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Full text of "The mammals of the Adirondack region, northeastern New York : with an introductory chapter treating of the location and boundaries of the region, its geological history, topography, climate, general features, botany, and faunal position"

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Published by tlic Autlior, September, iSSj.. 

(Reprinted from Yols. I & II, Transactions Linnaian Society, Now York.) 




This book is a verbatim reprint of the first and second instal- 
ments of my work upon " The Vertebrates of the Adirondack 
Region, Northeastern New York," which was published in Vols. I 
and II of the Transactions of the Linnrean Society of New York. 
Pages 9-107 (comprising the first instalment) appeared in Vol. I, 
separate^ issued in October, 1882. The paging is unchanged. 
Pages 108-312 (comprising the second instalment and concluding 
the mammalia) appeared in Vol. II, which was issued in August, 
1884. The paging has here been altered "to conform to that of the 
first instalment, of which it is a direct continuation. 

Most of the biographies were written during or previous to the 
year 1882, and were read at different times before the Linnsean 
Society of New York. Pages 107-240 received supplemental 
matter at the time of going to press, the additional material having 
been acquired after the biographies had been read before the 
Society. Pages 240-312 were not so augmented, excepting in the 
article on the Muskrat, for the reason that this portion of the work 
had already exceeded its intended limits. 

Since the first instalment was issued much additional matter per- 
taining to the species there treated has been gathered ; and even 
while the second instalment has been passing through the press 
many facts of importance have come into the author's possession. 

It will be observed that the second chapter opens with the state- 
ment : "In the following pages forty-two species of mammals are 

enumerated," while as a matter of fact forty-six are given as at 
present inhabiting the region. This discrepancy is due to the long 
interval (nearly two years) between the publication of the first and 
second instalments the presence of the additional species having 
been ascertained during this period. 

On page 25, after mentioning some of the birds characteristic of 
the Canadian Fauna, I ventured to predict that the Hudsonian Tit 
(Panes Hudsonicus) would also be found nesting in the Adiron- 
clacks. Since the above was published I have found this species 
breeding in a large balsam and tamarack swamp between Big 
Moose Lake and Lake Terror, and, more sparingly, in a few other 

This work consists, in the first place, of a general account of the 
prominent features of the region ; and secondly, of a popular narra- 
tive of the habits of the animals found within its confines. It is 
in no sense a technical treatise, and technical matter will but rarely 
be found in its pages. 

In conclusion, it is proper to say that although I have been able 
to correct some statements of others, and have added to the 
general fund of knowledge many previously unrecorded facts re- 
specting the habits of mammals ; still, I am deeply conscious that 
the most complete biography herein contained can be regarded 
only as a very imperfect contribution to the life history of the 
species of which it treats. 


September 3, 1884. 





Geology ; Soil. 


Character of Mountains ; Altitudes ; Black River side ; Champlain side ; Natural Avenue from 
New York to the St. Lawrence, below Montreal ; Characteristic Birds of the mountains 
and valley about Lake George. 


Snow ; Temperature ; Relation between Temperature and Altitude ; Sudden Changes of Tem- 
perature ; Rain-fall ; Humidity, and its Influence upon Vegetation. 


Marsh Plants upon High Mountains ; Peculiarities of Valleys : of Mountains ; Windfalls ; De- 
vastating Fires ; A Walk through the Forest ; Winter; Autumn ; Mixed Flocks. 


Forest Trees ; Undershrubs ; Smaller Flowering Plants and Herbs ; Mosses ; Lichens. 


As Illustrated by the Mammals ; Birds ; Lepidoptera, and Plants. 

2 'S 8 1 G 



Panther (/ '<//. 
Lynx (I.\'ii.\ CanaJ,'iisis\ . . 

l!ay Lynx (/.vii.v riiftts} ... 
Wolf (Cam's lupus) . . 
Fox ( Vitlpcs -,'ulgaris Pcnusvli'aiiicii*) 
Wolverine ((/'/< luscns) ... 
Fisher (Mustclii J\-iuiiiiifi) .. 
Marten (.}fns/,'/a Americana) .. 
Least Weasel (rittoritts i'iil : ^aris} 
Ermine (Pittiwiits cn/iinca) ... 
Mink (Putoriits risou] ... 
Skunk (Mephitis incpliitiia} ... 
Otter (Lit frit Canadensis) .. 

Raccoon (/'/<'< TI>// /<>/<>;) ... 
Black Bear (C/rsus Americanus) . 
Harbor Seal (P/iocn -,'itiilina} .. 
Virginia Deer (Ciirnu-its Virginianus). 
Moose (.//(-< Aincricaints} ... 
Elk or Wapiti (Ccri'iis Canadensis) . 
Fossil Horse (Eyuits inaj^i-} .. 

Fossil Elephant (ILlcphas Americamis) 
Star- nosed Mole ( CcuJylura cristata) . 
Shrew Mole (S('a/t>/>s aquaticus) . 
Brewer's Mole (Stapaims Americanus) 
Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brcricatida'] 
Cooper's Shrew (Sorcx Cooperf) .. 
Broad-nosed Shrew (Sorex platyrhinus} 
Hoary Bat (Atalapha cinc;\-ti) .. 
Red Bat {Atalapha Novcboracensis) . 
Dusky Bat ( Vcspcrttgo savtimts fiiscus} 

Silver-haired Bat 


Little Brown Bat ( l r cspcrtilio sitlnt latiis) . 
Flying Squirrel (Sciuropterus Tolualla) .. 
Northern Flying S(|iurre! (Sciuropterus rolucclla 
Red Squirrel (Sciitnis Hudsonius) ... 
Gray Squirrel (Sci tints Cti/vlincnsis Iciicotis) 
Fox Squirrel (Scitin/s nigcr cinereus) .. 
Ground Squirrel ( Tainias sfriafus) .. 
Woodchuck (Arctomys monax) ... 
American Beaver (Castor fiber d.inaJcnsis') . 
Rat (A/us decumanus) ..... 
House Mouse (Mus musculus) ... 
White-footed Mouse (Ilt-spciv/nvs /i-iicopns) 
Red-backed Mouse (Evolomys nililits Gnfpt-ri) 
Meadow Mouse (Arvifohi riparius) ... 
Muskrat (Fiber zibcthicns} .... 
Jumping Mouse (Zap us Hudsonius^ .. 

Canada Porcupine (Etvl/tizon tfi>r.ttitus) . 
Great Northern Hare (Lcpus Americanus) 
Southern Varying Hare (Lepns Americanus I'ir 
Gray Rabbit (Lcpiis sylvaticus) ... 






























TTrN general terms the Adirondack Wilderness may be said to em- 
iJi brace that portion of New York State lying to the north of 
the Mohawk Valley, and included between Lake Champlain on the 
east and the valley of the Black River on the west. These limits, 
however, include much territory not properly belonging to the 
region under consideration, for its boundaries are more or less 
irregular, and in many places fall short of the limits above defined. 
The Adirondacks proper, or the area to which the subject-matter of 
this paper is restricted, can be stated, with sufficient exactness, to 
lie between parallels 43 i 5' and 44- 46' north latitude, hence meas- 
uring about an hundred and twenty miles ( 1 93, i 2 i metres) in a north 
and south direction. 

The transverse diameter of the region is approximately of equal 
extent. A large area on its western border is well known by the 
name of " Brown's Tract," and the whole territory is frequently 
spoken of as the " North Woods." It covers more or less exten- 
sive portions of twelve counties, namely : St. Lawrence, Franklin, 
Clinton, Lewis, Herkimer, Hamilton, Essex, Warren, Oneida, Ful- 
ton, Saratoga, and Washington. 


From a geological stand-point, the Adirondacks are interesting as 
constituting one of the few islands that rose above the level of 


the mighty Continental sea, previous to Paleozoic time. Its stern 
Archaean shores were washed by the waves of countless ages before 
the undermost strata of the Lower Silurian were deposited upon 
them, entombing and preserving many of the Trilobites, Brachio- 
pods, and other curious inhabitants of that vast ocean. This Lower 
Silurian zone marked the shore line, so to speak, of the ancient 
island, and consists of Potsdam sandstone and the lime rocks of 
the Trenton period. Though broken and interrupted, enough of 
it still remains to afford us tantalizing glimpses of the life of the 
time, torn pages of fragmentary chapters that constitute but a half- 
told story to excite our imagination and regret. 

The old Archaean centre, which we call the Adirondacks, is made 
up mainly of gneiss, and includes areas of syenite, hypersthenite, 
granite, iron ore, and other metamorphic rocks. The soil, therefore, 
except that resulting from decomposed vegetation, is largely sili- 
cious sand. 


The topography of the region is diversified, and in some respects 
peculiar. The mountains and short ranges of high hills have no 
regular trend, and conform to no definite axis. They are in no 
sense a chain of mountains, and have no backbone at all ; but, on 
the contrary, consist of more or less irregular groups, isolated 
peaks, short ranges, and " hog-backs," scattered over the entire 
area the highest to the eastward. They slope in all possible direc- 
tions, according to the position and courses of the valleys and river 
beds adjacent. Like the grand old Lawrentian Hills of Canada, 
and other Archaean mountains, they are bold and rugged, with 
well-defined and often much broken outlines. Nearly thirty peaks 
exceed four thousand feet (1,219.20 metres) in height, several are 
about five thousand (1,524 metres), and one, Mt. Marcy, attains an 


altitude of five thousand three hundred and forty-four feet (1,628.- 
85 1 metres).* 

The entire region is studded with hundreds of beautiful lakes of va- 
rious sizes and depths, and two of them are upwards of four thousand 
feet above tide level. The altitude of the western border of this area 
is nowhere less than one thousand feet (304.80 metres), and in most 
places is considerably more than this. From the valley of the Black 
River the slope is gradual, and the flattened summits of the first 
range of foot-hills form a terrace of great extent. The dense forests 
that formerly covered this terrace have mostly been destroyed, and 
it is now a sandy, barren region, overrun with blackberries and 
other rank undergrowth. Beyond, to the eastward, lie the ranges 
of low hills and irregularly distributed mountains, with their many 
lakes and rivers, that indicate the confines of the Adirondacks. 

On the eastward the case is very different. Lake Champlain is not 
an hundred feet f (30.48 metres) above tide-level, and Lake George is 
but three hundred and forty-three feet (104.546 metres). From the 
head (south end) of Lake George to Glen's Falls, a distance of but 
nine miles (14,484 metres), there is a fall of sixty-one feet (18.69 
metres). Glen's Falls, it will be remembered, is directly on the 
Hudson, just east of Luzerne. Hence it is clear that one can travel 
from New York city to Montreal on the St. Lawrence River, and 
by a very direct roacl, too, without passing over any elevation greater 
than the shore of Lake George. The route would be : up the Hud- 
son to Glen's Falls, thence overland nine miles to Fort William 
Henry on Lake George, or down the valley to Whitehall, and 
thence, skirting the Adirondacks, down Lake Champlain and its 
outlet, the river Richelieu, to Sorel on the St. Lawrence, at the 
head of Lake St. Peter about forty miles below Montreal. This 
is, indeed, the exact pathway traversed, but little more than two 

* Report of Adirondack Survey, Verplanck Colvin, Superintendent, iSSo. 
f Exactly 99 feet. 


centuries ago, by the fierce war parties of the merciless Iroquois, as 
they journeyed with a fleet of birch-bark canoes, from their wig- 
wams on the Mohawk, to harass and imperil the three exposed col- 
onies of New France Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec 
already crippled and disheartened by early struggles with the Hu- 
rons and Algonquins. It is well to bear these facts in mind, lest, 
by forgetting that modern civilization has overcome so many bar- 
riers and established so many channels of communication between 
different regions, we lose sight of the great natural avenues that 
were known so well to the aborigines, and to our forefathers. This 
narrow valley, penetrating the primeval forests of the north, and 
walled in by the Adirondacks on the west, and the Green Mountains 
of Vermont on the east, exerts a powerful influence over the life of 
adjoining lands, carrying southern forms into the heart of a great 
northern wilderness. Along the opposite border of the Adiron- 
dacks we have seen that the mountains and foot-hills slope gradually 
to the westward till they disappear in the valley of the Black River. 
Here, on the contrary, lofty rugged mountains rise, some from 
the very water's edge, and many of the highest peaks of the entire 
region lie within a few miles from the shores of Lakes George and 
Champlain. Among these mountains breed such northern birds as 
the Hermit and Olive-backed Thrushes, the Red-bellied Nuthatch, 
the Winter Wren, the Yellow- rumped, Blackburnian, Black and 
Yellow, Mourning, and Canada Fly-catching Warblers, both Cross- 
bills, the White-throated Sparrow, the Raven, the Canada Jay, both 
Three toed Woodpeckers, and the Spruce Grouse ; while in the 
valley below may be found the Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, 
House Wren, Large-billed Water Thrush, Field Sparrow, Chewink, 
Mourning Dove and other species supposed to pertain to the Alle- 
ghanian Fauna, through much more characteristic of the Carolinian. 
Nowhere, except in the Catskills, do representatives from the Cana- 
dian and Carolinian Faunae so nearly meet as upon the mountain 
sides bordering the southwestern part of Lake George. 




The climate of the Adirondack Wilderness varies greatly with the 
season. Snow covers the ground from some time in November till 


the middle or latter part of April, and in mid -winter averages over 
four feet in depth on the level. During this period the mercury 
often falls below - 25 Fahr. (--32 C.), and more than once it 
has been frozen ( 40 F. and C.) In summer the days are warm 
and the nights cool. Owino- to the altitude of the region its mean 

o o o 

annual temperature falls considerably below that of the surrounding 
country. Guyot says : " On an average an increase of three hundred 
and thirty feet oi altitude diminishes the temperature one degree 
Fahrenheit; hence the rate of diminution is about three degrees to 


every thousand feet." Therefore the temperature at the summit of 
Mt. Marcy should average sixteen degrees Fahrenheit below that of 
tide-level in the same latitude. Mr. Verplanck Colvin found, from 
observations made at three sets of localities, in 1876, that the mean 
decrease in temperature per each thousand feet increase in altitude, 
in this region was 2.93 Fahr. in August, 4.1 1 F. in September, and 
4.62 F. in November.* On this basis the mean temperature of that 
portion of the Adirondacks having an altitude of four thousand feet 
(1,219.20 metres) would average below that of New York city during 
the same time, 11.72 F. in August, 16.44 F- m September, and 
18.08 F. in November, if in the same latitude. 

There are probably few places on this continent that are subject to 
greater or more sudden changes of temperature than this area. Vari- 
ations of forty, fifty, and sixty degrees Fahrenheit, during the twenty- 
four hours, are by no means uncommon; and I have seen the mercury 
fall over seventy degrees Fahrenheit in fifteen hours in winter. My 
journal records a rise of 42 in six hours, of 32 in five hours, and of 
12 in one hour; a fall of 38 in thirteen hours, and one of 20 in four 
hours. These great and rapid changes usually occur in winter clur- 

* Report of Adirondack Survey, Verplanck Colvin, Superintendent, 1880, pp. 324-6. 


ing January, February, and March. Notwithstanding these facts, 
diseases of the lungs are rare among the inhabitants, and even the 
severe winters have proved of benefit to those consumptives that have 
remained here throughout the entire year. 

The mean annual rain-fall exceeds that of most portions of the 
State, and is estimated by Mr. Colvin, from the available data, to be 
46.18 inches (1,149 mm.) for the entire region. The mean annual rain- 
fall over the whole State is 41.94 inches (1,063 mm.).* 

There are two elements that tend to increase the humidity of this 
region : ist, its mountainous character, for mountains always act as 
condensers of moisture; and 2cl, its heavy covering of forests, for 
dense vegetation protects the underlying soil and rock from the direct 
action of the sun, and keeps the temperature lower thus favoring 
condensation and the precipitation of excess moisture. 

"A deciduous tree, during the season when in foliage, is constantly 
drawing from the earth and giving off from its leaves a considerable 
amount of moisture, and in some cases this amount is very great. 
This change of state, from a fluid to a gaseous condition, is a cooling 
process, and the air near the surface, being screened from the sun and 
from the winds, becomes by this means so humid, that a rank suc- 
culent vegetation often springs up and thrives, which in an open field 
would wither and perish in an hour."f 

Now it is well known that there is, in nature, no such thing as a 
perfectly dry atmosphere, for at all times, and in all places, it is laden 
with less or more aqueous vapor in a state of suspension. The higher 
the temperature the greater the capacity for carrying moisture, and 
consequently the more moisture required to produce saturation by 
which term we understand the maximum quantity of watery vapor 
that a definite amount of atmospheric air can contain at any given de- 
gree of temperature. No evaporation whatever can take place from any 
surface in a saturated atmosphere, and any cooling of such an atmos- 

* Meteorology of New York State, Second Series, F. B. Hough, 1872, p. ix. 
f Hough's Report on Forestry, 1878, p. 289. 


phere produces instant precipitation of the excess of moisture above 
the degree to which the temperature has been lowered. Therefore, 
the temperature and dew point being low in this great wilderness, and 
a large amount of moisture being given off, both from the dense 
forests themselves, and from the multitude of lakes and swamps scat- 
tered over its surface, the atmosphere is often saturated, and showers 
during the summer season are of frequent occurrence. The conforma- 
tion of the country, too, favors precipitation within its own borders, 
for a wind, from whatsoever direction blowing, could not easily 
convey the lower vapor-laden atmosphere away without coming 
in contact with some cool area or mountain side that would so lower 
its temperature as to cause instant precipitation. Clouds carried over 
the Adirondacks from a distance would, when sufficiently low, share 
the same fate, and disappear in showers over the foot-hills. 

And such is, in fact, the case; for a long residence overlooking a 
considerable portion of the western slope of the region has enabled 
me to observe repeatedly, not only occasional showers, but sometimes 
even whole days of more or less continuous rain there, when not a 
drop, or at most a slight shower, fell at the point of observation, only 
twelve or fifteen miles distant. 


We have found, then, that the atmospheric and general climatic 
conditions, over this area, favor the production of a luxuriance of 
vegetation; and, on the other hand, the conformation of the land and 
the density of the forests and undergrowth tend to lower the temper- 
ature and increase the humidity interacting causes whose effect 
upon florae and faunae has hardly received the attention it deserves. 

The deep beds of moss upon the mountain tops consist chiefly of 
species of Sphagnum and the " Shining Feather Moss ' (Hypnum 
splendens], over which runs, in various places, the pretty Creeping 
Snow-berry (Chiogenes hispidula) and the lovely twin bell-flowers 
of Linncea borcalis. Other still more characteristic marsh plants grow 


upon these elevated summits, for, in the language of our State Bota- 
nist, Mr. Charles H. Peck, " the frequent rains, the investing clouds, 
and the low temperature which retards evaporation, all conspire to 
produce that prevalence of moisture which imitates the condition of 
the marshes. "* On the open summit of Mt. Marcy (altitude 5,344 
feet, or 1,628 metres) Mr. Peck found Cassandra calycidata, Lcdum 
latifolium, Kalmia glauca, Habenaria dilatata, Vcratrum viride, Ca- 
rex irrigua, and Calamcigrostis Canadensis all swamp plants. There 
are no trees here to protect them from the sun, for they grow upon 
the open summit "above timber line " which is about 4,800-4,900 feet 
(1,463.04-1,493.52 metres) above tide-level. 

Many of the valleys are occupied by extensive balsam and tama- 
rack swamps, which are always carpeted with dense mats of wet 
Sphagnum, into which one sinks half a foot or more and yet rarely 
leaves a trail so perfectly does the spongy mass resume its former 
shape. These places are the homes of the Spruce Grouse or Canada 
Partridge, the Blue Yellow-backed Warbler that builds its pensile 
nest of the gray tamarack lichen (Usnea),\he Canada Fly-catching 
Warbler, and several other species. 

Most of the mountains are covered with a tolerably dense growth 
of coniferous trees, but there are quite a number whose summits have 
been laid bare by tornadoes. These devastating winds every now 
and then uncover a mountain so effectually that not only the trees and 
undershrubs, but even the soil itself, and all life upon it, are hurled 
together into the valley below forming vast and lasting " windfalls " 
to bar the path of inquisitive man. 

Fire, also, too frequently overruns and lays waste tracts of large 
extent, that, for years afterwards, constitute marked features in the 
make-up of the country, and exert a decided influence upon the 
minor local distribution of life over its surface. The charred stubs 
of the larger trees long remain as favorite haunts for several species 

* Report of Adirondack Survey, Albany, iSSo, pp. 405-6. 


of Woodpeckers, while the dense growth of blackberry and rasp- 
berry bushes, dotted over with the large showy flowers of the Willow 
Herb (Epilobinm angustifoliurn), is well known to the ornithologist 
as the summer home of the Mourning Warbler. 

Here is a sparkling trout stream, perhaps the outlet of a mountain 
lake ; let us follow its winding course through yonder thicket of 
alders. Working our way through the tangled bushes we soon 

O J C5 <_5 

emerge into the open grassy bottom of one of the most beauti- 
ful and interesting of nature's many adornments a Beaver meadow. 
Here, less than a century ago, might have been heard the splash and 
seen the hut of the sagacious Beaver. But, like the Moose that once 
roamed these mighty forests, they have, excepting a few isolated 
individuals, been exterminated or driven beyond our borders, till 
now these green meadows, with occasionally the buried ruin of an 
ancient dam, are about all that remain to remind us of the former 
existence here of one of the most curious, interesting, and typical of 
North American mammals. 

The dam has long since disappeared, and as it gave way the pond 
again became a narrow stream, spreading its way through the broad 
muddy bottom, now verdant with marsh grasses that spring from a 
thick bed of elastic Sphagnum. Upon this moist level now stand 
scattered clumps of feathery tamaracks ; and here and there over 
the uniform light green of the meadow rise, in marked contrast, the 
odd-looking Blue Gentians and the bright scarlet Cardinal Flowers. 
These are favorite haunts of the Canada Jay and, in the autumn, of 
immense flocks of Robins that come to feed upon the handsome ber- 
ries of the mountain ash trees that always skirt the open places, 
easing the stiff edge of the bordering forest. Here, too, may 
be heard the quick snap of the Wood Pewee, as he gobbles 
up some passing insect, and the characteristic note of his congener, 
the Olive-sided Flycatcher, who is perched upon the topmost 
branch of yonder hemlock. Should you possess the keen eye and 
stealthy tread of the experienced hunter, you may surprise a red 


deer quietly feeding in supposed security, and may rest assured that 
a nice bit of fresh venison steak will in no way interfere with your 


Crossing from the Beaver meadow to the nearest lake, we find its 


shores steep and rocky, with a dense border of dark cedars overhanging 
the water which is of considerable depth, even close to the shore. 
A little farther along, the steep rocks are replaced by a more sloping 
bank, covered with stones of various sizes, and spruce and hem- 
locks, mingled, perhaps, with a few birches and maples, are substitu- 
ted for the cedars just passed. Beyond still is a beach of clean white 
sand, strewn with smooth quartz pebbles, and backed with a grove 
of tall pines, beneath whose lofty summits a cluster of paper birch 
saplings casts flitting shadows over the blue huckleberries below. 
Continuing the circuit, we next come to a marshy bay lined with 
sedges and covered with lily-pads a feeding ground, at night, for the 
much persecuted deer. Finally we reach the outlet, with its dense 
thicket of alders, and are startled by the splash of a diving Musk- 
rat, or the sudden flight of a Wood Duck or Heron. In the alders 
and undershrubs bordering the stream we notice a few Song Spar- 
rows, Rusty Blackbirds, and a solitary Maryland Yellow-throat. 
Turning from the lake into the adjoining forest, the dark form and 
yellow crown of a Three-toed Woodpecker arrest our eye, and 
rounding a rocky knoll we get a glimpse of his princely cousin, the 
Cock-of-the-Woods. From various quarters may be heard the clear 
mellow whistle of the Peabody Bird, and the less frequent but sadder 
note of the Wood Pewee. Winding slowly up the shady ravine that 
leads to the pass between the mountains that separate us from the 
valley beyond, a Hermit Thrush silently glides across our path, and 
we notice here a pair of Slate-colored Snow-birds, and the trim form 
of a little Winter Wren as she flits from a moss-covered log to the 
branches of a fallen tree-top, pertly tipping her tail in salute. Near- 
ing the summit a passing flock of noisy Blue Jays excites the wrath 
of a Red Squirrel who, perched on a neighboring limb, manifests his 


indignation by chippering saucily, keeping time with vehement jerks 
of the body and spasmodic flourishes of the tail, which he has by no 
means neglected to cock up over his arched back. Crossing the 
crest of the divide the coarse croak of a Raven greets our ears; and, 
descending into the valley below, the shrill cry of a wary Loon, from 
the distant lake, melts away into the evening air, and the silence of 
the fast-approaching twilight is unbroken save by the soft flute-like 
song of the sombre Thrush. 

During winter and early spring the birds one is most apt to find 
here are the White-winged and Red Crossbills, the Blue and Canada 
Jays, Black capped and Hudsonian Titmice, Nuthatches, Ravens, 
several species of Woodpeckers, the Ruffed and Spruce Grouse, and 
once in a while an Owl. Sometimes the Pine Grosbeak is common, 
in flocks; and occasionally, during February, March, and April, the 
Wilderness literally swarms with Pine Linnets which then breed here 
in thousands and may hardly be seen again for several years. 

In autumn, during the fall migrations, the most marked feature in 
the bird line consists in what I have for many years designated the 
" mixed flocks." At this season one may hunt for hours and scarce- 
ly see a bird, when, suddenly, he finds himself surrounded by a host 
of individuals, representing many species and pertaining to widely 
different families. To illustrate, I quote from my journal under date 
of October, 1879 a lowery day the locality being Big Moose Lake 
in the heart of the Wilderness. " During the afternoon one of those 
mixed flocks of birds, so characteristic of the Adirondacks at this sea- 
son, passed slowly by our camp and I stepped out, in the rain, and 
watched them till all were gone. There were at least fifty Robins 
and they loaded clown a mountain ash, feeding upon its berries and 
making a most unnecessary amount of noise very unlike their con- 
duct at home, where, when similarly engaged in our garden, they are 
noted for their silence. In the trees overhead were several Blue Jays, 
and in the undergrowth and amongst the fallen timber were lar^e 

O <-> O 

numbers of Slate-colored Snow-birds, a few White-throated, Sonof, 


and Fox-colored Sparrows, a couple of Winter Wrens, and one 
Nashville Warbler which I shot. A dozen Chickadees, with an 
equal number of Yellow-birds and a few Golden-crowned Kinglets, 
could be seen among the branches of a low spruce near by, while 
several Red-bellied Nuthatches and a pair of Brown Creepers amused 
themselves with winding up and down its trunk. Leaving out the 
Fox Sparrows and the Nashville Warbler, this flock stands as a very 
fair example of these incongruous assemblages, several of which one 
falls in with every clay at this time of year. It seems strange that 
the desire for company, always marked during the migrations, should 
induce such unlike species to collect and wander together over this 
wilderness. It must be that they have faith in the old adage that 
' there is strength in numbers!' I have seen the Purple Finch in 
some of these mixed flocks; and a few Hairy and Downy Wood- 
peckers and Hermit Thrushes sometimes hang about their outskirts, 
but the latter are more commonly seen by themselves in groups of 
half a dozen or thereabouts." 


While the grand scenic effect of any region, the effect that is de- 
pendent on the general contour and make up of the country and its 
gross reliefs, is governed by its geology and topography; so is the 
general aspect, or physiognomy, of a region dependent upon the char- 
acter of the vegetation in which it is clothed. As, in the tropics, the 
stately Palms, the colossal arborescent Ferns, the solemn Aloes, and 
the light and feathery Mimosas contribute such striking features to 
the physiographical areas to which they severally pertain; so do the 
deciduous hardwood groves of the temperate zone, and the dark co- 
niferous forests of the north give to these regions their peculiar and 
characteristic appearance. 

The distinctive physiognomic aspect of the Adirondack Wilderness, 
the dark and sombre evergreen forests, is chiefly the consequence of 
the large development of a single genus of coniferous trees; for the 

150TANY. 2] 

predominating forms are not only coniferous evergreens, but consist 
mainly of Spruce, Hemlock, and Balsam all representatives of the 
genus Abies. Tall Pines, at intervals, rear their lofty summits above 
the level of surrounding tree-tops, fragrant Cedars overhang the lake- 
shores and swamps, delicate Tamaracks wave over the soft grassy 
bottoms of Beaver meadows, dense thickets of tangled Alders border 
many of the streams and rivers, hardy Birches and light Poplars are 
scattered sparingly upon the mountain-sides and in the valleys, and 
areas of hard timber, indicating second growth, mark tracts that have 
been bared by fire, wind, or the woodman's axe. These hardwood 
areas are readily distinguished, at a distance, by the marked contrast 
afforded by the light color and different aspect of the foliage, in sum- 
mer, and by their nakedness in winter. They are composed, chiefly, 
of Maple, Beech, and Birch. 

The common forest trees of the Adirondacks are : the American 
Linden or Bass Wood (Tilia Americana], Sugar Maple (Acer sac- 
cliarinnin], Black Sugar Maple (A. saccharinum nigrnni}, Reel or 
Swamp Maple (A. rubruni], Black Cherry (Primus serotino], Beech, 
(Fag us fcrruginea), Iron Wood (Ostrya Virginica], Cherry Birch 
(Betula lento], Yellow Birch (/?. luted], Paper or Canoe Birch (B. pa- 
pyracea], American Aspen (Populus trenmloides], Large-toothed As- 
pen (P. grandidcntata], White Pine (Pi mis strobus], Red or " Nor- 
way" Pine (P. resinosa common only in certain localities, not gen- 
erally distributed), Black Spruce (Abies nigra], White Spruce (A. 
alba], Hemlock (A. Canadensis], Balsam Fir (A. balsamed], Tamarack 
or Larch (Larix Americana], White Cedar or Arbor Vitse (Thuja 
occidentalis]. Besides these occur the following, which are rare, or 
are common only along the borders of the region : Locust (Robinia 
pscudacacia), White Ash (Fraxinus Americana], Black Ash (F. saui- 
bucifolid], Elm {Ulmus Americana], Slippery Elm (U.fulva), Butter- 
nut (Juglans cinered], Swamp Hickory (Gary a amard], three or more 
Oaks (Quercus), Balsam Poplar or Tacamahac (Populus balsam if era], 
Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida], and Juniper (Juniperus Virginiand], 


The more common undershrubs (some of them growing to be 
small trees) are : Acer Pennsylvanicum, A. spicatum, Primus puinila, 
P. Pennsylvania, P. Virginiana, Spir&a salicifolia, S. tomentosa, 
Rubus odoratus, R. triflorus, R. strigosus, R. occidentalism R. villosus, 
R. Canadensis, Rosa Carolina, Cratfegus coccinea, C. tomcntosa, C. 
crus-galli, Pyrus sambucifolia, Amelanchier Canadensis, A. Canaden- 
sis botryapium, A. Canadensis oblong if olia, Ribcs lacustrc, R. rubruui, 
Hainamelis Virginica, Cornus circinata, C. stolonifera, C. paniculata, 

C. alternifolia, Lonicera ciliata, Dicrvilla trifida, Sambucus pubcns, 
S. Canadensis, Viburnum lentago, V. aceri folium, V. opidiis, V. lan- 
taiioidcs, Cephalanthus occidcntalis, Gaylussacia resinosa, Vacciniuui 
Pennsylvanicum, V. corymbosum, ArctostapJiylos uva-ursi, Cassandra 
calyculata, Andromeda pol if oli a, Kalmia angustifolia, K. glauca, Aza- 
lia midiflora, RJwdora Canadensis, Lcdum latifolinm, Apocynum 
androsfEmifolium, Ilex Iccvigata, Corylus rostrata, Carpinus Ameri- 
cana, Myrica gale, Alnus viridis, A. incana, Salix (several species), 
and Taxns baccata Canadensis. 

Of the smaller flowering plants the following are among the most 
noticeable: Clematis Virginiana, Anemone Pennsylvanica, A. ncmorosa, 
Hepatica triloba, TJialictrum dioicum, Ranunculus flammula reptans, 
R. abortivus, R. recurvatus, Caltha palnstris, Coptis trifolia, Aquilegia 
Canadensis, Actcca spicata rubra, A. alba, Caulophyllinn tJialictroides, 
NympJicea odorata, NnpJiar advcna, Sarraccnia purpurca, Sanguinaria 
Canadensis, Di centra cncnllaria, D. Canadensis, Dcntaria ctip/iylla, 

D. laciniata, Arabis lyrata, Viola rotundifolia, V. blanda, V. Sel- 
kcrki, V. cucullata, V. canina sylvestris, V, rostrata, V. Canadensis, 

V. pubcsccns, Drosera rotundifolia, D.longifolia, Helianthemum Cana- 
dense, Hypericum pyramidatum, H. ellipticum, H. perforaium, Elodes 

Virginica, Silene inflata, Arenaria Greenland ica, A. lateriflora, Clay- 

tonia Caroliniana, Geranium Robcriianum, Impaticns pallida, Oxalis 

acetosella, Ampclopsis quinqucfolia, Cclastriis scandens, Polygala pauci- 

folia, Poterium Canadense, Gcum macropliyllum, Waldsteinia fraga- 

rioidcs, Potentilla Norvegica, P. Canadensis, P. tridentata, P.palustris, 

BOTANY, 2 -, 

Fragaria vcsca, Dalibarda rcpcns, Saxifraga Pcnnsylvanica, IMitclla 
diphylla, M. nuda, Tiarclla cordifolia, Circcea alpina, Epilobium 
angnsti folium, E. pal it sir c lincare, E. color at nm, (Enot/icra bicnnis, 
(E. puinila, Heraclium lanatum, Archangelica atropurpurea> Os- 
inorrJiiza longistylis^ O. brcvistylis, Aralia raccmosa, A. nudicanlis, 
A. trifolia, Cornns Canadensis^ Li um? a borcalis, Triosteum pcrfolia- 
tnm, Gal in in trijidmn pusillnm, Mitchclla repcns, Houstonia Cfcrulca, 
Eupatoriinn purpiircum, E. pcrfoliatuni, E. agcratoidcs, Tussilago 
far far a, Soli dago tJiyrsoidca, Bidcns ccrnua, Achillca millcfoliuni, 
Tanacctuni vnlgarc, Antcnnaria margaritacca, Senecio aurcus, Lo- 
belia cardinalis, L. sypJiylitica, L. iuflata, L. Kalmii, Campanula 
rotiiudifolia, Vaccinium macrocarpon, V. cczspitosum, Chiogcucs Jiispi- 
dula, Epigcm rcpcns, GaultJicria procumbcns, Pyrola rotundifolia, P. 
cJdorantha, P. sccunda, Chimaphila umbdlata, Monotropa nniflora, 
Tricntalis Americana, LysimacJiia ciliata, L. tJiyrsiflora, Utricularia 
cormtta, Epiphcgns Virginiana, Vcrbascum Thapsus, ScropJutlaria no- 
dosa, Chclonc glabra, Mimuliis ringcns, Rhina nthus crista-galli, Pcdi- 
cularis Canadensis, Monarda didyma, Scutcllaria galcriculala, S. 
latcriflora, Symphytum officinalc, Cynoglossum officinalc, C, Morrisoni, 
Hydrophyllum Virginicum, H. Canadcnsc, Diapcnsia Lapponica, 
Gcntiana (several species), Asarum Cana dense, Laportca Canadensis, 
Comandra umbcllata, Ariscsma tripkyllum, Calla palustris, Acorns 
calamus, ScJicncJizcria palnstris, Saggitaria calycina, Orchis spccta- 
bilis, Habcnaria Iridentata, H. viridis bractcata, H. Jiypcrborca, //. 
d Hi tat a, H. Hooker i, H. orbiculata, H. blcpJiarigiottis, H. lac era, H. 
psycodcs, H.fimbriata, Goodyera rcpcns, SpirantJics latifolia, S. ccrnua, 
S. gracilis, Listcra cordata, Pogonia opliiogiossoidcs, Calopogon pul- 
chellus, Calypso borcalis, Microstylis monopliyllos, Cypripcdium parvi- 
floruni, C. pnbcsccns, C. spcctabilc, C. acanle, Trillium grandiflornin, 
T. crcctum, T. erythrocarpum, Mcdcola Virginica, Veratrum viridc, 
Uvularia grandiflora, U. scssifolia, Strcptopus roscus, Clintonia bore- 
alis, Smilaccna raccmosa, S. stcllata, S. trifolia, S. bifolia, Polygonatum 


biflorum, Erythronium Americanum, Alliuui tricoccuin, Pontcdcria 
cordata, and Eriocaulon scptangularc. 

Among the Mosses the genera Sphagnum, Dicranum, OrtJwtri- 
chum, and Hypnwu are particularly well represented, both in species 
and individuals; but such a vast number of mosses are found here 
that an enumeration of even the more common or characteristic would 
be out of place. 

The so-called " Iceland Moss" (Cetraria Islandica] and "Reindeer 
Moss" (Cladonia rangiferina), together with the common gray 
Usnca, are worthy of special mention from out the host of Lichens 
that thrive upon the moist atmosphere of the Wilderness. 


There remains to be considered the Faunal Position of the Adi- 

Data are wanting for the determination of exact thermometric 
means over any considerable portion of the region, but sufficient 
exist to establish the fact that during the months of May, June, and 
July (the breeding season ol birds) the thermometer shows an aver- 
age of 57 Fahr. (14 C.), or lower, everywhere within the limits of 
the Wilderness, and averages below 5o Fahr. (ioC.) throughout 
much of the interior. The temperature alone, therefore, would indi - 
cate that the district pertained to the Canadian Fauna, and a brief study 
of its characteristic animal and plant life will suffice to confirm the 

Amongst the Mammals the following species are eminently north- 
ern in habitat : the Lynx, Fisher, Marten, Hudsonian Flying Squirrel, 
Jumping Mouse, Long-eared Wood Mouse, Porcupine, and Northern 

Of the Birds that breed here many are characteristic of the Cana- 
dian Fauna. Such are: the Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Red- 
bellied Nuthatch, Winter Wren ; Tennessee, Yellow-rumped, Black- 
burnian, Black and Yellow, Mourning, and Canada Flycatching 


Warblers; White- winged and Red Crossbills, White- throated Sparrow, 
Junco, Rusty Blackbird, Raven, Canada Jay, Olive sided Flycatcher, 
Black-backed and Banded-backed Three-toed Woodpeckers, Spruce 
Grouse, Goshawk, and Golden-eyed Duck. In addition to the above 
it is not improbable that the Hudsonian Tit and one (or both) of the 
Kinglets will be found nesting here. 

Mention of the characteristic Reptiles, Batrachians, and Fishes is 
deferred, and will be made in the chapters pertaining to these groups. 

Following is a list of " .Subarctic " species of Lepidoptera collected 
in the immediate vicinity of Beaver Lake (also called " F'enton's," and 
" Number 4") in Lewis County, by Mr. Hill, and identified by Prof. 
J. A. Lintner, late State Entomologist : Agrofis Chardinyi, A. con- 
flua, A. astricta, Plusia biniacalata, P. u-anrcuiu, Thamnonoma brnn- 
ncata, Mclanippc hastata, J\f. ftuctuata, Corcmia ferrugaria, Cidaria 
Packardata, C. albolincata, C. cnnigcrata, C. hcrsiliata, C. trunccita, 
Spargamia magnoliata, Oporabia cambricaria, and Larcutia c(csiata. 
These were all found in a single locality, and therefore probably con- 
stitute but a small proportion of the northern Lepidoptera that occur 
in the Adirondacks. 

Floral limitations are by no means so clearly defined as the boun- 
daries of Faunal areas, and for the reason that plants are much more 
easily than animals affected by minor physiographical conditions. 
They are more susceptible to the influences of local topographical and 
climatic conditions, such as altitude, humidity, etc., and are also 
affected by the nature of the soil, and by association with one another. 
This is seen in the influence which certain kinds of forests exert in 
determining the character of the more humble plants that grow in 
their shade. For example, it is well known that the destruction of 
an evergreen coniferous forest is commonly followed, in the course of 
nature, by a growth of hard timber maple, beech, and birch (all decid- 
uous trees) usually predominating. Coincident with this change of 
forest is an equally radical change in the kinds of small plants that 
spring up underneath. 



Many plants that arc quite characteristic of northern latitudes are 
found in greater or less abundance in isolated localities, such as high 
mountain sides and cool shaded ravines or deep swamps, far south- 
ward of their usual homes; and, on the other hand, representatives of 
many southern species find their way far northward along suitable 
water-courses, and warm valleys, that penetrate regions clothed in 
vegetation of a very different type. These seeming peculiarities of 
distribution are dependent on definite physiographical conditions 
and are not difficult of explanation, however annoying they may be to 
those engaged in the determination of distributional areas. Never- 
theless there are species that are more or less distinctive of certain 
tolerably well-defined areas, and I present the following as a pro- 
visional list, fairly characteristic of a CANADIAN FLORA : Ranunculus 
ftammula rcptans, Copt is trifolia, Di centra Canadensis, Viola rotundi- 
folia, V. Canadensis, Arcuaria Grcenlandica, Claytonia Caroliniana, Ge- 
ranium Robertianum, Impatienspallida,Oxalisacetosella, Accrspicatum, 
Polygala paucifolia, Potcriuni Canadense, Gcum macropJiyllum, IVald- 
stcinia fragarioides, Potentilla tridentata, Dalabarda rcpcns, Ribcs 
lacustre, Jlfitclla dipliylla, J\f. nuda, Tiarclla cordifolia, Epilobium al- 
pi/unji, E. palustrc lincarc, Circea alpina, Aral/a tri folia, Conius 
Canadensis, Liniicca borealis, Aster acuininatus, Solidago tkyrsoidea, 
S. Virga-aurea alpina, Nabulus nauus, N. Boottii, Campanula 
rotundifolm, Vaccnienin uliginosuni, I r . wspitosinn-, V. Vitis-Idcca, 
Chiogenes hispidula, Cassiope Jiypnoides (Dr. Parry), Cassandra calycu- 
lata, Kalmia glauca, Rhododendron Lapponicum, Rhodora Canadensis, 
Lcduui latifolium, Pyrola rotundifolia, ChimapJiila umbcllata, Tricn- 
talis Americana, limpet nun nigrum, Betula glandulosa, Salix Cutler i, 
Pinus strobus, Abies nigra, A. Canadensis, A. balsamea, Thuja occi- 
dental is, Diapensia Lapponica, Orchis spectabilis, Habenaria Jiyper- 
borca, H. d Hi tat a, Goodycra repens, Lister a cor data, Microstylis mono- 
pliyllos, Cypripcdium pubescens, C. spectabile, C.acaule, Trillium gran- 
diflorum, T. erectum, T. erytJirocarpum, Streptopus roseus, Clintonia 
borealis, Smilacena trifolia, S. bifolia. 


IN the following- pages forty-two species of mammals are enu- 
merated as occurring in the Adirondack region, and it is not proba- 
ble that future investigation will greatly augment this number. With 
the exception of one or two additional Shrews, and two or three 
Bats, I know of no others that are likely to be found. The Harbor 
Seal and the Fox Squirrel are accidental stragglers, but the remaining 
forty are permanent residents. Among them are several of consid- 
erable economic value. These are : the Marten, Fisher, Ermine, 
Mink, Skunk, Otter, Bear, Deer, Beaver, and Muskrat ; and it is not 
many years since the Moose could have been reckoned with the 
rest, for it was formerly abundant here, and large numbers were 
killed for their flesh and hides. 

The great majority of our mammals move both by da}- and night, 
few being either strictly nocturnal or exclusively diurnal. The only 
species that can fairly be called nocturnal are the Skunk, the Rac- 
coon, the Bats, and the Flying Squirrels ; and even these are occa- 
sionally seen abroad during cloudy days, and do much of their hunt- 
ing in the twilight. Of strictly diurnal forms the number is still smaller, 
for I know of but two, the Gray Squirrel and the Chipmunk, that 
have not been seen after nightfall. The truth of the matter 


seems to be that very few mammals range about much during the 
brightest part of the day, or darkest part of the night, these being the 
times when most of them do the greater part of their sleeping. 
It is between the dark and the daylight, before sunrise in the morn- 
ing and in the dusk of evening, when the faint light obscures their 

^.i ^ 



outlines and hides their movements, that the larger number do their 
hunting. Many of them are also out during cloudy days and moon- 
light nights ; and in winter, when the ground is white with snow, 
they apparently circumambulate all night long. 

The phenomenon of hibernation, which enables many mammals 
to endure a climate to the severity of which they would inevitably 
succumb were they to remain active throughout the year, and to 
thrive in regions where they would starve during certain seasons 
but for their ability to become dormant when scarcity of food pre- 
vails, is well exemplified in a number of our species. The following 
are known to pass a greater or less period of the winter season in a 
condition of lethargy : the Bear, Raccoon, Bats, Gray Squirrel, Chip- 
munk, Woodchuck, and Jumping Mouse. Of these the Woodchuck 
affords the most remarkable example. With astonishing regularity 
and precision, and utterly regardless of the state of the weather or 
condition of his food supply, he sinks into his burrow about the 2Oth 
of September, and is rarely seen again before the middle of March. 
It frequently, indeed usually, happens that the time chosen for enter- 
ing upon the execution of this singular proclivity is during fine warm 
weather and at a time when the fields are clothed with a luxuriant 
growth of his favorite food, clover. In fact the Woodchuck retires 
to the cold dank recesses of his cheerless subterranean abode to 
commence a period of voluntary seclusion, to enter upon a state of 
complete oblivion and absolute lethargy, at the very time when one 
would naturally suppose he would most enjoy himself above ground. 

The Gray Squirrel, on the other hand, remains out nearly the entire 
winter and withdraws to its nest, in some hollow tree, only during 
the severest weather. The Raccoon and the Bear furnish examples 
of animals whose dormant periods are intermediate in duration be- 
tween those above cited. 

Hibernation is, after all, merely a profound sleep, intensified and 
protracted. During ordinary sleep respiration is slackened and 
the temperature of the body is lower than when the animal is awake. 


The longer the sleep continues the less frequent do the respirations 
become and the lower does the temperature fall, till finally the con- 
dition of deep and continued sleep the true lethargy of hiberna- 
tion is attained. This apparent phenomenon, then, is a genuine 
physiological process, differing in degree only from ordinary sleep. 
It is the result of conditions of environment, and has become an 
hereditary habit, enabling certain mammals to exist during a pe- 
riod when their usual food supply is cut off. The dormant state is 
sometimes brought on by extremes of temperature, but this is not 
often the case. 

Few mammals are commonly seen by those who traverse the 
forests of the Adirondacks, and it is a fact that the average sportsman, 
during his annual " trip to the North Woods," rarely sees any save 
Red Squirrels, Chipmunks, a few Mice, and perhaps a Deer or Por- 
cupine. This is in part due to the nature of their haunts, partly be- 
cause they do not roam about much in broad daylight, but chiefly 
because of their shy dispositions and wary habits. The experienced 
hunter, more familiar with their haunts and ways, falls in with a 
larger number ; still, by far the greater portion go unobserved. Of 
the forty-two kinds found here I have myself seen living, and in the 
wild state, all but three ; therefore the remarks upon their habits, in 
the following biographies, are, when the contrary is not stated, drawn 
largely from the results of personal observation. 

Order FKR/E. FISSIFEDIA. Family 

Cougar; Panther; Mountain Lion (of the West); Puma (of South Am.). 

It is not many years since the Cougar or Panther, second largest 
of American Fclid&, was a common inhabitant of the primeval forests 
of the Adirondacks; but, since the State offered a bounty* for their 

* The law granting this bounty was passed April 26, 1871. It reads as follows: " A State bounty 
of thirty dollars for a grown wolf, fifteen dollars for a pup wolf, and twenty dollars for a panther, 


destruction, so many more have been killed than born that they are 
now well ni<^h exterminated. However, a few still remain, and some 


years may yet elapse before the last Panther disappears from the 
dense evergreen swamps and high rocky ridges of this Wilderness. 

For many of the facts related in the following narrative of the hab- 
its of this gigantic "Cat." I am indebted to the experienced hunter 
and guide, Mr. E. L. Sheppard, who has himself killed, or been in- 
strumental in killing, twenty-eight Panthers in the Adirondacks. 

Cougars are either particularly fond of porcupines, or else are 
frequently forced by hunger to make a distasteful meal, for certain it 
is that large numbers of these spiny beasts are destroyed by them. 
Indeed, it often happens that a Panther is killed whose mouth and lips, 
and sometimes other parts also, fairly bristle with the quills of this 
formidable rodent. Porcupines are such logy, sluggish creatures, that 
in their noctivagations they fall an easy prey to any animal that 
cares to meddle with them. 

But the Panther feeds chiefly upon venison, which he captures by 
" still-hunting," in a way not unlike, save in the manner of killing, 
that practised by its greatest enemy man. Both creep stealthily 
upon the intended victim until within range, when the one springs, 
the other shoots. 

Panthers hunt both by day and by night, but undoubtedly kill the 
larger part of their game after nightfall. When one scents a deer he 
keeps to the leeward and creeps stealthily toward it, as a cat does 
after a mouse. With noiseless tread and crouching form does he 

shall he paid to any person or persons who shall kill any of said animals within the boundaries of 
this State. The person or persons obtaining said bounty shall prove the death of the animal so 
killed by him or them, by producing satisfactory affidavits, and the skull and skin of said animal, 
before the supervisor and one of the justices of the peace of the town within the boundaries of 
which the said animal was killed. Whereupon said supervisor and justice of the peace, in the pres- 
ence of each other, shall burn and destroy the said skull, and brand the said skin so that it maybe 
thereafter identified," etc. thus ruining many valuable specimens. (Laws of 1871, chap. 721, 
39-) When the game laws were repealed, in 1879, this section became a part of the new law, and 
it may be found in the Laws of 1879, chap. 534, tj 31. 

May 5, 1874, a law was passed providing the sum of $500, or so much thereof as might be neces- 
sary for the payment of bounties in pursuance of the requirements of the above law of April 26, 
1871, chap. 721, 39. (See Laws of 1874, chap. 323, ^2.) But nearly double this amount has 
already been paid on Panthers alone (see p. 39). 


pass over fallen trees and ragged ledges, or through dense swamps 
and tangled thickets, till, if unobserved, within thirty or forty feet of his 
intended victim. If he can now attain a slight elevation and a firm 
footing he springs directly upon his prey, but if upon level ground 
makes one or two preliminary leaps before striking it. The noise 
thus made frightens the deer, who makes a sudden and desperate 
effort to escape. But, if lying clown, several seconds are necessary 
to get under full headway, and the Panther follows so rapidly, in a 
series of successive leaps, that it often succeeds in alighting upon the 
back of its unhappy quarry. Its long claws are planted deep into 
the quivering flesh, and its sharp teeth make quick work with the ill- 
fateci sufferer. If, however, the deer sees him in season, and can get 
a good footing for a sudden move, it commonly escapes, and the Pan- 
ther rarely follows it more than a few rods, for as soon as he finds 
that the deer is gaining on him he at once gives up the chase. In 
fact, a Panther rarely secures more than one out of every four or five 
deer upon which he attempts to spring. Then, too, it not infrequent- 
ly happens that he strikes a deer when it is under such headway that 
it escapes; and when Panthers were more plenty here than they now 
are it was no uncommon thing to shoot a deer bearing deep scars 
upon its flanks scars that were clearly made by the claws of this pow- 
erful beast. The female is by far the better hunter and does not lose 
so many deer as the male. 

The deer that furnish the most nutriment to our Panthers are gen- 
erally under two years of age. This is not because this beast is afraid 
to attack a full-grown animal, but because young deer are less wary, 
and therefore more easily captured. 

The distance that a Panther can pass over in a single leap is almost 
incredible. On level ground a single spring of twenty feet is by no 
means uncommon, and on one occasion Mr. Sheppard measured a leap, 
over snow, of nearly forty feet. In this instance there were three 
preliminary springs, and the Panther struck his deer on the fourth. 
The longest leap measured by Mr. Sheppard was one of sixty feet, 


but here the Panther jumped from a ledge of rocks about twenty feet 
above the level upon which the deer was standing. He struck it 
with such force as to knock it nearly a rod farther off. 

Under certain conditions of the deep snows the deer cut in so 
deeply that the poor animals can make but slow progress. At such 
times a Panther, by spreading the toes of his great broad paws, 
simulates a man on snow-shoes and sinks but a short distance in the 
snow. He thus gains a vital advantage over his prey, and will now 
give chase to and capture one that he missed on his first spring. 
Under no other circumstances will a Panther pursue a deer, for he 
is too well aware of the uselessness of an attempt to overtake so fleet 
an animal. Immediately upon killing one he drags it bodily into 
some dense thicket or windfall, where he will not be likely to be 
observed. He has thus been known to drag a full-grown deer con- 
siderably over a hundred feet before reaching a satisfactory covert. 
Unlike the wolf, he makes the most of his prey and devours it 
all before killing another. One deer generally lasts a Panther a 
week or ten days, and during this time he may usually be found 
within a mile of the carcass, hidden under some log or uprooted tree. 
Sometimes, but very rarely, does he partially bury it, after each meal, 
by scraping leaves and brush over it. When all but enough for 
one or two meals has been eaten, the Panther, especially if a female 
with young, will often make another hunt, but if unsuccessful returns 
to the remains of the old carcass. 

The young follow the mother till nearly two years old that is 
until about two-thirds grown. She leaves them when hunting, and, 
after having killed a deer, returns and leads them to it. 

It is often stated that Panthers hunt in pairs, but on one occasion 
only has Mr. Sheppard found an adult male and female in company. 
This was early in December and the tracks on the snow indicated 
that they had been sporting considerably, and were probably rutting. 
He killed them both. 

The range of these animals, as individuals, is very extensive, and 

KKLIS CONG >1.0R. -1 i 

is only limited by the confines of the Adirondack*. They are, indeed, 
famous travellers, and when not hunting, roam far and wide, following 
the highest ridges of the Wilderness, and finding their path aloni^ the 

& > <-* 

steepest and most inaccessible ledges. During the winter of 1877-78 
J. W. Shultz killed one near Lake Terror that he, in company with 
E. L. Sheppard, had followed over the summit of Lake Terror Moun - 
tain. They sometimes make use of trees to aid in the ascent and 
descent of steep rocky cliffs, and generally take refuge in a spruce or 
hemlock when pursued by dogs ; but under no other circumstances 
do any but the young sporting kittens ever climb trees. 

Panthers are hunted during the deep snows of winter, when the 
hunter, on snow-shoes, makes wide circuits in various directions till 
he finds a track. This he follows, leading the dogs, till he comes to 
the carcass of a deer which the Panther has recently killed and 
partially devoured. Knowing that the animal is not far off he now 
" lets loose " the dogs, and as a rule the cowardly beast is soon 
" treed " and shot. Out of the twenty-eight Panthers in the killing 
of which Mr. Sheppard was concerned, four refused to " tree," and 
were shot while on the ground. When attacked they never spring 
after the dogs, but merely act on the defensive. When a dog makes 
bold to come too near he receives such an energetic " cuff" from the 
Panther's paw that he rarely solicits another. 

Though possessed of great strength and power, and naturally quick 
in his movements, the Panther is a positive coward. For all that, 
when seriously wounded, without being entirely crippled, all his 
latent ferocity is aroused, and he rushes fiercely at his assailants. 
But even at such times, when in an attitude of supreme anger and 
rage, and while lashing the snow impetuously with his long tail, any- 
thing thrust into his open mouth serves to divert his wrath from the 
enemy to his weapon. Thus on two occasions, once with an axe, 
and once with the muzzle of his gun, has Mr. Sheppard saved himself 
and his do^s from mutilation, if not from a horrible death. 


The hunter commonly follows a Panther for many days, and some- 


times for weeks, before overtaking- him, and could never get him 
were it not for the fact that he remains near the spot where he kills 
a deer till it is eaten. When the hunter has followed a Panther for 
days, and has, perhaps, nearly come up with him, a heavy snow-storm 
often sets in and obliterates all signs of the track. He is then obliged 
to make wide detours to ascertain in which direction the animal has 
gone. On these long and tiresome snow-shoe tramps he is of course 
obliged to sleep, without shelter, wherever night overtakes him. 
The heavy walking makes it impossible for him to carry many days' 
rations, and when his provisions give out he must strike for some 
camp or settlement for a new supply this of course consumes valu- 
able time and enables the Panther to get still farther away. When 
the beast is finally killed the event is celebrated by a feast, for Pan- 
ther meat is not only palatable, but is really very fine eating. 

Most mammals are larger at the north than at the south, but with 
the present species the reverse is true. Individuals from various 
parts of the south and southwest average considerably larger than 
those found in the Adirondacks. This is in obedience to the law, 
clearly defined by Mr. J. A. Allen, that : " The maximum physical 
development of the individual is attained where the conditions of 
environment are most favorable to the life of the species." 

In the Adirondacks, it is an uncommonly large Panther that meas- 
sures eight feet from the end of its nose to the tip of its tail, and an 
unusually heavy one that weighs a hundred and fifty pounds. Still, 
on the 1 5th of February, 18/7, Mr. Verplanck Colvin, Superintend- 
ent of the Adirondack Survey, shot a male on Seventh Lake Moun- 
tain, in Hamilton County, that weighed about two hundred pounds. 
This is the heaviest Panther concerning which I have been able to 
procure trustworthy information. It was killed near a deer " yard," 
and the carcasses of two of its victims were found hard by. Hence 
it is fair to infer that he had been for some time lurking in this vi- 

* Bulletin of the U. S. (leol. Survey, Aug., 1876, Vol. II, No. 4, p. 310. 


cinity, feasting and fattening upon the deer that were unable to 
escape in the deep snow. 

An adult Panther stands about two and a half feet hiidi at the shoul- 


ders and is so slender that it generally appears to be very thin and 
gaunt when in reality it may be quite fat. Either the old males kill the 
young males (which I do not think probable), or the females greatly 
preponderate at birth ; for out of twenty-eight killed by, or through 
the instrumentality of E. L. Sheppard, only five were males. 

The mother commonly has two kittens at a birth, sometimes one, 
three, or even four. The period of gestation was ascertained to be 
ninety-seven days in a female observed by the Zoological Society of 
London. The young are brought forth late in the winter or in early 
spring, and the lair is usually in a shallow cavern on the face of some 
inaccessible cliff or ledge of rocks. It is probable that they do not, 
with us, have young oftener than every other year.* 

isf. Concerning- tJic alleged Fierceness of tJic PantJier. 

Not only is it customary for the community at large to speak of the 
terrible danger of encountering one of these dreadful and savage ani- 
mals, but even many very respectable works upon Natural History con- 
tain the most detailed and heart-rending accounts of the loss of human 

* William A. Conklin, Esq., Ph. I)., lias had the kindness to favor me with the following very 
valuable note concerning the breeding of a female Panther, during a series of years, at the Central 
I 'ark Menagerie, of which he is director, in New York city. Mr. Conklin writes: " In my experi- 
ence the period of gestation is thirteen weeks (91 days), and it occasionally, but rarely, exceeds that 
time by one or two days. I have one Panther that has bred seven times, as follows: 

In her 1st litter were 4 kittens. In her 4th litter were 4 kittens. 

2d " " 4 " " 5th " " 3 

3d " " 2 " " 6th " " 2 

In her 7th litter was I kitten. 

Her age, 16 years, at the time of her last litter, and the fact that this female came from Texas, 
may have some bearing on the number of young produced at a birth. The cubs are born with the 
eyelids closed; they open after eight or nine days. The incisors and canine teeth cut through the 
gums in eighteen or twenty days. The body is at first spotted, the spots disappearing in about six 
months. They are weaned when three months old. The mother carries the young about in her 
mouth in the same way that a cat does her kittens." 


life by the brutal attacks of these ferocious beasts. Even as cautious 
and reliable a naturalist as Zaclock Thompson quotes the following 
appalling and blood-curdling tale as an authentic narrative: "Two 
hunters, accompanied by two dogs, went out in quest of game, near 
the Catskill Mountains. At the foot of a large hill, they agreed to 
go round it in opposite directions, and when either discharged his 
rifle, the other was to hasten toward him to aid him in securing the 
game. Soon after parting, the report of a rifle was heard by one of 
them, who, hastening toward the spot, after some search, found noth- 
incr but the dog, dreadfully lacerated and dead. He now became 
much alarmed for the fate of his companion, and, while anxiously 
looking round, was horror-struck by the harsh growl of a Catamount, 
which he perceived on a large limb of a tree, crouching upon the 
body of his friend, and apparently meditating an attack on himself. 
Instantly he levelled his rifle at the beast, and was so fortunate as to 
wound it mortally, when it fell to the ground along with the body of 
his slaughtered companion. His dog then rushed upon the wound- 
ed Catamount, which, with one blow of its paw, laid the poor crea- 
ture dead by his side,"* et cetera. The illustrious Audubon, in his 
great work upon the Quadrupeds of North America, cautions the read- 
er not to credit the legends of the vulgar in regard to the ferocity of 
this animal, and its propensity to attack man, and then goes on to 
picture midnight encounters and hair-breadth escapes almost as thrill- 
ing and improbable as the story above quoted. Oh, the inconsist- 
ency of man ! 

It is now so well known that the Panther is one of the most cow- 
ardly of beasts, never attacking man unless wounded and cornered, 
that it is unnecessary to do more than contradict the popular im- 
pression to the contrary. 

2d. Concerning tJic RIcthod of Capturing its Prey. 
It is commonly and widely believed, and frequently and boldly as- 

* Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 1842, p. 38. 


serted in print, that the Panther lurks in ambush for its prey ; that it 
lies in wait beside the runways of the wary deer, hidden by some 
rock or thicket, or crouching- upon an overhanging- limb, and falls, 
like a thunderbolt from heaven, upon the back of its hapless and un- 
suspecting victim. Such romances, however gratifying to the nar- 
rator, and entertaining to the community, are without foundation in 
fact, and could only have originated in the over-fertile imagination 
of a conscienceless fabricator : 

- a false creation, 

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain." 

jd. Concerning the Screams of the Panther. 

Who has not heard of the piercing cries and startling screams of 
the Panther ? Who has listened, about the evening camp-fire, to the 
tales of hunters and woodsmen, but has felt his blood run cold, and 
his hat lighten on his head, as the earnest speaker, perhaps in a 
whisper, and uninterrupted save by the sputtering of the fire, told of 
the time when alone in the solitudes of the deep forest, and at the 
dead of night, he was suddenly awakened by a piercing scream that 
burst upon his weary ears. It seemed like the shriek of a woman in 
distress, or the pitiful cry of a lost child. Half asleep, bewildered, 
and amazed, he starts to his feet to render assistance, when the elar- 


ing eyeballs of a fierce Cougar meet his horrified gaze and acquaint 
him with the nature of his unwelcome guest ! 

An attack of indigestion, the cry of a Loon, or the screech of an 
Owl, a piece of phosphorescent wood, and a very moderate imagination, 
are all that are necessary, in the way of material and connections, to 
build up a thrilling tale of this description. Indeed, the writer once 
had a bit of personal experience in this line that is not yet forgotten. 

In conversing with honest hunters upon this point it has been my 
uniform experience to find that those who have had most to do with 
Panthers are the most skeptical in regard to their cries ; and I have yet 
to find the man, whose statements on this point are of any value, that 


has ever heard a wild Panther scream. This is negative evidence it 
is true, but it is by no means without value ; and it is certainly safe 
to assert that at least ninety-nine per cent, of the so-called " Panther 
screams " emanate from a widely different source. 

.////. Concerning tJic Size of the PantJicr. 

In talking- with border hunters of a certain type, and in perusing the 
literature of the subject, one is every now and then confronted with the 
most fabulous statements concerning the size of the beast now under 
consideration. Some would have us believe that Panthers have been 
killed and measured with a " two-foot rule " that were eleven, 
twelve, and even thirteen feet in length. Formidable beasts, in- 
deed ! No less an authority than James De Kay tells us, in appar- 
ent good faith, that one was killed on an island in Fourth Lake (of 
the Fulton Chain) in Herkimer County, that, when recently killed, 
" had a total length of eleven feet three inches."* To those that are 


inclined to credit such statements I have only to say : measure off 
eleven feet on your floor ; place the largest Panther you ever saw on 
this measured line, and then tell me on what part of the beast you 
would " annex " or " splice on " the three or more additional feet. 

$th. Concerning the way a PantJicr carries its Prey. 

We often see statements to the effect that a Panther has killed a 
deer or a young bullock, " slung it over his back," and marched off 
(perhaps up an embankment, or even climbed a tree) with it. A 
Panther drags a deer along the ground just as a dog drags a sheep, 
or a cat a big piece of meat, and if he is a large one he may be able 
to lift the deer so high that only its hinder parts drag. 

* Zoology of New York, Part I, Mammals, 1842, p. 48. 




Data concerning Panthers killed in the Adiromlacks from June, 
1 87 i , to August, 1 882, on which bounties have been paid by the State. * 
(From official records on file in the Comptroller's office, at Albany.) 

Locality where killed. 
County. Town. 

Kssex, Newcomb, 



1 1 



1 1 

Lake Pleasant, 
Long Lake, 

1 >iana, 

St. Lawrence, Fine, 

Township, No. 




1 1 







1 1 


Date of killing. 

Nov. 10, 1871, 
1 >ec. II, 1871, 
Feb. 25, 1880, 
Aug. 29, 1873, 
Dec. 4, 1872, 
Feb. 29, 1872, 
Feb., 1878, 
Dec. 19, 1876, 
Dec. ii. 1877, 
Dec. 12, 1877, 
Dec. 13, 1877, 
Feb. 26, 1878, 
March 8, 1878, 
May 23, 1882, 
June 10, 1882, 
| line 27, 1882, 
July 13, 1882, 
June 7, 1871, 
June 22, 1871, 
n, Oct. 24, 1871, 
June 15, 1872, 
June 26, 1872, 
June 29, 1872, 
Nov. 19, 1873, 
June 8, 1873, 
Oct. 23, 1872, 
Nov. 4, 1874, 
Dec. 26, 1876, 
Jan. 24, 1877, 
Feb. 15, 1878, 
May i, 1879, 

Oct. 12, 1879, 

June 15, 1880, 
Jan. 15, 1881, 
Nov. 23, 1880, 
Oct. 7, 1881, 
Oct. 6, 1881, 
Aug. 26, 1881, 
July 16, 1881, 
May 23, 1881, 
April 26, 1881, 
Sept. 10, 1881, 
Nov. 7, 1881, 

By whom killed. 

