. 1873, «3.— Allen, BulL U. & Oeol. and OeoK. Surv. Terr. vol. IL no. 4, 

1876,331 (skull). 
Intra CMSteaiU var., Aud. d Bach. Q. N. A. lii. 1853, 07, pi. 1*23 (figure of Oray's typo of 

Lataxina nollU). 
UtAX MIAdeMlR, (hay, P. Z. S. 186.S, 133 ; Cat Cam. Br. Mn*. 1860, — . 
Lain Tllgsrls var. tmnuttnli, Wagn. SuppL Sobreber, ii. 1841, 336. 
MuHtelM hndiOBlca, "Laapide". 
Latra hndMRlM, F. Cur. Snppl. Bnflbn, i. 1831, 104. 
fLHtragraelllH, Oken, Lfhrb. Naturg. Tb. ilL Abtb. II. 1810, e86("StaatenIand,IuBel an 

Anierika bwi New- York"). 
Intra bnsllleiHiN, Detm. Mamm. i. 1890, 188 (in part).— ffaW. Fn. Amer. 1833, 71 (In part).— 

aodm. Am. N. H. L 1831, S9j, pi. — , f. 3 (in part).— TAomp*. N. H. Vermont, 1833, 33. 
Latra iHtaxIa*, F. Ouv. "Diet So. Nat xxvil. 1833, 34-.!"; 8uppl. Butfou, i. 1831, 30:i.— "/t. 

Oeof. Diet ClnHR. ix.5-X."—0Hff. An. Kiiigd. v. 1837. 131, no. 364.— £«»«. Mfln. 1837, 154, 

no. 416—F(M!A.Syn. 1839,396, na 4.— De fay, N. Y. Zo6l. L 1843, il.—aehinz, Syn. i. 

1844. .150. 
Utax laiMXiBM, Gray, Ann. Mag. N. U. 1. 1837, 1 10. 

Lataxina molila. Qray, List Mamm. Br. Muh. 1843, 70 (type flgnred by Aud. Si, Bach. I. e.), 
Lutra aaiericaaa, Wyman, Pr. Boat Soo. ii. 1847, 949 (on artionlatiou of mandible). 
Latra ealiforalea, Bd. M. N. A. 1R57, ISl.—Kewb. P. R. R. Rep. vi. 1857, 43.— Coop. <t Suek. K. 

H. W. T. 1860, Ui. (Probably not of Gray.) 
latra iMtrpctor, Bamtt. Canad. Nat and Oeol. viii. 1863, 147, f. — (Lake Superior). 
loatre da Caaada, Bw/. " Hiat Nat ziii. , 333, 336, pi. 44 (4tu ed.) ; ed. Pillot. xv. p. 

Loatre de la Carollae, F. Ouv. I. e. 

Loatre d'Aai^rlqae, Cuv. (in part ; nnitea tbe Brazilian apecies). 
CommoB Otter, P«nnan(, Arot Zoiil. i. 1784, 86, no. 34 (lu part; unites tbe European). 
Laad Otter, Warden, United States, i. 1819, 906. 
AaierleaB Otter, Qodman, I e., Baird, I c , and of authors. 
Canada Otter, Sabine, Rich. I. e., Aud. <C Baeh. I e., and of authors. 
(Otter, see Marten; ZnoL Oart xi. 1870, 379; philological.) 
Meekeek, Or«eIndian$. 

Hab. — ^Nortb America at large, being rather sparingly diatribnted over 
moat of tbu waters of tbe contineut. Said to obciir iu Ceutral America 
(Costa Rica, v. Frantziua). 

Specific charactkrs.* — Orbits well deflned by prominent conical post- 
orbital processes, the distancH between the tips of which is one-half or more 
of the intermastoid width of the skull. Inner depressed moiety of posterior 
upper premolar as large and nearly as long as the main outer moiety ; gen- 
eral dentition strong. Naked nasal pad large (npward of an inch long or 
broad in full-grown individuals), extending back above the nostrils in a 
/^-shaped outline, reaching below the nostrils with a straight transverse 
border, which sometimes sends a slight spur part way down tbe median line 
of the lip. Palms hairy between the digits, isolating the individual bald 
digital bulbs, and having an isolated patch or carpal peninsula of hair 
posteriorly. Soles hairy between the digits, isolating the individual digital 
buros, much encroached upon by hair from behind, and ha\ing three or four 
peculiar small circular elevated callosities arranged around the posterior 

* Drawn up with special reference to antithesis with L. vulgaris of Europe. 


iMmlor of the main bald plnntar anrface. (Form, stature, and coloration not 
diagnostic) Finally attaining a total length of four feet or more; liver- 
brown, with purplish gloss, paler on the under surface of the head, throat, 
and breast. 

J)e»cription of external characters.* 

This Otter shares the well-known form common to most 
speuies of the genus — the massive columnar body, without con- 
striction of neck, small globose head, small eyes and ears, long 
taper tail, short stout limbs, and broad webbed feet, with dose- 
set glossy fur and abundant woolly under-fur. Externally, the 
special torm of the nose-pad and the state of furring of the 
palms and soles are the chief, if not the sole, characters dis- 
tinguishing the species from several of its congeners. 

The nose-pad is remarkably well developed — almost as much 
so as in Enhydris — perfectly bald, and in adult life tessellated 
by subdivision into very numerous small flat-topped papilla). 
In general shape, it is an equilateral penta- 
gon, with one side inferior, horizontal, and 
straight across, the next side on either hand 
irregular, owing to the shape of the nasal 
apertures, the two remaining sides coming 
together obliquely above to a median acute 
angle, high above a line drawn across the 
tops of the nostrils. It somewhat resembles ^^^.^^^ otz. canademi,. 
the ace of spades.t The lower horizontal Kat. aize. 

border is below a line drawn across the bottom of the nos- 
trils; it sometimes sends down a small naked spur vertically 
towards the tip, sometimes not ; either of the borders not oc- 
cupied. by the nostrils may be a little convex or a little con- 
cave, or sigmoidal. (In Lutra vulgaris, the nose-pad is very 
small, and entirely confined between the nostrils. In a com- 
mon species of Mexico, said also to inhabit California, and in 
I'uct to extend from Chili to Kamtschatka, the nose-pad is con- 
siderably more developed than in L. vulgaris, yet much less so 
than in canadensis; the upper outline is deeply double-concave, 
like WW, and the lower outline, which does not reach below the 
nostrils, is concave, like ^. In the Saricovienne, Liitra brasilien- 

* From various specimens iu the National Museum from did'ueeut portions 
of North America. 

tThe figure, copied from Baird, is perhaps rather too near an ace-of-clnbs 
shape; according to the dried specimens from which I drew my text, the 
top of the figure should be more pointed, and the lines thence rather less 

. 1 



«t«, with whioh oufh used to be nonfountled, the no8e-pad iHde- 
scribed as divided by a liue of hair coming down from above.) 

The upper border of the iioHtrils i» in L. canadensin repre- 
sented by a protoineut overhanging bnlb. The whiMkers are 
short, stout, stiff bristles, arranged in numerous series ; others 
equally long and stiff grow from the sides of the chin near the 
angle of the mouth, and in front of the ears; others again 
spring over the eyes, and at the point of the chin. The eyes 
are small, far forward, nearer to the muzzle than to the ear. The 
ears are comparatively minute, with a thin, obtusely pointed 
conch, about as long as the surrounded fur, though they project 
somewhat, since the hairs lie flat; the entrance of the meatus 
is completely occluded with far. 

The tail is about h|i]f as long (more or less) as the head and 
body ; regularly tapering from base to tip, elliptical in trans- 
verse section. 

The short fore limb is succeeded by a stout wrist and broad 
flat hand. The fingers are very short, and when divaricated 
tncir tips describe nearly a semicircle around the centre of the 
palm. The toes are almost completely webbed by membranes 
reaching out to about the middle of the conspicuous digital 
bulbs — the median digit is a little freer than the rest, the lateral 
ones most completely united. The hand is entirely hairy above; 
below, the bulbs of the digits are perfectly bald, but the con- 
necting membranes are more or less completely hairy, separat- 
ing t; ; naked bulbs from -ach other and from the main palmar 
surface. After this hairy membranous surface comes the single 
large pal aar pad, naked for the most part, but having poste- 
riorly a scant patch of hair, either isolated or connected by a 
hairy isthmus with the fur upon the wrist. In life, this main 
pad has no decided subdivision, though it sometimes shows cer- 
tain lines of impression which in the dried state may be exag- 
gerated into partitions. All the bald parts of the palm and the 
digital bulbs are tessellated with minute papillae. 

The soles, in general, resemble the palms in the webbing of 
the toes by a hairy membrane, and encroachment from behind 
of hairs upon the main plantar pad ; but the shape of the bind 
foot is quite different. The 1th digit is much elongated, the 
3d a little shorter, the 2d and 1st rapidly much graduated, with 
the 5th intermediate between the 3d and 2d. The terminal 
bulbs of the toes are naked and papillate, and completely iso- 
lated, by the hairiness of the interveuing membraue, b >th from 


eacb other and from the main phmtar pad. Thin lant is per- 
fectly naked and papillate for a broadly croncentio space, there 
being a central farry projection from behind. But the most 
remarkable feature, peculiar to thiH species, as far as is known, 
18 the presence of three or four small, definite, circular, elevated 
papilla;, arranp^ed along the iiosterior border of the naked space. 
I do not understand these singular structures, the appearance 
of which almost forces the presumption that they are the excre- 
tory pores of glandular organs beneath the integument. 

The claws are similar on both fore and bind feet. They are 
short, stout, compressed, much arched, rapidly contracted from 
the thick base to an acute point. Those in front are rather 
larger, sharper, and more arched than the hinder one's. 

The fur of the Otter is of great beauty, very thick, close, 
short, and shining, an f xaggeration, in correspondence with the 
completely aquatic habits of the animal, of that of the Mink or 
Muskrat. The longer hairs are stout and glistening; the very 
copious under fur is lanuginous and lustreless. The sheen is 
only visible in its perfection whf n the pelt is viewed with the 
lay of the hairs; from the other direction the color is plain. As 
in most other species, the color is a rich dark liver-brown, or 
deep chestnut-brown above, more or less blackish or with a 
purplish gloss ; paler below, especially anteriorly, on the under 
parts and sides of the head, the throat, and breast This pale- 
ness is very variable, from a slight lightening of the general 
tone to a pale dull brownish or grayish, or even muddy white. 
The change is insensible, and there are no special markings 
anywhere. The roots of the hairs, even on the darkest parts 
of the pelage, are quite light brown, or often even dingy white, 
but the fur is so close that this does not appreciably affect the 
tone of the surface. The top of the tail is ordinarily the darkest 
part of the animal. The whiskers are partly colorless, partly 
brown. The nasal pad, palms, and soles are dark-colored. 

Beneath the root of the tail are two glandular eminences. 

Few animals vary more in stature than the Otter. Some 
individuals are, in round terms, twice as large and heavy as 
others apparently equally mature, and, at any rate, capable of 
reproduction. An average total length of full-grown individu- 
als is 4 to 4^ feet ; some specimens, howeviBr, touching 5 feet, 
while others fall short of the first-named dimension. The spe- 
cies appears to grow several years after puberty. Nose to 
root of tail 3 feet; tail 1 J feet; nose to eye If to 2 inches; nose 

■'Ij .i. 





to ear 3^ to i iucbes; ear less than an inch high, and aboat as 
broad; fore foot from wrist 3J inches; hind foot 4 inches; girth 
of body about 1^ feet; stature a foot or less; weigh i: ordinarily 
20 to 25 pounds. I have recogtiized no particular sexual dif- 
ferences, though the female may, as usual in this family, aver- 
age smaller than the male. 

Comparison with allied species. (See plates XVII, XVIII.) 

The dift'erences between the present species and L. vulgaris 
of Europe are decided and unmistakable, in fact much stronger 
than those usually subsisting in this intricate group, where 
recognition of species is rendered difficult by similarity in form 
and color. Some of the characters of L. vulgaris have been 
already noted. It is a much smaller animal ; the nasal pad is 
reduced to a small bald spot strictly cuntlned betwixt the nos- 
trils ; and there is no hair on the soles or palms. The cranial 
characters are still stronger. A great many details of differ- 
ence that might be adduced may be summed in the statement 
that the skull of L. vulgaris is less massive, narrower for its 
length, and with weaker dentition. The prominent peculiari- 
ties are these: There are no decided postorbital processes 
defining the orbit above. The postorbital constriction is 
great, the skull being at this point less than one-fourth as 
broad ; it is across the mastoids, instead of nearly one-third 
such measurement, as in L. canadensis. The zygomatic width 
is contained one and four-fifth times in the total length, instead 
of only about one and two-fifths, as in L. canadensis. The ros- 
trum is decidedly more produced and narrower, and the nasal 
bones are of a correspondingly different shape. The inner 
spur of the posterior upper premolar in L. vulgaris is a semi- 
circle, only about half as long as the tooth ; in L. canaden- 
sis, the same part of this tooth is developed along the whole 
inner border of the main moiety. There are other minor den- 
tal peculiarities. (Compiire Plates XVII and XVIII.) 

A skull of the Mexican Otter above mentioned as entirely 
distinct from L, canadensis, and which is probably the species 
named L. californica by Gray (but certainly not the one so 
called by Baird), is of the same general character as that of 
L. canadensis, in fact presents no very strong points of differ- 
ence. The inner part of the back upper premolar, however, is 
rather triangular than quadrate, lacking the bulge of the pos- 
terior part, conspicuous in L. canadensis, which causes the part 

U. S. Geological Survey. 

Mustelidse. PLATE XVIII. 


I" u 


E.ntrM valffarlSj (Nitt. xize,) 



to be closely apposed to the sncceediug molar, whereas in this' 
Mexican example there is a decided angular interval at the 
same place. The point is difficult of expression on paper, but 
is readily perceived when the specimens are laid together. 
The whole skull is rather broad and massive. 

The same characters of skull and teeth are witnessed in a 
large series of Otters' skulls before me from the coast of Alaska 
and some of the adjacent islands. The skulls, unfortunately, 
are unaccompanied by skins; but they lead me to suspect that 
they may be those of an animal the same as the Mexican 
species. This would accord with the ascribed range of the 
species (from Chili to Kamtschatka); but the point cannot bo 
determined until skins are examined from this region, as the 
i»kulls alone do not furnish grounds for separation. The Mex- 
ican animal is entirely distinct, as already noted, in the smaller 
and differently shaped nose-pad, perfectly naked palms and 
soles, and absence of the peculiar callosities seen on the latter 
in L. canadensis. If the ascribed range of this Otter prove to 
hold, we have, in K^orth America, a second perfectly good 
species, the characters and supposed synonymy of which are 
presented in the accompanying foot-note.* 

*" Lutra feUna, Molina, Hist Nat. Chili." 

"Intra Chilensis, Bennett, Proc. Zoiil. S. ii 1832, p. \."—Tgchudi, Fn. Pern. 1844-46, 113. 

"Lutra platensis, Waterh. Zoiil. Voy. Beagle, i. ^i.-D'Orbig. Voy. Am6r. M6rid." 

Lutra caUfornica, Gray, Mag. Nat. Uist. i. 1835, 580, nee Baird. 

Nutria feUna, Gray, P. Z. S. 1865, las. 

Description (No. 9425, Mas. Smiths. Inst. ^ , Jan. 15, 1869, Santa EB);enia, 
Tehuantepec, F. Sumichraat). — Of abont the size and with much the general 
appearance of L. canadensis. Tail verj' long, at least f the head and body. 
Feet notp')ly small. Nose-pad contracted, broader than deep, not deeper 
than the • gth of noHtril, the lower border lightly concave, the upper 
border strou^iy doubly concave, with a central pointed projection upward, 
and similar acute produced lateral upper corners. Soles and palms naked, 
the palmar pad divided into a posterior circular part and a larger anterior 
portion, the latter subdivided by several lines of impresHum. Soles without 
peculiar circular callostticfl, with several well-marked subdivisions by lines 
of impression. Color abjve a lighter and more cbooolate-brown than in L. 
canadensis; below, decidedly paler and grayer brown than usual in L. cana- 
densis, becoming drngy whitirti aiiTieriorly. Estimated length H fieet to root 
of tail; tail about 1* tew; nose to ear perhaps 3^ inches; fore foot, measured 
from beginning of tih' nikked part, only 2^ inches ; hind foot about the same. 
Additional specimen!! trtMn the sam*' locality, with others from Orizaba and 
Ceucrui Guatemala, appear to be identical. A skin from Buenos Ayres is 
ii*K materially different, though the upper outline of the nose- pad is less de- 
cidedly double-concave above; the size is less, the coloration lighter, and of 
a peculiar yellowish-brown on the under parts; tbe whole pelage is remark- 
ably harsh and hispid. 




Description of the ahull and teeth. (See Plate XVII.) 

The lateral view of the skull shows its most charautei-istio 
shape ill its general depression, the flatnesson top, and the short- 
ness of the blant muzzle. In the adult, the dorsal profile, from 
occiput to end of nasals, approximates to a straight line ; in 
younger examples, the frontal outline is also about straight, but 
the cranial portion iirches a little, and then curves down to the 
occiput. The proOle of the nasal orifice is sinuous, convex 
above, concave below. The rostrum id only about one-fifth of 
the totsil length of the skull. The anteorbital foramen is widely 
open, obliquely elliptical in shape, and only bridged over by a 
slender process of the root of the zygoma ; its obliquity of posi- 
tion is so great that, viewed from above, it presents within the 
orbit instead of before it. The orbit is small, subcircnlar, and 
well defined, not only by an acute malar process of the zygoma, 
but by a very prominent supraorbital process, these two to- 
gether completing more than two-thirds of the circumference 
of a circle. The z.sgoma is not very strong; it is moderately 
arclwd iipwarcl, wif 'a quite an abrupt rise near the middle, rather 
thaii a regular general curve. The glenoid appears rather far 
foruiiird on its posterior root. The orificu of the meatus audi- 
torius is small, .ind high up in a deep recess between the glenoid 
aad mastoid ; die latter is notably large and prominent. 

Viewed trorn above, tl:e skull displays the great brevity and 
oibtuseuess of the rostrum already mentioned. This seems to 
be doe, in a moasure at least, to the anterior position of the 
orbits, and the forward encroachment of the broad flat anterior 
roots of the zygoma; other topographical points are less dif- 
ferent from an ordinary Musteline type. The sides of the ros- 
trum are about parallel, its width is fully equal to its length. 
Just in front of the orbital brim, at its upper corner, is seen a 
Kwll-marked depression. The interorbital area is a broad ele- 
vaited tablet, perfectly smooth and fiat, bounded behind by the 
forks of the sagittal cixvst, proceeding in curved lines from the 
termination of the sagittal crest to the supraorbital processes. 
All the surface of the skull behind these is roughened by 
muscular impressions. Supraorbital processes are much more 
largely developed than usual, acute, directly transverse. The 
skull is uery narrow just behind these, the point of 
constriction being def idedly in advance of the middle of the 
skull. From this point backward, the skull bulges considerably. 



with a general ovoidal contour. The occipital crest is moder- 
ately developed ; the line of contour it represents is emarginate 
on the middle line, then strongly convex on each side, thence 
about straight to its termination at the mastoids. There is 
rarely, if ever, even in the oldest skulls, a decided sagittal crest, 
the median Hue being in fact rather a groove, at least behind ; 
in front, however, there is a slight raised line. In young 
animals, there are several parallel grooves and strise along the 
median line. 