J. C. Farmer, 
[. C. Farmer, 
Win. II. Cullen, 
Chas. A. Merrill, 
Milo H. Ober, 

Aaron B. Sturgesaml I!. Page, 
T. W. Shult/, 
Sila> Call, 

Edwin L. Sheppard, 
Edwin L. Sheppard, 
Edwin L. Sheppard, 
E. N. Arnold, 
E. N. Arnold, 
George Muir, 
( leorge Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
Spencer B. Ward, 
Spencer B. Ward, 
Michael Duffy, 
John Muir, 
[uhn Muir, 
John Muir, 
Noah A. Gale, 
John Muir, 
Win. Henry Marsh, 
Norman E. Wait, 
Charles W. Gale, 
Webster Partlow, 
Hiram Hutchins, 
George Muir, 
Peter Burreau, 
George Muir, 
Hiram Hutchins, 
Hiram Hutchins, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 


















































































46 $920 

* It is impossible to obtain, even with approximate accuracy, any satisfactory estimate of the total 
number of Panthers that have been killed in the Adirondacks, even during the past fifty years. 
Mr. Byron P. Graves, of Boonville, N. Y., shot three in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties during 
February and March, 1871, four were killed about the same time in Franklin County, and others 
in other parts of the Woods. A year or two previous to this several Panthers, one of which I 
skinned, were shot on the extreme western confines of the Wilderness in the town of Greig, in 
Lewis County. As near as I can reckon, from the data that I have been able to procure, nearly 
an hundred Panthers have been killed in the Adirondacks since the year 1860. 



Canada Lynx. 

The Lynx is, and so far as I can learn, has always been a rather 
rare inhabitant of this region. It is most often met with on the 


Champlain or eastern side of the Woods, but is nowhere common. 

The Lynx is called " Loup Cervier " by the French Canadians, 
and has been erroneously termed Carcajou, or Wolverine, by some 
of the older hunters in this State. 

It preys upon the northern hare, and such other small mammals 
as it can catch, and upon the Ruffed Grouse and Spruce Partridge. 
It has also been known to devour pigs, lambs, and young fawns, but 
the accounts of its attacking full-grown deer are not to be credited. 

Its haunts are in the deep forests and burnt districts, remote from 
the paths of man ; and consequently it rarely intrudes upon the 
barn -yard. 

Its ordinary gait when in a hurry is a long gallop, like that of the 
hare, and it is said to swim well. 

The female commonly has two young at a birth, her lair being 
usually located in a cavern or hollow tree. 

The older naturalists, having little or no personal acquaintance 
with the animals of which they wrote, were often led into grave 
errors when treating of their habits, and even Thomas Pennant, 
writing in 1770, said, of the present species, that it " is long lived : 
climbs trees : lies in wait for the deer which pass under, falls on 
them, and seizing on the jugular vein soon makes them its prey : 
will not attack mankind, but is very destructive to the rest of the 
animal creation : the furs of these animals are valuable for their soft- 
ness and warmth : The ancients celebrated the great quick- 
ness of its sight ; and feigned that its urine was converted into a 
precious stone." * 

* Synopsis of (Quadrupeds, 1771, pp. 187-188. 


LYNX RUFUS Ginelin) Raf. 
Wild Cat; Bay Lynx; "Chat Cervier" 

The Wild Cat is, for some reason, an extremely rare animal in the 
Adirondacks. It may be that our climate is too severe for it, since 
it is much more common farther south. 

It frequents rocky hills ancl ledges, and does not show that antip- 
athy to civilization so marked in its congener, the Lynx. In fact it 
is often quite common in thickly settled portions of the State, and 
sometimes proves of much annoyance to the farmer by carrying off 
lambs, little pigs, and poultry ducks, geese, turkeys, and chickens 
proving alike acceptable. Away from the farm -yard it feeds upon 
rabbits, squirrels, mice, grouse, and what small birds it is fortunate 
enough to capture. It generally makes its nest in a hollow tree 
or log, and lines it well with moss. From two to four young con- 
stitute a litter, the most frequent number being three. 

In 1873 or 18/4, I shot a grouse as it was flying along the north 
side of Mt. Tom, in Massachusetts. Scarcely had it touched the 
rocky slope when a Wild Cat sprang upon it, from behind a neigh- 
boring bush, and, in a succession of rapid leaps, started up the side 
of the mountain with the grouse in its mouth. The contents of the 
other barrel of my gun caused him to change his mind as well as 

I have eaten the flesh of the Wild Cat, and can pronounce it excel- 
lent. It is white, very tender, and suggests veal more than any other 
meat with which I am familiar. 

When enraged, this animal is the most ferocious-looking beast I 
have ever seen, and hisses, spits, and growls in the most unattractive 
manner imaginable. 

The term " Wild Cat" is sometimes also applied to certain erratic 
individuals of the domestic cat kind, that have become wild and make 
their homes in the forest, bringing forth their young in hollow logs, 


old stumps, and caves, and preying upon poultry and eggs as well as 
upon wild game. With these the present species must not be con- 

Family CANID/E. 
CANIS LUPUS Linnaeus. 


Comparatively few Wolves are now to be found in the Adiron- 
dacks, though twelve years ago they were quite abundant, and used 
to hunt in packs of half a dozen or more. 

They have hard work to get a living here, and are always gaunt 
and hungry. They cannot catch deer with any certainty except in 
deep snow, and are, therefore, during thegreater part of the year, forced 
to subsist upon skunks, hares, mice, frogs, carrion, and such other food 
as they are able to procure. In times past they were a great enemy 
to the settlers of this region and within fifty years have caused our 
border farmers much annoyance by destroying their sheep and pigs ; 
they have also been known to kill calves and young colts. 

In summer they sometimes drive a deer into a lake and follow it 
along the shore, from time to time jumping high in the air in order 
to sight it and determine the direction in which it is swimming. If 
the lake is a small one and there are enough Wolves, they are oc- 
casionally able to pounce upon it as it emerges from the water; but 
this rarely happens, and the deer almost always escapes. In Septem- 
ber, 1870, I saw a pack of Wolves drive a deer into the head of 
Seventh Lake, Fulton Chain. It escaped the Wolves to be slain by 
a man with a shot-gun ! 

Within my recollection Wolves were so common here that scarce- 
ly a night passed when they could not be heard howling in various 
parts of the forest. So bold and impudent were they that they often 
came about camp while the inmates were sleeping and stole any 
venison, or other meat, that chanced to hang within reach. 


The amount of noise that a single Wolf is capable of producing is 
simply astonishing, and many amusing episodes of camp lore owe 
their origin to this fact. More than one "lone traveller" has hastily 
taken to a tree, and remained in the inhospitable shelter of its scrawny 
branches for an entire night, believing himself surrounded by a pack 
of at least fifty fierce and hungry Wolves, when, in reality, there was 
but one, and (as its tracks afterwards proved) it was on the farther 
side of a lake, a couple of miles away. 

The Wolf is one of the most cowardly and wary of our mammals, 
always taking good care to keep out of sight ; and he is so crafty and 
sagacious that it is almost impossible to allure him into any kind of 
a trap. 

When opportunity affords he is one of the most destructive and 
wasteful of brutes, always killing as much game as possible, regard- 
less of the condition of his appetite, and he used to be the greatest 
enemy that our deer had to contend with. During the deep snows 
a small pack of Wolves would sometimes kill hundreds of deer, tak- 
ing here and there a bite, but leaving the greater number untouched. 

In the year 1871 the State put a bounty :;: on their scalps, and it is 
a most singular coincidence that a great and sudden decrease in their 
numbers took place about that time. What became of them is a great 
and, to me, inexplicable mystery, for it is known that but few were 
killed. There is but one direction in which they could have es- 
caped, and that is through Clinton County into Lower Canada. In 
so doino- they would have been obliged to pass around the north end 

o J o 

of Lake Champlain and cross the River Richelieu, and before reach- 
ing any extensive forests would have had to travel long distances 
through tolerably well-settled portions of country. And there is no 
evidence that they made any such journey. 

The Wolf makes its nest in rocky caverns, under the upturned 
roots of fallen trees, and in hollow logs ; and where suitable shelter 

* The law granting this bounty has already been given in a foot note under the Panther. See 
pp. 29-30. 



cannot be found, it di^s holes in the ground for its home. From six 

O O 

to ten pups constitute a litter, and they are usually produced in April 
or May. The period of gestation is said to be sixty-three days.* 

Data concerning Wolves killed in the Adirondacks from June, 
1871, to July, 1882, on which bounties have been paid by the State. 
(From official records on file in the Comptroller's office, at Albany.) 

Locality where killed. 



1 1 





rence, Fine, 


1 1 

Forest Port, 



1 1 



t * 





I lopkinton, 

Date of killing. 

Sept. 6, 1872, 

July 4, 1874, 

June 12, 1875, 

Tune 17, 1875, 

Jan. 28, 1882, 

Feb. 2, 1882, 

Feb. 14, 1882, 

March 15, 1882, 

March 19, 1882, 

Nov. 10, 1881, 

June 27, 1882, 

Oct. 17, 1871, 

Aug. 17, 1871, 

Aug. 17, 1871, 

Oct. 6, 1871, 

Nov. 7, 1872, 

May 26, 1872, 

Nov. 4, 1872, 

Dec. 12, 1873, 

Dec. 21, 1872, 

May 22, 1875, 

May 24, 1875, 

May 15, 1876, 

Oct. 9, 1876, 

April 8, 1878, 

May 5, 1877, 

July 14, 1877, 

April 29, 1879, 

Sept. 16, 1878, 

April 26, 1880, 

Oct. 3, 1880, 

Nov. 13, 1880, 

Nov. 5, 1880, 

Nov. 6, 1880, 

Sept. 25, iSSi, 

Aug. 24, 1881, 

July 20, 1881, 

June II, 1 88 1, 

June ii, 1881, 

April 28, 1881, 

Nov. 8, iSSi, 

Sept. 20, 1881, 

Feb., 1882, latter part, 

March, 1882, early part, 

By whom killed. 

Wesley Rice, 
James H. Bean, 
Calvin Wait, 
Calvin Wait, 
Henry Sheldon, 
Henry Sheldon, 
Henry Dunan, 
Henry Dunan, 
Henry Dunan, 
George Botchford, 
George Muir, 
John Muir, 
George Spear, 
George Spear, 
Joseph Whitney, 
John Muir, 
John Muir, 
Aaron Thomas, 
Aaron Thomas, 
Timothy Desmond 
John Muir, 
John Muir, 
John Muir, 
George Peck, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
Henry C. Hibbard, 
Abram Baikley, 
Jonathan Baldwin, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
George Muir, 
Henry Hibbard, 
Rollin Gamby, 
Rollin Gamby, 































i Pup 
















































I Pup 
















* Fauna Americana, by Richard Ilarlan, M.D., 1825, p. Si. 


Fox; Red Fox; Cross Fox; Silver Fox; Black Fox. 

The common Fox is a tolerably abundant resident in the " North 
Woods," and its short bark is often heard, after nightfall, by parties 
encamped about our lakes. 

He is both nocturnal and diurnal in habits, and preys upon skunks, 
woodchucks, muskrats, hares, rabbits, squirrels, mice, and small birds 
and eggs. He is a well-known and much-dreaded depredator of the 
poultry-yard, destroying, with equal alacrity, turkeys, ducks, geese, 
hens, chickens, and doves ; and has been known to make off with 
young lambs. He will also eat carrion, and even fish, and is said to 
be fond of ripe grapes and strawberries. 

The cunning of the Fox is proverbial. Wily, crafty, and sagacious, 
to a degree almost beyond credibility, he defies the superior skill and 
intelligence of man, and meets, with shrewd manoeuvre and subtle 
stratagem, all attempts at his extermination. He lives and thrives 
and multiplies in our very midst, and is as common in many of the 
thickly settled portions of the State as in the remotest depths of the 
primeval forests. 

He is hunted both for pleasure and profit, and for the gratification 
of a malicious spite that seems to be inherent in man for his destruc- 
tion. He is trapped for where his presence is suspected, hounded 
when his foot-prints are seen on the snow, dug out when found in 
his subterranean burrow, and shot at when surprised at any of his 
tricks, from the first hour of his youthful gambols till the time that he 
finally succumbs before man's combined and persistent efforts to- 
ward his annihilation. Nevertheless, his race survives, and I have 
yet to be convinced that his numbers have undergone any very ma- 
terial diminution during the last hundred years. 

The influence of natural selection in developing hereditary habits 
for the protection of the species is well exemplified in this animal, for 
he seems familiar, from earliest infancy, with the multifarious contri- 


vances devised by man for his capture, and avoids them all, eluding 
and circumventing his pursuer with an intelligence and promptness 
that command our wonder and respect. 

The pastime (?) of Fox hunting is largely practised everywhere along 
the border-lands of our Wilderness, and two or three men, with one 
or two fox-hounds, commonly constitute a hunting party. As soon 
as a fresh track is found the dog is allowed to follow it, which he 
does with great joy and alacrity. The men now separate, each pro- 
ceeding, without further delay, to some ravine, hill-side, or other 
point that is known to be one of the " run-ways" of the Fox. Oc- 
casionally the F"ox, on being started, makes a round on one of these 
courses, and is shot while passing the first station. More commonly, 
however, he makes off, taking a tolerably straight course, and runs 
several miles before commencing to circle and wind about among the 
hills. Therefore the hunter is, on these interesting excursions, generally 
obliged to walk many miles over the deep snow, and night frequently 
overtakes him, tired and hungry, far from the cheerful fireside of his 
pleasant home. And he may, or may not, have been rewarded by 
securing the object of the chase. 

It sometimes happens, especially during a thaw, when the snow 
" slumps," that the dog catches up with the Fox. At such times both 
pursuer and pursued are commonly well-nigh exhausted, and the weary 
hunter lags far behind. The resulting scene, to which I have myself 
been an eye-witness, is so graphically depicted by Audubon and 
Bachman that I take pleasure in reproducing their account of it here : 
". . . . every bound and plunge into the snow, diminishes the dis- 
tance between the Fox and his relentless foe One more 

desperate leap, and with a sudden snappish growl he turns upon his 
pursuer, and endeavors to defend himself with his sharp teeth. For 
a moment he resists the dog, but is almost instantly overcome. He 
is not killed, however, in the first onset; both dog and Fox are so 
fatigued that they now sit on their haunches facing each other, rest- 
ing, panting, their tongues hanging out, and the foam from their lips 


dropping on the snow. After fiercely eyeing each other for a while, 
both become impatient the former to seize his prey, and the latter 
to escape. At the first leap cf the Fox, the dog is upon him; with 
renewed vigor he seizes him by the throat, and does not loose his 
hold until the snow, is stained with his blood, and he lies rumpled, 
draggled, with blood-shot eye, and frothy open mouth, a mangled 
carcass on the ground."* 


Not infrequently the Fox, after leading his pursuers a long and tire- 
some chase, betakes himself to his hole. If this chances to lie with- 
in a ledge of rocks it is the safest of retreats, but if it be merely a 
burrow in the earth he is by no means secure, for the hunters (pro- 
vided they have enough energy and ambition left) repair to the 
nearest farm-house for spade and pick with which to dig out the luck- 
less beast. 

Hence Fox hunting, with us, can hardly be ranked among the 
most fascinating of sports; and those that indulge in it must have 
good pluck and hard muscle or they are apt to come out the worse 
for wear. Sic transit gloria nmndi ! Having " killed my Fox" I am 
not now easily seduced into this form of recreation. 

Foxes make rather pretty pets, and, when taken young, are easily 
tamed; but they are so deceitful and treacherous that they are not 
apt to gain one's affection. 

The Fox makes its nest in caverns and ledges of rocks, in burrows 
in the earth, and occasionally in old stumps and hollow logs. From 
four to nine young are brought forth at a time, the usual period be- 
ing, with us, the latter part of March or first of April. 

Family MUSTELID^. Subfamily MUSTELIN/E. 

NOTE. -The Wolverine (Gulo I use us) is not now an inhabitant of 
the Adirondacks, and I have been unable to find among the hunters 
and trappers of this region anyone who has ever seen it in our Wilder- 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, p. 48. 


ness. Dr. DeKay, writing in 1842, said: "Although we have not 
met with this animal, yet hunters who have killed them repeatedly, 
and knew them well, have assured us that they are still found in the 
districts north of Raquet Lake."* 

Dr. Bachman killed one, about the year 181 1, in its den in a ledge 
of rocks, in Rensselaer County. f 

This animal is the Carcajou of the Canadians. 


Fisher; Pckan; Pcnnanfs Marten; "Black Cat;" " Black Fox" 

Though not so common as formerly, the Fisher, as it is here termed, 
is by no means a rare inhabitant of these mountains. 

The name Fisher is somewhat of a misnomer, for these animals 
commonly frequent deep swamps and wooded mountain-sides, away 
from the immediate vicinage of water, and are not known to catch 
fish for themselves as do the Mink and Otter. However, they are 
fond of fish and never neglect to devour those that chance to fall in 
their way. They prey chiefly upon hares, squirrels, mice, grouse, 
small birds, and frogs, and are said to eat snakes. They also catch 
and feed upon their own congener, the Marten, and make a practice 
of devouring all that they discover in dead-falls and steel-traps, 
thus proving almost as great a nuisance to the trapper as the Wol- 
verine. It is said to be less objectionable than the Wolverine in one 
particular : /. c. it leaves the traps where it finds them, while the other 
blackleg often lugs them off and hides them. 

Sir John Richardson tells us that " its favorite food is the Canada 
Porcupine, which it kills by biting in the belly." This habit, which 
has been questioned, has recently received additional confirmation 
from the pen of Corporal Lot Warfield, who writes of this animal, 
from Weston, Vermont, stating his experience as follows : "I 
agree with ' Penobscot' that they are not plenty, but account for it on 

* Zoology of New York, Part I, Mammals, 1842, p. 28. 
f Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, pp. 207-208. 


different grounds, namely, its fondness for the flesh of the porcupine, 
whose quills often prove fatal to it. I have several times found the 
quills buried in their bodies, besides quantities of flesh, hair, and quills 
in the stomach and excrements, and from this gained a point in bait- 
ing them; let other trappers try it. They are an agile, muscular 
animal, jumping from tree to tree like a squirrel, clearing a distance 
of forty feet in a descending leap, never failing a secure grip."* 

During a recent visit to the north shore of the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence I was informed, both by an agent of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany and by the trappers themselves, that porcupines constitute a 
large and important element in the food supply of the Pekan. Mr. 
Nap. A. Comeau, of Godbout, who secured for me a large and hand- 
some male of this species, tells me that its intestine contained hun- 
dreds of porcupine quills, arranged in clusters, like so many packages 
of needles, throughout its length. In no case had a single quill pene- 
trated the mucous lining of the intestine, but they were, apparently, 
passing along its interior as smoothly and surely as if within a tube 
of glass or metal. Mr. Comeau could not discover a quill in any of 
the abdominal viscera, or anywhere in the abdominal cavity, except- 
ing as above stated. A great many, however, were found imbedded 
in the muscles of the head, chest, back, and legs, and it was remarked 
that their presence gave rise to no irritation, no products of inflam- 
mation being discovered in their vicinity. In examining the partially 
cleaned skeleton of this specimen I still find some of the quills in the 
deep muscles and ligaments about the joints. A knee, in particular, 
shows several in its immediate neighborhood. One is deeply im- 
bedded in the dense ligament alongside the patella; three lie parallel 
to and close against the tibia, and two can be seen between it and the 

It is probable that all of these quills entered the body of the animal 
while engaged in killing and devouring the porcupine, for those swal- 

* Forest and Stream, Vol. XII, No. 21, June 26, 1879, p. 405. 


lowed seemed to have caused no trouble after having fairly entered 
the alimentary canal. Therefore there remains no question whatever 
that the Fisher feeds upon the porcupine, but I do not agree with 
Corporal Warfield in the belief that the "quills often prove fatal to it." 
It is indeed remarkable that an animal no larger than the one now 


under consideration should habitually feed upon a beast in whose 
capture he must be pierced with numbers of large and sharp needles, 
many of which exceed two and a half inches (64 mm.) in length- 
needles that are destined to penetrate to the remotest parts of his 

That it, at times, attacks so laro-e and toucjh an animal as the Rac- 

o o 

coon is evident from the following : Dr. Coues, in his valuable Mono- 


graph of North American Mustelidse (pp. 73-74), quotes a letter from 
Peter Reed to Prof. Spencer F. Baird, to the effect that the writer 
once followed, on the snow, the bloody trail that marked the prog- 
ress ot a fierce and desperate contest between a Fisher and a 'Coon. 
This was in Washington County, New York, near the southeastern 
border of the Adirondack region. Mr. Reed further stated that as the 
Fisher became rare in that section the Raccoon greatly increased in 
abundance, and he regards these circumstances as cause and effect. 


When pressed by hunger the Pekan is said to subsist upon beech- 
nuts. This could hardly be true in the Adirondacks, for here a good 
yield of beech-nuts is almost invariably followed by an abundance of 
small game grouse, squirrels, chipmunks, and mice alike fattening 
upon the mast. " Beech-nut years," too, are apt to be followed by 
mild winters; while it is during the deep snows of our severest winters, 
when there are few or no beech-nuts, and a consequent scarcity of 
small game prevails, that Pennant's Marten is likely to be pinched 
for food. 

The Pekan is a large and powerful 'mammal, with resemblances 
pointing both toward the Marten and the Wolverine. Individuals 
have been killed that stood a foot high and measured three and a 
half feet in length, but this is much above the average size. As there 


are " giants among men," and " giant wolves," so are there giants 
among Fishers. They are always males. About twenty years ago 
E. L. Sheppard caught one on Seventh Lake (Fulton Chain) that 
was estimated to weigh about forty pounds and whose skin was 
larger than that of a good-sized Otter! In my Osteological Cabinet 

o o J o 

reposes the skull of a Fisher that measures five inches in length. It 
was presented to me by Mr. John Constable, who killed it between 
Stony Lake and " The Hollow," near Independence River, dur- 
ing the early part of the winter of 1840. Mr. Constable tells me 
that it ascended a gigantic dead pine, the tip of which had broken 
off. The " stub" of this tree was more than six feet through at the 


base, and upwards of an hundred and fifty feet in height. The Fisher 
climbed to the very top and lodged in a depression where the tip 
had broken off. He was shot but was so lodged that he did not fall, 
and the tree had to be felled before he was secured. The pine was 
an unusually fine one a straight pillar, tapering uniformly to the top, 
and so perpendicular and well balanced that when the side choppings 
met it did not fall, and was with great difficulty overthrown. When 
it did finally tumble, and the cloud of snow that filled the air as it 
came crashing and thundering to the ground had cleared away, the 
Fisher was found to be dead. It proved to be in keeping with the 
tree it had climbed, for it was as large as an Otter and by far the 
biggest Fisher that Mr. Constable, or the old hunter with him, had 
ever seen. 

Though chiefly nocturnal they sometimes hunt by day. They are 
expert climbers and have been known to leap from one tree to an- 
other when in pursuit of their prey, and also when badly frightened. 

Their nest is made in the hollow of some standing tree, generally 
thirty or forty feet from the ground, and from two to four young are 
commonly brought forth about the first of May. 


Marten; American Sable; Pine Marten; Hudson s Bay Sable. 

The Marten is a common resident of the dark evergreen forests 
of the Adirondacks, and hundreds of them are trapped here every 
winter for their fur. Like the Fisher, it is chiefly nocturnal, but is 
occasionally seen abroad by day. They prey upon partridges, rab- 
bits, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, shrews, and any other <l small game" 
that they are smart enough to catch. Birds' eggs and young birds 
are greedily devoured, and frogs and toads, and even our larger in- 
sects, do not come amiss. It is said that they are exceedingly fond of 
honey, but on how good authority I am unable to attest. They are 
arboreal to such an extent that they are never found in districts de- 
void of timber, and seem to show a predilection for coniferous forests. 
Not only are they expert climbers, but they sport about amongst the 
tree-tops, both in pursuit of game and pleasure, with the ease and 
orace of squirrels. Preferring moss-covered logs and the seclusion 
of deep evergreen woods to the beaten paths and stir of the settled 
districts, or even the rude civilization of the hardy frontiersman, the 
Marten avoids the clearings and habitations of man, and cannot be 
reckoned among the depredators of the poultry-yard. 

It is one of the prettiest of North American mammals, but its dis- 
position is sadly out of harmony with its attractive exterior. Mr. 
John Constable has narrated to me a most interesting and vivid ac- 
count of an affray that he once witnessed, in company with his 
brother, Mr. Stevenson Constable, between a Marten and a Great 
Northern Hare. The Marten, generally so meek and docile in ap- 
pearance, assumed the savage mien and demeanor of a fierce tiger, 
as it attacked and slew the luckless hare an animal of several times 
its own size and weight. And even after the poor hare was dead 
the Marten's fury did not abate, and he angrily jerked and twisted the 
lifeless body from side to side, as if to reek vengeance, for sins never 
committed, upon the defenceless body of his innocent victim. So in- 


tent was he upon this deed of carnage that he was utterly oblivious 
to the human spectators, who put an end to the scene by driving a 
bullet through his obdurate pate. 

Audubon said of it : " Let us take a share of the cunning and sneak- 


ing character of the fox, as much of the wide-awake and cautious 
habits of the weasel, a similar proportion of the voracity (and a little 
of the fetid odor) of the mink, and add thereto some of the climbing 
propensities of the raccoon, and we have a tolerable idea of the at- 
tributes of the little prowler." 

Mr. Constable tells me that when the hunter discovers a Marten 
climbing about amongst the tree-tops he has only to whistle, and the 
inquisitive animal will stop and peer clown at him, affording an ex- 
cellent shot. 

I have no personal knowledge of the size of a litter of Martens, 
and the number of young produced at a time is variously stated (2 
to 8 being the extremes given) by different authors. The assertion 
that from four to six constitute an average litter would probably hit 
pretty close to the truth. The nest is placed in a hollow tree or 
log, rarely in the ground, and the young are brought forth in April. 

The fur of this species, which is one of the most valuable of fur- 
bearing animals, becomes prime early in November. As long ago 
as 1770, Pennant said that their skins were " a prodigious article of 
commerce "; f and Richardson, in 1829, stated that " Upward of one 
hundred thousand skins have long been collected annually in the fur 
countries." J Dr. Coues tells us that : " 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 im- 
portant of the land fur-bearing animals." And goes on to say, " Re- 
specting their comparative scarcity at times, Mr. Ross has recorded a 
remarkable fact of periodical disappearance. ' It occurs in decades,' 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. Ill, 1854, p. 177. 
f Synopsis of Quadrupeds, 1771, p. 216. 
\ Eauna Boreali Americana, Vol. I, 1829. 


he says, ' or thereabouts, with wonderful regularity, and it is quite 
unknown what becomes of them. They are not found dead. The 
failure extends throughout 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 pene- 
trated. ' 


Least Weasel. 

Having been reared in the rural districts of northeastern New York, 
I early became acquainted with this interesting little animal, and 'have 
always watched its habits with a great deal of pleasure. It is the com- 
monest Weasel in the Adirondack region, and always turns white 
shortly after the first fall of snow. It inhabits all parts of the Wilder- 
ness, being found alike along water-courses, in deep swamps, and on 
rocky ledges and mountain sides. It preys upon mice, moles, shrews, 
small birds and eggs, and insects chiefly Coleoptera. I have never 
known it to attack larger mammals or poultry. 

Numbers of mice make their homes under the heaps of brush and 
rubbish and piles of stones that accumulate along the borders of clear- 
ings and in neglected pastures. Such places, together with old 
tumbled-down stone walls and log heaps constitute, therefore, the 
favorite haunts of the Least Weasel in the semi-civilized districts. 
It is not wary and will suffer man to approach within a few feet of it 
before withdrawing from view. It is curious and inquisitive and will 
soon stick its head out of some hole near by to see what has become 
of the intruder. Ever on the alert it moves backwards and forwards 
generally keeping near some object, behind, into, or under which it 
can disappear at a moment's notice, and is never still for any appre- 
ciable length of time a fact which can easily be demonstrated by 
attempting to hit one of them with a rifle ball. 

* Fur-Bearing Animals, 1877, p. 1^4 


They are said to be nocturnal inhabits, but those that I have seen, 
and their number is not small, all seemed very much at home in 
broad daylight. I have often surprised them in the woods and fields, 
and have observed that on such occasions they usually make for some 
convenient covert and, when within reach of its shelter, immediately 
turn about to view the stranger, who is now an object of curiosity 
rather than of alarm. Once, while sitting quietly on the end of an 
old log, in the woods, I noticed one of these pretty little Weasels 
coming obliquely toward me, in a series of leisurely leaps, stopping 
every now and then to look about. Perceiving me he stood bolt up- 
right, his head bent at right angles to his slender body, and eyed me 
for a moment without moving a muscle; he then betook himself to 
the roots of the nearest tree, and under the quasi-protection of this 
open retreat, commenced a more deliberate survey of my peculiarities. 
Many times did he advance toward me, and as many back up to the 
tree again, with his head elevated, and constantly sniffing the air in 
my direction. He finally gathered sufficient courage to cross over 
to the log upon which I was sitting, and under the shelter of its 
shadow scrutinized me still more closely. 

The Least Weasel is so small and slender that it can easily enter 
the burrows of alarge proportion of the animals that constitute its prey. 
When they take to the open fields and outrun their pursuer, he is 
not discouraged, but follows their tracks by the scent, like a hound, 
and overtakes them in their securest retreats; thus are his ill-fated 
victims attacked in their own homes, and thus are they deprived of any 
haven to which they may fly to escape from the eager pursuit of this 
indefatigable and inexorable little beast. 

I have never found the nest of the Weasel, and therefore transcribe 
the following account of its breeding habits from the pen of Thomas 
Bell : " The female Weasel brings forth four, or more frequently five 
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 the nest is torn up by a dog, rushing out with great fury, 
and fastening upon his nose or lips." * 

Ermine; Stoat; Large Weasel; "Wliitc Weasel"; "Brown Weasel'' 

The Ermine is a common resident and, like the preceding species, 
becomes white at the approach of winter. Like it also, it wanders 
over different kinds of territory, and is frequently taken in traps set 
for more valuable fur. In addition to the small game mentioned as 
constituting the larder of the Least Weasel, the Ermine attacks and 
slays animals many times its own size and weight. Thus the house 
rat, squirrels, rabbits, and even the great northern hare fall easy 
victims before its superior prowess. It is very fond of the ruffed 
grouse, and its proneness to depopulate the poultry- yard is notorious. 
Audubon tells us that he has "known forty well-grown fowls to have 
been killed in one night by a single Ermine." And on our own 
premises a Stoat once killed fifteen doves in a single night ! Rats 
and mice also it slays by dozens when opportunity presents. Unlike 
others of its tribe it does not, when game is plenty, devour the flesh 
of its victims, but merely eats their brains or sucks their blood; and 
when feasted to satiety continues its work of carnage till scarcity of 
material, or bodily fatigue, induce it to take a temporary respite. 

Ever victorious, of pre-eminent assurance, reliant on its own superi- 
ority and power, and confident of success, this indomitable little 
animal is, in courage and ferocity, insatiate bloodthirstiness, and bold 
audacity, almost without parallel in the history ot mammalia. Hun- 
ger plays but little part in the slaughter, the war of destruction and 
extermination, waged against its multifarious prey by this terrestrial 
vampire, but pitiless, relentless, wasteful in the extreme, it kills for 

* Quoted in Coues' Fur-Bearing Animals, 1877, p. 109. 


the mere sake of killing, and its entire existence is almost one con- 
tinuous course of bloodshed. 

Dr. Coues speaks thus of its general aspect : " A glance at the 
physiognomy of the Weasels would suffice to betray their character. 
The teeth are almost of the highest known raptorial character; the 
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, cunning, and glitter with an angry green light. 
There is something peculiar, moreover, in the way that this fierce 
face surmounts a body extraordinarily wiry, lithe, and muscular. It 
ends a remarkably long and slender neck in such a way that it may 
be held at a right angle with the axis of the latter. When the crea- 
ture is glancing around, with the neck stretched up, and flat triangu- 
lar head bent forward, swaying from one side to the other, we catch 
the likeness in a moment it is the image of a serpent." * 

The foregoing forcible picture fits the Weasel well when under 
conditions of excitement and anger; but there are times when its 
appearance in no wise suggests its sanguinary propensities. In cer- 
tain states of pelage it is very beautiful, and when at rest a more 
innocent and harmless looking creature can hardly be found. On 
the approach of any of the animals that constitute its prey, how- 
ever, its bearing is instantly changed, and its fiendish nature is soon 

I once put a very large rat into a square tin cage with a Weasel 
of this species. The rat had been caught in a steel trap, by the toes 
of one of its hind feet, and was in no way injured. He was very 
ugly, biting fiercely at the trap and the stick with which I assisted 
him into the cage of the Weasel. No sooner had he entered the 
cage than his whole manner and bearing changed. He immediately 
assumed an attitude of abject terror, trembled from head to foot, and 
crawled into the nearest corner. The Weasel advanced toward 

* Fur-hearing Animals, 1877, p. 129. 


him at once, and as he did so the rat raised on his hind legs, let- 
ting his fore paws hang helplessly over his breast, and squealed 
piteously. Not only did he show no disposition to fight, but offered 
no resistance whatever, and did not even attempt to defend himself 
when molested. The Weasel did not seize him at first, but cuffed 
him with his fore paws and drove him from one corner of the cage to 
another, glaring at him continuously. Then, with a sudden move, he 
sprang upon his victim, already paralyzed with fear, laid open the 
back of his head with a single bite, ate the brains, and left the quiver- 
ing carcass untouched. 

The Ermine hunts both by clay and by night, and climbs trees with 
great ease and celerity. I have often " treed " them myself by run- 
ning after them in the woods, and have also seen them chase chip- 
munks up trees. Twice have I seen them run up the smooth trunks 
of the beech. They are not very timid and will allow a near ap- 
proach before taking fright. 

The much lamented Robert Kennicott, whose untimely death on 
the icy shores of the Yukon* deprived the world, prematurely, of one 
of her most indefatigable and conscientious naturalists, gave us such an 
interesting and truthful account of the habits of this species, that I 
take pleasure in reproducing brief portions of it here. He said : "A 
more fierce and cruel mammal does not exist in America than this 
little Weasel. The courage and sanguinary disposition of the pan- 
ther are insignificant in comparison, having regard to the strength of 
the two. Without hesitation, the Weasel attacks animals five or ten 
times its own size; and, not content with killing enough for food, 

wantonly destroys whatever life it can, When a Weasel has 

gained access to a poultry -yard, it will frequently kill every fowl with- 
in its reach in a single visit. . . . Fortunately, however, this animal, 
even when abundant, does not enter the farm-yard so frequently as 
might be expected, appearing to prefer a free life in the woods to 

*Mr. Kennicott died of heart disease, May 13, 1866, aged thirty. (Ball's Alaska, 1870, p. 70.) 


5 9 

easy but dangerous feasts on domestic fowls. ... I have observed 
for several years the presence of a number of these Weasels in a 
grove near a farm-yard well stocked with poultry, which they never 
appeared to enter, though repeatedly visited by minks and skunks. 
Indeed, I am inclined to think that, notwithstanding their occasional 
predatory inroads, they should not be killed when living permanently 
about meadows or cultivated fields, at a distance from the poultry; 
for they are not less destructive to many of the farmer's enemies in 
the fields. Meadow -mice are certainly the greatest pests among 
mammals in northern Illinois; and of these the Weasel destroys great 
numbers. I am informed that, upon the appearance of a Weasel in 
the field, the army of mice of all kinds begins a precipitate retreat. 
A gentleman of Wisconsin related to me that, while following the 
plough, in spring, he noticed a Weasel with a mouse in its mouth, 
running past him. It entered a hollow log. He determined to watch 
further, if possible, the animal's movements, and presently saw it 
come out again, hunt about the roots of some stumps, dead trees, and 
log-heaps, and then enter a hole, from which a mouse ran out. But 
the Weasel had caught one, and carried it to the nest. Upon cutting 
open this log, five young Weasels were found, and the remains of a 
large number of mice, doubtless conveyed there as food. . . . 

" Stacks and barnfuls of orain are often overrun with rats and mice; 


but let a Weasel take up his residence there and soon the pests will 
disappear. A Weasel will, occasionally, remain for some time in a 
barn, feeding on these vermin, without disturbing the fowls. But it 

o o 

is never safe to trust one near the poultry-yard, for, when once an at- 
tack is made, there is no limit to the destruction. When the animal 
has entered stacks or barns, it has the curious habit of collecting in a 
particular place the bodies of all the rats and mice it has slain; thus 
sometimes a pile of a hundred or more ol their victims may be seen 
which have been killed in the course of two or three nights. " :;: 


* The (Quadrupeds of Illinois injurious and beneficial to the Fanner. I>y Robert Kennieott. 
Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year 1857, Agriculture, 1858, pp. 104-106. 


And in another place Mr. Kennicott tells us that an Ermine " de- 
stroyed nearly fifty chickens, several of which were adults and many 
half grown, in a single night, and the early part of the following even- 
ing; and it was so bold as to kill several young chickens in a coop 
beside which a man was standing, watching for it. I finally shot it 
while it was running near me in pursuit of a chicken, though a few 
minutes before we had chased it into a retreat under a haystack* 
This extreme boldness could not have been the result of hunger, as it 
had already, during the same evening, killed a large number of fowls. "* 

Their nests are usually made in an old stump or log-heap, or under 
some outbuilding, and from four to six young are commonly brought 
forth early in May. The young are apt to remain during the summer 
in the vicinity of the nest. 

The Ermine as a Ferret. 

That the Ermine can be successfully employed as a Ferret is amply 
proven by the following narrative, from the pen of Dr. John Bachman: 
" Whilst residing in the State of New York many years ago, we were 
desirous of preserving a number of rabbits during the winter from the 
excessive cold and from the hands of the hunters, who killed so many 
that we feared the race would be nearly extirpated in our neighbor- 
hood; our design being to set them at liberty in the spring. At this 
period we had in confinement several Weasels of two species exist- 
ing in that part of the country. . . . 

"We bethought ourselves of using one of each species of these 
Weasels instead of a Ferret, to aid in taking the rabbits we wanted, and 
having provided ourselves with a man and a dog to hunt the rabbits 
to their holes, we took the Weasels in a small tin box with us, having 
first tied a small cord around their necks in such a manner as to pre- 
vent them from escaping, or remaining in the holes to eat the rabbits, 
whilst it could not slip and choke them. 

*Ibid., 1858, p. 244. 


"We soon raced a rabbit to its hole, . . ." and the Ermine "al- 
though we had captured the individual but a few days before, entered 
readily; but having his jaws at liberty, it killed the rabbit. Relin- 
quishing the Weasel to our man, he afterwards filed its teeth down to 
prevent it from destroying the rabbits; and when thus rendered harm- 
less, the Ermine pursued the rabbits to the bottom of their holes, and 
terrified them so that they instantly fled to the entrance and were 
taken alive in the hand; and although they sometimes scrambled up 
some distance in a hollow tree, their active and persevering little foe 
followed them, and instantly forced them down. In this manner the 
man procured twelve rabbits alive in the course of one morning, and 
more than fifty in about three weeks, when we requested him to de- 

Concerning the Change in Color in the Ermine. 

It is eminently proper that a subject which has attracted so much 
attention, and occasioned so much controversy, as the seasonal change 
in color in this and other species, should receive, in the present con- 
nection, the consideration that its importance demands. Audubon 
and Bachman, who observed the spring moult in an individual kept 
in confinement, give, with much detail, full notes (taken at the time) 
concerning the progress and nature of the change, as it advanced 
from clay to day. The result of their observations is thus stated : 
"As far as our observations have enabled us to form an opinion on 
this subject, we have arrived at the conclusion, that the animal sheds 
its coat twice a year, /. e., at the periods when these semi-annual 
changes take place. In autumn, the summer hair 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 shedding its winter coat, the new hairs then coming 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, pp. 177-178. 


out brown."* On this point Dr. Coues writes as follows: "The 
question practically narrows to this : Is the change coincident with 
renewal of the coat, or is it independent of this, or may it occur in 
both ways ? Specimens before me 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 speci- 
mens, notably autumnal ones, demonstrate the turning to white of 
existing 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 temperature be ex- 
perienced at the periods of renewal of the coat, the new hairs will 
come out of the opposite color; it not, they will appear of the same 
color, and afterwards 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 ob- 
serve white hairs brown-tipped. As Mr. Bell contends, temperature 
is the immediate controlling agent. This is amply proven in the fact 
that the northern animals always change; that in those from inter- 
mediate latitudes the change is incomplete, while those from farther 
south do not change at all."f 

Dr. Coues, it will be observed, states, without qualification, that 
"temperature is the immediate controlling agent" in this change of 
color, and remarks : " This is amply proven in the fact that the 
northern animals always change," etc. Now the facts with which I 
am familiar lead me to take a very different view of the case, and I 
am of opinion that temperature, per se, has very little to do, either 
with the time of the change, or the fact of the change; and in sup- 
port of this view I adduce the following facts and let it be under- 
stood that my observations pertain to the species as found in the 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. II, 1851, pp. 62-63. 
| Fur-bearing Animals, 1877, p. 123. 


Adirondack region only, for I have not seen it elsewhere during- the 
transition. It has been my experience, and the experience of the 
many hunters and trappers that I have consulted on this point (an 
experience resulting from the examination of upwards of an hundred 
specimens caught at about the time of the first snow) that the Ermine 
never assumes the white coat till after the ground is covered with 
snow, which is generally late in October or early in November. It 
frequently happens that the temperature of the atmosphere is many 
degrees lower during the week or ten days preceding the first fall of 
snow than at, or immediately subsequent to, the time of its deposi- 
tion. Notwithstanding these facts, it is equally true that Ermine 
caught up to the very day of the first appearance of snow bear 
no evidence of the impending change. Within forty-eight hours, 
however, after the occurrence of this snow-storm (provided enough 
has fallen to remain and cover the ground; and regardless of the 
temperature, which commonly rises several degrees soon after the 
storm sets in) the coat of the Ermine has already commenced to 
assume a pied and mottled appearance (often symmetrically marked 
and strikingly handsome), and the change now commenced pro- 
gresses to its termination with great rapidity. In early spring, the 
period for the reversal of this process, the changing back from the 
white coat of winter to the brown summer coat is determined by the 
same cause the presence or absence of snow. 

It may be asked " what induces the change in individuals kept in 
confinement?" My reply is: certainly not temperature, for it has 
taken place when the animal was caged in a warm room, indoors. 
The transition is more tardy in confinement than in a state of nature, 
and may be coincident with the moult. In any case, we find the ex- 
planation of its occurrence in the inevitable influence of hereditary 
habit; and it is not rational to suppose that the temporary effect of 
different conditions of environment would, in a single season, nullify 
a tendency that is the outgrowth of causes that have been operating 
for ages to bring about and perpetuate certain fashions for the pro- 


tection of the species. And this leads us to the consideration of 
of an important element in the discussion, to wit, the cause, or causes, 
which, acting through a long period of years, resulted in establishing 
this seasonal change in color. If the Ermine is the direct descendant 
of a dark-colored animal, and was, originally, an inhabitant of the tem- 
perate zone, it would have found, upon, extending its range northward, 
and indeed, wherever snow covers the ground in winter, that its dark 
color, by rendering it conspicuous on the white surface, proved a dis- 
advantage to it, both in the pursuit of its prey, and in the escape from 
its natural enemies. Therefore, by individual variation, and by the 
effect of light upon the snow, aided and directed by the laws of nat- 
ural selection, it finally got to assume, during the winter season, a 
dress that is in harmony with the objects among which it moves a 
garb well adapted for the maintenance and preservation of the species. 
Mr. Bell's theory, that the object of the white color is, by retard- 
ing radiation, to increase the amount of heat retained by the animal, 
is not only inadequate to account for the facts in the case, but, it 
seems to me, arises from straining a point (and an imagination as 
well ! ) to invent an improbable hypothesis for the explanation of a 
phenomenon the rationale of which is almost self-evident. The 
cause cited must have played the part of a very subordinate factor. 

PUTORIUS VISON (Brisson) Capper. 


The Mink is a well-known and tolerably abundant inhabitant of 
this region, frequenting water-courses, and preying upon muskrats, 
rats, mice, birds and their eggs, fish, frogs, turtle's eggs, cray-fish, 
and fresh-water mussels. It occasionally enters the poultry-yard of 
the border farmer and thins out his stock of ducks and chickens. It 
also feeds upon the rabbit; and on the salt-water marshes of the South 
kills great numbers of the clapper rail and the sharp -tailed and sea- 
side finches. 


The Mink is an excellent example of an amphibious mammal, for 
it not only swims and dives with facility, but can remain long under 
water, and pursues and captures fish by following them under logs or 
other places from which there is not a free escape. It has thus been 
known to secure as swift and agile a fish as the brook-trout, and Au- 
dubon says that he has seen a Mink catch a trout upwards of a foot 
in length ! It is remarkably strong for so small an animal, and a sin- 
gle one has been known to drag a mallard cluck more than a mile, in 
order to get it to its hole, where its mate joined in the feast. 

They are partially nocturnal, and hunt both at night and in broad 
daylight, like most of their tribe. I once saw three together on the 
banks of the outlet of Seventh Lake, and have many times met them 
singly about our water-courses, both in summer and in winter. They 
prowl about the lakes after nightfall and devour any fish that have 
been left on shore near the camps. 

As an enemy to the farmer, in point of destructiveness in the poul- 
try-yard, the Mink ranks next to the Ermine; and I sometimes in- 
cline to the opinion that, in the long run, more fowls and ducks are 
slain by him than by the last-named animal. He does not, it is true, 
make those occasional devastating raids, slaughtering everything that 
falls in his way, that constitute a chapter in the life-history of the Er- 
mine, but takes one victim at a time, commonly devouring it before 
killing another. Still, the wholesale butchery sometimes carried on 
by the Ermine occurs at long and irregular intervals, whilst the depre- 
dations of the Mink are apt to be more frequent and continuous. 
Taking up his abode in, or in proximity to, the poultry-yard, or duck- 
pond, he is pretty sure to remain for weeks, helping himself, daily, to 
as many birds as his voracious appetite enables him to dispose of. 
His small size and partially nocturnal habits tend to conceal his move- 
ments, and the daily loss of a fowl is commonly laid at the door of 
the skunk, fox, or owl, long before the true marauder is suspected. 

I find that many hunters and trappers believe that the Mink does 
not make long journeys, but remains in the vicinity of its nest, to 


which it returns every twenty-four hours or thereabouts. My experi- 
ence, in certain cases at least, proves the contrary. On the banks of a 
stream, along which I once had a line of traps, I noticed at intervals 
of two or three weeks, the tracks of an unusually large Mink. After 
a long while I succeeded in tracking him to an old bridge, in a pas- 
ture, and on lifting the planks at one end discovered his nest (or one 
of them). It consisted of a mass of dead leaves, a foot or more in 
thickness, well lined with feathers. Alongside it were the remains of 
a muskrat, a red squirrel, and a downy woodpecker, but the Mink 
was not there he had gone on up the stream. Concealing a good 
Newhouse steel trap in the approach to his nest, I replaced the old 
planks and went away. This was about the middle of October. 
Two weeks passed without any indication of his return, but the time 
had arrived when he might be expected to " happen around" almost 
any day. I therefore made daily visits to the stream to search for 
his tracks, taking care to avoid the immediate neighborhood of the 
bridge. A heavy snow-storm now set in and next morning a foot of 
newly fallen snow covered the ground. During this storm the Mink 
returned and was caught. He was the largest and handsomest Mink 
I have ever seen, and I regret to have lost the record of his dimen- 
sions, taken at the time. Some idea, however, of his size and the 
quality of his fur may be had from the fact that his pelt sold for four- 
teen dollars. 

This, and other more or less similar experiences, have convinced 
me that the Mink frequently, if not commonly, makes long excursions, 
like the Otter, following one water-course and then another, and re- 
turning over the same route; and I believe that they have a number 
of nests scattered at convenient intervals along these circuits. This 
habit may be confined to the old males, but whether it is so or not 
remains to be proven. 

Concerning its manner and actions when caught we have the fol- 
lowing graphic account from the facile pen of Dr. Coues : " One who 
has not taken a Mink in a steel trap can scarcely form an idea of the 


terrible expression the animal's face assumes as the captor ap- 
proaches. It has always struck me as the most nearly diabolical of 
anything in animal physiognomy. A sullen stare from the crouched, 
motionless form gives way to a new look of surprise and fear, ac- 
companied with the most violent contortions of the body, with re- 
newed 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 
frightful despair. . . . As may well be supposed, the creature must 
not be incautiously dealt with when in such a frame of mind." 

When taken sufficiently young he is easily domesticated, and makes 
one of the very best of " ratters." He follows these common pests 
into their holes, and destroys large numbers of them. The remainder 
are so terrified that they leave the premises in great haste and are not 
apt soon to return. 

The Mink carries a pair of anal glands that secrete a fluid of an ex- 
tremely fetid and disgusting odor. It cannot be ejected to a distance, 
like that of the skunk, but is poured out under sexual excitement, and 
when the animal is enraged. It is commonly emitted when the beast 
is trapped, and sometimes becomes insufferably sickening while re- 
moving the skin. It is the most execrable smell with which my nos- 
trils have as yet been offended, and is more powerful and offensive in 
some individuals than in others the difference probably depending 
upon season and age. In one specimen the fetor was so intolerably 
rank and loathsome that I was unable to skin it at one sitting; and I 
am free to confess that it is one of the few substances, of animal, 
vegetable, or mineral origin, that has, on land or sea, rendered me 

o o 

aware of the existence of the abominable sensation called nausea. 

The fur of the Mink being valuable, the species has been exten- 
sively trapped and is consequently not nearly so abundant here as 
formerly. It is prime early in November. 

* Fur-Bearing Animals, 1877, p. 176. 


They rut during the latter part of February or early in March, and 
during this season their tracks may be seen everywhere along 
rocky ridges, over high mountains, and in all sorts of places. Dr. 
Bachman tells us that at this time the Mink "seems to keep on foot 
all day as well as through the whole night," and says further : " Hav- 
ing for several days in succession observed a number of Minks on 
the ice hurrying up and down a mill-pond, where we had not ob- 
served any during a whole 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 course of the morning, and ascertained that 
they were all large and old males. As we did not find a single fe- 
male 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."* 

From four to six young constitute an ordinary litter, and they are 
brought forth early in May. The nests are in burrows or hollow 
logs and are usually well-lined with feathers, and sometimes, it is 
said, with the fur of the female. The young follow the mother till 
the fall, and then generally disperse to look out for themselves. 

The famous "Minkery" of Mr. H. Resseque, at Verona, Oneida 
County, New York, has afforded rare facilities for the study of the 
breeding habits of this species, and from the accounts of it that have 
been published in the Fanciers' Journal and Poultry Exchange, and 
Forest and Stream, and summarized by Dr. Coues, I quote the follow- 
ing : "At this time [early in March] the males fight desperately, and 

if not soon separated one always gets the mastery 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. 

* Quadrupeds of North America, vol. I, 1846, p. 258. 


6 9 

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." 


Skunk; Polecat; "Alaska Sable" 

The Skunk is very common in the clearings and settled districts 
bordering this region, and is found, sparingly, throughout the Adiron- 

He preys upon mice, salamanders, frogs, and the eggs of birds that 
nest on, or within reach from, the ground. At times he eats carrion, 
and if he chances to stumble upon a hen's nest the eg^s are lj a bl e to 


suffer; and once in a while he acquires the evil habit of robbing the 
hen-roost. Still, as a rule, Skunks are not addicted to this vice, and 
it is with them very much as it is with clogs and cats; for every now 
and then a dog will get into the habit of killing sheep, and a cat of 
killing chickens and sucking eggs, and yet we do not wage a warfare 
of extermination against them, collectively, on account of the sins of 
a few of their number. 

Of all our native mammals perhaps no one is so universally abused, 
and has so many unpleasant things said about it, as the innocent sub- 
ject of the present biography; and yet no other species is half so val- 
uable to the farmer. Pre-eminently an insect eater, he destroys more 
beetles, grasshoppers, and the like than all our other mammals to- 
gether, and in addition to these devours vast numbers of mice. 

He is not fond of extensive forests, but seeks the clearings and 


pastures that surround the habitations of man, and not infrequently 

* Fur-bearing Animals, 1877, pp. 182-183. 


takes up his abode under one of the outbuildings ; or, retiring to a 
neighboring grove, may make his nest under an old stump, or dig a 
hole into some wooded knoll or side-hill hard by. Being loath to 
intrude the presence of man, he sleeps away the clay, and at nightfall 
comes forth to wander through the garden, orchard, and meadow, to 
prey upon the insects that feast upon the product of man's toil. 

He is of the greatest practical value to the hop-grower, for he fre- 
quents the hop-yard with great regularity, and greedily devours the 
insect pests that, from their numbers and destructiveness, always in- 
jure, and sometimes ruin the crop. Such is the extent and impor- 
tance of the services rendered in this direction that, at a recent Ses- 
sion of our State Legislature, a bill was introduced for his protection. 
Indeed, the benefit that accrues to the farmer from the occupancy of 
his premises by a family of these useful animals can hardly be over- 
estimated. They are large eaters and subsist almost exclusively upon 
his greatest enemies insects and mice. Of the truth of this assertion 
he may easily convince himself by merely taking the trouble to ex- 
amine any bit of " Skunk sign" that he happens to come across; for, 
in the summer season, their dejections consist wholly of the indi- 
gestible chitenous coverings of beetles, grasshoppers and other in- 
sects. The raids that some of their numbers occasionally make upon 
his poultry-yard are more than compensated for by the constant and 
unremitting services of the entire family in ridding his fields and 
garden of the vermin that destroy his crops. In fact, I do not hesitate 
to assert that a single Skunk nets the farmer more, in dollars and 


cents, each year, than he loses from their depredations during 
his entire life-time. And yet so short-sighted is he, that he rarely 
lets slip a chance to kill one; and were they more diurnal in habits 
their race would doubtless, ere now, be well-nigh exterminated. 

Many of our mammals are noted for their beauty and attractive 
appearance, but amongst them it would be difficult to find a pret- 
tier beast than the Skunk. He was not built after the most grace- 
ful of patterns, to be sure, and it must be acknowledged that his 


snout is strongly suggestive of the pig's ; still, his tout ensemble is 
decidedly pleasing. There is nothing obscure in his color or mark 
ings. The handsome black body, the narrow white stripe running up 
the forehead, the clear white crown from which a broad band of the 
same color commonly extends down the nape, splitting into two as it 
passes along the back, contrasting handsomely with the glossy 
black of the surrounding fur, and the large, bushy tail, terminating 
in a tuft of creamy white, combine to produce an exterior of unusual 
attractiveness. His lur is long, thick, and glossy, and makes an ele- 
gant centre for a robe. During the past few yea,rs prime pelts 
(those lacking the white back stripes) have been largely employed in 
the manufacture of fine furs, and are sold under the noni dc guerre 
of >l Alaska Sable." 

Excepting alone the weasels, the Skunk is the least wary, not only 
of the Mitstclidcc, but of all our Carnivores. He is not suspicious, 
and may be taken in almost any kind of a device contrived for the 
purpose box-traps, steel-traps, and dead-falls being most commonly 
employed in his destruction. To the trapper he often proves a 
source of great annoyance, by getting into toils set for the fox and 
other more valuable fur. 

He does not evince that dread of man that is so manifest in the 
vast majority of our mammals, and when met during any of his cir- 
cumambulations rarely thioks of running away. On the contrary, 
his curiosity is aroused, and he is full as apt to come towards one as 
to make off in the opposite direction. He is slow in movement and 
deliberate in action, and does not often hurry himself in whatever he 
does. His ordinary gait is a measured walk, but when pressed for 
time he breaks into a low, shuffling gallop. It is hard to intimidate 
a Skunk, but when once really frightened he manages to get over 
the ground at a very fair pace. 

He is an inquisitive beast, and will often take much trouble to ex- 
amine anything peculiar about the premises. One evening, while 
sitting near the open door of my museum, one came and peeped in 


at me. As I remained motionless he climbed up and rested his fore- 
paws on the threshold, so near that I could easily have reached him 
with my hands. After carefully scrutinizing me with his keen, 
black eyes, he began to stamp and scold saucily, and then backed 
slowly off, keeping his eye on me all the while. Scarcely had he 
commenced this quasi-retreat, when he chanced to back into a beech- 
tree that stood near by. Evidently thinking that someone had at- 
tacked him from the rear (risky business!) he whirled about in a jiffy, 
with his tail up and hair on end, growling excitedly, and scampered 
away into the bushes. 

Skunks are so slow to get out of the way that they are often run 
over by vehicles in the evening, and are liable, under such circum- 
stances, to perfume the establishment unapproachably. I have had 
many such experiences. 

When engaged in the nefarious business of plundering the poultry- 
yard (an iniquity to which he rarely descends) he makes no provision 
for escape, and, in the terse language of Dr. Coues, " even after dis- 
covery, the Skunk seems to forget the propriety of making off, and 
generally falls a victim to his lack of wit." 

Skunks remain active throughout the greater part of the year, in 
this region, and hibernate only during the severest portion of the 
winter. They differ from most of our hibernating mammals in that 
the inactive period is, apparently, dependent solely upon the temper- 
ature ; in this respect they resemble the gray squirrel. That the 
amount of snow has no influence upon their movements is evident 
from the fact that they are frequently out, in numbers, when its 
average depth exceeds a metre and a half (a trifle over five feet) 
on the level. Neither can it be a difference in food supply that 
affects them, for at this season they subsist almost wholly upon mice 
and shrews, and I have repeatedly noticed these little beasts scamp- 
ering about on the crisp snow when the thermometer indicated a 
temperature below -30 C (-20 F.) With us there is apt to be a 
month or six weeks of very cold weather in January or February, and 


during its continuance I have never seen evidence of their presence ; 
for it is at such times that they " den up." The length of time that 
they remain in their holes depends entirely upon the duration of the 
period of low temperature, and they are always out and active with 
the first thaws of March. The occurrence of a thaw, at any time, com- 
monly brings them to the surface, but a recurrence of the severe cold 
suffices to drive them back to their burrows. 

Skunks, particularly when young, make very pretty pets, being 
attractive in appearance, gentle in disposition, interesting in manners, 
and cleanly in habits rare qualities indeed ! They are playful, some- 
times mischievous, and manifest considerable affection for those who 
have the care of them. I have had, at different times, ten live 
Skunks in confinement. They were all quite young, measuring from 
100 to i5o mm. (approximately 4 to 7 in.) only, in length, when first 
taken. Some were dug out of their holes, and the rest caught in 
box traps. Two were so young that they could walk but a few steps 
at a time, and had to be brought up on milk, being fed with a spoon. 
The others ate meat and insects from the start. From some of them 
I removed the scent bags, but the greater number were left in a state 
of nature. None ever emitted any odor, although a couple of them, 
when half grown, used to assume a painfully suggestive attitude on 
the too-near approach of strangers so suggestive, indeed, that their 
visitors commonly beat a hasty retreat. These same Skunks, when 
I came within reach, would climb up my legs and get into my arms. 
They liked to be caressed, and never offered to bite. Others that I 
have had did not show the aversion for strangers evinced by this 
pair, and I believe the difference to be clue to the way in which they 
are brought up. If accustomed to the presence of a number of peo- 
ple they are familiar and friendly toward all; while if kept where they 
habitually see but one or two persons they will not permit a stranger 
to touch them. 

Two summers ago I was the happy master of the cleverest young 

Skunk that I have thus far chanced to meet. For a name he receiv- 


eel the title of his genus, and we called him " Meph." for short. By 
way of precaution I removed his scent sacs, and he made a rapid 
and complete recovery, after a few days of temporary indisposition. 
While driving about the country, in the performance of professional 
duties, he usually slept in my pocket. Alter supper I commonly took 
a walk, and he always followed, close at my heels. If I chanced to 
walk too fast for him, he would scold and stamp with his fore-feet, 
and if I persisted in keeping too far ahead, would turn about, disgust- 
ed, and make offin an opposite direction ; but if I stopped and called 
him he would hurry along at a sort of ambling pace, and soon over- 
take me. He was particularly fond of ladies, and I think it was the 
dress that attracted him; but be this as it may he would invariably 
leave me to follow any lady that chanced to come near. We used 
to walk through the woods to a large meadow which abounded in 
grasshoppers. Here " Meph." would fairly revel in his favorite food, 
and it was rich sport to watch his manoeuvres. When a grasshopper 
jumped he jumped, and I have seen him with as many as three in 
his mouth, and two under his fore-paws, at one time ! He would eat 
so many that his over- distended little belly actually dragged upon the 
ground, and when so full that he could hold no more, would still catch 
and slay them. When so small that he could scarcely toddle about he 
never hesitated to tackle the large and powerful beetle known as the 
" horned bug," and got many smart nips for his audacity. But he 
was a courageous little fellow and it was not long before he learned 
to handle them with impunity, and it was very amusing to see him 
kill one. Ere many weeks he ventured to attack a mouse, and the 
ferocity displayed in its destruction was truly astonishing. He de- 
voured the entire body of his victim, and growled and stamped his 
feet if anyone came near before the repast was over. 

His nest was in a box near the foot of the stairs, and before he 
grew strong enough to climb out by himself he would, whenever he 
heard me coming, stand on his hind legs with his paws resting on the 
edge of the box, and beg to be carried up-stairs. If I passed by 


/ J 

without appearing to notice him he invariably became much enraged 
and chippered and scolded away at a great rate, stamping, meanwhile, 
most vehemently. He always liked to be carried up to my office, 
and as soon as strong enough, would climb up of his own accord. 
He was very sprightly and frolicsome, and used to hop about the 
floor and run from room to room in search of something to play with, 
and frequently amused himself by attempting to demolish my slip- 
pers. I have often given him a bit of old sponge, with a string 
attached, in order to keep him out of mischief. During the evening 
he occasionally assumed a cunning mood, and would steal softly up 
to my chair, and standing erect would claw at my pants once or 
twice, and then scamper oft as fast as his little legs could carry him, 
evidently anxious to have me give chase. If I refused to follow, he 
was soon back, ready to try a new scheme to attract my attention. 

I have heard many persons, who reside in the country, say that 
they had never seen a live Skunk. This must be because they are 
not much in the fields and groves at dawn of day, or dusk of evening, 
for at these times they are frequently seen. The farmer's boy, in 
going after his cows early every morning, meets plenty of them. 

Skunks have large families, from six to ten young being commonly 
raised each season; and as a rule they all live in the same hole till 
the following spring. A steel trap, set at the mouth of this hole, will 
often capture the entire family, at the rate of one per night. In win- 
ter half a dozen or more may sometimes be taken in a single night, 
in the following manner : the hunter treads a narrow path in the 
snow, leading from the mouth of the hole away in the direction of 
some favorite resort and, at intervals along this path, the traps are 
set in the snow. At nightfall, when the Skunks come out, they 
march, single file, down the path, the mother usually taking the lead. 
The head one is generally caught in the first trap, and the others 
climb over the resulting obstruction and move on till a second is 
taken, and a third, and so on. 


The flesh of the Skunk is white, tender and sweet, and is delicious 
eatinof. It is not unlike chicken, but is more delicate, and its taste is 


particularly agreeable. Being, happily, free from any of that " squeam- 
ishness" which Audubon and Bachman lament as preventing them 
from tasting the meat of this animal, I am able to speak on this point 
from ample personal experience having eaten its flesh cooked in a 
variety of ways, boiled, broiled, roasted, fried, and fricasseed and 
am prepared to assert that a more " toothsome bit " than a broiled 
Skunk is hard to get, and rarely finds its way to the table of the epi- 

The fore-feet of the Skunk are provided with long claws, which he 
employs in excavating his burrows and in digging after mice, which 
latter occupation consumes a large share of his time. He is also 
armed with a fine set of sharp teeth, that are capable of inflicting 
severe wounds; still, his chief weapon of defence lies in the secretion 
of a pair of anal glands, that lie on either side of the rectum, 
and are imbedded in a dense, gizzard-like mass of muscle which 
serves to compress them so forcibly that the contained fluid may 
be ejected to the distance of four or five metres (approximately 
13 to 163 feet). Each sac is furnished with a single duct that 
leads into a prominent nipple-like papilla that is capable of being 
protruded from the anus, and by means of which the direction 
of the jet is governed. The secretion is a clear limpid fluid of an 
amber or golden yellow color, has an intensely acid reaction, and, in 
the evening, is slightly luminous. On standing, in a bottle, a floccu- 
lent, whitish precipitate separates and falls to the bottom. The fluid 
sometimes shows a decided greenish cast, and it always possesses 
an odor that is characteristic, and in some respects unique. Its 
all-pervading, penetrating, and lasting properties are too well known 
to require more than passing comment. I have known the scent 
to become strikingly apparent in every part of a well-closed house, 
in winter, within five minutes' time after a Skunk had been killed 
at a distance of an hundred metres (about twenty rods) ! The 



odor generally remains noticeable for weeks, and sometimes for 
months, about the place where one has been killed. The condition 
of the atmosphere has much to do in determining- this matter, for the 
more humid the air and the higher the temperature, the farther is the 
scent discernible, and the longer does it last. Under favorable con- 
ditions it is certainly distinctly recognizable at the distance of a mile, 
and DeKay quotes a statement from the Medical Repository that 
a Dr. Wiley, of Block Island, " distinctly perceived the smell of a 
Skunk, although the nearest land was twenty miles distant "!* 

There is a marked difference in the intensity of the scent in dif- 
ferent Skunks, and I am persuaded that it is due, chiefly, to the age of 
the animal whence it emanates. It is not impossible that there may 
also be a difference due to the length of time that the secretion has 


been retained, /. c.< that it is not so rank and overpowering when 
recently secreted as when there has been no discharge for some time- 
when it seems to have become concentrated. 

When recently ejected the fumes from this liquid are overpower- 
ingly pungent, and extremely irritating to the air passages; and, I 
have no doubt, are as capable of producing cedema of the glottis as 
the fumes from stronger ammonia. When inhaled without the ad- 
mixture of a large amount of atmospheric air the unhappy victim 
loses consciousness and breathes stertorously, the temperature falls 
and the pulse slackens, and if the inhalation were prolonged the re- 
sult would doubtless prove fatal. 

* Zoology of New York, Mammals, 1842, p. 30. 

f In connection \\ith the foregoing remarks, I introduce the following clipping, which has gone 
the rounds of the Medical press : 

" SKUNK PERFUME AS AN ANESTHETIC. Dr. W. B. Conway ( Virginia Medical Monthly, August, 
iSSi) reports a case where roguish school-boys caused one of their number to inhale fiom a two- 
ounce phial an unknown quantity of Skunk perfume. The effects produced were total unconscious- 
ness, muscular relaxation, a temperature of 94 and pulse of 65, together with cool extremities. The 
respiration and pupils were normal. The patient soon recovered under hot pediluvia and stimu- 
lants. The Skunk perfume is rather an unpleasant substance to experiment with, still, those en- 
dowed with anosmia might obtain results of value from similar experiments with it." 

Dr. Conway (of Blacksburg, Va.) further stated that the patient " remained for one hour " in a 
state of " total unconsciousness." During that time the Doctor " administered small quantities of 
whiskey at short intervals," having " some difficulty in getting him to swallow. . . . He was 
finally aroused, suffering no inconvenience from its effects except a slight headache, which passed 
off after a good night's sleep." (Virg. Med. Month., Vol. VIII, No. 5, Aug., iSSi, pp. 359-360.) 


The evidence is pretty conclusive that the peculiar substance under 
consideration is an efficacious remedy in certain spasmodic affections 
of the air passages, such as asthma, hooping-cough, and spasmodic 
croup. It certainly deserves more extended trial, but, unfortunately, 
its offensive odor is a practical bar to its general employment. Still, 
to my nostrils, it is not half so disagreeable as many less whole- 
some smells. It is powerful, pungent, and penetrating, to be sure, 
but is not one-tenth part so disgustingly nauseating as the secretion 
from the corresponding glands of many other members of the Mus- 
telidfe, and particularly of the mink and weasel. 

If any of this acrid liquid finds its way into the eye it produces in- 
tense pain and sets up an acute conjunctivitis, which commonly runs 
its course in a week or ten clays. I have myself met with this mis- 
fortune, but suffered no permanent injury therefrom. However, we 
have reliable accounts of the entire loss of vision from this cause, 
and it is reasonable to suppose that attendant circumstances would 
have much to do with the result. 

The scent glands of the Skunk may be removed, bodily, without 
in any way affecting the health or happiness of the animal. 
The gizzard-like mass of muscle in which they are imbedded com- 
pletely surrounds the gut, just at the outlet of the pelvis, and is 
attached to the tuberosities of the ischium. The chief danger 
attending the operation is the liability of wounding the rectum, 
or of creating so much irritation about it that the subsequent in- 
flammation and cicatrization will result in stricture of that important 
viscus. Care must also be exercised in order to avoid wounding the 
genito-urinary passages. I have operated, with complete success, both 
with and without antiseptic precautions. A much simpler operation, 
where the end in view is merely to disarm the animal, is that per- 
formed by Dr. J. M. Warren, of Boston, in the year 1849.* It consists 
in making an incision through the skin, directly in front of the anus, 
and in snipping the ducts of the glands, at the bases of the nipple-like 

* "Proceed. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. Ill, p. 175, 1849." 


papillae which project into the gut, just within the sphincter. Adhe- 
sive inflammation follows and permanently occludes the ducts at the 
points of division. Therefore, although the glands themselves are 
left in situ, the animal is, forever after, incapable of ridding himself 
of their contents. 

The Skunk is a sort of" little lord" of the domain over which he 
roams, for there are few enemies, save short- sighted man. that care 


to dispute his right of way. It is true that the wolf, fox, and great- 
horned owl occasionally dine upon his tender flesh, but the details of 
the struggle, inevitable to his capture, are not altogether pleasant; 
hence he is not often interfered with, and becomes as bold as he is 
abundant. Concerning his confidence in the efficacy of his over- 
powering weapon, and the effect of this assurance upon his disposi- 
tion and habits, Dr. Coues makes the following pertinent remarks- 
condensing into one brief sentence thoughts that suggest whole chap- 
ters in the history of this interesting animal : " Its heedless familiarity, 
its temerity in pushing into places which other animals avoid as dan- 
gerous, and its indisposition to seek safety by hasty retreat, are evi- 
dent results of its confidence in the extraordinary means of defence 
with which it is provided." And further on observes : " the abun- 
dance 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." 1 

Dr. Coues expresses the belief in which I cannot concur, that the 
scent of the Skunk is not only used as a means of defence, but also 
serves as a means or bringing these animals together that they are 
attracted to one another by it -and goes on to say : " Burrows are 
sometimes found to contain as many as a dozen individuals, not mem- 
bers of one family, but various adult animals drawn together." Now, 
as previously stated, the Skunk is a very prolific animal, commonly 
bringing forth from six to ten at a birth, and these young, with their 
parents, remain in one hole for the ensuing year. Before the expira- 

* Loc. cit., p. 215. 


tion of this period the young Skunks have grown up and several of 
them, at least, have attained the full dimensions of their parents, so 
that it is impossible to distinguish between them except by a careful 
examination of their teeth and claws; and even these means some- 
times fail, as when the parents themselves are but a year older than 
their offspring, and nothing short of a comparison of their skulls af- 
fords positive evidence of their ages. I have dwelt thus at length 
on this point in order to show how easy it is to be mistaken in the 
ages of Skunks after the first six or eight months, so rapidly do they 
attain their growth; and I have yet to see satisfactory evidence that 
more than two adult Skunks have been found in the same hole at 
any one time. 

How to Kill a Skunk. 

When we bear in mind that thousands of Skunks are slain each 
year for their fur, it is indeed surprising that so few hunters, trap- 
pers, and naturalists should know how to kill them, without provok- 
ing a discharge from their scent reservoirs. And yet there is a 
method, safe, sure, and simple, by which they may be killed without 
the emission of a single drop of the much dreaded secretion. This 
method depends upon the well-known physiological fact that an in- 
jury to the spinal cord produces immediate paralysis or loss of 
power of the muscles supplied by the nerves that are given off below 
the point of injury. Hence, loss of control over the posterior ex- 
tremities (a condition technically known as paraplegia] may be pro- 
duced, in any mammal, by a blow across the back that is sufficiently 
forcible to destroy the integrity of the cord opposite the injured point. 
The back must generally be broken to insure this result. 

Therefore, to kill a Skunk without permitting the evacuation of 
its peculiar perfume, it is only necessary to deal it a smart rap across 
the back. If the animal is in a trap he should be approached slowly 
and cautiously, for, under these circumstances it is prudent not to be 
in too much of a hurry, and to avoid making sudden moves. If you go 


too fast he will elevate his tail, present his rear, and assume an un- 
comfortably suspicious attitude. Give him a little time and he will 
about-face and peer at you again with his little keen black eyes. 
Now advance a little nearer and be sure of your aim; and when you 
strike, strike Iictrd. The main thing is to keep cool and not strike 
too soon. On receiving the blow his hinder parts settle helplessly 
upon the ground, and the tail, which was carried high over the back, 
now straightens out behind, limp and powerless. As a rule the 
head soon droops and the animal expires. If he does not die directly 
he is easily dispatched, being effectually disarmed. The common 
causes of failure, in this mode of killing, are two: ist, in using too 
long a pole, and consequently striking when so far off that the beast 
has time to jump forward (in attempting to dodge the blow) and is 
hit too far aft often on the tail; and 2d, in not striking hard enough 
to break the back. When properly done this method never fails, and 
it is the safest, surest, and simplest way to kill a Skunk without oc- 
casioning a discharge from his battery. I speak with some confi- 
dence on this point, having myself killed upwards of an hundred 
Skunks in the manner above recommended. Out of this number 
were six failures, due to the causes above specified. 

It has been asserted, on high authority, that if the Skunk is shot 
in a vital part he will die without discharging his scent. This is an 
error, as I have demonstrated repeatedly to my entire satisfaction. 
I have put the muzzle of my double-barrelled shot-gun within a foot 
from the head of a Skunk, that was in a steel-trap, and literally blown 
his whole head off; under similar circumstances have I tried the ef- 
fect of both shot and ball upon his heart and lungs; and further, on 
one occasion, I severed the head from the body with one blow from 
a sharp axe, and in each instance was the death struggle accompanied 
by a discharge of the scent. These remarks may seem to conflict 
with the writings of Audubon and Bachrnan, who state : "We had 


one of their burrows opened to within a foot of the extremity, where 
the animals were huddled together. Placing ourselves a few yards 


off, we suffered them successively to come out. As they slowly 
emerged and were walking off, they were killed with coarse shot 
aimed at the shoulders. In the course of half an hour, seven (the 
number contained in the burrow) were obtained; one only was offen- 
sive, and we were enabled without inconvenience to prepare six of 
them for specimens."* But it is explicitly mentioned that "they 
were killed with coarse shot aimed at the shoulders," and this fact 
explains why six out of seven did not smell, for some of the shot 
doubtless hit the cord. 

Skunks caught in dead-falls rarely ever emit scent, and for the 
simple reason that their backs are broken and their hinder parts 

A veteran fox trapper, Mr. C. L. Whitman, of Weston, Vermont, 
rids his traps of Skunks by slipping a wire noose over their heads 
and choking them to death. He claims that they rarely smell when 
thus dealt with.f 

When caught in the vicinity of water, they are easily drowned, and 
when so treated never smell. 

ist. WJiat the Scent is. 

It was for many years believed, even amongst naturalists, that the 
scent of the Skunk was its urine, and this belief is still widely prev- 
alent with the masses of our population. The urine of the Skunk 
has no offensive or even characteristic odor, the scent being the 
secretion of a pair of highly developed and specialized anal glands, 
which have already been sufficiently described. (See p. 76.) 

2d. How it is Scattered. 

The vulgar notion that the Skunk scatters its scent with its tail 
was formerly so universal and wide spread that no less renowned a 

* Quadrupeds of North America, vol. I, 1846, p. 324. 

\ Forest and Stream, Feb. 17, 1876. Quoted by Cones in Fur-bearing Animals, 1877, P- 2I 7- 


zoologist than the accurate and sagacious Dr. Richard Harlan was 
(mis-) led to write that these animals emit, " particularly when dis- 
turbed, a most nauseous, detestable odor, proceeding from the liquor 
of the anal glands, which they mix with the urine ; with this fluid 
they wet the tail, and scatter it to a considerable distance." No 
statement could have less foundation in fact. The Skunk is a very 
cleanly beast, and, when about to discharge his scent, arches his tail 
high over his back so that it may not be defiled by the fluid. The 
scent is thrown by the contraction of the thick muscular tunic in 
which the lands are imbedded. 

. When do they part with it ? 

It is commonly believed, by the community at large, that a Skunk 
is always ready to spatter anyone that chances to come within range. 
Nothing could be wider from the truth. A Skunk generally waits till 
he is hurt before discharging his battery, and I have more than once 
seen a dog get fairly hold of the beast before the emission occurred. 
Indeed, I have never known one to eject a single drop of the 
precious fluid except when hard pressed and very much excited- 
and it takes considerable to excite an adult Skunk. When caught 
in steel traps not more than one in twenty will smell, and the re- 
maining nineteen suffer themselves to be tormented to an astonish- 
ing degree before " opening the valve." One may, with considera- 
ble confidence, approach one when in a trap, take hold of the chain, 
and drag the trap and contents to any convenient place, provided he 
goes slowly and makes no sudden move. Never but once has my 
confidence been betrayed while thus engaged. It was when at- 
tempting to drag a young Skunk out of its hole, into which it had 
retreated with the trap; and I was well sprinkled in the operation. 
These unsophisticated juveniles, when harassed, get excited far 
more easily than their parents, and sometimes " squirt ' upon in- 
sufficient provocation. 

* Fauna Americana, 1825, p. 69. 

8 4 


It is supposed by many that the Skunk empties his scent sacs at 
other times than during the excitement of danger ; that it is done to 
attract the opposite sex, or for practice, or for some other reason 
than the annoyance of his enemy. This is contrary to my expe- 
rience, and is also, I believe, at variance with the facts of the case, 
so far as known. 

j.t/1. Does one Discharge empty the Sacs ? 

It is frequently asserted, by those having little or no personal 
acquaintance with these animals, that the Skunk completely empties 
his scent reservoirs at the first discharge, and becomes, immediately 
thereafter, " as harmless as a cat." To such as entertain this opinion 
I extend a cordial invitation to accompany me to the presence of a 
Skunk, whom I will provoke to make several distinct and separate 
discharges, and will then step aside and be pleased to see them pick 
up the " harmless " animal ! 

. When held by the Tail, u'hat ? 

I have been told, and have likewise seen the statement in print, 
that a Skunk, when held up by the tail, cannot eject his scent. 

Having in early childhood been the unhappy victim to a suffi- 
ciently satisfactory demonstration to the contrary, I will relate the 
result of a somewhat humiliating experience, for the benefit of those 
who are in doubt on this point. It was in the fall of the year, 
and a light snow enabled me to track a Skunk to his hole in 
the woods, where I set a box trap, baited with meat. Next morning 
I found the trap sprung, but, hearing no noise within, opened the lid. 
Before I had time to see what was there my little dog rushed in, and 
as I reached out my arm to pull him back, I somehow got hold of 
the Skunk's tail by mistake. My chin dropped with astonishment 
as I held the affrighted beast up before me, and the clog seized him 
by the head. Scarce had I realized the peril of the situation when I 
was blinded and stifled by the terrible discharge, which hit me full in 


the face, entering- my gaping mouth and one of my eyes. Nearly 
suffocated by the overpowering stench, and screaming with pain, I 
rushed into the house, where, in the efforts to wash the fluid from 
my eye, my head was crowded into a pail of water, and I was well 
nigh drowned. I had read that a single drop of the secretion was 
sufficient to produce total blindness, and consequently expected 
nothing less than to lose the sight in this eye. The resulting inflam- 
mation, however, subsided in about a week, leaving no ill effect* 

6tJi. Skunk Bites and Hydrophobia. 

Under this head I take the liberty to reproduce an article that I 
wrote for Forest and Stream in July, 1880 : 

" Ever since the Rev. Horace G. Hovey, M. A., took it upon 
himself to notify the civilized world (through the medium of the 
American Journal of Science and Arts for May, 1874, pp. 477-483) 
of the terrible consequences attending the bite of our common 
Skunk {Mephitis niephitica], the columns of your valuable paper, to- 
gether with those of various other publications, have been much of 
the time pregnant with more or less extended remarks upon the 

" The Rev. Mr. Hovey announced that the bite of the Skunk was 
usually fatal, and produces in the human subject a peculiar kind of 
hydrophobia, which he named Rabies Mephitica. In the Nav York 
Medical Record for March 13, 1875, Dr. John S. Janeway, U. S. A., 
proves that the disease is nothing more nor less than ordinary 
hydrophobia as derived from the dog, cat, or other rabid animal. 

" Dr. Elliott Coues deems the subject of sufficient importance to 
reproduce both articles (Rev. Hovey's and Dr. Janeway 's), but 

* Since penning the above I have again had the misfortune to get a charge of this fluid into one 
of my eyes. It was due to carelessness on my part, and occurred August 10, 1882, while removing 
the scent glands from a young Skunk. The contents of one of the sacs was suddenly and unex- 
pectedly discharged, striking me full in the right eye. For a time the pain was intense, but I 
immediately and thoroughly washed out the fluid by pumping water into the open eye, and the 
conjunctiva! congestion that ensued subsided in a few hours. But in this case the fluid was not 
nearly so strong and irritating as that from the adult animal. 


unfortunately without comment, in his most admirable and valuable 
monograph of our Fur-bearing Animals (pp. 223-235). 

" Dr. Janeway states that the disease ' is evidently epidemical, no 
cases of it having been reported previous to 1870 in this region,' 
which is unquestionably the fact. 

" Now it strikes me that there is a good deal of first-class ' poppy- 
cock ' in the Rev. Mr. Hovey's article, and in most of the contribu- 
tions that have appeared since 

" Let us take a rational view of the case, and glance, for a mo- 
ment, at the history of an average outbreak of hydrophobia. Here 
is a rabid dop-. Before succumbing to the disease, or to the hand of 

o o 

man, he has probably bitten at least one or two other dogs or cats, 
which in their turn bite others, and so on, till the community be- 
comes aroused; and scarcely enough of these animals are left to pro- 
pagate their kind. 

" Now, suppose a 'mad dog' should, in his wild delirium, chance 
to run across and bite a Skunk, and in a region where Skunks hap- 
pened to abound, would not the natural result be that this Skunk 
would bite others and so communicate the disease to them, and they 
to others still, and so on till most of the Skunks of that neighbor- 
hood had been infected ? During a certain stage of the disease, 
should any of these hydrophobic Skunks, by any accident fall in 
with a man sleeping on the ground, that man would certainly be very 
liable to be bitten, and if bitten, to die of this terrible malady. Ex- 
actly such a state of things, apparently, came to the notice of Mr. 
Hovey, who published the facts in the American Journal of Science 
and Arts, as above stated. But instead of confining his remarks to 
a simple, truthful narration of facts, he indulges in the wildest spec- 
ulations and empty theories concerning the fatal nature of Skunk 
bites in the abstract. 

" To suggest, as does the Rev. Hovey, that the bite of a healthy 
Skunk is followed by hydrophobia is, to speak mildly, the height of 
irrational nonsense. Equally insane is his idea that Skunks, in the 


normal state, are aggressive animals and habitually bite those persons 
whom they find sleeping upon the ground. Indeed nothing could be 
more contrary to the known habits and disposition of these beautiful 
and useful little animals. 

" As to the effect of Skunk bites in general I will only state my 
experience. Twelve or fifteen years ago, when hunting and trapping 
Skunks, I was twice bitten by adult animals and never suffered there- 
from more than from equally severe bites from any other of our com- 
mon mammals. About the same time Dr. C. L. Bagg was also bit- 
ten, but nevertheless he still lives and is practising medicine in New 
York City. Last summer I was again bitten by a Skunk this time 
by a half- grown one that I had alive for several months and have 
as yet experienced no evil consequences from the bite.[ : Our clogs 
have many times been bitten, and were never seriously injured 
thereby. "f 

Subfamily LUTRIN.E. 



The Otter is a common inhabitant of the Adirondacks and, from 
the nature of its habits, and its sagacity, is likely to remain after most 
of the other representatives of the Mustelidae have been exterminated. 
It is thoroughly amphibious, making long journeys through the 
forest, and swimming the lakes and rivers. It can remain under water 


almost as long as a Loon, and I have known one to swim nearly a 
quarter of a mile without showing its head above the surface. Its 
food consists chiefly of various species of fish, and the lobster-like 
fresh water Decapod called the cray-fish. When unable to procure 
these in sufficient quantity it devours frogs, and is said to depopulate 

* While these pages have been passing through the press I have again been bitten by a half- 
grown Skunk. The bite was inflicted upon the end of my left thumb, and healed kindly in the 
course of three or four days, leaving no scar. 

f Forest and Stream, Vol. XVI, No. 24, p. 473, July 14, iSSi. 


the poultry-yard, and even to prey upon young lambs. It can dive 
and swim under water with such speed and agility, that it can 
overtake and secure, with great ease and certainty, almost any of 
our fresh-water fishes. In confinement it will eat meat, and is said 
to prefer it boiled. The number of cray-fish (Cambarus) that the 
Otter destroys in the course of a summer is almost incredible. 
The Otter " sign ' that one finds so abundantly about our lakes 
and streams, on rocks and logs, often consists wholly of fragments of 
the chitenous exoskeleton of this Crustacean. At other times fish 
bones are mingled with the broken cray-fish shells. Otters are 
restless creatures, always on the move, and are constantly roam- 
ing about from lake to lake, and river to river. They sometimes 
go from place to place "just as it happens," so to speak; while 
at other times they travel in definite routes, following one water 
course for a number of days or weeks, and returning by another. 
For example : an Otter will start from, say, Seventh Lake, and work 
down the Fulton Chain to Moose River, down Moose to Black River, 
and down this to the mouth of Independence or Beaver River; thence, 
turning up stream, it finds its way back along either of these rivers, 
perhaps stopping to fish in adjacent lakes on the way up, and finally 
crossing to Big Moose and thence back to the Fulton Chain. Or, 
starting from the same point, an Otter may leave the Fulton Chain 
near the foot of Fourth Lake, cross to North Branch of Moose River, 
thence to Bior Moose, visiting the Saffords and West Pond on the 

<_> o 

way. From Big Moose it may work up into the big marsh and over 
to First and Second Gull Ponds, cross to Lake Terror and follow its 
outlet through Rose Pond to Beaver River, and down the latter to 


Black River, making the return trip up Independence to Big Moose, 
and across, by way of Constable Pond, May's Lake, and Queer Lake, 
to the Fulton Chain ; or it may follow up Moose River directly to 
'the Fulton Chain. These routes are not mere creations of my im- 
agination, but have in great measure been verified by hunters who 
have followed their tracks on the snow. Otters travel great distances 


in winter, and go so fast that a man has great difficulty in overtaking 
them. On the ice they proceed by a series of what small boys call 
" a run and a slide," that is, the)- make several jumps and then slide 
ahead, flat on their bellies, as far as their impetus and the smooth- 
ness of the ice permit, and then do the same thing" over again, and 
so on. And this mode ot progression suggests a curious trait in tile- 
character of the Otter, /. t\, its fondness for sliding down hill. Dr. 


John D. Godman, in his well-known work on " American Natural 
History," speaks thus of the habit: "Their favorite sport is sliding, 
and for this purpose in winter the highest ridge of snow 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 decliv- 
ity, sometimes for a distance of twenty yards. This sport they con- 
tinue apparently with the keenest enjoyment until fatigue or hunger 
induces them to desist." This statement accords with the observa- 
tions of Cartwright, Hearne, Richardson, Audubon, and others, and 
the last-named author goes on to say that he once witnessed a pair 
of Otters engaged in this pastime, only they were sliding down a 
mud-bank instead of a snow-bank, and remarks: " we counted each 
one making twenty-two slides before we disturbed their sportive 
occupation." The borders of the lakes and streams of the Adiron- 
clacks afford numerous examples of these slides, and also of their 
wallowing places, which are either level beds, or slight depressions, 
in which they play and roll. May's Lake, a small and secluded body 
of water, abounding in trout, is fairly surrounded by them. 

On the morning of October 27, 1881, the Big Marsh at the head 
of Big Moose Lake was frozen over, with the exception of a narrow 
strip along its north shore. While working our boat up between the 
ice and the shore E. L. Sheppard and I noticed three Otters sporting 
in the open water ahead. They were diving and chasing one another 
after the manner of so many seals. Several times did the)' jump so 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. II, 1851, p. 8. 


high that more than half the length of their bodies showed above the 
water. On firing at one of them all instantly disappeared; one stuck 
his head up through a hole in the ice to take a parting peep at us, 
and this was the last we saw of them. Otters are playful creatures 
and when taken young are easily domesticated, and have frequently 
been taught to catch fish for their masters. In growing old, however, 
they are apt to become ugly, and have been known to bite those who 
attempted to play with them. At all times and on all occasions they 
manifest an insatiate and uncontrollable desire to break the peace 
with any dog that chances to cross their path and woe be to the 
unfortunate brute ! Being compactly built and possessing great 
strength, and an immense store of endurance, they are quick in move- 
ment and make fierce and powerful assailants. Moreover, there is 
usually such a thick layer of fat under the skin that it slips freely upon 
the body and renders it well-nigh impossible for a dog to secure a 
firm hold on them. If the misunderstanding occurs in the vicinity of 
water, as it commonly does, there is a strong tendency for the partici- 
pants to drift nearer and nearer the shore, for thitherward the Otter 
artfully draws his antagonist. I have never witnessed one of these 
little altercations, but am told that a drowned clog is generally the 

Thomas Pennant, in his " Synopsis of Quadrupeds," published in 
1771, says (p. 239) that the Otter " hunts its prey against the stream; 
frequents not only fresh waters, but sometimes preys in the sea; but 
not remote from shore: is a fierce animal; its bite hard and dangerous: 
is capable of being tamed, to follow its master like a dog, and even 
to fish for him, and return with its prey." 

The fur of the Otter, which is more valuable than that of any other 
of our fur bearing animals, becomes prime in November, remains 
good throughout the winter, and is best in spring. 

Their skins were formerly much employed by the Indians as 
material for their garments. In " Wassenaers Historic Van Eu- 
ropa," printed at Amsterdam, 1621-32, occurs the following : "The 


Tribes are in the habit of clothing themselves with them; the fur or 
hair inside, the smooth side without, which, however, they paint so 
beautifully that, at a distance, it resembles lace. It is the opinion that 
they make use of the best for that purpose; what has poor fur they 
deem unsuitable for their clothing. When they bring their commodi- 
ties to the Traders, and find they are desirous to buy them, they make 
so very little matter of it, that they at once rip up the skins they are 
clothed with and sell them as being the best." 

The nest of the Otter is generally placed under some shelving bank 
or uprooted tree, and has been found in a hollow stub. The young 
are commonly brought forth about the middle of April, and two (rare- 
ly one or three) constitute a litter. Three Otters, the female with 
her two young, are usually seen together during the summer and fall. 


PROCYON LOTOR (Linn.) Storer. 

Raccoons are common everywhere about the borders of the Adiron- 
dacks, but they do not like dense evergreen forests and are therefore 
rather rare in the interior; still, they are occasionally met with in all 
parts of the Wilderness. 

They are omnivorous beasts and feed upon mice, young birds, 
birds' eggs, turtles and their eggs, frogs, fish, cray-fish, mollusks, 
insects, nuts, fruits, corn, and sometimes poultry. 

Excepting alone the bats and flying-squirrels, they are the most 
strictly nocturnal of all our mammals, and yet I have several times 
seen them abroad during cloudy days. They like to play in shallow 
water, along the banks of ponds and streams, and find much of their 
food in these places. They overturn stones and catch the cray-fish 
that lurk beneath, and also gather the fresh-water mussels (Unio and 
Anodoii] that live on sandy and muddy bottoms. They also catch 

* Translated in The Documentary Hist, of the State of New York, Vol. Ill, 1850, p. 36. 


and devour the hapless fish that chance to get detained in any of the 
little pools along shore; but are unable to dive and pursue their prey 
under water, like the Otter and Mink. They are good swimmers 
and do not hesitate to cross rivers that lie in their path. 

Although excellent climbers, making their nests in a hollow, high 
up in some large tree, they cannot be said to be arboreal in 
habits. They do not pursue their prey amongst the tree tops, after 
the manner of the martens, nor make a practice of gathering nuts 
from the branches, like squirrels; nor do they, like the porcupine, 
browse upon the green foliage. Trees constitute the homes in which 
they rest and bring forth their young, and to which they retreat 
\vhen pursued by man or beast; but their business is transacted else- 
where. At nightfall they descend to the ground to prowl through 
groves, fields, and swamps, and follow streams and lake shores in 
search of food. 

Their fondness for fresh corn has brought many a luckless 'Coon 
to an untimely end, for " 'Coon hunting, by the light of the harvest 
moon," has long been a favorite sport. The method of procedure is 
simple : several men, with dogs, meet together, generally about mid- 
night, near some maize field which is known to be frequented by 
these animals. If a Raccoon happens to be present he is soon treed 
by the dogs, and is either shot, or the tree upon which he hides is 
felled and he is destroyed by the dogs. An old 'Coon is a tough 
match for an average dog, and many a plucky cur bears lasting 
scars of their sharp teeth. The 'Coon first invades the corn fields 
while the tender kernels, not yet full grown, consist of a soft 
milky pulp, and he continues to feast upon the maize till fully 
ripe, and even after it is cut and stacked. He is very expert in 
breaking down the stalks and stripping the husks from the ear, 
using his fore-paws as we do our hands. 

Raccoons are clever beasts, and in certain directions their cun- 
ning surpasses that of the fox. The familiar epithet, " a sly 
'Coon," owes its origin to certain of their proclivities. Still they 


do not exercise their cunning for self-preservation; they are not 
sufficiently suspicious of unusual objects, and are easily taken in 
almost any kind of a trap. They are not swift runners and if pursued 
take to a tree and are readily killed. 

They make, when taken young, intelligent and interesting pets, 
be in or easily tamed, and evincing considerable affection for their 

<j J fj 

master. But they cannot be allowed their liberty, like tame 
skunks, because of their innate propensity for mischief. If not 
closely watched they will slyly enter the house through some 
open door or window, and are liable to do considerable damage, for 
their natural curiosity prompts them to examine everything within 
reach, and anything out of reach of a 'Coon must be inaccessible 
indeed. They invariably manifest an insatiate desire to in- 
vestigate the pantry shelves, and rarely neglect to taste every 
edible thing that happens to be there. They have a special 
penchant for sweetmeats and greedily devour preserves, honey, 
molasses, sugar, pies and cakes; and even bread, butter, lard, milk 
etc., are by no means disregarded. They remove the covers from 
jars and pails, and uncork bottles, with as much ease and facility, 
apparently, as if they had been instructed in this art from earliest in- 
fancy. Doors that latch, as they do in most old country houses, 
are soon opened, even by unsophisticated 'Coons, and it takes them 
but a short time to acquire the method of opening knob doors. Their 
fore paws are employed as hands, and can be put to almost as great 
a variety of uses as those of the monkey- which animal they further 
resemble in the propensity for mischief-making. 

The Raccoon hibernates during the severest part of the winter, 
retiring to his nest rather early, and appearing again in February or 
March, according to the earliness or lateness of the season. Dislik- 
ing to wade through deep snow he does not come out much till the 
alternate thawing and freezing of the surface, suggestive of coming 
spring, makes a crust upon which he can run with ease. He does 
not usually walk many miles during a single night, and consequently 



is soon tracked to the tree, in some hole of which he has retired for 
the day. If the tree is too large to be easily felled, a trap set at its 
foot, and baited with a bit of toasted cod-fish or an ear of corn, is 
pretty sure to secure him before the next morning. 

It is unusual to find a Raccoon alone, for they commonly live and 
travel in small companies, consisting of the several members of a 
single family. They do not return to the same nest every morning, 
but often make little excursions in various directions, being gone 
several days at a time, and taking refuge, about daylight, in any 
convenient aboreal shelter. Though preferring a hollow limb high 
up on some giant elm, ash, or basswood, they will put up with almost 
any kind of a hollow trunk. I have known them to spend the day 
in old stubs, in hollow logs, and even in the poor shelter afforded by 
the angle where a falling tree had lodged in a crotch. 

In tracking Raccoons upon the crust I have sometimes observed a 
family to separate and go in different directions, spending the day in 
different trees, to come together again on the night following. At 
this season (before there is any bare ground) they have considerable 
difficulty in procuring sufficient food. 

As already stated, the Raccoon makes its home high up in a 
hollow of some large tree, preferring a dead limb to the trunk itself. 
It does little in the way of constructing a nest, and from four to six 
young are commonly born at a time generally early in April in this 
region. The young remain with the mother about a year. 

The flesh of young 'Coons is very fair eating, but that of the adult 
animals is tough and rank, and suggests the meat of old Woodchucks. 

More than an hundred years ago Thomas Pennant wrote, in his 
quaint style, that the Raccoon was " an animal easily made tame, 
very good-natured and sportive, but as unlucky as a monkey, almost 
always in motion; very inquisitive, examining everything with its 
paws; makes use of them as hands: sits up to eat: is extremely fond 
of sweet things, and strong liquors, and will get excessively drunk: 
has all the cunning of a fox: very destructive to poultry; but will eat 


all sorts of fruits, green corn, &c. at low water feeds much on oysters, 
will watch their opening, and with its paw snatch out the fish; some- 
times is caught in the shell, and kept there till drowned by the com- 
ing in of the tide: fond also of crabs: climbs very nimbly up trees: 
hunted for its skin; the fur next to that of the beaver, being excellent 
for making hats." 

Family URSID.*:. 

Black Bear. 

This plantigrade mammal, the largest and most powerful of the in- 
habitants of the Adirondacks, is still abundant in most parts of the 
Wilderness. His proper home is within the deep evergreen forests, 
but he is something of a rover and at certain seasons, particularly in 
autumn, makes numerous excursions into the surrounding country. 

Notwithstanding the carnivorous position of the Bear he is par ex- 
cellence an omnivorous beast, and his larder consists not only of mice 
and other small mammals, turtles, frogs, and fish; but also, and laro-e- 

o o 

ly, of ants and their eggs, bees and their honey, cherries, blackberries, 
raspberries, blueberries and various other fruits, vegetables, and roots. 
He sometimes makes devastating raids upon the barn-yard, slaying 
and devouring sheep, calves, pigs, and poultry. In confinement he 
shares with the inmates of the hog-pen whatever is left from his 
master's table. 

He delights in tearing open old stumps and logs in search of the 
ants that make their homes in such situations,-}* and di<js out the nests 


of the " yellow-jackets," devouring both the wasps themselves and the 
comb containing their honey and grubs. So fond is he of honey 
that he never misses an opportunity to rob a " bee tree," manifesting 

* Synopsis of Quadrupeds, 1771, pp. 199-200. 

f While fishing in the North Bay of Big Moose Lake, during the summer of iSSl, Mr. Harry 
Burrell Miller, of New York city, heard a Bear tearing down an old stump that stood on a point in 
the bay. His guide, Richard Crego, noiselessly paddled him to the spot and he killed the Bear with 
one ball from his rifle. Its stomach contained about a quart of ants and their eggs. 


no fear of the bees that angrily swarm about him, his thick hair and 
tough hide protecting him from their stings. When plundering the 
apple orchard he is said to touch only the sweetest fruit. 

He must relish prussic acid, for no article of his comprehensive 
bill-of-fare is more certain to secure his consideration than a tree 
laden with ripe black-cherries. Here he will spend hours at a time, 
glutting upon the handsome fruit, which he leisurely collects from the 
branches, and is apt to return again and again so long as the supply 
holds out. Fields of ripe blackberries also claim a large share of 
attention, and his excessive fondness for them often overcomes his 
natural prudence, and he is sometimes surprised, in broad daylight, 
indulging his appetite in such situations. 

The senses of smell and hearing are so acute in these brutes that 


under ordinary circumstances it is impossible to approach even within 
rifle range of them. But in the fall of the year, during their expedi- 
tions through the clearings, they sometimes wander for miles through 
quite thickly settled portions of country, when, owing to the open 
nature of the ground, they are frequently seen and occasionally shot. 

In Lewis County, about twenty miles west of the western border 
of the Wilderness, is an uninhabited tract of evergreen forest, cover- 
ing portions of the towns of High Market, Osceola, Montague, and 
Pinckney. In this forest dwell many Bears, and in the fall they often 
cross over the intervening valley, a fertile farming country, and enter 
the Adirondacks. At such times they occasionally pass through our 
own grounds, at Locust Grove, in the town of Leyden; and during 
one October, about five years ago, no less than nine Bears were killed 
within six miles from my residence. 

Though good climbers, Bears are unable, on account of their great 
weight, to ascend to the tree tops or climb far out on the branches. 
They are excellent swimmers, crossing with ease not only rivers, but 
even large and broad lakes. Many have been surprised and killed 
while swimming the lakes that abound in the " North Woods "; and 


only last year (in July, 1881) the steamer Ganouskie, on Lake 


George, ran down one of them, and it \vas killed with an axe by a 
drummer from Gotham. This was just above Anthony's Nose. 

As a rule our Bears " den up " in winter, but their hibernation is 
not profound, and it is prudent not to take many liberties with them 
when in this condition. The exact period when the event takes 
place is determined by the food supply and the severity of the sea- 
son. If the beech-nut crop has been a failure and deep snows come 
early, they generally den near the commencement of winter. If, on 
the contrary, there has been a good yield of mast, and the winter 
is a mild one (and it is a fact that, with us, good beech-nut years are 
commonly followed by open winters), the males prowl about nearly, 
or quite, all winter, and the females only den a short time before the 
period of bringing forth their young. Indeed, it can be set down as 
a rule, that so long as a male Bear can find enough to eat he will not 
den, be the weather never so severe ; for it is evident that he does 
not den to escape either the low temperature or the deep snows, 
but to thus bridge over a period when, if active, he would be unable 
to procure sufficient food. And the female, under similar circum- 
stances, remains out till the maternal impulse prompts her to seek a 
shelter for her prospective offspring ; and in this Wilderness they 
have been found travelling as late as the middle of January. 

The den is not commonly much of an affair. It is generally a 
partial excavation under the upturned roots of a fallen tree, or under 
a pile of logs, with perhaps a few bushes and leaves scraped together 
by way of a bed, while to the first snow-storm is left the task of 
completing the roof and filling the remaining chinks. Not infre- 
quently the den is a great hole or cave dug into the side of a knoll, 
and generally under some standing tree, whose roots serve as side 
posts to the entrance. The amount of labor bestowed upon it de- 
pends upon the length of time the Bear expects to hibernate. II the 
prospects point toward a severe winter and there is a scarcity of 
food, they den early and take pains to make a comfortable nest ; but 
when they stay out late and then den in a hurry, they do not take 

9 8 


the trouble to fix up their nesis at all. At such times they simply 
crawl into any convenient shelter, without gathering so much as a 
bunch of moss to soften their bed. Snow completes the covering, 
and as their breath condenses and freezes into it an icy wall begins 
to form, and increases in thickness and extent day by day till they are 
soon unable to escape, even if they would, and are obliged to wait 
in this icy cell till liberated by the sun in April or May. 

The diminutive size, premature appearance, and helpless condition 
of the young of this species at birth cannot fail to excite surprise. 
They are not six inches (162 mm) in length, weigh less than a 
pound (453.6 grams), and are not yet covered with hair. Their eyes 
do not open for more than a month. I know of no other mammal, 
except among the Marsupials, whose young are so disproportion- 
ately small, or are born in such an undeveloped condition. It is 
necessary for their preservation that the mother should cover them 
nearly the whole time for the first two months. 

Mr. Frank J. Thompson, Superintendent of the Zoological Garden 
at Cincinnati, has published a thoroughly trustworthy account of the 
early development of a litter of Black Bears, in confinement; and 
observations of this nature are so rare that I here reproduce the 
main part of his communication : 

" About the middle of January last, the female Black Bear in the 
Society's collection refused to come out of her den into the open pit 
and would not allow the male to approach her. She was immediately 
closed in and furnished with an abundance of hay, with which she 
busied herself in making a nice warm bed. At 4 p. M. on January 
26th, the young ones were born and I did not see them until the 
third day after, when I was surprised by the keeper informing me 
that she would allow him to enter the den. On going with him, he 
unlocked the door, fearlessly walked in, and quickly began feeding 
her with bits of bread, which he sliced from a loaf held in his hand. 
By holding the bread just over her head, he finally tempted her to 
sit up on her haunches, when I obtained a clear view of the two 


young ones, lying asleep just back of her front paws. From where 
1 stood, about six feet distant, they did not seem to exceed six 
inches in length, were a dirty whitish color, and appeared entirely 
bare of hair. In about ten days their coats began to show and were 
of a grayish tint, which gradually passed through the various shades 
until they became a brownish black. It was just forty days before 
the first one's eyes opened, and two days after the second followed 
suit. From that time forward I watched very closely to ascertain the 
exact time that would elapse before the young ones would leave the 
nest, and on the seventy-first day after birth, when the mother, as 
was her habit, came to the grating to be fed, one of the youngsters 
left the nest and followed her. So soon as she found it out she im- 
mediately drew it gently back, and on its second attempt, she cuffed 
it soundly, which put a stop to its wandering propensity. After a 
few days she allowed them to wander about at will provided no one 
was immediately in front of the den; but so soon as a visitor put in 
an appearance, they were driven back into the nest and not allowed 
to emerge until the strangers were out of sight. For some time she 
always suckled them in one position, lying over and completely cov- 
ering them by stretching flat on her belly with her legs drawn up 
under her and her head tucked down between her front paws. As 
they grew older and began to run about she would sit on her 
haunches, lazily lean back against the wall, take a cub on each fore 
arm and hold them up to her breast until they were satisfied. They 
soon became expert climbers, taking advantage of the slightest ine- 
qualities of the stone walls and the cracks between the heavy oaken 
planks to reach the ceiling of the den on three sides, whilst the 
grating in front served capitally for their skylarking. Occasionally 
they would have a regular sparring bout, standing erect, feinting, 
countering, and making use of many of the tricks of old votaries of 
the P. R. These frolics would generally end in a clinch, fall, and a 
regular rough and tumble fight, when the mother would abruptly put 
a stop to it, by suddenly knocking both of the contestants completely 


out of time. In fact, as they grew apace, the parental visitations in- 
creased so rapidly I began to fear she would put an end to my Bear 
investigations by chastising the lives out of them, but of late she has 
slackened in her attentions, and I am in hopes of following the 
growth of Ursus Amcricanns from babyhood to adolescence.' 

Black Bears commonly have two or three cubs at a birth, and rare- 
ly, four. It is doubtful if they have young oftener than every other 

Early in February, 1878, E. L. Sheppard, J. W. Shultz, and E. N. 
Arnold, while on a Panther hunt in the country northeast of Big Otter 
Lake, came across aline cf dimples in the snow that indicated, to 
their practised eyes, the course taken by a large Bear some time 
before, and now almost hidden by a heavy fall of snow that had oc- 
curred about three weeks previously. Judging that the animal had 
been searching for winter quarters they determined to follow it; but 
being out of provisions Sheppard and Shultz returned to camp for a 
new supply, while Arnold took the track. Owing to the thickness 
of the forest the snow had not drifted and therefore he had little dif- 
ficulty in keeping the track, though nearly a foot of snow covered 
it. He soon reached the den, which was an excavation in the 
side of a knoll. Not only was the Bear not asleep, but she was ex- 
tremely lively and earnest in her attempts to get out. Fortunately, 
however, she was already frozen in, and during her fierce and furious 
efforts to reach Mr. Arnold he succeeded in shooting her dead. Not- 
withstanding the fact that he was well armed Mr. Arnold avers that 
if the Bear had had a free exit from her den he doubts much if he 
would have lived to narrate the occurrence. After killing the Bear 
he discovered that there were three living young beneath her in the 
den. He put them in his pocket, but they died that night. They 
were very small and helpless, and were probably about two weeks old. 

In April of the same year one of the guides found another Bear in 
her den in a swamp south of Fourth Lake, Fulton Chain. This den, 

* Forest and Stream, Vol. XIII, No. 4, Sept. 4, 1879, p. 605. 


which I have myself seen, was also a hole dug into the side of a 
knoll, and its presence was betrayed by the young who were playing 
outside and did not know enough to hide away at the approach of 
man. In this case also the old Bear was unable to get out and was 
easily killed. 

While hunting, June 10, 1878, Dr. C. L. Bagg and the writer fol- 
lowed the old trail from Fourth Lake across Eagle Creek in the di- 
rection of John's Lake. In exploring a hardwood ridge a little to 
the north of the regular course we were suddenly surprised by a loud 
and peculiar cry with which \ve were both unacquainted. It came 
from the direction of a dense balsam swamp below, and somewhat 
resembled the squealing of a pig, while at the same time it suggested 
the noise made by the Great Blue Heron when on its nesting grounds. 

* O e5 

As the cry was repeated Dr. Bagg imitated it, and succeeded so well 
that we soon perceived it to be coming nearer. Fearing that it 
might change its course I ran down the hill and soon saw a dark- 
colored animal, about the size of a Raccoon, emerge from the swamp 
and jump upon a log, rushing headlong in the direction towards Dr. 
Bagg, and squealing at brief intervals as if in great distress. Bring- 
ing my gun (loaded only with No. 4 shot) hastily to my shoulder I 
fired, and the report was followed by a shriek of pain and a plaintive, 
baby-like, sobbing cry that lasted for nearly a minute. On reaching 
the spot the animal was found to be a cub Bear, and was then quite 
dead, one of the shot having passed through both ventricles of the 
heart It was very thin, weighing but ten pounds (4536 grams), 
and had evidently been lost from its mother for some time. Its 
stomach contained nothing but beech-nuts, and beech-nuts that have 
lain on the ground all winter, and are still fit to eat in June, are cer- 
tainly few and far between. 

In traversing unfrequented portions of the Wilderness one occa- 
sionally meets with a tree whose bark has been scratched and torn, 
at some little height from the ground, in a manner that cannot fail 
to excite his attention and surprise. This is the work of the Bear, 


but the object of it is not known. Hunters claim that whenever a 
Bear passes one of these trees he stops, stands on his hind-legs and 
gnaws and scratches it before resuming his journey. The only ac- 
count of the strange proceeding that I have seen is given by Audu- 
bon and Bachman, who state: 

"At one season, the Bear may be seen examining the lower part 
of the trunk of a tree for several minutes with much attention, at the 
same time looking around and snuffing the air. It then rises on its 

o <~> 

hind-legs, approaches the trunk, embraces it with the fore-legs, and 
scratches the bark with its teeth and claws for several minutes in 
continuance. Its jaws clash against each other until a mass of foam 
runs down on both sides of the mouth. After this it continues its 

On the Island of Anticosti, Bears are still numerous, and feed so 
largely on fish that the inhabitants state that their flesh is, on this 
account, as unpalatable as that of the Sheldrake. During a recent visit 
to the west end of this island, I saw the spot, on the beach, where, 
three days previously, three full-grown Bears had been killed. It 
was at low water, and they were so busily engaged in capturing and 
devouring the little fish called Capelin (Mallotus villosns] that were 
detained in the shallow tide-pools on the flat lime-rock shore, that 
the fishermen approached unobserved and dispatched them without 

Bears are great cowards and never attack man except when 
wounded, or in defence of their young. When wounded they make 
desperate and dangerous foes, and more than one hardy hunter has 
lost his life in encounters with them. In fighting, the large and 
powerful claws inflict even worse wounds than those made by their 
formidable teeth, and the bodies of their victims are often frightfully 
lacerated. If able to "close in" with the luckless hunter they stand 
upright and hug him tight with their fore-paws, while the hind-claws 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. Ill, 1854, p. 189. 



are busy in tearing the flesh from his legs or ripping- open his 

Bears are frequently tamed and, being intelligent brutes, make in- 
teresting pets ; but their dispositions are not of the gentlest type, 
and in growing old, they are apt, at times, to become obstinate and 
unruly, if not dangerous, and often have to be killed. 

A curious instance of the mischief-making propensity of this ani- 
mal has recently attracted considerable attention. During the past 
summer (1882) the Adirondack Survey established a Signal Station 
on Black Mountain, near the head of Fourth Lake. Returning- one 


day, after a temporary absence, the members of the party were as- 
tonished to find their tent torn down, and blankets books, and instru- 
ments strewn about upon the ground. The footprints of a Bear re- 
vealed the identity of the marauder; and Mr. Colvin, Superintendent 
of the Survey, afterwards fired at and wounded the beast, but did 
not succeed in capturing him. 

There being no bounty on Bears in New York State, it is impossi- 
ble to ascertain how many are annually destroyed in this Wilderness. 
That the average number killed each year exceeds thirty there can 
be no reasonable doubt, and I have known this number to be killed 
in Lewis County alone in a single season. 

Bear's meat is sometimes very good, and sometimes quite the re- 
verse. I have eaten it when it tasted like fresh pork, and at other 
times when its flavor was so rank and disagreeable as to render it 


quite unpalatable. Age, sex, season, and food have to do with this 

In Forest and Stream for Dec. 26, 1878, is printed a portion of an 
original manuscript of one Paul Dudley, written about the year 17 18. 
One paragraph, relating to this species, runs as follows : 

" Black Bears When the snow is deep they den, and don't come 
out till the snow is so wasted as they can trail their food nuts, 
acorns, frogs, berries, crickets, grapes and preys also. Don't carry 
food into their dens; generally den alone, unless it be a she with her 


cubbs of the first year, sometimes in a Hollow Tree, a Hollow Log, 
under the Root of a Tree, cleft of a Rock. Dog scents them & 
Barks, then they come out. But if the snow be deep they won't 
stir. Kill them, nothing in their gutts but slime ; they will put fire in 
the Hole of a Tree then the Bear will come Thundering out whether 
they are asleep or only mope, for they easily wake. Bear bring 
forth but once in 3 years. Suckle their young." 



Harbor Seal. 

Mention of the occurrence of a Seal, in a treatise upon the Fauna 
of the Adirondack region, will doubtless occasion surprise in the 
minds of the majority of my readers. It must be remembered, how- 
ever, that the eastern limit of this area embraces a portion of Lake 
Champlain, and that the waters of this beautiful lake are put in di- 
rect communication with those of the St. Lawrence, below Montreal, 
by its outlet, the River Richelieu. 

The Harbor Seal breeds regularly both in the Gulf and River of 
St. Lawrence, and I have seen numbers of them, in July, as far up 
the River as the Saguenay, and they are still common even within 
fifty miles of Quebec. 

Zadock Thompson has recorded the capture of two of them on 
Lake Champlain. He says : " While several persons were skating 
upon the ice on Lake Champlain, a little south of Burlington, in Feb- 
ruary, 1810, they discovered a living seal in a wild state, which had 
found its way through a crack and was crawling upon the ice. They 
took off their skates, with which they attacked and killed it, and then 
drew it to the shore. It is said to have been 45 feet long. It must 
have reached our lake by way of the St. Lawrence and Richelieu; 



but it was not ascertained whether the poor (fat) wanderer had lost 
his way, or having taken a miff at society, was seeking voluntary 
retirement from the world of seals." 

" Another Seal was killed upon the ice between Burlington and 
Port Kent, on the 23d of February, 1846. Mr. Tabor, of Keeseville, 
and Messrs. Morse and Field, of Peru, were crossing over in sleighs, 
when they discovered it crawling upon the ice, and, attacking it with 
the butt-end of their whips, they succeeded in killing it, and brought 
it on shore at Burlington, where it was purchased by Morton Cole, 
Esq., and presented to the University of Vermont, where its skin 
and skeleton are now preserved." f This is followed by a detailed de- 
scription of this specimen, which was a female, and by the remark 
that "At the time the above-mentioned Seal was taken, the lake, with 
the exception of a few cracks, was entirely covered with ice." 

During a recent visit to Lake Champlain I was told that a Seal had 
been killed on the ice, near Crown Point, within four or five years, 
but was unable to authenticate the statement. 

Dr. DeKay mentioned the occasional occurrence of this species on 
Lake Ontario, many years ago; and during the past winter one was 
killed on Onondaga Lake that must have reached this remote inland 
water by way of Lake Ontario. 

I have seen many of these Seals in Long Island Sound, chiefly 
about the Thimble Islands; and March 25, 1879, I saw one on a rock 
in the Hudson River, near Sing Sing. 

We learn, from Mr. J. A. Allen's excellent " History of the North 
American Pinnipeds," that the period of gestation, in this restless 
nomad, is about nine months, and that commonly but a single young- 
is born at a time, though they sometimes have twins. 

They breed very late, generally in June and July, and their young 
are deposited upon the shore instead of upon the ice, as is customary 
with many species. 

* Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 1842, p. 38. 
f Loc. cit., Appendix, 1853, p. 13. 


This species, like most of the Seal kind, feeds chiefly upon fish, 
squids, shrimps, and the like. They sometimes prove a great nui- 
sance to the fisherman, by robbing his nets of the salmon and other 
fish that they happen to contain. They have also been observed to 
catch sea birds while swimming by seizing- them from below. 

;> J o 

The Harbor Seal, when taken young, is easily domesticated, and 
soon becomes very tame and fond of its master. It is a very intelli- 
gent animal, and may be taught many things. It is said to be par- 
ticularly fond of music. 

Mr. Allen quotes the following from the pen of Dr. Edmonston : 
"The young ones are easily domesticated, and display a great deal 
of sagacity. One in particular became so tame that it lay along the 
fire among the dogs, bathed in the sea, and returned to the house, 
but having found the way to the byres, used to steal there unob- 
served and suck the cows."* 

These Seals make a variety of noises. Their most characteristic 
cry is a sad, plaintive moan, or a prolonged, dismal howl. When a 
number unite, as is commonly the case, in a doleful chorus the ef- 
fect is most depressing. Last summer (in July, 1882), when befogged 
off the Mingan Islands, I on several occasions observed this per- 
formance. It seemed like the lament of a doomed race, bewailing 
an inevitable fate, and bemoaning, in solemn requiem, the loss of 
former comrades. 

This mournful cadence is usually executed in the night-time, and 
the darkness certainly does not detract from the general melancholy 
of the effect. The cold, bleak shores, too, lend an additional element 
of cheerlessness to the scene. However, it must be remembered 
that the deep-drawn sighs, the woe-begone moans, and the chorus 
that suggests a dirge, may all, for aught we know, be expressions of 
joy and contentment; for it is the impression produced upon us that 
is melancholy and sad. So little do we comprehend the language of 
our inferiors. 

* Monograph of North American Pinnipeds, 1880, p. 594. 

[From Trans. Linn. Soc. N. Y,, Vol. I, Nov., 1882 Paging not changed.] 


Order UNGULATA. Family CERVID.I . 

Common Deer ; 1 'irgitiia Deer ; Red Deer ; WJiitc-tailed Deer. 

DEER are at present so abundant in most parts of the Adirondack^ 
that they outnumber all the other large mammals together, and this in 
spite of the tact that during the present century alone hundreds of 
them have perished of cold and starvation, hundreds have been killed 
by wolves and panthers, and thousands by their natural enemy, man. 
And there is every reason to believe that if proper game laws are 
enforced, their numbers will not materially decrease. 

This beautiful and graceful animal, by far the fleetest of our mam- 

<* * 

malia, roams over all parts of the Wilderness, being found high upon 
the mountain sides, as well as in the lowest valleys and river bot- 
toms. It frequents alike the densest and most impenetrable thickets, 
and the open beaver meadows and frontier clearings. During the 
summer season, which is here meant to apply to the entire period of 
bare ground, loosely reckoning, from the first of May to the first of 
November, its food consists of a great variety of herbs, grasses, marsh 
ai'd aquatic plants, the leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs, 
blueberries, blackberries, other fruits that grow within its reach; and, 
largely, of the nutritious beech-nut. While snow covers the ground, 
which it commonly does about half the year, the fare is necessarily 
restricted; and it is forced to subsist chiefly upon the twigs and buds 
of low deciduous trees and shrubs, the twigs and foliage of the arbor 
vitse hemlock, and balsam, and a few mosses and lichens. In winters 
succeeding a good yield of nuts the mast constitutes its staple article 
of diet, and is obtained by following the beech ridges and pawing up 

the snow beneath the trees. 


When the first warm winds of approaching spring uncover here 
and there in the beaver meadows small spots and narrow strips of 
oround between the snowdrifts, the new marsh crass is found al- 

o o 

ready sprouted, and its tender blades afford the Deer a tempting 
change from the dry twigs and tough lichens that constitute its win- 
ter fare. ::: 

From this time until the latter part of September much of their 
sustenance is procured in the immediate vicinage of water. After 
the snow has left the forests and the new vegetation has fairly start- 
ed, they gradually work back into the woods, but return again in 
early June to feed upon marsh plants and grasses, and wade or even 
swim to procure the lily-pads and other aquatic plants that thrive 
in the shallow water near by. During June, July, and August hun- 
dreds of Deer visit the water-courses of this Wilderness every night, 
and retire at break of day to the deep recesses of the forest. 

It has been stated that thev do this to rid themselves of black flies 


and mosquitoes, but a little reflection will suffice to show the absurd- 
ity of this assertion. For nowhere in the entire Wilderness are these 
insect pests so abundant and annoying as on the marshes and in the 
immediate neighborhood of lakes and streams. And since it is rare 
to find a Deer above his thighs in water, the fallacy of this supposi- 
tion is apparent. The fact is, that, for the sake of obtaining the 
plants that grow in such situations, they submit to the annoyance of 
swarms of insects most of which they would escape did they remain 
amid the mountain fastnesses. It is true, however, that Deer, par- 
ticularly at the South, do sometimes enter water when not in search 
of food, and sink to such a depth that little save the nostrils and eyes 
remain in sight ; but whether this is done for the riddance of insects, 

* I was particularly struck with this fact on the 2<jth April, 1882, while crossing from Big 
Moose Lake to Lake Terror, in company with Dr. F. H. Hoadley. Here, along the banks of a 
sluggish stream which was still bordered with ice eight to ten inches in thickness, we observed fresh 
green grass already over an inch and a half high in small bare spots between snowdrifts two and three 
feet in depth. The same day we saw a Deer standing on a mass of ice and snow on the shore of 
Lake Terror, doubtless in search of food. 


or for the refreshing effects of the bath, is an open question, and for 
my part I incline to the latter view. Mr. E. L. Sheppard tells me 
that he has on two occasions seen Deer enter the water and immerse 
themselves until almost the entire body disappeared from view, 
and this when not " skulking," or endeavoring to elude an 

D O 

enemy. The Rev. John Bachman once witnessed this diversion and 
described it in these words : "We recollect an occasion, when on sit- 
ting- down to rest on the margin of the Santee river, we observed a 
pair of antlers on the surface of the water near an old tree, not ten 
steps from us. The half-closed eye of the buck was upon us; we 
were without a gun, and he was, therefore, safe from any injury we 
could inflict upon him. Anxious to observe the cunning he would 
display, we turned our eyes another way, and commenced a careless 
whistle, as if for our own amusement, walking gradually towards him 
in a circuitous route, until we arrived within a few feet of him. He 
had now sunk so deep in the water that an inch only of his nose, and 
slight portions of his prongs were seen above the surface. We again 
sat down on the bank for some minutes, pretending to read a book. 
At length we suddenly directed our eyes towards him, and raised our 
hand, when he rushed to the shore, and dashed through the rattling 
canebrake in rapid style." 

Early in September our Deer begin to desert the water courses, 
and before cold weather sets in there is a marked decrease in their 
numbers in the localities which a short time previously were their 
favorite feeding grounds. The reason is apparent : the marsh 
grasses have matured and are now dry; the tender aquatic plants 
near shore have mostly withered and decayed; and the lily-pads and 
pickerel weed, cut dovvn by September frosts, no longer remain to 
tempt their appetites. They retire, therefore, to the higher ground 
in the forest, which still affords them abundant subsistence. f 

* Quadrupeds of North America, vol. II, 1851, p. 223. 

f The largest and best conditioned Deer I ever saw was a magnificent buck that Dr. F. II. 
Hoadley shot at Big Moose Lake, October 31, iSSi. Its stomach was full, containing a quantity of 


A large number of the Adirondack lakes are heavily bordered 
with a dense frontage of arbor vita^ (here called "white cedar"), 
which so overhangs the water that the lower limbs barely clear 
the surface. Around many of these lakes all the lower branches, 
up to a certain height, are dead, so that on viewing the shore 
one is struck with the strange appearance of a sharp cut line, about 
the height of a man's head, extending partly, or entirely, around the 
lake. Above it the dense foliage presents an almost continuous and 
unbroken front, impenetrable to the eye, while below it not a green 
sprig can be seen, the dead limbs and branches remaining in the 
form of a broad belt. 

The cause of this phenomenon long remained a mystery, and many 
and amusing theories have been advanced for its explanation. It 
has been supposed that some unusual and unknown agency operated 
to produce a great overflow of these lakes, and that the present green 
line indicates the high-water mark of this unrecorded inundation, the 
branches below it having been killed by the water or ice. Were there 
no other reasons for disbelieving this hypothesis, its absurdity is de- 
monstrated by the fact that on many of the larger lakes the line is 
confined to one side. The only other theory, so far as I am aware, 
that is worthy of refutation, was advanced by no less distinguished a 
gentleman than Mr. Verplanck Colvin, Superintendent of the Adiron- 
dack Survey. Mr. Colvin's theory is, that the snow which is blown 
off from the ice, on some of the larger lakes, and is sometimes piled 
in drifts in certain places along the borders, buries the lower limbs 
of the cedars; and he thinks that 1 this snow " in some unfavorable 
season, becoming compact and icy, had killed the enclosed evergreen 
foliage. "* The fallacy of this view is proven, I think, by the follow- 
ing facts : ist, branches on the opposite or shore side of these very 

the leaves and stems of the "bunch berry" or dwarf cornel (Corn us Ctiiiiiitcnsis), a small amount of 
winrergreen (Gaultheria procuml>cns), and a few leaf-stems of the mountain ash (Pyn/s .-[incricana) 
while throughout the mass were scattered numbers of beech-nuts with the shucks on. 

* Report of Adirondack Survey, 1880, p. 162. 


trees are usually alive and green, which could hardly be the case 
were the drift theory true; 2tl, the line is often most strongly marked 
on the shores of ponds that are too small, and too closely hemmed 
in by hills, to afford the wind a chance to drift the snow about their 
borders; and 3cl, the foliage line is, in all instances where I have 
observed it, perfectly straight, and exactly parallel to the surface of 
the water, which could not possibly be the case were it caused by 
irregularly drifted snow. 

Moreover, it is now an ascertained fact that the green line is a 
result of the wintering of Deer along the shores where it exists, 
and the evidence on this head may be summed up as follows : 
In the first place, it is absent from at least half of the cedar bordered 
lakes, and is only tound, of recent origin, in localities where Deer are 
known to winter. On some of the larger lakes it is confined to one 
shore and sometimes to a single deep bay, while the cedars about 
the rest of the lake remain unmarred. Furthermore, it is a fact, which 
can be verified by any one willing to take the trouble, that where the 
Deer still winter in these places the snow which covers the ice is 
literally trodden down by them, a well beaten path follows closely 
the outline of the shore, and the stumps of newly broken branches 
may here and there be found. The height of the line shows the dis- 
tance that a full grown Deer can reach when standing on the snow 
and ice. And finally, trustworthy witnesses affirm that they have 
observed the Deer standing on the ice in the act of browsing upon 
the low branches of cedars overhanging the lake. I regard all this 
evidence as conclusive. 

Though Deer are generally spoken of as nocturnal, they are by no 
means strictly so, their habits, in this particular, being modified by 
the environment. In localities that are much frequented by man 
they keep their beds during the greater part of the day, and feed 
mostly by night ; while in the remoter sections the reverse seems to 
be true 

The spot on which one lies to rest is called its bed. It is gener- 


ally hidden in some thicket, under the low branches of an evergreen, 
or by the top of a fallen tree.* 

They have no fear of water and, when pressed by wolves or dogs, 
take to it as a means of escape. They are excellent swimmers, 
moving with such speed that a man must row briskly to overhaul 
them. Even the young fawns swim well, and I once caught one 
alive that had been driven into the lake. It was in the spotted coat, 
and not more than three months old.-!* 

The extraordinary sagacity of some of these animals, and the te- 
merity, I might even say stupidity, of others is astonishing. As a 
general thing a Deer is always on the alert; his eyesight is good, his 
hearing acute, and his sense of smell developed to an unusual de- 
gree. Under ordinary circumstances he detects the whereabouts of 
man at a considerable distance, and even if abundant is seldom seen. 
At other times, particularly when feeding on the margin of a lake 
or river, if the wind is right he may be approached in broad day- 
light by aid of a boat, and will only raise his head from time to time, 
gazing at the intruder in a vacant sort of a way; but let the wind 
shift a trifle, so that he gets a whiff from the direction of the boat, 
and he is off in an instant. Along the borders of the Wilderness a 
Deer will sometimes join a group of cows or -heep at pasture, and 
follow them home within gunshot of the house. Not a few have met 
their death in this way. 

During the deep snows of our severer winters Deer are apt to 

* While on a snow-shoe-tramp from Big Otter to Big Moose lake, in January, ISS3, I 
counted upwards ofjorty Deer beds mere depressions in the snow. One only was in an exposed 
position, being in a little opening alongside a maple sapling. With this single exception, all were 
under the shelter of small spruce and balsam trees, the space between the bed and the overhang- 
ing branches, loaded down with ice and snow, being in most cases barely sufficient to admit the 

f In Forest and Stream for Dec. 6, 1883 (vol. XXI, no. 19, p. 362), occurs the following: 
" Deer at Sea. Portland, Me., Nov. 29. The British schooner Howard came in yesterday with 
one of Howard Knowlton's deer on board, which had been picked up about five miles out at sea. 
The animal escaped from the garden on Peak's Island la*t summer, and had not been seen since 
probably having kept in the woods at the lower end of the island. This is the biggest feat of cap 
turing deer in the water on record." 


congregate and remain in one locality till the food supply in the im- 
mediate vicinity is exhausted, when they move off to some other 
place. By working to and fro in search of browse the snow becomes 
much trampled, and pathways are beaten in various directions. 
These places are called yards, but they fall far short of the regular 
enclosures, walled in by deep snow, that we so often read about, and 
even see pictured under this head. They afford the much persecuted 
animals no shelter or protection, for if discovered by either the pan- 
ther or the infamous " crust hunter, the}' become grave-yards for 
many. Mr. Yerplanck Colvin, speaking of one he found on the south 
side of Seventh Lake Mountain, February i5, 1877, said: " It was 
impossible to estimate the number ot Deer which had occupied this 
yard, as they had fled at our approach, plunging into the deep snow 
below. The ground of this central area resembled a sheep yard in 
winter, the forms of the Deer being plainly discernible in the beds of 
snow, in which the}' had slept, on every side. 

" Here we were startled by the sight of the fresh tracks ot a 
panther or cougar, which evidently made his home in this abode of 
plenty; and shortly thereafter we found the body of a Deer freshly 
killed, and shockingly torn and mutilated. The guides were now all 
excitement, and followed the cougar's trail eagerly. In less than 
thirty minutes a shout announced that he had been encountered, and 
rushing forward to the southern tront ot the plateau I came upon 
the monstrous creature, coolly defiant, standing at the brow of a 
precipice on some dead timber, little more than twenty feet from 
where I stood. Quickly loading the rifle, I sent a bullet through 
his brain, and as the smoke lifted, saw him struggling in the fearful 
convulsions of death, till finally precipitated over the cliffs he disap- 
peared from sight in the depths below." 

It is stated by several writers that the Deer delights in destroying 
snakes. Dr. Harlan thus speaks of this proclivity :- 

Report of Adirondack Survey, iSSo, pp. 159-160. 


" This species displays great enmity towards the rattlesnake, which 
enemy they attack and destroy with singular dexterity and courage ; 
when the Deer discover one of these reptiles, they leap into the air 
to a great distance above it, and descend with their four feet brought 
together, forming a solid square, and light on the snake with their 
whole weight, when they immediately bound away; they return and 
repeat the same manoeuvres until their enemy is completely 


The branching and gracefully curved antlers which adorn the heads 
of the bucks, and contribute so largely to the elegant appearance of 
the animal, are shed and renewed every year. Their growth is so 
rapid that the full size is usually reached in about three months, and 
they fall off about four months afterward. They are first seen with 
us, as a rule, about the middle of May, appearing as soft, dark-col- 
ored and rapidly elongating vascular excrescences. They harden 
from below upwards, and by the time the growth is complete all but 
the tips is well ossified. The soft, skin-like material, called the vel- 
vet, with which they are covered, now begins to peel oft" in irregular 
strips and shreds, and by the early part or middle of September the 
horns are generally clean. The velvet does not come away of itself, 
but is rubbed and scraped off against shrubs and small trees, as if 
the antlers itched at the period of maturity. The Hon. judge Caton, 
of Ottawa, Illinois, whose facilities for observation in this field have 
rarely been equalled, makes the following statement, which will, by 
many, be received with surprise : "The evidence, derived from 
a very great multitude of observations, made through a course of 
years, is conclusive that nature prompts the animal to denude its ant- 
lers of their covering, at a certain period of its growth, while yet 
the blood has as free access to that covering as it ever had."f 

; Fauna Americana, 1825, p. 242. 
f The Antelope and Deer of America. By John Dean Caton, LL. D., 1877, p. 172. 


Seasonal Changes in /Y/r^'r. 