The occipital face of the skull is in general flat, with various 
muscular irri^gularities, curviug around laterally to the mastoid 
region. It is bounded above by the occipital crest, tlie general 
contour of which, in this view, resembles the dorsal profile of 
a military chapeau. The condyles are large, and the region 
around the foramen magnum is prominent; it descends far below 
the level of the slight obtuse paroccipitals, the apices of which 
fall on the level of a line drawn from the mastoid to the middle 
of the foramen magnum. The articular surfaces of the con- 
dyles are obliquely oval, with no outward prolongation, but, on 
the contrary, an extension toward the median line till they 
nearly meet each other beneath the foramen magnum. This 
aperture, in general outline, is transversely elliptical, broader 
than deep, with a strong emargination posteriorly. 

The zygomatic width of the skull, best viewed from below, 
is seen to be not much lesi^than three-fourths the total length 
(2.90 X 4.2U inches for example) ; the intermastoid width is 
about three-fifths the length. The zygomata are widest apart 
behind, thence approximately moderately in a nearly straight 
line. The alveolar borders of the palate are about parallel 
anteriorly, and, though divergent behind, this is mostly due to 
the size of the back teeth themselves, the general palatal mar- 
gins inside the teeth being parallel. The palate extends far 
back of the last molars (not so far, however, as in Taxidea)^ 
ending about half-way to the ends of the pterygoids. The 
incisive foramina, very short and broadly oval, are directly be- 
tween the canines. The emargination between the pterygoids 
is broad, and ends with a rounded outline (with a median process 
or median emargination indifferently); these bones are laminar, 
smooth inside, thickened with various muscular ridges outside, 
end in long hamular processes. The glenoid fossa is deep; it 
develops a broad overlapping shelf at its inner back corner, 
and a similar but slighter one at the outer anterior corner, 


., ,, J 






together freqaently sufficient, in old individaals, to lock the 
jaw. The posterior nares are ouly separated by a vertical 
ineilian septum for a short distance ; they d^bonch together at 
the edge of the bony palate as a single orifice, as in Mitatelidce 
generally, but not as in Ttueidea {q. v.). The buUee ossese are 
flattish, about as in Mephitinaif strongly contrasting in this re- 
spect with MmtelincB and Melitue, They are most vaulted at 
the antero-interual angle ; exteriorly they are produced into a 
long slender tubular meatus. The basilar space betwixt these 
periotic bones is very broad, with its sides little convergent 
anteriorly. The foramen lacerum posterius sometimes appeacs 
as several distinct circular foramina through which the cranial 
nerves respectively emerge separately, a state I have not noticed 
elsewhere in the family, though it may occur ; it is analogous 
to the division of the anteorbital foramen frequently seen in 
the Skunks. This state of the lacerate fissure is usually un- 
symmetrical; that is, it is not alike on both sides of the same 

The bones of the skull are early confluent in Lutra. Thus 
even the nasal sutures, usually among the most persistent in 
Mustelidce^ are obliterated at an age when the skull is still thin 
and papery. In a very young specimen in which the bones are 
still mostly distinct, I observe the following disposition of the 
sntures: The nasals are received behind in a shallow semi- 
circular recess of the frontal; th^r sides are approximately 
parallel; the intermaxillary and maxillary form each about 
half of the rest of the nasal boundary. The maxillary ends 
about opposite the middle of the orbit ; there is but a beginning 
of wedging of a process of the frontal between the nasal and 
superior maxillary (cf. Taxidea). The coronal suture is ex- 
extremely irregular ; it lies altogether back of a line drawn 
across the apices of the coronoid processes when the jaw is in 
mtu. Nearly all the dome of the cranium is parietal, the 
squamosal forming only a low irregular border along the side, 
not a fourth of an inch above the root of the zygoma, though it 
occupies much surface beneath the skull. Owing to the width 
of the glenoid, it is entirely separate from the sphenoid. The 
occipital crest is also chiefly parietal, as the lambdoidal suture 
passes acroi^ it to ge^^ the back aspect of the skull at a point 
nearer to the median line than to the mastoid. The latter is a 
sizable element, wedged between the parietal and squamosal 
above, periotic below and in front, and a small piece of the 



occipital behind; it is already partly coDlluent with the periotic. 
The basilar suture is distinct, directly transverse, near the an- 
terior end of the ballte. Similarly, the sphenovomerine suture 
is open ; it appears back of the end of the palate. The ptery- 
goids are already lost iu the sphenoid, but the pterygo palatal 
suture is evident, opposite the spheno-vomerine. The contour 
of the palatine bones may be traced all around, though their 
palatal plates are fused with each other. The maxillo-palatine 
suture is opposite tbe anterior portion of the last premolar. The 
palatal plate extends far backward, as already twice indicated 
iu noticing other points, and its orbital portion curves over into 
the temporal fossa, though it forms but an insignificant portion 
of the orbit proper, being only prolonged by a slight process 
fairly into the orbit. The orbito-spht'oid r'^mains instruct- 
ively distinct from all surroundings, bounded above and in 
front by the frontal, behind and partly below by the alisphe- 
noid, for the rest below by the palatal. The lachrymal is 
similarly distinct, except anteriorly. The malar is seen to form 
most of the zygomatic arch ; though the pointed process of the 
squamosal overlies it nearly half-way, its bevelled posterior 
extremity reaches almost to the glenoid fossa ; its anterior ex- 
tremity runs along on top the maxillary to the lachrymal, form- 
ing an upper layer of the bridge over the anteorbital foramen. 
The palatal plates of the intcrmaxillaries extend iu a Y past 
the canines to a point on the median line opposite the second 
premolar; the incisive foramina are not pierced entirely in these 
bones, their posterior periphery being completed by a nick in the 
corresponding border of the palatal plate of the superior 

Returning to the adult skulls for examination of the mandi- 
ble, we find that this bone Las a stout thick ramus, with long 
slanting symphysis, an irregular continuous curve from incisors 
to angle, with a slight emargination just in advance of the 
latter, and a rather low broad obtuse coronoid, the front border 
of which is nearly straight and vertical, the posterior border 
curving forward with quite an elbow to the apex. The condyle 
is wide across, but narrow iu the other direction; it slants 
oblique both to the horizontal and vertical plane, its inner end 
being both higher and further back than the other. There is 
a deep notch between the condyle and angle of the jaw, which 
last is not exflected. The muscular imprecision ou thv outside 
of the jaw is, as usual, well marked; it cuds below in a rounded 
outline beneath the last molar. 
20 m 





For the deutitiuu, a youn^ subject is preferably selected, in 
which the teeth are fully formed but entirely unworn. The 
back upper molar is quadrate in general contour, as in Mephi- 
iinw (cf. Melina', Muatclince)^ but rather lozenge-shaped, the inner 
posterior and outer anterior corners being less than a right 
angle, while the opposite ones are obtuse. All the corners are 
rounded oif. The tooth is, if anything, a little smaller than the 
next one. Its %ce presents an exterior, narrow, longitudinal, 
raised portion, in the closed jaw wholly external to the anterior 
lower inv^.ar. The exterior moiety is divided across by a sulcus ; 
its inner border is deeper and more trenchant than the outer ; 
its front part is also deeper than its back part. The rest of the 
face of the tooth is depressed, and presents a general slight 
excavation, with a very prominent acute tubercle antero-inte- 
riorly, and a general raised border ; this portion is applied against 
the similar depressed back part of the anterior lower molar. 
The back upper premolar is essentially triangular in contour, 
but with a bulge of the postero internal border, which nearly 
gives it a trapezoidal shape. It consists of the outer deep por- 
tion, made up of a single very prominent acute cusp, connected 
by a trenchant edge with a smaller posterior cusp, which ends 
the tooth behind, and of au inner low portion presenting a 
general slightly ercavated surface nuarked with a slight central 
prominence and bounded by a well-developed sharp edge. The 
great development of this inner moiety along the wliole of the 
tooth is the strongest dental char.acter of the species in com- 
parison with L. vulgaris. Tlic cuspidate part of the anterior 
lower molar abuts agaisst this portion. The next upper pre- 
molar is a stout two-rooted conical cusp, with a cingulum and 
well-developed heel fore and aft, and, in addition, a postero- 
internal depressed part, against which the apex of the posterior 
lower premolar is apposed. The next premolar is altogether 
similar, but smaller. The anterior premolar is single-rooted, 
very small, and in peculiar position, altogether internal to the 
canine, with which it is in close apposition ; both of the ante- 
rior premolars, in fact, are in close relation with the car.ine ; the 
first one being thrown entirely to one side of the general dental 
axis. This small tooth Lot seldom aborts on one side ; but I 
have not happened to find it absent altogether. The upper 
canines are not peculiar ; they are perhaps shorter and stouter 
for their length than usiual in this family. The lateral pair of 
incisors moderately surpass the rest in size ; the others are on 



a par with eacb other ; the ends of all are obtusely rouuded, 
without obvious lobatiou. 

The back lower molar is small aud circular, as usual ; it shows 
no special points. The front lower molar consists of an anterior 
tricuspidate half and posterior depressed portion. The three 
cusps are very prominent, subequal in size, forming a triangle, 
with one angle anterior and median, the two others posterior 
and lateral ; the postero-internal cusp is rather smaller than the 
two others, the ridge connecting which forms the trenchant 
edge of the tooth. The back part of the tooth is a simple de- 
pression, with raised periphery, which, at its outer part, is twice 
nicked, with slight marginal cusps as a consequence. The pos- 
terior premolar is a stout conical cusp, well heeled fore and 
aft, with a secondary cusp half-way up its back border, as in 
Taxidea. The next premolar is smaller, but similar, except in 
lacking the secondary cusp. The front premolar is again simi- 
lar, but smaller still, and without an anterior heel, being closely 
apposed to the. canine. The latter is short, very stout, and 
much carved. The inferior incisors are much crowded and very 
irregular, even more so than in Mustelinai, offering an interesting 
approach to the condition >vhich culminates in Unhydria in the 
disappearance of one pair. The outer pair are moderately larger 
than the rest ; the next pair — the middle tooth on each side — 
set almost entirely back of the general incisor plane ; they are 
quite deep, though little of their face appears in front. The 
middle pair are narrow, and closely approximated. The ends 
of the outer pair are lobate ; of the others, not appreciably so. 

Variations in the sltdl of the Otter. 

As in other cases, I present under this head Mr. J. A. Allen's 
measurements and comments, extracted from the paper above 
cited in the synonymy : — 

*' Specimens of this species from northern and southern lociili* 
ties do not differ materially in size ; skulls from Newfoundland, 
Maine, Lake Superior, Washington, and Georgia agreeing very 
closely in dimensions. In a series of eighteen (mainly from 
northern localities), nine attain or exceed a length of 4.25, and 
three reach 4.50, while two only fall as low as 4.00. Seven speci- 
mens from the vicinity of Lake Umbagog, Maine, (in Mus. 
Comp. Zool.) average 4.28 in lengtL and 2.93 in width ; two of 
these reach 4.50 in length and two fall slightly below 4.00 (3.96 
and 3.97). Two specimens from Washington, D. C, have a 



length respectivt.y of 4.45 and 4.50; one specimen from Saint 
Simon's Island, Georgia, is nearly as large (4. '52), while a Fort 
Cobb specimen has a length of 4.22. These four are the only 
ones from very southerly points. Four other specimens, from 
as many localities, range from 4.05 to 4.15; while three speci- 
mens from Newfoundland range from 4.03 to 4.25. While these 
specimens are too few to Avarrant positive conclusions as to 
geographical variations, they 8e«'in to point to a great constancy 
of size throughout a wide range of latitude.*' 

MeaaiirenuntH of eiyhteen Hkulh of LiTiu c.\N'.\I)Kxsi8. 



4. 35 

Width. . 















UmbagoK Lake, Maino 














<i„ ;:..:: 



Lake Sunciior 



Fort Berthold, Dak 



Saranac Lake, N. Y 

Majfleld, Wis 




Kort Uobb, IncL Ter 


Washington, D. C 





Saint Simon's Island, Georgia 


History of the siiccies. 

The existence of a true Otter in North America was known 
to the earliest systematic writers. Thus, Buffon described an 
Otter from Canada, noting its larger size in comparison witl 
the European species, and a difference in the color of the fur. 
But an the authors of the last century persisted in confounding 
it with either the European L. vulgaris, or with the South Amer- 
ican Carigueibeju, Sarigovion, or Saricovienne, both totally 
distinct. Pennant had also a certain " Slender Otter" of North 
America, which became a Lutra gracilis* of authors, and may 

" la eatabliahiog, in 1816, the genus Fuaa for the Sea Otter, afterward 
called Enhydra by Fleming, Oken has two Hpecies (Lehrb. Natnrg. 1816, 
p. 986): one of these, which he calls Puaa orientalw, is Enhydra marina o( 
authors ; in the other, L. gracilis, we see the old " Slender Otter " of Pen- 
nant, Lwira gracilis Shaw, referred by Fischer with a query to his genus 
Enydris {=^Erih!jdraF\em.). Pennant's beast came from " Statenland "; Oiicu 
says "Staatenland, Insel an Amerika hit Xew-Tork". If he means by this 
what is known now as Statcn Islnnd, New York, it would make his animnl 
to be Lntra canadensis , perhaps, however, his geography was at fault. 



or may not have been the present species. The error of con* 
founding tlie species with that of Europe wa.s refuted before 
the kistorj' of our species had been disentangled from that of 
the Brazilian Otter, with which ours was confounded by ^ari- 
OU8 French, and even American, writers, until a comparatively 
late period. 

The first binomial name I have found tor this species is the 
Mustela canadensis of Turton. p. 57.* This name, which ap- 
pears to have been overlooked, I consider undoubtedly based 
upon the North American species; it consequently anticipates 
the name Lutra canadensis bestowed in 1823 by Sabine, who is 
usually quoted as the authority fur our spec ies. In the same 
year, Fr. Cuvier is said to have separated the Canada Otter from 
that of South America, and to have also described as distinct a 
second North American species, under the name of Lutra la- 
taxina, which became current with several writers. A Lataxina 
mollis was described by J. B. Gray in 1843, and his type-speci- 
men was afterward figured bj* Audubon and Bachmau as a 
variety of L. canadennis. But it is certain that neither of these 
names indicates anything dill'crent from the common North 
Amercan species. Of a certain ^-Mustela hudsonica Laccpede", 
quoted by some authors as pertaining to our Otter, I know 

Prof. Wyman, in an article on the articulation of the jaw, 
above cited, named our species Lutra americana in 1847. 

'^ lu quotiug Habine as the authority for the name "vanadenaia", previous 
compilers of the synouymy of this species appear to have altogether over- 
looked the much earlier "Muatela canadensis" of Turton's English vorsiou of 
the Syatema Natura, p. 57. As Turton gives uo references, I am uucertjiin 
whether or not be is the originator of the name, as the animal was known 
before his time ; but this is the earliest vise of the name in binomial nomen- 
clature that I have fonnil. Turton, like Pennant anil others of his prede- 
cessors, refers to the American Otter in connection with the European 
species; but this "Maatela canadensis'' of his (p. .">7) is additional to his 
other notice of Mustda lutra as an inhabitant of Euroi>c, Asia, and America. 
The diagnosis is merely "black; fur smooth; tail long, taper; inhabits 
North America", which would do very well for the true Mustela canadensis or $ 
M. ])ennanti (Pekan, Fisher); but it is as pertinent as many of his diagnoses, 
and further fixed by its coming under his section "A. Hind feet palmate. 
Otters", as opposed to his "B. Feet cleft. Weasels". Under head of the 
latter, he has, on page 59, another '^Mustela canadensis ", which is the animal 
80 named by Schreber, the Pekan. Turton's double employ of the same 
name for two entirt'ly different animals it to be carefully noted to prevent 
confusion of quotations. ^^MnsteJa lanadens'u, Turton, p. 57" is Luira cana- 
densis. "Mustela canadennis, Turton, p. .')9" is Mnufcla canndensis. 

' ;i ! ! 





Two lately iutroduced uames require special uotico : these 
are Lutra cali/ornica Baird {nev Gray) and Lutra destructor 
Baruston. The specimen which Prof. Baird referred incor- 
rectly to L. cali/ornica of Gray, taken by Dr. Newberry in the 
Cascade Mountains of Oregon, is now before me. The palms 
and soles are rather less hairy than is usual in L. eanadenmf 
still they are decidedly furred between the digits of both feet ; 
the soles show the curious callosities diagnostic of L, canaden- 
sis, and the characteristic large nasal pad of L. canadensis is 
well exhibited. Other Otters from the same region show as 
fully furred feet as any from the Eastern States, and the pecu- 
liarities of the one from the Cascade Mountains can only be 
regarded as those of an individual, within the normal range 
of variation of L. canadensiSf to which it must unquestionably 
be referred. Prof. Baird indeed separated it with much evi- 
dent hesitation, and mainly because it was supposed (though 
erroneously) to represent a species already instituted by an- 
other author (cf. op. cit. p. 188). The true californica of Gray 
is elsewhere discussed. 

The Lutra destructor is represented in the National Museum 
by specimens received from Mr. Barnston as typical examples of 
his supposed species. They are rather smaller than usual, and 
perhaps not full-grown, even though already in breeding condi- 
tion ; but they possess all the essential specific characters of 
L. canadensis, to which I have not the slightest hesitation in 
referring them. L. canadensis is so strongly marked a species 
in certain respects, already fully detailed, that there is no diffi- 
culty in recognizing it, notwithstanding its great variability in 
non-essential particulars. The skin and skull of L. destructor 
exhibit nothing beyond the normal range of variation of L. 

Geographical distribution. 

The Otter is generally distributed over North America, ap- 
parently nowhere in 'great abundance, yet absolutely wanting in 
few, if any, localities adapted to its habits. Being a shy and 
rather solitary animal, it is among those that decrease rapidly in 
numbers with the settling of a country ; but its very wildness, 
together with its wariness and sagacity, stand"! between it and 
total extirpation, even in populous districts; while the nature 
of its haunts further conduces to its persistence. Writing 
about twenty-five years ago, Mr. Audubon speaks of the Otter 
as being no longer found abundantly. in many parts of the 



country where it wuh formerly nuinerouH, and m Laving been 
uoarly extirpated in the Atlantic States cast of ^laryland. 
Such statement, however, seems stronger than the facts 
would warrant ; for Mr. Allen speak:, ?*' the animal as still 
*'not rare" in Massachusetts as late as 18(i!), he having 
known of some half dozen specimens which wore taken near 
Springfield during the ten preceding years. The " Eastern 
Shore "of Maryland api)ears to have always been a favorite 
locality with the Otter; Audubon specially mentions this 
region, and specimens are still taken there or in other spots 
along the Potomac, not far from Washington City. The last 
one I saw from this region was brought freshly killed to the 
Smithsonian Institution in 1871. Northerly the Otter extends, 
according to ilichardson, nearly to the Arctic Ocean, along the 
Mackenzie and other rivers; and it also inhabits the northern- 
most system of lakes. In the times of the author just men* 
tioned, some seven or eight thousand pelts* were annually ex- 
ported frou) British America to England, and the trade does 
not appear to have decreased to this day, for I find among the 
quotations of sales of Otters within two or three years by tl e 
Hudson's Bay Company, in London, over eleven thousand set 
down for 1873. If the skulls, unaccompanied by skins, which 
I have examined from Alaska, are really of this species, the 
Otter is abundant in that new portion of United States ter- 
ritory. According to Messrs. Gibbs and Suckley, writing in 
1859, the Otter, called by the Yakima Indians nookshi, in- 
creased in abundance in Oregon and Washington with the 
decline of the fur trade, and were numerous in the waters of 
the Cascade Range. Dr. J. S. Newberry (1857) attests the 
presence of the Otter " on all parts of the Pacific coast, both 
on the sea shore and in the inland streams and lakes. In the 
Cascade Mountains, where neither otter nor beaver had been 
much hunted, and where both were abundant, we found the 
beaver in the streams, but the otter in great abundance in the 
mountaia lakes where the streams take their rise. There they 
subsist on the western brooktrouts and p. Coregonus with a 

' This statement, however, it Hhonld ba observed, is widely discrepant 
from some otiiers, unless only some special lines of importation are here re- 
ferred to by the anthor. According to Bell, there were imported into Eng- 
land, of the skins of the North American Otter, 713,115 in 1830, 494,067 in 
1831, 222,493 in 1832, though only 23,889 in 1833. "After September 1, 1833, 
the dnty was reduced from id. each to 1». per hundred, since which I believe 
the importation has gradually ii creased."— (/iri/is/j QnadrupeHs, 1837, p. 13fi.) 



crayfish, Astacus Klamathensis . . . lu Klamath lakes the 
otter is quite common .... their food is a large sucker 
{Catastomus occidentalis) and a species of Oila, both rather slug- 
gish fish and such as would be easily caught " — unlike the very 
active Salmonid(D just mentioned. At the time to which the 
writer refers, the pelts were much more in demand than those 
of the Beaver, $2.50 being paid in goods by the Hudson's Bay 
Company at Vancouver, while Beaver brought only one-fifth 
as much. 

In the muddy waters of the Missouri Basin, not overstocked 
with fish, the Otter seems to exist but sparingly. Audubon only 
•'observed traces" of their presence in his journey up to the 
Yellowstone. Hayden includes the species among the animals 
observed in the Upper Missouri country, where, however, it does 
not appear to have come under Mr. Allen's observation. North 
of this area, in the region of the Red ]liver and other streams, 
thence westward to the Eocky Mountains, I ascertained the 
general, though probably not abundant, occurrence of the spe- 
cies. Mr. Allen found the Otter to be, in Iowa, "common on 
the Kaccoon Elvers, and generjilly more or less so throughout 
the State''; — "occasional along the streams" of Kansas; — and 
" more or less frequent in Salt Lake Valley, and in the adjoining,' 
mountains ". Drs. Coues and Yarrow give the species as founu 
sparingly in various portions of the Southwestern Territories. 
My recent exploration of portions of Colorado did not reveal the 
presence of the Otter, but I do not on this account deny its ex- 
istence, perhaps in abundance, in the numerous mountain lakes 
and streams of that State, which harbor countless Beavers, 
and seem in every way suited to the requirements of the Otter.* 

In Audubon's time, the Otter was "still abundant in the riv- 
ers a»id reserve dams' of the rice fields of Carolina", and was 
"not rare in Georgia, Louisiana and Texas". According to 
Mr. Allen, it is still "abundant" in Florida, where it is little 
huwted, its fur being, in this southern region, of comparatively 
little value. But the southern limits of viie distribution of the 
species remain to be dete/mined. A Mexican Otter is certaitily 
of a diflferent species from ours, whether or not the latter also 
exists in that country; and I am not aware of any uuquest-( u- 
able citation of true canadensis as Mexican. I am therefore 
much surprised at Dr. von Frantzius's re >ent citation of this spe- 

*Since this paragraph waspenued.I liavo soon a specimen in Mrs. Max- 
well's collection, from the vicuiity of Bonldor, Colorado. 



cies from Costa Rica,* which is considerably beyoud the usuully 
recognized range of true canadensis, the actual occurrence of 
which so far south may possibly be still open to question. 
With this single exception, I do not know of, at least I do not 
recall at present writing, any special indication of the presence 
of L. canadensis proper south of the United States, though in a 
general way it has been often accredited with a range coexten- 
sive with the continent of Nortk America, and has even been 
ascribed, with a query, to South America. 

JIah its of Otters. 

Although I have observed the "seal" of the Otter and its 
curious " slides" in various parts of our country during the years 
I have been a student of our animals, I cannot trul^' aver that 
I have ever laid ejes upon a living individual ; and to speak 
of its habits, I must give information at second hand. Pre- 
suming upon the reader's knowledge of the thoroughly aquatic 
and highly piscivorous nature of the animal, I turn to the vari- 
ous histories at our disposal in further elucidation of its habits. 

According to Richardson, one of the earliest authors giving 
accounts of the species with precision, "the Canada Otter re- 
sembles the European species in its habits and food. In the 
winter season, it frequents rapids and falls, to have the advant- 
age of open water; and when its usual haunts are frozen over, 
it will travel to a great distance through the snow, in search 
of a rapid that has resisted the severity of the weather. If 
seen, and pursued by hunters on these journies, it will throw 
itself forward on its belly, and '^lid6 through the snow for sev- 
eral yards, leaving a deep furrow behind it. This movement is 
repeated with so much rapic ^y, that even a swift runner on 
snow-shoes has much trouble in overtaking it. It also doubles 
on its track with much cunning, and Jives under tlie snow to 
elude its pursuers. When closely pressed, it will turn and de- 
fend itself with great obstinacy. In the spring of 182G, at Great 
Bear Lake, the Otters frequently robbed our nets, which were 
set under the ice, at the distance of a few yards from a piece of 
open water. They generally carried off the heads of the fish, 
and left the bodies sticking in the net. 

"The Canada Otter has one litter annually about the middle 
of April of from one to three young." 

"Arcli. fiir Natur;,'. \m, p. 'i^'J. 

I i 

h i 



In the ^Middle aud Soutbern States, Audubon says they are 
about one month earlier* 

The slidingof the Otter, which Sir John describes, is not alone 
resorted to in the endeavor to avoid pursuit; and again, it is 
something more than simply an easy way of slipping down a 
wet sloping bank into the water. It seems to be a favorite 
amusement of this creature, "just for fun". Godman speaks 
of the diversion in the following terms:— "Their favorite sport 
is sliding, and for this purpose in winter the highest ridge of 
suow is selected, to the top of which the Otters scramble, where, 
lying on the belly with the fore-feet bent backwards, they give 
themselves an impulse with their hind legs and swiftly glide 
head-foremost down the declivity, sometimes for the distance 
of twenty yards. This sport they continue apparently with the 
keenest enjoyment until fatigue or hunger induces thorn to 

Statements of similar import are made by various writers, 
and accord with Audubon's personal observations, as rendered 
by him in the following language : — 

" The otters ascend the bank at a place suitable for their 
diversion, and sometimes where it is very steep, so that they 
are o'.^liged to make quite an effort to gain the top ; they slide 
down in rapid succession where there are many at a sliding 
place. On one occasion we were resting ourself on the bank 
of Canoe Creek, a small stream near Henderson, which empties 
into the Ohio, when a pair of Otters made their appearance, 
and not observing our proximity, began to enjoy their sliding 
pastime. They glided down the soap-like muddy surface of 
the slide with the rapidity of an arrow from a bow, [t] and we 
counted each one making twenty-two slides before we dis- 
turbed their sportive occupation. 

"This habit of the Otter of sliding down from elevated 
places to the borders of streams, is not confined to cold coun- 
tries, or to slides on the snow or ice, but is pursued in the 
Southern States, where the earth is seldom covered with snow, 
or the waters frozeu over. Along the reserve-dams of the rice 
fields of Carolina and Georgia, these slides are very common. 

"* Accordiug to Bell, tho European Otter goes with young nine weeka, ami 
prodnces three to five young ones in March or April (Ikit. Quad. 1837, I'M). 
The period of gestation of our species, if dift'erent, probably remains to be 
. t [A statement certainly too figurative for literal acceptation.] 



From the fact that this occurs in most cases tluriug winter, 
about the period of the rutting season, we are inclined to the 
belief that this propensity may be traced to those instincts 
which lead the sexes to their periodical associations.'' 

The food of the Otter, and the manner in which it is pro- 
cured, are noted by the same author in the following terms : — 

"The Otter is a very expert swimmer, and can overtake 
almost any fish, and as it is a voracious animal, it doubtless 
destroys a great number of fresh water fishes annually. We 
are not aware of its having a preference for any particular 
species, although it is highly probable that it has. About 
twenty-five years ago we went early one autumnal morning to 
study the habits of the Otter at Gordon and Spring's Ferry, 
on the Cooper River, six miles above Charleston [S. C], where 
they were represented as being quite abundant. They came 
down with the receding tide in groups or families of five or six 
together. In the space of two hours we counted forty-six. 
They soon separated, ascended the different creeks in the salt 
marshes, and engaged in capturing mullets {Mugil). In most 
cases they came to the bank with a fish in their mouth, des- 
patching it in a minute, and then hastened back again after 
more prey. They returned up the river to their more secure 
retreats with the rising tide. In the small lakes and ponds of 
the interior of Carolina, there is found a favourite fish with the 
Otter, called the fresh- water trout {Grystes salmoides). 

•'Although the food of the Otter in general is fish, yet when 
hard pressed by hunger it will not reject animal food of any 
kind. Those we had in confinement, when no fish could be 
procured were fed on beef, which they always preferred boiled. 
During the last winter we ascertained that the skeleton and 
feathers of a wild duck were taken from an Otter's nest on the 
banks of a rice field reserve-dam. It was conjectured that the 
duck had either been killed or wounded by the hunters, and 
was in this state seized by the Otter, .... 

"On throwing some live fishes into a small pond in the 
Zoological Gardens in London, where an Otter [presumably, 
however, of another species] was kept alive, it immediately 
plunged off the bank after them, and soon securing one, rose 
to the surface holding its prize in its teeth, and ascending the 
bank, rapidly ate it by large mouthfuls, and dived into the 
water again for another. This it repeated until it had caught 
and eaten all the fish which had been thrown into the water for 



its use. When thus engaged iu devouring the luckless fishes 
the Otter bit through them, crushing the bones, which we could 
hear snapping under the pressure of its powerful jaws." 

The nest of the European Otter is said to be formed of grass 
and other herbage, and to be usually placed in some hole of a 
river's bank, protected either by the overhanging bank or by 
the projecting roots of some tree. Its fossorial ability, and the 
general intelligence it displays iu the construction of its re- 
treats, have been greatly exaggerated by some writers, to judge 
by the more temperate language used by the distinguished 
author of the History of British Quadrupeds. "We read of its 
excavating a very artificial habitation," says Bell, " burrowing 
under ground to a coufe 'erable distance; making the aperture 
of its retreat always un r water, and working upwards, form- 
ing here and there a Ic e, or dry resting-place, till it reaches 
the surface of the grouna at the extremity of its burrow, and 
making there a breathing-hole, always in the middle of a bush 
or thicket. [*] This statement is wholly incorrect. The Ottei 
avails itself of any convenient excavation, particularly of the 
hollows beneath the overhanging roots of trees which grow oil 
the banks of rivers, or any othf ^ "ecure and concealed hole 
near its fishing-haunt; though in e cases ft fixes its retreat 
at some distance from the water, and when driven by a scanty 
supply of fish, it has been known to resort far inland, to the 
neighbourhood of the farm-yard, and attack lambs, suckiug 
l)igs, and poultry, — thus assuming for a time the habits of its 
more terrestrial congeners." I am not aware that such extrav- 
agant statements have been made, with any authority at least, 
respecting the American Otter; and indeed one has only to 
regard the general configuration of the animal, and particu- 
larly the shape of the fore limbs and condition of the claws, to 
become convinced that the mining operations of the animal 
are necessarily limited. It does not appear that the under- 
ground retreats of the Otter are constructed with the skill and 
ingenuity of even those of the Muskrat. A retreat examined 
by Audubon has been thus described by this author : — 

" One morning we observed that some of these animals re- 
sorted to the neighbourhood of the root of a large tree which 

* [The autlioi- iciuaiks tlio siniilai ity of such an account with that giveu 
by Mr. George Bcuuett iu describiufj i,.( < . its of the Ontithofhynvhiis of 
Australia, though the former is louni in book-: v. lishod loug prior to the 
discovery of the latter aniuial.] 




stood ou the side of the pond opposite to us, and with its over- 
hanging branches shaded the water. , After a fatiguing walk 
through the tangled cane-brake and thick underwood which 
bordered the sides of this lonely place, we reached the opposite 
side of the p'>"^.d near the large tree, and moved cautiously 
through the u'tul and water to its roots: but the hearing or 
sight of the Otters was attracted to us, and we saw several of 
them hastily make oft" at our approach. On sounding the tree 
with the butt of our gun, we discovered that it was hollow, and 
then having placed a large stick in a slanting position against 
the tiunk, we succeeded in reaching the lowest bough, and 
thence climbed up to a broken branch from which an aperture 
into the upper jiart of the hollow enabled us to examine the 
interior. At the bottom there was quite a large space or cham- 
ber to which the Otters retired, but whether for security or to 
sleep we could not decide. Next morning we returned to the 
spot, accompanied by one of our neighbours, and having ap- 
proacjhed and stopped up the entrance under water as noise- 
lessly as possible, we cut a hole in the side of the tree four or 
five feet from the ground, and as soon as it was large enough 
to admit our heads, we peeped in and discovered three Otters 
ou a sort of bed composed of the Inner bark of trees and other 
soft substances, suck as water grasses. We continued cutting 
the hole we had made, larger, and when suflaciently widened, 
took some green saplings, split them at the but-end, and man- 
aged to fix the head of each animal firmly to the ground by 
l)assing one of tliese split pieces over his neck, and then press- 
ing the stick forcibly downwards. Our companion then crept 
into the hollow, and soon killed the otters, with which we 
returned home." 

Their structure being identical, the American and European 
Otters cannot differ in their general movements and attitudes. 
In speaking of the conformKvi<^ii of the latter species. Bell 
remarks that evidently every f.^nhty consistent with the preser- 
vation of its structural relations with the rest of the group is 
given to the Otter for the pursuit and capture of its proper 
food. " It swims and dives with great readiness and with pecu- 
liar ea83 and eleg nee of movement; and although its action 
on land is far from being awkward and diflicult, yet it is cer- 
tainly in the water that the beautiful adaptation of its structure 
to its habits is most strikingly exhibited. It swims in nearly 
a horizontal itot«itK , and dives instantaneously after the fish 





tbat may glide beneath it, ur pursues it under water, changing 
its course as the fish dartd in various directions to escape from 
it, and when the prey is secured, brings it on shore to its retreat 
to feed." 

Yielding a pelt of great beauty and value, from the exqui- 
site softness and rich warm color of the fur, as well as from 
the size of the animal, the American Otter is systematically 
pursued by professional trappers. I have already given some 
figures showing the thousands annually destroyed, aud will 
condense from Mr. Gibson's work, already olten quoted, the ac- 
count of the various methods employed — for every trapper has 
his own notions and ways of doing things, and in the pursuit 
of so valuable and so wary a creature as the Otter there is 
room for large and varied experience. The animal seems to be 
taken in this country usually, if not invariably, with the steel 
trap, a special size aud make of which, with two springs, goes 
by the name of " Otter trap". Searching for a " slide ", or place 
where the animal habitually crawls from the water up the 
bank, the hunter sets the trap on the spot, a few inches under 
water. No baijt is here required ; and devices are used in se- 
curing the tiap bj'^ which the animal may be led into deep 
water when caught, or lifted upward, the design in either case 
being to prevent the animal's escape by gnawing off the im- 
imsoned limb. The t.ap may also be placed at the top of the 
slide, two or three feet back of the slope, in a place hollowed 
to receive it, and covered with snow. Under such circum 
stances, care is taken not to handle the trap with the bare 
hands. It is scented with various animal odors, aud, to fur 
ther insure success, a " way " is made to the trap by means of 
parallel logs. The trap is sometimes simply set in the beaten 
track made in the snow, carefully hidden ; or at the entrance 
of the burrow ; or at the base of a slanting log with one end 
under waicr, the Otter being attracted by bait or odor placed 
beyond on the other end; or a rock which projects over a 
stream is utilized in the same way. In all these methods, the 
utmost care is necessary to obliterate traces of the trapper's 
presence, as the sight and smell of the Otter are acute, and his 
wariness, caution, and sagacity at a very high rate. " In win- 
ter when the ponds and rivers are frozen over the otters make 
holes through the ?ce at which they come up to devour their 
prey. Where the water is a foot deep beneath any of these 
holes the trap may be set in the bottom, the chain being se- 



cured to a heavy stone. When the otter endeavors to emerge 
from the hole he will press his foot on the trap and thus be 
caught. If the water is deep enough beneath the hole the 
trap may be baited with a small fish attached to the pan, and 
then carefully lowered with its chain and stone to the bottom. 
For this purpose the Newhouse, Xo, 3, is best adapted, as the 
otter is in this case caught by the head." Audubon speaks of 
the latter method as one very commonly emi»loyed in Carolina. 
His figure of the Otter represents the animal as caught by the 
fore foot in a trap, baited with a fish on the pan, placed on a 
slanting log just out of the water. But traps baited on the pan 
are not set by experts in this mode of trapping. Audubon 
has also drawn his animal as coming down the log from the 
npper end, which the animal could not have reached without 
passing over the trap in the other direction. Though drawn, 
furthermore, "to represent the pain and terror felt by the 
creature when its foot is caught by the sharp saw-like teeth of 
the trap", the Otter is nevertheless holding its foot quietly in 
the trap, and resting very composedly upon the log, as if it 
feared to displace the trap. In reality, however, an Otter so 
caught would be off the log and into the water, trap and all, in 
a fraction of a second after the jaws snapped. In writing the 
text to this fancy sketch, moreover, Audubon appears to have 
forgotten that the trap had no " sharp saw-like teeth '": it is 
correctly drawn with straight-edged jaws, as usually* manufac- 

For commercial purposes, the skin of the Otter is removed 
by a cross-slit down the hind legs, and withdrawn whole, with- 
out splitting along the belly, the tail, however, being slit its 
whole length along the under side. The skin is stretched with 
the hair inside, the tail alone being spread out flat. 