Descriptions of the: pelages of our mammals do not fall within the 
scope of the present work; but the seasonal changes in the coat of 
the Deer have so much to do with its life history that a brief glance 
at the distinctive features of these changes is necessary. Our Deer 
shed their coats twice each year, in (line and September; and, from 
the general appearance of the pelage, are said to be in the red coat in 
summer, and in the blue m gray coat during the rest of the year. The 
gray is merely the blue after it has become old and worn, for in ma- 
turing it loses the handsome blue appearance that characterizes the 
first few weeks of its growth. These seasonal chancres are not con- 

~ o 

fined to color alone, for there is an equally radical difference in the 
length and texture of the hair. In summer it is fine and short, and 
lacks the wavy look that is always noticeable at other times. In 
winter it is long and coarse, has a crinkled appearance, and the indi- 
vidual hairs are so large and light that the animal will fioat in water. :;: 
judge Caton, whose spacious Deer parks and carefully recorded 
observations have contributed so largely to our knowledge of this 
species, has published the most accurate, detailed, and complete ac- 
count of the changes ot pelage, that has ever appeared in print. 
From his extended remarks upon this subject I quote the following 
brief passages : "The change from the summer to the winter coat is 
gradual, the new displacing the old by dislodging the hairs promis- 
cuously, till they become so thin that the new coat is seen through 
the old. This is not simultaneous over the whole animal, for the 
neck and shoulders may be clothed entirely with the new dress, 
while the old still prevails on the thighs and rump; or the winter 
coat may have replaced the old on the back, while the belly still 
shows only the summer pelage. When the winter has replaced 

* It must not be forgotten, however, that Deer are commonly poor in Bummer, and fat in autumn 
and early winter. Hence, the later in the season the more nearly will the specific gravity <>f the 
animal approach that of water. Consequently, a much smaller amount of buoyant material will 
suffice to float the animal in October and November, than in July, August, and September. 



the summer garb, the hairs are short, fine, and soft; but they 
rapidly grow in length and diameter, and undergo the changes of 
color peculiar to the species. At first they lie down smoothly, but 
presently the diameter becomes so great, that they force each other 
up to a more vertical position, or at right angles to the skin. As 
the diameters increase, the cavities within enlarge and become filled 


with a very light pith, and they become brittle and lose their elas- 
ticity, so that the integrity of the walls is destroyed when sharply 
bent, and they remain in the given position. "* 

The exact period of shedding and of renewal of the coat varies 
somewhat from year to year; and it does not always take place at the 
same time in all the Deer of the region, during the same season. It 
evidently depends in great measure, if not wholly, upon the condition 
of the animal at the time of the moult, and this is determined mainly 
by the way the Deer wintered. After severe winters many are poor 
and ill conditioned, and they do not put on the red coat till late in 
June, or even till the first of July, the bine being correspondingly 
delayed. It, on the other hand, the winter has been a mild one, and 
the supply of beech-nuts large, the Deer have probably wintered well, 
and come out fat and healthy in the spring. In this case they shed 
the old gray coats early, and the red may be seen covering a large 
part of the animal by the middle of June, or even earlier. These 
Deer assume the blue coat very early, and the change may be well 
advanced by the last of August. 

Deer rut in November, the season commonly extending from the 
latter part of October till the first week in December. As this period 
approaches, the necks of the bucks become enormously enlarged, f 
and their whole demeanor is changed. Instead of treading cautious 
ly through the forest they now rush wildy about, tracking the does 

* Antelope and Deer of America, pp. 126-127. 

f As early as the last week in October I measured the neck of a buck that was 30 inches (762mm) 
in circumference, only ten inches behind the ears. The maximum development is attained about 
the middle of November. 

vik<;iNiANrs. 117 

by the scent; and when two or more bucks meet, fierce conflicts en- 
sue. In these engagements their antlers sometimes become inter- 
locked, so that the combatants cannot free themselves, and both must 
inevitably perish. My father has a set of locked horns that were 
found, with the carcasses attached, frozen in the ice on Pine Creek, 
in Lewis County, several winters ago. The body ot the larger buck 
was in fair condition, while that of the smaller was much emaciated, 
showing that the larger and more powerful had succeeded in forcing 
his adversary's head to one side so that he could browse a little. 

Audubon and Hachman state that they once saw three pairs of 
horns thus interlocked. What a wretched trio this must have been, 
slowly starving in the midst of plenty ! 

At this season the bucks not only fight amongst themselves, but 
occasionally attack man, and more than one unfortunate person has 
been gored to death by them. In battle they make use of their horns, 
and also of the fore feet, whose sharp hoofs are capable of inflicting 
terrible wounds. I was once sitting quietly on a log in a Deer park 
when a buck approached, and, making a sudden spring, dealt me such 
a powerful blow on the head, with the hoofs of his fore feet, as to ren- 
der me unconscious. No sooner was I thrown upon the ground than 
the vicious beast sprang upon me, and would doubtless have killed me 
outrio-ht had it not been for the intervention of a man whojrushed at 


him with a club and finally drove him off. Both my father and myself 
have been knocked flat upon the ground by being struck in the ab- 
domen by the fore feet of a very harmless looking doe. 

As a rule, two fawns are born at a time, one being the exception. 
Most of them are brought forth in May, a few being dropped as early 
as the latter part of April, while others are postponed until the first 
week in June. They are at first spotted, the spots usually remaining 
about four months and disappearing in September, when both old and 
young change their coats. Before the moult takes place they may 
fairly be regarded as one of the most beautiful of North American 


mammals, and their graceful and sprightly movements cannot fail to 
elicit admiration. 

The clear white spots are set in a ground ot rich bay, and the con- 
trast is heightened, to use the language of Judge Caton, by the animal's 
" exceedingly bright eye, erect attitude, elastic movement, and viva- 

o J t> J 

cious appearance. . . . The highest perfection of graceful motion 
is seen in the fawn of but a month or two old, after it has commenced 
following its mother through the grounds. It is naturally very timid, 
and is alarmed at the sig-ht of man, and when it sees its dam go bold- 

o *_> 

ly up to him and take food from his hand it manifests both appre- 
hension and surprise, and sometimes something akin to displeasure. 
I have seen one standing a few rods away, face me boldly and stamp 
his little foot, in a fierce and threatening way, as if he would say : ' If 
you hurt my mother I will avenge the insult on the spot.' Ordi- 
narily it will stand with its head elevated to the utmost; its ears erect 
and projecting somewhat forward; its eye flashing, and raise one 
fore foot and suspend it for a few moments, and then trot off and 
around at a safe distance with a measured pace, which is not flight, 
and with a grace and elasticity which must be seen to be appreciated, 
for it quite defies verbal description. A foot is raised from the 
ground so quickly that you hardly see it, it seems poised in the air 
for an instant and is then so quietly and even tenderly dropped, and 
again so instantly raised that you are in doubt whether it even 
touched the ground, and, if it did, you are sure it would not crush 
the violet on which it fell."* 

Fawns are readily tamed, in fact become tame of themselves, if much 
handled, in an astonishingly short time; and I have known one to follow 
its keeper, and even bleat for him, when out of sight, within three or 
four days after its capture. At this tender age they display neither 
judgment nor common sense in the selection of food, devouring al- 
most anything that falls in their way which they are able to swallow. 

* Antelope and Deer of America, p. 155. 


Bits of newspapers, old rags, and pieces of boots and shoes are seized 
and disposed of with as much apparent eagerness as bread and but- 
ter or lily-pads; and I once saw a fawn eat a box of chewing tobacco 
given it by an unprincipled visitor. It died next day. 

The flesh of the Deer is juicy, tender, and well flavored, and is the 
most easily digested of meats. Its good qualities are too well known 
to require further comment. 

The hide is put to a variety of uses, the most important, with us, 
being the manufacture of gloves and moccasins. 

Our Deer are much larger than those of the South and Southwest, 
adult well -conditioned bucks averaging from 200 to 226 Ibs. Avoir- 
dupois in weight, and exceptionally large ones being much heavier. 
Hence the Adirondack Deer is more than double the size and weight 
of the same species in Florida. 

I have taken great pains to ascertain, approximately, the number 
ot Deer annually slain in this Wilderness, but with indifferent suc- 
cess. It is a low estimate to state that from five to eight hundred 
have been killed here yearly for the past ten years. How much 
longer their numbers can withstand this enormous drain is an open 

On the 30! of July, 1609, Samuel de Champlain ascended the River 
Richelieu and entered the lake that now bears his name. In his 
narrative of this memorable journey he speaks thus of the animals 
found upon the island at the foot of the lake : " Here are a number 
of beautiful, but low islands filled with very fine woods and prairies, 
a quantity of game and wild animals, such as stags, deer, fawns, roe- 
bucks, bears, and other sorts of animals that come from the mainland 
to the said islands. \Ye caught a quantity of them. There is also 
quite a number of Beavers, as well in the river as in several other 
streams which fall into it. These parts, though agreeable, are not 
inhabited by any Indians, in consequence of their wars." 

* Documentary History of New York, vol. Ill, p. 5. 


Pennant says, that 2 5. 027 hides were exported from New York 
and Pennsylvania in the sale of 1/64. (Arctic Zoology, vol. I, 1/92, 

P- 33-) 

Spike-Horn Bucks. 

The matter of" Spike-horn Bucks," though somewhat threadbare, 
deserves mention in this connection from the circumstance that the 
supposed variety was first described from the Adironclacks. In a 
note in the American Naturalist for December, 1869 (vol. Ill, No. 
10, pp. 552-553), a writer observed that he had hunted in the Adi- 
rondacks for twenty-one years, and goes on to say : " About fourteen 
years ago, as nearly as I can remember, I first began to hear of 
Spike-horn Bucks. The stories about them multiplied, and they evi- 
dently became more and more common from year to year. About 
five years ago I shot one of these animals, a large buck with spike- 
horns, on Louis Lake. In September, 1867, I shot another, a three 
year old buck with spike-horns, on Cedar Lakes. These Spike-horn 
Bucks are now frequently shot in all that portion of the Adirondacks 
south of Raquette Lake. I presume the same is true north of Ra- 
quette Lake, but of this latter region I cannot speak from personal 
observation, having visited it only once. 

" The spike-horn differs greatly from the common antler of the 
C. Virginianus. It consists of a single spike, more slender than the 
antler, and scarcely half so long, projecting forward from the brow, 
and terminating in a very sharp point. It gives a considerable ad- 
vantage to its possessor over the common buck. Besides enabling 
him to run more swiftly through the thick woods and underbrush 
(every hunter knows that does and yearling bucks run much more 
rapidly than the large bucks when armed with their cumbrous ant- 
lers [!] ), the spike-horn is a more effective weapon than the common 
antler. With this advantage the Spike-horn Bucks are gaining upon 
the common bucks, and, may, in time, entirely supersede them in the 
Adirondacks. Undoubtedly the first Spike-horn Buck was merely an 
accidental freak of nature. But his spike-horns gave him an advan- 


tage, and enabled him to propagate his peculiarity. His descend- 
ants, having a like advantage, have propagated the peculiarity in a 
constantly increasing ratio, till they are slowly crowding the antlered 
Deer from the region they inhabit." 

The foregoing note contains several inaccuracies of statement, 
and the writer's deductions are wholly erroneous. It was very justly 
criticised by Mr. \V. |. Hays in the Xafin-tilis/ for May, 1870 (pp. 
188-189). Further remarks and discussions may be found in the 
same Journal, vol. IV, pp. 442-443, 762-763; and vol. Y, pp. 260- 
25 1. The subject is now well understood, and the Hon. Judge Caton 
has presented the facts of the case with such accuracy and concise- 
ness that I cannot do better than transcribe his own words : 

" It has long been a prevalent opinion among hunters, and to some 
extent has been adopted by naturalists, that a race of common Deer, 
the adults of which have antlers without branches, have established 
themselves in the northeastern part ot the United States and in Can- 
ada, whence they are driving out the prong-antlered bucks. 

"This is a matter of the greatest scientific importance, and I have 
taken pains to investigate it to my satisfaction, and am entirely con- 
vinced that it is a popular error, founded upon incomplete observa- 
tions. The spike bucks found in the Adirondacks are all yearling 
bucks with their first antlers. The universal testimony, so far as I 
have been able to gather it, is, that they are smaller than the average 
of the prong-antlered bucks, and that their spikes vary in length 

* The above passage fell under the ever-searching eye of that eminent naturalist and indefatiga- 
ble collector of facts, the late and much lamented Charles Darwin, whose massive intellect and 
exhaustive researches have revolutionized Natural Science and mark a new era in the progress nf 
knowledge. Mr. Darwin, misled by this account, part of which he (motes in his masterly work on 
the Descent of Man, remarks upon it as follows : " A critic has well objected to this account by 
asking, why, if the simple horns are now so advantageous, were the branched antlers of the parent- 
form ever developed ? To this I can only answer by remarking, that a new mode of attack with 
new weapons might be a great advantage, as shown by the case of the Ot'is cycloceros, who thus 
conquered a domestic ram famous for his lighting power. Though the branched antlers of a stag 
are well adapted for fighting with his rivals, and though it might he an advantage to the prong- 
horned variety slowly to acquire long and branched horns, if he had to light only with others of the 
same kind, yet it by no means follows that branched horns would be the best fitted for conquering 
a foe differently armed." (Descent of Man, New York, 1875, p. 513.) 

122 MAMMA! 1A. 

from eight inches, or ten inches at the very utmost, down to two or 
three inches in length. It is only the largest of these that an)- have 
claimed to be adults. It is very easy for a hunter to say, and even 
believe that he has killed deer with spikes ten inches long, but did 
he actually measure them, and make a note of the fact, with time and 
place, describing its appearance, and take and note the measurements 
of the animal, or did he preserve the head, so that he could carefully 
examine it, after the excitement of the chase was over, or so that he 

could submit it to the examination of others ? 

" Continued observations upon the young deer in my parks have 
enlightened me much on this subject. For several years, I really 
persuaded myself that I had the true spike-antlered bucks, and set 
myself to carefully note their peculiarities, and fondly believed that 
I was about to add an important chapter to scientific knowledge. 
But these careful and continued observations soon undeceived and 
disappointed me. By marking the spike buck of one year, which was 
as large as one feeding by its side having two or three tines on each 
antler, I found the next year that his antlers were also branched, and 
my spike-antlered buck had become a fine specimen of the ordinary 
kind. And then the early fawn of the year before, dropped from a 
fully adult vigorous doe, which had furnished him plenty of milk, had 
now grown to the size of a medium adult, and had fine spike-antlers, 
resembling in all things his older brother of the preceding year now 
bearing the pronged antlers. And so I anxiously pursued my ob- 
servations for a number ot years, ever looking in vain for a second 
antler without prongs. Without this certain means of knowledge, I 
should have believed that those large spike-antlered bucks were more 
than yearlings and nearly adult. It is true the dentition might have 
undeceived me, but this I could not ascertain while the animal was 
alive, and this test has probably been rarely examined and carefully 
studied by those hunters who believe they have killed adult deer 
with spike antlers. I feel quite sure that they had not the means of 
accurately determining the true ages of the wild deer which they 


had killed ; and what I have already stated may serve to show how 
very liable all are to be misled in relation to a point, upon a certain 
knowledge of which the whole question depends." ::: 

The only exception, that has come to my knowledge, to the rule 
that Spike -horn bucks are always yearlings, is a case that fell under 
the observation of Mr. E. L. Sheppard : A very old buck, with much 
gray about its head, was killed in Queer Lake about ten years ago. 
In addition to its extreme age, it had but three legs and was, conse- 
quently, ill-conditioned, having been unable to procure sufficient 
food. It carried a pair of spike-horns which differed from those of 
yearling bucks in being much thicker at the base, rougher, more 
warty, and deeply wrinkled for some distance above the burr. This 
apparent exception is an illustration of two general laws : (a] that in 
extreme age there is a tendency for certain parts to revert to a con- 
dition resembling that of early life; and (6} that ill-nourished bucks 
bear stunted and more or less imperfect horns. It is a well-known 
fact that the largest, handsomest, and most perfect antlers come from 
middle-aged Deer that have wintered well and are in fine con- 
dition; while the few-pronged and unsymmetrical ones are grown by 
young or very old animals, or by those that have been wounded or 
from other cause are poor and ill-conditioned. f 

All yearlings do not have true spike-horns, and, if the term be 
made to include all unbranched antlers, I am strongly of the opinion 
that two-year old bucks sometimes grow them. I have a pair of un- 
branched antlers that are curved both inward and forward, and are 
of exceptional length, the separate horns measuring respectively ten 
and a half and eleven inches (or 267 and 2/9mm.) over the curve, and 

* Antelope and Deer of America, pp. 231-232. 

f Through the kindness of the well-known guide, Mr. E. L. Sheppard, I possess a specimen of 
unusual interest that well illustrates this point. The buck, which was an adult, was killed at Big 
Moose Lake, September 10, iSSo, and its horns are imperfect, asymmetrical, and very scraggy. 
The animal was lank and thin, and was found to lie a cripple. Its left humerus had once been 
broken and the fragments had united at a right angle, so that the fore-leg was directed forward, and 
the shortening of the humerus was so great (its greatest length being less than six and a half inches, 
or, exactly, 164111111.) that the foot could not be made to touch the ground. 



seven and a half and eight inches (190 and 2O3mm.) in a straight line 
from the base of the burr to the tip. The longest horn presents a 
slight enlargement, three inches from the tip, along its upper and 
posterior border, the greatest thickness of which is three-quarters of 
an inch (iQmm.), thus indicating the point where a prong ought to 
have grown. I take it that these are the horns of a two-year old, 
but have no means of determining this very important question. I 
also have two other pairs of horns from young Deer, that are smaller 
than those just described and yet one horn of each pair is forked. 
Whether they came from yearlings or two-year olds I will not ven- 
ture to decide. 

In my opinion the term spike-horn should be limited to the 
straight and true spike that is known to be characteristic of the year- 
ling buck. 

Does sometimes, though rarely, have horns, and they are usually 
of the " spike" pattern, only more incurved than those of the bucks, 
and they are apt to be more or less imperfect and unsymmetrical. 
They are generally covered with the velvet, no matter at what season 
taken, in this respect resembling those of castrated bucks. Does that 
bear antlers do not commonly bear young, though they are not al- 
ways barren.* 

The Chase. 

An account of the different ways of hunting the Deer on the 
plains and prairies of the West, in the canebrakes and swamps of the 
South, and in other sections remote from the region under consider- 
ation, however interesting, does not fall within the scope of the 

* Alonzo Wood, Esq., one of the most experienced and competent guides in the Adirondacks, 
has kindly presented me with a very beautiful pair of spike antlers that were taken from a doe 
which was killed at Second Lake of North Branch about the first of September, 1876. They are 
deeply curved, symmetrical, and covered with a very dense coat of " velvet," the individual hairs 
of which are of unusual length. The measurements of these antlers are as follows : 
From burr to tip, in a straight line, 6 in. (152 mm.) 

around curve, 8# " (210 " ) 

Distance between tips, 4# " (108 " ) 

antlers at curve, 6% " (159 " ) 


present work ; hence the methods practised in the Adirondacks will 
alone be described. 

There are three principal ways in which Deer are hunted in this 
Wilderness, namely : \syfloating, by driving (hounding), and by still- 
Jin nt ing. 

Floating consists in paddling up to a Deer, at night, with a light 
called a jack fastened above the bow of the boat, and so arranged 
that it casts the whole light ahead, leaving the boat and contents in 
exaggerated darkness. They'^r/' of our ancestors (used even within 
the brief period of my own recollection), was a very simple affair, 
constructed where occasion required. It consisted of a torch, or 
sometimes a tallow candle, fastened upon a piece of bark, and backed 
by a bark reflector. This rude illuminator was attached to a stick, 
three or four feet long, that stood upright in the bow. The stick, or 
standard ot the primitive jack, still remains, and now supports a 
lantern which is closed in on three sides so that all the light shall be 
thrown in front. Some sort of a reflector is generally used to con- 
centrate and project the rays to a greater distance. Sometimes the 
liofht is fastened to the hat. 


Two people constitute a Moating party, and the modus operand! is 
as follows : The sportsman sits on the front seat, with his legs tucked 
under the bow in a position that is, at the start, anything but agree- 
able, and becomes distressingly uncomfortable as hour after hour 
drags slowly on. He dare not move lest the noise thus made should 
alarm the Deer. The guide sits in the stern and must be expert 
with the paddle, for it is his duty to propel the boat steadily and 
noiselessly within easy range of the wary Deer. 

The locality is usually selected in the day-time, and is generally 
some marsh-bordered bay, abounding in lily-pads, or a similar place 
along the banks of a sluggish stream On nearing the feeding 
ground not a word is spoken, not even in a whisper, and the hunters 
strain eye and ear to discover the whereabouts of the quarry. The 
light is turned in such a way that it covers the shore as the boat 


glides silently on, for the Deer may be gazing at it from the bank, 
standing motionless and silent. Indeed, he is often seen, not more 
than a couple of boat lengths away, before any sound has forewarned 
them of his presence. 

Bright moonlight nights are undesirable because the animal can 
then detect the outline of the boat, and is apt to take to the woods 
without delay. 

Let us note the course of events in an ordinary floating expe- 
dition, premising only that the sportsman is somewhat of a novice. 
Unless there is direct water communication between the camp and 
the place selected for the hunt, the party eat an early supper and 
set out at once in order to reach the spot before the gathering 
darkness obscures the way. The guide, placing the boat upon his 
sturdy shoulders, takes the lead, following some old trail or blazed 
line, or, if the spot be unfrequented, finds his way by certain fea- 
tures of mountain or valley that are familiar landmarks to his 
practised eye. The sportsman follows, carrying they'^r/' and gun, 
as well as a bottle of tar oil for protection against insects. 

The start is well timed, for the outlines of near objects have 
already become indistinct, and the shades of dusk are fast blending 
the dim forms of the evergreens, transforming the coniferous 
forest into a uniform mass of darkness, when they emerge upon 
the open shore of a small and shallow lake and launch the canoe in 
its black but unruffled water. Night is upon them, and with it the 
flies and mosquitoes. Tar oil is applied freely to face and hands, 
the jack is lit and placed, and they step quietly into the boat and 
move noiselessly off, the sportsman on the front seat, his over- 
coat buttoned up to his chin, and his feet crowded uncomfortably 
under the bow, one on each side of the jack-stick ; the guide 
astern, silently plying his paddle. The nearest marsh-bordered 
bay is soon reached, and as the light skims along the bank, falling 
in turn upon clumps of bushes, old logs and stumps, and the dark 
cone-like forms of the young spruce and balsams, the sportsman's 


expectation is at its highest pitch ; he feels his heart beat faster 
and faster, and grasps his gun tighter and tighter, imagining that 
each fantastic shadow will show the white tail of a retreating buck. 
The suspense is of short duration, for this feeding-ground is 
passed without so much as the sound of a moving branch to indi- 
cate the presence of any animal larger than the Hies that swarm 
about his head. Now comes a pull of half a mile before the next 
ground is reached, which would afford the sportsman ample time to 
compose himself, were it not for the armies of pestiferous flies and 
mosquitoes that demand, and receive, his undivided attention. The 
bottle of tar oil is produced, and a thorough smearing grants 
temporary respite. No sooner is this accomplished than the next 
favorable shore for Deer is fast appearing over the port bow. 
Another ten minutes of breathless suspense and they turn again 
into the open lake. A close listener might have detected a half 
suppressed sigh of submission to the inevitable, from the fore part 
of the boat, but no other sound disturbs the unbroken silence of 
the night. The third swampy bay is reached and passed, with 
like result. A council ensues, in a low whisper, and it is decided 
to run up the inlet, a marshy stream averaging less than a boat's 
length in width. Having arrived at its mouth they proceed very 
slowly, for good feed abounds on both banks, and a Deer may 
be surprised at any moment. Presently a noise is heard ahead : it 
is vague and indefinite, but evidently something moving. The 
boat comes nearer; the noise ceases ; it is heard again. The sight 
is strained to penetrate the bushes along the shore, but nothing is 
discovered. Hark ! something dripping in the water; the eyes 
are lowered, and there, on a log that projects into the stream, 
almost within reach from the bow, is seen the form of a large 
porcupine, lazily eating lily-pads and gazing stupidly at the light. 
The sportsman is tempted to fire, but controls his disgust and says 
nothing. A bend in the tortuous channel is passed, and another, 
and, splash, splash, splash : it is the unmistakable sound of a 


Deer wading in the creek. Then all is still again. Is the animal 
standing in the water looking at the light, or has he stepped out 
upon the bank ? The sportsman hears the faint ripple of water 
against the bow as the boat moves swiftly on ; he is conscious that 
the hat is rising on his head ; his heart beats louder and louder, 
and he feels it knocking violently against his ribs. The boat is 
slackened and the light made, in turn, to cover both shores. Mo- 
ments seem like hours, and the flies are entirely forgotten. But 
what has become of the game? Inadvertently the gun rubs 
against the jack-stick when, simultaneously, is heard the sharp 
shrill whistle of a startled buck, from behind a bush to the right, 
and the fading sound of crackling branches announce his disap- 
pearance in the forest. 

The flies now seem worse than ever, and so they really are, for 
the boat is passing through their very headquarters, and the bright 
light attracts them to the spot. Continuing the course up the 
sluggish stream it is some time before anything occurs to divert 
the sportsman's attention from these tormenting insects, which 
constantly get into the eyes, nose, and mouth, till, harassed, ex- 
asperated, and well nigh distracted, he applies his only remedy, 
the tar oil, so freely that he soon feels it trickling slowly down his 
aching back. The cramped position of his legs and feet is actually 
painful, and his back "seems as if it would break." The hour is 
past midnight, his lids are heavy, and he has almost determined to 
request the guide to turn back when a loud plunge alongside the 
boat gives him a sudden start and elicits the involuntary exclama- 
tion : "what's that?" forgetting for the moment the necessity of 
silence. " Nothing but a muskrat," calmly replies the guide in a 
whisper. " Muskrat ? hum ! " he retorts in a tone of incredulity, 
but says no more. 

Another hour passes wearily away. The inlet, which is here so 
narrow and shallow as scarely to admit the boat, is crossed by a 
fallen tree that bars farther progress. The return voyage becomes 


very monotonous, and finally even the flics fail to keep up the ex- 
citement. The drowsy hunter nods, his eyes close, and his head 
hangs heavily upon his breast. Suddenly an owl, on a low limb 
overhead, utters one of his loudest and most startling cries. The 
affrighted sportsman cocks both barrels of his gun, expecting to 
detect the crouching form of a panther preparing for the fatal 
spring. On being assured of the harmless nature of his imaginary 
foe he cannot suppress a groan of mortification and disgust while 
he endeavors to regain his equanimity. Beads of cold sweat 
mingle with the oil upon his forehead as he solemnly and silently 
vows that floating is a diversion into which he will never a^ain be 

c> O 

beguiled. Pie feels chill)', and wonders if this is really a sample 
of Adirondack sport, or if his guide has been playing him a trick. 
While his mind is occupied with these meditations they have 
reached the lake, and the guide, anxious not to return empty- 
handed, has put the boat into a shallow bay and is working it 
slowly ahead amongst the lily-pads. The sportsman, now too cold 
to sleep, feels the boat slacken its headway and stop. He wonders 
if the guide has dropped off in a doze and is about to turn and in- 
vestigate when the word " shoot," uttered in a low whisper, falls 
upon his ears. He doesn't see anything to shoot, but on looking 
more closely, discovers, partly hidden behind a bush, the form of 
a Deer, as motionless as a statue, gazing inquiringly at the light. 
Raising the gun nervously to his shoulder he fires. A desperate 
leap, a wild plunge ahead, a heavy fall, and a noble buck lies dead 
upon the bank. 

Driving consists in chasing a Deer with hounds, and killing it, 
if possible, when it takes to water. A Deer is not much afraid of 
a dog, and when the latter commences to bay on the track does 
not start off at once, but waits till sure that the hound is really 
chasing it. It then moves away at a brisk pace, rapidly distancing 
its pursuer, and is apt to run several miles, circling through valleys 
and over hills, before taking to water. If now a stream of an)- 


size is reached, the animal is liable to wade for a considerable dis- 
tance in order to throw the dog off the scent. It then stops to 
listen, and if after a while the dog again finds the track, will gen- 
erally take a pretty straight course for some neighboring lake, and 
swim it in order to rid itself of the annoyance of being followed. 
Instead of swimming, it sometimes skulks in shallow water near 
shore, and in this way baffles the dog. 

The details of the hunt having been arranged over night, the 
participants proceed, soon after daylight, to their respective posts, 
while the guide puts out the dogs. If the lake about which the 
hunt centres is a large one, two or more men are stationed at dif- 
ferent points to watch it, while the others make portages to 
adjacent lakes and ponds. The guide commonly starts several 
dogs, each on a separate track. Each watch-point is provided with 
a boat, and the hunters keep a sharp look-out, for the Deer is fre- 
quently so far ahead that it takes the water before the bay of the 
hound comes within hearing. If the game is a doe or fawn, and 
particularly if early in the season, the head alone is commonly seen 
above the surface, and at a distance it is likely to be mistaken for 
a duck. A buck swims higher, and the later the date the more of 
its body shows out of water. Deer killed in September generally 
sink, but after this month they usually float. This depends upon 
the state of the pelage ; for when in the red coat they sink, while, 
on the contrary, when the blue coat, which grows very rapidly, is 
an inch in length, it will, as a rule, float the Deer that carries it, 
and this length is generally attained about the first of October. 

When a Deer is seen swimming the lake, the hunter waits till it 
has gone far enough from shore to give him an opportunity to 
head it off, before launching his boat and starting in pursuit. By 
exercising a little caution and not hurrying too much, he is often 
able to approach within easy range without being observed ; but, 
if the animal sights him or hears any suspicious noise, it swims so 
fast that unless in a large lake and some distance from shore, the 

i. \RI.\crS VIRGIN I ANUS. 13! 

hunter has great difficulty in overtaking it. When a large buck 
is overtaken and unexpectedly finds that he is pursued, he sud- 
denly turns toward the boat, with a look of mingled astonishment 
and horror, rises high out of water and snorts ; then, facing about, 
makes a desperate, but usually fruitless, effort to escape. 

In September it is not uncommon for a guide to drive the 
Deer about the lake till well nigh exhausted, and then catch and 
hold it by the tail, so that it will not sink, while the " sportsman " 
kills it ! 

In driving, a hunt ordinarily lasts seven or eight hours, and is 
apt to become a trifle monotonous, particularly for those who do 
not happen to see a Deer. It commonly has this advantage, how- 
ever, that there are at this season (autumn) no flies to pester the 
watchman, who, if he can manage to keep warm, and has enough 
to eat, may maintain a tolerable degree of complacency. 

Still-hunting, with us, consists in following a deer, by its tracks 
on the ground, and in attempting to overtake and shoot it, by 
daylight, in its home in the forest. It is sometimes, though rare- 
ly, practised by our most skilful still-hunters in summer and early 
autumn, after a recent rain has so moistened the surface that the 
foot-prints can be traced. But it is when the ground is covered 
with a few inches of newly fallen snow, in November and Decem- 
ber, that this method of hunting is commonly resorted to. A rifle 
is the weapon usually employed. 

In order that he may step as noiselessly as possible, the hunter 
lays aside his boots, covers his feet with several pairs of woolen 
stockings, and over them draws a pair of well-made buckskin 
moccasins. Starting early in the morning, he makes a circuit in 
search of fresh tracks, and if Deer are plenty, pays no attention to 
those of does and fawns, but proceeds till the track of a large 
buck is discovered. This he follows slowly and cautiously, taking 
care lest he tread on some dead branch or in any way make a 
noise that might alarm the wary Deer. The animal often takes 


fright and makes off at full speed before it has been seen at all. 
This the hunter at once detects by the difference in the track, 
the long spaces between footprints plainly showing that it was on 
the run. He now throws off all restraint and strikes into a brisk 
pace, for the Deer is already likely to be several miles away, and 
whatever noise is made cannot possibly reach its distant ears. 
When the tracks indicate that the Deer has slackened its eait into 


a walk, and has, perhaps, commenced to browse a little, then it is 
time to advance again slowly and with great circumspection, for 
having been once alarmed, it is even more on the alert than usual, 
and can only be approached with the utmost care. 

It not unfrequently happens that the Deer enters a swamp 
where several others are feeding, in which case the snow is apt to 
be so much cut up that it is impossible to follow the original 
track unless its size serves to distinguish it ; and even then it 
may cross and recross its own path so many times as to be- 
wilder the hunter, who must now do one of two things: either 
advance stealthily and noiselessly through the swamp, without re- 
gard to the footprints, hoping by chance to get a shot; or he must 
make a wide detour, circling around it, to see if the track he is 
after leads away in any direction. If it does not, he knows that 
the Deer is still in the swamp, and must return and attempt to 
find it. Appreciating the difficulty of the undertaking, he moves 
with great deliberation, his practised eye penetrating, at each step, 
every space and recess that the slight change of position brings in 
view. To the left he observes a prostrate maple, felled by the 
wind, and, knowing that Deer are fond of the kind of browse* it 

* Deer greedily devour the lichens that adhere to the branches of trees that have long been dead, 
and the buds and twigs of those that were living when they fell. This fact is well-known to woods- 
men, who invariably assert that if a tree falls during the night, tracks of Deer can always be found 
there next morning. And I have heard more than one old hunter affirm it to be his sincere belief 
that Deer know the cause of the noise produced by a falling tree, and, guided by the sound, at once 
set out in quest of the spot. 

Mr. John Constable tells me that he once shot a Deer in the act of browsing upon the lichens 
that clung to a fallen tree-top. The animal was standing on its hind-legs, with its fore-feet resting 
upon a large limb, and was reaching up for the lichens. 


affords, works cautious!)- toward it. The branches are reached 
but no live tiling is seen, and his eyes are bent in other directions 
when, crash, crash, under his very nose, and he is deluged with 
a shower of snow that, for the moment, completely blinds him. He 
may, or he may not, get his eyes open in time to catch a vanish- 
ing glimpse of the affrighted Deer, and, now that it is too late, 
discovers the bed of his would-be victim under the fallen tree-top, 
at his very feet. 

The hunter rarely sees the whole outline of a Deer in still- 
hunting. The forests are so thick, and the evergreens so loaded 
with snow, that an object is not commonly visible at any great 
distance, and a part of the leg or a patch of hair constitute the 
target usually presented to his eye. He sometimes fires directly 
at what he sees, and sometimes "allows a trifle" aiming a little 
ahead or a little behind, as the case maybe. If severely wounded, 
without being killed outright, the animal is generally left for 
several hours, or until the next day; for if pursued it would con- 
tinue to run as long as its strength held out ; while, on the other 
hand, if left alone it soon lies down and will probably never rise 
again. Judge Caton says : " But few animals will go so far and 
so fast, after receiving a mortal wound, as a Virginia Deer," * and 
I have myself followed a buck, shot through both lungs with a 44 
calibre rifle-ball, more than a mile and a half through the woods ! 

In localities where Deer are abundant an expert still-hunter 
frequently kills two or three in a single day, but such hunts are 
very laborious, for the track often leads many miles, in a tortuous 
course, over hard-wood ridges, across stretches of spruce and 
hemlock, and through dense balsam and cedar swamps. It is a 
long distance to camp, but thitherward, at nightfall, the weary 
hunter wends his way. His course lies through a swamp in which 
the evergreens grow so near together that the eye is unable to 
penetrate farther than a few paces in any direction, and are so 

* Loc. Cit., p. 383. 


loaded with snow that the dark green of the few uncovered 
branches contrasts markedly with the uniform white of the tent- 
like cones from which they protrude. The silence is oppressive, 
and unbroken even by the sighing of the wind. The imagination, 
aided by the gathering shades of dusk, sees in this picture a 
primeval forest, amongst whose time-worn trunks stands the long 
deserted encampment of a bygone race. The well-preserved 
wigwams of spotless white, bleached by many winters, and pitched 
upon a floor of alabaster, mark the final bivouac of an unremem- 
bered nation. 

Of the three methods of hunting heretofore considered, driving 
is the least sportsmanlike, and affords the Deer the smallest chance 
of escape. It requires neither skill nor cunning on the part of the 
executioner ; for patience, and a very ordinary amount of common 
sense, are the only essentials. It has this advantage, however, 
that the Deer, if wounded at all, is almost certain to be killed out- 
right, which cannot be said of the other methods. 

Floating requires one of the actors to be expert in the use of 
the paddle, and is really quite an exciting diversion. This is partly 
because it can only be practised by night, and partly because each 
change of position of the boat, and each curve and bend of the 
shore brings new objects into the limited field of vision, keeping 
the expectation in a state of acute tension. But after all, when 
the novelty has worn off, one cannot help realizing that it is 
like carrying a lantern, any dark night, through a frontier pasture, 
and shooting the first unlucky cow that chances to stand in the 

In still-hunting, on the other hand, the hunter is thrown entirely 
upon his own resources, and it is the only method of taking the 
Deer in this Wilderness that requires any particular skill or labor 
on his part. The guide is here superfluous, unless it be to string 
up the game and find the shortest way to camp when the hunt is 
over. Still-hunting tends to toughen the muscles, to sharpen the 


vision, to quicken the hearing, and to impart to the whole system 
a glow of health and vigor. It calls into play the exercise of 
functions that are apt to be neglected by the student and man of 
business, and inspires the lover of nature with a zeal and enthusi- 
asm not easily extinguished. 

In addition to the three foregoing legitimate (!) methods of 
hunting the Deer, there are sometimes practised here two other 
ways of killing-! might better say butchering that are too des- 
picable even to be spoken of without a feeling of shame. They 
are : by means of /ic/cs, and by crusting. 

A lick is a place where salt is put,* and the supply from time to 
time replenished. The Deer, being exceedingly fond of salt, after 
having once discovered the place, repair to it with great regu- 
larity. When they have visited the lick nightly for some little time, 
which is ascertained by examining the ground round about for 
tracks, the murderous pot-hunter, armed with a double-barrelled 
gun loaded with buck-shot, secretes himself at dusk behind some 
convenient covert, or in a neighboring tree, and in silence awaits 
the approach of his unsuspecting victim. 

Crusting is a method of destruction that is still more unfair and 
atrocious than that just described, and is only practised by the 
most worthless and depraved vagabonds. It depends, fortunately, 
upon a condition of the deep snows that is usually of short dura- 
tion, and rarely occurs save in the months of February and March. 
When the snow averages four or five feet in depth on the level, a 
thaw, followed by a freeze, converts the surface into a stiff crust 
which renders the Deer very helpless. Taking advantage of this 
state of things, the crust-hunters sally forth. Their snow-shoes 
enable them to skim lightly over the surface, whilst the poor Deer 

* The only natural deer-lick in the Adirondacks, so far as I am aware, is thus spoken of by Mr. 
Colvin : " I observed in a moist place a deposit of marly clay, a rare thing in this region. What 
was most interesting, however, was the fact that this was a natural deer-lick, many places showing 
where the Deer had licked the clay, possibly obtaining a trifle of potash, alumina, and iron, derived 
from sulphates from decomposing pyrites." (Report of the Adirondack Survey, 1880, p. 193.) 


are unable to move except by the greatest effort, and are soon ex- 
hausted. They sink to their bellies at every plunge, the sharp 
hoofs cutting through the frozen crust, which lacerates their 
slender legs till the tracks are stained with blood. The cruel foe 
is upon them, and well do they realize that the struggle is for 
life. Every muscle is strained to the utmost in the frantic ef- 
fort to escape, but in vain. Every leap tells bitterly on the fast- 
waning strength, and they soon sink in the snow, breathless and 
with heaving sides. Their large liquid eyes are turned toward 
their brutal pursuers, as if to implore mercy, but none is given. 
All share a like fate they are butchered in cold blood. 

Deer Protection. 

For many years an army of hardy lumbermen, wood-choppers, 
and bark-peelers has been steadily at work, together with its con- 
comitant devastating fires, in making progressive and disastrous 
inroads upon the ill-fated forests of the Adirondacks. Much of the 
proper borders of the region, long since stripped of timber, pre- 
sent to the eye a desolate and barren waste, whose present irregu- 
lar boundaries are still contracting with ominous rapidity. 

New saw-mills, pulp-mills, and numerous other manufacturing 
establishments that consume vast quantities of wood, are con- 
stantly being erected ; and, as if this were not enough, it is 
possible that before the snows of another winter cover the earth, 
a railroad will pierce the very heart of this grand Wilderness. 

It augurs ill for the Deer when the footprints of the panther or 
wolf are found near its winter quarters, but the cold steel tracks 
of the iron horse admonish us of the presence of a tenfold more 
insidious and subtle foe; for the railroad not only brings the Deer's 
greatest enemy, man, into its immediate haunts, but destroys and 
carries off the forests that constitute its home. Hence it natural- 
ly follows that unless the region is early converted into a State 
Preserve, which, unfortunately, seems hardly probable, the laws that 

CARIACIS viK<;i\i.\\rs. 137 

heretofore sufficed to enable this animal to hold its own. will soon 
prove inadequate. Therefore, the subject of Deer Protection 
becomes one that claims earnest and thoughtful consideration from 
our sportsmen and hunters, and demands intelligent and judicious 

The present law was a fairly good one at the time of its enact- 
ment, but it has ceased to meet existing conditions ; that it will 
prove ineffectual against the demands of the rapidly increasing 
occupancy and destruction of the forests, requires no great per- 
spicacity to foretell. 

There are two weak points in the law as it now stands : ist, 
the open season is too long by at least a month ; and 2d, there is 
no limit put to the number of Deer that a party, or an individual, 
may kill during this period. The season begins with the month 
of August, and when the weather is propitious more than a hun- 
dred boats are nightly engaged in floating, on the various water- 
courses of the Adirondacks. Now it is an undisputed fact that, 
by this method of hunting, more than twice as many does as bucks 
are killed, and that a large percentage of those fired at are wounded, 
and escape into the woods to die. It is also a fact that, as a rule, 
each doe has two fawns, and that fawns deprived of their mother's 
milk before the first of September usually die. Hence the ap- 
palling truth becomes apparent, that for every twenty-five Deer 
secured by floating, at least fifty (and probably a much larger 
number) must be destroyed ! Therefore it seems proper that 
the season should not open before the first of September. The 
second weak point in the law is also a vital one. It is notorious 
that during the past two years many hundreds of Deer have been 
slaughtered over and above the number necessary to keep the 
parties killing them supplied with venison. In parts of Canada, 
and in the State of Maine, the law sets a limit to the number of 
moose, caribou, and Deer that may be killed by an individual or 
camp during a given period, and I see no reason why a similar 


law might not be enacted and enforced in our own State with like 
good results. 


NOTE i. It is not many years since the Moose (Alee Americana s} 
was a favorite object of pursuit in the Adirondacks, from which 
region it was exterminated, as nearly as I can ascertain, about the 
year 1861. 

Dr. DeKay, in his Zoology of New York, said of these animals : 
" They are yet numerous in the unsettled portions of the State, in 
the counties of Essex, Herkimer, Hamilton, Franklin, Lewis, and 
Warren ; and since the gradual removal of the Indians, they are 
now (1841) believed to be on the increase .... The Moose 
furnishes an excellent material from its hide for moccasins and 
snow-shoes. The best skin is obtained from the bull Moose in 
October, and usually sells for four dollars. They were formerly so 
numerous about Raquet Lake, that the Indians and French Cana- 
dians resorted thither to obtain their hides for this purpose ; and 
hence we have the origin of the name of that lake, the word raqnet 
meaning snow-shoes. They still exist in its neighborhood." 

The Moose is a huge animal, the adult males often standing six 
feet in height at the shoulders, and exceeding a thousand pounds 
in weight, Evidence of its former presence here may still be seen 
in various parts of the Wilderness, where the long scars of its 
" peelings " yet remain. These commonly consist of small soft or 
swamp maples (Acer rubrnm L.) and striped maples (A. Pcnnsyl- 
vanicum L.) from which the bark has been stript, from a short 
distance above the ground to the height of eight or even ten feet. 
This bark, together with the branches of the same tree, and several 
kinds of browse, constitute its principal food in winter. In sum- 
mer it feeds also upon marsh grasses and aquatic plants, notably 
upon the roots of the pond lily. 


In the fall of 1853 Thoreau met an Indian, named Tahmunt Swa- 
sen, in the forests near Moosehead Lake, Maine, who told him that 
he had hunted Moose in the Adironclacks in New York, but that 
they were more plentiful in the Maine woods.* 

Concerning the abundance of the Moose in the Adirondacks 
subsequent to 1850, and its final disappearance from the region, I 
have taken great pains to solicit information, both through private 
inquiry and correspondence, and publicly through the medium of 
Forest and Stream. The result of this investigation, in which I 
have been greatly aided by Dr. Frederick H. Hoadley, is a deluge 
of individual opinion and conflicting statement, together with 
a meagre amount of positive information of a strictly reliable 

Early in March, 1851, Mr. John Constable and his brother 
Stevenson killed two Moose near the head of Independence Creek, 
in Herkimer County. They killed their last Moose in March, 
1856, west of Charley's Pond, in Hamilton County. Mr. Constable 
writes me : " I never recur to those hunts with any satisfaction, 
for much as I enjoyed at the time the tramp of more than a hun- 
dred miles on snow-shoes, the camping in the snow, the intense 
excitement of the search and pursuit, I must ever regret the part 
I have taken unwittingly in exterminating this noble animal from 
our forests. Were I younger, I would assist in reinstating them, 
as the plan is perfectly feasible. In the early years of my still- 
hunting, moose were quite numerous, and I rarely, if ever, failed to 
see signs of their peelings or their tracks." 

In the year 1852 or 1853 the well-known guides, Alonzo Wood 
and Ed. Arnold, killed two Moose and found a third dead, back of 
Seventh Lake Mountain, in Hamilton County. 

Dr. J. H. Guild writes me from Rupert, Vermont, that a Moose 
was killed at or near Mud Lake, in the Lower Saranac region, in 

* The Maine Woods. By Henry D. Thoreau, Boston, 1864, p. 141. 


In July of the same year (1856) Ed. Arnold killed a Moose at 
Nick's Lake ; and in the following spring a man named Baker 
killed another in the same vicinity. 

One evening during the summer of 1858 a Moose strayed into 
the Wood's garden at Raquette Lake, but was not shot. 

The Hon. Horatio Seymour, ex-Governor of the State of New 
York, killed a huge bull Moose in the forest North of Joe's Lake. 
Its head and horns may now be seen at his farm in Deerfield, N. Y. 

The Governor writes me : " It was a very large animal and was 
disposed to charge upon our party ; but for our dog it might have 
made us trouble. The snow was very deep and covered with a 
crust. The dog could run upon this while the Moose sunk through 
it. This enabled the dog to worry the animal and turn its atten- 
tion away from our party." He does not remember the year in 
which it was killed. 

In July, 1 86 1, the artist Mr. A. F. Tait, and Mr. James B. Blos- 
som, both of New York, were camped on Constable Point, Raquette 
Lake. One night about the middle of the month, while floating 
on Marion River, Mr. Tait wounded a Moose, but did not kill it. 
On the 25th of the month, about four o'clock in the afternoon, 
Mr. Blossom shot and killed a dry cow Moose on South Inlet. 

The measurements of this animal, taken by Mr. Blossom at the 
time and on the spot, are : 

Length, 7 feet, i inch. 

Height (at shoulder), 6 feet, i inch. 

Head, 2 feet, 2 inches. 

Ears, i foot. 

Girth, 5 feet, 4 inches. 

Fore leg, 3 feet, 5 inches. 

Hind leg (hip bone to hoof), 5 feet, 5 inches. 

Early in August of the same year (1861) the hunter William 
Wood killed a bull calf near the place where Mr. Tait had wounded 


his Moose. It had a broken jaw, was very lean, and was un- 
questionably the animal wounded by Mr. Tait. 

In Forest and Stream for April 2d, 1874 (p. 116), Mr. Edw. 
Clarence Smith states that a cow Moose was killed on Marion 
River (East Inlet of Raquette Lake) during the summer of 1861. 
He says that it was shot by a guide by the name of Palmer from 
Long Lake, while feeding upon lily-pads, about three o'clock in 
the afternoon ; and that " the persons present were Isaac Gerhart, 
lawyer ; Mr. Burgin, Rev. Augustus Smith, now settled in West 
Philadelphia, and the undersigned, all residents of Philadelphia." 
In response to interrogations, Mr. Smith writes me that this Moose 
was killed in the month of August. Mr. Smith had also the kind- 


ness to address a letter of inquiry, in my behalf, to Isaac Gerhart, 
Esq., a member of the party. Mr. Gerhart's reply is so full of in- 
teresting details that I make no apology for publishing the greater 
part of it verbatim. He writes : ''I should say the Moose was 
shot about the end of the second week in August, 1861, at the 
mouth of the East Inlet of Raquette Lake, on whose shore, about 
four miles distant, we then had a camp. We had been up this 
inlet, your correspondent calls it Marion River a name I cannot 
recall, for a day's trout fishing. You and your brother [Rev. H. 
Augustus Smith] and guide were in one boat ; Burgin, a guide, 
and I in a'nother. We, as usual, ' tho' on fishing bent,' still had 
our trusty guns, lest some chance game should find us unprepared. 
At its mouth the Inlet was bordered on either hand by a thickly 
wooded shore, terminating on the south side in a short promontory, 
round the end of which a sloping shore curved off to the southwest. 
Off this sloping shore grew in the water a border of lily-pacls, 
perhaps a hundred feet wide, and about half as far from the edge 
of the water the shore became bold and thickly wooded. We were 
rowing steadily down, the bottoms of our boats covered with finny 
spoils. I was in the bow of the foremost boat, when, as we came 
abreast of the end of the promontory, I caught sight of the monster 


up to her belly in water, cropping the tender lily-shoots. I shall 
never forget the confusing impression the sight made upon me. In 
my mind the Moose was always associated with imposing antlers, 
such as I had seen in the pictured and stuffed specimens which had 
all been of males ; but this uncouth creature had only immense ears, 
which, though its head was below the humped shoulders, still 
towered above them. I felt that it must be game because of the 
complete wildness of the surroundings ; and yet it seemed so sug- 
gestive of an exaggerated caricature of a jackass, that the idea 
passed across my mind that there might be some clearing in the 
neighborhood to which it belonged. I do not think my guide's 
impressions were any more coherent than mine, for, although he 
was a year or two past his majority and had been born and bred 
in the woods, he had never seen a Moose. Meanwhile, profiting 
by our confusion of ideas, Madame Moose had ' slewed around ' 
in the water, with a view to making for the friendly shelter of the 
woods, when your boat came within view of the creature and your 
guide shouted ' Moose ! Moose !' which had the effect of clearing 
up my ideas instantaneously. In the twinkling of an eye I had 
lodged in front of her shoulder the contents of my gun not 
'bird shot,' as you suggest, but 'buck-cartridge' consisting of 
over a dozen buck-shot enclosed in a wire frame, making a load 
that ' carried ' very closely, and made a hole in her at that short 
range of not over fifty yards, that would doubtless, after one of 
those long runs for which these animals are famous when fatally 
wounded, have ended her career. My shot lent impetus to her 
progress toward shore. Then Burgin fired some shot (I think 
No. 6) into her and she emerged from the water. The two guides, 
first ours and then yours, [*] each put a rifle ball into her, and she 
fell heavily to rise no more. She doubtless had a spouse some- 
where in the neighborhood, for a party who had been after her for 

* Mr. Smith writes me: " The shot that brought her to the ground was fired by our guide, one 
Palmer of Long Lake, son of old Palmer, the original settler on Long Lake." 


a week had killed a Moose-calf near by that was too young to 
have left its parents, and claimed to have found tracks of both the 
old ones. We lived on her tenderloin after getting her to camp 
under great difficulties for about a week. 

" On our way out of the region, whence we made our exit at 
the First Saranac Lake, we stopped at Bartlett's on Round Lake, 
which appeared to be a famous and extensive rendezvous for 
hunters and guides ; and on the register there we recorded con- 
spicuously opposite our names our notable, albeit fortuitous, 
achievement. * ] I think we recorded it as weighing about 800 Ibs. 
and standing about seven feet high in the hump. The derisive 
incredulity which this entry evoked was only silenced by the pro- 
duction of the hide, which we had brought with us." 

No credence is to be given to the report, widely circulated 
by the press, that a Moose has during the past winter been seen 
near the Ox-bow on Moose River, in the Woodhull Lake region. 

NOTE 2. -That the American Elk or Wapiti (Ccrvus Canadcnsis) 
was at one time common in the Adirondacks there is no question. 
A number of their antlers have been discovered, the most perfect of 
which that I have seen is in the possession of Mr. John Constable. 
It was found in a bog on Third Lake of Fulton Chain, in Herkimer 

Dr. DeKay (Zool. N. Y., Part I, 1842, pp. 120-121) speaks of a 
specimen consisting of " a portion of a pair of horns attached to a 
fragment of skull," which was '" dug up near the mouth of the 

O <-> 

Raquet River in this State, near the forty-fifth parallel of latitude. 
It bears a label in the handwriting of Dr. Mitchill, purporting that it 

* Upon the receipt of the above letter, early in October, 1883, I hoped to ascertain the exact date of 
the killing of this Moose, and at once wrote to Mr. Uartlelt, asking if he would consult his old 
register and send me a copy of the entry here referred to. Unfortunately, his reply has not yet 
been received. [Since the above went to press I have learned of Mr. Bartlett's death. | 


belonged to the C. tarandus* or Rein-deer." Dr. DeKay appends 
a table of measurements which clearly indicates that the antler in 
question was that of our common Elk, though he regarded it as per- 
taining to the fossil Elk. He mentions another antler, of a younger 
animal, which " was thrown out by a plow on Grand Isle," in Lake 
Champlain, and deposited in the Museum of the University of 

Dr. C. C. Benton, of Ogdensburg, has several specimens, more or 
less complete. The circumference of the largest at the burr is twelve 
and one half inches; immediately below the burr ten inches. These 
specimens were discovered at Steel's Corners in St. Lawrence County. 

Mr. Calvin V. Graves, of Boonville, N. Y., has two sections of 
Elk horns that were "ploughed up in an old beaver meadow in 
Diana," Lewis County. 

When the species was exterminated here is not known. Dr. 
DeKay, writing in 1842, states: " The stag is still found in the State 
of New York, but very sparingly, and will doubtless be extirpated 
before many years. Mr. Beach, an intelligent hunter on the Raquet, 
assured me that in 1836, he shot at a stag (or as he called it, an elk), 
on the north branch of the Saranac. He had seen many of the horns, 
and described this one as much larger than the biggest buck 
(C. virginianus], with immense long and rounded horns, with many 
short antlers. His account was confirmed by another hunter, 
Vaughan, who killed a stag at nearly the same place. They are found 
in the northwestern counties of Pennsylvania, and the adjoining 
counties of New York. In 1834, I am informed by Mr. Philip 
Church, a stag was killed at Bolivar, Allegany County. My inform- 
ant saw the animal, and his description corresponds exactly with this 
species." f 

* This specimen is probably the source of Professor Dana's statement . " Remains of the Rein- 
deer have been found on Racket River," N;w York (Dana's Geology, 2d Ed., 1875, p. 568.) 
I have been unable to find a trustworthy record of the Reindeer or Caribou from this region. 

f Zoology of New York, Part I, Mammalia, 1842, p. 119. 


I do not regard the above account of Messrs. Beach and Yaughan 


as trustworthy, for the reason that I have never been able to find a 
hunter in this wilderness, however aged, who had ever heard of a 
living Elk in the Adirondack*. 

NOTE 3. It is also worthy of remark that wild horses, larger than 
our domesticated stock, once roamed the borders of this region. Dr. 
C. C. Benton,of Ogdensburg, has shown me several fossil molar teeth 
of Rquus major that were exhumed at Keenes Station near the 
Oswegatchie Ox Bow in Jefferson County. I have compared them 
with the corresponding teeth in an immense dray-horse, and find 
them much larger. 

NOTE 4. It is hard for us to realize that huge Elephants, in the 
wild state, ever moved their ponderous bodies over this northern 
Wilderness ; but the fact is incontestibly proved by the discovery of 
their remains on both sides of the Adirondacks. Dr. Zadock Thomp- 
son tells us that a fossil Elephant was found in a muck bed in the 
township of Mt. Holly, Vermont, (in the Green Mountains,) at an ele- 
vation of 1415 feet, in the year i848. :i: 

A tusk measuring five feet nine inches in length, over the curve, 
was found, September 20, 1877, in a marl bed about a mile west of 
the village of Copenhagen in Lewis County. It was purchased for 
the State Cabinet by Dr. Franklin B. Hough, who described it in the 
Lowville Times. Whether this tusk belonged to an Elephant or a 
Mastodon has not been determined. 

* Appendix to Thompson's Vermont, 1853, pp. 14-15. Dr. Leidy refers this specimen to 
Elephas American us (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Phila., VII, 392). 


Order INSECTIVORA. Family 

Star-nosed Mole. 

The Star-nosed Mole is a common animal along the outskirts of 
the Adirondacks, where it seems to manifest a predilection for 
moist situations, being usually found in low ground and in the 
neighborhood of streams. Its food consists almost wholly of the 
earthworm, and of various insects which it discovers in its mean- 
derings through the soil. In general, its habits are much like those 
of the Shrew Mole, though it does not, apparently, make as extensive 
excavations, and the "mole hills" along the lines of its galleries 
are larger. 

In gardens and ploughed ground they often work so near the 
surface that a ridge of loose earth is upheaved along the course of 
their tunnels. In meadows and pasture lands, on the contrary, 
the galleries are not marked by surface ridges, for the simple reason 
that they cannot readily force their way through the tough sod, but 
excavate their burrows immediately beneath. Late in the autumn, 
when the ground becomes frozen to the depth of two or three 
inches, the Moles sink their galleries into the soft earth below, 
and as winter advances they doubtless continue to deepen them 
sufficiently to avoid the frozen ground. Thus both Moles and 
earthworms escape the severe temperature of our northern winter 
by withdrawing below the depth to which the frost penetrates. It 
sometimes happens here that a period of severe cold sets in before 
much snow has fallen, in which case the ground becomes frozen to 
the depth of two feet or more. But this state of things is not apt 
to continue, for advancing winter is almost certain to bring with it 
a large amount of snow, which, as is well known, keeps out the cold 
and dissipates the frost already in the earth. I have known the 
ground to be frozen for two feet below the surface when a fall of 
about four feet of snow took place. Within two weeks afterward 


the ground thawed and the surface became moist and mellow though 
the temperature remained low. Indeed, it is not uncommon for 
fresh green grass to spring up under the heavy covering which 
Dame Nature spreads over her northern possessions in winter ; 
and residents of cold countries often avail themselves of the pro- 
tection afforded by seemingly inhospitable snow banks. 

There is a low and somewhat wet piece of ground bordering a 
small creek near my home in Lewis County. During and after 
every heavy rain, and for a considerable period in spring and fall, 
this creek overflows its banks and a large part of the surrounding 
flat is converted into a swamp. Star-nosed Moles have been com- 
mon here ever since I can remember, their hills clotting the surface 
in various directions. In the fall of 1883 a colony of them were 
exceedingly active in one part of this flat and their mounds could 
be counted by hundreds over an area a few acres in extent. For 
the double purpose of procuring specimens, and of ascertaining if 
more species than one were concerned in these excavations, I de- 
termined to trap some of the animals, and was joined in the under- 
taking by Dr. A. K. Fisher. 

This species, as well as Brewer's and the Shrew Mole, may be 
trapped by taking advantage of the habit of removing obstacles 
from the primary galleries, which are always kept in repair. A 
snare of fine wire or horse hair made to surround the runway, and 
connected with a bit of stick that protrudes into the burrow and 
liberates a small springpole when moved, is the best device for 
their capture with which I am acquainted. The traps made by us 
consisted of a small strip of board with a bow or hoop set in each 
end, to keep the wire loops in place, and so arranged that the 
Mole is equally apt to be taken from whichever direction he comes. 
During the latter part of October and first of November we 
set half a dozen traps of this description, visiting them twice daily 
until November I3th, when a fall of six inches of snow and the 
freezing of the ground suspended operations for a few days. The 


weather moderated on the igth and 2Oth, and the number of traps 
set was increased to fifteen. These were also visited both morn- 
ing and evening and all were kept in good order, A large propor- 
tion of them were sprung almost every morning, and others were 
plastered up with mud in such a way that they could not spring. 
In fact, on an average, fully twenty traps would be sprung to 
every Mole secured. I think the springpoles used at first were 
too weak, and that a few Moles escaped by forcing themselves 
through the wire loops. But after stiffening the poles we still 
failed to secure more than a small number of Moles in comparison 
with the number of traps sprung. Although the traps remained 
set till the 28th of November, when the ground again became 
frozen and covered with snow, we secured but nine specimens in 
all. Eight were of the Star-nosed variety, while the other was a 
Brewer's Mole {Scapanus Brciveri}. During the same period 
three more Brewer's Moles were caught on a side hill near by. 

Dr. Fisher is of opinion that the Moles, in repairing their gal- 
leries, often push a quantity of earth ahead of them in the direction 
of the mounds, and that this springs the trap before the Mole 
has arrived at the loop. In a large number of cases this is a very 
reasonable explanation of the failure to catch the animal, for the 
traps are frequently found packed full of earth. In other cases 
they dig around the trap, while occasionally a new burrow is ex- 
cavated directly beneath it. Whatever else they may do, they in- 
variably plaster over with mud any exposed part of the trap that 
may appear in the gallery ; and they sometimes bury the whole 
affair by upheaving a hill directly over it. 

The exact method by which the little mounds called " mole hills" 
are produced has long been a matter of earnest inquiry, and I am 
glad to be able to contribute important testimony upon this point. 
Repeated critical examinations of the hills themselves in different 
soils, and occasional observations made at the time of their up- 
heaval, have convinced me that, when in dry earth, it is impossible 


to arrive at any positive knowledge of the way in which they are 
made. All that one sees during their formation in dry soil is the 
upheaval of a quantity of loose earth from a central point, which 
point speedily becomes indistinguishable as the mound increases 
in size, the only observable phenomenon consisting in a little heap 
of dirt every particle of which seems to be in motion, as it steadily 
approaches completion. The rapidity with which so much earth 
is thrown up is one of the most perplexing things about it ; and 
the peculiar motion of the mass leads to the notion that it is 
traversed by galleries and that the Mole is at work within it and 
not beneath the surrounding ground. On making a section of the 
mound, however, it is found to contain no cavity unless it be a 
mere tubular extension of the gallery, and this is absent in more 
than half the hills examined. On opening the gallery beneath, no 
chamber or tortuous excavation is discovered, and the fact at once 
becomes apparent that so much earth as constitutes the hill could 
not possibly have been obtained from the excavation in its imme- 
diate vicinity, and must therefore have been brought from a dis- 
tance. Just how it \vas conveyed to and forced through the orifice 
leading into the hill I have until recently been at a loss to com- 
prehend, but the opportunity to examine some freshly made mounds 
in a wet pasture of rich loam or mould has cleared up the mystery. 
These new mounds consisted wholly of compact cylindrical 
masses of damp earth, having very much the appearance of Bologna 
sausages, and measuring from three to five inches in length by one 
and a half to two in diameter. It was noticeable that the size of 
each was greater than that of the hole in the sod through which it 

o o 

had been discharged, which circumstance shows that it must have 
been subjected to considerable pressure during expulsion. On 
handling these masses they readily broke up, transversely, into a 
number of more or less parallel discs, or lamellae, each of which 
bore evidence of having been powerfully compressed. On exposure 
to the air they soon lost their cylindrical form and crumbled, so that 


it is only under peculiarly favorable circumstances that they are to 
be found at all. They are never present in any but newly made 
mounds in wet mucky soil. Hence it is perfectly clear that the 
earth of which the mounds are composed is brought to and ex- 
truded through the hole intended for this purpose by being pushed 
ahead of the animal. In being thus crowded along it becomes com- 
pressed and moulded to the burrows. How the Mole always 
manages to force it through the hole he has prepared for it, instead 
of pushing it into the continuation of the gallery beyond, is by no 
means so evident. In a great many cases one arm of the gallery 
curves up into the mound so that the plugs would naturally follow 
this passage, but in other cases the canal leading to the mound is 
given off vertically and nearly at a right angle to the runway, while 
occasionally it commences as a horizontal offshoot, thence sloping 
upward to the mound. 

As the main galleries from time to time require repairs, the 
superabundant earth is usually disposed of by crowding it up 
through the old mounds, which sometimes, though rarely, contain 
a tubular or oval cavity continuous with the holes. Thus, after 
a rain or frost by which the galleries have been injured, it often 
happens that many of the old mounds on the lines of the primary 
runways will be found to have been reopened and the fresh earth 
which has been removed in making the necessary repairs may be 
seen on them. 

Audubon and Bachman criticise Godman's statement concerning 
the abundance of this species in certain localities, remarking : 
" We have sometimes supposed that he might have mistaken the 
o-alleries of the common Shrew Mole for those made by the Star- 

o * 

nose, as to us it has always appeared a rare species in every part 
of the Union."* My experience agrees with that of Dr. Godman, 
for I have frequently observed this species in large colonies, 
and with us it is certainly one of the commonest Moles. 

* Quadrupeds of North America, 1851, vol. II, pp. 141-142. 


Audubon and Bachman observe : " In a few localities where we 
were in the habit, man)' years ago, of obtaining the Star-nosed 
Mole, it was always found on the banks of rich meadows near run- 
ning streams. The galleries did not run so near the surface as 
those of the common Shrew Mole. We caused one of the galleries 
to be dug out, and obtained a nest containing three young, ap- 
parently a week old. The radiations on the nose were so slightly 
developed that until we carefully examined them we supposed they 
were the young of the Common Shrew Mole. The nest was 
spacious, composed of withered grasses, and situated in a large ex- 
cavation under a stump. The old ones had made their escape, and 
we endeavoured to preserve the young; but the want of proper 
nourishment caused their death in a couple of clays." * The only 
nest that I ever found was about two feet below the surface, in 
clay soil, and under a stump. It was composed of grass, and from 
it a passage led to a vegetable garden near by. 

The same authors assert that " it avoids cultivated fields, and 
confines itself to meadows and low swampy places." f That this 
is not always the case I have positive proof, for I have caught a 
number of them in our garden. By following the ridge of loose 
earth that marks their progress, and quickly sinking a spade 
directly in their path, a few inches in advance of the moving earth, 
I have often turned them out upon the surface. They pass through 
the rich, soft soil of a garden bed with such rapidity that my spade 
has sometimes cut them in two, though aimed several inches in 
advance of the moving earth. 

The precise function of the curious disc of tentacle-like papilla; 
on the snout has not as yet been positively determined, though it 
is highly probable that it serves as a delicate organ of touch to aid 
the animal in discovering the worms and insects that constitute its 

* Ibid., pp. 141-142. f Ibid., pp. 141-142. 


One March, many years ago, when sliding down hill on the 
crust (the snow then being over three feet in depth) Dr. C. L. 
Bagg and 1 observed at different times several dark objects which 
at a distance looked like little balls of fur. On coming nearer we 
discovered that these apparently round objects were Star-nosed 
Moles, trying to bore through the icy crust. They had evidently 
been moving about on the surface till alarmed by our approach, 
when, having wandered away from the holes through which they 
came up, they at once set to work to perforate the crust, but, owing 
to its unusual hardness, did not succeed in time to make good their 
escape. We captured two or three and brought them home. 