The hunting of the Otter for sport does not appear to be 
practiced in this country, at least to any extent, and the gun 
is only incidentally and rarely used for its destruction. The 
mode of hunting the European animal has been graphically 
described by Bell, to whom I return for this portion of the 
subject: — 

"Otter-hunting, formerly one of the most interesting and 
exciting amusements of which the English sportsman could 
boast, has of late years [1837] dwindled into the mere chase of 
extirpation. It was in other days pursued with much of the 
pomp and circumstance of regular sport : the Dogs were chosen 



1) . 

for their perseverance and resolution ; ' good Otter-hounds,' 
says an old sportsman, . . . ' will come chaunting and trail- 
ing along by tlie river side, and will beat every tree-root, every 
osier-bed, and every tuft (»f bulrushes : — n.iy, soaietimes they 
will take the water, and beat it like a Spaniel.' The huntsman 
and others of the party carried Otter spears, to strike the Otter 
when driven within their reach; horsemen and footmen joined 
in the chase; and the whole company formed a cavalcjide of no 
inconsiderable extent and importance. These scenes are now 
no longer witnessed, or but rarely, in England ; btit in Wales 
the chase of the Otter is still kept up with some spirit, in cer- 
tain romantic districts of that romantic country ... In beat- 
ing for an Otter, it is necessary to mark the character and 
direction of his ' seal,' or footmark in the mud or soil, af< well 
as the recent or older appearance of his ' spraints,' or dung. 
These signs of his having been either remotely or more recently 
on the spot will aftbrd a tolerably certain indication whether 
the animal be still in the neighbourhood, or whether a further 
search must be made for later marks of his presence. When 
the Otter is found, the scene becomes exceedingly animated. 
He instantly takes the water, and dives, remaining a long time 
underneath it, and rising at a considerable distance from the 
[»lace at which he dived. Then t.he anxious watch that is kept 
of Ills rising to ' vent,' the steady purpose with which the dogs 
follow antl bait him as he swims, the attempts of the cunning 
beast to drown his assailants, by diving whilst they have fast- 
ened on him, the baying of the hounds, the cries of the hunters, 
and the fierce and dogged resolution with which the poor hope- 
less quarry holds his pursuers at bay, inflicting severe, some- 
times fatal wounds, and holding on with unflinching pertinacity 
even to the last, — must altogether form a scene as animated 
and exciting as the veriest epicure in hunting could desire. 
The return from such a day's sport as this in the county of 
Carmarthen is thus described by a correspondent of the Sport- 
ing Magazine: — 'Sitting near the window, I beheld approach- 
ing the bridge a cavalcade, and found it was Squire Lloyd of 
Glansevm, escorted by the gentlemen of the neighbourhood, 
returning from Otter-hunting. The gentlemen in the front rank 
were mounted ; ;tnd next the horsemen were three men neatly 
dressed in scarlet roats and white trousers, with long spears, 
on which were sus[»ended three huge Otters. Now the hunts- 
man appeared with his well disciplined hoands; and then fol- 



lowed tha cart, with nets, spears, and other paraphernalia, and 
an old ballad-singer appeared in the rear, who sung the praises 
of the high-bred hounds and their worthy master.' " 

The general intelligence of the Otter is of a high order, and 
his docility is such that he may not only be thoroughly tamed, 
but taught to work for his master. Audubon speaks of four 
American Otters which a gentleman had tamed so completely 
that they never failed to come like dogs when whistled for, 
crawling slowly with apparent humility toward their master ; 
and also gives his own experience in domesticaiing several 
Otters, which became so tame that they would romp with him 
in his study. These, he says, were taken when quite young, 
and became as gentle as poppies in two or three days ; they 
preferred milk and boiled corn-meal, refusing fish or meat till 
they were several months old. On this subject I shall once 
more quote the attractive page of Bell, and conclude this 
lengthy compilation with some quaint and interesting para- 
graphs respecting the use of the Otter as food ; the actual refer- 
ence being, it will be understood, to the European species : — 

" That the Otter may not only be readily and easily tamed and 
domesticated, but taught to catch and bring home fish for its 
master, is a fact which is so well known, and has been so often 
proved, that it is surprising it should not have been more fre- 
quently acted upon. From Albertus Magnus down to the iate 
excellent Bishop Heber, instances have been continually nar- 
rated, some of which have gone no further than the domestica- 
tion of pet Otters, while in others the animal has been rendered 
a useful purveyor of fish for the family table. Amongst other 
writers who have attested similar facts, honest Izaak Walton 
says, * I pray, sir, save me one [young Otter], and I'll try if I can 
make her tame, as I know an ingenious gentleman in Leicester- 
shire, Mr. Nicholas Seagrave, has done; who hath not only made 
her tame, but to catch fish, and do many other things of much 
pleasure.' Albertus Magnus, Aldrovandus, Gesner, and others, 
had asserted it ; yet Bnffon, losing for once his accustomed 
credality, and running to an opposite extreme, refuses to be- 
lieve in the susceptibility of the Otter to be bronght to a state 
of domesticity. The former of these writers states that, in 
Sweden, Otters were kept in the houses of the great for the ex- 
press purpose of ca- jhing fish, which they would do at a signal 
from the cook, and bring home their provender to be dressed 
for dinner. Numerous instances have been recorded in later 
21 M 



times, by Daniel, Bewick, Shaw, and others ; in one of which 
an Otter had been known to take eight or ten salmon in a day : 
and the following passage in the journal of Bishop Heber con- 
firms some previous statements, that one of the Asiatic species, 
probably Lutra nair, (Fr. Guv.) may be rendered similarly use- 
ful : — ' We passed, to my surprise, a rcw of no less than nine 
or ten large and very beautiful Otters, tethered with straw 
collars and long strings to bamboo stakes on the banks (of the 
Malta Golly). Some were swimming about at the full extent of 
their strings, or lying half in and half out of the water; others 
were rolling themselves in the sun on the sandy bank, uttering 
a shrill whistling noise, as if in play. I was told that most of 
the fishermen in this neighbourhood kept one or more of these 
animals, who were almost as tame as Dogs, and of great use 
in fishing; sometimes driving the shoals into the nets, some- 
times bringing out the large fish with their teeth. I was much 
pleased and interested with the sight. It has always been a 
fancy of mine that the poor creatures whom we waste and per- 
secute to death, for no cause but the gratification of our cruelty, 
might by reasonable treatment be made the sources of abun- 
ant amusement and advantage to us.' This interesting account 
justifies the conclusion drawn by the good prelate from the 
scene that so much delighted him, thnt ' the simple Hindoo 
shows here a better taste and jcidument than half the Otter 
hunting and Badger baiting gentry ol' England.' With such 
instances as these before us, there seems to b*' no reason why 
this animal, so tractabi** and doi^tilu as it is proved to be, should 
not be very generally domesticated for the purposes of si)ort, 
or employed by fisUcrmeu as a means of assisting them in their 

" The method which has been recommended to train them for 
this purpose is as follows : — They should be procured as young 
as possible, and they are at first fed with small fish and water. 
Then bread and milk is to he alternated with the fish, and tliH 
proportion of the former gradually inore<ised till th<\v ttni Ifd 
to live entirely on bread and milk. They aiv then lauglit to 
fetch and carry, exactly as Dogs are trained to the ti<iuie trick ; 
and when they are brought to do this with ease and Uouility, a 
leather fish stuffed with wool is em ployed for. the purpose. They 
are aiterwards exercised with a dead fish, and chastised if they 
disobey or attempt to tear it ; and finally, they are sent into the 
water after living ones. In this way, although the process is 



somewhat tedioas, it is believed that the Otter may be certainly 
domesticated, and rendered subaervient to our use 

*^ The habits of the Otter, and its rank fishy taste, have pro* 
cured for it the distinctiou of being permitted by the Church 
of Home to be eaten on maigre days. The quiet humour f good 
old Izaak Walton could not rest without a sly hit at this fact: — 

" Piaoator. I pray, honest huntsman, let me ask you a pleasant 
question : do you hunt a beast, or a fish 1 

*^Hunt Sir, it is not in my powci to resolve you; yet I leave 
it to be resolved by th< College of CarthiiHians, v. ho have made 
vows never to eat flesh. But I have heard the question hat^ 
been debated among many i^ivm clerks, and they seeiu to differ 
about it ; yet most agree that her tail is Jiah, and if her body 
be fish too, then I may say that a fish will walk upon land (for 
an Otter does so), sometimes five or six or ten miles in a night. 

"Now, were we to adopt the reference recommended by 
honest Izaak, the description of this animal would have fallen 
within the province of my good friend Mr. Yarrell rather than 
mine; for, says Pennant, 'in the kitchen of the Carthusian 
Convent near Dijon, we saw one preparing for the dinner of the 
religious of that rigid order, who, by their rules, are prohibited 
during their whole lives the eating of flesh.' " 

Extinct species of North American Otter. 


liulta piacinaria, Leidy. 

Lutrs? , Leidy, Contrib. Extinct Vert Fn. of the Western Terr. (4to Rep. U. S. OcoL 

Sarv. vol. 1) 1873, p. SOO. 
Lutra plsclnarlii, id. ibid. p. 31C, pi. xzxi. f. 4 (tibia, { nat '•it\ from IJah.). 

Based on a tibia submitted to Dr. Leidy's insfiectioii by the 
Smithsonian Institution, procured by ClarHure King on Sinker 
Creek, Idaho, in association with remaius of Uquut exoeUm and 
Mastodon mirificm. 

"The tibia pertains ix) a carnivore, and resembles that of an 
otter more than that of any other animal with which I have 
had an opportunity of comparing it. Its differences, ez<'epting 
size, are trifling. The tubercle for insertion of the qna«lricepii 
extensor is less prominent, so as to give the head of the bono 
proportionally less thickness in relation with its breadth. Thn 
ridge for the attachment of the interosseous meoibrane at the 
lower part of the bone is more prominent and sharper. The 







1.0 ^1^ 1^ 

If Sf Itt 12.0 











^ ^ 


di(|jtal end in front jast above the articolation is flatter, and 
the groove for the flexor tendons behind is deeper. • 


"Length of the bone internally .-, > 59 

"Width of the head 15 

"Thickness at the inneroondyle. lOJ 

" Width of the distal end between the most prominent 

points 11 

« Thickness at the inner malleole 8" 


Subfamily ENHYDRIN^: Sea Otter. 

General considerationH — ^The genns Enhifdrit — Generic chsraCven — Enkydrit 
lutrii, the Sea Otter — Synonymy — Habitat — Specifio characters— Desorip- 
tion of externa) characters — DeAcription of the Hkiill and teeth — History 
of the species— "The Sea Otter and its hunting "—The habits of the Sea 

LASTLY, we come to consider a particular modiflcation of 
the Musteline type of structure, which may be regarded as 
an exaggeration of various features characterizing the Lutrinait 
with the superposition of others not elsewhere found in the 
family. With the general aspect of an or(?.inary Otter, the 
Unhydrino} present a special modification of the limbs, more 
particularly of the hind limbs, which are developed into flipper* 
like organs, not very dissimilar to those of some Seals. There is 
also a special condition of the pelage. The cranium, in gen- 
eral, is like that of the LuirinWy but the teeth are unlike any- 
thing else seen in the family Mtistelid(e. One pair of incisors 
is wanting, which makes the dental formula unique. Moreover, 
the whole deutelure is modified in adaptation to a piscivorous 
regimen. The sectorial teeth are defuuctioualized as such; if 
the teeth of ordinary carnivorous quadrupeds be likened to 
fresh-chipped, sharp and angular bits of rock, those of the 
Unhydrinte are comparable to water- worn pebbles. 

The EnhydrincB are represented, as far as known, by a single 
genns and species, inhabiting the coasts and islands of the 
North Pacific. It is the only thoroughly marine species of the 
family ; it furnishes one of the most valuable of all pelts in a 
commercial point of view, and its chase is an important indus- 

The Genus ENHYDRIS. (Fleming.) 

< MHRtela sp. Linnmu, Syat Nat 1758-66. 

< Phoea sp. PoUa*, Zoof{. R.- A. 1831. 

< Lulra sp. of variouH anttaors. 

-■ Pass, 0km, Lehrb. Natnrg. 1816. (Not of Scnpoli.) 

m, lakrira,* Fleming, Pbilos. ZoSl. 1833. (Also written EnhydrU, Enydrit.) 

m. Latai, Glogef, N. Act Nat Cur. 1897. (Not of Uray.) 

* Etjim, — See antei, p. 29, for discussion of the philological bearings of this 




Generic ciiakactbrs. — Dental formula: t. '— ? ; c. |^ 



_ 'j = { JJ =32.* Grinding teoth very peculiar in ahape, without treucli 
ant~ edges or acute angles, all being bluntly tuberculouH on the crown, and 
rounded off in contour. Molar of upper jaw irregularly oval. Last upper 
premolar not dissimilar in shape, and but little smaller ; others abruptly 
less in size. Anterior under molar much the largest of the lower teeth ; 
posterior premolar and posterior molar next in size. Skull generally as in 
Luirinw, in straight upper outline, very short rostrum, truncate in front 
and flat on t«'>p, backward production of pakte, size and shape of ante- 
orbital foramen, &o., but much broader for its length ; thus, the interptery- 
goid emargination is, if anything, broatler than deep. Sagittal and occipital 
crests and mastoid processes very salient. Glenoid not locking condyle. 
Coronoid of mandible sloping backward with convex fore and straight or 
slightly concave posterior border, its bluntly rounded ajtex in the vortical 
line over condyle. 

General external aspect of Lutrinai, but limbs modified. Fore legs short, 
with small paws ; digits webbed ; palms naked. Hind feet with elongated 
digits, flipper-like, webbed, and furry both sides; claws small, hidden in 
the fur. Habits aquatic ; habitat marine. 

The oliaractor of the genus is so fully exhibited in the fol- 
lowing account of the only species that further remark is not 
required in this connection. 

The S(ea Otter. 

, EnhydrJii Intris. 

Plates XIX, XX. 

lltrs aarllt, SteOer, N. C. Petrop. ii. 1751, 367, pi. X.—Erxl Syst Anim. 1777, 445 (deaorip- 
tioD pertinent, but synonymy mixed with tliat of another species).— AiAreb. Slug. ill. 
ITTe, 465^ pi. 138 (Steller).— /{mm. Geog. Oesch. il. 17S0, 313, no. ill.— Shaw, 0«n. Zoiil. 
i. 1800, 444, pi. 101.— DMm. Mamm. i. 1830, U9, no. 391 ; " Nonv. Diet, zviii, 816 ; Enoy. 
M«th. pi. 79, f. 3."— Harlan, Fn. Amer. 1895, •m.—L.oger, K. Act Xat. Cur. xiii. pt it. 
1897, 510 (proposes Catos as a better name tlian Ptua), 875 teq.,- "Isis, ii. 1891, 133 uq.; 
Ftmss. Bull. XT. 136«e9."— 6o(tm. Am. N. H. i. 1831, 3S& pL — , f. i.—Wagn. Areh. f. 
Natnrg. ii. 1836, 381. 

SltM \»ie] aarlaa, H. W. Elliott, Ame- . Sportsman, Sept. 19 and 19, 1874 (biofraphyi 
under pseudonym of "Alaska"). 

iMtm (BKhyini) aarlia, Rich. F. B.A. i. 183», 59, no. 31 ; ZoSI. Beeohey's Toy. 1839, 5. 

Bihyini narlia, FUm. PliUos. Zoel. ii. 1893 l»l.—Oriff. An. Kingd. t. 1837, 133, no. 369.- 
Martin, P. Z. S. iv. 1836, 59 (osteology).— Aud. <6 BaeK Q. N. A. iii. 1853, 170, pi. 137.- 
tiewb. P. R. R. Rep. vi. 1857, AX—Bd. M. N. A. 1857, 189.— Obop. cC Sxuk. K. H. Wash. 
Terr. 1860, 115.— AiU., Alaslca and its Res. 1870, 489 (habito).— A W. EUiott, Condition 
01 Aflkirs in Alaska, 8to ed. chap. v. 1875, pp. 54-63 (history, habits, the ohaae, eco- 
nomic and commercial relations). 

* It is said that the ymng Sea Otter has *• fEIgi like all other Muttelidie. 
The middle pair of mcisors are those that are wanting in the adult. Prof. 
Baird (M. N. A. 1857, 189), overlooking the peculiarity of the incisor formula 
of the adult, but correctly noting the one less premolar than in Lutriua:, 
gives a wrong total of 34 teeth in all, instead of 32. 

U. 8. Geolofjical Survey. 

MttsteUdsB. PLATE XIX. 

EntajrdrlB lutrl«. (Kpduceil.) 



i ' 

v * 

h ■ 

r 'I 

> . 


I \ 






iNyfrls n«rln«, Lieht Dantcll. SSng. 1S97, H pla. M, M.—Erman, Relae, , — , pL 11, 

l9.— "Wngn. nelebrte Anzeigon. I. , 553; Snppl. SolirAbor, il. 1811, 974." 

Bahytirlfi ■•riHa, Hehim, Hya. 1844, 3i1.—GUb*l. tWiiff. 1853, 7U4.— (i«reat«, Joum. de Zool. 
iv. 1875, pp. 90a-9M (oatooloffy). 

UUX n^rla*. Lm*. Xonv. Tubl. K. A. 1849, 71. 

Mttitlelll lutrlH, L. H. N. i. 1758, 4.V no. 1 (es Act Petrop. 1749, 907); 17(M, 66, no. l.-8ehrtb. 
SttiiK- iii. 1777, pi. 198 (name on plate).— On». S. N. i. 1788, 99, no, 1 (nxol. var. B, which 
= brarilieinUh—Turt. S. X. I. 1806, 57. 

PdOM iHlriN, Paa. Zoos. R.-A. i. 1831, 100, no. 34. 

LlltM lutlii, Let*. Man. 18-27, 155, no. 419.— fV. Oue. "Oiot. Sci. "Sat. xxvii. 945 "t SnppI, 
Buif. L 1831, 904.-/*. Oeof. " Dick Claaa. is. 518 ". -PUek. Syn. 1890, 99T, no. 7. 

Bllhjrtfrlii iNtrln, ffray, P. Z. S. 1865. 136, pi. 7 ; Cat Cam. Br. Mas. 1860, — . 

Klhydn latrta, Dt Kay, K. Y. Zottl. 1849, 41.— Orat^, Cat. Mamm. Br. Mas. 1843, 79.— (7«rr. 
Cat. Bones Br. Mus. 1869, 109. 

Phm orlenlAllH, Oktn. Lehrb. Natarg. Th. UL Abth. 11. 1816, p. 986. 

LatM Mellerl, !>«•«. Man. 1897, 1.16, no. 493. 

BayirU Btellf rl, FUeh. Syn. 1899, 999. 

TLalni cneills Shaw, O. Z. i. 180O, 447 (based on "SUndtr OtUr" of Pennant, Quad. il. 85., 
Korth Amerioa, Staten Land). 

f iHtrm VrMllis («mo Pum}, Ok^n, Lebrb. KatnrK. Tli. iii. Abth. ii. 1806, 986. 

tEaHrh grMllls, PUeh. Syn. 189d, 99» ((torn Shaw, L c). 

Meeroller, BUUer, " Hamb. Mag. xL 460, with flx."— Jfiitt. Naturs. L 1773,959. 

Bceolter, Hallm, "Natnrg. rlerf. Th. 1757, 567 ". 

SMblker Oder 8ec«t(er, "SUUer, Kamtach. 17 /4, 97 ". 

SMklher, MiUL " Samml. ilL , 944 ". 

lAntsekMtkiselie Bicker, id. "iML 389". 

BM Otter, Pmn. Syn. Qnad. 1771, 941, na 175 (in part) ; Hist Quad. 1781, — ^ no. 930t Arot. 
Zoiil. 1. 1784, 88, no. 36.— Cbot, " Third Voy. 18T4, IL 995, pi. 43 ; Maarss's Voy. 1790, pp. 941 , 
U60."— 2/t(m« <t MemiM, PhlL Trans. 1796, 385.— «eammon, Am. Nat iv. 1870. OS (de- 
tailed biography); "Overiand Monthly", It. 85 (biography); Marine Mamm. 1874, 
*ohap. vi. pp. 169-175, woodoatfi, pL xxiL lower flg. (biography, etc.). 

8e« Beftver, Krateh. " Hist Kamts. (Orieve's transl.), 1764, 131." 

iaatsckatukol Bokr or B«kr ■•rsk*! Aiwtten. 

laiko, AKq. 

EalM, Stetter, I. «., dray, L e. 

utor ■•riB, Krateh. " Hist Ktmtsoh. , 444 ". 

iMUttt ie aer, Oook, "Third Toy. (Frraoh trusl.), pL 43." 

Loatre ■srlae, Detm. I e., Fr. Cue. t & 

loatre «ii laMtckatkn, Oeofr. "Collect Mas. d'RUt Nat"; Xenon, L e. 

loatre aarlMe AlCte klMeke,"Di«t8«.NatfasaTiLpL19,f.9 '.— I>««m.{.«. 

Var. L. ■aria* wllk » wklte kcM, HorL op. sO. 7^ 

Lo atre ie Bteller, Leu. L e. 

BarleoTleaae, Buf. " Snppl. tL 4to, 887 " (in part). 

Hab.— The North Paoifio. On the American Hide, south to Lower Califor- 

Spbcific characters.— Hind feet broad, like a Seal's flippers, the soles 
fnrry ; fore feet sniall, like a Cat's paws, the palkns naked; tail terete, obtuse, 
about i the length of head and body. Form massive. Color dark lirer* 
brown, bleaching on the head, everywhere silvered with hoary ends of the 
longer hairs. Length over all about 4 feet- of which the tail is a foot or less ; 
hind foot about 6 inches- long by 4 broad. Qirth about 2^ feet. 

Description of external charactert.* 

In general superficial aspects, the Sea Otter is not unlike a 
Seal — a resemblance increased by the flipper-like hind feet. The 

* From No. 9457, Mus. Smiths. Inst., Alaska, Dr. Minor. 



body is a swoUeu cjliiider, abrapt bebiiid, tapering before to a 
small globose head without notable constriction of neck ; the 
limbs are short ; the t<iil is Hhort, terete-tipering, obtuse ; there 
is a remarkable disparity in size and shape between the fore 
and hind feet, not seen in any other species of Mmtelidce. In 
life, the skin is remarkably loose and "rolling''; theiielt of an 
individual four feet long readily stretches to six feet ; and when 
the animal is lifted np by the skin, a foot or so of "slack" 
gathers. The pelage is notable for the preponderance of the 
woolly under fur, the longer stiffer hairs being very scanty. It 
is of the samid general character all over the body ; but on the 
head, feet, and tail consists chiedy of a finer fur, with little or 
110 admixture of bristly hairs. The only naked parts are the 
mu£Qe and palms. 

The naked niuftle, an inch broad, and deeper than this, is 
lozenge-shaped, with acute sui)erior and inferior angles, obtuse 
lateral angles, straight or slightly sinuous upper sides, the 
lower sides somewhat irregular for most of their length, owing 
to the nostrils ; these ot)en quite broadly upon the surface. The 
face of the nasal pad is minutely papillate, and divided part 
way by a vertical line of impression. The eyes, of moderate 
size, are high up, forming a nearly equilateral triangle with 
the apex of the muzzle. The ears are situated remarkably low 
down — far below the eyes, and in fact little above the level of 
the commissure of the mouth ; they are very small, flat, obtusely 
pointed, sparsely and very shortly pilous outside, only partially 
furry inside. The whiskers are few, short, extremely stout and 
stiff, directed downward for the most part ; there are a few 
other bristles over the eyes, but none are noted on the chin or 

The fore feet are remarkably small, giving the limb an appear- 
ance which suggests amputation at the wrist ; the digits are 
very short and much consolidated; the very small, short, and 
much arched claws are almost entirely hidden in the fur. The 
general contour of the foot is circular in front. The palm is 
naked, and minutely granular, with small roughened tubercles. 
The baldness reaches up to the wrist on the outer side in a nar- 
row space. The hind feet, on the contrary, are notable for their 
expansion and flattening into strong effective oar^. The gen- 
eral shape is trapezoidal — the longest side exterioi-, the side 
represented by the ends of the digits next longest ; the inner 
border shorter, while the angle represents the fourth and much 

U. 8. Geological Survey. 

MuitelidsB. PLATE XX. 

EnbydrlR liitrls. (Upper tig. reduced. Lower flg. nat. size.) 



the shortest side. The digits are eatirely webbed by membranes 
■tretohiag from tip to tip of all the toes. When widespread, 
the ends of the toes describe a slight curve, the inner one beint; a 
little shorter than the next, the rest regularly graduated. The 
claws are short, stout, arched, and rather obtuse, hidden in the 
dense fur, which completely invests the foot above and below. 
The tail is short, stout, and terete, with a slight taper through- 
out, at the end rather abruptly contracting to an obtuse tip. 

The coloration varies greatly with age and season. When 
the animal is in good state, like the specimen now under par- 
ticular consideration, it is deep liver-brown, about the same 
above and below, everywhere silvered or "firosted" with the 
hoary tips of the longer stiff hairs. These colorless hairs are 
rather more numerous below than above, giving a lighter 
to the under parts, the body of which, however, is of much the 
same color as the back. There are fewer or none such light- 
tipped hairs on the tail and limbs, which consequently appear 
of a more uniform liver-brown. On the fore part, just in advance 
of the shoulders, the color lightens rather abruptly into a gray- 
ish or light muddy brown, and the bleaching increases on the 
head, which is of a brownish-white. The whiskers are color- 
less ; the muffle black ; the claws dark. 

Among the numerous specimens examined, including some 
not " in condition", great variation is exhibited in the extent to 
which the ground color is overlaid with the hoary. The longer 
hairs are sometimes so numerous and so extensively bleached 
that the animal appears mo^itly grizzly, completely bleached 
upon the neck and head. The light hairs, instead of being 
purely hoary, are frequently of a yellowish tint, as if soiled. 
The variations in the ground color are chiefly due to presence 
or absence of a ^'red" shade, which, in the best specimens, pro- 
duces the rich liver-browu hue or chocolate-shaded color, and 
the absence of which leaves the brown of a plain dark charac- 
ter. There is often a noticeable blackish area between the 

The variability of this species in size, though great, is only 
on a par with that of its allies. The dimensions may be gath- 
ered from the measurements already given ; but, though these 
are incomplete, they are not here supplemented with others, 

* The tendency to special particoloration on the throat and breast is strong 
In MMtelida. It is fViUy carried out in Gulo, Miutela, PntoriuB vison, &o., 
and even indicated here in EnhydrU, 

f I 

t h 



since such as oonld be given from the driM skins before me 
would be only approximate. The ear is about an inch long, 
measured from the notch in front, and about two-thirds as wide. 

Young (a very young individual, under two feet long, also 
collected by Dr. Minor in the Aleutian Islands). — Tlie coat is 
comparatively much longer than that of the adult, loose, 
rather harsh, and of a peculiar tluiYy character, with kinky 
fibre. The naked mufUe is much as in the adult, but quite 
smooth ; the ears are entirely hidden in the abundant wool of 
the parts ; the hind tieet scarcely show their proper shape ; the 
tail is dubbed, rather thicker at the abrupt end than at the 
base ; a decided constriction of the neck appears in the speci- 
men as mounted. The feet are quite blackish ; otherwise the 
animal is dull grayish-brown, everywhere strongly frosted 
with hoary, lighter, and more uniformly brownish-white on the 
head and neck, bleaching to dingy white underneath the head 
and before th<d shoulders. 

To sum the salient external pecnliaritios of this species in 
comparison with Lutra^ it is only necessary to mention the 
more massive form, the much shorter, more uniformly terete 
and obtuse tail, and wholly peculiar structure of the feet. To 
exhibit the characters of the species in the clearest light, I add 
to the foregoing technical description the following account 
from Meares's Voyage (1790), showing how the appearance of 
the animal wonld strike an unscientific observer : — 

** The Sea Otter is tarnished with a formif lable set of teeth ; 
its fore paws are like those of the Biver < )tter, but of much 
larger sise, and greater strength ; its hind feet are skirted with 
a membrane, on which, as on the fore feet, there grows a thick 
and coarse hair. The fur varies in beauty according to the age 
of the animal. The young cubs, of a few months old, are 
covered with a long, coarse, white hair, which protects the fine 
down that lies beneath it. The natives often pluck off this 
coarse hair, when the lower ftir appears like velvet, of a beau- 
tiful brown colour. As they increase in size, the long hair falls 
off, and the fur becomes blackish, but still remains short. When 
the animal is full grown, it becomes of a jet [fj black, and in< 
creases in beauty; the fur then thickens, and is thinly sprinkled 
with white hairs. When they are past the age of perfection, and 
verge towards old age, their skin [fnrj changes into a dark 
brown, dingy colour, and of course diminishes in value. The 
skins of those killed in the winter are of a more beautiful 



black, And in every reapeot more perfect than those which are 
taker in the summer and aatnmn. The male Otter is beyond 
all oomparison the more beautiful than the female and is dis- 
tinguished by the sniierior Jetty colour, as well as velvety 
appearance of his skin ; whereaN the head, throat and belly of 
the female, are not only oovere<l with fur that is white, but 
which is also of a very coarse teiture. The skins in the highest 
estimation are those which have the belly and throat plentifully 
interspersed with a kind of brilliant silver hairs, while the 
body is covered with a thick black fur of extreme fineness, and 
a silky gloss." 

Among other earlier descriptions, that of Dr. Pallas, mod- 
estly styled <*ad complementum Stellerianffi", in delicate com* 
pliment to the previous traveller, may be cited in illustration 
of some of the more infrequent variations. Pallas speaks of a 
■peoimen fh)m Kodiak, which was yellowish-white, shaded on 
the back with gray (e flavegcentialba, medio dorao grgaea nebula 
enumhrato). The old animal, he says, is glossy black, with 
somewhat reddish under fnr, and often over five feet long; the 
young are rather dark grayish. 

Deeeription of the ekull and teeth.* (See Plates XIX, XX.) 

With a general resemblance to that of LtttrOf the skull of the 
Sea Otter differs not only in its superior size, but in its masslve- 
ness, depth, breadth behind, truncation anteriorly, and several 
details which will appear in the sequel. There is a general 
condition which would suggest, in common parlance, such terms 
as "huge", '< bulky", ** misshapen", and a superficial likeness to 
the sknlls of some of the Pinn^tediOf with which the Sea Otter 
is intimately associated in its mode of life. 

As evidenced by the sutures in some tery young skulls before 
me. the disposition of the several bones is mnch as in Lutra, 
but there are some peculiarities. The malar bone is, as it were, 
shifted bodily backward; it reaches to the glenoid fossa, and, 
in fact, just misses a share in the articulation of thci lower Jaw, 
while in front it stops altogether short of the bridge over the 
anteorbital foramen, which is thus circumscrilied only by a very 
slender rod from the maxillary. The intermaxillary bones are 
so short and deep as to be almost vertical; their apices merely 

*The oeteology of this speolea has been specially stadied by Martens (PiZ. 
8. 1836, 59) and Gervais ( Journ. de Zool. iv. 1875, 300-206). Oerrard gives the 
vertebral formnla as C. 7 ; D. 14 ; L. 6 ; S. 3 ; Cd. 18. 

!il I 





meet the extremity of the nasals. More than a third of the in- 
cisive foramen k maxillary, not intermaxillary. The orbito- 
sphenoid recedes deeply in its surroundings. Other points will 
appear in a topographical account of the skull. 

Viewed from above, the cranium differs from that of Lutra in 
greater mflation of the cerebral walls, especially anteriorly, 
where the encroachment upon the temporal fcsste is decided. 
Supraorbital proceEies are not so well developed (about as in 
a Badger or Marten; the development in Lutra is exceptional). 
The nasal orifice is greatly foreshortened in this view, owing 
to the abrupt truncation of the mandible. It is difficult to say 
how long the rostrum is, owing to the configuration of the parts, 
but it may be estimated at about one-sixth of the total length 
of the skull. Owing to its verticality, the anteorbital foramen 
is scarcely seen in this view (it comes into sight inside the orbit 
io Lutra). In old specimens, there is a strong sagittal crest 
wanting in Lutra} in young ones, an irregular elevated tablet. 
The top of the rostrum and adjoining interorbital space is a 
smooth, flat tablet, as in Lutra. The occipital contour is much 
as described in Lutra. 

Id profile, the skull shows the same flatness on top as is seen 
in Lutraj with the additional feature of an almost vertical an- 
terior truncation from the ends of the nasals, at little more than 
a right angle, and almost straight down to the incisors. Such 
contour is highly characteristic, and reminds one of the same 
part in a Walrus. Owing to the slight supraorbital process and 
little marked malar protuberance, the orbit is not well defined; 
not ' 9 well as it is in the other subfamilies, excepting Mephitinai. 
The zygomatic arch rises abruptly behind. Its upper border 
is then about straight and horizontal to the orbit ; its lower 
border is a strong regular curve throughout. Other mattera to 
be noted in the ;irofile view are much as in Lutra. 

From below: The zygomatic width' is about three-fourths the 
lengtli; the intermastoid diameter but slightly less. The palate 
reaches back of the molars about half-way to the ends of the 
pterygoids. The emargination between these bones is extremely 
wide and shallow. Perhaps here only in the family, the depth 
of the emargination is no greater, or less than, its width. The 
recess is sometimes almost semicircular, though the sides are 
usually more nearly parallel, and the end transverse. In detail, 
the shelf of the palate is altogether irregular. The walls of the 
glenoid fosste are rarely, if ever, so much developed as to lock 



the jaw. I have uot witnessed such case. The back wall, in- 
stead of overlapping strongly at its oater angle, is regularly 
produced into a border all along. The inflation of the bnllse is 
about as in Lutra. The posterior foramen lacerum is a large 
circular hole. The articular surfaces of the condyles differ from 
those of Lutra in not being produced toward each other; they 
are simply oval. The great foramen is irregularly circular 
rather than transversely elliptical, having a strong median supe- 
rior as well as inferior emargination. In the under jaw, the 
symphysis is shorter and apparently less solid than usual. I 
find the nnion incomplete in some middle-aged specimens. The 
ramus of the under jaw is deep and thick, and has a decided 
twist, scarcely or not recognizable in other genera, by which the 
lower part is exflected posteriorly. The coronoid is very broad 
to the rounded end ; the hind border rises straight and a little 
obliquely backward, so as to overhang the condyle; the front 
border is strongly, somewhat irregularly, curved. The muscu- 
lar impression on the outside of the coronoid is deep and exten- 
sive, reaching below to the very edge of the jaw, and forward 
to a point below the last molar. 

The dentition of Enhydris is peculiar in several respects. As 
in LutrincB, but not as in any other subfamily of MunteMte, there 
is the same number of teeth in both jaws (16) ; but this equality 
is brought about in a curious way, loss of the upper anterior 
premolar being rectified, so far as preserving equality of teeth 
in the two jawu is concerned, by lack of one pair of inferior 
incieors. Thus there are four fewer teeth than in Lutrina (|| 
instead of |f ). This is the only instance in the family of less 
than six incisors below, or of an unequal number of incisors in 
the two jaws. In the presence of an equal number of premolars 
above and below, Enhydris agrees with all the other North Amer- 
ican genera excepting i^ttra (^) and normal Conepatui (^); in 
the presence of three premolars above and below, it agrees with 
all but Lutra^ Conepatus, Ifiwtoto, and Gulo (the two last having 
^); in the presence of three premolars below, it agrees with all 
excepting Muatela and Oulo, 

In the physical character of the teeth, as well as in the dental 
formula, Enhydris is peculiar in its family. All the grinders are 
of a singularly massive, tubercular, almost bulbous character, 
with no trenchant edges, ac^te cusps, or even angular edges. 
This is in evident adaptation to the piscivorous regimen(of the 
animal. The teeth of even the youngest specimens^bave an 




appearance of being greatly worn, as is not, however, the case. 
In fact, there is less difference with age here than elsewhere in 
the family. The back apper molar is the largest tooth of all, 
being as wide as, and much longer.thau, the sectorial tooth. It 
is irregularly oval in shape, its long axis oblique ; its face is 
studded with obtuse tubercles in a manner scarcely admitting 
of detailed^description. The back upper premolar is squarish, 
with rounded-off angles, and presents outwardly a pair of large 
obtuse tubercles, whereof the anterior is the larger, sepa- 
rated by a groove from an interior lower portion of the tooth 
occupied by a single large, blunt, conical tubercle. The next 
premolar is a blunt cone with a heel behind. The anterior pre- 
molar is entirely similar, but much smaller, and crowded inward 
from the general axis of dentition. It has but one fang; the 
tooth behind it is two-rooted ; the sectorial tooth roots by three 
fangs, two external, one internal; the upper molar is set in 
three irregular shallow sockets. The back lower mular is trans- 
versely elliptical rather than circular; its face is smooth and 
flattened, with a crosswise central depression. The anterior 
lower molar is completely and bluntly tuberculous, showing only 
traces cf its likeness to the same tooth elsewhere in the family 
in a slightly elevated, tri-tuberculous, anterior part, and a flat- 
tish, depressed hind part The back lower premolar is an irreg- 
ular, low. blunt cone, with a oiouandary eminence part way up 
its inner aspect. The other premolars are successively smaller 
and simpler. The front preuiulur and back molar are single- 
rooted; the anterior molar has four roots; the next tooth three; 
the next two. The canines, both above and below, are rathi^r 
flmall, comparatively; the latter is not much curved. Of iho 
superior incisors, the lateral pair are moderately hirger thtiu the 
rest, and taper somewhat toward the end from au el jow near 
the base. The others are smaller, especially narrow, and some- 
what cic'o sbaiied; none are obviously Iub.*te. Of the inferior 
incisors, it is seen to be the median p^iir that are missing, for 
the next pair (here the middle |»air) have tiio back wani set, which 
usually distinguishes them in other genfra. These incisors are 
all strongly clubbed at their extremities, which lure irregularly 

History of the gpecien. 