The reason that they are not more often seen here in winter is 
easily explained. They do not at any time travel much upon the 
surface, and even when thus engaged their sense of hearing is so 
acute that they detect the approach of an enemy while yet at a 
distance, and disappear at once into the snow. All winter long 
one sees upon the snow many small footprints, that are designated, 
collectively, as mice, mole, and shrew tracks. I can distinguish, 
with considerable confidence, those of Hesperomys, Blarina, and 
Sorcx, but who will venture to affirm that he can name the species 
that makes each of the others ? 

The tail of this species becomes enormously enlarged during the 
rutting season, which circumstance led Dr. Harlan to describe a 
specimen taken during this period as a distinct species, which he 
named Condylnra macroura* I have taken specimens as late as 
the middle of November whose tails measured i2mm. (.47 in.) in 
diameter. When in this swollen condition there is a marked con- 
striction at the base, which causes the tail to appear as if strangu- 
lated. Two or more litters are produced each season. 

The scent glands of this animal secrete a thick creamy material 
of a greenish yellow color that has a powerful and very disagree- 

* Fauna Americana, 1825, p. 39. 

S< Al.ol'S AiJl.'ATICUS. I 53 

able odor, which at certain seasons becomes exceedingly rank and 

SCALOPS AQUATICUS <I. inn.) Fischer. 
S/trw Mole. 

This species is not common about the borders of the Adirondacks, 
and is seldom if ever found within the evergreen forests, though it 
sometimes finds the way to the frontier settler's garden. 

Its specific name, aquaficns, like many others in Zoological nomen- 
clature, has been unfortunately chosen and has no bearing on the 
habits of the animal ; for not only is the Shrew Mole not known 
voluntarily to swim, but in the selection of its haunts it shows no 
preference for the vicinity of water, but manifests rather a contrary 

Its home is underground, and its entire lifetime is spent beneath 
the surface. Its food consists almost wholly of earth-worms, grubs, 
ants, and other insects that live in the earth and under logs and 
stones It is almost universally regarded as an enemy to the farmer, 
and is commonly destroyed whenever opportunity affords ; for, not- 
withstanding the fact that it subsists upon insects that injure the 
crops, it is nevertheless true that, in the procurement of these, it 
disfigures the garden paths and beds, by the ridges and little mounds 
of earth that mark the course of its subterranean galleries, and loosens 
and injures many choice plants in its probings for grubs amongst 
their roots. 

The strength of the Shrew Mole is simply prodigious, for an 
animal of its diminutive size, and the speed with which it forces 
itself through the ground is marvellous. Audubon and Bachman, 
speaking of one they had in confinement, state : " \Ye afterwards put 
the Mole into a large wire rat-trap, and to our surprise saw him in- 
sert his fore-paws or hands, between the wires, and force them apart 
sufficiently to give him room to pass out through them at once, and 


this without any great apparent effort." Dr. Godman also tells us 
that one which he had " in a basket on the mantlepiece of a parlour 
made its escape, and fell to the hearth ; apparently it sustained little 
injury by the fall, but hurried on until it reached the wall, where it 
began to travel round the room. Whenever its course was impeded 
by the feet of the chairs, which were of large size, it would not go 
round them, but wedging itself between them and the wall, pushed 
them with apparent ease far enough to obtain a free passage, and it 
thus continued to move several in succession. What was more 
astonishing, it passed in a similar manner behind the legs of a small 
mahogany breakfast-table, and pushed it aside in the same way it 
had done the chairs, finally hiding itself behind a pile of quarto 
volumes, more than two feet high, which it also moved out from the 
wall." f Now I have made a pile, just two feet high, of quarto 
volumes, and find that to move it on a smooth, painted floor requires 
a force of eighteen pounds (Avoirdupois), and on a carpet, of twenty- 
two pounds. In order to display a degree of strength proportionate 
to the difference in weight of the two, a man would have to exert a 


push pressure of twelve thousand pounds ! 

Its nest is commonly half a foot or more below the surface, and 
from it several passages lead away in the direction of its favorite 
foraging grounds. These primary passages gradually approach the 
surface, and finally become continuous with, or open into, an ever 
increasing multitude of tortuous galleries, which wind about in every 
direction, and sometimes come so near the surface as barely to 
escape opening upon it, while at other times they are several inches 
deep. Along the most superficial of these horizontal burrows the 
earth is actually thrown up, in the form of long ridges, by which the 
animal's progress can be traced. The distance that they can thus 
travel in a given time is almost incredible. Audubon and Bachman 
state that they have been known, in a single night after a rain, to 

* Quadrupeds of North America, vol. I, 1846, pp. 85-86. 

f American Natural History, by John D. Godman, M. D., vol. I, 1842, p. 64. 


excavate a gallery several hundred yards in length ; and I have 
myself traced a fresh one nearly one hundred yards. The only 
method by which we can arrive at a just appreciation of the magni- 
tude of this labor is by comparison ; and computation shows that in 
order to perform equivalent work a man would have to excavate, in 
a single night, a tunnel thirty-seven miles long, and of sufficient size 
to easily admit of the passage of his body. 

In following the galleries of the Shrew Mole one finds a number 
of little hills of loose earth, each measuring from four to six inches in 


height, and eight to ten in diameter. They are usually in groups, 
a few feet apart, but are sometimes isolated. Lawns and flower beds 
are often disfigured by them in a few hours, for a large number are 
sometimes thrown up in a surprisingly short space of time. " I have 
often examined these eminences," writes Dr. Godman, " and have 
never been able fully to understand how they are formed ; a slight 
motion is observed at the surface, and presently this loose earth is 
seen to be worked up through a small orifice, whence, falling on all 
sides, by its accumulation the hills just mentioned are produced. It 
seems to be brought from some distance, for on breaking up the 
gallery, it was evident that more earth had been thrown out than 
could have been removed in excavating the immediately adjoining 
portions of the burrow. In one instance I have seen the shrew-mole 
show the extremity of its snout from the centre of one of these loose 
hills, where it had come at mid-day, as if for the purpose of enjoying 
the sunshine, without exposing its body to the full influence of the 
external air." * 

I have many times observed small areas, several square yards in 
extent, particularly in meadow-land, where the ground was fairly 
covered with mole-hills, and so cut up with their galleries that in 
walking over it one was sure to break through the surface. It seems 
reasonable to suppose that the animal discovers, in these places, an 

* Loc. cit., p. 62. 
I I 


abundance of some favorite food perhaps a colony of grubs feeding 
upon the roots of the grass. 

When the Shrew Mole encounters a rock, or an old log or stump, 
in the course of his subterranean wanderings, instead of avoiding it, 
he takes great pains to burrow beneath, making extensive excavations 
in contact with its under surface. The reason is obvious, for he 
knows as well as we do that in such places are to be found many 
earth-worms, slugs, ants with their eggs, and other tender insects. 

It is not probable that the remoter secondary galleries are traversed 
more than a few times, for the animal makes new ones every day ; 
but the primary passages which lead to the nest are in constant use, 
and are always kept in repair. In this connection Dr. Godman, whose 
biography of this species is the most complete and accurate we 
possess, observes: " It is remarkable how unwilling they are to re- 
linquish a long frequented burrow ; I have frequently broken down 
or torn off the surface of the same burrow for several days in succes- 
sion, but would always find it repaired at the next visit. This was 
especially the case with one individual whose nest I discovered, which 
was always repaired within a short time, as often as destroyed. It 
was an oval cavity, about six or seven inches in length by three in 
breadth, and was placed at about eight inches from the surface in a 
stiff clay. The entrance to it sloped obliquely downwards from the 
common gallery, about two inches from the surface ; three times I 
entirely exposed this cell by cutting out the whole superincumbent 
clay with a knife, and three times a similar one was made a little 
beyond the situation of the former, the excavation having been con- 
tinued from its back part. I paid a visit to the same spot two months 
after capturing its occupant, and breaking up the nest, all the injuries 
were found to be repaired, and another excavated within a few inches 
of the old one. Most probably numerous individuals, composing a 
whole family, reside together in these extensive galleries." He 
further says : " Shrew-moles are most active early in the morning, 
at mid-day, and in the evening ; after rains they are particularly busy 


in repairing their damaged galleries, and in long continued wet 
weather we find that they seek the high grounds for security. The 
precision with which they daily come to the surface at twelve o'clock 
is very remarkable, and is well known in the country. In many in- 
stances when we have watched them, they appeared exactly at twelve, 
and at this time only have we succeeded in taking them alive, which 
is easily done by intercepting their progress with a spade, broad 
blade, &c., and throwing them on the surface. " 

Auclubon and Bachman discourse as follows upon the feeding 
habits of one they had in confinement : " When this Mole was fed 
on earth-worms (Lumbricus terrains], as we have just related, we 
heard the worms crushed in the strong jaws of the animal, with a 
noise somewhat like the grating of broken glass, which was probably 
caused by its strong teeth gnashing on the sand or grit contained in 
the bodies of the worms. These were placed singly on the ground 
near the animal, which after smelling around for a moment turned 
about in every direction with the greatest activity, until he felt a 
worm, when he seized it between the outer surface of his hands or 
fore-paws, and pushed it into his mouth with a continually repeated 
forward movement of the paws, cramming it downward until all was 
in his jaws. Small sized earth-worms were dispatched in a very 
short time ; the animal never failing to begin with the anterior end 
of the worm, and apparently cutting it as he eat, into small pieces, 
until the whole was devoured. On the contrary, when the earth- 
worm was of a large size, the Mole seemed to find some difficulty in 
managing it, and munched the worm sideways, moving it from one 
side of its mouth to the other. On these occasions the gritting of 
its teeth, which we have already spoken of, can be heard at a distance 

of several feet Although this species, as we have seen, 

feeds principally on worms, grubs, &c., we have the authority of 
our friend Ogden Hammond, Esq., for the following example either 

* Loc. cit., pp. 63-64, 65. 


of a most singular perversity of taste, or of habits hitherto totally un- 
known as appertaining to animals, of this genus, and meriting a 
farther inquiry. While at his estate near Throg's Neck, on Long 
Island Sound, his son, who is an intelligent young lad, and fond of 
Natural History, observed in company with an old servant of the 
family, a Shrew Mole in the act of swallowing, or devouring, a com- 
mon toad this was accomplished by the Mole, and he was then 
killed, being unable to escape after such a meal, and was taken to 
the house, when Mr. Hammond saw and examined the animal, with 
the toad partially protruding from its throat. This gentleman also 
related to us some time ago, that he once witnessed an engagement 
between two Moles, that happened to encounter each other, in one 
of the noon-day excursions, this species is so much in the habit of 
making. The combatants sidled up to one another like two little 
pigs, and each tried to root the other over, in attempting which, 
their efforts so much resembled the manner of two boars fighting, 
that the whole affair was supremely ridiculous to the beholder, 
although no doubt to either of the bold warriors, the consequences 
of an overthrow would have been a very serious affair ; and the 
conqueror, would vent his rage upon the fallen hero, and punish him 
severely with his sharp teeth. We have no doubt these conflicts 
generally take place in the love season, and are caused by rivalry, and 
that some ' fair Mole ' probably rewards the victor." * 

Farther on, the same authors observe : " We had an opportunity on 
two different occasions of examining the nests and young of the 
Shrew Mole. The nests were about ei^ht inches below the surface, 


the excavation was rather large and contained a quantity of oak 
leaves on the outer surface, lined with soft dried leaves of the crab- 
grass (Digitaria sanguinalis}. There were galleries leading to 
this nest, in two or three directions. The young numbered in one 
case, five, and in another, nine. 

* Quadrupeds of North America, vol. I, 1846, pp. 85-86, 87-88. 


" Our kind friend, J. S. Haincs, P^sq., of Germantown, near Phila- 
delphia, informed us that he once kept several Shrew Moles in con- 
finement for the purpose of investigating their habits, and that having 
been neglected for a few days, the strongest of them killed and ate 
up the others ; they also devoured raw meat, especially beef, with 
great avidity." 

Explanation of Erroneous Notions Concerning' the Food of the Mole. 

It is unfortunate (for the Mole, at any rate) that the farmers and 
gardeners still cling to the mistaken notion that the Mole eats the 
roots of vegetables and other plants. In support of this view they 
affirm that they have followed the galleries of these animals along- 
rows of garden plants and have found some of the roots gnawed 
entirely off, and others more or less injured. Granted ; but this is 
circumstantial and presumptive evidence only, and is negatived 
by the facts hereinafter related. The truth of the matter is this : 
The Mole follows the row of plants in order to obtain the insects 
that gather in the rich soil about their roots, and doubtless occasion- 
ally injures a few by loosening the earth around them, or possibly 
even by scratching them in his efforts to procure the grubs. 

Presently a field mouse (Arvicola) comes along and discovers the 
gallery of the Mole. It is just the right size, or perhaps a trifle large, 
so he enters without delay and is delighted to find that it leads 
directly to his favorite articles of diet, the roots of garden vegetables. 
It is this abundant and destructive pest that does the mischief, while 
the poor Mole gets the credit of it, and very likely loses his head in 

As bearing upon this subject I quote from the pen of Samuel 
Woodruff, Esq., some evidence that may fairly be regarded as con- 
clusive. Mr. Woodruff commences by stating that he had always 
supposed the Mole to be herbivorous, and now that the contrary had 
been asserted, determined to prove the matter by actual experiment, 

* Ibid., p. 90. 


as soon as he could obtain a subject. Having finally procured " a 
full grown, healthy, and vigorous mole " of this species, he goes on 
to say : " I confined him in a wooden box about two feet square, 
placing on the bottom six or eight inches depth of earth, and before 
him a potato, a beet, a carrot, a parsnip, turnip, and an apple. 

" Early next morning I found him exceedingly languid, and ap- 
parently exhausted, barely able to turn himself over when placed on 
his back. All the vegetables remained whole none having been 
bitten. I then presented him the head and whole neck of a fowl, with 
the feathers on ; he instantly seized it, and fed upon it with great 
avidity. I found him the next morning, plump, strong and active- 
nothing left of the head and neck of the fowl, except the beak, part 
of the skull, and bones of the neck, the latter being gnawed and 
stripped of all the flesh. I then left him with a whole chicken about 
the size of a quail. The next day, I found upon examination, nothing 
left of the chicken, with the exception of the beak, wing feathers, and 
a few of the larger bones. I then treated him to the head, neck, and 
entrails of another fowl. He first devoured the entrails, and after 
that, the head and neck, with the exceptions as stated in the first in- 
stance. Satisfied with this course, I changed his regimen on the 
evening of the i/th, from flesh to cheese, with the addition of 
potato boiled with meat; the animal was then full and vigorous. 
The next morning I found him dead the cheese and potatoes as I 
had left them, none of which had been eaten. The belly and sides 
of the mole were much contracted and depressed. 

" During the whole time of his confinement, he had been well 


supplied with water and ice. The whole of the vegetables put into 
the box remained unbitten. 

" The result of this experiment has removed from my mind all 
doubts respecting the character and habits of this singular animal 
it is clearly not herbivorous, and may be truly ranked 
among carnivorous animals." 

* American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. XXVIII, No. I, pp. 169-170. 



Hairy-tailed Mole ; Brewer s Mole. 

I have secured a number of examples of this species from the 
borders of the Wilderness, but have not observed it within the co- 
niferous forests. Specimens have been taken in the garden, where it 
excavates long and tortuous burrows, often marked upon the surface 
by crumbling ridges of earth. 

Its habits, so far as I am aware, resemble those of its nearest rela- 
tive, the shrew mole (Sea lops aquaticus), except that its mounds do 
not contain a chamber and surface opening, and its galleries are 
usually made a little deeper. Like this species it is most common 
in dry meadow lands, while the star-nose is usually found in moist 
or swampy places. It is much more common here than the shrew 
mole, and is evidently a more northern animal. It is not known to 
indulge in the little "noon-clay excursions" which, as already related, 
are characteristic of the last-named species. 

In a wet meadow where Dr. Fisher and I caught eight star-nosed 
moles in October and November, 1883, we procured but one Brewer's 
Mole It was taken in the following manner : A section of stove 
pipe, the lower end of which had been closed with a tight-fitting 
board, was sunk along the line of a gallery to such a depth that its 
upper edge was on a level with the floor of the runway. The surface 
opening was covered over with a piece of rubber cloth to exclude 
the light. For some time the moles worked around this pitfall with- 
out tumbling in, to prevent which operation Dr. Fisher arranged a 
pair of wings or leads (strips of boards), placing their inner ends 
flush with the pipe. The Moles now adopted a new mode of pro- 
cedure and filled the pipe with dirt so that they might pass over it 
with impunity. It was left in this condition for some days and then 

* In the American Naturalist for March, 1879 (pp. 189-190), Dr. Cones refers this species, 
which is generally known as S. Br-.-w.'ri, to Talpa Americana (Bartram, MS.) Harlan. This con- 
clusion is corroborated by Dobson in his Monograpli of the Insect ivora ( Part II, London, June 
1883, pp. 134-135). 


the dirt was quietly removed. Within twenty-four hours a large and 
handsome Brewer's Mole was found in the pipe. 

The modification of structure that adapts this animal to its peculiar 
mode of life affords a most remarkable example of animal specializa- 
tion. The conical head, terminating in a flexible cartilaginous 
snout, and unincumbered with external ears or eyes to catch the dirt, 
constitutes an effective wedge in forcing its way through narrow 
apertures ; the broad and powerful hands, whose fingers are united 
nearly to their very tips and armed with long and stout claws, supply 
the means by which the motive power is applied, and serve to force 
the earth away laterally to admit the wedge -like head ; while the ap- 
parent absence of neck, due to the enormous development of muscles 
in connection with the shoulder-girdle, the retention of the entire 
arm and forearm within the skin, the short and compact body, and 
the covering of soft, short, and glossy fur, tend to decrease to a 
minimum the frictional resistance against the solid medium through 
which it moves. In fact, it presents a most extraordinary model of a 
machine adapted for rapid and continued progress through the earth. 

The mole does not, and cannot, dig a hole, in the same sense as 
other mammals that engage in this occupation, either in the construc- 
tion of burrows or in the pursuit of prey. When a fox or a wood- 
chuck digs into the ground, the anterior extremities are brought 
forward, downward, and backward, the plane of motion being almost 
vertical : while the Mole, on the other hand, in making its excava- 
tions, carries its hands forward, outward, and backward, so that 
the plane of motion is nearly horizontal. The movement is almost 
precisely like that of a man in the act of swimming, and the simile is 
still closer from the fact that the Mole brings the backs of his hands 
together in carrying them forward, always keeping the palmar 
surfaces outward and the thumbs below. Indeed, when taken from 
the earth and placed upon a hard floor, it does not tread upon the 
palmar aspect of its fore-feet, as other animals do, but runs along on 
the sides of its thumbs, with the broad hands turned up edgewise. 


Prof. Baird was the first to add the Hairy-tailed Mole to the fauna 
of New York State. In the Report of the Regents on the Condition 
of the State Cabinet of Natural History, 1862, he says: "This 
species of Mole, although not mentioned by DeKay in the State 
Natural History, is in reality very abundantly to be met with in the 
northern part of the State, and apparently to the exclusion of the 
more southern species with white naked tail, S. aquatic us. Its bur- 
rows are very different from those of the latter species ; being at a 
considerable distance beneath the surface, with heaps of loose earth 
thrown up at intervals over the gallery, without any kind of entrance 

Dr. Harlan thus described the habits of this species, which he 
supposed identical with the common mole of Europe : u Subterrane- 
ous, affecting light and cultivated soils ; changing locality according 
to atmospherical variations ; seeking elevated regions during the 
rainy seasons ; excavating long galleries which all communicate with 
each other, parallel to the surface of the soil, and at moderate depths ; 
elevating the earth into what are denominated mole-hills ; excavating 

^^ ^5 

with their hands, and raising the earth with their head ; feeding on 


worms, insects, roots, bulbs of colchicum, &c.; entering in rut early 
in the spring, and bringing forth twice annually, four or five at a 
birth, between the months of March and August ; raising their young 
with the greatest tenderness ; forming their nests of leaves, in a 
spacious chamber, the vault of which is supported by pillars, and 
which is situated in a manner to be sheltered from inundations." f 

But it must be remembered that Dr Harlan confounded this 
animal with the European Mole (Talpa Europcea), and it is possible 
that the above is in part compiled from accounts of that species. 

* Fifteenth Annual Report of the Regents of the University of the State of New York, on the 
Condition of the State Cabinet of Natural History, 1862, p. 13. 

\ Fauna Americana, 1825, p. 44. 



Short-tailed Shrew. 

The Short-tailed Shrew is, I presume, the most abundant of the 
insectivorous mammals that occur in the Adirondack Mountains, and 
is found alike in the dense coniferous forests of the interior, and the 
cleared and settled districts of the surrounding region. 

It seeks its food both by day and by night ; and, although the 
greater part of its life is doubtless spent underground, or at least under 
logs and leaves, and amongst the roots of trees and stumps, it 
occasionally makes excursions upon the surface, and I have met and 
secured many specimens in broad daylight. 

It subsists upon beechnuts, insects, earth-worms, slugs, sow-bugs, 
and mice, and can in no way be considered as other than a friend to 
the farmer. Its burrows are so small that their presence near the 
roots of plants could hardly prove injurious. 

In the selection of its haunts it seems to show a preference for the 
neighborhood of half-decayed logs, under and within which much of 
its food is procured. It is also pretty sure to find and undermine old 
planks and boards that have been left on the ground, and I have 
captured it under a stone walk. While it is common on the dry 
ground immediately bordering swamps and streams, I have never 
known it either to enter the water, or to cross over wet places. It 
does not appear to be as abundant in those portions of the forest 
that are covered exclusively with coniferous evergreens, as in the 
vicinity of hard-wood ridges and groves. This is probably clue, partly 
to the nature of the food supply, and partly to its fondness for travel- 
liner under the layer of dead and decomposing leaves that covers the 
ground in our deciduous forests. 

The rigors of our northern winters seem to have no effect in 


diminishing its activity, for it scampers about on the snow during the 
severest weather, and I have known it to be out when the thermome- 

}',].. \RI\A I!RF.Vir.\l'D.\. l65 

ter indicated a temperature of -20 Fahr. (-29 C). It makes long 
journeys over the snow, burrowing down whenever it comes to an 
elevation that denotes the presence of a log or stump, and I am 
inclined to believe that at this season it must feed largely upon 
the chrysalides and larvae of insects, that are always to be found in 
such places. 

The eyes of the Shrew are distinctly visible in the living animal, 
not being covered by the integument, as is the case with some of the 
moles. Still, the sight is very much restricted, and is, I think, limit- 
ed almost to the power of discriminating light from darkness. On 
the other hand, the hearing is exceedingly acute, and tactile sensi- 
bility is highly developed. 

Mr. John Morden, of Hyde Park, Ontario, has recently published, 
in the Canadian Sportsman and Naturalist, an article " On the 
Mole." He states that in a trap set for mice he found, at one time, 
a Shrew and two white-footed mice (Hesperomysleucopus), one of the 
latter being dead and about half eaten. He goes on to say : " The 
evening of that same day, the mole was placed in an old laundry 
boiler and the entire dead mouse given to it, which by morning was 
entirely eaten, bones and all, except the hair. We then gave the 
mole a large rat just killed, when it at once proceeded to eat out its 
eyes, and by 4 o'clock next afternoon one side of the rat's head, bone, 
too-ether with the brains, were eaten, and strange to say, the mole 

o o J 

looked no larger . . . . Our curiosity was aroused to know by 
what means a mole or shrew could kill mice which were larger than 
itself; so four large meadow mice being procured, they were placed 
in the boiler with the mole, which as soon as it met a mouse, showed 
fight, but the mouse knocked it away with its front feet and leaped 
as far away as it could. The mole from the first seemed not to see 
very plainly and started around the boiler at a lively rate, reaching 
and scenting in all directions with its long nose, like a pig that has 
broken into a back yard and smells the swill barrel. The mice seem- 
ed terror-stricken, momentarily rising on their hind legs, looking for 


some place to escape, leaping about squeaking in their efforts to keep 
out of the way of the mole which pursued them constantly. The 
mole's mode of attack was to seize the mouse in the region of the 
throat. This it did by turning its head as it sprang at the mouse, at 
the same time uttering a chattering sound. The mice would strike 

o <_> 

at, and usually knock the mole away with their front feet, but if the 
latter got a hold of the mouse, it would then try to bite, and they 
would both tumble about like dogs in a fight. The little chap at last 
attacked one mouse and kept with it, and in about ten minutes had 
it killed ; but even before it was dead the mole commenced eating its 


eyes and face. About ten minutes later the mole had devoured all 
the head of the mouse and continued to eat. I have captured and 
caged several moles this winter and they all display the same untiring 
greedy nature. According to my observations the little mammal 
under consideration eats about twice or three times its own weight 
of food every 24 hours and when we consider that their principal 
food consists of insects, it is quite bewildering to imagine the myriads 
one must destroy in a year." * 

Upon reading the above very interesting observations, I immedi- 
ately wrote to Mr. Morden for a specimen of the " mole " in question. 
It was kindly sent me and proved to be an unusually large Short- 
tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda]. 

I had not previously known that the Shrew was a mouse-eater, 
and hence determined to repeat Mr. Morden's experiments. There- 
fore, having caught a vigorous, though undersized Shrew, I put him 
in a large wooden box and provided him with an ample supply of 
beechnuts, which he ate eagerly. He was also furnished with a 
saucer of water, from which he frequently drank. After he had re- 
mained two days in these quarters, I placed in the box with him an 
uninjured and very active white-footed mouse. The Shrew at the 
time weighed 11.20 grammes, while the mouse, which was a 

* Canadian Sportsman and Naturalist, vol. Ill, Nos. XI & XII, December, 1883 [not published 
till February. 1884), p. 283. 


large adult male, weighed just 17 grammes. No sooner did the 
Shrew become aware of the presence of the mouse than he gave 
chase. The mouse, though much larger than the Shrew, showed no 
disposition to fight, and his superior agility enabled him, for a long 
time, easily to evade his pursuer, for at a single leap he would pass 
over the latter's head and to a considerable distance beyond. The 
Shrew labored at great disadvantage, not only from his inability to 
keep pace with the mouse, but also, and to a still greater extent, 
from his defective eyesight. He frequently passed within two inches 
(31 mm.) of the mouse without knowing of his whereabouts. But 
he was persistent, and explored over and over again every part ot 
the box, constantly putting the mouse to flight. Indeed, it was by 
sheer perseverance that he so harassed the mouse, that the latter, 
fatigued by almost continuous exertion, and also probably weakened 
by fright, was no longer able to escape He was first caught by the 
tail ; this proved a temporary stimulant, and he bounded several 
times across the box, dragging his adversary after him. The Shrew 
did not seem in the least disconcerted at being thus harshly jerked 
about his domicil, but continued the pursuit with great determination. 
He next seized the mouse in its side, which resulted in a rough and 
tumble, the two rolling over and over and biting each other with 
much energy. The mouse freed himself, but was so exhausted that 
the Shrew had no difficulty in keeping alongside, and soon had him 
by the ear. The mouse rolled and kicked and scratched and bit, but 
to no avail. The Shrew was evidently much pleased and forthwith 
began to devour the ear. When he had it about half eaten -off the 
mouse again tore himself free ; but his inveterate little foe did not 
suffer him to escape. This time the Shrew clambered up over his 
back and was soon at work consuming the. remainder of the ear. 
This being satisfactorily accomplished, he continued to push on in 
the same direction till he had cut through the skull and eaten the 


brains, together with the whole side of the head and part of the 
shoulder. This completed his first meal, which occupied not quite 


fifteen minutes after the death of the mouse. As soon as he had 
finished eating I again placed him upon the scales and found that he 
weighed exactly 12. grammes an increase of .80 gramme. 

The Shrew was half an hour in tiring the mouse, and another half 
hour in killing him. But it must be remembered that he was not 


fully grown, and was doubtless, on this account, longer in capturing 
and killino- his victim than would have been the case had he been an 


adult. Still, it is clear that a Shrew could never catch mice on open 
ground. His small size, however, enables him readily to enter their 
holes and to follow them to their nests and the remotest ramifications 
of their burrows, where, having no escape, he can slay them with 
fearful certainty. 

The eagerness with which my Shrew pursued the mouse placed in 
his box, and the persistency and success with which he directed his 
attempts to destroy the latter by eating into its head, clearly shows 
that this was not his first exploit in that direction. And the fact that 
Mr. Morden's Shrews, in Ontario, Canada, acted in the same manner 
proves that the habit is not of local origin. Therefore, it is 
reasonable to infer that the Short-tailed Shrew preys largely upon 
mice, and is, consequently, of great economic value to the farmer. 
Indeed, after the skunk, I am inclined to assign him the first place 
amongst those of our mammals that are beneficial to the agriculturist. 

The Shrews that I have had in confinement have been kept in a 
large box, the bottom of which was well covered with earth and 
dead leaves, fresh from the woods. Water was given them in a 
saucer, which they soon discovered and drank freely. They were 
exceedingly active, but always moved on a walk or trot, or by short 
springs, never proceeding in a series of leaps. Whenever I ap- 
proached the box they would run about with their heads thrown up, 
sniffing the air in various directions, and starting spasmodically at the 
slightest noise. When angry, they utter a shrill, chattering cry. 

I have one alive at the present time. When first put in the box 
he eathered all the leaves and rootlets into one corner, constructing 

1!!.. \RI\A liKKVICAl'DA. 169 

a rough nest, to which he always retires when he wants to rest. He 
is very fond of beechnuts and thrived when fed exclusively on them 
for more than a week. One evening, not long ago, I put a handful 
of beechnuts in his water saucer. He soon found them and carried 
them off. Part he buried in a hole under the saucer, part under his 
nest, and the rest in an excavation near one corner of the box. 
This certainly looks as if the animal was in the habit of hoarding for 
winter. In opening the nuts he invariably commences at the small 
end, and, after biting a little hole there, strips off one side as neatly 
as it can be done with a penknife. If left without food for a few hours 
he will eat corn from the cob, beginning at the outside of the kernel, 
but it is very clear that he does not relish this fare. He will also eat 
Indian meal and oats when other food is not at hand. Slugs and 
earth worms he devours with avidity, always starting at one end, and 
manipulating them with his fore-paws. But of the various kinds of 
food placed before him he shows an unmistakable preference for 
mice either dead or alive. 

The late Robert Kennicott, in a valuable paper upon " The Quad- 
rupeds of Illinois Injurious and Beneficial to the Farmer," contributed 
the following to the life-history of this little-known mammal :- 
" I have several times kept specimens in captivity for a day or two, 
though they always died by the end of that time, despite my care. 
While alive, the minute black eye is distinctly seen and always open ; 
but, though the sense of sight may be possessed in the dark, it 
certainly is not used in the full light. Upon waving different objects 
before one, or thrusting my finger or a stick close to its face, no 
notice was taken of it whatever ; but if I made any noise near by, it 
always started. If the floor were struck, or even the air disturbed, 
it would start back from that direction. I observed no indication 
that an acute sense of smell enabled it to recognize objects at any 
considerable distance ; but its hearing was remarkable. An exceed- 
ingly delicate sense of touch was exhibited by the whiskers, and if, 
after irritating a shrew, I placed a stick against it, in even the most 


gentle manner, the animal would instantly spring at it. I could see 
that, in running along the floor, it stopped the moment its whiskers 
touched anything ; and often, when at full speed, it would turn aside 
just before reaching an object against which it seemed about to strike, 
and which it certainly had not seen. Unless enraged by being 
teazed, it endeavored to smell every new object with which its 
whiskers came in contact, turning its long flexible snout with great 
facility for this purpose. 

" My caged specimens, both male and female, exhibited great 
pugnacity. When I touched one several times with a stick, it would 
become much enraged, snapping and crying out angrily. When 
attacked by a meadow-mouse (Arvicola scalopsoides) confined in a 
cage with it one fought fiercely ; and though it did not pursue its 
adversary when the latter moved off, neither did it ever retreat ; but 
the instant the mouse came close, it sprang at him, apparently not 
guided in the least by sight. It kept its nose and whiskers constantly 
moving from side to side, and often sprang forward with an angry 
cry, when the mouse was not near, as if deceived in thinking it had 
heard or felt a movement in that direction. In fighting, it did not 
spring up high, nor attempt to leap upon its adversary, as the mouse, 
but jerked itself along, stopping firmly, with the fore-feet well forward, 
and the head high. On coming in contact with the mouse, it 
snapped at him, and, though it sometimes rose on its hind-feet in 
the struggle, I did not observe that it used its fore-feet as weapons 
of offence, like the arvicolse. Its posture, when on guard, was always 
with the feet spread and firmly braced, and the head held with the 
snout pointing upwards, and the mouth and chin forward, in which 
position its eyes would have been of no use, could it have seen. 
The motions of this animal, when angry, are characterized by a pe- 
culiar firmness ; the muscles appear to be held very rigid, while the 
movements are made by quick energetic jerks. Short springs, either 
backward, forward, or sidewise, appear to be made with equal readi- 


" This shrew is quite active as well as strong ; the snout and head 
are powerful, and seem to be much used in burrowing ; the tough 
cartilaginous snout received no injury from the rough edge of a pane 
of glass, under which that of a caged specimen was forcibly thrust in 
endeavoring to raise it. When liberated, upon a smooth Moor, it 
runs rapidly, without ever leaping, placing only the toes on the 
surface ; though in moving slowly the whole tarsi of the hind-feet 
are brought down. By placing an ear of corn, over 2 inches in 
diameter, at the edge of the room, and chasing a shrew towards it by 
striking the floor behind the animal. I have seen one several times 


spring over it, apparently without great effort ; but if not much 
frightened, it would always go round objects an inch high, running 
close along them, as it did beside the wall, invariably feeling its way. 
One would never leave the side of the wall to run across the room, 
and would always run round the side of its cage, rather than go across 
the middle. When hurt or irritated, it uttered a short, sharp, tremu- 
lous note, like zcc-c, and, when it was much enraged, this note be- 
came longer, harsher, and twittering, like that of some buntings or 
sparrows. Sometimes, a short, clear cry was uttered, the voice call- 
ing to mind that of the common mink (Putorins vison], but softer and 
lower." * 

Professor E. D. Cope published the following note " On a Habit 
of a Species of Blarina " in the American Naturalist for August. 1873 
(vol. VII, No. 8, pp. 490-491): " I recently placed a water-snake 
( Tropidonotus sipcdoii] of two feet in length, in a fernery which was 
inhabited by a shrew, either a large Blarina Carolincnsis or a small 
B. talpoides. The snake was vigorous when placed in the case in 
the afternoon and bit at everything within reach. The next morning 
the glass sides of his prison were streaked with dirt and other marks, 
to the height of the reach of the snake, bearing witness to his ener- 
getic efforts to escape. He was then lying on the earthen floor, in 

* Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1857. Agriculture. 1858. pp. 95-96. 


an exhausted state, making- a few ineffectual efforts to twist his body, 
while the Blariua was busy tearing out his masseter and temporal 
muscles. A large part of the flesh was eaten from his tail, and the 
temporal and masseter muscles and eye of one side, were removed, 
so that the under jaw hung loose. The temporal was torn loose 
from the cranium on the other side, and as I watched him the Blarina 
cut the other side of the mandible loose, and be^an to tear the 


longicolli and rectus muscles. His motions were quite frantic, and 
he jerked and tore out considerable fragments with his long anterior 
teeth. He seemed especially anxious to get down the snake's throat 
(where some of his kin had probably ' gone before'), and revolved 
on his long axis, now with his belly up, now with his sides, in his 
energetic efforts. He had apparently not been bitten by the snake, 
and was uninjured. Whether the shrew killed the snake is of course 
uncertain, but the animus with which he devoured the reptile gives 
some color to the suspicion that he in some way frightened him to 

The Shrew is rarely eaten by birds or beasts of prey, but is 
usually left where killed, which fact is doubtless due to the offensive 
odor from its scent glands. That it is sometimes eaten appears 
from the fact that a disgorged pellet from some bird of prey, found 
in the Catskills by Mr. E. P. Bicknell and Dr. A. K. Fisher, contained 
the recognizable remains of this species.* 

The Short-tailed Shrew is readily taken in an ordinary mouse-trap, 
baited with meat, set near the mouth of a burrow. I have cauo-ht 


many in this way. 

I am not aware that anything has been published relating to its 
breeding habits, and the only facts that I can contribute are in regard 
to the time when its young are produced. On the 22d of April, 
1878, I found a couple of these Shrews under a plank- walk near my 
museum. They proved to be male and female, and the latter con- 
tained young which, from their size, would probably have been born 

* Bicknell in Trans. Linn. Soc., vol. I, 1882, p. 122. 


early in May. Another female, caught near the same place, April 
21, 1884, contained five large embryos which would certainly have 
been born within ten clays. They weighed, together, 4.20 grammes. 
I procured a half-grown young, February 10, 1884, which must have 
been born late in the fall. Hence two or three litters are probably 
produced each season. The young born in autumn do not breed in 
the spring following, as I have demonstrated by repeated dissections 
of both sexes. 


Cooper s SJirew. 

This diminutive Shrew, the smallest known mammalian inhabitant 
of the Adirondacks. is quite common in most parts of the region, but 
much more abundant some years than others. Its food is supposed 
to consist wholly of insects and their larvae, and the carcasses of 
animals that chance throws in its way. 

Like its congeners, it manifests a predilection for the immediate 
vicinage of old logs and stumps, and its holes can frequently be found, 
both in summer and winter, in these places, and about the roots of 

Underground life does not appear to be as attractive to it as to its 
relatives, the moles, yet it avoids too much exposure and commonly 
moves, by night and by day, under cover of the fallen leaves, twigs, 
and other debris that always cover the ground in our northern forests. 

The Naturalist well knows that, however cautiously he may walk, 
the stir of his footstep puts to flight many forms of life that will re- 
appear as soon as quiet is restored ; therefore, in his excursions 
through the woods, he waits and watches, frequently stopping to 
listen and observe. While thus occupied it sometimes happens that 
a slight rustling reaches his ear. There is no wind, but the eye rests 
upon a fallen leaf that seems to move. Presently another stirs and 
perhaps a third turns completely over. Then something evanescent, 


like the shadow of an embryonic mouse, appears and vanishes before 
the retina can catch its perfect image. Anon, the restless phantom 
Hits across an open space, leaving no trace behind. But a charge of 
fine shot, dropped with quick aim upon the next leaf that moves, will 
usually solve the mystery. The author of the perplexing commotion 
is found to be a curious sharp-nosed creature, no bigger than one's 
little finger, and weighing hardly more than half a dram.* Its cease- 
less activity, and the rapidity with which it darts from place to place, 
is truly astonishing, and rarely permits the observer a correct im- 
pression of its form. 

Whenever a tree or a large limb falls to the ground, these Shrews 
soon find it, examining every part with great care, and if a knot-hole 
or crevice is detected, leading to a cavity within, they are pretty sure 
to enter, carry in materials for a nest, and take formal possession. 
Hence their homes are not infrequently discovered and destroyed by 
the wood-chopper. 

They are sometimes found in meadows, and I remember killing 
eleven in one day, several years ago, under hay-cocks that had been 
standing a few days in the rain. 

Not only are these agile and restless little Shrews voracious and 
almost insatiable, consuming incredible quantities of raw meat and 
insects with great eagerness, but they are veritable cannibals withal, 
and will even slay and devour their own kind I once confined three 
of them under an ordinary tumbler. Almost immediately they com- 
menced fighting, and in a few minutes one was slaughtered and eaten 
by the other two. Before night one of these killed and ate its only 
surviving companion, and its abdomen was much distended by the 
meal. Hence in less than eight hours one of these tiny wild beasts 
had attacked, overcome, and ravenously consumed two of its own 
species, each as large and heavy as itself! The functions of diges- 
tion, assimilation, and the elimination of waste are performed with 
wonderful rapidity, and it seems incomprehensible that they should 

* The largest specimen I have recently examined from this region weighed 2.85 grammes. 


be able to procure sufficient animal food to sustain them during om 
lone and severe winters ; indeed, I incline to believe that their diet 


is more comprehensive than most writers suppose, and that they 
feed upon beechnuts and a variety of seeds, and possibly roots as 
well, though I confess that I have no direct evidence to adduce in 


support of this supposition. 


This species, which was first described by Dr. DeKay, from a speci- 
men taken in this State, is not rare in the Adirotidacks, though I do not 
think it is as plentiful here as Sorex CoopcrL which it much re- 
sembles in habits. 

Its diminutive size does not exempt it from the attacks of predatory 
birds, for, in April, 1882, I shot, at Morse Lake, a Canada Jay whose 
stomach contained the remains, including the under jaw, of a Shrew 
which seemed to be of the present species. I have also taken it at 
Big Moose Lake. 

The individual from which Dr. DeKay 's description was drawn, 
was captured " at Tappan, Rocklancl county, in the cellar of a dwell- 
ing-house, having taken up its abode between the stones of the 
foundation. It was exceedingly agile ; and when excited, emitted a 
shrill, twittering squeak. It ate greedily of fresh meat, but died in 
the course of a few days. Through the politeness of my friend, the 
Rev. J. H. Linsley of Elmwood Place, Connecticut, I had an oppor- 
tunity of examining another specimen, which was obtained from a 
log in the forest in winter, near Stratford. According to Mr. Linsley, 
it weighed 47 grains." * Prof. Baird mentions a specimen that 
weighed but 37 grains, f 

* Zoology of New York. Part I, 1842, p. 23. 

\ Pacific Rail Road Reports, vol. VIII, 1857, p. 26. 



ATALAPHA CINEREA (Beauvois) Peters. 

Hoary Bat. 

This species, which differs from the red bat in its much larger 
size, as well as in coloration, is not rare in the Adirondacks, and I 
have taken it both in the interior and alonor the western border of 


the region. 

The Hoary Bat can be recognized, even in the dusk of evening, 
by its great size, its long and pointed wings, and the swiftness and 
irregularity of its flight. It does not start out so early as our other 
bats, and is consequently much more difficult to shoot. The borders 
of woods, water courses, and roadways through the forest are among 
its favorite resorts, and its nightly range is vastly greater than that 
of any ot its associates. While the other species are extremely local, 


moving to and fro over a very restricted area, this traverses a com- 
paratively large extent of territory in its evening excursions, which 
fact is probably attributable to its superior power of flight. 

Imagine for the moment, sympathetic reader, that you are an 
enthusiastic bat hunter, and have chanced to visit some northern 
forest where this handsome species occurs. The early evening finds 
you, gun in hand, near the border of a lonely wood. The small bats 
soon begin to fly, and in the course of fifteen or twenty minutes you 
may have killed several, all of which prove to be the silver-haired 
species ( Vesperugo noctivagans). The twilight is fast fading into 
night, and your eyes fairly ache from the constant effort of searching 
its obscurity, when suddenly a large bat is seen approaching, perhaps 
high above the tree-tops, and has scarcely entered the limited field 
of vision when, in swooping for a passing insect, he cuts the line of 
the distant horizon and disappears in the darkness below. In breath- 
less suspense you wait for him to rise, crouching low that his form 
may be sooner outlined against the dim light that still lingers in the 
northwest, when he suddenly shoots by, seemingly as big as an owl, 

ATA 1. A I'll A CIXEREA. 177 

within a few feet of your very eyes. Turning quickly you fire, but 
too late! He has vanished in the darkness. For more than a week 
each evening is thus spent, and you almost despair of seeing- another 
Hoary Bat, when, perhaps, on a clear cold night, just as the darkness is 
becoming too intense to permit you to shoot with accuracy and you 
are on the point of turning away, something appears above the 
horizon that sends a thrill of excitement through your whole frame. 
There is no mistaking the species the size, the sharp, narrow wings, 
and the swift Might serve instantly to distinguish it from its nocturnal 
comrades. On he comes, but just before arriving within gunshot he 
makes one of his characteristic zig-zag side-shoots and you tremble 
as he momentarily vanishes from view. Suddenly he reappears, his 
flight becomes more steady, and now he sweeps swiftly toward you. 
No time is to be lost, and it is already too dark to aim, so you bring 
the gun quickly to your shoulder and fire. With a piercing, stridu- 
lous cry, he falls to the earth. In an instant you are stooping to 
pick him up, but the sharp grating screams, uttered with a tone of 
intense anger, admonish you to observe discretion. With delight you 
cautiously take him in your hand and hurry to the light to feast your 
eyes upon his rich and handsome markings. He who can gaze upon 
a freshly killed example without feelings of admiration is not worthy to 
be called a naturalist. From its almost boreal distribution, and extreme 
rarity in collections, the capture of a specimen of the Hoary Bat must, 
for some time to come, be regarded as an event worthy of congratu- 
lation and record. Although I have been fortunate enough to shoot 

o o 

fourteen, I would rather kill another to-day than slay a dozen deer. 
During the past season Dr. A. K. Fisher, Walter H. Merriam, and 
myself shot nineteen specimens of this elegant species in and near 
the western border of the Adirondacks. It is not to be imagined, 
however, that the procurement of this extensive series (extensive for 
so rare an animal) was an easy task. Scarcely a suitable evening- 
passed, throughout the entire season, that was not devoted to bat 
hunting. From the middle of June to the middle of July, when there 


is nearly an hour of twilight, the silver-haired and little brown bats 
begin to fly shortly after eight o'clock, but the present species is 
seldom seen till half an hour later, and those we killed were common- 
ly shot about 9 p. M. As the season advances and the evenings be- 
come shorter, all bats, of course, appear proportionately earlier. On 
the 3cl of August I shot Atalapha cincrca at eight o'clock, and on 
the 8th of October at precisely 6 o'clock three hours earlier than 
the same species was killed during the first part of July. 

In warm evenings it was not to be seen at all, and I have never 
observed it when the temperature was above :5 C. (59 F.). It was 
most often seen when the thermometer ranged from 10 to 12 C. 
(5o to 53.6 F\). Assuming that the species does not leave its 
hiding-place when the temperature is above i5 or i6C. it might 
be supposed that it would suffer for food if there were several suc- 
cessive warm evenings. But it must be remembered that the coolest 
part of the twenty-four hours is just before daylight, and throughout 
the northern regions inhabited by this species there are few days 
when the temperature does not fall to i5C. in the early morn- 

ino- Moreover, it is well known that most bats are as active 
& * 

just before daylight as in the evening. Hence, if the evenings 
are too warm for its comfort, it would almost always be enabled, 
by the falling temperature, to sally forth at some later hour of the 

The Hoary Bat occurs about the Red River settlement in British 
America, and Dr. Richardson obtained it at Cumberland House on 
the Saskatchewan, in lat. 54 N. * Robert Kennicott procured it 
in the Hudson's Bay Company's territory, farther north than any 
other species of bat has been taken. It is a summer resident of 
high latitudes, its southern limit in the east coinciding, apparently, 
with that of the Canadian Fauna. In the west it has been taken 
in Arizona and New Mexico, but only, so far as I am aware, at 
considerable altitudes. In the fall and early winter isolated indi- 

* Fauna Boreali Americana, vol. I, 1829, p. I. 



viduals have been procured from localities so far to the southward 
of its usual habitat that I am constrained to believe it a migratory 
species. William Cooper mentions a specimen that was killed, " in 
the month of November, near the nights of Weehawken, in New 
Jersey;"* DeKay says that he "noticed two Hying about quite 
actively shortly before noon' on the i2th of December, 1841 
(locality not mentioned, but presumably Long Island, N. V. ) ; f 
Zadock Thompson secured one that was taken alive at Colchester, 
Vermont, about the last of October, 1841 ; J and Mr. E. P. Bick- 
nell took one from an overhanging branch at Riverdale-on-the- 
Hudson, New York, September 3Oth, 1878.^ Dr. A. K. Fisher 
has never taken it at Sing Sing, New York, where he has shot 
several hundred bats in summer, though he is confident that he 
saw a single individual there on the evening of October ist, 1883. 
Nothing whatever appears to be known of the breeding habits 
of the Hoary Bat. On the evening of the 3Oth of June last (1883) 
Dr. A. K. Fisher shot a large female (measuring 422mm. in spread 
of wings) at my home in Lewis County. It had already given 
birth to its young, and each of its four mamma? bore evidence of 
having recently been nursed. That the species ruts about the first 
of Auofust there can be no reasonable doubt, for I saw more of 


them from the 3Oth of July till the 6th of August than I have seen 
in all before and since, and twelve adult specimens killed during 
that brief period were all males. They were not feeding, but were 
rushing wildly about, evidently in search of the females. Many 
flew so high as to be entirely out of range though directly over- 
head. The only young I have ever seen was shot here, August 
6th, 1883, by Walter H. Merriam. It was nearly full grown 

* Researches on the Cheiroptera of the United States, Annals Lyceum Natural History, N. V., 
1837, p. 56. 

f Zoology of New York. Part r, 1842, p. 8. 

\ Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 1842, p. 25. 

Mr. Bicknell writes me that " it was met with about sunrise, hanging at a height of about six 
feet, in a young tree in an opening near the border of a wood." 


(measuring 4oomm. in extent) and differed from the adults chiefly 
in being a little lighter colored. 

Zadock Thompson, in his paper upon the mammals of Vermont, 
speaks thus of this species : " The only Vermont specimen, which 
I have examined, and that from which the preceding description 
was drawn, was sent me alive by my friend, David Reed, Esq., of 
Colchester. It was taken at his place in Colchester, the latter part 
of October, 1841, and was kept alive for some time in a large willow 
basket with a flat cover of the same material. On opening the 
basket, he was almost invariably found suspended by his hind claws 
from the central part of the cover. When the basket was open, 
he manifested little fear, or disposition to fly, or get away, during 
the day time, but in the evening would readily mount on the wing 
and fly about the room, and on lighting always suspended himself 
by his hind claws with his head downward. He ate fearlessly and 
voraciously of fresh meat when offered to him, but could not be 
made to eat the common house fly."* 

The hour at which bats leave their retreats to begin their noc- 
turnal excursions is governed, first, by the latitude, longitude, and 
altitude of the locality, 'and the time of the year ; and, second, by 
the character of the sky (whether clear or overcast), and the ex- 
posure those living along the southern and eastern borders of 
woodlands, and in dark ravines, appearing earlier than those whose 
hiding-places face the setting sun. In other words, the time at 
which bats appear depends solely upon the degree of darkness. 

Hence it follows that their nightly exodus, in a given locality, 
does not take place at a fixed period after the disappearance of the 
sun ; for, during the first part of October, in this latitude, the dark- 
ness is as great half an hour after sunset as it is an hour after three 
months earlier. Therefore, in estimating the exact hour at which 
bats are to be expected at any stated date, it is necessary not only 
to consider the time the sun sets, but also to take into account the 

* Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 1842, p. 25. 


duration of the twilight. Moreover, in the same locality, the 
several species do not commence to fly at the same hour, for each 
seems to await a particular and different decree of darkness. The 
Hoary Bat is one of the last to appear, and for this reason its 
capture is the most difficult. In Lewis County, during the latter 
part of June, it does not start out (excepting in deep forests and 
dark valleys) till about 8.45 i>. M., or a full hour after sunset ; while 
in the early part of October I have killed it at 6 i>. M., or just half 
an hour after sundown. The following table is calculated to illus- 


trate the above remarks : 

Times of evening appearances of AtalapJia cinerea at Locust Grove, 
Neiv York, at different dates in iSSj. 


Date. Sunset. First Bat Seen. Time after Sunset. 

June 30, 7.42 o'clock, 8.45 o'clock, 63 minutes. 

July 9, 7.38 " 8.30 " 52 

July 31, 7.21 " 8.10 " 49 

Aug. 3, 7.17 " 8.00 " 43 

Aug. 21, 6.52 7.30 38 

Oct. 8, 5.30 " 6.00 30 


Red Bat ; New York Bat. 

This species ranks among the least common bats of the area 
under consideration. I have shot it here as late as October i2th 

Excepting the hoary bat it is the most beautiful of its tribe, 
being clad in a thick coat of soft, gloss)' fur of a bright golden-red 
color, varying somewhat in shade, and tipped to a greater or less 
extent with silvery white. This coloration serves, at a glance, to 
distinguish it from all its associates. 


The Red Bat generally makes its appearance earlier in the 
evening than the other species, evidently fancying the dusk of 


twilight more than the increased darkness of advancing- nio-ht ; and 

<_> o o 

I have killed it even on a cloudy afternoon, while flying to and fro 
in pursuit of insects, near the border of a hard-wood grove. I have 
found several of them asleep, in the day-time, hanging by their 
thumb-nails to small twigs or leaf-stems within easy reach. When 
thus suspended they are, at a little distance, easily mistaken for 
dead leaves, or the cocoons of some large moth. 

" In most portions of the United States, the Red Bat is one of 
the most abundant, characteristic, and familiar species, being rivalled 
in these respects by the little Brown Bat alone. It would be safe 
to say that, in any given instance of a bat entering our rooms in 
the evening, the chances are a hundred to one of its being either 
one or the other of these two species. The perfect noiselessness 
and swiftness of its flight, the extraordinary agility with which it 
evades obstacles even the most dexterous strokes designed for its 
capture and the unwonted shape, associated in popular superstition 
with the demons of the shades, conspire to revulsive feelings that 
need little fancy to render weird and uncanny."* 

As illustrating the devoted attachment of the mother for her 
young, Dr. Godman quotes the following circumstance from Mr. 
Titian Peale : " In June, 1823, the son of Mr. Gillespie, keeper of 
the city square, caught a young red Bat, (Vespertilio Nov-Ebora- 
ccnsis, L.) which he took home with him. Three hours afterwards, 
in the evening, as he was conveying it to the Museum in his hand, 
while passing near the place where it was caught, the mother made 
her appearance, followed the boy for two squares, flying around 
him, and finally alighted on his breast, such was her anxiety to save 
her offspring. Both were brought to the Museum, the young one 
firmly adhering to its mother's teat. This faithful creature lived 
two days in the Museum, and then died of injuries received from 

* Drs. Coues and Yarrow in their " Monographic Essay " on North American Chiroptera, pub- 
lished in chap. II, vol. V, Report upon Explorations and Surveys West of the One Hundredth 
Meridian, in charge of Lieut. G. M. Wheeler, 1875, p. 89. 

AT. \l..\ril.\ N<>\ KISOKACKXSIS. 183 

her captor. The young- one, being but half grown, was still too 
young to take care of itself, and died shortly after." * 

Like our other bats, this species frequently hibernates in vast 
assemblages ; and in regions remote from civilization each colony 
usually occupies a rocky cavern or hollow 7 tree ; in inhabited dis- 
tricts they often take up quarters in the ruin of some deserted 
building, particularly of structures composed of stone and brick. 
Dr. Godman publishes a letter from Prof. Jacob Green, of Prince- 
ton, containing an account of the presence and actions of a host of 
this species in a cave that he visited November ist, 1816. The 
letter runs as follows : " I this day visited an extensive cavern 
about twelve miles south of Albany, N. Y. I did not measure its 
extent into the mountain, but it was at least three or four hundred 
feet. There was nothing remarkable in this cave, except the vast 
multitudes of Bats which had selected this unfrequented place, to 
pass the winter. They did not appear to be much disturbed by 
the light of the torches carried by our party, but, upon being 
touched with sticks, they instantly recovered animation and activity, 
and flew into the dark passages of the cavern. As the cave was, 
for the most part, not more than six or seven feet in height, they 
could very easily be removed from the places to which they were 
suspended, and some of the party, who were behind me, disturbed 
some hundreds of them at once, when they swept by me in swarms 
to more remote, darker, and safer places of retreat. In Hying 
through the caves they made little or no noise ; sometimes upon 
being disturbed in one place they flew but a few yards and then 
instantly settled in another, in a state of torpor apparently as pro- 
found as before. These Bats, in hibernating, suspend themselves 
by the hinder claws, from the roof or upper part of the cave ; in no 
instance did I observe one along the sides. They were not pro- 
miscuously scattered, but were collected into groups or clusters, of 
some hundreds, all in close contact. On holding a candle within a 

* American Natural History. By John D. Godman. Vol. I, 1842, p. 42. 


few inches of one of these groups, they were not in the least 
troubled by it : their eyes continued closed, and I could perceive 
no signs of respiration. On opening the stomach of one of these 
Bats, it was found entirely empty ; the species, I believe, was the 
V. Noveboracensis" * 

The young of this species continue to nurse till at least a month 
old. I shot a female on the 3ist of July (1883) whose udders still 
contained milk, and whose long nipples were much drawn out. A 
week later (Aug. /th), I killed a full grown young flying over the 
same meadow. 


Dusky Bat ; Carolina Bat. 

Professor Baird has taken this species at Westport, in Essex 
County, on the eastern border of the Adirondacks, and I have 
procured a single specimen in Lewis County, on the western side 
of the district ; but it is unquestionably the rarest bat found within 
the limits of this region. It pertains to a more southern fauna. 

In writing of the habits of the Carolina Bat, Dr. A. K. Fisher 
observes : " They are the last to make their appearance in the 
evening. In fact, when it gets so dark that objects are blended in 
one uncertain mass, and the bat hunter finds that he is unable to 
shoot with any precision, the Carolina Bats make their appearance 
as mere dark shadows flitting here and there while busily engaged 
in catching insects. We have to make a snap shot as they dodge 
in and out from behind the dark tree-tops, and are left in doubt as 
to the result until in the gloom we may perchance see our little 
black and tan, seemingly as interested in the result as we are, 
pointing the dead animal. This species is particularly fond of 
fields well surrounded by trees." 

* Ibid., pp. 48-49. 

f Forest and Stream, vol. XVI, No. 25, July 21, i8Si, p. 490. 


The large membranous wings of the bat serve a double function : 
not only do they sustain the animal in a strong and rapid flight, 
enabling it to make quick and abrupt turns in the noiseless pursuit 
of its insect prey ; but they are also sensitive to an extreme degree, 
constituting organs of touch of unusual delicacy. They thus en- 
able the bat with a certainty that is little short of marvellous, to 
avoid the most inconspicuous objects that may lie in its way. On 
this point Dr. Godman remarks : " We have already glanced at 
the singular fact, that Bats have the power of directing their flight 
with perfect correctness, even when deprived of their sight. In 
1793, Spallanzani put out the eyes of a Bat, and observed that it 
appeared to fly with as much ease as before, and without striking 
against objects in its way, following the curve of a ceiling, and 
avoiding, with accuracy, everything against which it was expected 
to strike. Not only were blinded Bats capable of avoiding such 
objects as parts of a building, but they shunned, with equal address, 
the most delicate obstacles, even silken threads, stretched in such 
a manner as to leave just space enough for them to pass with their 
wings expanded. When these threads were placed nearer together, 
the Bats contracted their wings, in order to pass between them 
without touching. They also passed with the same security be- 
tween branches of trees placed to intercept them, and suspended 
themselves by the wall, &c., with as much ease as if they could see 
distinctly." (American Natural History, vol. I, pp. 42-43.) 

Dr. Joseph Schobl, of Prague, repeated these experiments, but 
instead of putting out the eyes he covered them with adhesive 

" He has kept bats, thus treated, for a year alive in his room, 
and has entirely confirmed Spallanzani's results. To account for 
these phenomena, the wings of bats have been examined for 
peculiar nerve-endings, by Cuvier, Leydig, and Krause, but with- 
out any success. The author's discoveries are therefore quite new 
to science. The following is a short abstract of his results. The 


bat's wing membrane consists of two sheets of skin, the upper de- 
rived from that of the back, the lower from that of the bell}-. The 
epidermic and Malpighian layers in each sheet remain separate, 
whilst the true skin is inseparably fused. In this fused medium 
layer are imbedded the muscles, nerves, vessels, etc., of the wing. 
The whole wing is covered, both on the upper and 
under surface, with extremely fine, sparsely scattered hairs. . . . 
Each hair sac has from two to seven sebaceous glands, according 
to the species, and one sweat gland opening into its sac. The two 
outer fibrous layers of the hair sac have no sharp line of demarca- 
tion to separate them from the surrounding connective tissue, but 
the inner or hyaline coat is highly developed, and, after being con- 
stricted beneath the hair bulb, widens out and encloses the sense- 
bodies (Tastkorperchen), one of which organs is connected with 
each hair. 

" The nerves of the wings may be considered to consist of five 
layers, i. e., there is one occupying the centre of a transverse sec- 
tion of the wing, which gives off on each side of it four others, and 
these are successively finer and finer as they approach the opposite 
surfaces. The inner layer and the one immediately on each side 
of it, consist of nerve fibres with dark borders, the other layers of 
pale fibres only. The tastkorperchen are connected with the second 
layer. The fifth layer of finest fibres ends as a network between 
the innermost layer of cells of the Malpighian layer of the epidermis. 
The tastkorperchen are shaped like a fir-cone with a rounded apex 
turned inwards. They lie immediately below the root of the hair ; 
and their core or central substance is formed of a prolongation of 
the cells forming the two root sheaths of the hair. Their length 
is 0.0259 and their breadth 0.0175111111. A nerve containing about 
six dark-edged fibres is distributed to each korperchen. Just 
before the nerve reaches this organ it splits into two, and three 
fibres pass to one side of it, three to the other. The fibres are 
then wound round the body so as to sheathe its cellular core. Dr. 


Schobl thinks it probable that tin- fibres on one side are continuous 
with those on the opposite side, and that there is thus a bipolar 
arrangement here. He attributes to the fine network of pale nerve 
fibres belonging to the fifth layer the appreciation of temperature, 
pain, &c. ; to the tastkorperchen the highly exalted sense of touch. 
It is curious that both kinds of nerve endings are connected with 


the Malpighian layer of the skin." 

Rafinesque, that eccentric, irascible, and not over liberal natural- 
ist, whose inaccurate and ambiguous descriptions of species have cre- 
ated so much confusion in many departments of Natural History, was 
once the guest of the illustrious Audubon. The event was the 
occasion of a somewhat ludicrous adventure, which Mr. Audubon 
thus graphically narrates : " When it was waxed late I showed him 
to the apartment intended for him during his stay, and endeavored 
to render him comfortable, leaving him writing material in 
abundance. I was indeed heartily glad to have a naturalist under 
my roof. We had all retired to rest. Every person I imagined 
was in deep slumber, save myself, when of a sudden I heard a 
great uproar in the naturalist's room. I got up, reached the place 
in a few moments, and opened the door, when, to my astonishment, 
I saw my guest running about the room naked, holding the handle 
of my favorite violin, the body of which he had battered to pieces 
against the walls in attempting to kill the bats, which had entered 
by the open window, probably attracted by the insects flying 
around his candle. I stood amazed, but he continued running 
round and round, until he was fairly exhausted; when he begged 
me to procure one of the animals for him, as he felt convinced they 
belonged to a new species." f 

* American Naturalist, Vol. V, No. 3, May, 1871, pp. 174-175. 
f Quoted in Allen's Monograph, pp. xvi-xvii. 



Silver-haired Bat ; Silver-Black Bat. 

This is our commonest bat, far outnumbering all the other 
species together. I have killed it in various parts of the Wilder- 
ness, and during the past summer Dr. A. K. Fisher, Walter H. 
Merriam, and myself shot over one hundred and twenty-five in 
Lewis County, along the western border of the region. 

Like many other bats, it has a decided liking for water ways, 
coursing up and down streams and rivers, and circling around lakes 
and ponds. In some places its habit of keeping directly over the 
water is very marked. At Lyon's Falls it is exceedingly abundant, 
particularly just below the falls. I have stood, gun in hand, 
on a point on the east bank of the river, and have seen hundreds 
passing and repassing, flying over the water, while during the 
entire evening not more than two or three strayed so far that if 
shot they would fall on the land. Several that were wounded and 
fell into the water, at a distance of fifteen or twenty feet from the 
bank, swam ashore. They swam powerfully and swiftly, for the 
current is here quite strong and would otherwise have carried them 
some distance down stream. 

Next to water courses, the borders of hard-wood groves are the 
favorite haunts of the Silver-haired Bat. By standing close under 
the edge of the trees one sees many that at a little distance would 
pass unobserved. While searching for their insect prey they may 
be seen to dart in and out among the branches and to penetrate, 
in various directions, the dense mat of foliage overhead. They 
often pass within a few inches of one's face, and yet it is rare that 
a sound is heard from their delicate wings.* In the early dusk 

* In localities where we had hunted bats for some time, Dr. Fisher and I have on several occasions 
heard a bat, when swooping overhead, produce a sound which was distinctly audible at a distance of 
several paces. But in each instance, if the bat rose against the clear western horizon, we saw the 
light shine through numerous perforations in its wings, and the noise was unquestionably produced 
by the whistling of the air through these shot holes. 


the Silver-haired Bat emerges from its hidings-place.* After a few 
turns about the immediate neighborhood it generally takes a pretty 
direct course for water. I have seen it start from the summit of 
a high, densely-wooded hill, circle around for a few minutes, and 
then, keeping far above the tree-tops, sail leisurely toward a dis- 
tant river till lost from sight in the valley below. And, stand- 
ing on the banks of the large stream that winds along the foot of 
this hill, I have seen the bats tlying over at a height of several 
hundred feet, all moving in the same direction toward a more 
distant river. 

Whether it remains abroad all ni^ht, or limits itself to com- 


paratively brief excursions in evening and early morning, can only 
be conjectured. I am inclined to favor the latter view, for the 
reason that the greater number always disappear before the dark- 
ness becomes sufficiently intense to hide them from sight. Against 
this opinion it may be argued that, as night advances, the bats 
move on to other parts of the neighborhood ; to which I can only 
reply, that it has never been my good fortune to discover their 
midnight haunts, though I have visited various sections of the 

o o 

country at all hours of the night, and frequently under the light 
of the full-moon. It is true that solitary individuals are occasion- 
ally met with later, but never in anything like the numbers that 
are to be seen in the early evening. The flight of this species is 
neither so rapid nor so irregular as that of the red or the hoary bat. 
In Lewis County, the best locality for bats that I am acquainted 
with is near the junction of Sugar and Black Rivers. The 
numerous caves in the lime rock at this point afford them a multi- 
tude of hiding-places just suited to their liking, and they here have 
the additional advantage of close proximity to running water. 
The disproportionate abundance of the Silver-haired Bat to other 

* Leaving out of consideration the red bat, which is not sufficiently common in the region under 
consideration to afford satisfactory data, the present species is the first to appear. When the 
evenings begin to shorten, after the end of June, it may be looked for about one minute earlier 
each night. 


species is shown by the fact that of seventy specimens procured 
here, sixty-three were of this species, six were the little brown bat 
( V. subulatus), and amongst them all there was only a single red bat 
(Atalapha Noveboracensis}. 

The dissociation of the sexes is sometimes most remarkable. 
Out of eighty-five adult specimens killed in Lewis County during 
the past summer (1883) there was but a single male. Two other 
males were killed in the early autumn. Of thirty-two young killed 
during the same period there were nineteen males and thirteen 
females, showing that the disproportion does not exist at birth. I 
am at a complete loss to explain this enormous preponderance of 
females among the adults. At first, I was inclined to think that 
the sexes separated during the period of bringing forth and car- 
ing for the young, but, although we visited a number of different 
localities, we were never able to find the males. Thinking that 


they might not fly until early morning, I several times went out 
before daylight, but females only were killed. 