The history of this sitecies may be considered to have begun 
in the midJ!le of the last century. One of the earliest ac- 




counts, if not the first one of any scientific pretensions, was 
that of the celebrated navigator Steller, who described the 
animal, in 175 L, under the name of Lutra maHnq^ a term not 
yet wholly obsolete, though untenable under the rules of nomen- 
clature. This may have been the first introduction of the spe- 
cies to the notice of civilized, or at least of scientific, men, 
though the animal had, of course, long been known to the na- 
tives of the countries along the shores of which it was found. 
It was known to the Bussinns as the Sea or Kamtschatkan 
Beaver (Bobr morskoi and Kamtschatskoi Bobr), and to the 
Kamtschatkans themselves as the Kalan; while other barbar- 
ous nations had their own eq ui valeut terms, or several such, to 
indicate ditterent ages or states of pelage. Notwithstanding 
the accuracy of Steller's account, which is quoted and somu- 
times consulted to tbe present day, and in spite of the unmer- 
ous striking peculiarities which the animal offers upon the 
most casual inspection, the compilers of various systematic 
treatises soon suffered under a confusion of ideas, and perpe- 
trated blunders that were not for many years eradicated. 
LinnsBus confounded it with the Saricovienne or Brazilian Ot- 
ter, Lutra brasiUensU; and the same mistake was even made 
by several much more accomplished therologists, like Brisson 
and Pennant. It would be presumed that its remarkable fea- 
tures would have prevented this; instead, however, we find 
that the singular construction of the hind feet, general aspect, 
and mode of life have caused it to be classed among t!i<5 
Seals — Pallas indeed, an eminent naturalist and observing 
traveller, calls it a Fhoca ; and in the latest publication upon 
the subject, Capt. G. M. Scammon's Marine Mammals (1874), it 
is located again in the midst of Pinnipedia. It is, of tNiursf , 
unnecessary to seriously discuss a procedure which, like tliiK, 
is indefensible upon any but the most superficial and unMcieu- 
tific considerations, drawn from the aquatic habits of tlie ani- 
mal, and the modifications required for this end. Ita relation- 
ships with the Pinnipeds are entirely those of analogy. 

Linnaeius was right, according to the terms of classification 
of his day, in placing it in the genus Mustela, a group nearly 
equivalent to the family Mu»telid€B as now understood. Over- 
looking or ignoring Steller's name cf Itutra tnarina^ which, 
Uieagh binomial in the letter, was merely a Littin translation 
of a vernacular term, and not binomial upon any i^stem, ho 
called the species Mustela lutriSf a name the siiecitto portion of 






which must stand, even thoagh, as already intimated, it in- 
cludes an altogether different animal, Lutra brasilien»i9; for 
the Stelleritvi name marina was not used by any binomial 
writer until after Linnteus had applied lutris. Steller's more 
obviously appropriate designation of marina was, nevertheless, 
adopted by Erxleben, Schreber, Desmarest, and other distin- 
guished naturalists of various countries, and became generally 
current. In consequence, doubtless, of the very marked char- 
acters which the species affords, only two or three nominal 
species have been based upon it. The first of these, instituted 
by Oken, the famous anatomist and naturalist, is, in fact, 
scarcely a nominal species in the usual acceptation of the 
term, being merely, like the Mustela lutris of Linnseus, a re- 
naming of the well-known animal, without intention of sep- 
arating from it a second species. Oken called it Pusa orieti- 
taliSj in 1816,* in the work above cited, apparently inventing 
both the generic and specific term, in this application at least. 
R.-P. Lesson is responsible for another. synonym, having, in 
1827, renamed the species Lutra steUeri, a compliment to the 
distinguished navigator who gave us the early account, but one 
which the rules of nomenclature forbid us to adopt, however 
we might incline to such course. Lesson appears to have fan- 
cied that the Kamtschatkan Otter, Lutra or Mustela lutris of 
authors, and Lutra marina of Erxleben, was a true Land Otter, 
different from Steller's animal, and, in fact, such wa,s partly the 
case. We have yet to consider a very problematical animal, 
the Slender Otter of Pennant, which became the Lutra gracilis 
of Shaw, the Enydris gnwilis of Fischer, and is mentioned 
under Fusa by Oken, said to be fi*om Staaten-Land, Nord- 
Amerika. It is impossible to determine what this is, owing to 
the iipperfection of the description, but it was probably based 
upon a Sea Otter ; Pennant himself appears to have given it 
up, as it does not figure in his later work, "Arctic Zodlogy ". 
Oken speaks of <* Staaten-Land, bei New-York^f evidently hav- 
ing what is now known as Staten Island in view ; but it is 
safer to presume upon a geographical error here than to refer 
the animal to Lutra canadensis^ which, as is well known, is the 
only Otter of the Eastern United States, where the Sea Otter 
certainly vloes not occur. 
These specific names are the only ones I have come upon in 

* De Blainville gives the date of the name as 1614, bat I have not been 
Itble to trace it back of 1816. 



searching the literature of the species ; but we have still to 
consider the several designations resulting from their combina- 
tion with various generic designations, some of which are old, 
and belong to other groups, while others were newly invented 
for this particular species. The former are, in the order of 
their successive use, Lutra, JUusielay and Phoca, after Steller, 
Linnteus, and Pallas respectively ; these need not detain us. It 
was three quarters of a century, nearly, from its original intro- 
duction to the system, before the strongly marked characters 
of the species were made typical of a new genus — Pusa of Oken, 
already mentioned, being the first-named of this sort. Pnea 
had, however, already been used by another vriter in connection 
with a genus of Seals now commonly known as Ualicl' ^nt», 
but in such a peculiar way as to raise one of those tech. cal 
questions of synonymy which authors interpret differently, in 
absence of fixed rule. Scopoli based his Pusa upon a figure of 
Salomon MUlIer'o, recognizable with certainty as Halichceru8,ar\d 
gave characters utterly irreconcilable with those of this animal. 
This is the whole case. Now it may be argued that there being 
no such animal whatever as Scopoli says his Pusa was, his 
name drops out of the system, and Pusa of Oken, virtually an 
entirely new term, is tenable for something else, namely, for 
the Sea Otter. On the other hand, Scopoli's quotations show 
exactly what he meant, in spite of his inept diagnosis ; his name 
Pksu therefore holds, and cannot be subsequently used by Oken 
in a different connection. This is the view I take in this and 
all similar cases, when a name can be identified by any means 
whatsoever, intrinsic or circumstantial, no matter ho;7 wide of 
the mark the ascribed characters may be. And even if it be not 
the first tenable name of a genus — in other words, if it be only 
a synonym of a prior name— it cannot be used again as a tenable 
name for a different genus. This name Piisa thus disposed of, 
another to be similarly treated is Latax of Gloger. Though 
applied by some authors, particularly J. E. Gray {more suo, with 
little regard for the obvious requirements of the case), to species 
of Lutra proper, Latax was nevertheless based by its founder 
upon the Sea Otter, Lutra marina, in the xiiith vol. (1827) of 
the N. Act. Nat. Curios, p. 511 (reprinted in the Isis for 1829, 
and in F6russac's Bulletin). This well-identified name* is, how- 

* It is, however, doubtful whether Lattuc can be considered as established 
at all ; for Gloger, treating of the Sea Otter under the name Lutra iHarina, 
simply takes occasion to crithcise the fitness of Oken's term Pusa, and to 
suggest that Latax might be a more apt designation. 
22 M 




ever, an iiuquestiouable synonym of Enhydra of Fleming, insti- 
tuted in 1822, in tbat author's " Philosophy of Zoiilogy \ and 
which, under its various forms of i7N/k^^n«. EnydriSf and Enhydra^ 
has been most generally employed of late years. 

Besides the technical accounts of very nnmerons authors 
who never saw the animal alive, there are many other notices 
of more general interest, in unscientific works, giving informa- 
tion upon its habits and manners, and various figures, more or 
less true to life, are extant. The famous navigator Cook 
treats of the Sea Otter, and gives a fair representation. The 
description from Meares's Voyage, accurate, though nntechnical, 
is frequently quoted. Meuzies's article in the Philosophical 
Transactions for 179G may be noted in this connection. Pen- 
nant, as usual, has an extended biographical notice. Probably 
the first anatomical article of any note is Martins's, upon the 
osteology of the species ; that of M. Gervais is specially im- 
portant. In late times, detached notices of its habits have 
multiplied, from the pens of a number of naturalists who have 
visited the northwest coast, and largely contributed to a com- 
plete history. Gapt. Scammou's several articles above quoted, 
all to much the same effect, are specially noteworthy, though 
certain points n ay require to be scrutinized and checked by tho 
observations of others. The author last mentioned also repro- 
duces the figure by Wolf, which accompanied Dr. J. E. Gray's 
paper on the Mustelidtc^ in Zoological Society's Proceedings for 
1SG5; this is probably the most life-liko representation of the 
species extant. J. W. Audubon's plate, published in the work 
of his father abti Dr. Bachman, is aflni^hed drawingof unmistak- 
able character, probably the best one generally accessible to 
American students. Neither Sir John Bichardson nor Audu- 
bon had met with the species alive, and their biographies, the 
principal ones which until lately had appeared in works upon 
American Mammals, are necessarily at second hand. The only 
Americali biographies, indeed, at all approaching completeness 
are those of Mr. Elliott and Capt. Scammon, already cited. 

"TAe Sea-Otter and Its Hunting.^* 
[By H. W. Elliott.] 

" The sea-otter, like the fur-seal, is another illustration of an 
animal long known and highly prized in the commercial world, 

* Having do original infortnation to ofl'er respecting the commercial bii- 
tory, the chase, or the habits of the Sea Otter, I extract an accoant which 
there is reason to believe to be the most complete, accnrcte, and reliable at 




yet respecting the habits a^'; life of which nothing definite has 
been ascertained or published. The reason for tbis is obvious, 
for, save the natives who hunt them, no one properly qualified 
has ever had an opportunity of ".eving the seaottcr so as to 
study it in a state of nature, for, of all the shy, sensitive beasts, 
upon the capture of which man sets any value, this creature is 
the iDost keenly on the alert and difficult to obtain ; and, like 
the fur-seal in this Territory, it possesses the enhancing value 
of being principally confined to our country. A truthful ac- 
count of the strange, vigilant life of the sea-otter, and of the 
hardships and perils encountered by its hunters, would surpass 
in novelty and interest the most attractive work of fiction. 

"When the Russian traders opened up the Aleutian Islands, 
they found the natives commonly wearing sea-otter cloaks, 
which they parted with at first for a trifle, not placing any 
especial value on the animal, as they did the hair-seal and the 
sea-lion, the hair and skin of which were vastly more palatable 
and serviceable to them ; but the offers of the greedy traders 
soon set the natives after them. During the first few years the 
numbers of these animals taken all along the Aleutian Chain, 
and down the whole northwest coast as far as Oregon, were 

our service. The following matter constitutes Chap. V, pp. 54-6*i, of Mr. 
Henry W. Elliott's '' Report on the Condition of Atl'airs in the Territory of 
Alaska", 8 vo, Washington, Government Printing Ot)ice, 1875. Mr. Elliott 
has proven a trustworthy observer and zealous naturalist, and had excellent 
opportunities of studying the whole snitjeet during bis long residence in 
Alaska as special agent of the Treasury Department, charged with the Gov- 
erament interests in the i: ur Seal Fisbenes. 

A quotation from Sir John Richardson (Fn. Bor.-Ani. p. 59), touching the 
early aspects of the Sea Otter business, will not be here out of place : — 

" The fur of the Sea Otter being very handsome, 'vas much esteemed by 
'the Chinese, and, until the market at Canton was overstocked, prime skins 
brought extraordinarily high prices. The trade for a considerable period 
was in the hands of the Russians, who soon after the discovery of the north- 
west coast of America, by Beering [sic] and Tschirikow, sent mercantile 
expeditions hither. Captain Cook's third voyage drew the attention of 
English speculators to that quarter, and vessels were freighted both by 
private adventurers and the India Company, for the purpose of collecting 
furs and conveying them to Canton. Pennant, alluding to this traffic, says, 
' What a profitable trade (with China) might not a colony carry on, were it 
possible to penetrate to that part of America by means of rivers and lakes.' 
The event that Pennant wished for soon took place. Sir Alexander Mac- 
kenzie having traversed the continent of America, and gained the coast of 
the Pacific, his partners in trade followed up his success, by establishing fur 
posts in New Caledonia, and a direct commerce with China; but the influx 
of furs into that market soon reduced their price." 





very great, and compared with what are now captured seem 
perfectly fabulous; for instance, when the Prybilov Islands were 
flrst discovered, two sailors, Lukannon and Kaiekov, killed at 
8t. Paul's Island, in the first year of occupation, ^re thoutanH^ 
the next year they got less than a thousand, and in six years 
after not a single scaotter appeared, and none have appeared 
sinct^. When Shellikov's party first visited Cook's Inlet, they 
secured three thousand; during the second year, two thousand ; 
in the third, only eight hundred; the season following they 
obtained six hundred; and finally, in 1812, less than a hundred, 
and since then not a tenth of that number. The first visit made 
by the Russians to the Gulf of Yahkntat, in 1794, two thousand 
sea-otters were taken, but they diminished so rapidly that in 
1799 less than three hundred were taken. In 1798 a large party 
of Russians and Aleuts captured in Sitka Sound and neighbor- 
hood twelve hundred skins, besides those for which they traded 
with the natives there, fully as many more; and in the spring 
of 1800 a few American and English vessels came into Sitka 
Sound, anchored off the small Russian settlement there, and 
traded with the natives for over two thousand skins, getting 
the trade of the Indians by giving fire-arms and powder, ball, 
&c., which the Russians did not dare to do, living then, as they 
were, in the country. In one of the early years of the Russian 
American Company, 1804, Barauov went to the Okotsk from 
Alaska with fifteen thousand sea-otter skins, that were worth 
as much then as they are now, viz, fully $1,000,000. 

" The result of this warfare upon the sea-otters, with ton 
hunters then where there is one to-day, was not long delayed. 
Everywhere throughout the whole coast-line frequented by 
them the diminution set in, and it became difficult to get to. 
places where a thousand have been as easily obtained as twenty- 
five or thirty. A Russian chronicler says: 'The numbers of 
several kinds of animals are growing very much less in the 
present as compared with past times ; for instance the Company 
here (Ounalashka) regularly killed more than a thousand sea- 
otters annually ; now (1835) from seventy to a hundred and 
fifty are taken; and there was a time, in 1836, when the returns 
from the whole Ounalashka district (the Aleutian Islands) were 
only fifteen alcim! 

" It is also a fact coincident with this diminution of sea- 
otters, that the population of the Aleutian Islands fell off almost 
in the same proportion. The Russians regarded the lives of 




these people as they did those of dogs, and treated them accord- 
ingly ; they took, auder Baranov and his subordinates, hunting- 
parties of five hundred to a thousand picked Aleuts, eleven or 
twelve hundred miles to the eastward of their homes, in skin- 
baidars and bidarkies, or kyacks, traversing one of the wildest 
and roughest of coasts, and used them not only for the severe 
drudgery of otter-hunting, but to fight the Koloshians and 
other savages all the way up and down the coast ; this soon 
destroyed them, and few ever got back alive. 

" When the Territory cam'' in our possession, the Russians 
were taking between four and five hundred sea-otters from the 
Aleutian Islands and south of the peninsula of Alaska, with 
perhaps a hundred and fifty more from Keuai, Yuhkutat, and 
the Sitkan district ; the Hudson's Bay Company and other trad- 
ers getting about two hundred more from the coast of Queen 
Charlotte's and Vancouver's Islands, and off Gray's Harbor, 
Washington Territory. 

" Now, during the last season, 1873, instead of less than seven 
hundred skins, as obtained by the Russians, our traders secured 
not much less than foxir thousand skins. This immense differ- 
ence is not due to the fact of there being a proportionate 
increase of sea-otters, but to the organization of hunting-par- 
ties in the same spirit and fashion, as in the early days above 
mentioned. The keen competition of our traders will ruin the 
business in a comparatively short time if some action is not 
taken by the Government ; and to the credit of these traders 
let it be said, that while they cannot desist, for if they do others 
will step in and profit at their expense, yet they are anxious 
that some prohibition should be laid upon the business. This 
can be easily done, and in such manner as to perpetuate the sea- 
otter, not only for themselves, but for the natives, who are 
dependent upon its hunting for a living which makes them 
superior to savages. 

" Over two-thirds of all the soaotters taken in Alaska are 
secured in two small areas of water, little rocky islets and reefs 
around the island of Saanach and the Chernobours, which 
proves that these animals, in spite of the incessant hunting all 
the year round on this ground, seem to have some particular 
preference for it to the practical exclusion of nearly all the rest 
of the coast in the Territory. This may be due to its better 
adaptation as a breeding-ground. It is also noteworthy that 
all the sea-otters taken below the Straits of Fuca are shot by 



the Indians and white hunters oflf the beach in the surf at Gray's 
Harbor, a stretch of less than twenty miles ; here some fifty to 
a hundred are taken every year, while not half that number 
can be obtained from all the rest of the Washington and Oregon 
coast-line ; there is nothing in the external appearance of this 
reach to cause its selection by the sea-otterp, except perhaps 
that it may be a little less rocky. 

"As matters are nov conducted by the hunting-parties, the 
sea-otters at Saanach and the Ohernobonrs do not have a day's 
rest during the whole year. Parties relieve each other in succes- 
sion, and a continuous warfare is maintained. This persistence 
is stimulated by the traders, and is rendered still more deadly 
to the sca-ottcr by the use of rifles of the best make, which, in 
the hands of the young and ambitions natives, in spite of the 
warnings of the old men, must result in the extermination of 
these animals, as no authority exists in the land to prevent it. 
These same old men, in order to successfully compete with their 
rivals, have to drop their bone-spears and arrows, and take up 
fire-arms in self-defense. So the bad work goes on rapidly, 
though a majority of the natives and the traders deprecate it. 
AVith a view to check this evil atid to perpetuate the life of the 
sea-otter in the Territory, I offer the following suggestions to 
the Department : 

" 1st. Prohibit the use of fire-arms of any description in the 
hunting of the sea-otter in the Territory of Alaska. 

** 2d. Make it unlawful for any party or parties to hunt this 
animal during the months of June, July, and August, fixing a 
suitable penalty, fine, or punishment. 

" The first proposition gives the sea-otter a chance to live ; 
and, with the second, may possibly promote an increase in the 
number of this valuable animal. 

" The enforcement by the Government of this prohibition 
will not be difiicult, as it is desired by a great majority of the 
natives and all the traders having any real interest in the per- 
petuation of the business. A good deputy attached to the 
customs, whose salary and expenses might be more than paid 
by a trifling tax on each otter-skin, say $1, could, if provided 
with a sound whale-boat, make his headquarters at Saanach 
and Belcovski and carry the law into effect. The trade of the 
Kodiak district centers at the village of that name, and the 
presence of the collector or his deputy will exert authority, and 
cause the old native hunters and many of the younger who 



have reflectiou to comply with his demands. The collector 
then being provided with the small revenue-steamer spoken of 
in my chapter upon the duty of the Government toward the 
Territory, can insure compliance with Mie instructions given 
him, and punish violations. 

"This proposed action on the part of the Government is 
urgent and humane, for upon the successful hunting of the 
sea-otter some five thousand christianized natives are entirely 
dependent for the means to live iu a condition superior to bar- 

" The hnhita of the nea-oUer. {Enhydra marfna.) 