Mr. Frank Hough tells me that when looking for young crows, 
some years ago, in the deep ravine that runs through the village 
of Lowville, in Lewis County, he espied a crow's nest in a large 
and densely-foliaged hemlock. On climbing the tree he found the 
nest to be an old one, and commenced tearing it in pieces, when, 
to his astonishment, he discovered thirteen young bats embedded 
in the sticks and litter of which it was composed. These bats 
were taken home and shown to several members of the family. 
Their eyes were not yet open. They were, of course, the progeny 
of a number of females, and presumably were of the species now 
under consideration, because it is by far the most common in the 
region. The young, generally two in number, are born about the 
first of July, and commence to fly when three weeks old.* Those 

* Females killed during the latter part of June were heavy with young, but up to July 1st not 
one had given birth to its offspring. All that were killed after July 4th had already been in labor 
and were then suckling their young. Of three females shot June 3oth, 1883, one contained but a 
single embryo, and the others, two each. All were nearly ready for extrusion and would doubtless 


killed on the first evening of their appearance averaged Qomm. in 
length by 261111111. in stretch, but weighed only half as much as 
their parents. The adults average about 104111111. in length by 
3O2mm. in stretch. When on the wing the young may be dis- 
tinguished from the old by the weakness and hesitancy of their 
flight, rather than by the difference in size. The young are much 
more beautiful than the adults, and they alone possess the perfect 
silvery tips to the hairs from which the species derives its name. 
Even before going into winter quarters their soft silvery backs 
have given place to the grizzly coats that characterize the adults. 
My esteemed friend, Mr. William Brewster, has kindly favored 
me with the following very interesting account of a colony of bats 
that he discovered during an ornithological excursion into the ex- 

o *_> 

tensive coniferous forests of western Maine : 

" On June 18, 1880, I was searching for woodpecker's nests 
among the stubs that line the shores of Lake Umbagog, when I 
noticed a small ragged-looking hole about two feet above the water 
in a trunk that stood well out on the flooded meadows. I should 
hardly have turned aside to examine it had I not fancied that I saw 
something move at its entrance ; accordingly, paddling to the spot, 
I struck the tree sharply with the butt of an axe. The blow was 
followed, not by the appearance of a woodpecker's or nuthatch's 
head, as I had expected, but by an outbreak of shrill squeaking 
sounds that seemed to come from every part of the interior. As 

have been born within forty-eight hours. The single one, a male, weighed noo milligrammes, 
and measured 43111111. in length by 79111111. in extent ; the cord measured 2Omm., and the placenta 
loxl-jmin. One of the other females contained twins, both of which were females ; one of them 
weighed 1380 milligrammes, measuring 41111111. in length by 72111111. in stretch; cord iSmm. ; 
placenta 9x14111111. The other weighed noo milligrammes, and measured 39x68111111. ; cord 17111111. ; 
placenta 8x13111111. That the young are brought forth in the southern part of the State at about the 
same date as with us is evidenced from the following. Dr. A. K. Fisher states that a female which 
he killed at Sing Sing, in Westchester County, June 24, iSSi, "contained two young, well de- 
veloped, and probably would have been delivered in a few days. The young each weighed 1,450 
milligrammes. On removing the amnion the ears of one of the young bats became erect. The 
placenta of this species is different from that of the Little Brown Bat ; instead of being circular it 
is elliptical, measuring 10 by 15 millimetres. The placenta: were attached to the posterior wall of 
the uterus near the summit of each cornu. The umbilical cord measured twenty millimetres in 
length." (Forest and Stream, Vol. XVI, No. 25, July 21, iSSi. p. 490.) 


nothing could be seen at the hole, I drove the blade of the axe 
through the thin shell a little below and pried off a large piece. 
The result was fairly startling, for in a twinkling the opening was 
filled with swarms of Bats which, for the space of several minutes, 
poured forth uninterruptedly in a solid, dusky stream. The majority 
took flight at once, making off over the Lake or in the direction 
of the nearest wooded shore, but dozens, in their haste, fell into 
the water or sought refuge in the boat where they scrambled about 
under the seats or attempted to climb my legs. 

" After the rush was over I was astonished to find that the tree 
had been by no means emptied. Indeed, the squeaking sounds 
within continued almost unabated. Investigating further I dis- 

o o 

covered that although the trunk was hollow for nearly its entire 
length, there was a central core which touched the walls in places, 
thus dividing the interior into separate spaces or chambers con- 
nected with one another by numerous passages. The side that I 
had opened had been promptly vacated, but many of the occupants 
had probably crawled around into the other chamber instead of 
following their more impulsive companions. At least when this, 
their last refuge, was laid bare by another application of the axe, 
the torrent that rushed forth rendered the first exodus insignificant 
by comparison. In fact, as my guide remarked at the time, it 
seemed as if all the Bats of New England had congregated in that 
one tree. Of their total numbers I should not care to attempt any 
definite estimate, but there were certainly hundreds and probably 
thousands. All were adults, and all apparently of the same species, 
a small dark-colored one which, as you suggest, was probably 
Vesperugo noctivagans although as I preserved no specimens (a 
piece of negligence that I now deeply regret) I cannot be positive 
on this point. 

" None of the guides or lumbermen to whom I told this experi- 
ence had ever met with a similar colony, although it is not unusual 
for them to find single Bats, or small families, hibernating in the 


hollow trees which are cut for firewood during winter. I may add 
that the season of 1880 was very backward in Maine, cold rains and 
occasional flurries of snow occurring with disagreeable frequency 
well into June." 

The bat hunter has many difficulties to contend with. ^ight 
creeps upon him so insidiously that he is only made aware of its 
presence by the number of shots missed (which multiply with 
painful rapidity with the increasing darkness), and by the great 
trouble and loss of time experienced in finding the bats that fall to 
the ground. The temptation to linger as long as the bats can be 
distinctly seen is very great, but should be resisted if the hunter 
has any regard for his reputation as a wing shot. When two shots 
out of three are missed, it is time to go home. Moonlight evenings 
are also very misleading, but the novice soon learns to avoid such 
illusions. I believe that I could not average one bat for every 
dozen shots by the brightest moonlight. The greatest obstacle in 

J I5 O <_> 

bat shooting is the inability to calculate distance after early night- 
fall, objects invariably appearing much farther off than they really 
are. Thus, a bat is frequently fired at when supposed to be at 
proper range, when in reality it is so near that the shot have not 
time to scatter, and it is consequently either missed altogether or 
so blown to pieces as to be worthless. I have sometimes, after miss- 
ino- a bat with the first barrel, brought it down with the second, when 

o *-> 

it seemed so far away that I was surprised to find that my gun carried 
to so great a distance. On going to pick it up I have been still more 
astonished to find it within short range, rarely over seventy-five 
feet (22.86 metres) from the spot where I had stood. This decep- 
tiveness in distance manifests itself in another embarrassing way, 
for in searching for the bat in this dim light one is almost certain to 
overestimate the distance at which it fell. Hence a well-trained 
dog, with a good nose, is of the greatest assistance. 

The length of time that the fading light will permit of bat shoot- 
ing in any single evening varies from a little over half an hour, to 


less than ten minutes, according to the season. The loss of time, 
therefore, occasioned by searching for fallen bats is of the most 
serious consequence, and can only be overcome by the aid of a dog, 
or of an associate. In fact, the value of a willing assistant can 
scarcely be exaggerated, He stands a little to one side of the 


hunter and carefully notes the line in which a bat falls. The 
hunter likewise marks the direction, and as both advance simul- 
taneously, the point of intersection of the two lines shows the exact 
position of the bat. A lantern with a good reflector is of some 
service, but too much reliance must not be placed upon it, and it 
should always be carried by the assistant, who, where bats are fairly 
abundant, may double the number of specimens secured. 

The earliest elate at which I have observed the Silver-haired Bat 
in the Black River Valley is the 26th of April (1884). It com- 
menced to fly at about 7.20 P. M. 

Little Broivn Bat. 

Next to the silver-haired bat, this is the commonest and most 
universally distributed species in the Adirondacks, so far as my 
observations extend. Professor Baird has taken the typical animal 
at Elizabethtown, and the form known as lucifugus at Westport. 
Dr. A. K. Fisher and Mr. Oliver B. Lockhart have killed it at 
Lake George, and Walter H. Merriam in Keene Valley, these 
localities being all upon the eastern slope of the mountains ; and I 
have a specimen from Big Moose Lake in the interior, and have 
found it in considerable numbers at several places on the western 
side of the Wilderness. 

In coloration, the young of the Little Brown Bat differs from 
its parents even more than does the young of the silver-haired 
species. An immature male which I shot August I5th, 1883, had 
attained the full dimensions of the adult, but was of an entirely 


different color, its whole body being of a very pale yellowisH-brown, 
almost inclining to gray on the belly.* 

Mr. Figanierre E' Morao, Minister Plenipotentiary from Portugal 
to the United States, published, some years ago, an account of a 
colony of bats that caused him great annoyance. This paper con- 
tains so much of interest that a few pertinent extracts from it are 
here introduced : 

"In the winter of 1859, having purchased the property known 
as Seneca Point, in the margin of the Northeast River, near 
Charlestown, in Cecil County, Maryland, we took possession of it 
in May of the next year. . . . Having been uninhabited for 
several years, it exhibited the appearance, with the exception of one 
or two rooms, of desolation and neglect. . . . The weather, 
which was beautiful, balmy and warm, invited us towards evening 
to out-door enjoyment and rest, after a fatiguing day of travel and 
active labor ; but chairs, settees, and benches were scarcely occupied 
by us on the piazza and lawn, when, to our amazement, and the 
horror of the female portion of our party, small black bats made 
their appearance in immense numbers, flickering around the 
premises, rushing in and out of doors and through open windows. 
Evening after evening did we patiently though not 
complacently watch this periodical exodus of dusky wings into 
light from their lurking-places. . . . Their excursions invari- 
ably commenced with the cry of the ' whippoorwill,' both at coming 
evening and at early dawn, and it was observed that they always 

* Concerning the number of young produced at a birth, ct d'tcrn, by I'csfcrtilio sitbii/attis, Dr. 
A. K. Fisher writes . " Of ten pregnant females which we examined last June, iSSo, each con- 
tained two young. Prof. Burt. (',. Wilder (Pop. Sci. Mo., No. 42, p. 651) examined twenty 
females in June, 1874. Each contained two little bats, though Dr. C. C. Abbott states (Geology 
of New Jersey, Appendix, p. 752), that they bring forth a litter <>f three to live. We consider this 
number unusual, as all the specimens examined by us never contained more nor less than two. The 
abdomen of the female is not so prominent, but very much broadened, a fu-tus developing in each 
horn of the uterus. The uterine walls at term are very thin, the entire organ weighing only about 
a centigramme. The placenta of this species is circular, measuring nine millimetres in diameter, 
the umbilical cord being twelve millimetres long. A young one taken from a female whose 
mammne contained milk, weighed 1,350 milligrammes " (Forest and Stream, Vol. XVI, No. 25, 
July 21, iSSo, p. 490.) 


first directed their flight towards the river, undoubtedly to damp 
their mouse-like snouts, but not their spirits, for it was likewise 
observed that they returned to play hide-and-seek and indulge in 
all other imaginable gambols ; when, after gratifying their love 
of sport and satisfying their voracious appetites (as the absence of 
mosquitoes and gnats testified) they would re-enter their habita- 
tion, again to emerge at the first signal of their feathered trumpet- 
er. I thus ascertained one very important fact, namely, that the 
bat, or the species which annoyed us, ate and drank twice in twenty- 
four hours." After resorting to many ineffectual expedients in the 
vain attempt to rid his home of these multitudinous pests, he 
caused " all the holes, fissures in the wood-work, and apertures in 
the slating to be hermetically sealed with cement. This put a stop 
to their egress, but to avoid their dying by starvation and depriva- 
tion of water, which would much increase the annoyance by 
adding their dead to their living stench, I ordered apertures of 
about two feet square to be opened in the lathed and plastered 
partition on each side of the garret windows and also in the ceiling 
of every garret room ; lastly, when the bat's reveille was sounded 
by the bugle of the whippoorwill, all the hands of our establish- 
ment, men and boys, each armed with a wooden implement (shaped 
like a cricket-bat), marched to the third floor ' on murderous deeds 
with thoughts intent' ; a lighted lantern was placed in the middle 
of one of the rooms, divested of all furniture, to allure the hidden 
foe from their strongholds. After closing the window to prevent 
all escape into the open air, the assailants distributed themselves 
at regular distances to avoid clubbing each other, awaited the 
appearance of the bats, enticed into the room by the artificial light 
and impelled by their own natural craving. The slaughter com- 
menced and progressed with sanguinary vigor for several hours, or 
until brought to a close by the weariness of dealing the blows that 
made the enemy bite the dust, and overpowered by the heat and 
closeness of the apartment. This plan succeeded perfectly. After 


a few evenings of similar exercise, in which the battcnrs became quite 
expert in the use of their weapon, every wielding of the wooden 
bat bringing down an expiring namesake, the war terminated by 
the extermination of every individual of the enemy in the main 
building. However there still was the cock-loft of the laundry, 
which gave evidence of a large population. In this case I had re- 
course to a plan which had been recommended, but was not carried 
out in regard to the dwelling-house. I employed a slater to re- 
move a portion of the slating which required repairing. This pro- 
cess discovered some fifteen hundred or two thousand bats, of 
which the larger number were killed, and the surviving sought the 
barn, trees, and other places of concealment in the neighborhood. 
" In the main building nine thousand six hundred and forty bats, 
from actual counting, were destroyed. ... At the end of five 
years the odor has now nearly disappeared, being barely percepti- 
ble during a continuance of very damp weather." * 

Order GLIRES. Family SCIURID.-E. 


Flying Squirrel. 

Two varieties of Flying Squirrel occur in the Adirondacks : the 
present form, confined mainly to the borders of the region, and a 
northern race, commonest in the elevated portions of the interior. 

The subject of this sketch feeds upon a variety of nuts, seeds, 
and buds, and upon beetles and perhaps other insects, not hesita- 
ting to eat flesh when occasion offers. I have caught many in 
box-traps baited with beef, and have frequently known them to 
devour dead birds, the heads of which they particularly relish. 
Whether they prey upon the smaller species that roost in the forest 
I am unable to say, but their agility and their noiseless movements 

* An Account of a Remarkable Accumulation of Bats. Smithsonian Annual Report for 1863 
1864, pp. 407-409. 


would enable them to capture the most wary with ease. Moreover 
the eagerness and avidity with which they seize and feast upon a 
dead bird placed within reach would indicate that they were not 
strangers to such a repast. * In confinement they will eat bird's 
eggs, not discarding the shells. 

A more gentle, docile, and graceful animal lhan the Flying Squirrel 
does not exist, and though without anything striking in the way of 
color or markings, it is nevertheless one of the most beautiful of our 
mammals. The dense silky fur of an ashen-brown above and creamy 
white beneath, rivalling that of the chinchilla in glossy softness, and 
the large, prominent, and expressive eyes, together with its pretty 
ways, render it an attractive and justly esteemed pet. 

Prof. F. H. King mentions the interesting circumstance that 
when an assortment of nuts was placed within reach of a Flying 
Squirrel which he had in confinement, it carried off all the acorns 
and hazel-nuts, but did not touch any of the others. These two 
kinds of nuts were the only ones that grew in the immediate 
neighborhood of the place where this squirrel was captured, but it 
was taken so young that it could never have seen any nuts prior 
to its confinement. Hence the case seems clearly one of inherited 
habit. f 

Whether, in the region under consideration, this variety of the 
Flying Squirrel hibernates, I am unable to state with positiveness, 
though strongly of opinion that it does. It certainly remains in 
its nest durino; the severer weather of our winters. 


Next to the bats, it is the most strictly nocturnal of our mammals, 
very rarely being seen abroad till after nightfall. He who quietly 
wanders through our groves and forests during the wa'rm, still 

* Prof. F. H. King, in his admirable and comprehensive treatise upon the Economic Relations 
of Wisconsin Birds, says : ;< In the spring of 1879, I placed the young of the Chipping Sparrow in 
the cage with a young pet flying squirrel (Scimvf tents volucelld). The bird was seized with energy 
and killed but not eaten." (Geology of Wisconsin, Vol. I, 1883, p. 444.) The reason the bird was 
not eaten is hard to explain unless the squirrel was surfeited with food. 

f Mr. E. P. Bicknell suggests that the squirrel may have selected the acorns and hazel-nuts 
because they were thinner-shelled than the others. 


nights of summer and early autumn cannot but mark the myriads 
of sounds that betoken the presence and activity of animal life. 
The faint rustling' of leaves, the pattering of light footsteps on the 
ground, the constant dropping of something from the trees, the 
springing back of a branch relieved from the weight of some animal, 
the sharp squeaking of unseen creatures, the lonesome note of a 
wakeful bird, the occasional low grating of teeth overhead, the 
bustle and chipper of something chasing something else up the 
trunk of a neighboring tree, the cry of distress as some bird or 
beast of prey seizes its unhappy victim ; these and numberless 
other noises, mostly vague and indescribable, fill the air and bear 
evidence to the profusion of life. And yet the very multiplicity of 
sounds is confusing, and prevents the perception of those that are 
distinctive. To the ear accustomed to the whisperings of Nature 
many of these noises are recognized as easily as the voices of 
familiar friends. The shrew, the mouse, the bat, the chickaree, 
and the Flying Squirrel are almost sure to be present, and the 
latter is generally responsible for no small share of the perplexing 
sounds. His activity is intense, his sailing leaps frequent, his 
gambolings almost ceaseless, his sly chuckle and saucy scold are 
occasionally heard, and his dropping of beechnut shucks is some- 
times well nigh continuous. 

Audubon and Bachman narrate an interesting experience that 
no other naturalists seem to have been fortunate enough to witness. 
They say : " We recollect a locality not many miles from Philadel- 
phia, where, in order to study the habits of this interesting species, 
we occasionally strayed into a meadow containing here and there 
immense oak and beech trees. One afternoon we took our seat 
on a log in the vicinity to watch their lively motions. It was 
during the calm warm weather peculiar to the beginning of autumn. 
During the half hour before sunset nature seemed to be in a state 
of silence and repose. The birds had retired to the shelter of the 
forest. The night-hawk had already commenced its low evening 


flight, and here and there the common red bat was on the wing ; 
still for some time not a Flying Squirrel made its appearance. 
Suddenly, however, one emerged from its hole and ran up to the 
top of a tree ; another soon followed, and ere long dozens came 
forth, and commenced their graceful flights from some upper branch 
to a lower bouofh. At times one would be seen darting from the 

5 O 

topmost branches of a tall oak, and with wide-extended membranes 
and outspread tail gliding diagonally through the air, till it reached 
the foot of a tree about fifty yards off, when at the moment we 
expected to see it strike the earth, it suddenly turned upwards and 
alighted on the body of the tree. It would then run to the top 
and once more precipitate itself from the upper branches, and sail 
back again to the tree it had just left. Crowds of these little 
creatures joined in these sportive gambols ; there could not have 
been less than two hundred. Scores of them would leave each 
tree at the same moment, and cross each other, gliding like spirits 
through the air, seeming to have no other object in view than to 
indulge a playful propensity." * 

The Flying Squirrel is the most highly specialized of the family 
to which it pertains, its whole structure pre-eminently fitting it for 
arboreal life. The peculiar tegumentary expansion along the sides 
enables it to make flying leaps that far exceed those of other 
squirrels ; and the ease, grace, and rapidity with which it glides 
from tree to tree inspires the merest passer-by with wonder and 
admiration. Its ordinary mode of progression is by a- series of 
alternate climbs and leaps. Upon reaching a tree the first act is 
to ascend, for, being unable to sail horizontally, it must attain a 
considerable elevation before venturing to leap to the next. I nstead 
of moving off in this way when disturbed, it sometimes runs up into 
the topmost branches of the nearest tree, and, coiling itself into 
surprisingly small compass, remains motionless till the intruder 
has taken his departure. 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, p. 218. 


The modifications of structure that adapt it to its habit of life 
are by no means so great as in the case of the mole or bat, and yet 
it is not less inseparably associated with an almost exclusively 
arboreal existence than are these others with the special conditions 
of their environment. 

Flying Squirrels make their nests in the hollows of trees, 
frequently taking possession of deserted woodpecker's holes. They 
are easily aroused and driven out by hammering against the trunk. 
I have thus expelled the occupants of as many as half a dozen nests 
in a single clay's hunt. Their progeny must be brought forth early 
in April, for on the 3Oth of April, 1878, Dr. C. L. Bagg and myself 
took three half-grown young from a woodpecker's hole, about fifteen 
feet above the ground, in a decayed stub. They did not seem at 
all frightened, but were tame and gfentle from the beofinnino", and 

O c> O O 

my sister and I kept two of them alive. At night they were ex- 
cessively active and playful, but, unless disturbed, would sleep 
during the greater part of the day. They preferred to remain 
upon our persons, and one used to sleep in my pocket. At first it 
could jump but a short distance, and if placed upon a chair or table 
became very unhappy and would come to the edge nearest the 
place where I was standing and cry to be taken. If I extended 
my arm and approached it, the little creature, trembling with 
delight, would stand on its hind legs and leap upon my hand ; 
thence, either running up my sleeve or down my neck, it would 
nestle in my bosom and sleep for hours, or until forcibly removed. 
Prof. F. H. King, in a recent communication, records an experience 
with the young of this species that calls to mind many of the actions 
and peculiarities of those that I have had. He says : " I have never 
known wild animals that became so perfectly familiar and confiding 
as these young squirrels did ; and they seemed to get far more 
enjoyment from playing upon my person than in any other place, 
running in and out of pockets, and between my coat and vest. 
After the frolic was over they always esteemed it a great favor if 


I would allow them to crawl into my vest in front and go to sleep 
there, where they felt the warmth of my body, and it was very rare 
indeed, during the first six months, that they failed to ask the 
privilege ; indeed they came to consider themselves abused if 
turned out. When forced to go to sleep by themselves, the atti- 
tude taken was amusing, the nose was placed upon the table or 
other object it happened to be upon, and then it would walk forward 
over it, rolling itself up until the nose almost protruded from be- 
tween the hind legs ; the tail was then wrapped in a horizontal 
coil about the feet, and the result was an exquisite little ball of life 
in soft fur which it seemed almost sacrilegious to touch. If they 
escaped from the cage during the night, I was sure to be warned 
of the fact by their coming into the bed to roll themselves up close 
to my face or neck." * 

The most extended account which I have seen of this animal's 
habits in confinement, is from the pen of Prof. Geo. H. Perkins, 
of the University of Vermont. He describes his interesting pets 
in the following language : " At dusk they begin to stir. Not all 
at once it would seem do they awake, for the material of the nest 
quivers and shakes for some time before the squirrel appears. 
When, however, they conclude that they are all ready, out pop 
their heads, each to be followed by the rest of the body, after a 
glance on all sides with the glistening black eyes ; and now all 
drowsiness has disappeared and an activity more incessant and 
more intense than can be described takes its place. All night long, 
often with only the briefest rest now and then, these little animals 
are in vigorous motion, jumping, bounding, capering, running with 
ever-varying movement and astonishing energy. Everything they 
do is done with all their might. It would seem to any one watch- 
ing them that the exercise of the first few minutes must wholly 
exhaust their powers, but, on the contrary, the more their muscles 
are used, the more capable of use they seem, and great as is the 

* American Naturalist, Vol. XVII, No. I, Jan. 1883, p. 39. 

Kurs VOLUCELLA. 203 

energy of their movements at hrst, the)' usually increase in vigor 
and speed until after midnight and scarcely grow less before morn- 
ing. Nothing affords them so much gratification as a large wheel 
which is placed inside, the cage. Into this wheel they jump when- 
ever aught disturbs or pleases them, and even when quite hungry 
they often find it necessary to take a few turns before commencing 
their meal, after which exercise they draw themselves into a bunch 
with the tail over the back, after the manner of squirrels, and set 
briskly to work on the nut or other food they may have 
received. They are almost as fond of riding as of running, and 
work their passage by running till the wheel is in rapid motion and 
then clinging to its wires, and so are carried around and around, 
the pure white of the under side of the body contrasting prettily 
with the soft brownish-gray of the back and sides as each comes 
into view. When both are in the wheel one often rides while the 
other turns the wheel, the latter bounding over the other as each 
turn brings him around, and, no matter how rapidly the wheel 
turns, these movements are executed with perfect exactness and 
gracefulness. Being desirous of knowing with some degree of 
accuracy how rapidly the wheel moved, I made some experiments 
for that purpose and found that the usual rate of revolution was 
from sixty to over a hundred and twenty times a minute, and, as 
the wheel is forty-four inches in circumference, when its rate is the 
latter of the two numbers named, the squirrel turning it must 
travel four hundred and forty feet a minute, or about five miles an 
hour, a distance requiring a great many steps when they are 
so short as squirrels must take. The sides of the wheels are formed 
of spokes radiating as in any wheel, these spokes are only five 
inches apart at the circumference and of course constantly grow 
less toward the centre ; yet through this narrow space which passes, 
when the wheel is at full speed, in the sixteenth of a second, they 
dart in and out with perfect ease. So quickly do the)- move that 
the eye can scarcely follow them; one instant a squirrel is in the 


wheel running with all his might, and the next he is seated on a 
shelf at the opposite end of the cage, the wheel whirling behind 
him .... Though usually very quiet they are not always 
displeased with noise, if it be a lively one ; for instance, they drop 
a nut in the wheel and then as it rattles when the wheel moves 
they are highly delighted, sometimes more so than some of the 
other listeners. Once when a butternut thus became quite a trouble 
to me I removed it, but no sooner had I left the cage than they put 
it back and set it rattling louder than ever, leaping over it as it came 
near them and jumping about as if performing a war dance, and this 
they repeated over and over again till, finally, the nut was removed 
from the cage. Now and then the freak takes one or the other to 
leave the wheel altogether for several days, and in the meantime 
they relieve their over-buoyant feelings by executing a brilliant 
series of somersets with an agility and daring that would excite the 
envy of the most skilful acrobat. They always turn backward, going 
completely over and alighting almost exactly upon the spot from 
which they started. Now they run a few steps before going over 
and now stop and turn around as if a spit ran through the centre of 
the body on which it turned. These gyrations are often extremely 
ludicrous, especially, when turning side by side, they seem to be 
racing .... They are exceedingly inquisitive, prying into 
everything that comes in their way ; and, if watched and fearful lest 
they are to be interrupted, they assume a most impudent and reck- 
less air, glancing out of one eye, and shaking their heads and sniffing 
every now and then for an instant, and then returning to their in- 
vestigations with renewed energy, pulling away desperately at any- 
thing that can be laid hold of, and if anyone starts toward them to 
drive them away, they wait till the very last minute, when, with a 
twinkle of the eye, a toss of the head, and a jerk of the tail, they are 
off and across the room in a trice, perhaps stopping to chatter their 
disapproval of the whole proceeding as soon as safely out of reach 
When the actions of an animal are so suddenly varied, so 


constantly changing and of such interest in all their phases as are 
those of the Flying Squirrel, a complete account can scarcely be 
given. Certainly it is not easy for words to represent the merry, 
rollicking, clon't-care manner in which they do everything. Such a 
combination of earnestness and carelessness is seldom seen. For 
they are earnest about their work, and in emptying a box of nuts 
they seem to feel the great importance of their undertaking and the 
necessity ot soberness and dignity in its execution, but yet one can- 
not help seeing that all this is but assumed for the occasion, for their 
eyes, and indeed their whole body, are all the time expressive of 
mischief, and the little rogues are never so sedate that they do not 
seem to be bubbling over with fun and to be ready at a moment's 
notice to engage in any mischief that may occur to their scheming 
little heads." * 

An adult that I once had in captivity used to make a practice of 
leaping from the floor, or from some object in the room, to the top 
of my head, where it would scratch and dig as if searching for beech- 

The late Dr. Gideon B. Smith, of Baltimore, in a letter to Audubon 
and Bachman, speaks thus ot these squirrels : " They are gregarious, 
living together in considerable communities, and do not object to the 
company of other and even quite different animals. For example, I 
once assisted in taking down an old martin-box, which had been for 
a great number of years on the top of a venerable locust tree near 
my house, and which had some eight or ten apartments. As the box 
fell to the ground we were surprised to see the great numbers of 
Flying Squirrels, screech-owls, and leather- winged bats running from 
it. We caught several of each, and one of the Flying Squirrels was 
kept as a pet in a cage for six months. The various apartments of 
the box were stored with hickorynuts, chestnuts, acorns, corn, <!\:c., 
intended for the winter supply ol food. There must have been as 
many as twenty Flying Squirrels in the box, as many bats, and we 

* American Naturalist, Vol. VII, No. 3, March, 1873, pp. 133-139. 


know there were six screech-owls. The crevices of the house were 
always inhabited by the squirrels. The docility of the one we kept 
as a pet was remarkable ; although he was never lively and playful 
in the day-time, he would permit himself to be handled and spread 
out at the pleasure of any one. We frequently took him from the 
cage, laid him on the table or on one hand, and exposed the exten- 
sion of his skin, smoothed his fur, put him in our pocket or bosom, 
&c., he pretending all the time to be asleep." 


Northern Flying Squirrel. 

The Northern Flying Squirrel is a common inhabitant of the 
elevated central area of the Adirondacks and is not particularly rare 
about the outskirts of the region, where I have found both varieties 
nesting in adjoining trees. Although this is much the larger of the 
two, and may also be distinguished by some peculiarities of colora- 
tion, individuals are sometimes met with that are more or less inter- 
mediate ; still, I have yet to see the specimen that cannot at once be 
referred either to the one or the other. 

The Northern Flying Squirrel is a hardier animal than its smaller 
relative, and remains awake and active during the whole of our long 
and severe winters. The mercury may indicate a temperature many 
degrees below zero, or snow may be falling in quantities sufficient to 
obstruct the vision, without seeming in any way to dishearten this 
merry adventurer. The last rays of the departing sun have scarcely 
disappeared from the western horizon before the sombre shades that 
mark the approach of winter night commence to gather about the snow- 
clad forest. Whether bright stars sparkle and shine through a frosty 
atmosphere, or heavy, leaden clouds overhang the scene, makes little 
difference to the Northern Flying Squirrel. He emerges from his 
warm nest, takes a hasty survey of the surroundings lest some wily 

* (Quadruped-, of North America, Vol. I, 1846, p. 220. 

sriruoiTKkrs YOI.UCKI.I.A HUDSOMTS. 207 

owl should lurk hard by, glides silently to a neighboring tree, and 
starts forthwith upon his nightly tour in quest of food and sport. 
Prompted either by hunger or curiosity, or by a combination of the 
two, he examines every unusual object with scrupulous care, and as 
one result is always getting into traps set for valuable fur and this 
whether they are baited with mammal, bird, or fish. Indeed, the 
nature of the bait seems to be a matter of the most trivial con- 
sequence, as it often consists of red and Hying Squirrels that have 
previously been taken in the trap. Even in this case another Flying 
Squirrel is as likely to be the next thing caught as any animal in the 
Wilderness. Hence it happens that the trapper comes to look upon 
him as an unmitigated nuisance. 

These handsome Squirrels are very fond of beechnuts, and during 
"nut years" feed largely upon them. They are thirsty creatures 
and in the early spring, when certain of the woodsmen are engaged 
in making maple sugar, many are found dead in the sap buckets- 
drowned in their efforts to obtain the sweet fluid. 

They breed about a month later than their smaller relative. 
June 1 8th, 1883, Dr. A. K. Fisher and the writer found the nest of a 
Northern Flying Squirrel at West Pond, near Big Moose Lake. It 
was in the last year's nest of a three-toed woodpecker (Picoidcs 
arcticus] in a tamarack (Lan'.v Americana} and the entrance hole 
faced the east, about ten feet above the ground. On cutting down 
the tree the nest was found to contain three nursing young, not yet 
one-third grown ; they were estimated to be about a month old. 
They were fed on condensed milk diluted with water until we left 
the woods, and afterwards on fresh milk and vegetables. One of 
them grew very rapidly, attaining nearly two-thirds the size of its 
parent by the loth of July, when it was accidentally killed. They all 
were perfectly tame and acted much like the young of the common 
Flying Squirrel (S. volucella] already described. 

In searching the scanty literature relating to this animal, which has 
not previously been recorded from the State of New York, I have 


been unable to find anything upon its habits excepting the following 
account of a female and young, narrated by Audubon and Bachman : 
" A brood of young of this species, along with the mother was kept 
in confinement by an acquaintance of ours, for about four months, 
and the little ones, five in number, were suckled in the following 


manner : the younglings stood on the ground floor of the cage, 
whilst the mother hung her body downwards, and secured herself 
from falling by clinging to the perch immediately above her head by 
her forefeet. This was observed every day, and some days as fre- 
quently as eight or ten times. 

" The brood was procured as follows: a piece of partially cleared 
wood having been set on fire, the labourers saw a Flying Squirrel 
start from a hollow stump with a young one in her mouth, and 
watched the place where she deposited it, in another stump at a 
little distance. The mother returned to her nest, and took away 
another and another in succession, until all were removed, when the 
wood-cutters went to the abode now occupied by the affectionate 
animal, and caught her already singed by the fire, and her five young 

" After some time a pair of the young were given away to a friend. 
The three remaining ones, as well as the mother, were killed in the 
following manner : 

" The cage containing them was hung near the window, and one 
night during the darkness, a rat, or rats (Mus decumanus], caught 
hold of the three young through the bars, and ate off all their flesh, 
leaving the skins almost entire, and the heads remaining inside the 
bars. The mother had had her thigh broken and her flesh eaten 
from the bone, and yet this, good parent was so affectionately 
attached to her brood that when she was found in this pitiable con- 
dition in the morning, she was clinging to her offspring, and trying 
to nurse them as if they had still been alive." * 

* (Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. Ill, 1854, pp. 203-204. 


Red Si/nirrc/ ; Chickaree. 

The Reel Squirrel is one of the commonest and best known of the 
mammalian inhabitants of the Adirondacks, being found in all parts 
of the Wilderness at all seasons of the year. 

His diet is more varied than that of our other squirrels. In addi- 
tion to nuts and acorns he feeds upon a variety ot seeds and roots, 
the buds and leaf-stems of certain trees, several species of " toad- 
stools" and other fungi, seeds from the cones of pines and spruces, 
fruits and berries of many kinds, beetles, birds' eggs, and even young 
birds. And in winter he does not look with disdain upon scraps ot 
meat or fish that may have been left within his reach. 

He is the most hilarious of the pre-eminently merry and frolicsome 
family to which he belongs, and his joyous and jubilant nature 
enables him to triumph over the sense of gloom that pervades the 
sombre coniferous forests of the North, rendering him cheerful and 
contented in the darkest and most impenetrable of our evergreen 
thickets. Indeed, it is this happy faculty of adapting himself and 
his modes of life to a diversity of surroundings that has permitted 
his wide dispersion, the present boundaries of his habitat being co- 
extensive with those of the wooded portions of the northern part of 
our continent/ 1 ' 

The Chickaree combines qualities so wholly at variance, so unique, 
so incomprehensible, and so characteristic withal, that one scarcely 
knows in what light to regard him. His inquisitiveness. audacity, 
inordinate assurance, and exasperating insolence, together with his 
insatiable love of mischief and shameless disregard of all the ordinary 
customs and civilities of life, would lead one to suppose that he was 
little entitled to respect; and yet his intelligence, his untiring perse- 
verance, and genuine industry, the cunning cleverness displayed in 
many of his actions, and the irresistible humor with which he does 

* The species and its several geographical races are here spoken of collectively. 


everything, command for him a certain degree of admiration. He 
is arrogant, impetuous, and conceited to an extreme degree, his con- 
fidence in his own superior. capabilities not infrequently costing him 
his life. In fact, these contradictions in character and idiosyncrasies 
in disposition render him a psychological problem of no easy 

From earliest dawn till the setting sun has disappeared behind the 
distant hills, the Red Squirrel enlivens the silent solitude of the forest 
with his merry ways and saucy chatterings ; and he may sometimes 
be discovered in the darkest hours of the night, stealing softly over 
the ground bent, doubtless, on some errand of dubious propriety. 
Moonlight evenings he is often as active, though not so noisy, as 
during the day, and in early autumn he vies with the flying squirrel 
in nocturnal nut-husking exploits. Though an expert climber, 
delighting in long leaps from bough to bough, which he executes 
with grace and precision, he spends far more time on the ground than 
the other arboreal squirrels, sometimes even making his home in 
holes in the earth. Old logs, stumps, wood-piles, and brush-heaps 
are favorite places of resort, and, by excavating burrows beneath, he 
converts them into the securest of retreats. Our fences serve as 
highways upon which he travels from wood to wood, and the zig-zag 
rail fence in particular is one of the boons of his existence. It is his 
most frequented path, his playground, his race-course, and when 
pursued, his readiest means of escape. It is the step-ladder from 
which he leaps into the branches of neighboring trees, and the place 
where he meets his friends at all hours of the day. He frequently 
follows it to the farm-house and takes up his abode in the woodshed 
or other outbuilding, placing his nest between the ceiling and roof, 
or in some other equally out-of-the-way spot, whence he is. with great 
difficulty dislodged. 

He is the least wary of the squirrels, rarely taking the trouble to 
hide himself at the approach of man. In fact, on such occasions he 
usually assumes an aggressive attitude, chippers, shakes his tail in an 

sciruus IIUDSONIUS. 2 i i 

impudent and wholly uncalled-for manner, but takes care to keep 
just out of reach. This daring fearlessness is clearly the result of the 
fact that he is not worth the powder necessary for-his destruction, 
and he is therefore tolerated, though an acknowledged nuisance. 
But there are times when his conduct becomes so scandalous that the 
shot-gun is brought out for his suppression. He is soon deeply im- 
pressed with the range and effect of this weapon, and, though many 
of his brothers may have perished before the warning was heeded, 
he now becomes, in this particular locality, the most circumspect of 
brutes. He scorns the thought of running away, but grows so 
vigilant, sly, and crafty that the farmer is put to his wit's end to 
devise means for his riddance. 

His curiosity is almost as striking as his impudence, and more 
than once when I have been standing or sitting motionless in the 

o o 

forest he has approached nearer and nearer, eyeing me inquisitively, 
chippering, and shaking his tail, till finally he has jumped upon my 
person, to be off again in a trice. When sleeping on the ground in 
July, 1878, I was awakened, just at daybreak, by a noisy and excited 
chippering close at hand, but before my eyes were fairly open one 
of these mischievous imps alighted in my face. The surprise was 
common, and I must have started rather unceremoniously, for he 
sprang so suddenly to the nearest tree that the prints of his claws 
were visible for sometime after upon my forehead and nose. 

Of all the annoyances that beset the trapper in this region, none 
compare with the Red Squirrel. Not only is he the most vexatious 
of all the animals that roam the Adirondack wilds, but he often 
proves a source of disaster to the fur dealer. From an overhanging 
limb he looks on with unfeigned interest while the trapper arranges 
the bait for the martin or fisher ; but a moment later he has sprung the 
trap and is chippering with exulting derision at the result. He is 
often caught, it is true, but half a dozen others are always ready to 
take his place, and it affords little satisfaction to the hunter, on his 
lonely rounds through the snow-clad forest, to find a worthless 


Squirrel in his trap, instead of the valuable fur for which it was set. 
But if, instead of consulting the hunter's interests, we take another 
view of the case, it is easy to see that the Chickaree is a good friend 
to the martin. He furnishes the latter with food of an exceptionally 
agreeable kind, and though it cost him his life, takes great pains to 
discover and spring the traps set for the martin's destruction. 

He is not always to be found in equal numbers, but is influenced 
in a marked degree by the beechnut crop. In seasons when mast is 
plentiful there seems to be a Squirrel for every tree, bush, stump, 
and log in the entire Wilderness, besides a number left over to 
fill possible vacancies. When, on the other hand, the nut crop has 
been a failure, a corresponding diminution in the numbers of Squir- 
rels is observable, and they are sometimes actually scarce. * Hence 
it is clear that while the diet of the Red Squirrel is varied, his staple 
commodity is the beechnut, the yield of which in any year deter- 
mines his abundance in the succeeding winter and spring. That 
he migrates, on a small scale at least, is a fact concerning which there 

o o 

can be no reasonable doubt : on any other hypothesis we are at a 
loss to account for the suddenness of his increase and decrease over 
certain areas of large extent, and find it difficult to explain why he is 
sometimes met with in numbers swimming our lakes and rivers, al- 
ways in one direction. 

As miorht be inferred from the boreal distribution of this animal, 


he is the hardiest of our squirrels. Not only does he inhabit regions 
where the rigors of Arctic winter are keenly felt, but, refusing to 
hibernate, he remains active throughout the continuance of excessive 

* To be more explicit : The yield of beechnuts was good in the fall of iSSr. In October and 
November of that year I found Red Squirrels abounding in all parts of the region traversed from 
the Black River Valley to the Saranacs and Tupper's Lakes. Dr. F. H. Hoadley, who spent the win- 
ter at Big Moose Lake, informs me that they continued in undiminished numbers throughout the 
months of January, February, and March, proving a serious grievance to the trapper. The next 
fall, that of 1882, the nut crop failed (as it always does here on the alternate years), and I found 
but few Red Squirrels in the Adirondacks in October and November. As the winter advanced 
they became less and less common, and in January I did not see a single one, and but two of their 
tracks, while on a snow-shoe tramp from Big Otter to Big Moose Lake. 

SCIURUS nunsnxirs. 213 

cold. \\ r hen fierce storms sweep over the land he retires to his nest, 
to appear again with the first lull of the wind, be the temperature 
never so low. I have many times observed him when the thermom- 
eter ranged from thirty to forty degrees below zero Centigrade (-22 
to -40 P.), but could never see that he was inconvenienced by the 
cold. When running upon the snow he often plunges down out of 
sight, tunnels a little distance, and, reappearing, shakes the snow 
from his head and body, whisks his tail, and skips along as lightly 
and with as much apparent pleasure as if returning from a bath in 
some rippling brook during the heat of a summer's afternoon. 

He possesses the rare and philosophical accomplishment of com- 
bining work with recreation, and sets about the performance of his 
self-imposed tasks with such roguish humor that it is a pleasure to 
watch him. In marked contrast to these free and happy habits is 
the stealth and sullenness that characterize the actions of some of the 
Carnivores, notably of the family Mustelidae. 

The Red Squirrel enjoys a game of "tag" even more than the 
average schoolboy, and one is often startled by a couple of them as 
they rush madly through the leaves, chasing each other hither and 
thither over the ground, up and down and around the trunks of trees, 
and in and out of hollow logs and stumps with a degree of reckless- 
ness that is astonishing to behold. 

However frivolous the Red Squirrel may appear to the casual 
observer, he is, nevertheless, a most industrious animal. Unlike 
most of his associates, and many of our own species, he is not con- 
tent with the enjoyment of present plenty, but takes pains to provide 
against a time of future need. When the summer has grown old, 
and the mellow days of early autumn cast a glow of color over the 
sumac and woodbine, the prudent Squirrel has commenced to gather 
the provision for his winter's use. Impatient to make sure his store, 
he does not wait for the nuts to ripen and fall, but cuts the stems by 
which they hang, till many lie scattered on the ground below. He 
then descends and collects them in a heap between, or near, the roots 


of the trees ; or, if he thinks them here too exposed, carries them 
directly to some hollow log or stump. Later in the season, when 
the mast is fully ripe, and the danger from mould is past, he fills the 
hollows of the limbs and trees about his nest, and often secretes 
reserve hoards in his burrows in the earth. In the evergreen 
forests he lays up large supplies of cones. I have seen him, even 
before the middle of September, engaged in gathering those of the 
white pine (Finns strobus]. At this early date he cuts the yet green 
cones from the branches, and, when a sufficient number have fallen, 
takes them to some hiding-place to ripen for his winter's fare. He 
eats the little buds that may be found scattered sparingly along the 
small branches of the spruce, and, in order to obtain them easily, 
bites off the terminal twigs and drags them back where the limb is 
large enough to allow him to sit comfortably on his haunches while 
feeding. Under single trees, both in the great forest and on our own 
lawn, I have found enough twig.-- to fill a bushel basket. The injury 
thus done is sometimes very extensive. 

He is fond of a variety of fruits, and sometimes commits great 
havoc in the apple orchard. From his liking for mushrooms some 
would consider him an epicure, but in whatever light we regard 
this taste, it is a droll spectacle to see him drag a large " toadstool " 
to one of his storehouses. If the " umbrella" happens to catch on 
some stick or log and is broken from the stem, as is frequently the 
case, he is pretty sure to scold and sputter for a while, and then 
take the pieces separately to their destination. 

Throughout the first half of June I have often observed a family 
of Red Squirrels feeding upon the Vinged seeds of a red or swamp 
maple (Acer rubruwi), directly in front of my office window. 
They rarely came during the day, but in the evening both parents 
and five young were frequently seen on the tree at one time, and 
they commonly remained till it was so dark that I could no longer 
discern their outlines. In reaching clown from the slender twigs 
to the drooping clusters of fruit they sometimes slipped and seemed 

sciruus nrnsoxirs. 21 5 

about to fall, but I never knew even one of the youngsters to lose 
his hold. On these occasions they were always silent. I have 
also seen them, in June, in the act of eating the leaf-stems of the 
sugar maple (Acer saccharnuuu}, to which habit my attention was 
directed by observing the frequent dropping of green leaves to the 

The propensity to suck the eggs and destroy the young of our 
smaller birds is the worst trait of the Red Squirrel, and is in itself 
sufficient reason for his extermination, at least about the habitations 
of man. I have myself known him to rob the nests of the red-eyed 
vireo, chipping sparrow, robin, Wilson's thrush, and ruffed grouse, 
and doubt not that thousands of eggs are annually sacrificed, in 
the Adirondack region alone, to gratify this appetite. Therefore, 
when abundant, as he always is during the springs that follow good 
nut years, his influence in checking the increase of our insectivorous 
birds can hardly be overestimated. 

Dr. A. K. Fisher informs me that on three occasions he has 
known these Squirrels to destroy young robins. In the first 
instance he heard the old birds making a great outcry near his 
home at Sing Sing, and on going to ascertain the reason found a 
Red Squirrel in the act of devouring a young robin. A well- 
directed stone caused him to drop the bird, which was found with 
its head cut into and the brains eaten. One wing and both feet 
had also been eaten. The details of the other cases are much the 
same. In one instance the Squirrel returned several times to the 
nest and carried off all the young. f 

* Mr. E. P. Bicknell writes me from his home at Riverdale, New York : "On our place they 
feed through the winter and early spring on the flower-buds of the white maple (./c,v ilasvfarpitiit}. 
Often several are to be seen perched among the leafless and bud-besprinkled branches about the 
top of one of these trees, scattering the snow below with fragments of the red buds and even entire 
twigs which later would have become sprays of blossoms and fruit." 

f Dr. Edgar A. Mearns, in his valuable paper upon the Birds of the Hudson Highlands, states : 
" Among the Robin's worst enemies may be ranked the Red Squirrels (Sciiirus Hudsoniits), for, 
though their young are subject to the attacks of Crows, Jays, and particularly to the ravages <if the 
Black Snake (Bascanion constrictor), yet none of these enemies inflict as much injury as the 
Squirrels, because, not only do thev seek out and devour the eggs, but the young are aUo eaten," 


I have long been aware that this animal was an occasional 
depredator of the poultry yard, and find, in a journal written twelve 
years ago, a note to the effect that a case had then come to my 
knowledge where one was caught in the act of killing both chickens 
and young clucks. 

The Red Squirrel is a good swimmer, swimming rapidly and 
with much of the head, back, and tail out of water. On the iSth 
of August, 1874, I was paddling silently down a sluggish stream in 
the heart of the Adirondacks when a slight noise on the shore 
arrested my attention. A Squirrel soon appeared at the water's 
edge, but turned back upon perceiving the boat. The stream, 
which was about twenty feet (approximately 6 metres) in width, 
here flowed through an extensive marsh, the nearest tree bein^r 

o o 

more than a hundred yards (nearly 100 metres) away. Surprised 
at seeing a Squirrel in such a place, I stopped the boat, holding- 
fast to a few bushes on the opposite bank, and after remaining 
motionless a few moments had the satisfaction of seeing him return, 
climb out on a little bush, and swim across. Again, June 28th, 
1878, while rowing on Brantingham Lake, in Lewis County, I saw 
a Red Squirrel swimming about midway between " the Point " and 
the main shore opposite. He was moving toward the Point, and, 
as I reached him, climbed up on the oar, ran over my back and legs, 
then along the gunwale, jumping ahead from the bow in the direc- 
tion toward which he was swimming when first seen. On overtaking 

o o 

him he again came aboard and jumped ahead as before. This was 

etc. (Bull. Essex Inst., X, 1878, p. 9.) Mr. John Burroughs says : "Nearly all the birds look 
upon it as their enemy and attack and annoy it when it appears near their breeding haunts. Thus, 
I have seen the pewee, the cuckoo, the robin, and the wood thrush pursuing it with angry voice 
and gestures. If you wish the birds to breed and thrive in your orchards and groves, kill every 
red squirrel that infests the place." (The Tragedies of the Nests, in The Century Magazine, Vol. 
XXVI, No. 5, Sept., 1883, p. 686.) Prof. F. H. King tells us that at Ithaca, New York, his 
attention was attracted by a pair of robins dashing wildly about the branches of an evergreen: 
"On examining the tree the neU of the birds was discovered, and iust below it sat a Chickaree 
eating one of the Robin's eggs." (Geol. Wis., 1883, p. 443.) In Forest and Stream for November 
17, and December 29, 1801, Mr. Ba.inbri.dge Bishop contributes much valuable testimony of a 
similar nature. Examples might be multiplied almost indefinitely, but enough has already been said 
to demonstrate that the Red Squirrel must be ranked among the worst enemies of our small birds. 


done a number of times, the Squirrel gaining each time two or 
three boat's lengths, till finally he succeeded in reaching the shore. 
I have repeatedly been told by hunters and guides that they 
occasionally meet these Squirrels swimming various lakes and rivers 
in the Wilderness, and James Higby tells me that in June, 1877 
he saw as many as fifty crossing Big Moose Lake, and that they 
were all headed the same way to the north. 

I am informed by Dr. A. K. Fisher that at the southern end of 
Lake George, in early autumn, it is sometimes an every-day 
occurrence to see Red Squirrels swimming across the lake, from 
west to east never in the opposite direction. The chestnut grows 
abundantly on the eastern side of the lake, but it is comparatively 
scarce on the western, and these extensive migrations always take 
place in years when the yield of chestnuts is large.* Mr. \Yinslow 
C. Watson, in his History of Essex County, says: "The autumn 
of 1851 afforded one of these periodical invasions of Essex county. 
It is well authenticated, that the red squirrel was constantly seen 
in the widest parts of the lake [ Lake Champlain |, far out from land, 
swimming towards the shore, as if familiar with the service ; their 
heads above water, and their bushy tails erect and expanded, and 
apparently spread to the breeze. Reaching land, they stopped for 
a moment, and relieving their active and vigorous little bodies from 
the water, by an energetic shake or two, they bounded into the 
woods, as light and free as if they had made no extraordinary 

Hawks and owls are the Squirrel's mortal enemies, often seizing 
him unawares ; but his movements are so well timed that if 
he sees them coming he is almost certain to escape. When either 

* A few Squirrels are occasionally seen crossing the lake when the nut-crop is only moderate 
In September, 1882, Mrs. Fisher was angling between Diamond Island and the west shore when a 
Red Squirrel swam to the boat and was lifted in by the tail. After resting a few minutes it ran 
out on an oar, jumped into the .vater and swam to the island (which is half a mile from the west 
shore), and thence, doubtless, to the chestnut groves on the eastern side of the lake. 


of these birds is discovered perching on a limb near his home he 
invariably pesters it till it is glad to fly to some more congenial place. 

He is sometimes caged and makes an intelligent but unruly and 
destructive pet. 

In the choice of a site for his nest he does not limit himself 
to any fixed conditions, usually placing it' in a hollow limb, some- 
times in a hole in the ground, and occasionally in a hollow log. 
The young are generally born about the first of April, four to six 
constituting an average litter. 

o o 

Where the climate is milder than it is in the Adirondack region 


the Red Squirrel often builds outside nests. Dr. A. K. Fisher 
writes me that he has found them about the southern end of Lake 
George, in Warren County ; and that they are so common in 
Westchester County, New York, that "half a dozen may be in 
sight at one time in favorable localities. The nest is usually situ- 
ated near the top of some evergreen, in the midst of a tangled 
grape-vine. Preference is given to the red cedar (Junipcrns Vir- 
giniana), for the reason, probably, that this tree furnishes most of 
the material for the nest. It may occasionally be found in a 
deciduous tree. The nest, which is globular in shape, varies 
from two to three hundred millimetres in diameter. As a rule, the 
cavity is situated nearer the top than the bottom, thus making the 
roof thinner than the floor. At a little distance the entrance can- 
not be seen, for its borders fall together after the entrance or exit 
of the animal. The material generally used for the nest is the 
soft, silky bark of the red cedar. Sometimes that of the grape- 
vine, or the inner bark of the chestnut, is intermixed." Mr. W. L. 
Scott, of Ottawa, Canada, tells me that outside nests of the Red 
Squirrel are common as far north as that place ; but it must be 
borne in mind that lower Ontario is Alleghanian in fauna, while 
the Adirondacks is Canadian. 


Gray Squirrel ; Black Squirrel. 

The Gray Squirrel has no liking for forests of coniferous ever- 
greens, and is, consequently, of extremely rare occurrence in the 
central area of the Adirondacks. He is common enough, however, 
in the hardwood groves along the borders of the region, varying in 
numbers from year to year according to the abundance or scarcity of 
the nut supply.* 

The immortal Humboldt, in his Ansiclitcn dcr Natnr, asks : " Who 
is there that does not feel himself differently affected beneath the 
embowering shade of the beechen grove, or on hills crowned with a 
few scattering pines, or in the flowering meadow where the breeze 
murmurs through the trembling foliage of the birch ? A feeling of 
melancholy, or of solemnity, or of light buoyant animation is in turn 
awakened by the contemplation of our native trees. This influence 
of the physical on the moral world this mysterious reaction of the 
sensuous on the ideal, gives to the study of nature, when considered 
from a higher point of view, a peculiar charm which has not hitherto 
been sufficiently recognized." f 

This meditation of Humboldt's leads me to suggest that causes 
which have exerted so marked an influence upon the dispersion, 
mental culture, and disposition of the various races of mankind have 

* For more than forty miles the valley of the Black River extends along, and parallel to, the 
western border of the Adirondack region, and the fact is of local interest that this river valley con- 
stitutes, throughout a great part of its course, the dividing line between the area inhabited and that 
uninhabited by the Gray Squirrel. While this animal is abundant in the hardwood groves west of 
the river, it is of rare or casual occurrence on the eastern side. Many hunters and guides who have 
spent almost their whole lives in the Wilderness tell me that they have never seen a Gray Squirrel 
in the interior of the Adirondacks. In the course of their irregular migrations, however, isolated 
stragglers do sometimes occur there. James Higby informs me that he saw one near Copper Lake 
many years ago, and another near the old Arnold clearing. In September and early October, 1882, 
they invaded the region in unusual numbers. About the middle of September, of that year, 
E. L. Sheppard caught one that was swimming across 2cl Lake, Fulton Chain, and a few days later 
one was seen in the water near the head of Big Moose Lake. Game Riggs caught one swimming 
in 4th Lake, Fulton Chain, about Sept. 25th ; C. Wood saw one on the outlet of this lake, Wayne 
Bissell another on 2d Lake, and Ned. Ball killed one between Moose River and the Forge. 

f Bohn's translation, 1850, p. 219. 



not been inoperative in determining the distribution of many of our 
lower animals. Indeed, when nearly related species, having similar 
habits, and subsisting in the main upon the same kinds of food, are 
found inhabiting contiguous areas, areas of equal altitude and sub- 
ject to identical climatic conditions, and we learn that these species 
are limited, so far as we can ascertain, solely by the character of the 
arboreous vegetation, we are forced to admit that influences other 
than those which have to do merely with the necessities of existence 
have played an important part in fixing the arbitrary and irregular 
boundaries of the places occupied by each. In the case of the present 
species it seems probable that the dark and sombre hues, the 
oppressive silence, and the imposing solitude of our evergreen 
forests impress it with a pervading sense of gloom and sadness 
against which its cheerful nature revolts. The red squirrel teems 
with such a superabundance of hilarity that he easily overcomes this 
feeling of oppression which his larger cousin is powerless to combat. 

In sparsely populated districts that have long been settled, one 
sometimes finds, half-hidden among the trees, a neglected but time- 
honored mansion, near which a row of stately elms, extending from 
some neighboring wood to distant fields, leads the eye past clumps 
of scattered butternuts, beneath whose gnarled arcl spreading 
branches groups of grazing cattle seek shelter from the noonday 
sun. Here, in early autumn, a few joyous Squirrels gather at break 
of day to feast upon the yet green nuts. Following the line of elms 
they leap from tree to tree or run upon the zig-zag fence beneath, 
fairly revelling with delight ; and long before the savory nuts are 
ripe, indeed when they have scarce attained their growth, the eager 
Squirrels haste to pluck them as they hang in heavy clusters from 
the boughs. While biting through the adhesive, staining velvet of 
the outer coat they sit perched upon their haunches, with a merry 
twinkle in the eye, but, not forgetting their exposed position, main- 
tain a prudent silence. 

Should some farmer's boy chance to pass near by, not a Squirrel 


is to be seen from where he walks, for each one, clinging to a verti- 
cal branch or limb, constantly shifts its position so that it always 
keeps out of sight on the opposite side. Everything about this 
breakfast is thoroughly enjoyed the early journey to the butter- 
nuts, the flying leaps from bough to bough amongst the summits of 
the lofty elms, the meal itself, and the bit of excitement attending the 
alarm and escape ; each contributes its part toward the pleasure of 
the occasion. The repast over, the Squirrels do not linger here but 
hurry to their homes within the grove. The slanting sunbeam has 
pierced but not dispelled the drop of pearly dew upon the waving 
grass, when they are already well upon the way. One auda- 
cious adventurer, more courageous than the rest, steals down yonder 
tottering cross-fence to the orchard, quickly picks an apple from an 
overhanging branch, and rejoins his comrades ere they reach the 
wood. This haven once attained all constraint is cast aside and the 
cautious, silent, and circumspect Squirrels of a moment ago become 
the heedless, noisy, rollicking fellows that they really are. While 
chasing one another about the tree -tops they sometimes clear a dis- 
tance of more than twenty feet (about 6 metres) in a single horizontal 
leap. And when at full speed they often stop short, clinging head 
downward to a smooth-barked beech, and utter their saucy, scolding 
cry qua-qua-qua-qua-a,qua-qua-qua-qua-a-a,qua-qua-qua-qua-qua- 
a-a, qua-a-a-a, qua-a-a-a-a, in an exasperating, impudent tone, 
keeping time, the while, with spasmodic contortions of the body and 
impertinent jerks and flourishes of the large and bushy tail. To 
observe their utter recklessness during these gambols one would 
suppose that nothing could be easier than to approach and shoot the 
entire troop. Never was man more mistaken. Despite their bois- 
terous manners their eyes are always open and they are ever on the 
alert. Let some one try to get within gunshot and observe the 
result. His very approach seems to render them invisible. Those 
that were near their holes have disappeared within, and the others 
are hiding behind the trees upon which they were sporting when the 


enemy appeared. As he advances they rotate slowly about the 
trunk, always keeping on the farther side, so that the body of the tree 
remains between them. Even if he knows that a Squirrel is on a 
certain tree it is doubtful if he gets a shot. A momentary glimpse 
of its ears or a part of its tail constitutes all he is likely to discover 
as he walks round the tree. 

While watching a bird I once noticed what seemed to be a little 
tuft of hair protruding from the side of an ash sapling near by. On 
going nearer, I perceived the object to be the tip of a Gray Squirrel's 
tail. The animal was clinging vertically to the trunk, hugging it so 
closely that this bit of hair was the only part visible from the ground 
beneath, though where he lay the trunk was not four inches in 
diameter. Not wanting the Squirrel, I fired at the bird, and to my 
astonishment the former came tumbling headlong to the ground, 

o o o 

almost at my very feet an illustration of the effect of terror upon a 
sensitive animal. He did not tarry long, however, but in a twinkling 
was off and up another tree. One summer, several years ago, I 
surprised a Gray Squirrel on the ground in the edge of an open field, 
and chased him up a large hemlock that stood by itself in the clear- 
ing. Imagine my surprise to see him run out on a limb, fully eighty 
feet high, and leap to the ground, striking more than fifty feet from 
the base of the tree. Before I could reach the spot he had disap- 
peared in the adjacent forest. 

In winter, when the trees and branches are coated with ice, I have 
several times seen these Squirrels fall nearly a hundred feet, landing 
in the snow, but never knew one to be injured by the accident. But 
at such times they usually proceed with great caution and do not 
attempt to make leaps of any great length. In fact, during the con- 
tinuance of extreme cold they do not venture out at all. My obser- 
vations on this point are very full, and extend over a period of years. 
In winters that follow good yields of nuts they are usually well-con- 
ditioned, and seldom appear, in any numbers, when the temperature 
is below -8 C. (17.6 F.). It must be remembered, however, that 


mild and open winters are likely to succeed "nut years" in this 
region, and that during these winters it is not common to have a 
continuance of very low temperature. The alternate winters, on the 
other hand, are generally severe. There are few if any nuts, and the 
Squirrels are none too fat when the heavy snows set in. They have 
laid up little or no provision in their holes in the trees, and conse- 
quently, since they do not hibernate for any great length of time, 
must often roam about in search of food when they would much 
prefer to remain coiled snugly in their nests. Under such circum- 
stances they frequently come out, during continued cold, when the 
thermometer stands at ten degrees below zero C. (14 F.), but not 
during storms. They are occasionally met with when it is still colder, 
and I have seen a few individuals come to a place where corn was 
kept for them when the temperature was -19 C. (-2.2 F.), but only 
on mild days during protracted periods of low temperature. In this 
respect they differ markedly from their cousins, the red squirrels. 

During the winters of deep snows and scarcity of food, my father 
has, for many years, kept a stock of corn and nuts within easy reach 
of the Squirrels, and but a short distance from the house. Knowing 
that they are always sure of finding a bountiful supply here, they 
repair to it with great regularity, coming daily except during stormy 
or very cold weather, often visiting it at times when their neighbors, 
in more remote portions of the wood, do not venture out at all. 
Sometimes as many as a dozen Grays and six or eight Blacks have 
been seen there at one time, running on the snow and feeding at the 

C!> O 

boxes and barrels within twenty feet (about 6 metres) from the 
dining-room window. While part of them remained on the boxes, 
others carried their nuts to a tree near by, eating one at a time and 
then returning for another. Some winters they became very tame, 
and while we were at breakfast inside, a few used to bring their nuts 
to the window and eat them there, perched on their haunches on the 
sill, with their handsome bushy tails cocked over their backs. When 
anyone went out of doors they commonly scampered off or ran up a 


tree, yet several often remained and would allow a near approach 
without manifesting alarm. They were extremely fond of music (in 
the most comprehensive sense of the term), and it affected them in a 
peculiar manner. Some were not only fascinated, but actually spell- 
bound, by the music-box or guitar. And one particularly weak- 
minded individual was so unrefined in his taste that if I advanced 
slowly, whistling " Just before the Battle, Mother" in as pathetic a 
tone as I could muster for the occasion, he would permit me even to 
stroke his back, sometimes expressing his pleasure by making a low 
purring sound. This was a Gray, and I several times approached and 
stroked him as above described. I once succeeded in o-ettino- near 

o o 

enough to a Black to touch him, whereupon he instantly came to his 
senses and fled. When listening to music they all acted in very 
much the same way. They always sat bolt upright, inclining a little 
forward (and if eating a nut were sure to drop it), letting the fore- 
paws hang listlessly over the breast, and, turning the head to one side 
in a bewildered sort of a way, assumed a most idiotic expression. 

Those who have observed the habits of this species in summer 
must have noticed their propensity for burying nuts just beneath the 
surface, in various parts of the woods. They do not, so far as I am 
aware, make a great accumulation in any one place, but dig a 
thousand little holes, plant a nut or two in each, scrape a few leaves 
over the spot and hurry off, as if afraid some one would discover the 
treasure. In winter this habit is almost equally marked, and the first 
thing a Squirrel thinks of after his hunger is satisfied is to secrete a 
portion of the food remaining at his disposal. In accomplishing this 
he tunnels into the snow in various directions, hiding some of the 
surplus provision in each excavation. Many persons who have 
observed this habit in summer regard it as an idle pastime, and ques- 
tion if the Squirrel ever finds the nuts again, knowing that he could 
never remember the exact positions of so many. But those who 
have kept tame Squirrels must have been struck with the remarkable 
certainty and quickness with which they detect the whereabouts of 


nuts that are hidden from sight. A Squirrel will often scratch and 
ofnaw at a ti^rht box or drawer that he has never seen before, if a 

o o 

few nuts happen to be in the bottom of it. His sense of smell is 
very acute, enabling him to detect the presence of a nut at some little 
distance*; hence, though he does not, of course, remember the exact 
spot where each one is buried under the leaves, he can, by moving 
carefully over the ground, discover a great many of them. 

In summer, and in winter when the temperature is above the freez- 
ing point, Gray Squirrels are out in greatest numbers early in the 
morning and in the latter part of the afternoon ; throughout the 
winter, except during thaws, they only appear for an hour or two in 
the warmest-part of the day; and in very cold or stormy weather, as 
previously stated, they do not venture abroad at all. 

This species is not nearly so plentiful along the outskirts of the 
Adirondacks as it was twelve or fifteen years ago, and it varies in 
abundance from year to year according to the condition of the nut 
crop. Beechnuts and butternuts are alone alluded to here because 
they are the prevailing nuts. All others are of such limited distribu- 
tion in the area under consideration that they are unworthy of 
mention. The nut yield is bountiful here, with great regularity, on 
-alternate years. This has been the case, without a single exception, 
for the past twelve years at least. My notes show that the beechnut 
crop was good in the autumns of 1871, 1873, 1875, 1877, 1879, 1881, 
1883, always on the odd years, while on the alternate seasons it 
failed. And strange as it may at first sight appear, Squirrels 
are usually most numerous during the summer and early autumn of 
those years when there are few or no nuts. The reason is this : 
when the yield is large there is a noticeable influx of Squirrels from 
distant parts, and they, together with those that were here at the 
time, winter well, having an abundance of food, and breed here the 
following spring. During the summer and early autumn a multitude 
of young, now nearly full grown, mingle with the parent stock. 
Hence ths species attains, at this time, its maximum in numbers' 


But this is the year when the nut crop is a failure. Therefore, as 
the fall advances and they find that there is a scarcity of provision 
for the winter, many of them migrate we know not where. Then 
come the October " Squirrel hunts ' -a disgrace to the State as well 
as to the thoughtless men and boys who participate in them and 
the number left to winter is deplorably small. 

As the abundance of the Gray Squirrel in winter is governed by 
the supply of beechnuts, so is the presence, at this season, of its 
assailant, the red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), 
determined by the same cause. I have elsewhere called attention to 
this fact, remarking that " with us a good Squirrel year is synonymous 
with a good year for Melanerpes, and vice versa." * Gray Squirrels, 
red-headed woodpeckers, and beechnuts were numerous during the 
winters of 1871-72, 1873-74, 1875-76, 1877-78, 1879-80, 1881-82, 
1883-84, while during the alternate years the Squirrels and nuts 
were scarce, and the woodpeckers altogether absent. 

Several years ago I published the following account of the way 
that these handsome birds sometimes harass the Squirrels : "In mid- 
winter (January, 1876) my attention was called, by the noise they 
made, to a pair of red-headed woodpeckers who were diving at some- 
thino- on one of the highest limbs of a large elm. A near approach 
showed the object of their malice to be a handsome Black Squirrel 
who had been unfortunate enough to excite their ire by climbing a 
tree in broad daylight. The Squirrel at first evaded their attacks 
from above by clinging to the under surface of the limb, and dodged 
their lateral shoots by a quick side shift, but this was temporary. 
The woodpeckers, realizing that they were not tormenting the Squir- 
rel to their full satisfaction, alighted for a brief council, during 
which the Squirrel took occasion to commence a hasty retreat. But 
the birds were at him in an instant, this time changing- their tactics ; 

^j <j 

both dove together, the one following closely behind the other, so 
that as the Squirrel dodged the first he was sure to be struck by the 

* Forest and Stream, Vol. XVII, No. 18, Dec. i, 1881, p. 347. 


second. The blows from their hard bills were so severe and so 
painful that the poor Squirrel had not been struck half a dozen times 
when he let go his hold and fell to the ground, but was off and up 
another tree before I could reach the spot. I witnessed a similar 
attack upon a Gray Squirrel (color-variety of the same species) last 
August, but this time the Squirrel succeeded in getting into a hollow 
limb. The time of year at which the above instances occurred 
precludes the possibility that the cause of the difficulty arose from an 
intrusion on the nesting-ground of the woodpeckers, for the first took 
place in midwinter, and the second after the young were fully fledged 
and had left the nest. Neither is it at all likely that the trouble was 
due to an old grudge which mio-ht have arisen from a habit on the 

*_> *T> O 

part of the Squirrel, of robbing the woodpeckers of their eggs, for 
the size of the animal is such as to prevent his ready entrance into 
the woodpecker's hole, and should he even succeed in getting in, he 
would doubtless pay the penalty with his eyes, if not his life." * At 
this time I was in ignorance of the cause of enmity between them, 
but was soon after enlightened on this point. While much the 
larger part of the beechnut crop falls to the ground after the first hard 
frosts, a few nuts remain on the trees throughout the winter. These 
the woodpeckers consider as their exclusive property, assailing and 
punishing all rivals with a valor, persistence, and severity, astonish- 
ing to behold. Now the Squirrels find it much more conve- 
nient to procure the nuts that still cling to the branches than to dig 
down through the snow in search of those that lie buried beneath. 


Therefore, it often happens that the woodpeckers, on coming to the 
grove to feed, discover that the Squirrels are there before them, 
stealing the scattered nuts. Their wrath knows no bounds, and they 
attack the intruders with such unmistakable earnestness and effi- 
ciency that the latter, unable to defend themselves, are glad of any 
haven to which they may escape. During the last five years I have 
witnessed these encounters over and over again, and am convinced 

* Bull. Nutt. Omith. Club, Vol. Ill, No. 3, July, 1878, pp. 125-126. 


that the misunderstanding is wholly in regard to the possession of the 
nuts. The red-headed is the only species of woodpecker that I 
have seen quarrel with the Gray Squirrel. 

On the 7th of November, 1879, I witnessed an exciting skirmish 
between a goshawk and a Gray Squirrel. The hawk clove repeatedly 
for the Squirrel, and as often did the latter evade him by quickly 
sliding around the trunk. He then chippered and scolded and shook 
his tail in the most aggravating manner imaginable. The hawk was 
much enraged, but finding himself unable to capture the object of 
his pursuit, finally alighted to wait till the Squirrel should venture 
on a limb a proceeding which the latter wisely showed no inclina- 
tion to attempt. I put an end to the affair by shooting the hawk. 
Audubon and Bachman state that the red-tailed hawks hunt them in 
pairs, thus rendering the capture of the helpless animal certain and 

The minor migratory movements of this species occur with more 
or less regularity from year to year, but on so small a scale as to 
escape general notice. They must not be confounded with the great 
migrations, not rare in former times, when these animals, actuated by 
some unknown influence, congregated in vast armies and moved over 
the land, crossing open prairies, climbing rugged mountains, and 
swimming lakes and rivers that lay in their path. Though hundreds, 
and sometimes thousands, perished by the way, the multitude moved 
on, devouring the nuts that grew in the forests through which they 
passed, and devastating the grain fields of the farmer along the route. 
Though these remarkable expeditions have been known and com- 
mented upon for many years, yet our knowledge of them is limited 
almost to the recognition of the fact of their existence. Scarcity of 
food very probably gives rise to the disquieting impulse that prompts 
them to leave their homes, but the true motives . that operate in 
drawing them together, and in determining the direction and distance 
of their journeys, are as little understood to-day as they were before 
the discovery of the continent on which they dwell. 


In the year 1749 they invaded Pennsylvania in such vast hosts as 
to endanger the crops of the entire inhabited portion of the State, 
and a reward of three pence a head was offered for their destruction. 
This necessitated the payment of eight thousand pounds sterling (six 
hundred and forty thousand individuals having been killed), which so 
depleted the treasury that the premium was decreased one-half. 
Commenting upon this statement Pennant observed: "How im- 
proved must the state of the Americans then be, in thirty-five 
years, to wage an expensive and successful war against its parent 
country, which before could not bear the charges of clearing the 
provinces from the ravages of these insignificant animals! "* 

Since nearly all parts of our great country have become popu- 
lated, since thousands of square miles of forests have been hewn 
down, and the lands tilled and made to yield to the wants of man, 
there has been such a vast decrease in the numbers of these animals 
that it is doubtful if another great migration will ever be recorded. 
It was their enormous abundance in former times, and the extensive 
depredations which they committed in the autumn, that caused the 
inhabitants to organize for their destruction. Robert Munro, in 
"A Description of the Genesee Country," published in 1804, states 
that in the western part of New York, "Squirrels are so numerous in 
some years as considerably to injure corn ; and upwards of 2000 of 
them have sometimes been killed in a day, which is occasionally ap- 
pointed for that purpose by the inhabitants ; the most common kinds 
of them are the black, and the red ; the grey coloured being very 
scarce." f Aside from the constant warfare which every man 
waged against those upon his own premises, there came to be 
established a much more effective system of extermination. Certain 
days were set apart, and every male person capable of carrying 
a gun, and who owned or could borrow one to carry, was sup- 
posed to join in the chase. Captains were appointed, sides 

* Pennant's Arctic Zoology, Vol. I, 1792, p. 136. 

f Documentary History of New York, Vol. II, p. 1175. 


chosen, and everything was in readiness the night before. At 
daybreak the hunt commenced, and it ended only with the 
setting of the sun. Then the participants gathered at some ren- 
dezvous previously agreed upon, where a bountiful supper was in 
waiting. So many Squirrels had been killed that the hunters could 
not possibly carry them, hence the tails alone were preserved. These 
were then counted in order to ascertain which side had killed the 
greater number, the defeated party meeting the expense of the ban- 
quet. This was the "Squirrel hunt" of our forefathers. But the 
time when these animals could be ranked among the enemies of the 
farmer has long since passed away, probably never to return. And 
yet, for some unaccountable reason, the "Squirrel hunts "still con- 
tinue in name at least but they have degenerated into the most 
despicable of "pot-hunts." Not only are the Squirrels slain wher- 
ever found, though innocent of the deeds for which they were origi- 
nally persecuted, but large numbers of our insectivorous birds are 
likewise destroyed, and for no other reason than because each counts 
a certain tally in the reckoning that determines the victorious party ! 
The Gray Squirrel is easily tamed, if captured early enough, and 
beino- one of the most intelligent of our native mammals, makes a 

o o 

desirable pet, and may be allowed entire freedom of movement. The 
main objection to it is its tendency to gnaw objects about the 

In the Adirondack region its nest is invariably concealed within 
the hollow of some tree or limb, while in more temperate quarters it 
is commonly built on the outside, like that of the crow, which it 
closely resembles, and is placed either in a fork or at the point where 
a large branch leaves the trunk. Audubon and Bachman, and other 
writers, speak of these latter as " summer nests," affirming that the 
Squirrels spend the winter and bring forth their young in the hollows 
of trees. My experience proves the incorrectness of this statement, 
in certain localities at least ; for, in southern Connecticut, in the 
southern part of New York State (Westchester County), and in 


northern New Jersey, I have myself taken more than a hundred 
young from these outside nests. 

A number found at Elizabeth, New Jersey, during March and the 
early part of April, 1872, contained young. They were, according 
to my note book, " composed of sticks, lined with the inner bark of 
trees and vines, mixed with other soft substances. They are entirely 
covered over above, the entrance being on one side. From the 
ground below they cannot be distinguished from crows' nests." In 
many instances dead leaves enter largely into their composition. 

The number of young produced at a birth varies from three to five, 
exceptional litters containing six They are born in a very diminu- 
tive and helpless condition, wholly devoid of hair, and with the eyes 
not yet open. They usually remain in the nest fully two months, 
and do not shift for themselves till some time later. On the iQth of 
May, 1877, Mr. Walter R. Nichols and I took three half-grown 
young from a nest at Brandford, Connecticut. It so happened at the 
time that Mr. Nichols had a cat which had recently given birth to a 
kitten. The kitten we destroyed, and in its stead placed one of the 
Squirrels. Presently the cat returned to the barn, eyed the stranger 
suspiciously for a moment, and then entered the nest. The young 
Squirrel, who had now been several hours away from his mother and 
was evidently quite hungry, approached the cat in the most familiar 
manner possible. After a little hesitation the latter lay down beside 
the new comer, who lost no time in discovering the object of his 
desire, and forthwith commenced to nurse, keeping it up with an 
energy and perseverance that must have proved as satisfactory to the 
cat as a whole litter of kittens. From this time on the two were the 
most inseparable of friends ; in fact, the cat seemed quite pleased 
with the change and no doubt considered the personal appearance of 
her new charge, who was now well formed and possessed a most 
extraordinary tail, a great improvement on that of her own ill-shaped 
offspring. The Squirrel grew and thrived under the devoted atten- 


tion of its foster mother, and the pair soon became the centre of 
attraction in the neighborhood. 

It is stated by Audubon and Bachinan that the young- are brought 
forth in May and June, which statement is at least two months out 
of the way. Even in this northern region the period when the impor- 
tant event takes place is rarely later than the first of April, and 
is frequently in March. The cause of their error, however, is not 
hard to explain ; for if they were unacquainted with the very immature 
condition of the young at birth, and were ignorant of the time required 
to attain full growth, they might easily have made the mistake of 
considering young found in the nest in June to be only a few weeks 
from birth, when in reality they were two or three months old. In 
many localities south and west of the Adirondacks the Gray Squirrel 
commonly has two litters in a season, the second usually being born 
in September or October. 

In closing the biography of this interesting species it seems hardly 
necessary to remark that the Black and Gray Squirrels are identical, 
both color varieties bein^ sometimes found in the same litter.* 


Fifteen years ago the two forms were about equally abundant along 
the western border of the region under consideration ; but the Black 


has gradually become less and less common, till now it may almost be 
regarded as one of our rarer mammals. However, it is still abundant 


in a number of places bordering Lake Ontario, both in this State and 
in Canada. 


Fox Squirrel. 

The Fox Squirrel cannot at present be regarded as other than a 
rare or accidental straggler in the Adirondack region. So far as 
I am aware, the only specimen taken here of late was killed by 

* The case has a well-known parallel in our common mottled owl, in which species both red and 
gray plumages are occasionally met with in the same nest. 


Oliver B. Lockhart at Lake George, Warren Count)-, in 1872 or 
1873. ^ r - W- W- Lockhart saw another near the same place at 
about the same time.* 

Formerly, the species was found in many parts of the State. In 
the year 1853 a specimen was presented to the State Cabinet of 
Natural History by Isaac B. Lottridge, who shot it at Hoosic, in 
Rensselaer County. f Two other specimens (male and female) 
were afterwards presented to the State Cabinet by Mr. Lottridge. 
Both " were taken in Rensselaer County, New York, in the spring 

of 1854." t 

Dr. J. Bachman, writing in 1839, speaks thus of this animal : 

"In the northern part of New York it is exceedingly rare, as I only 
saw two pair during fifteen years of close observation. In the 
lower part of that State, however, it appears to be more common, 
as I recently received several specimens procured in the County of 

Cliipinitnk ; Ground Squirrel ; Striped Squirrel ; Chipping Squirrel. 

The Chipmunk or Ground Squirrel is always present in greater 
or less numbers in some parts of the Adirondacks. It is a migra- 
tory animal and is exceedingly abundant some years, while during 
others it is scarcely seen at all, the difference being dependent upon 
the quantity of the food-supply. 

The Striped Squirrel feeds upon a variety of nuts and roots, 

* Since the above was written I have learned, through Dr. A. K. Fisher, that a caged Fox 
Squirrel escaped, near the southern end of Lake George, previous to the date of killing of Mr. 
Lockhart's specimen. Hence it is possible, though I think hardly probable, that the .specimen in 
question was imported. 

f Seventh Annual Report of the Regents of the University on the Condition of the State Cabi- 
net of Natural History, 1854, p. 15. 

\ Eighth Annual Report on the Condition of the State Cabinet, 1855, p. 15. 

Monograph of the Genus Sciurus. Charlesworth's Magazine of Natural History, Vol. Ill, 
1839, p. 161. 


and is fond of corn and several kinds of grain. It also eats the 
larvae of certain insects. In this region the beechnut constitutes 


its staple commodity, as it does that of all our squirrels, and 
since this nut is produced in large quantity each alternate year, 
we are able to predict with considerable certainty the periods 
when the Chipmunk will be abundant. For wherever, in autumn, 
this animal finds a sufficient supply of nuts he is sure to remain 
until the following summer. Here, in beechnut years, the fore- 
runners of the great migration arrive in September, and by the 
first week in October the woods literally swarm with them. Find- 
ing an abundance of food they immediately establish themselves 
for the winter, and begin at once to hoard up large stores. They 
are the least hardy of our squirrels, commonly going into winter 
quarters before the middle of November, and rarely appearing 
again in any numbers till the warm sun, in March or April, has 
caused plots of bare ground to appear between the snow-banks. 
Early thaws sometimes bring them out in February ; and after 
having once emerged, they often make little excursions over the 
snow during pleasant days, though the temperature may be several 
degrees below freezing. In running from tree to tree, even when 
not pursued, the length of their bound varies from twenty-five to 
thirty-four inches (635 to 863 mm.), a long leap for so small an 
animal. The season of spring is occupied with the duties of rear- 
ing the young, which, before June, are old enough to leave the nest. 
At this time the species attains its maximum in numbers, the 
young and old together inhabiting all parts of the woodland. Fore- 
seeing that the nut crop will fail (this being the even year), they 
commonly emigrate in July and do not again appear till September 
or October of the ensuing year. 

Briefly, then (leaving out of consideration the small number 
of resident individuals, and the migrants that sometimes pass 
through on their way to distant parts), we find that Chipmunks 
reach the Adirondack region during September or October of the 


odd years (nut years), remaining till the following July. They 
then depart and are not seen again till the autumn of the next year. 
Hence they are here about ten months and absent about fourteen 
months, the period of greatest abundance being in June of the 
even years (when there are no nuts). 

They are most industrious creatures, and, though small, lay up 
an astonishingly large supply of food. Audubon and Bachman, 
who once dug out a nest occupied by four Chipmunks, speak thus 
of the larder : " There was about a gill of wheat and buckwheat in 
the nest ; but in the galleries we afterwards dug out, we obtained 
about a quart of the beaked hazel nuts ( Cory /us restrains}, nearly 
a peck of acorns, some grains of Indian corn, about two quarts of 
buckwheat, and a very small quantity of grass seeds." * 

In addition to their store-houses, they frequently, like the gray 
squirrel, make little caches, burying here and there beneath the 
leaves the contents of their cheek-pouches. Mr. Ira Sayles thus 
graphically describes this habit : 

" I lately noticed in my garden a bright-eyed Chipmunk, Sciurus 
striatus, advancing along a line directly towards me. He came 
briskly forward, without deviating a hair's breadth to the right or 
the left, until within two feet of me ; then turned square towards my 
left his right and went about three feet or less. Here he paused 
a moment and gave a sharp look all around him, as if to detect 
any lurking spy on his movements. ( His distended cheeks revealed 
his business : he had been out foraging.) He now put his nose to 
the ground, and, aiding this member with both forepaws, thrust 
his head and shoulders clown through the dry leaves and soft muck, 
half burying himself in an instant. 

" At first, I thought him after the bulb of an Erythronium, that 
grew directly in front of his face and about three inches from it. I 
was the more confirmed in this supposition, by the shaking of the 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, p. 70. 



" Presently, however, he became comparatively quiet. In this 
state he remained, possibly, half a minute. He then commenced 
a vigorous action, as if digging deeper ; but I noticed that he did 
not get deeper ; on the contrary, he was gradually backing out. I 
was surprised that, in all his apparent hard work (he worked like a 
man on a wager) he threw back no dirt. But this vigorous labor 
could not last long. He was very soon completely above ground ; 
and then became manifest the object of his earnest work : he was 
refilling the hole he had made, and repacking the dirt and leaves 
he had disturbed. Nor was he content with simply refilling and 
repacking the hole. With his two little hand-like feet he patted 
the surface, and so exactly replaced the leaves that, when he had 
completed his task, my eye could detect not the slightest difference 
between the surface he had so cunningly manipulated, and that 
surrounding it. Having completed his task, he raised himself into 
a sitting posture, looked with a very satisfied air, and then silently 
dodged off into a bush-heap, some ten feet distant. Here he 
ventured to stop, and set up a triumphant ' chip ! chip ! chip ! ' 

" It was now my turn to dig, in order to discover the little 
miser's treasures. I gently removed enough of the leaves and fine 
muck to expose his hoard half a pint of buttercup seeds, Ranun- 
culus acris." * 

On the western side of the Adirondack region the Chipmunk 
feeds largely upon the tuberous roots of the dwarf ginseng or 
ground-nut (Aralia tri folia}, and the yellow grain-like tubers of 
the unspurred dicentra or squirrel corn (Dicentra Canadensis). 
The winged seeds of the maple can also be ranked among his staple 
articles of diet. In June of the present year (1884), Mr. W. E. 
Bryant shot a Chipmunk, in Lewis County, whose cheek-pouches 
contained a number of larvae and pupae of insects. 

Of the six species of squirrels known to occur in the Adirondacks, 
the present is the only one belonging to the group of ground 

* American Naturalist, Vol. IV, No. 4, June, 1870, p. 249. 


squirrels, a group that is largely represented in our western States 
and Territories. The Chipmunk establishes his head-quarters in 
some log or stump, or in a hole excavated by himself in the earth, 
generally among the roots of a tree. He is partial to brush-heaps, 
wood-piles, stonewalls, rail fences, accumulations of old rubbish, and 
other places that afford him a pretty certain escape, and at the 
same time enable him to see what is transpiring outside. For, 
though by no means wary, he delights in these loosely sheltered 
hiding-places where he can whisk in and out at will, peep unobserv- 
ed at passers-by, and dart back when prudence demands. If sud- 
denly surprised he utters a sharp c/iip'-per, r, r, r, and makes a 
quick dash for his retreat, which is no sooner reached than, simul- 
taneously with the disappearance of his tail, out pops his head, 
his keen dark eyes gazing intently at the source of alarm. If not 
pursued farther he is very apt to advance toward the supposed 
enemy, betraying his excitement by a series of nervous starts and 
precipitous retreats, till finally, making a bold rush, he dashes by 
the object of his dread and in another instant is peering out from 
a hole beneath the roots of a neighboring tree. 

Though a very inquisitive creature, this habit does not seem to 
be attributable to curiosity alone, but rather to the same reckless 
foolhardiness that prompts the small boy to cross and recross the 
road in front of a swiftly advancing carriage or locomotive. 

With us the Chipmunk is not ordinarily given to climbing trees. 
But when at play he often runs part way up the trunks, and when 
pursued by man or clog and unable to reach his hole, he does not 
hesitate to take refuge in the topmost branches. Still, he is ill at 
ease there, apparently becoming giddy on attaining a little height, 
and often commences the descent while his pursuers are yet watch- 
ing him from the ground beneath. This unfortunate habit has cost 
many a Chipmunk his life, and gave origin, in my younger days, 
to an effective method of hunting them. With the aid of a small 
dog the poor animal was readily " treed," and the clog soon learned 


to watch one side of the tree while the boy guarded the other. 
Presently the affrighted and giddy Chipmunk, head downward, 
would commence to descend, circling around the trunk. Harassed 
on whichever side of the tree he appeared he usually lost his head 
and soon came rushing toward the ground, when he was either 
knocked over with a stick, or seized by the dog. 

It occasionally happens that Chipmunks are met with that do 
not show this aversion to tree climbing, particularly when collect- 
ing food for their hoards. The trail from Big Moose Lake to 
West Pond crosses a low beech ridge whose northern exposure 
slopes gradually to the lake. Here, during the latter part of 
October and early November, 1881 (beechnut year), Chipmunks 
abounded. Here also Dr. A. K. Fisher and the writer, seated upon 
a half-decayed log, observed their actions unheeded. They were 
very busy. Some were gathering the nuts and crowding them into 
their over-distended cheek-pouches ; others were carrying their 
loads to the store-houses in the ridge ; whilst others still, returning 
for more, were bounding lightly over the fallen leaves and play- 
fully chasing one another among the logs and brushwood that 
lay upon the ground. A few, more venturesome than the rest, 
were not content to gather the nuts that frost and wind had strewn 
upon the earth, but essayed to climb and pick them from the 
boughs. Two were seen at one time high up in the trees, and 
one in particular was observed making regular journeys from his 
hole in the side-hill to the uppermost branches of a beech fully 
sixty feet (over 18 metres) in height. He seemed as much at 
ease here as would any of our arboreal squirrels, but we noticed 
that he never tried to leap from limb to limb. 

The Chipmunk is such a beautiful, graceful, active, and seem- 
ingly confiding animal in the wild state, that he would naturally 
be expected to become one of the most charming of pets. Experi- 
ence, however, has not confirmed this supposition. Most writers, 
as well as myself, have found him morose and uninteresting in 


confinement, and altogether too fond of biting hj s captor's finders 
on insufficient provocation. It is proper to state, however, that 
the very young have not, to my knowledge, been cagecl, and I in- 
cline to the belief that they would well repay one for the care be- 
stowed upon them. 

In the American Naturalist for March, 1870 ('p. 58), Mr. A. J. 
Cook, of Lansing, Michigan, states that a Chipmunk was observed 
"busily nibbling at a snake that had been recently killed. He 
could hardly be driven away, and soon returned to his feast when 
his tormentors had withdrawn a short distance." 

Thomas Pennant says of this species : " During the mayz harvest, 
these squirrels are very busy in biting off the ears, and filling their 
mouths so full with the corn that their cheeks are quite distended. 
It is observable, that they give great preference to certain food ; 
for if, after filling their mouths with rye, they happen to meet with 
wheat, they fling away the first, that they may indulge in the 
last." * 

John Josselyn, writing in 1675 of the animals of New England, 
called the Chipmunk " mouse-squirril ", and said of it : " The 
mouse-squirril is hardly so big as a Rat, streak'd on both sides 
with black and red streaks, they are mischievous vermine destroying 
abundance of Corn both in the field and in the house, where they 
will enaw holes into Chests, and tear clothes both linnen and 


wollen, and are notable nut-gathers in August ; when hasel and 
filbert nuts are ripe you may see upon every Nut-tree as many 
mouse-squirrils as leaves ; So that the nuts are gone in a trice, 
which they convey to their Drays or Nests." f 

* Synopsis of (Quadrupeds. 1771, p. 289. 

| Two Voyages to New England. Boston reprint, p. 69. 


ARCTOMYS MONAX (Linn.) Schreber. 

Woodchuck; Marmot. 

The Woodchuck delights in the open meadows and rocky hill- 
sides that mark the possessions of the farmer, but has no love for 
the extensive evergreen forests that exist in districts remote from 
civilization. He is, therefore, of rare occurrence within the proper 
limits of the Adirondacks, though he has been found, sparingly, in 
the remotest parts of the Wilderness.* In the cultivated area 
surrounding the Adirondacks he is very abundant, and often 
proves a serious annoyance to the farmer. 

He is a strict vegetarian, feeding chiefly upon clover and grass. 
Only in rare instances does he enter the garden, and were it not 
for the size of his holes he could hardly be regarded as an enemy 
to the agriculturist. 

With us, the Woodchuck commonly lives in extensive burrows, 
excavated by himself, though he sometimes takes up his abode in 
rocky ledges, and in the hollow roots of large trees. During the 
summer season the greater number live in the open fields, gener- 
ally selecting good meadows where they are sure to be surrounded 
with a luxuriant growth of rich grass or clover, so that they can 
procure an abundance of the best of food without exposing them- 
selves to the danger of wandering far from their holes. As the 
season for going into winter-quarters draws near, many of them 
retire to the groves and borders of woods near by and take posses- 
sion of other burrows which they occupy till late in the following 
spring. Some, indeed, leave the meadows immediately after the 

* To cite a few cases : June I2th, 1883, I saw a large Woodchuck in the Brown's Tract road 
near the Hellgate Lakes ; and later, on the same day, saw another between Third and Fourth 
Lakes of the Fulton Chain. I have also seen their holes between Upper and Lower Saranac 
Lakes, and in the side of a knoll between Morse Lake and Second Lake of North Branch, in which 
latter place E. L. Sheppard caught one in February or March, 1880. James Higby tells me that 
in the early part of July, 1878, he almost stepped on a full-grown and very fat Woodchuck on the 
portage between Seventh and Eighth Lakes, Fulton Chain. 


hay is cut in July, while there are a few that never abandon their 
forest homes. But few reside permanently in the open fields.* 

The Woodchuck is our most remarkable example of a hibernating 
mammal. He lays up no store of provision, but remains dormant 
throughout the winter. Neither temperature nor quantity of food 
at hand has to do with the beginning of his voluntary seclusion. 

The first copious rains that fall after haying is over cause fresh 
green grass to spring up anew upon the meadows. This second crop, 
termed rowen or aftermath, usually attains a luxuriant growth by 
the latter part of August. In many places it consists largely of 
red clover (Trifoliiun pratense), the favorite food of the Wood- 
chuck. And this animal eats so much during the month previous 
to his withdrawal into the earth that he becomes .exceedingly fat, 
and proportionally inert, and is therefore in excellent condition for 
hibernating-. Alon^r the western border of the Adirondacks he 

o o 

usually goes into winter-quarters between the i8th and 25th of 
September, not to reappear till the middle or latter part of March. 
It is indeed a curious coincidence that the limits of the dormant 
state should so closely correspond with the periods of the equi- 
noxes. In nine cases out of ten he disappears, with astonishing 
precision, within a few days of the autumnal equinox, and remains 
under ground till about the time the sun cuts the plane of the 
equator at the vernal equinox, f 

* It may not be amiss toacquiint my readers with the reasons that lead me to believe that the 
majority of our Wooclchucks desert the meadows in autumn and hibernate in burrows in the woods. 
There are two principal facts, either of which is sufficient, in my opinion, to establish the existence 
of this habit. First : As will be hereafter sh nvn. Wooclchucks, in this region, com; out from thei r 
burrows in early spring two or three weeks before the disappearance of the sno\v, and may easily 
be tracked to their holes. Now it has been my experience (an experience covering at least fifteen 
years) that fully ()') per cent, of tho.e that appear before the snow goes in spring, come from holes 
in the woods. Second : In the fall of the year I have opened a number of meadow burrows, 
which I knew were inhabited up to a week of the time when the animals went into winter- 
quarters in September, and almost without exception such burrows have been found to be 

f To this rule there are, of course, exceptions, but they are not sufficiently frequent to in any 
way invalidate the accuracy of the above general statement. During very warm weather it some- 
times happens that a Woodchuck maybe seen sunning himself at the mouth of his hole for an hour 
or two in the hottest part of the afternoon as late as the first of October, but such instances are 


The remarkable circumstance has already been noticed that the 
Woodchuck often retires to winter-quarters when surrounded by 
an abundance of food, and during the continuance of fine warm 
weather ; but still more surprising is the fact that he generally 
emerges from his hole and tunnels to the surface while the ground 
is buried in snow to the depth of several feet, and when no green 
thing is to be found upon which he can feed. He not only comes to 
the surface, but makes long journeys in various directions over the 
snow-covered land, and is apt to continue these apparently aimless 
pilgrimages night after night until the fast-melting snow enables him 
to reach the much-coveted grass, which has been kept fresh and 
green in places by its heavy covering. 

The Hon. Daniel Wadsworth, of Hartford, Connecticut, once 
kept a Woodchuck alive for upwards of two years, and furnished 
Audubon and Bachman with the following interesting account of 
its hibernation : " Winter coming on, the box was placed in a warm 
corner, and the Woodchuck went into it, arranged its bed with care, 
and became torpid. Some six weeks having passed without its 
appearing, or having received any food ; I had it taken out of the 
box, and brought into the parlour ; it was inanimate, and as round 
as a ball, its nose being buried as it were in the lower part of its 
abdomen, and covered by its tail it was rolled over the carpet 
many times, but without effecting any apparent change in its 
lethargic condition, and being desirous to push the experiment as 
far as is in my power, I laid it close to the fire, and having ordered 
my dog to lie clown by it, placed the Wood-Chuck in the dog's lap. 
In about half an hour my pet slowly unrolled itself, raised its nose 
from the carpet, looked around for a few minutes, and then slowly 
crawled away from the dog, moving about the room as if in search 
of its own bed ! I took it up, and had it carried down stairs and 

rare. In the early springs that sometimes follow exceptionally mild winters, Woodchucks occa- 
sionally appear in February, but re-enter their burrows and again become dormant if the tempera- 
ture suddenly falls. In Southern New England they commonly remain out till late in October, and 
I have seen them in the Connecticut Valley even in November. 


placed again in its box, where it went to sleep, as soundly as ever, 
until spring made its appearance. That season advancing, and 
the trees showing their leaves, the Wood-Chuck became as brisk 
and gentle as could be desired, and was frequently brought into 
the parlour. The succeeding winter this animal evinced the same 
dispositions, and never appeared to suffer by its long sleep." * 

In Rensselaer County in this State, during the summer of 1814, 
Dr. Bachman marked a burrow that he knew to be inhabited by a 
pair of Woodchucks. Early in November he had it opened 
and found the animals lying close together in a nest of dry 
grass about twenty-five feet (7.62 metres) from the entrance. 
" They were each rolled up," he writes, " and looked somewhat 
like two misshapen balls of hair, and were perfectly dormant." f 

In hibernation the temperature of the animal approximates that 
of the surrounding atmosphere, the heart's action slackens, and 
respiration can only be detected by means of delicate instruments 
devised for the purpose. This latter fact was known to Spallan- 
zani nearly a hundred years ago, for he wrote to Senebier : " You 
will remember about my Marmot which was so exceedingly lethar- 
gic in the severe winter of 1795 ; during that time I held him in 
carbonic acid gas for four hours, the thermometer marking -12, he 
continued to live in this o-as which is the most deacllv of all 

O - 

at least a rat and a bird that I placed with him perished in an 

It is well to observe that different animals exhibit in different 
degrees the physiological process of hibernation ; and that this 
fact is amply illustrated by the representatives of the family to 
which the present species belongs. Animals that are able to pro- 
cure subsistence in the winter season, and those that lay up large 
stores in their nests, do not sleep so continuously, and their leth- 
argy is not so profound as in the case of those species that are 


* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, pp. 20-21. 
f Ibid., p. ?.?.. 


wholly cut off from food during this period. Thus the gray squir- 
rel, beinuf able to find a certain amount of sustenance when the 


ground is covered with snow, remains dormant during severe cold 
only ; and the chipmunk, which lays up a great store of provision, 
frequently awakes to eat, and is at all times easily aroused ; while 
the Woodchuck, whose food is of such a nature that he can neither 
gather a supply for winter's use, nor find any were he to go in 
search of it, must needs sleep long and soundly or starve. 

The Woodchuck and the flying squirrel occupy the two extremes 
of the family to which both belong, while the ground squirrels and 
spermophiles hold intermediate positions. The flying squirrel is 
the most highly specialized form, showing the most perfect adapta- 
tion of structure to habit ; while the Woodchuck must at present 
be regarded as the most generalized type of the living members of 
the group. These animals are so widely different that, taken 
alone, they would naturally be regarded as pertaining to separate 
families ; but a careful study of the numerous intermediate forms 
not only proves this view to be incorrect, but also shows that the 
gradation of connecting species is so complete that it is even diffi- 
cult, in many cases, to draw the line between genera. 

The Woodchuck lacks the grace and agility of the arboreal 
squirrels, but his heavy body and powerful paws are well adapted 
to his terrestrial mode of life. Both animals are modified, but to 
widely different ends. 

Woodchucks are both nocturnal and diurnal, the periods of feed- 
ing being determined, in a general way, by the time of the year, 
the weather, and the proximity and nature of enemies. In summer, 
throughout the farming districts, they commonly leave their bur- 
rows early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and during moon- 
light nights ; but may sometimes be found abroad at all hours. As 
autumn approaches, and they become more and more fat and sleepy, 
they usually appear only in fine weather, and then but for a few 
hours in the hottest part of the afternoon. 


In localities where they are much hunted they become wary and 
difficult of approach. Their hearing- is so acute that the}- take 
alarm at sounds which escape our observation altogether. When 
feeding or otherwise occupied they frequently stop to listen, sitting 
bolt upright with the head inclined forward and the fore legs hang- 
ing down over the breast. If a suspicious noise is heard and a 
man or dog can be discerned in the distance, they are apt to pre- 
cipitate themselves into their holes, not to emerge again till 
sufficient time has elapsed to discourage the most enthusiastic and 
patient of hunters who may be waiting for a shot. However, when 
seen in an open field they may generally be stalked by a very 
simple artifice. They seem to be wholly unacquainted with man 
except in the erect or semi-erect posture. Taking advantage of 
this fact, the hunter has merely to prostrate himself at full length 
upon the ground and crawl slowly till within easy rifle range of the 
astonished beast, which, seeing little save the top of the man's hat, 
and curious to see more, often stands erect at the mouth of his 
burrow, converting himself into a target that no marksman could fail 
to hit. When a Woodchuck, seeing a man approach, withdraws 
into his hole, he does not always retreat immediately to its inner- 
most recesses, but sometimes tarries near the mouth to await 
developments. The hunter, availing himself of the knowledge of 
this fact, proceeds deliberately till within range, throws himself 
upon the ground and utters a sharp whistle, when, not infrequently, 
the animal's head will be seen to pop up inquiringly from its hole. 

Woodchucks live singly or in pairs, the young as a rule remain- 
ing with their parents only through the first few months. In the 
latter part of the summer they usually begin to shift for themselves, 
and in early autumn they may often be met with in the fields and 
forests far from their holes. They now take refuge in stone walls, 
hollow logs, and even in hollow trees when there is a sufficiently 
large opening near the ground. It is not long before each has 
fixed upon a spot agreeable to his individual fancy, where he at 


once commences to establish a home. The diversity of taste 
exercised in this selection is hardly outdone by our own idio- 
syncrasies in the same field. 

Some evince a love for home and take up their abodes in the 
very cloor-yards of their parents ; while others, impelled by a desire 
to see more of the world, wander far and wide before settling down 
to the sober task of excavating their holes. Some, indeed, never 
give themselves this trouble, but merely take possession of the de- 
serted burrows of their ancestors, where a small amount of labor 
is all that is necessary to render the easily acquired, though some- 
what musty apartments habitable. Woodchucks' holes are not all 
alike. There are two principal types : the first slopes at a mod- 
erate anofle from the surface and has a mound of dirt near its 


entrance ; * the other is more or less vertical for several feet 
(often a metre or more) immediately below the surface, and no 
loose "earth can be found in its neighborhood. The latter are usu- 
ally smaller than the others and several are often clustered about 
one of the large family burrows, though they are occasionally 
isolated. If the surface opening is in a meadow, the hole through 
the sod is apt to be sharp cut and more or less circular in outline. 
Intermediate forms are sometimes met with, and many of these 
are in time converted into primary burrows. 

The galleries do not conform to any definite or uniform pattern, 
but vary in length, depth, and direction, and in the number of 
branches, nests, and surface openings, according to the location, 
character of soil, number of inhabitants, and individual idiosyncrasy. 
However, they resemble one another sufficiently in some respects 
to admit of general description. As a rule they slant abruptly 
downward from the entrance to a depth of from three to four feet 
(.914 to 1.219 metres), whence, inclining slightly upward and 
usually curving to one side, they extend horizontally for a varying 

* The mounds in front of the large holes frequently, if not generally, contain accumulations of 
the animal's excrement, and in one case I removed fully half a bushel from a single mound. 


distance (commonly from 10 to 25 feet, or 3.048 to 7.620 metres). 
Two or more short lateral branches are generally given off from the 
main gallery, and lead, sloping upward and then downward, to the 
more or less circular chambers that contain the animal's nests. It 
has been my invariable experience to find these chambers above 
the level of the bottom of the entrance incline, and I have seen one 
that was within a foot and a half (.457 metres) of the surface. 
The nest itself is usually composed of dry grasses and leaves, 
and rarely exceeds a foot in diameter.* 

It not infrequently happens, where there are two surface open- 
ings, that the main gallery takes the form of a more or less irregu- 
lar semicircle, with one or more lateral branches of considerable 
length, both ends of the main gallery coming to the surface. 

During the last week of April or first of May, the Woodchuck 
commonly gives birth to from four to six young. A nest which was 
dug out May i ith, 1884, contained two young, whose eyes and ears 
were not yet open, though the animals were well haired. Each 
measured two hundred and five millimetres in length, and weighed 
one hundred and sixty-seven grammes. The nest was one metre 
below the surface, and was connected with the main burrow by a 
steeply sloping branch. 

When unexpectedly surprised at close quarters the Woodchuck 
utters a loud, shrill, and tremulous whistle that pierces the ear and 
evokes from the intruder an involuntary movement or exclamation, 
even though he may have been similarly startled many times before, f 

The Woodchuck is pre-eminently a terrestrial animal, usually 
spending the whole of his life in or upon the ground, yet some 
ambitious individuals, prompted either by choice or necessity, 

* The main gallery or one of its branches commonly terminates in a slight excavation which is 
found to contain the animal's excrement. No other of the lower animals with which I am acquaint- 
ed constructs a special receptacle for the deposit and accumulation of its dejections. 

f Dr. Coues speaks of this note as " The merry whistle of the woodchuck at the mouth of its 
burrow" (Familiar Science, Vol. V, No. 12, Dec., 1878, p. 230.), but I am unable to conceive how 
a sudden cry of alarm can be construed into a " merry whistle." 


occasionally take a more elevated view of the earth. Concerning 
these "tree-climbing Woodchucks " I quote from an article on 
the subject that I once wrote for Forest and Stream : - 
" Woodchucks, when unmolested, and particularly during their 
youthful days, often climb up ten or twelve feet in shrubbery 
and young trees that abound in low branches, and not infrequently 
scramble up the trunks of large trees which have partially fallen or 
slant sufficiently to insure them against slipping. Occasionally, 
especially when hard pressed by a fast approaching enemy, they 
ascend large erect trees whose lowest branches are some distance 
from the ground. But, in order to do this, they must take 
advantage of the impetus of a rush, for they cannot start slowly 
upon the trunk of an upright tree and climb more than a few feet 
without falling. Neither can they stop and go on again before 
reaching- a branch or other resting place."* 

o *-> 1 

In the American Naturalist for September, 1881 (pp. 737-738), 
the Hon. Charles Aldrich, of Webster City, Iowa, writes : " About 
two years ago a young man who was living with me, came in one 
day saying that he had just seen a small animal, possibly a raccoon, 
ascending a tree in the woods some sixty rods away. Taking my 
shot-gun, I went to the place, where I soon saw the creature in the 
top of a black oak tree, almost forty feet from the ground. The 
animal seemed very cunning, and managed for some time to keep 
on the opposite side of some of the larger limbs, but I finally got 
a shot at him. He came to the ground with a bounce, when I 
found it was a woodchuck. It was but slightly wounded in one of 
the fore legs, and I captured it and took it home. I put it in a 
hollow tree near my residence, and it remained there a couple of 
weeks, freely eating the corn which I regularly fed it." 

As a rule the Woodchuck manifests great antipathy for water. 
In confinement he rarely partakes of it, and in the wild state his 
burrows are frequently so remote from it as to preclude the idea 

* Forest and Stream, Vol. XVI, No. 23, July 7, 1881, p. 453. 


of his journeying there to drink. Hence it seems probable that the 
moisture which his system requires is derived from the juices of 
the plants on which he feeds, together with the clew or rain that 
may have lodged upon them. 

Having searched in vain for the record of an instance where a 


\Voodchuck has been known to swim, voluntarily, I take great 
pleasure in being able to contribute an account of a case that 
recently fell under my personal observation. On the i2th of June, 
1883, while rowing up the Fulton Chain of Lakes, in company with 
Dr. A. K. Fisher and Walter H. Merriam, a Woodchuck was 
observed in the water directly ahead of the boat swimming across 
the channel between Second and Third Lakes. He swam deep, 
at times the top of his head and the tip of his tail alone appearing 
above the surface. He crossed from the north to the south shore 
and was evidently very much fatigued and somewhat confused, for, 
although I pushed the boat close after him as he was about to 
emerge, he only partly climbed out upon a small log that extend- 
ed into the water, and showed no inclination to move off, or even 
to change his position. He was poked several times with a stick, 
and finally Dr. Fisher actually stroked him with his hand before he 
became sufficiently aroused to show that he was aware of our 
presence. We left him standing partly upon the log, with one leg- 
still in the water, shivering, and apparently in a very unhappy state 
of mind. This animal was young, and was evidently travelling 
about in search of a suitable place in which to establish his home. 

The Woodchuck can always be taken in a steel trap set with 
proper care, and concealed from view. By this means it is gen- 
erally easy to rid our fields of his presence. Dr. C. L. Bagg and 
1 once caught thirty-three Woodchucks in a large meadow during 
a single season. 

In a recent number of the American Field (Vol. XX, No. 10, 
Sept. 8, 1883, p. 225) I recorded the following very unusual occur- 
rence : On the 28th of July last, hearing a commotion among some 


half-grown chickens that had taken up their abode in the under- 
brush back of my office, Dr. A. K. Fisher, who was with me at the 
time, betook himself thither and much to his surprise found a 
Woodchuck to be the cause of the disturbance. The animal was 
chasing the fowls with much earnestness, and evidently meant to 
catch one; while the "poor chickens, already well-nigh exhausted, 
were straining every nerve to escape. Fearing that the beast 
(which was a young and ambitious female) might propagate a race 
of Woodchucks that would rank among the depredators of the 
poultry yard, the Doctor brought the chase to an abrupt termina- 
tion and added the rodent's skeleton to my osteological cabinet. 
This is the only example that has thus far come to my knowledge 
where a Woodchuck has pursued either bird or beast, and the 
question may be fairly asked whether in this instance it purposed 
to seize and devour the fowl, or, being of a jocose turn of mind, 
was merely chasing it to see it run, just as a puppy would do under 
similar circumstances. 

Dr. Godman, who once had a tame Woodchuck, speaks thus of 
its habit of lugging various articles into its burrow : " Every thing 
fit to make a bed of, that he could get at, was sure to be carried 
under ground, and when clothes were missed, which had been hung 
out to dry, it was only necessary to fasten a hook to a long stick 
and draw them out of his burrow. When this was to be effected, 
it was necessary to tie the Marmot up short, as he appeared to 
understand perfectly what was to be done, and was by no means 
willing that his bed should be rendered less comfortable. Although 
he would not attempt to bite the person engaged in removing his 
plunder, he would rush to the entrance and endeavor to make his 
way in, as if to secure his prize, or remove it to a still greater dis- 
tance. On one occasion he carried off and stowed at a distance of 
six feet from the entrance, eight pairs of stockings, a towel, and a 
girl's frock, and had he not been discovered in the act, would have 


made a still larger transfer of materials to form a more luxurious 
bed." * 

The power of song is not often attributed to mammals lower in 
the scale than ourselves, and yet it is a fact that several species 
are capable of producing musical notes which are pleasing to the 
ear. In the American Naturalist for June, 1872 (Vol. VI, No. 6, 
pp. 365-366), is an article from the pen of Dr. A. Kellogg, entitled 
" Singing Maryland Marmot" The writer states : " For the last 
forty years the fact of the common Maryland Marmot, or Wood- 
chuck, being able to sing like a canary bird, but in a softer, sweeter 
note, has been quite familiar to myself, and others who could be 
brought forward as witnesses." He then speaks of a very young 
Woodchuck which he raised, and goes on to say : " It had a seat 
in the little high chair at the children's table full oft. Its earnest 
and restless concupiscent purr as it scented sweet cake and fragrant 
viands was wonderful. At length it became as familiar as the 


family cat and finally burrowed under the doorstep. My impres- 
sion is now, and has always been, that it was a female. I used to 
watch the pet very closely to see how it sang, as children are apt 
to do. There was a slight moving of the nostrils and lips and 

^j <_> 

consequently whiskers with an air of unmistakable happy or serene 
enjoyment. I question much if this is altogether unknown to 
others, always excepting naturalists" 

Woodchucks are so abundant in some parts of New Hampshire 
that the farmers have long demanded legislative aid for their 
riddance. At length the clamors from this source became so loud 
and continuous that the Legislature was forced to recognize the 

* American Natural History, Vol. I, 1842, p. 329. In treating of the habits of this species, Dr. 
Godman makes some very astonishing statements, statements that are wholly incorrect as applied 
to it in this region, though possibly true in some parts of its extensive habitat. His figure bears 
as close a resemblance to the wolverine as it does to the Woodchuck, and yet, strangely enough, 
he speaks thus of those of his predecessors : "All the figures which have been heretofore pub- 
lished of this animal (with the exception of one given in the English translation of Cuvier, borrowed 
from a drawing by Le Sueur) have been copied from Edward's, which is altogether unlike the 
animal " (pp. 330-331). 



postulations of its rural constituency, and a committee was ap- 
pointed, of which the Hon. Charles R. Corning was made chair- 
man. In due course of time the committee prepared a report 
which was submitted to the House, accompanied by a bill pro- 
viding for a bounty of ten cents for each Woodchuck killed within 
the limits of the State. This act was approved Sept. n, 1883.* 

* From the " Report of the Woodchuck Committee " I beg leave to reproduce the following 
extracts: " Your committee finds that the Woodchuck is absolutely destitute of any interesting 
qualities, that is, such qualities as would recommend it to the average inhabitant of New Hamp- 
shire. . . . Its body is thick and squatty, and its legs so short that its belly seems almost to 
touch the ground. This is not a pleasing picture. Its si/e varies all the way from those reared in 
Strafford County to the huge fellows that claim a homestead among the fertile farms of Grafton. 
Woodchucks have been known to attain a large size, even fifteen pounds. This, however, would 
not be an average Woodchuck. The casual observer is not attracted by the brilliancy of a Wood- 
chuck's color. When one thinks it over, it certainly would seem that the family of Woodchucks 
was designed and brought forth under conditions of severe simplicity. While the usual color 
cannot be said to be a decided red, it is not Auburn, but more like Deny, which is next to Auburn. 
Your committee has now in mind the under side of the creature. The body even in very young 
Woodchucks, is inclined to be gray a very significant circumstance in the mind of your commit- 
tee, when the total depravity of the animal is considered. Besides Deny and gray, there are other 
hues blended about the Woodchuck ; but these are merely details, and of no practical account. 
Like thieves in all climes, the Woodchuck remains securely concealed in its hole for a 
great part of the day. Its only purpose in venturing forth during the daytime is to get a good lay 
of the land. . . . Like the bear, the gait of the thing under consideration is plantigrade, but 
in order to occasionally exercise its toes it climbs small trees and shrubs ; then, perfectly satisfied 
that its pedal extremities are in good working trim, it descends to the ground and again resumes 
its monotonous waddle The Woodchuck, despite its deformities both of mind and of body, possesses 
some of the amenities of a higher civilization. It cleans its face after the manner of the squirrels 
and licks its fur after the manner of a cat. Your committee is too wise, however, to be deceived 
by this purely superficial observance of better habits. Contemporaneous with the ark, the Wood- 
chuck has not made any material progress in social science, and it is now too late to attempt to re- 
form the wayward sinner. The average age of the Woodchuck is too long to please your commit- 
tee, but the estimate of Woodchuck population can only be approximated. . . . The Wood- 
chuck is not only a nuisance, but also a bore. It burrows beneath the soil, and then chuckles to 
see a mowing machine, man and all, slump into one of these holes and disappear. . . . Your 
committee is confident that a small bounty will prove of incalculable good ; at all events, even as 
an experiment, it is certainly worth trying ; therefore your committee would respectfully recom- 
mend that the accompanying bill be passed. CHARLES R. CORNING, for the Committee. 


"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in general Court convened : 
"Section I. Tf any person shall kill any Woodchuck within this State, and shall produce the tail 
thereof to any one of the selectmen of the town within which said woodchuck was killed, or if 
there be no selectmen in said town, then to any one of the selectmen of the nearest town having 
such selectmen, said selectmen shall take the said tail and so dispose of it that it shall not again be 
used for the purposes of bounty, and shall pay to the person so producing it the sum of ten cents : 
Provided, that no bounty shall be paid for any woodchuck killed on Sunday. 

" Section 2. The selectmen of every such town shall keep a true account of the moneys so paid 
as bounty on woodchucks, and upon presentation of such amount, certified by a majority of such 




A merican Beaver. 

That the Beaver was once abundant in all parts of the Adiron- 
dacks is attested by the numerous remains and effects of their 
dams ; but at present they are so exceedingly rare that few people 
know that they still exist here. 

Samuel de Champlain found them abundant in the Richelieu 
River in the early part of July, 1609. He said of them : " There 
is also quite a number of Beavers, as well in the river as in several 
other streams which fall into it." (Documentary History of New 
York, Vol. Ill, p. 5.) 

Dr. DeKay says that, in 1815, "a party of St. Regis Indians 
from Canada ascended the Oswegatchie river in the county of St. 
Lawrence in pursuit of Beaver. In consequence of the previous 
hostilities between this country and England, this district had not 
been hunted in some years, and the Beaver had consequently been 
undisturbed. The party, after an absence of a few weeks, returned 
with three hundred Beaver skins. These were seen by my in- 
formant [Mr. T. O. Fowler], who adds that since that time very 
few have been observed." * They were not immediately extermi- 
nated, however, for Mr. Calvin V. Graves writes me that in 1834 
a trapper named Hume caught six Beavers in Silverdog Pond, in 
the northeastern part of the town of Diana, in Lewis County ; and 
that a few years later Norman and Hume caught three Beavers on 
the middle branch of the Oswegatchie, near Harrisville. These 
are believed to have been the last Beavers which inhabited that 
part of the Wilderness. 

selectmen to be just and true, to the treasurer of the state, in the month of June, the same shall be 
paid from the state treasury either to the representative of such town or to the selectmen thereof, 
upon their written order. 

" Section 3. This act shall take effect from and after its passage. 

" Approved September II, 1883." 

* Zoology of New York, Part I, 1842, p. 73. 


I am informed by William Clowbridge, an old hunter and trap- 
per, that during his boyhood Beavers were common along the 
western border of the Aclirondacks. In the year 1819 he caught 
two in one of their huts on the outlet of Brantingham Lake, in 
Lewis County, on which stream they had then two dams. In 
March, 1837, he caught, at Little Otter Lake, also in Lewis 
County, the last Beaver observed on this side of the Adirondacks. 
The veteran hunter, Asa Puffer, was at the time trapping for the 
same animal. Mr. Clowbridge tells me that the spring was un- 
usually forward, and that there was some open water along the 
north shore of the lake, and about its outlet. He made a small 
opening in the dam, and in the gap thus formed set his trap, a few 
inches below the surface of the water. On returning to the lake, 
a week afterward, an eagle was seen to rise and fly away from the 
vicinity of the outlet. Proceeding to the dam he could find neither 
the trap nor the weight to which it had been attached. He then 
went to the spot from which the eagle rose and there found the 
Beaver in the trap. 

Mr. John Constable has kindly presented me with the skull of a 
very large Beaver which was " trapped by William Wood, in the 
. fall of 1837, in a pond northwest of Indian Point on the Raquette." 
Mr. Constable writes me that an old Indian who had been unsuc- 
cessful in his attempts to capture this same Beaver, and who was 
then about to leave this part of the Wilderness, tolcl Wood where 
the animal was to be found. Wood carried his boat to the pond 
and paddled twice around it, searching carefully for signs, without 
going ashore. At last he discovered fur upon the root of an old 
birch that projected into the water. Here he placed the trap, 
attached to a float, and on the second day found the Beaver in it. 

Dr/DeKay, writing in 1841, says : " In the summer of 1840, we 
traversed those almost interminable forests on the highlands sepa- 
rating the sources of the Hudson and St. Lawrence, and included 
in Hamilton, Herkimer, and a part of Essex counties. In the 


course of our journey we saw several beaver signs, as they are 
termed by the hunters. The Beaver has been so much harassed 
in this State, that it has ceased making clams, and contents itself 
with making large excavations in the banks of streams. Within 
the past year, (1841,) they have been seen on Indian and Cedar 
rivers, and at Paskungameh or Tupper's lake ; and although they 
are not numerous, yet they are still found in scattered families in 
the northern part of Hamilton, the southern part of St. Lawrence 
and the western part of Essex counties. Through the considerate 
attention of Mr. A. Mclntyre, those yet existing in the southern 
part of Franklin county are carefully preserved from the avidity of 
the hunter, and there probably the last of the species in the Atlantic 
States will be found. We noticed the remains of an old and large 
beaver dam at the outlet of Lake Fourth in Herkimer county, but 
it is now nearly covered up by the drift sand from the lake " (loc. 
cit, p. 74). 

Watson, in his History of Essex County, published in 1869, 
says: " The Beaver was found in great abundance throughout the 
region, by the first occupants. They no longer exist, it is be- 
lieved, in the territory of Essex County" (p. 348). 

During the fall of 1880, a Beaver was caught on Raquette River, 
between the Upper Saranac and Big Tupper's Lake, and about a 
mile bslow the " Sweeney carry." The skin was stuffed and pre- 
served by the hunter who captured the animal. Subsequent to 
this date, saplings were cut in the neighborhood, showing that 
another was at work there. I have myself examined the locality 
and brought away a number of cuttings. They consist of young 
poplars {Populus tremiiloides] averaging from two to four inches 
(50 to ico mm.) in diameter ; the largest measured fourteen inches 
(355 mm.) in circumference. 

At present there is a small colony of Beavers on a stream that 
empties into the West Branch of the St. Regis River. It is prob- 
ably the colony referred to by DeKay, in 1842, as "yet existing in 


the southern part of Franklin county." It is to be earnestly hoped 
that the hunters who frequent that part of the Wilderness will 
spare no pains to protect these animals from molestation. 

No animal has figured more prominently in the affairs of any 
nation than has the Beaver in the early history of the " New 
World." Its influence on the exploration, colonization, and settle- 
ment of this country was very great. The trade in its peltries 
proved a source of competition and strife, not only among the local 
merchants, but also between the several colonies, disputes over the 
boundaries having frequently arisen from this cause alone. In- 
deed, on more than one occasion, jealousy of the Beaver trade led 
to serious difficulties in the struggle for supremacy between the 
three rival powers the Dutch, English, and French. 

The Provincial Seal of New Netherland was a Beaver resting 
on a shield, encircled by the words " Sigilluiu Novi Belgii" 

In the year 1671, there appeared in Amsterdam a paper en- 
titled, " De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld : of Beschryving van 
America en't Zuiclland : door Arnoldus Montanus." Much of this 
account is devoted to the natural history of the country, and it 
contains some extraordinary tales concerning the animals found 
there. The author's remarks upon the Beaver run as follows : 
" But in addition to other wild animals New Netherland furnishes, 
according to the occular evidence of Adriacn van dcr Donk, full 
eighty thousand beavers a year. Pliny relates how these animals 
castrate themselves, and leave these parts to the hunters, inasmuch 
as they are much sought after, being an effectual remedy for mania, 
retention of the afterbirth, amenorrhcea, dizziness, gout, lameness, 
belly and tooth aches, dullness of vision, poisoning and rheuma- 
tism. But Pliny commits a grave error ; for the Beavers have 
very small testicles fastened in such a manner to the back bone 
that they cannot remove them except with life. Moreover, they 
live in the water and on land together in troops, in houses built of 
timber over a running stream. The houses excite no common ad- 


miration ; they are thus constructed the Beavers first collect to- 
gether all the drift wood which they find along the river, and 
whenever this falls short, the)- gnaw away, in the next adjoining- 
wood, the sweetest bark all around with the front teeth, of which 
they have two in the upper, and two in the lower gum, they then 
cut right around the trunk until the tree falls; when they also 
shorten the pieces in like manner, to adapt them to the proposed 
building. The females carry the pieces on the back, the males 
support it behind so that it may not fall off. The houses rise in- 
geniously to the height of five stories ; they are smeared above 
with clay to protect them from the rain ; in the middle is a con- 
venient aperture through which to dive into the water as soon as 
they perceive any person. Wherefore, one of the troop keeps 
watch by turns, and in the winter a second keeps the water open 
by constant beating of the tail. The tail is fiattish without hair, 
and most dainty food which in some places is served up as a rare 
delicacy. The beavers go with young sixteen weeks ; they bear 
once a year four young, which cry and suck like young children ; 
for the mother rises on her hind paws and gives each two a breast 
as she has only two breasts between the fore legs ; these legs re- 
semble somewhat those of the clog ; the hindmost, like those of 
geese, lap in some measure over each other. On both sides of the 
privy parts lie two swellings enclosed in separate membranes. 
From the privy parts oozes an oleaginous humor, with which they 
smear all the accessible parts of the bod)' in order to keep dry. 
Inwardly they resemble a cut up hog; they live on leaves and 
bark ; are excessively attached to their young ; the wind-hairs 
which rise oditterino- above the back, fall off in the summer, and 

o o 

grow again by the fall ; they are short necked ; have strong sinews 
and muscles ; move rapidly in the water and on land ; attacked by 
men or dogs, they bite fiercely. The pure Castor, so highly prised 
by physicians, consists of oblong follicles, resembling a wrinkled 
pear which are firmly attached to the os pubis of the female beaver; 


the Indians cut up the little balls of the males with their tobacco as 
they afford no castor." * 

In the year 1732 the immortal Linnaeus was sent, by the Royal 
Academy of Upsal, on a tour through Lapland. In his personal 
journal he says : " I set out alone from the city of Upsal on Friday 
May 12, 1732, at eleven o'clock, being at that time within half a 
day of twenty-five years of age." Sixteen days later, when at a 
place called Genow, the young naturalist had the opportunity, 
apparently for the first time, of examining a recently killed Beaver. 
Of it he said, " I inquired concerning the food of this animal, and 
was told it was the bark of trees, the birch, fir, and mountain ash, 
but more especially the aspen, and the castor becomes larger in 
proportion as the Beaver can get more of the aspen bark. This 
confirmed the truth of what Assessor Rothman formerly asserted, 
that castor is secreted from the intermediate bark of the poplar, 
which has the same scent, though not quite so strong : hence it is 
to be presumed that a decoction of this bark, if the dose were suf- 
ficiently large, would have the same medicinal effects. I wonder 
no naturalist has classed this animal with the Mouse tribe [which 
term was then applied to all Rodents], as its broad depressed form 
at first sight suggested to me that it was of that family." f Thus, 
only a century and a half ago, appeared the germ of the idea that 
recognized in the structure of the Beaver its affinities with the 
members of the order Glires, to which order it was assigned by 
Linnaeus in his great work, the Systcma Natures. 

Thomas Pennant said: "The skins are a prodigious article of 
trade ; being the foundation of the hat manufactory. In 1763 were 
sold, in a single sale of the Hudson s Bay Company, 64,670 skins." 

* Documentary History of New York, Vol. IV, pp. 120-121. 
( Lachesis Lapponica, Vol. I, iSu, pp. 88-89. 
\ Synopsis of Quadrupeds, 1771, p. 258. 


Family MURID/E. 



This ubiquitous naturalized exotic is found even within the con- 
fines of the Adirondacks. But his presence here omens no good. 
Like the lumberman, whose footsteps he follows, he is the personi- 
fication of destruction, and desecrates the soil on which he treads. 

He is omnivorous, greedy, and fierce, and is totally lacking in 
qualities of a compensatory character. His long residence in the 
very stronghold of his enemies has developed hereditary habits of 
great circumspection, and where much persecuted he is one of the 
most cunning and crafty of mammals. The means devised for his 
extermination may be numbered by hundreds, but he is so prolific, 
and so soon learns to avoid the artifices designed for his capture, 
that he has spread himself over nearly the whole civilized world. 

The Rat ranks among the worst enemies of the farmer. Not 
only does he force his way into the cellar, the milk-house, and the 
granary; but he also commits great havoc in the poultry-yard. He 
wantonly destroys far more than he consumes. The choicest fruits 
and vegetables are ruined by a single bite ; smoked hams sus- 
pended from the rafters show the marks of his sharp teeth ; pans 
of rich cream are soiled by his lash-like tail ; large holes through 
the plank-walls of the oat-bin leave no doubt as to the identity of 
the thief ; and the constant loss of eggs and of young chickens and 
ducks may be regarded as one of the most serious evils his pres- 
ence occasions. Even the sleeping child and the shrouded corpse 
have been mutilated by his cruel jaws. 

He is not content with deriving his sustenance at our expense, 
but, to save himself the trouble of a walk between meals, takes up 
his abode in or under our dwellings and outhouses. In unsettled 
regions he often makes long journeys from house to house, but I 


have never known him to make his home at any great distance 
from buildings. 

Rats are good swimmers, and in their migrations from place to 
place (which are usually performed at night, and thus escape 
notice) they do not hesitate to swim rivers and ponds that lie in the 
way. Though chiefly nocturnal, they are often seen in the day- 

They are excessively prolific, commonly bringing forth from 
seven to twelve young at a birth, and having several litters each 
season. Some idea of the number of Rats inhabiting lar^e cities 

<-> o 

may be had from the fact that, at Paris, in a fortnight's time, more 
than six hundred thousand were killed in the sewers. Their skins 
were manufactured into kid gloves. 

House Mouse. 

The House Mouse is another exotic that has found the climate 
and productions of America so much to its liking that it has multi- 
plied and diffused itself over the whole of the inhabited portions of 
our continent. 

Like the rat, it abounds in our largest cities and makes itself a 
conspicuous, albeit unwelcome, member of the household; but unlike 
the latter it also inhabits districts as yet unoccupied by civilized man. 

Such places, however, do not seem congenial to its urban disposi- 
tion, and it is probable that none but those who, from long residence 
in the country, have acquired a taste for adventure, make bold to 
desert their traditional haunts, together with the cats and traps with 
which they have been for generations familiar, to seek new homes, 
amid new surroundings and new enemies. 

I have observed the House Mouse in many of the camps scattered 
through the Adirondacks, and have killed it, though rarely, at a 
considerable distance from the habitations of man. It is common 

Mrs MrsruU's. 261 

in the fertile valleys along the outskirts of the Wilderness, living in 
the fields during the short summer season, and returning to the 
dwellings, barns, and haystacks at the approach of winter. 

It is omnivorous, and, in the main, nocturnal. It usually gives 
birth to from five to nine young at a time, and has several litters in 
a season. 

The House Mouse as a Vocalist. 
It has lono- been known that individuals of the common House 


Mouse occasionally possess very exceptional vocal powers. These 
"singing mice" have appeared, from time to time, in various parts 
of the country, and their performances have been eagerly listened to 
and carefully recorded by the delighted hearers. 

My aunt, Mrs. Helen M. Bagg, once had a singing Mouse in her 
house at Detroit, Michigan, and has kindly favored me with the fol- 
lowing account of it : " Early in the spring of i858 I would occasion- 
ally hear faint musical sounds, like the warbling of a young bird, issue 
from the china closet, which was on one side of the dining room. 
Several a^ys passed before I could get any clew to the sounds. We 
had singing birds a mocking bird and canaries and every one de- 
clared it was the birds I had heard, but I felt equally certain the 
sounds came from the closet. One afternoon when the house was 
quiet, the children taking their naps, and the cook having ceased to 
rattle her dishes, I opened the closet door and sat down where I 
could have a full view of the inside. After a long and patient waiting 
a mouse peered out from behind the plates, climbed up a little way on 
the brackets, and, after looking around several times, began to sing ! 
I need not describe my feelings. Its song was not much of a song, 
' as songs go,' but still a distinct musical effort. Sometimes it would 
run up an octave and end with a decided attempt at a trill. Some- 
times it would try to trill all the notes. An octave seemed to be 
about its range. I could distinctly see the expansion and vibration 
of its throat and chest as one can in a song bird. Its favorite posi- 


tion when singing was an erect one, standing on its hind feet, and 
holding by its forward ones to the wall or bracket, almost invariably 
turning its face toward us. It remained with us several weeks, and 
at length became so familiar as to appsar to enjoy company, seem- 
ingly putting forth all its strength to amuse us with its little song, 
which improved daily in tone and volume, but not in compass. Its 
voice became so clear that we could frequently hear it in the parlor 
that opened out of the dining room. I frequently invited my visitors 
to listen to it. My next-door neighbors occasionally heard it in their 
house, but not very distinctly. It evidently did not feel at home 
there. Suddenly as it came it disappeared probably falling a prey 
to some cat during its rambles from house to house.' 


In 1804 Dr. Samuel Cramer, of Virginia, communicated to Dr. 
Barton the following very curious account of the influence of music 
upon the common House Mouse. He said : " One evening, in the 
month of December, as a few officers on board of a British man of 
war, in the harbour of Portsmouth, were seated around the fire, one 
of them began to play a plaintive air on the violin. He had scarce- 
ly performed ten minutes, when a mouse, apparently frantic, made 
its appearance, in the centre of the floor, near the large table which 
usually stands in the wardroom, the residence of the lieutenants in 
ships of the line. The strange gestures of the little animal strongly 
excited the attention of the officers, who, with one consent, resolved 
to suffer it to continue its singular actions unmolested. Its exer- 


tions now appeared to be greater, every moment. It shook its 
head, leaped about the table, and exhibited signs of the most extatic 

" It was observed, that in proportion to the gradation of the tones 
of the soft point, the extacy of the animal appeared to be increased, 
and vice versa. After performing actions, which an animal so dimin- 
utive would, at first sight, seem incapable of, the little creature, to 
the astonishment of the delighted spectators, suddenly ceased to 


move; fell down, and expired, without evincing any symptoms of 
pain." * 

Linnaeus, in his brief diagnosis of this species, said : " Dclcctatur 
music a" f 

White-footed Mouse ; Deer Mouse; Field Mouse. 