" I have had a number of interesting interviews with several 
very intelligent traders, and an English hunter who had spent 
an entire winter on Saanach Island, shooting sea-otters, and 
enduring, wbile there, bitter privation and haiilship; and 
chiefly from their accounts, aided by my own observation, 1 
submit the following ■ 

^^Saanaoh Island, Islets, and Reefs, is the great sea-otter 
ground of this country. The island itself is small, with a coast- 
line circuit of about eighteen miles. Spots of sand-beacli are 
found here and there, but the ninjor portion of it is compos?d 
of enormous water-worn bowlders piled up by the surf. Tbe 
interior is low and rolling, with a ridge rising into three hills, 
the middle one some 800 feet in height. There is no timber 
on it, but abundant grass, moss, &c., with a score of little 
fresh-water lakes, in which multitudes of ducks and geese are 
found every spring and fall. The natives do not live upon the 
island, because the making of fires and scattering of food- 
refuse alarms the otters, driving them off to sea ; so that it is 
only camped upon, and fires are never built unless the wind is 
from the southward, for no sea-otters are ever found to be 
north of the island. The snffering.s to which the native hunt- 
ers subject themselves every winter on this island, going for 
many weeks without fires, even for cooking, with the ther- 
mometer down to zero, in a northerly gale of- wiijid, is better 
imagined than described. 

" To the southward and westward, and stretching directly out 
to sea, some five to eight miles from Saanach Island, is a suc- 
cession of small islets, bare, most of them, at low water, but 
with numerous reefs and rocky shoals, beds of kelp, &c. This 
is the great sea-otter ground of Alaska, together with the 



Cberoobour Islets, to the eustward aboat tbirty luiles, wbicb 
are similar to it. Tbe sea-otter rarely landa upon tbe main 
islaad, but it is found just out of water on the reef-rocks and 
islets above mentioned, in certain seasons, and at a little dis- 
tance at sea during calm and pleasant weather. Tbe adult 
sea'Otter is an animal that will measure from three and a half 
to four feet at most, from nose to tip of tail, which is short and 
stumpy. The general contour of the body is closely like that 
of the beaver, with the skin lying in loose folds, so that wlien 
taken hold of in lifting the body out from the water, it is as 
slack and draws up like the hide on the nape of a young dog. 
This skin, which is taken from the body with but one cut made 
in it at the posteriors, is turned inside out, and air-dried, and 
stretched, so that it then gives the erroneous impression of an 
animal at least six feet in length, with girth and shape of u 
weasel or mink. There is no sexual dissimilarity in color or 
size, and both manifest the same intense shyness and aversion 
to man, coupled with the, greatest solicitude for their young, 
which they bring into existence at all seasons of the year, for 
tbe natives get young pups every month in the year. As the 
natives have never caught the mothers bringing forth their off- 
spring on the rocks, they are disposed to believe that the birth 
takes place on kelp-beds, in pleasant or not over :ough weather. 
The female has a single pup, born about fifteen inches in length, 
and provided during the first month or two with a coat of coarse, 
brownish, grizzled fur, bead and nape grizzled, grayish, rufous 
white, with the roots of the hair growing darker toward the 
skin. The feet, as in the adult, are very short, webbed, with 
nails like a dog, fore-paws exceedingly feeble and small, all 
covered with a short, fine, dark, bister-brown hair or fur. From 
this poor condition of fur they improve as they grow older, 
shading darker, finer, thicker, and softer, and by the time they 
are two years of age they are * prime,' though the animal is 
not fuil-grown until its fourth or fifth year. The white nose 
and mustache of the pup are not changed in the adult. The 
whiskers are white, short, and fine. The female has two teats, 
resembling those of a cat, placed between the hind limbs on 
the abdomen, and no signs of more ; the pup sucks a year at 
least, and longer if its mother has no uCher; the mother 
lies upon her back in the water or upon the rocks, as the case 
may be, and when she is surprised, she protects her young by 
clasping it in her fore-paws and turning her back to the danger 



they shed their fur Jast as the hair of man grows auil falls out; 
the reason is evideut, for they must be ready for the water at 
all times. 

''The sea otter mother sleeps in the water on her back, with 
her yonng clasped between her fore-paws. The pup cannot live 
without its mother, though ft'eqnent attempts have been made 
by the natives to raise them, as they often capture them alive, 
but, like some other 8{)ecies of wild animals, it seems to be so 
deeply imbued with fear of man that it invariably dies from 
self-imposed starvation. 

'' Their food, as might be inferred from the flat molars of 
dentition, is almost entirely composed of clams, muscles, and 
sea-urchins, of which they are very fond, and which they break 
by striking the shells together, held in each fore-paw, sucking 
ont the contents as they are fractured by these efforts ; they 
also undoubtedly eat crabs, and the juicy tender fronds of kelp 
or sea-weed, and fish. 

*' They are not polygamous, and more than an individual is 
seldom seen at a time when out at sea. The flesh is very un- 
palatable, highly charged with a rank smell and flavor. 

it They are playful, it would seem, for I am assured by several 
old hunters that they have watched the sea-otter for half an 
hour as it lay upon its back in the water and- tossed a piece of 
sea- weed up in the air from paw to paw, apparently taking groat 
delight in catching it before it could fall into the water. It will 
also play with its young for hours. 

'* The quick hearing and acute smell possessed by the sea- 
otter are not equaled by any other creat>ures in the Territory. 
They will take alarm and leave from the effects of a small fire, 
lonr or five miles to the windward of them ; and the footstep 
of man must be washed by many tides before its trace ceases 
to alarm the animal and drive it from landing there should it 
approach for that purpose. 

« There are four principal methods of capturing the sea-otter, 
viz, by 8urf-shootingf by spearing-aurroundSj by clubbing, and by 

« The surf-shooting is the common method, but has only been 
in TOgde among the natives a short time. The yonng men have 
nearly all been supplied with rifies, with which they patrol the 
shores of the island and inlets, and whenever a sea-otter's head 
is seen in the surf, a thousand yards ont even, they fire, the 
great distance and the noise of the surf preventing the sea- 




otter from taking alarm until it is hit ; and in nine times out 
of ten, when it is hit, in the head, which is all that is exposed, 
the shot is fatal, and the hunter waits until the surf brings his 
quarry in, if it is too rough for him to venture out in his 
'bidarkie.' This shooting is kept up now the whole year 

"The spearing- surround is the orthodox native system of cap- 
ture, Had reflects the highest credit upon them as bold, haroy 
watermen. A party of fifteen or twenty bidarkies, with two 
men in each, as a rule, all under the control of a chief elected 
by common consent, start out in pleasant weather, or when it 
is nOb too rough, and spread themselves out in a long line, 
slowly paddling over the waters where sea-otters are most 
usually found. When any one of them discovers an otter, 
asleep, most likely, in the water, he makes a quiet signal, and 
there is not a word spoken or a paddle splashed while they are 
on the hunt. He darts toward the animal, but generally the 
alarm is taken by the sensitive object, which instantly dives 
before the Aleut can get near enough to throw his spear. The 
hunter, however, keeps right on, and stops his canoe directly 
over the spot where the otter disappeared. The others, tak- 
ing note of the position, all deploy and scatter in a circle of 
half a mile wide around the mark of departure thus made, and 
patiently wait for the re-appearance of the otter, which must 
take place within fifteen or thirty minutes, for breath ; and as 
soon as this happens the nearest one to it darts forward. in tho 
same manner as his predecessor, when all hands shout and 
throw their spears, to make the animal dive again as quickly 
as possible, thus giving it scarcely an instant to recover itself. 
A sentry is placed over its second diving-wake as before, and 
tha circle is drawn anew ; land the surprise is often repeated, 
sometimes for two or three hours, until the sea-otter, from 
interrupted respiration, becomes so filled with air or gases 
that be cannot sink, and becomes at ouce an easy victim. 

" The coolness with which these Aleuts will go far out to 
sea in their cockle-shell kyacks, and risk the approach of 
gales that are as apt to be against them as not, with a mere 
handful of food and less water, is remarkable. They are cer- 
tainly as hardy a set of hunters, patient and energetic, as can 
be found in the world. 

" The clubbing is only done in the winter-season, and then 
at infrequent intervals, which occur when tremendous gales of 



wind from the northward, sweeping down over Saanach, have 
about blown themselves out. The natives, the very boldest of 
them, set out from Saanach, and skud down on the tail of the 
gale to the far outlying rocks, just sticking out above surf- 
wash, where they creep up from the leeward to the sea-otters 
found there at such times, with their heads stuck into the beds 
of kelp to avoid the wind. The noise of the galr is greater 
than that made by the stealthy movements of the hunters, 
who, armed each with a short, heavy wooden club, dispatch 
the animals, one after another, without alarming the whole 
body, and in this way two Aleuts, brothers, were known to 
have slain seventy-eight in less than an hour and a half. 

" There is no driving these animals out upon land. They 
are fierce and courageous, and when surprised by a man be- 
tween themselves and the water, they will make for the sea, 
straight, without any regard tor the hunter, their progress, by 
a succession of short leaps, being very rapid for a small dis- 
tance. The greatest care is taken by the sea-otter hunters on 
Saanack. They have lived in the dead of a severe winter six 
weeks at a time without kindling a fire, and with certain 
winds they never light one. They do not smoke, nor do they 
scatter or empty food-refuse on the beaches. Of all this I am 
assured by one who is perhaps the first white eye-witness of 
this winter-hunting, as he lived on the island through that of 
1872-'73, and could not be induced to repeat it. 

'' The hunting by use of nets culls up the strange dissimilar- 
ity existing now, as it has in all time past, between the prac- 
tice of the Atka and Attou Aleuts and that of those of Ouua- 
lashka and the eastward, as given above. These people cap- 
ture the sea-otter in nets, from 10 to 18 feet long and G to U) 
feet wide, with coarse meshes made nowadays of t\Tine, but 
formerly of sinew. 

*' On the kelp-beds these nets are spread out, and the na- 
tives withdraw and watch. The otters come to sleep or rest 
on those places, and get entangled in the meshes of the nets, 
seeming to make little or no eflfort to escape, paralyzed as it 
were by fear, and fall in this way easily into the hands of the 
trappers, who tell me that they have caught as many as six at 
one time in one of these small nets, and frequently get three. 
They also watch for surf-holes or caves in the bluft's, and, 
when one is found to which a sea-otter is in the habit of re- 




sorting, they set this net by spreading it over thfe entrance, 
and usually capture the animal. 

" No injury whatever is done to these frail nets by the sea- 
otters, strong animals as they are ; only stray sea-lions destroy 
them. The Atka people have never been known to hunt sea- 
otters without nets, while the people of Onnalashka and the 
eastward have never been known to use them. Ti e bait-water 
and kelp seem to act as a disinfectant to the net, so that the 
smell of it does not repel or alarm the shy animal.'^ 


Publishers, Booksellers, and Importers, 

Xo. 301 Wk^in^oi\ ^tf ret, . . . . ' So^toi\. 




Any Book published In' tho United States, sent, postpaid, on receipt of 
Priee, when not to be had at the local Bookstoree. 

Count Rumford, The Works of. Carefully Collected and 

Edited by a Committee of the Academy, consisting of Prof. Winlock, Prof. J. P. 
Cooke, Jr., F. H. Storer, Esq., Prof. Wjman, J. B. Francis, Esq., £. C. Pickering, 
Esq., Wolcott Gibbs, Esq. ; togetlier vitli a Life Of Count Rumfordy 
by tlie Rot. Geo. E. Ellis, D. D. Complete in five volumes. 8to. Beautifully 
printed and illustrated. Cloth, 925; Half Calf, $40.00. 

*^* This forms the only complete edition of the works of this great American philos- 
opher and inventor, who may be properly called the Pioneer of Popular Science 
AND Economic Reform. The works contain full accounts of his experiments in heat, 
light, electricity, and his wonderful success in the introduction of reforms in the sanitary 
management of armies and public institutions of Europe. The Life contains all that is 
known of interest regarding him, from his birth in Woburn, Mnss, his voluntary exile 
from America, his assistance to the British ministry, and afterward, his service in the 
royal army in America, his being knighted by George III., and appointed Count of the 
Holy Roman Empire by the Elector of Bavaria, his being raised to the most important 
positions in the G<>yernment of Bavaria, to the time of his death. 

Prof. E. L. Y0CHAN8 says of his discoveries : " Rumford was t\\efirtt to reach ezper* 
imentally the fundamental conclusion that heat is but a mode of motion." 

Hon. Robert C. Wintbrop says: "We have never done honor enough to hit 
memory in America. There ought to be a statue of him here, as there is in' Munich. 
It is a tardy act of justice to one who did great things for the world as well as Bavaria. 

His plans for the relief and prevention of paoperism would alone entitle him to the bless- 
ing of mankind. Almost everything which is valuable in our modem systems of charity 
may be traced to his writings." 

Nature says : " One remarkable feature of Rumford's papers is their simplicity and 
clearness. They are all readable to the least initiated in scientific technicalities; 
every page displays the clear and purely scientific intellect of the writer. He was no 
mere theorist, however ; he carried out practically every principle he expounds. He 
cooked for tens of thousands in his military kitchens and House of Industry." 

4^ -ATo largepvbUo or private library thould be without atett^ these magnifieeat works. 

Knighfs Popular History of England. 

We have issued, in Eight Octavo 
Volumes, this truly magnificent work. It is an Illustrated History of Society and 
Government, from the earliest period to the year 1867. By Charles Knioht. With 
more than 1400 Illustrations, includins 200 fine Steel Portraits. 

Kight volumes, 8vo, Cloth, nnent $25.00 

^ •« " Cloth, bevelled, gilt extra, trimmed edges 25.00 

•• «< « Half Mir extra. 45.00 

M M « Half moroccoextra. 45.00 

M M .1 FiUl tree oilf, W.00 

301 Washington Street, Eoston. 

Epochs of History. Edited by Edward E. Morris, M. A., of 

Lincoln College, Oxford. 

The i^ra of the Protestant Hevolution, By F. Skebohm, nuthor of " The 
Oxford Reformers — Colct, Erasmus, More." 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

The Crusades. By the Rev. G. W. Cox, M. A., late Scholar of Trinity College, 
Oxford, author of the " History of Greece," *< Mythology of the Aryan Nations," &c. 
1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

' The Thirty Tears* War, 1618-1648, By Samuel Bawson Gabdineb. 
1 vol. ICmo. Cloth. 91.00. 

The Houoes of Lancaster and York ; with the Conquest and Loss of France. 
By James Gaibdneb. 1 vol. 16mo. Cloth, f 1.00. 

Edward III. By the Rev. W. WAnEnBTow, M. A., late Fellow of AII-Souls College, 
Oxford ; her Majesty's Senior Inspector of Schools. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. Ql.OO. 

The Age of Elizabeth, By the Rev. M. Cbeiohton, M. A., Fellow of Mcrton 
College, Oxford. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

The Fall of the Stuarts ; and Western Europe from 1G78 to 1G97. By the Rev. 
EowABD Hale, M. A., Assistant Master at Eton. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

Tlie First Two Stuarts, and the Puritan Revolution, 1C03-1GGO. By Samuel 
Rawson Gabdineb, Lecturer on Modern History at King's College, London. 1 vol. 
IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

Ttie War of American Independence, "By John Malcolm Ludlow, Bnr- 
rister-at-Law, author of ** A Sketch of the History of the United States from Inde- 
pendence to Secession. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

The Early Plantagenets. By William Stubbs, M. A., Regius Professor of 
Modern History in the University of Oxford. 1vol. IGmo. Cloth. l^l.Wi. 

The Age of Anne, By Edwabd E. Mobbis, M. A., of Lincoln College, Oxford, 
&c. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

The Nonnans in Europe. By the Bev. A. H. Johnson, M. A., Historical Lec- 
turer to Trinity, St. John's, Pembroke, and Wodbam Colleges. 1 vol. ICmo. 
Cloth. $1.00. 

Frederick the Great and the Seven Tears* War, By F. W. Longman, 
of Balliol College, Oxford. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

The French Bevolutiont and the Wars that catne ofU. 1787-1815. 

By B. Meriton Cobdkbt, author of " King and Commonwealth." 1 vol. IGmo. 
Cloth. $1.00. 

The Beginning of the Middle Ages, Charles the Great and Alfred ; the His- 
tory of England in its Connection with that of Europe in the Ninth Century. By the 
Very Rev. R. W. Chubch,M. A., Dean of St. Paul's. 1vol. ICmo. Cloth. §1.00. 

The Early Times of Modern Europe to the Beginning of the Middle Ages. 
By R. W. CHUfiCH, M. A., D. C. L., Dean of St. Paul's. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 


301 Washington Street, Boston. 

Epochs of Ancient History. A Series of Books narrating the 

Historv of (ircofo antl Rome, nnd of their relatione to other countrici', lit Successive Epochs 

EilitO(( l)y the llev. G. W. Cox, M. A., antlior of " tlie Aryan iIytholo;:y ; " ami jointly hy 

CllAKLES SANKEir, M. A., lato Scholar of Queen's Collejre, Oxforil; Assistant Master, lilarl- 

borou^'h CoUenre. Uniform with " Epochs of Modern llistoiy." 
The Greeks and the Pemians. By the Rev. Geo. W. Cox. M. A., late Schoha- of Trinity 

Collp<;e, Oxford, Joint iditor of the Scries. With 1 colored Maps. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. 

The Enrly Empire. By the Rer. W. Wolfr Capes, M. A., Reader of Ancient Ilistoiy in 

the University of Oxford. With 2 colored Maps. 1 vol. 16mo. Cloth. jSl.OO. 
£nrly Rome, from the Foundation of the City to its Destruction by the Gauls 

l)v WiLTiKLM iiiNE, autlior of "Ilistory of Rome." With 1 colored Map. 1vol. IGnio. 

cloth. #1.00. 

The Athenian Empire, firom the Flight of Xerxes to the Fall of Athens. Bv the 

Rev. Ci. W. Cox, M. A., lato Scholar of Trinity College, Oxford, Joint Editor of the Scries. 

With 5 colored Maps. 1 vol. lOmo. Cloth. ^1.00. 
The Roman Triumvirates. By the Very Rev. CnARLES Mebrivale, D. D., Dean of Ely. 

With I colored Alap. 1 vol. 16mo. Cloth. $1.00. 
The Aee of the Antonines : or, the Roman Empire of the 2d Century. By th<: 

Rev. Wolfe Capes, M. A., Reader of Ancient Ilistory in the University of Oxford. With 

2 colored Maps. 1vol. 16mo. Cloth. ^l.OO. 

Macedonian Empire, its Rise and Culmination to the Death of Alexander the 
Great. By A. M. Curteis, M. A., Assistant Master, Sherborne School. With 8 coloi-cd 
Maps. 1vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

The Grarchi, Marins, and SuKa. Bv A. H. Beeslt, M. A., Assistant Master, Marl- 

borou-jh College. 1vol. IGmo. Cloth. "$1.00. 
Rome and Carthage, the Punic Wars. By R. Bosworth Smitu, M. A., Assistant 

Master, Ilan-ow School. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 
Spartan and Thcban Supremacy. By Charles Sanket, M. A., Lite Scholar of Queen's 

Col!e<rc, Oxford ; Assistant Z Jaster, Marlborough College ; Joint Editor of the Scries. 1 vol. 

16mo. Cloth. $1.00. 

EpocllS of English History . A Series of Books narrating the 

History of England at Successive Ei>ochs. Edited by the Rev. M. Cbeiohtox, M. A., late 

Fellow and Tutor of Mcrton College, Oxford. 
•^•The object of this Series is to supply an Elementary History of England, which shall be 
sound and ti-iistworthy as well as inexpensive. English History conveniently divides itself into 
eight Periods. By the adoption of this division a more intelligible and more interesting view of 
the course of English History may be obtained, while the advantage of cheapness will be secured 
by the separate sale of the several divisions. 

Early England up to the Norman Conquest. By Frederick York-Powell, M. A., 
Law Lecturer Cb. Ch. Oxford ; Historical Lecturer Triu. Coll. Oxford. With 4 Maps. 1 vol. 
16mo. 50 cts. 

England a Continental Power, from the Conquest to Magna Charta, 1066-1216. Br 
Louise Creiohton. With a Colored Map of the Dominions of the Angevin Kings. 1vol. 
16mo. Cloth. 60 cts. 

The Rise of the People, and Growth of Parliament, iVom the Gt-eat Charter to 
the Accession of Henry VII. (1215-1485.) By James Rowley, M. A., Pi-ofessor of 
Modern History and Literature, University College.'Bristol. With 4 Maps. 1 vol. IGmo. 
Cloth. 50 cts. 

The Tudors and the Reformation. (1485-1603.) By the Rev. Mandell Creiohtox, 

M. A., late Fellow and Tutor of Merton College, Oxford; Editor of the Series. With 3 

Maps. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. 50 cts. 
The Struggle against Absolute Monarchy, from 1003 to 1688. By B. Meriton 

CoRDEur, author of " King and Commonwealth." With 2 Maps. 1 vol. IGmo. Cloth. 

60 cts. 

The Settlement of the Constitution from 1688 to 1T78. By James Rowlet, M. A., 
Professor of Modern History and Litci-ature, University College, Bristol. 1 vol. lOmo. 
Cloth. 50 cts. 

England during the American and European Wars, from VVt% to 1820. By 

O. W. Tancock, M. a.. Assistant Master, King's ochool, Sherborne, Dorset. 1 vol. 16mo. 
Cloth. 60 cts. 

Modern England from 1820 to 1875. By T. Arnold, M. A., author of " A History of 
English Literature," &c. 1 ToL 16mo. Cloth. 60 cu. 

301 Washington Street, Boston. 

Natural History and Science. 

Packard's Guide to the Study of Insects. Being a Popular 

Introduction to tlio Study of Entomology, and a Treatise on Ii\jariou8 and Beneficial 
Insects ; witli Descriptions and Accounts of the Habits of Insects, tlicir Transforma* 
tions, Development, and Classification. 15 fUll>page Plates, and C70 Cats in the Text, 
embracing 12C0 Figures of American Insects. Sixth edition. 1 vol. 8to. 95.00. 

Half-Hours with Insects . A Popular Account '^f their Habits, 

Modes of Life, &c. ; wliicli are Beneficial, and which are It^nrious to Vegetation. 
By A. S. Packard, Jr., of the Peabody Academy of Science. The subjects treated 
of arc: Insects of the Garden; Relations of Insects to Man; Insects of tlie Plant- 
House ; Edible Insects ; Insects of the Pond and Stream ; The Population of an 
Apple-Tree ; Insects of the Field ; Inscctf of the Forest ; Insects as Mimics ; Insects 
as Architects ; Social Life of Insects, and Mental Powers of Insects. 260 woodcut 
illustrations, and 392 pages. 1 vol. Crown 8vo. Cloth, $2.50. 

Say's Entomology. A Description of the Insects of North 

America. By TnosiAS Sat. With 54 full-page stecl-plate Illustrations, engraved 
and colored from nature. Edited by J. L. Lb Comtb. With a Memoir by Geobos 
Obd. 2 vols. 8vo. Cloth, ^16.00; half calf, $20.00. 

Our Common Insects. A Popular Account of the more com- 
mon Insects of our Country, embracing Chapters on Bees and their Parasites, Moths, 
Flics, Mosquito % Beetles, &c. ; while a Calendar will give a general account of the 
more common Ii^jurious and Beneficial Insects, and their Time of Appearance, Habits, 
&c. 200 pp. New Edition. ProAisely Illustrated. 1vol. 12 mo. Cloth. ^1.50. 

A Hand-Book of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, and Herbaceous 

Plants. Containing Descriptions, Native Countries, ftc., of the best secies in culti- 
vation; together with cultural details, comparative hardiness, suitability for particular 
positions, &c., based on the French work of Decaisnb and Nacdin, of the Institute 
of France. By W. B. IIemslet ; with an Introduction by Edwabd S. Band, Jb. 
800 fine Illastrations. 1vol. 8vo. 700 pp. $7.50. 

North American Syiva; o r, A L ^iption of the Forest Trees 

of the United States', Canada, and Nova Scotio. Containing all the Trees discovered 
in the Rocky Mountains, in Oregon, down to the shores of the Pacific, and into the 
confines of California, as well as in various parts of the United States. Considered 
with respect to their use in the Arts and their introduction into Commerce. By F. 
Andrew Michaux and Thomas Ndttall. Illustrated with 227 beautifully colored 
PlAtes. Five vols. Half morocco, gilt edge. Price, $75.00. 

Strutt's Syiva Britannica and Scotica; or. Portraits of Forest 

Trees distinguished for their Antiquity, Magnitude, or Beauty. Drawn from Nature, 
and Etched by Jacob Gkobgf Stisutt. Imperial iblio, comt- .sing 50 very large and 
highly finished Etchings. Half bourd, morocco, extra, gilt edges. $45.00. 

The Naturalist's Guide, in Collecting and Preserving Objects 

' of iiatural History, with a complete catalogue of the Birds of Eastern Massachu- 
setts. By C. J. Matnabd. With illustrations by E. L. Weeks. 1 vol. 12rao. 
Cloth, $2.00. 

301 Washington Street Boston, 

Field Ornithology. A Manual of Instruction on Collecting, 

Prcpnrinjj, nnd l^rcscrrinff Birds. By Elliott Conis. With which ia issued a Check 
List of North American Birds. 1 vol. 8vo. 92.50. 

Key to North American Birds. By Elliott Coues, M. D. 

3«1» imptTial octavo pa^es. Illustrated by 6 Steel Plates and 238 Wood Cuts. A 
Manual or Text-Book of the Birds of North America ; containing a Synopsis of Living 
and Fossil Birds, and Descriptions of every North American Species known to tliis 
Time. Price, $7.00. 

Tylor (E. B.). Primitive Culture . Researches into the De- 
velopment of Mytliology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom. 2 vols. $7.00. 

Birds of the North-West. A Hand-book of American Orni- 
thology, containing accounts of all the Birds inhabiting the great Missouri Valloy, 
and many others, together representing a largo majority of the Birds of North Amer- 
ica ; with copious Biographical Details from Personal Observation, and an extensive 
Synonymy. By Elliott Coces, Captain and Assistant Surgeon U. S. Army, Secre- 
tary U. S. Geological Survey, Member of the National Academy of Sciences, &c., 
author of "Key to North American Birds," "Field Ornithology," &c. 1 vol. 8vo. 
Cloth. <^4.60. 

Tylor (E. B.). The Early History of Mankind, and Develop- 
ment of Civilization. By I .i>ward B. Ttlor, author of "Primitive Cul- 
ture," " Mexico and the Mexicans," &c. 1vol. 8vo. $3.60. 

The Unity of Natural Phenomena. An Introduction to the 

Study of the Forces of Nature. Being a popular Explanation of the Latest Discov- 
eries' in the Domain of Natural Science, including the Correlation of Forces, Mode 
of Motion, Force of Gravity, nnd Mutual Convertibility of the Forces of Nature. 
From the French of Emilb Saioet. With Notes and an Introduction by Prof. T. 
Moses, of Urbana University. 1 toL Crown 8vo. <^1.60. 

What Young People should Know. Being the Anatomy, 

Physiology, and Hygiene of the Human ReproductiTe Organs. 
Wildee, of Cornell University. 12mo. $1.60. 

By Prof. BcRT G. 

*«* A carcftil and straightforward essay upon this important ^abject, by this distin- 
guished naturalist, and one which is sure to attract great attention. 

Spectrum Analysis Explained . An explanation of this won- 
derful discovery, and its uses to science, including the received Theory of Sound, 
Iloat, Light, and Color; with chapters on the Sun, Stars, Nebulae, Comets, and Mete- 
oric Siiowcrp. Abridged f^om the works of Schellen, Roscoe, Huggins, Lockyer, 
Young, and othet s, by the editor of " Half-Hour llccreations in Popular Science." 
12nio. Cloth. With 2 Colored Plates and 20 Illustrations. 9I.6O. 

Land and Game. The Land and Game Birds of New England. 

With Descriptions of the Birds, their Nests and Eggs, their Habits and Notes. An 
entirely new and accurate work, which no sportsman or collector can afford to be 
wUhout. 1 Tol. 8vo. Cloth, ^.00. 

301 Washington Street^ Boston. 

Half-Hour Recreations in Popfilar Science. Edited by 

Dana Estks. 25 cents per part; #2.60 for 12 coniecntive Parts. 

*,* The growing demand, in thia country, for boolcs on po].jular acience, encouraged 
t)to editor and publisliers to issue this series of papers, compiled firom the worlu of tlie 
most popular scientific writers. 

No. I. Strange Discoveries respeoting the Aurora and recent Solar 
Researches. By Richard A. Proctor, F. R. A. S. 

a. Cranial Afflnities of Man and the Ape. By Prof. Rudolph 
ViRCHOW, of Berlin, author of "Cellular Pathology." Fully 

3. Spectrum Analysis Explained, and its Uses to Science Illustrated. 

With a Colored Plate and several Wood Cuts. 

4. Spectrum Analysis Discoveries, showing its application in Mi- 

croscopical Research, and to Discoveries of the Physical Con- 
stitution and Movements of tlie Heavenly Bodies. From the 
works of Schellen, Young, Roscoe« Lockyer, Huggins, and 

5. Nebulas, Meteoric Showers, and Cometa. 

6. Unconscious Action of the Brain, and Epidemic Delusions. By 

Dr. Carpbntbr, author of the ** Microscope and its Revela- 
tions," *' Human Physiology," &c. 

7. Geology of the Stars. By Prof. A. Winchbll, of the University 

of Michigan, author of ** Sketches of Creation." 

8. On Yeast. By Prof. Huxley, F. R. S. 

9. The Stone Age, Past and Present. By Edward B. Tylor, 

author of " Primitive Culture." 

10. Origin of Metalliferous Deposits. By Prof. T. Stbrry Hunt. 

11. Coal as a Reservoir of Power, by Robert Hunt; and Atoms, 

by Prof. Clifford. 

la. The Circulation of the Waters on the Face of the Earth. By 
Prof. H. W. Dove. 

The above 19 numbers, with Index, bomtd in 1 rolnme, crown 8to., cloth. #9.0O> 

301 Washington Struts Boston. 

Half-Hour Recreations In Popular Science. 2d Vol. 12 

Porta, 25 eta. each. Twelve Consecutive Numbers, making a Complete Volume, will 
be sent, postpaid, as issued, on receipt of 92.S0. We annex a list of some of the 
papers which will appear in Vol. II. of the series : — 

The Transmission of Sound by the Atmosphere. B7 John Tyndall, 

p. R. 8. Qigantio Cuttle'Fish. By W. Savillh Kent, p. L. S., of the 

Natural History Department of the British Museum. 

The Glacial Epoch of our Globe. By Alfx. Bracn. 

The Sun and the Earth. By Prof. Balfoub Stewart, p. r. s. 
Brain and Mind. By Prof. Buur G. Wilder, of Cornell University, author of 
" What Young People Slwuid Know." 

The Ice Age in Britain. By Prof. A. Geikib, p. r. s. Causes of the 

Degeneracy of the Teeth. By Prof. Henrt s. Chase. The Great 

Pyramid of Egypt. — Photography. 

Plant Life in the Sea. By L. Knt. — The Illumination of Beacons and 

Half-Hour Recreations In Natural History. These are issued 

in the same elegant form that has made "Recreations in Popular Science" so 
attractive, and consist of several volumes. Each volume contains 12 parts, of about 
86 pages, and are elegantly illustrated. Price, 25 cents per part. 

Vol. I. Half-Hours Wlt.h Insects. By a. S. Packard, Jr., the dis- 
tinguished Entomologist. The 12 parts of this volume will be sent postpaid, u 
issued, on receipt of 92.60 in advance. And will be issued as follows : — ■ 

I. Insects of the Garden, their Habits, &c. 







3. Relation of Insects to Man. 

4. insects of the Plant and House. 

5. insects of the Pond and Stream. 

6. Population of an Apple Tree. 

7. Insects of the Field. 

8. insects of the Forest. 

9. insects as Mimics. 

10. insects as Architects. 

1 1. The Social Life of Insects. 

12. The intellectual Powers of insects. 


301 Washington Street, Boston, 

Historical Biography, Ac. 

Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices of England. Illus. 

tratcd with Views of Westminster Hall, and Portraits of tlio Justices. A new edition, 
printed on fine tinted paper, and bound in bevel boards. 

Cloth, lettered, 4 Tols.,ltTO 114.00 

Law shpop, •• •' 18.00 

Hair c«ir, marbled edges, 4 toU., 8to. 24.00 

New edition, cloth, 4 vols.. 12nio 8.00 

*«* " The brilliant snccrss of this work is by no means greater than its merits. It Is 
certainly the most brilliant rontribution to English history made within our recollec- 
tion." -*JVe«» York Tribunt. 

Memories of Westminster Hall. A Collection of Interesting 

Incidents, Anecdotes, and Historical Sketches, relating to Westminster Hall, its 
famous Judges and Lawyers, and its Great Trials. With an Historical Introduction 
by Edward Foss, F. B. S., author of the "Lives of the Judges of England," &c. 
Handsomely Illustrated. Superbly printed on tinted paper, and elegantly bound witli 
bevelled boards, uniform with the 8vo. edition of Campbell's Chief Justices. S vols. 
8vo. S7.00. 

Adventures of an Attorney in Search of Practice. By Sir Geo. 

Stephen. Crown 8vo. $2.25. An amusing account of the mishaps, adventures, 
and difficulties experienced by a young attorney who made his way in the world. 

Campbells Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of 

the Great Seal of England. From the Earliest Times till the Reign of Victoria, 
including the Lives of Lords Lyndhurst and Qrougham. Laid paper. Fully Illus- 
trated. Bound uniform with the 8vo. edition of the Lord Chief Justices. By the 
same author. 

€loth, bevelled, 10 vol $35.00 

Law sheep, •* •• 45.00 

Half calf, extra. 60.00 

Famous Cases of Circumstantial Evidence. With an Intro- 
duction on the Theory of Presumptive Proof. By S. M. Phillips, author of *' Phil- 
lips on Evidence." Second edition, revised and greatiy enlarged. 1 volume. 8vo. 
Cloth, 93.00 ; Sheep, $4.60. 

Erslcine*S Speeches. The Speeches of Lord Erskine, while at 

the Bar. Reprinted fi-om the 5-volume 8vo. edition of 1810. With a Memoir and 
Notes. By Edwabd Walfobd, M. A. 2 vols. 8vo. Portrait. Cloth. $7.50. 

*«* " This edition contains many speeches never before collected together, and is the 
most complete yet published." 

IVIemoir of Thomas, First Lord Penman, formerly Lord Chief 

Justice of England. By Sir Joseph Arnould, late Judge of the Hii^h Court of 

Bombay. Published uniform with Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices, and mak. 

Ing volumes five and six of the Series. 

S volames, 8vo tinted paper, eloth, bevelled. f7.00 

•* " '* sheep 9.00 

m H i* lujf Mif , , , J2JI0 

301 Washington Street, Boston, 


Shaw's Tourist's Picturesque Guide to Great Britain and 

Irciund. Pri'parcd expreisly for the Uae of Atnurican Trarcllcri. It contain! 06 
Colored Flatei, and a large number of Engravings, New Mapa, &o. 16ino. Clotli, 
gilt, tuck. ii.iQ. 

Our Vacations, and How to Enjoy Them. Being an Account 

of the Cheapest and Best Method of spending a few weeks ai t)ie White Mcuntains, 
tiie Seasltore, the Canndas, and other popular resorts. It is written to assist those 
who desire to get the largest possible amount of recreation and ei\joymcnt for the 
smallest amount of money. IGmo. Cloth. $1.00. 

Chimes for Childhood. A Collection of Songs for Little Folks. 

with 20 Illustrations by Birkbt Fostbb, Millaii, and otliers. Tinted paper. 208 
pp. Clotli, 76 cts. ; half bound, 60 cts. 

Victor Hugo's Rhine, nmo. Cloth. Bevelled. Tinted paper. 

*«* « When Victor Hugo is gone, such another star will not soon arise in the horiion 
of literature to fill his place." — New York Tribune. 
*' It is a charming book, l\ill of life and spirit." —Boston Transcript. 

Illustrated Flying Sheets , for Old and Young. An entirely new 

series of these artistic pictures, from the pencils of distinguished German artists. 
Royal folio. Illuminated board covers, $1.25 ; do. do., with colored plates, $2.00. 

The Knightly Heart, and other Poems. By James Freeman 

CoLBMAM. Crown 8vo. Fine laid paper, red edges. $2.00. 

The Garland of the Year. The Months, their Poetry and 

Flowers. With 12 beautiful Chromographs of Flowers, and Poetical Selections from 
Standard English Poets. Small quarto. Bevelled, and gilt extra, $2.60; morocco, 
and gilt extra, $5.00. 

Estes & Laurlat*s Globe Library has lately been published in 

new uniform style, 12mo, green cloth, black and gilt covers, and strongly sewed backs. 

*«* Tlie British Quarterly Review says : *' In compendiousness, elegance, and schol- 
arliness, the Globe Editions of Messrs. Estes & Lauriat surpass any popular series of 
our classics hitherto given to the public. They are wonderfUUy beautifUl and distinct, 
and OS near an approach to miniature perfection as has ever been made." 

8hak€8peare*8 Complete Workf. Edited by W. O. Ci.abk, M. A., and W. A. 

Wrigut, M. a., with Glossary. $1.75. Half calf, $8.50. 

Complete Workn of Hobert Bums, The Poems, Songs, and lA>ttcr8. Edited 
I'rum tlie best Manuscript Authorities. With Glossarial Index, Notes, and a Biograph- 
ical Iklenioir, by Alex. Smith. $1.75. Half call, $3.50. 

The Works of Horace, rendered into English Prose. With Notes, and Index. B« 
J. L0N8DALB, M. A., and Sahdbl Leb, M. A. $1.75. Half calf, $3.50. 

301 Washington St net, Bost