The White-footed Mouse is common in all parts of the Acliron- 
dacks. In the wild state it feeds upon beechnuts and a variety of 
seeds ; in captivity it is omnivorous. 

Its haunts are various. Some take up their abode in dense ever- 
green forests, others in hardwood groves, and others still in the open 
fields. Many find the way into the hunter's camp and the log-house 
of the frontiersman ; while in the more cultivated districts they vie 
with the common house mouse in the possession of our homes. Dr. 
Richardson tells us that in the Hudson's Bay Company's Terri- 
tory, " no sooner is a fur-post established than this little animal be- 
comes an inmate of the dwelling-houses" (Fauna Boreali Ameri- 
cana, 1829, p. 142). 

It is an excellent climber and I have often found its nest in holes 
in living trees, more than seventy feet (21.33 metres) above the 
ground While on a snow-shoe walk with a friend one bright moon- 
light evening, several winters ago, one of them was observed skip- 
ping lightly over the snow a short distance ahead. We gave chase, 
but the mouse escaped by running up the trunk of a smooth-barked 
beech hard by. My friend, who was not aware of its climbing pro- 
pensities, looked on in amazement while the mouse, with as much 
ease and nimbleness as a squirrel, ascended the tree and disap- 
peared in a knot-hole high among the branches. 

The White-footed Mouse does not hibernate. Except during the 

* The Philadelphia Medical and Physical Journal, Vol. I, 1804, pp. 37-38. 
f Systema Naturee, Ed. X, Vol. I, 1758, p. 62. 


severest weather its tracks may be seen on the snow throughout the 
winter, its long tail leaving a furrow by which it may always be rec- 
ognized. In the autumn it lays up an immense store of provision 
for so small an animal. The beechnut constitutes its favorite food, 
and in seasons when it is to be had no other article of diet is sought. 
The hoards are generally established in holes in trees or in hollow 
logs, and are, therefore, frequently discovered by the wood-chopper. 
The beechnuts they contain are usually shucked, and I have, on sev- 
eral occasions, removed two or three quarts from a single hoard. 

Robert Kennicott tells us that in western New York, Joseph 
Kennicott found, " within a stump in a clover-field, several quarts of 
clean seed of red clover, collected by a family of these mice." * 

They sometimes select odd sites for their store-houses. In October 
and November, i88i,Drs. Hoadley, Fisher, and myself occupied the 
neat log-house that is commonly known as the "Club Camp " at Big 
Moose Lake. We were here much annoyed by the White-footed 
Mice, which not only made way with any eatables that happened to 
be lying about, but also lugged off a quantity of the cotton we had 
brought for stuffing birds. They even climbed up to our drying- 
boards and pulled out the cotton which we had carefully tucked under 
the shoulders and backs of the newly-made bird skins. No place 
was free from their depredations, and the skins were only made 
secure by suspending them from the ceiling by means of cleats 
fastened to the smooth spruce rafters. The loss of the cotton was a 
matter of no small consequence, since it had to be carried there from 
a distance of more than forty miles. A careful search was begun, 
but no trace of it could be found till a small cupboard, supposed to be 
mouse -proof, was unlocked, when the whole of it fell in view. In 
this same cupboard we discovered an old shoe well filled with crackers 
and sugar which had been taken from the kitchen, and beechnut 
meats which had been brought from some distance outside. The 

* Quadrupeds of Illinois, 1857, p. 91. 

HKSI'KKOMYS l.Krcol'US. 265 

locker was entered from the top, and the path to it was circuitous 
and difficult. 

The White-footed Mouse is fond of flesh and, like the flying squir- 
rel, eagerly devours dead birds placed in its way. Indeed, this is 
done so naturally, that the suspicion arises as to whether it does not 
sometimes capture and prey upon the smaller birds while on their 
roosts at night. 

Dr. Samuel Lockwood had a caged Hesperomys from Florida. 
" Sometimes a fly would enter the cage, when she would spring at, 
and catch it, sometimes with her mouth, and at others with her hands. 
This she would eat with great relish. ... A little sod of fresh 
grass and white clover was occasionally put into the cage. This she 
enjoyed greatly, eating the greens like a rabbit ; only always insisting 
on sitting up to do it. It was interesting to witness how ready she 
was for emergencies. Sitting on her hind feet, she would take hold 
with her hands of a blade of grass, and begin eating at the tip. The 
spear would rapidly shorten, and seemingly she mu.-t now stoop to 
finish it, or do it in the ordinary quadrupedal style. Now that was 
just what she did not choose to do. So when the emergency came, 
she would stoop down, and in a trice cut the blade off close to the sod 
with just one nip ; then up again on her feet in a sitting posture, she 
would finish it in a comfortable and becoming way." * 

In personal appearance the White-footed Mouse is far more at- 
tractive than the other members of the family. Its prominent, bead- 
like eyes, large ears, and long tail are striking characteristics, while 
the rich fawn-color of the sides and back, sharply contrasted with the 
snowy white of the under parts and feet, combine to produce an 
exterior of much beauty. Add to this the natural agility and grace 
of its movements and we have an animal that, by any other name 
than mouse, would be regarded as one of the most interesting inhab- 
itants of our forests. 

* American Naturalist, Vol. V, No. 12, Dec., 1871, p. 763. 


Its disposition is in perfect harmony with its attractive appearance, 
for even the flying squirrel is not more gentle and affectionate. 
When first captured it rarely offers to bite, and within a few hours 
will generally eat from the hand. It manifests neither fear nor 
suspicion while in its box or on one's person, but if let loose in a 
large room is frightened when approached, and seeks to hide. If 
given the opportunity, it is pretty sure to select some particular 
pocket for its home. It is also fond of running up one's sleeves, and 
when pinched by the movements of the arm will never think of 

A few years ago I had a tame White-footed Mouse to which I had 
become considerably attached. During the day it never left my 
person, and at night was alwa) s placed in a large glass jar with an 
abundance of cotton. It would eat almost anything offered, sitting 
on its haunches on my hand or shoulder, and would eagerly lap 
water or milk from a glass, or from a finger wet in the same. It 
was scrupulously neat, continually washing its face and cleaning its 
soft fur. Many times each day it would reach back and grasp its 
long tail, which, guided and manipulated by the fore-paws, was sev- 
eral times in succession drawn for its entire length through the mouth. 
When let loose on the snow it invariably burrowed down with great 
rapidity. One clear cold clay in midwinter, the temperature being 
many degrees below zero, I started on my usual snow-shoe walk 
with the Mouse asleep in my coat pocket. I had gone some distance 
and forgotten its presence, when a faint cry of distress warned me 
that all was not right. It responded to my call only by another cry 
of pain, fainter even than the first. On taking it from my pocket, it 
gave me a slight nip, and almost immediately expired. It was very 
cold, and in a few minutes was frozen through. 

In the selection of sites for their nests scarcely less individuality 
is shown than in the choice of their haunts. Those that live in the 
deep forests commonly build in holes in trees or logs, or in the roots 
of stumps ; while those that dwell in open fields excavate chambers 


in the earth several inches below the surface, in which the young are 
reared. Mr. Kennicott says he has known of " numerous instances 
in which several have been observed inhabiting the same hole in a 
tree with a family of flying squirrels." 

I have found this species with young at various times from April 
until November, but do not know how many litters it has in a 
season. As late as the 8th of November (1883) a nest was ploughed 
up in one of our fields at Locust Grove. It was lined with feathers 
and contained half-grown young. On the 29th of the same month I 
secured in one trap a female and her young, which were two-thirds 
grown. The mother bore evidence of having recently been nursed, 
and the stomach of the youngsters contained nothing but milk. 
From three to six are produced at a birth. 

The young are leaclen-gray in color and their ears are dispropor- 
tionately large. Late in June the first litter begins to show pale 
fawn color generally commencing on the flanks. 

Throughout its southern ranore, and even so far north as southern 

o o 

New England and portions of New York, the White-footed Mouse, 
like the red, gray, and flying squirrels, is known to construct "out- 
side nests " for the reception of its young. Such nests are usually 
more or less cocoa-nut shaped, and sometimes measure a foot in 
longest diameter. They consist of moss, grasses, leaves, inner bark, 
and other similar substances. The opening is at or near the bottom. 
They are commonly placed on a horizontal branch at a varying dis- 
tance from the ground. Those that I have found have generally 
been in thickets overrun with Swila.r, and were rarely more than ten 
feet high. Nests of birds are sometimes refitted and occupied by 
these animals. In the Adirondacks I have never known them to 
build or inhabit outside nests. 

Dr. Barton, in 1804, published a note "On a species of North- 
American Wandering Mouse," which, from the meagre description 
given, seems to have been the White-footed Mouse. The Doctor 

says : 



" In the year 1796, a particular species of Mouse made its appear- 
ance at Burlington- Bay, on the west end of Lake-Ontario, and at 
Long-Point, on the north side of Lake-Erie. They came out of the 
woods, from the northward, in troops of thousands, and committed 
great havoc among the Indian -corn. 

" These animals were so numerous, that, for a good while, they 
were caught by hundreds, at a time. It is said, that the cats, tired 
of killing them, came, at length, to play with them, without offering 
them any injury. 

" Even in the winter-time, the corn-cribs were extremely offensive, 
from the great numbers of these mice, that had perished in them. 

" This mouse is described as a small species, smaller than the com- 
mon House-Mouse ; with a white belly, and a very long tail. The 
general colour was that of the House-Mouse." 

Hesperomys as a Vocalist. 

Mr. W. O. Hiskey, in a note in the American Naturalist for May, 
1871 (Vol. V, No. 3, pp. 171-172) states : " I was sitting a few even- 
ings since, not far from a half-open closet door, when I was startled 
by a sound issuing from the closet, of such marvellous beauty that I 
at once asked my wife how Bobbie Burns (our canary) had found his 
way into the closet, and what could start him to singing such a queer 
and sweet song in the dark. I procured a light and found it to be a 
mouse! He had filled an over-shoe from a basket of pop-corn 
which had been popped and placed in the closet in the morning. 
Whether this rare collection of food inspired him with song I know 
not, but I had not the heart to disturb his corn, hoping to hear from 
him again. Last night his song was renewed. I approached with 
a subdued light and with great caution, and had the pleasure of see- 
ing him sitting among his corn and singing his beautiful solo. I 
observed him without interruption for ten minutes, not over four feet 

* The Philadelphia Medical and Physical Journal, Vol. I, 1804, pp. 3 I ~3 2 - 


from him. His song was not a chirp, but a continuous song of mu- 
sical tone, a kind of to-wit-to-wee-woo-woo-wee-woo, quite varied in 

The most extended and interesting account that I have seen of a 
singing Hesperoinys is from the pen of the Rev. Samuel Lockwood. 
The subject of his sketch was caught in Florida by Philip Ryall, 
Esq., and was presented to Dr. Lockwood, who named it Hcspic, 
Its vocal powers were extraordinary, and two of its most frequently 
repeated performances were termed respectively the IVJicel Song 
and the Grand Roh\ and were expressed in musical notation by Mr. 
Ferris C. Lockwood. After describing her ordinary songs in great 
detail, Dr. Lockwood observes : " A remarkable fact in the above 
role is the scope of little Hespie's musical powers. Her soft, clear 
voice falls an octave with all the precision possible ; then at the 
wind-up, it rises again into a very quick trill on C sharp and D. 

" Though it be at the risk of taxing belief, yet I must in duty record 
one of Hespie's most remarkable performances. She was gamboling 
in the large compartment of her cage, in a mood indicating intense 
animal enjoyment, having woke from a long sleep, and partaken of 
some favorite food. She burst into a fulness of song very rich in its 
variety. While running and jumping, she rolled off what I have 
called her Grand Role, then sitting, she went over it again, ringing 
out the strangest diversity of changes, by an almost whimsical trans- 
position of the bars ; then without for an instant stopping the music, 
she leapt into the wheel, started it revolving at its highest speed, 
and went through the Wheel Song in exquisite style, giving several 
repetitions of it. After this she returned to the large compartment, 
took up again the Grand Role, and put into it some variations of 
execution which astonished me. One measure I remember was so 
silvery and soft, that I said to a lady who was listening, that a canary 
able to execute that would be worth a hundred dollars. I occasionally 
detected what I am utterly unable to explain, a literal dual sound, very 
like a boy whistling as he draws a stick along the pickets of a fence. 


So the music went on, as I listened, watch in hand, until actually 
nine minutes Jicid elapsed. Now the wonderful fact is that the rest 
between the roles was never much more than for a second of time ; 
and during all this sinoino; the muscles could be seen in vigorous 

o o j *-* 

action through the entire length of the abdomen. This feat would 
be impossible to a professional singer ; and the nearest to it that I 
have seen was the singing of a wild mocking bird in a grove. 

" For several days the wheel grated on its axle. This afforded 
Hespie great delight ; and her own little warble was completely lost 
in the harsher sound. It was pretty much as it is with some of the 
modern methods of praise ; as when the vocal is subordinated to the 
instrumental, a mere murmur of song, on which the organist comes 
down as with the sound of many waters. A drop of oil, and the 
sound of the friction stopped. This quite excited her temper ; and 
she bit the wires of her wheel most viciously. A little device was 
hit upon "which set her in good humor again. A strip of stout 
writing paper, a half inch wide, was pinned down in such a way that 
its clean cut upper edge pressed against the wires of the wheel, 
making with its revolution a pleasant, purring sound. It was on the 
principle, exactly, of the old-time watchman's rattle, and the old toy 
known as a cricket. This for a while greatly delighted the capricious 
creature, and she made the wheel almost fly ; at the same time, in 
unison with the whirr of the wheel, was her own soft, cheery warble. 
It was very low, yet very distinct." 

Another noteworthy peculiarity of Hespie's was that she some- 
times ate and sang at the same time. On one occasion a slender 
twig of black alder, about an inch in length, was given her. " She 
was delighted, and at once began in her usual pretty way, sitting 
up, to eat the bark, although it was very bitter. Thus she sat 
' bolt upright ; ' and the manner in which she held this little black 
stick in both hands up to her mouth, at the precise angle in which a 
fife is held, although nibbling away, yet singing at the same time, it 


looked so like a little fifer playing on an ebony fife that laughter was 

Red-backed Mouse ; Long-cared Wood Mouse. 

The Red-backed Mouse is abundant in all parts of the Adirondacks. 
It occurs on the summits of the tree-covered mountains as well as in 
the deepest valleys. It is essentially a wood species in its local dis- 
tribution, rarely frequenting the beaver meadows or the fields of the 
farmer. It often enters the woodman's camp, and I have sometimes 
caught it even in the luxurious log-houses which have, during the 
past few years, supplanted the old-time shanties in many parts of 
the Adirondacks. 

It feeds upon beechnuts and a variety of seeds, berries, and roots, 
and also, at certain times in the winter season, upon the bark of 
shrubs and trees. The beech, maple, ash, and bass suffer most 
severely from its attacks, and in the order named. The bark is 
generally removed in irregular areas from the large roots just above 
the ground ; but sometimes saplings, and even trees a foot (306 mm.) 
or more in diameter are completely girdled to the height of three or 
four feet (approximately 916 to 1220 mm.). The damage thus done 
to our deciduous groves is sometimes great, but does not compare 
with the ravages committed by the field mouse (Arvicola riparins]. 

The Wood Mouse is terrestrial, like the other members of the 
Arvicolins series, and commonly lives in burrows in the ground. It 
sometimes makes regular runways similar to those of the field mouse, 
but usually travels freely over the surface, not confining itself to any 
prescribed course. It is both diurnal and nocturnal. I have shot it 
at noonday, scampering over the leaves in the deep woods, and 
dodging in and out between the rocks of a lake shore. I have also 
seen it after dark in shanties and log-houses ; and have caught many 

* American Naturalist, Vol. V, No. 12, Dec., 1871, pp. 765-707. 


during the night in traps baited with beechnuts and meat. Its 
ordinary gait is a moderately fast trot ; I have never seen it pro- 
ceed in leaps. Still, it runs swiftly for a short distance and its 
quick movements render it difficult of capture. 

The nest of the Red-backed Mouse is usually, in this region, placed 
in a burrow in the earth, though it is sometimes found in a half- 
decayed log, or under the roots of a stump. I have shot females, 
each containing four young, as early as the 3d of April, and as late 
as the 4th of October. I have also taken a female early in June that 
was nursing her second brood. Hence it is clear that several litters 
are produced in a season. 

The flesh of the Red-backed Mouse is tender and well flavored. 

Meadoiv Mouse ; Field Mouse. 

The Meadow Mouse is common in the cleared lands within and 
around the Adirondack region. It occurs on many of the beaver 
meadows, but is never abundant in the coniferous forests. 

It feeds, in the main, upon the roots of grasses, though in winter it 
sometimes commits great havoc by gnawing the bark of trees. Rich 
meadows and pasture lands constitute its favorite haunts, and are apt 
to be cut up, in all directions, by its deeply-worn runways. It is 
strictly terrestrial, rarely mounting even the log or limb that may lie 
in its path, and is both nocturnal and diurnal. 

It does not hibernate. In the beoqnnino- of winter, when the 

o o 

ground is frozen for some distance below the surface, it abandons its 
burrows and lives entirely above ground. Its nests of dry grass then 
lie flat upon the surface, without attempt at concealment, and are 
soon buried in the snow. As winter advances and the snow becomes 
deeper, the Meadow Mice regularly betake themselves to their nests 
for rest. The heat from their bodies soon melts the snow in contact 
with and immediately adjoining the nests, which, from the continued 


operation of the same cause, come to be surrounded by slowly-grow- 
ing- dome-shaped chambers. These increase in size until the spring 
thaws, in March and April, melt away their roofs, thus admitting the 
light and cold. They are then deserted. During snow-shoe tramps 
over the fields at this season I have often noticed holes, from a few 
inches to a foot in diameter, appearing as if sharply cut in the surface. 
On inspection, they invariably proved to be the summits of these 
dome-shaped cavities, and a nest was always found at the bottom of 
each, surrounded by a zone of bare ground. They ranged from one 
to two feet (approximately 300 to 600 mm.) in diameter, and most of 
them were two feet in height. From the bottom of each chamber 
numerous runways and burrows penetrated the snow in all directions. 
Some followed along directly upon the ground, while others sloped 
upward at various angles. Many ran horizontally at varying levels, 
resting upon the dense strata that indicated the surface lines at 
different times during the winter. Near each nest was one or more 


burrows that reached the surface and contained considerable accumu- 
lations of the animal's dejections. These seemed to be watch holes 
where the Mice came regularly to look at the prospect outside. 

Meadow Mice sometimes, but not often, travel upon the snow, and 
they occasionally stray so far that they are unable to find the holes 
through which they came up. If this happens when there is a hard 
crust, through which they cannot burrow, they wander aimlessly about 
for a while and finally perish from the cold. In March and April I 
have several times found them frozen to death upon the crust. 

They are always present in greater or less numbers, but are 
not often sufficiently abundant to direct the attention of the farmer 
to their depreciations. Occasionally, however, they multiply to such 
an alarming extent that the most superficial observer is impressed 
with the magnitude of their ravages. They devastate the meadows, 
grain-fields, and orchards of the farmer, and ruin the nurseries of the 
horticulturist. Whether these periodical invasions are the result of 
unchecked reproduction, or of migration, has not been positively 


ascertained. Fortunately, they generally recur at long intervals. 
Arboreous vegetation suffers most during winters of deep snow, the 
snow enabling the Mice to reach the bark at a considerable height, 
and at the same time protecting them from the inclemencies of the 
weather. I have seen fruit trees, and also saplings of the maple and 
beech, more or less completely girdled to the height of four and even 
five feet (1.21 to i.52 metres). During the winter of 1868 or 1869 
thousands of young trees were destroyed in Lewis County alone. 

In places where corn or grain is allowed to stand in shocks for any 
length of time, large losses are occasioned by the Mice. The amount 
of food consumed by a single individual is of course comparatively 
insignificant, but that required to sustain the total number inhabiting 
a criven district is not to be io-nored. And when it is borne in mind 

o o 

that the food of this species consists almost exclusively of the produce 
of the agriculturist, the fact becomes evident that the animal is a 


source of continuous pecuniary loss to the farmer. Omitting reference 
to the years when the species is present in excessive numbers, it is a low 
estimate to say that twenty-five Mice live upon every acre of meadow 
land. Hence the total number present upon an ordinarily productive 
farm of two hundred acres would not be less than five thousand. 
Now suppose that the owner of a farm of this size should capture and 
keep in confinement five thousand Meadow Mice, feeding them upon 
their natural food, grain and the roots of grass. Would it be strange 
if, in the course of a few months, he should become so alarmed at 
the cost in dollars and cents, of keeping such a host of these ravenous 
creatures that he should have them all put to death ? And yet, our 
farmers not only look on in stolid indifference while their property 
and the fruits of their labors suffer, from this source, annual losses 
which they can ill afford to bear, but they even help the Mice to in- 
crease in numbers and maintain supremacy over their fields ! This 
they do in several ways, chiefly by neglecting measures for the rid- 
dance of the Mice, and, what is of vastly more consequence, by en- 
couraging the destruction of those birds and mammals that habitually 

KIP.KR xmi'/niicus. 276 

prey upon Mice. Pre-eminent among- these ma)- be mentioned the 
marsh and rough-legged hawks, all the smaller hawks and owls, the 
shrike, the skunk, and the weasels. Thus the farmer in his short- 
sightedness omits no opportunity to deprive himself of nature's means 
of holding in check the vermin that ruin his crops. 

When a field is overrun by Meadow Mice, immense numbers of 
them may be captured in narrow trenches, a spade's breadth in width, 
and a foot and a half (457 mm.) in depth. The trenches should be 
a trifle wider at the bottom than at the top. Into these the Mice 
tumble, without being able to escape. 

The Meadow Mouse is exceedingly prolific, giving birth to from 
four to eight young at a time, and having several litters in a season. 
In early spring its nests are generally made just beneath the surface, 
but after the grass has attained a little height they are usually placed 
in slight depressions directly on the ground. 


Mus kra t ; Mil sqnasJi. 

Colonies of Muskrats may be found at suitable ponds, swamps, 
and sluggish streams in all parts of the Adironclacks. 

These animals are in the main herbivorous, subsisting chiefly upon 
the roots of marsh grasses and aquatic plants. Still, they occasional- 
ly prey upon fish, and sometimes manifest evidences of cannibalism, 
devouring those of their own kind that are found dead or wounded 
and unable to escape. They are extremely fond of the fresh-water 
mussels ( Unio and Anodoii) and large quantities of empty shells may 
often be found near their homes. 

Although the Muskrat and the beaver are the most strictly aquatic 
of all our mammals, the former not infrequently, in autumn, visits 
orchards in the neighborhood of water-courses to feed upon the apples 
that have fallen to the ground ; and I have known it to follow up 
drains and enter the cellars of inhabited houses, and to attack the 


potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and other vegetables stored there. 
Not many years ago an aged couple lived alone in an old house in 
the town of Leyclen, in Lewis County. They were at one time very 
much annoyed by curious sounds that were heard every night, and 
sometimes by day as well, and which seemed to come from beneath 
the floor near the open fire-place. Having determined at length to 
investigate the source of these mysterious noises, the aged pair com- 
menced by removing some of the hearth bricks that covered the very 
spot whence the sound usually came. Imagine their astonishment 
to find here two full-grown living Muskrats ! The luckless beasts 

o o 

were lifted out with the old iron tongs and slain upon the spot. 

The Muskrat, though chiefly nocturnal, is frequently seen swimming 
and feeding about the borders of ponds and streams in the day-time, 
particularly in cloudy weather. And when resting on the edge of a 
bog it so resembles a lump of mud as to escape the notice of those 
unacquainted with its habits. The distance that it can swim under 
water without coming to the surface to breathe is remarkable. 

Its homes are of two principal kinds : huts and burrows. The 
latter are always present and may be inhabited at all times of the 
year, while the huts are for winter use and are confined to certain 
more or less restricted localities. 

The burrows are excavated in the shores of the water-courses 
which the animals inhabit. The entrance is under water, the burrow 
thence sloping upward into the bank a distance of ten or fifteen feet 
(3 to 4.3 metres) to an air-chamber eighteen inches (about half a 
metre) or more in diameter, which often contains a nest. There may 
be several passages leading to this nest, all of which are under water 
the greater part of the year. The roof of the air-chamber is generally 
so near the surface of the ground that it frequently falls in, particularly 
in pastures where cattle abound. Leading away from it, one or 
more galleries commonly extend back a considerable distance, keep- 
ing so near the surface that their occasional " caving in " may result 
in extensive damage to the fields of the farmer. When the animal 

xir.Knlir as. 277 

takes up its abode near dykes or dams, its perforations are liable to 
do great mischief. 

In moving about on their feeding grounds Muskrats are in the 

o <_> o 

habit of travelling along the same paths till they become deeply worn 
channels. Steel traps properly concealed in these runways are 
almost certain to capture the first animal that passes. 

In places where the water is from two to six feet deep the Musk- 
rat, in the fall of the year, sometimes collects and heaps together a 
large quantity of aquatic and marsh plants, the resulting mass taking 
a shape not unlike that of a " haycock," though commonly far less 
symmetrical. This accumulation of vegetation, with more or less 
adhering mud, :i: is called a Muskrat " hut ' or " house.' It varies 


greatly in size, those placed in water occasionally attaining extraordi- 
nary dimensions. The summit of the structure is commonly high 
enough out of water to admit of an air-chamber within, which com- 


municates with the outside world by means of a hole through the 
centre of the mass, the entrance or entrances being under water. 
Many of the houses contain no mud or sticks, but consist wholly of 
balls and knots of roots and swamp grasses. It seems clear that the 
animals make no attempt to construct a dwelling of any particular 
shape, but merely heap the materials together without plan or order, 
the resulting mound naturally assuming, in a general way, the form 
of a Battened cone In some cases the summit is quite dome-shaped, 
but I am convinced that this is purely the result of accident, for 
their upper parts are usually very irregular. The materials of which 
the hut is composed, it will be observed, are such as serve as food 
for the animals during the lon^r winters ; hence the Muskrat's house 

O O 

is, in reality, a store-house, which he devours piecemeal as the winter 
advances ! The one structure supplies both the food itself, and the 

* I have never seen a Muskrat house that was built of mud, or that even coupled largely of this 
material; but they must occur in certain localities, for no less trustworthy an authority than Sir 
John Richardson wrote: "In the autumn, before the shallow lake.-, and -^vamps freeze over, the 
Musquash builds its house of mud, giving it a conical form, and a sufficient base to raise the 
chamber above the level of the water." (Fauna Boreali Americana, Vol. I, 1829, p. 117.) 


shelter in which it is eaten. It is quite a conspicuous object, the 
summit projecting above the water or ice, and is therefore most 
commonly found in places that are a little out of the beaten paths of 
man. During the fall and winter, Muskrats speedily repair injuries 
done to their houses. This habit is put to advantage by the trapper, 
who, chopping a hole in the side of the hut and placing a trap in the 
breach, often secures the entire family in the course of a few days. 
The above remarks apply to the highest type of Muskrat architecture. 
There are many less perfect, and at the same time less conspicuous 
forms of these store-houses, that are to be met with in almost every 
locality where the species exists in any numbers. Along the borders 
of ponds and sluggish streams there often stand old hollow stumps 
whose roots extend out under the water. Such stumps will frequently 
be found, as cold weather approaches, stuffed full of the wads of grass 
that are used in hut building, the angles and crevices between the 
roots being packed with the same material. Advantage is also taken 
of other inconspicuous places in which to deposit food, and some- 
times, where there is no current, floating hoards of grass and roots 
are established veritable floating islands in miniature in the 


vicinity of their huts. When the ice is not too thick they generally 
keep open a few breathing holes at certain favorite feeding grounds 
in very shallow water, frequently covering them over with grass. 

My observation that the Muskrat, in the North, habitually lays up 
provisions for winter's use does not accord with the statements of 
others, the only allusion to such a habit that I have seen being con- 
tained in the following very interesting narrative from Audubon and 
Bachman (who, by the way, evidently considered it as exceptional) : 

" An acquaintance who had a garden in the neighborhood of a 
meadow which contained a large number of Musk- Rats, sent one day, 
to enquire whether we could aid in discovering the robbers who 
carried off almost every night a quantity of turnips. We were sur- 
prised to find on examining the premises, that the garden had been 
plundered and nearly ruined by these Rats. There were paths ex- 


tending from the muddy banks of the stream, winding among the 
rank weeds and grasses, passing through the old worm fence, and 
leading to the various beds of vegetables. Many of the turnips had 
disappeared on the previous night the cluck-like tracks of the Musk- 
Rat were seen on the beds in every direction. The paths were 
strewn with turnip leaves, which either had dropped, or were bitten 
off, to render the transportation more convenient. Their paths after 
entering the meadow diverged to several burrows, all of which gave 
evidence that their tenants had been on a foraging expedition on the 
previous night. The most convenient burrow was opened, and we 
discovered in the nest so many different articles of food, that we 
were for some time under an impression, that like the chipping squir- 
rel, chickaree, &c., this species laid up in autumn a store of food for 
winter use. There were carrots, and parsnips, which appeared to 
have been cut in halves, the lower part of the root having been left 
in the qrouncl ; but what struck us as most sino-ular, was that ears of 

o o 

corn (maize) not yet quite ripe, had been dragged into the burrow, 
with a considerable portion of the stock attached." 

As has already been remarked, the Muskrat is exceedingly fond of 
our common fresh-water mussels, and it is usual to find larcre num- 


bers of their empty but unbroken shells strewn along the shore or 
in shallow water coverincr the mud or sand bottoms where it abounds. 


Instead of devouring the mussels where he finds them, the Musk- 
rat often carries them to particular spots, where large accumulations 
of their shells may be found. 

In the course of their remarks upon the habits of this species, 
Audubon and Bachman relate an experience that is as interesting and 
remarkable as it seems to be unique : "It is a well-known fact that many 
species of quadrupeds and birds, are endowed by Nature with the 
faculty of foreseeing or foreknowing, the changes of the seasons, and 
have premonitions of the coming storm. . . . After an unusual 
drought, succeeded by a warm Indian-summer, as we were one day 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, pp. 118-119. 


passing near a mill-pond, inhabited by some families of Musk-Rats, 
we observed numbers of them swimming about in every direction, 
carrying mouthfuls of withered grasses, and building their huts higher 
on the land than any we had seen before. We had scarcely ever 
observed them in this locality in the middle of the day, and then only 
for a moment as they swam from one side of the pond to the other ; 
but now they seemed bent on preparing for some approaching event, 
and the successive reports of several guns fired by some hunters, 
only produced a pause j'n their operations for five or ten minutes. 
Although the day was bright and fair, on that very night there fell 
torrents of rain succeeded by an unusual freshet, and intensely cold 

Spearing the Muskrat in their huts, in the early winter, is an ex- 
citing and sometimes profitable occupation. The best account of 
this mode of hunting which I have seen is from the pen of Henry 
Thacker, who thus graphically describes his excursions to a large 
marsh in the vicinity of Chicago in the winter of 1844-45 : 

" With feelings of interest and excitement, I marched up to a large 
house very cautiously (for, with the least jar or crack of the ice, 
away goes your game), and, with uplifted spear, made ready for a 
thrust. I hesitated. There was a difficulty I had not taken into 
account ; I knew not where to strike. The chances of missing the 
game were apparent, but there was no time to be lost ; so bang ! 
went the spear into a hard, frozen mass, penetrating it not more than 
three or four inches, and away went the game in every direction 
With feelings of some chagrin I withdrew my spear, and began feel- 
ing about for a more vulnerable spot, which I was not long in de- 
tecting. It being a cold, freezing day, I discovered an accumulation 
of white frost on a certain spot of the house, and putting my spear 
on the place I found it readily entered. The mystery was solved at 
once ; this frost on the outside of the house was caused by the breath 
and heat of the animals immediately beneath it, and it was generally 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, pp. 122-123. 


on the southeast side of the centre of the house, this bein^ the 


warmest side. Acting- on these discoveries, I made another trial, and 
was successful ; and now the sport began in good earnest. When- 
ever I made a thrust, I would cut a hole through the wall of the house 


with my hatchet, and take out the game, close up the hole, and start 
for another house. The remaining members of the family would 
soon return, and immediately set about repairing the breach. I 
sometimes succeeded in pinning two rats at one thrust. I also be- 
came quite expert in taking the game in another way, as follows : 
Whenever I made an unsuccessful thrust into a house, the rats would 
dive into the water through their paths or run-ways, and disappear in 
all directions. I now found I could easily drive my one tined spear 
through the ice two inches thick, and pin a rat with considerable 
certainty, which very much increased the sport, and I was not long 
in securing a pile of fifteen or twenty rats. 

" Here I made a discovery of what, until now, had been a mystery 
to me, namely, how a muskrat managed to remain so long a time in 
the water under the ice without drowning. The muskrat, I perceiv- 
ed, on leaving his house inhaled a full breath, and would then stay 
under water as lonor as he could without breathino- ; when he would 

o o 

rise up with his nose against the ice, and breathe out his breath, 
which seemed to displace the water, forming a bubble. I could dis- 
tinctly see him breathe his bubble in and out several times, and then 
dive again. In this way I have chased them about under the ice for 
some time before capturing them. 

"As I frequently speared the muskrat on his feeding-bed, and 
subsequently found it to be the best and surest place to set a trap for 
him, I will, for the benefit of the novice, undertake to describe one 
as found in the marshes. A feeding-bed is a place where the musk- 
rat goes to feed, generally at night, and is frequently many rods from 
his house. Here he selects a place where his food is convenient, 
and by the aid of the refuse material of the roots, &c., which he 
carries here for food, he elevates himself partly out of water, in a sort 


of hut. Here he sits and eats his food, and at the slightest noise, or 
least appearance of danger, disappears in an instant under water. In 
the winter these feeding-places are readily discovered by a bunch of 
wadded grass, flag, or some other material, about the size of a man's 
hat, protruding above the ice. This little mound is hollow, and is 
only large enough for a single rat, where he sits and eats his food, 
with his lower parts in the water. When the rats were disturbed in 
their house, I found they generally fled to these feeding-huts, where 
they were almost a certain mark for the spearman. 

" In my next excursion, not many days after, to the same place, I 
had still better success. As the ice had now become too thick to be 
easily penetrated by my spear, I adopted, in part, a different mode 
of taking the game. This time I carried with me, in addition to my 
spear, two dozen steel-traps, and a bundle of willow sticks (cut on 
the way) about three feet long. On arriving at the hunting grounds 
I prepared myself for the day's sport by putting on my mufflers, and 
with traps and willow sticks slung upon my back, began the work by 
driving my spear into the first house I came to. I could not now 
see the rats as they fled from the house, on account of the thickness 
of the ice and a slight snow that lay upon it. Consequently the sport 
of spearing them through the ice was cut off. But as often as I had 
occasion to cut through the walls of the house to take out my game, 
I set a steel-trap in the nest, slipped a willow stick through the ring 
of the chain, laid it across the hole, slightly stopped it up, and then 
passed on to the next house ; and so on, until my traps were all gone. 
I then started back to the place of beginning, driving my spear into 
every feeding-hut in my course, and killing many rats. Finally, I 
began going over the ground again, first driving my spear into a 
house, then examining the trap, taking out the game and re-setting 
the trap. In this course I was quite successful. I found by setting 
the trap in the right place, near the edge, and a little under the water, 
I was almost certain to take the first rat that returned. In making- 
two or three rounds in this way, I found the rats became somewhat 


disturbed, and sought temporary shelter elsewhere ; when I would 
move to a new place, giving them time to recover from their fright." 

That the Muskrat was at one time a very important article of com- 
merce is evident from the fact that Dr. Richardson, in writing of it 
in 1829, stated : "Between four and five hundred thousand skins are 
annually imported into Great Britain from North America." f And 
even at the present day several thousand are killed each year in the 
United States alone. It is probable that no other North American 
mammal is so extensively trapped by the rural small boy. This is 
due to the great abundance of the species, even in populous districts, 
and the ease with which it is trapped, rather than to its value, for 
Muskrat pelts have always ranked among the cheaper furs, a single 
skin rarely fetching more than fifteen or twenty cents. 

The Muskrat is a very prolific animal. It brings forth from five to 
nine young at a birth, and is said to raise three litters in a season. 
The nest is usually placed in a hole in the bank, at some little distance 
from the water, though it is sometimes built in the hut. Robert 
Kennicott, in his very valuable paper upon The Quadrupeds of 
Illinois, says : " Though the young are generally brought forth in 
burrows, they were often found in the houses in the sloughs, only 
one female, however, remaining in a house." J Mr. Thomas S. Rob- 
erts thus describes a litter of young that he found near Minneapolis, 
Minnesota, May 24th, 1880: " Upon knocking the top off from a 
Muskrat house on the edge of a slough, nine young Muskrats ap- 
parently but a day or two old were disclosed. They were hairless 
and showed not the least sign of their eyes opening. The nest was 
of dry grass and not more than an inch or two above the level of the 

The ,noise a Muskrat makes in diving is out of all proportion to its 

* The Trapper's Guide. By S. Newhouse. Published l>y Oneida Community, Wallingford, 
Conn., 1867, pp. 147-150. 

f Fauna Boreali Americana, Vol. I, 1821), p. 118. 

\ Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year 1856. Agriculture, 1857, p. 108. 

i- Forest and Stream, Vol. XIV, No. 22, July I, 1880, pp. 428-429. 



size, and many a drowsy hunter, while floating for deer, has been 
startled by its sudden plunge. A loud report is made by striking 
the flat tail against the water. 

Dr. Richardson, writing in 1829, said that in the Fur Countries 
they were " subject at uncertain intervals to a great mortality from 
some unknown cause. Their great fecundity, however, enables them 
to recover these losses in a very few years, although the deaths at 
times are so numerous, that a fur-post, where the Musquash is the 
principal return, is not unfrequently abandoned until they have re- 
cruited." Among the foes of the Muskrat may be mentioned the 
fox and mink, and the larger hawks and owls ; the mink and the 
great-horned owl being its greatest enemies. 

The flesh of the Muskrat is red and rather flabby ; still it is fair 
eating for a time when other meat is unattainable. Thomas Pennant, 
whose notions of the causes of things were sometimes strangely 
sophistical, mentions that the Muskrat feeds upon the sweet flag, and 
then goes on to say : "This perhaps gives them that strong musky 
smell these animals are so remarkable for ; which they lose during 
winter, probably when this species of plant is not to be got." f 

Many distinguished naturalists, whose works are still regarded 
standard, give meagre and very erroneous accounts of the habits of 
the animals they describe. It is stated in the third volume of Griffith's 
Cuvier, published in 1827, that Muskrats " construct in winter, on the 
ice, a hut of clay, where they inhabit in great numbers, proceeding 
through a hole, to seek at the bottom the roots aconis, on which they 
subsist. When the ice closes their holes, they are reduced to feed 
upon each other ' (p. 67). It is hardly necessary to add that the 
above is fallacious in almost every particular. 

* Fauna Boreali Americana, Vol. I, 1829, p. 117. 
f Arctic Zoology, Vol. I, 1792, p. 123. 

FlIiKR /IliETHICUS. 285 

The Mnski-at as a FisJi-cater. 

That the Muskrat is not commonly considered a fish-eater is 
evident from the absence of reference to such habit in the published 
accounts of the animal. Robert Kennicott and Gov. DeWitt Clinton 
are, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the only authors who 
mention this trait. Kennicott says : " Excepting in eating mollusks, 
and occasionally a dead fish, I am not aware that this species departs 
from a vegetable diet.' 


Gov. Clinton, writing in 1820 of the then newly built Erie Canal, 

<;:> J 

in New York, said : " In winter, when the water is frozen, muskrats 
go under the ice and prey on the fish. They are very destructive to 
trout, which is already in the canal." f 

At a meeting of the Biological Society of Washington, held in the 
National Museum, December i4th, 1883, Mr. Henry W. Elliott 
spoke of the " Appetite of the Muskrat" He stated that in certain 
parts of Ohio the Muskrat did great injury to Carp ponds, not only 
by perforating the banks and dams and thus letting off the water, but 
also by actually capturing and devouring the Carp, which is a sluggish 
fish, often remaining motionless, half buried in the mud. In the dis- 
cussion that followed, Dr. Mason Graham Ellzey said that from boy- 
hood he had been familiar with the fact that the Muskrat sometimes 
ate fish. In fact, he had seen Muskrats in the act of devouring fish 
that had recently been caught and left upon the bank. The President, 
Dr. Charles A. White, narrated a similar experience. 

On the 7th of February, 1884, I brought this subject to the notice 
of the Linneean Society of New York, and asked if any of the mem- 
bers knew the Muskrat to be a fish-eater. Dr. Edo-ar A. Mearns 


said that he had long" been familiar with the fact, and that it was no 


uncommon thing to see a Muskrat munching a dead fish upon the 
borders of the salt marshes along the Hudson. He had shot them 

* Quadrupeds of Illinois Injurious and Beneficial to the Farmer, 1857, p. 106. 
f Letters on the Natural History and Internal Resources of the State of New York. By 
Hibernicus, 1822, p. 46. 


while so engaged. He further stated that the Muskrat is very de- 
structive to nets, destroying the fishermen's fykes by scores, by 
entering them in quest of fishes and then tearing the nets in order 
to escape. 

Dr. A. K. Fisher said that at Sing Sing, New York, he had often 
known Muskrats to enter fykes, sometimes drowning, but oftener 
escaping by gnawing the meshes, thus doing considerable injury to 
the nets. He supposed they entered the nets because placed in 
their line of travel. He further stated that he knew that fykes made 
of fine wire were used with success in capturing these animals. 

Mr. Wm. H. Dall, the well-known Alaskan explorer, now of the 
Coast Survey, in response to inquiry has kindly favored me with the 
following: "In 1863, I visited Kankakee, Illinois, on a collecting 
tour for river mollusks, in July. You know how the Muskrats throw 
up mounds of the shells they dig out I examined many of these 
for UnioSi etc. On several I saw the skeletons of fish (chiefly suck- 
ers I believe) partly or wholly denuded of their flesh, and showing 
the marks of Muskrat (or at least rodent) teeth. I also saw the shell 
of a common mud turtle, so gnawed and in the same situation. I 
did not see the animal in the act of feasting, which I believe is chiefly 
done at night, but I have no doubt that the fish and turtle were eaten 
by the Muskrat, as well as the mollusks associated with them in the 
same pile." 

Under date of March 5th, 1884, I have received from Dr. Fisher, 
the most valuable record yet obtained concerning the habit in ques- 
tion. Dr. Fisher writes : " A few days since, two young men were 
fishing through the ice for pickerel, with live bait, at Croton Lake, 
Westchester County, N. Y. Several times they were troubled by 
having one of the lines pulled violently off the bush and run out to 
its full length. Finally they saw the line start again, and by pulling 
it up quickly they landed a large Muskrat on the ice." Here is an 
authentic instance where a Muskrat has actually captured a live fish 


in the water. Fortunately, the fish was attached to a hook and line, 
and the Muskrat was caught and killed. 

The above facts, which were published in Forest and Stream of 
March 2/th and April 3d, 1884, fell under the eye of Mr. E \V. 
Nelson, late Signal Observer at St. Michaels, Alaska, and elicited 
from him the following additional testimony : " The Muskrat is the 
most abundant mammal to be found in all the marshy parts of Alaska, 
south of the Arctic circle at least, and during my residence in that 
country I had frequent opportunity to learn of its fondness for fish. 
Often when skirting the border of a pool or following the edge of 
some sluggish stream in the evening or during the dim light of the 
Arctic nights in summer, I frightened the Muskrats from the body of 
dead fish on the bank at the water's edge. The fish were usually 
small sluggish species and such as could have been easily caught by 
the animal itself, although it feeds upon fish not killed by itself. 
That the Muskrat will feed upon dead water fowl I have also had 
frequent occasion to notice." 

Mr. Charles F. Carr writes me that in Wolf River, Wisconsin, 
twelve or fifteen years ago, Muskrats were in the habit of eating fish 
from a gill net set there by a man named Rich. 

Ferocious Tendencies of the Muskrat. 
Under the above heading Mr. W. H. Ballou, in the American 


Naturalist for July, 1880, narrates the following very unusual expe- 
rience : " I was sauntering along a prairie road just out of Boone, 
Iowa, one night during the past winter. There was no snow on the 
ground and the moon was just glimmering through the clouds. Of 
a sudden I was startled by the appearance of some animal from the 
long grass by the wayside, which dashed up my leg. 1 knocked 
it off, picked up a frozen piece of mud and broke its leg. Again it 
made a rush for me, and another piece of mud sent it rolling over. 

* Forest and Stream, Vol. XXII, No. 15, May 8, 1884, p. 285. 


I took hold of its tail during this little scene, and ended the matter 
by giving its head a severe bump on the ground. When I had ac- 
cess to more light I found that it was a full-grown Muskrat of enor- 
mous size. I can neither account for its attack nor appearance there. 
The previous summer season had dried up all the sloughs and there 
was no water in the vicinity. The houses of these animals had been 
deserted for some time previous, and nowhere on the prairies had I 
been able to find one with any inhabitants (they build in the sloughs 
of western prairies extensively). Alone and well away from its most 
natural element it had attacked me without provocation. The mat- 
ter led to an inquiry among the farmers. The general statement 
was to the effect that considerable fun and some trouble was had with 
this species during each hay time, as they did not hesitate, when out 
of the water, to ferociously attack man or beast, with seldom any 
damage. One man related, however, that he received a severe bite 
in the hand from one of them, which laid him up for some time. It 
is either very courageous or very luny." :i: 

The most remarkable foray of this kind which has come to my 
knowledge occurred in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, during 
the evening of March iyth, 1884. It is thus recorded in the Char- 
lotte Observer of March iSth : " Charlie Fox's adventure with a pack 
of Muskrats on Trade street one night about a year ago, was brought 
vividly to mind last night when several runners came into the Ob- 
server office bringing tidings of three sanguinary battles fought be- 
tween citizens who had encountered bodies of the savage Musquash 
in the streets. It appears that all these fights occurred at 8 o'clock. 
Mr. John Davidson was going home about that hour when he was 
encountered at the corner of Tyron and Fifth streets, by a large and 
ferocious rat, which he finally killed with a stick. He sent his fallen 
foe to the Observer office for inspection. It was almost as large as a 
'possum. When this fight was going on there was a lively scene on 
Trade street, opposite the mint, where the Muskrats fairly swarmed. 

* The American Naturalist, July. 1880, Vol. XIV, No. 7, p. 524. 


Mr. Martin McRae, a clerk of T. L. Seigle & Co , was set upon by 
seven of the ' varmints ' and was put to flight, not having- any weap- 
ons with which to defend himself. Shortly afterwards, Larkin 
Saddler, the Observer s janitor, passed by and about twenty of the 
rats began biting- at his legs. Larkin kicked about for clear life and 
finally got one rat under his foot and crushed it to death. Their 
sharp teeth began perforating his hide, and jumping over the fence 
he fled across the mint yard and got away from them. John 
Smith, colored, an employee of the Air Line road, came along 
next, and seeing the curious pack that beset his ankles, uttered a 
terrific yell and fled at the top of his speed. Wm. Norman, a col- 
ored employee of Duls & Co., was the next victim. He had a stick 
and giving the Muskrats battle killed one of their number and put 
the others to flight. 

" This is the second annual appearance of these savage pests 
upon our streets. Where do they come from and who can account 
for their appearance in our city in such numbers ? One theory is 
that they come from Irwin's creek, making their way up the ceme- 
tery branch to the flats below the First Presbyterian church and 
thence to the streets of the city. It is very nearly opposite the 
mint that Charlie Fox was attacked by the rats last year." 

Mr. Ernest E. T. Seton, of Manitoba, writes me that, September 
1 3th, 1883, near Carberry, he found a Muskrat in a field of stand- 
ing wheat a mile and a half from water. The animal showed fight 
and was captured alive. Mr. Seton writes further : " While 
travelling on the Rapid City trail in Manitoba, October 2d, 1883, 
the oxen suddenly shied and turned off the road. Then I saw just 
ahead what proved to be a Muskrat ! It was in a threatening 
attitude and sprang toward the nose of one of the cattle. On run- 
ning to it, it seized my trousers in its teeth and held on. When 
kicked off it did not attempt to escape, but fought until killed. It 
was a male.' 


Family ZAPODID^. 

Jumping Mouse ; Labrador Mouse. 

The Jumping Mouse is common in many parts of the Adiron- 
dacks, as well as in the surrounding country. It feeds upon 
beechnuts, and various seeds and berries. 

Within the Wilderness it is most often observed in the tangled 
borders of low shrubs that surround the lakes and beaver meadows; 
while beyond the confines of the region it inhabits both the clear- 
ings and woodlands. It delights in grain fields, and in meadows 
of tall waving grass, where it finds abundant food and can readily 
escape its most active enemies. But when the time for haying and 
harvesting arrives, the Mice are suddenly deprived of their accus- 
tomed shelter and many seek protection beneath the haycocks and 
stacks of grain. By quickly overturning these, they are confused 
and frightened and may be captured with comparative ease. 

When stationed to watch for deer, on the borders of our Adi- . 
rondack lakes, I have often remained in one place during the 
greater part of the day. Seated, sometimes on a log that crossed 
a narrow belt of marsh along the shore, sometimes on the mossy 
.slope of a well-wooded knoll hard by, and hidden by the dense 
frontage of undershrubs, or by the more open shelter of a slender 
tamarack, I have learned much that fills these pages. Encroaching 
upon the very water's edge is a net-work of wiry bushes, repelling 
the canoe that attempts to land. It consists chiefly of the leather 
leaf (Cassandra calyculata) and sweet gale (Myrita gale"], with 
smaller quantities of the wild rosemary (Andromeda poli folia), 
meadow sweet (Spiraea salicifolia\ and swamp laurel (Kalmia 
glauca). Adjoining this is a strip of sphagnous bog which supports 
a luxuriant growth of the curious pitcher plant, interspersed with 
straggling cranberries. Careful search may reveal the insect-eat- 
ing Drosera, as well as several rare species of orchids. Where the 

ZAi'Us HUDSON* r us. 291 

sloping hill-side meets the marsh, another miniature thicket bars 
the way. Like the first, it is largely made up of the tough Cas- 
sandra, which here intertwines with Labrador tea (Lcdniu latifoli- 
itiii}, sheep laurel (Kaliuia angustifolia), and winterberry (Ilex 
lavigata). The beautiful Azalea and the woolly steeple bush 
(Sph'cca tomentosa) are also usually present, while several species 
of I'ibuj'nuui and Cornns contribute their share to the, prominent 
features of the local flora. 

While silently seated in the midst of these surroundings, I have 
on more than one occasion observed the Jumping Mouse. Some- 
times he has crept quietly over the bog, winding his way amongst 
the pitcher plants and low clumps of matted bushes, presenting 
much the appearance of the white-footed mouse. At other times he 
has bounded lightly by, clearing the tops of the bushes with every 
leap, and disappearing so quickly that his identity was with diffi- 
culty determined. Indeed, when he hides after the first or second 
leap he is not rarely mistaken for the wood frog (Rana touporaria 
sylvatica], which he resembles in color. 

The agility of these animals is almost incredible. I have re- 
peatedly known them to clear a distance of more than ten feet ( a 
trifle over 3 metres) at a single bound, and their leaps are made 
in such rapid succession that their feet seem barely to touch the 
ground. To attempt to catch one when any covert is near is a 
hopeless task. 

The Jumping Mouse is said, by most writers, to be strictly noc- 
turnal, but this is not the case. It is crepuscular, like the ma- 
jority of our mammalia, and is also not infrequently seen abroad 
by day. 

It nests in a variety of situations : sometimes in hollow stumps 
and trees, which it is said to climb from the inside ; more often 
under logs and rails, and in piles of rubbish ; frequently in crevi- 
ces of rocky ledges ; and occasionally in open fields, a short dis- 
tance under the surface. 


Since the foregoing was written, Mr. Elisha Slade, of Somerset, 
Bristol County, Massachusetts, has favored me with a very in- 
teresting and detailed account of the habits of this species, portions 
of which are here reproduced. Mr. Slade says : " The Long-tailed 
Jumping Mouse inhabits high land or low land, forest or pasture, 
cultivated field or swamp, and appears to be equally at home in 
either, and not numerous in any situation. It possesses a momen- 
tary agility second to no other Rodent, and a muscular strength 
of enormous power for so small a creature. When suddenly dis- 
turbed it often moves away in a direct line, the first three or four 
leaps being eight or ten feet in length ; but these distances rapidly 
decline to about four feet, which are continued until it considers 
itself out of danger. This is not always the case, however, for it 
frequently takes an irregular course and jumps at diverse angles 
for several successive leaps, keeping the same general direction or 
changing at will. It can double, and quickly too, if pursued, and 
by its manceuvers and instantaneous squattings can, and often does, 
elude a hawk or an owl ; and its spontaneous irregularities enable 
it to escape being brained by a weasel, or swallowed whole by the 
common black snake. ... It feeds upon the buds, leaves, and 
twigs, of many kinds of plants ; upon seeds, grain, wild berries, 
chestnuts, acorns, grass, and to some extent upon the bark of 
shrubs. . . . As a rule, three litters are produced in a season, 
each consisting of from two to four young." 

Barton, writing of this species in 1795, says: "Upon showing 
my drawing of the animal to an intelligent Indian who is settled at 
Oneida, he assured me that the same animal is very common at 
that place. This Indian, who is a Mohegan, moreover said, that 
in his language this Dipus is called Wauh peh Sons, which signifies 
the creature that jumps or skips like a deer."" He also says : "It 
often gets into the oraneries of the Indians settled at Oneida, in 

o o 

the State of New York, and proves very destructive to the Indian- 
corn. ... I have not learned, with certainty, at what time 

/APUS iirnsoxirs. 293 

this animal brings forth its young. But it has been seen leaping 
about with the young ones strongly attached to its teats. Four 
young ones have been seen thus attached." 

Dr. DeKay says that Mr. Jesse Booth, of Orange County, X<-\v 
York, writes him : "In cross-plowing some years since, my atten- 
tion was taken up by seeing some small thing move off from near 
my plough, at about the moderate walk of a man. It went over 
ridges and descended the hollows of the furrows, bearing some re- 
semblance to an old withered oak leaf. I pursued it, when it 
proved to be one of these wood-mice, or jumping mice ; a female, 
with four young ones attached by their mouths to its teats." 

The Hibernation of the Jumping Mouse. 

Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, of Philadelphia, was the first to 
make known the fact that the Jumping- Mouse hibernates. On 
the 2d of October, 1795, he read a paper before the American 
Philosophical Society (which was not published, however, till i 799) 
in which he states : "In the month of February, one of these 
animals was found, seemingly in a torpid-state, under a stone, in 
opening a quarry." He further says, that a farmer, living near 
Philadelphia, has often discovered them, " at the depth of eighteen 
inches or two feet under ground, when he has been digging for the 
roots of horse-radish and parsley, in the winter-time." f In a 
supplement to this article, published in 1804, the same author 
observes : 

" In the month of August, 1796, one of these little animals was 
brought to me from the vicinity of this city. It was put into a 
large glass jar, where I was so fortunate as to preserve it for near 
four months. Though it made many efforts to escape from its 

* Zoology of New York, Part I, 1842, p. 72. 

f Some account of an American Species of Dipus, or Jerboa. By Benjamin Smith Barton, M. D. 
Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. IV, No. XII, 1799, p. 122. Barton 
again refers to the hibernation of this species in his Fragments of the Natural History of Pennsyl- 
vania, 1799, pp- xii, xiii. 


confinement, it seemed, upon the whole, pretty well reconciled to it. 
It continued active, and both ate and drank abundantly. I fed it 
upon bread, the grain of Indian corn (Zea Mays), and the berries 
of the Prinos verticillatus, sometimes called black-alder. 

" On or about the 22cl of November, it passed into the torpid 
state. It is curious to observe, that at the time it became torpid, 
the weather was unusually mild for the season of the year, and 
moreover the animal was kept in a warm room, in which there was 
a large fire the greater part of the clay and night. I sometimes 
roused it from its torpid state ; at other times it came spontaneously 
out of it. During the intervals of its waking, it both ate and 
drank. It was frequently most active, while the weather was ex- 
tremely cold in December ; but when I placed the jar upon a thick 
cake of ice, in the open air, its movements or activity seemed 
wholly directed to the making of a comfortable habitation out of 
the hay with which I supplied it. It was sufficiently evident, how- 
ever, that the cold was not the only cause of its torpid state. It 
was finally killed by the application of too great a degree of heat 
to it, whilst in its torpor. 

" During its torpor, it commonly laid with its head between its 
hind legs, with the claws or feet of these closely applied to the 
head. Its respiration could always be perceived, but was very 

" The fact of the torpidity of this little animal is known to the 
gardeners and others near the city. They call it the ' seven 
sleepers,' and assert, that it is frequently found in the earth, at 
the lower extremity of the horse-radish, and other perpendicular 
roots. Does it use these as a measure of the distance to which it 
shall go in the earth, to avoid the influence of the frost ? 

" I have said, that the Dipus Americanus becomes torpid in the 
neighborhood of this city. But this, I believe, is not always the 
case. During the winter-season, this little animal and another 
species, which I call Dipus mellivorus, take possession of the 

ZAl'L'S HUDSOXirs. 290 

hives of bees, in which they form for themselves, a warm and com- 
fortable habitation, having ingeniously scooped away some wax. 
The materials of its nest are fine dry grass, down of feathers, and 
old rags. It lives upon the honey, and seems to grow very fat 
upon it. I believe two individuals, a male and a female, commonly 
inhabit one hive. They sometimes devour the greater part of the 
honey of a hive. 

" The circumstance just mentioned is not altogether uninterest- 
ing. It plainly proves what 1 have, long since, asserted, that the 
torpid state of animals is altogether ' an accidental circumstance,' 
and by no means constitutes a specific character. The same 
species becomes torpid in one country and not in another. Nay, 
different individuals of the same species become torpid, or continue 
awake, in the same neighborhood, and even on the same farm." 

On the 6th of June, 1/97, Major-General Thomas Davies pre- 
sented, before the Linnaean Society of London, " An account of the 
Jumping Mouse of Canada," which he supposed to be an uncle- 
scribed species. This account was published in the Linnaean 
Transactions for i 798. Hence, though not read till more than a 
year and a half after Dr. Barton had presented his paper before 
the American Philosophical Society, it appeared in print before the 
publication of the latter. 

General Davies gives a figure of the animal in the dormant state, 
observing that the specimen " was found by some workmen, in 
digging the foundation for a summer house, in a gentleman's 
garden about two miles from Quebec, in the latter end of May, 

O ^" J ' 

1787. It was discovered enclosed in a ball of clay, about the size 
of a cricket ball, nearly an inch in thickness, perfectly smooth 
within, and about twenty inches under ground. The man who 
first discovered it, not knowing what it was, struck the ball with 
his spade, by which means it was broken to pieces, or the ball also 
would have been presented to me. The drawing will perfectly 

* Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, \ r ol. VI, 1804, pp. 143-144. 


show, how the animal is laid during its dormant state. How long 
it had been under ground, it is impossible to say ; but as I never 

could observe these animals in any part of the country after the 
beginning of September, I conceive they lay themselves up some 
time in that month, or beginning of October, when the frost be- 
comes sharp ; nor did I ever see them again before the last week 
in May, or beginning of June. From their being enveloped in 
balls of clay, without any appearance of food, I conceive they sleep 
during the Winter, and remain for that term without sustenance." 

In the third volume of Griffith's Cuvier, published in 1827, it is 
stated : " One single species, the Gcrbillus of Canada, has been 
found in a state of hibernation " (p. 154). And again : "In the 
winter it retires and falls asleep, rolled up like a ball, in a burrow 
about twenty inches deep. It places itself then in a sort of little 
chamber, of an oval form, and never stirs until the middle of spring. 
No provision is found in this retreat, nor is it exactly known on 
what substances it feeds" (p. 159). 

Godman says : " At the commencement of cool weather, or about 
the time the frost sets in, the jumping mice go into their winter 
quarters, where they remain in a torpid state until the last of May 
or first of June." * Zadock Thompson also tells us that " they 
pass the winter in a torpid state and are not usually out in the 
spring before June." f 

Is it not surprising, in the face of the evidence above narrated, J 
that Audubon and Bachman should have given utterance to the 
following : " It is generally believed, that the Jumping Mouse, like 
the Hampster of Europe, (Cricetus vulgaris), and the Marmots, 
(Arctomys), hibernates, and passes the winter in a profound lethar- 

* American Natural History, Vol. I, 1842, p. 322. 
f Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 1842, p. 44. 

\ The statement in Griffith's Cuvier was unquestionably based upon General Davies' article, and 
it is probable that both Godman and Thompson derived their information from the same source. 
But even in this case there remain the two original, independent, and almost simultaneous accounts 
(those of Barton and Davies), the trustworthiness of which cannot be called in question. 

ZAl'US lirnSnMl'S. 297 

gy. Although we made some efforts many years ago, to place this 
matter beyond a doubt by personal observation, we regret that our 
residence, being in a region where this species does not exist, no 
favorable opportunity has since been afforded us. Naturalists 
residing in the Northern and Middle States could easily solve the 
whole matter, by preserving the animal in confinement through the 
winter." * 

If, in Auclubon's time, there were grounds for questioning that 
this species hibernates, there are none at present. Robert Kenni- 
cott, in his valuable contribution to economic agriculture, states : 
" Dr. Hoy informs me that, when he was a boy in digging out a 
rabbit in winter, he found a pair of this species in a state of pro- 
found torpor, exhibiting all the phenomena of perfect hibernation. 
They were in a large nest of leaves situated two or three feet be- 
low the surface." f 

In the American Naturalist for June, 1872 (Vol. VI, No. 6, pp. 
330332), the late Professor Sanborn Tenney published an article 
entitled " Hibernation of the Jumping Mouse." Without referring 
to a single published record or opinion, he narrates a personal 
experience so full of interest that I take pleasure in presenting it 
to my readers. Professor Tenney says : 

"On the i8th of January of the present year (1872), I went 
with Dr. A. Patton of Vincennes, Indiana, to visit a mound situ- 
ated about a mile or a mile and a half in an easterly direction from 
Vincennes. While digging in the mound in search of relics that 
might throw light upon its origin and history, we came to a nest 
about two feet below the surface of the ground, carefully made of 
bits of grass, and in this nest was a Jumping Mouse (Jadi/us 
Hudsonius Baird) apparently dead. It was coiled up as tightly as 
it could be, the nose being placed upon the bell)', and the long tail 
coiled around the ball-like form which the animal had assumed. I 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. II, 1851, p. 355. 
f Patent Office Report for 1856, 1857, p. 97. 


took the little mouse into my hand. It exhibited no motion or 
sign of life. Its eyes and mouth were shut tight, and its little fore 
feet or hands were shut and placed close together. Everything 
indicated that the mouse was perfectly dead, excepting the fact 
that it was not as rigid as perhaps a dead mouse would be in the 
winter. I tied the mouse and nest in my handkerchief and carried 
them to Vincennes. Arriving at Dr. Patton's office I untied my 
treasures, and took out the mouse and held it for some time in my 
hand ; it still exhibited no sign of life ; but at length I thought I 
saw a very slight movement in one of the hind legs. Presently 
there was a very slight movement of the head, yet so feeble that 
one could hardly be sure it was real. Then there came to be some 
evidence of breathing, and a slight pressure of my ringers upon 
the tail near the body was followed by an immediate but feeble 
movement of one of the hind legs. At length there was unmis- 
takable evidence that the animal was breathing, but the breathing 
was a labored action, and seemingly performed with great diffi- 
culty. As the mouse became warmer the signs of life became more 
and more marked ; and in the course of the same afternoon on 
which I brought it into the warm room it became perfectly active, 
and was as ready to jump about as any other member of its 

" I put this mouse into a little tin box with holes in the cover, 
and took him with me in my journeyings, taking care to put in the 
box a portion of an ear of corn and pieces of paper. It ate the 
corn by gnawing from the outside of the kernel, and it gnawed the 
paper into bits with which it made a nest. On the fourth day 
after its capture I gave it water which it seemed to relish. On the 
23d of January, I took it with me to Elgin, Illinois, nearly three 
hundred miles farther north than the region where I found the 
specimen. The weather was intensely cold. Taking the mouse 
from the box, I placed it on a newspaper on a table, and covered 
it with a large glass bell, lifting the edge of the glass so as to admit 

/AITS iiunsoxirs. 299 

a supply of air. Under this glass was placed a good supply of 
waste cotton. Soon after it was fairly established in its new and 
more commodious quarters, it began to clean ever}- part of its body 
in the most thorough manner, washing itself very much in the 
same manner as a cat washes. On coming to the tail it passed 
that long member, for its whole length, through the mouth from 
side to side, beginning near the body and ending at the tip. At 
night as soon as the lights were put out the mouse began gnawing 
the paper, and during the night it gnawed all the newspaper it 
could reach, and made the fragments and the cotton into a lar^re 

e> o 

nest perhaps five or six inches in diameter, and established itself 
in the centre. Here it spent the succeeding day. The next night 
it was supplied with more paper, and it gnawed all it could reach, 
and thus spent a large part of the night in work. I could hear the 
work going on when I was awake. In the morning it appeared to 
be reposing on the top of its nest ; but after watching it for some 
time, and seeing no motion, I lifted up the glass and took the 
mouse in my hand. It showed no signs of life. I now felt that 
perhaps my pet was indeed really dead ; but remembering what I 
had previously seen, I resolved to try to restore it again to activity. 
By holding it in my hand and thus warming it, the mouse soon 
began to show signs of life, and although it was nearly the whole 
day in coming back to activity, at last it was as lively as ever, and 
afterward, on being set free in the room, it moved about so swiftly 
by means of its long leaps, that it required t\vo of us a long time 
to capture it uninjured. 

" On the evening of February 6th I reached my home in 
Williamstown, and on my arrival the mouse was in good condition. 
But the next morning it was again apparently dead ; in the course 
of the day, however, being placed where it was warm, it gradually 
came back to activity as before." 

The statements of Godman and Thompson, that the Jumping 
Mouse remains torpid till the last of May or first of June, are 


without weight, because it is very evident that these authors derive 
their knowledge from Davies, whose observations were limited to 
a single specimen taken near Quebec. Moreover, the fact that a 
hibernating animal does not emerge from winter-quarters till June 
in the latitude of Quebec, affords no reason for supposing it to 
remain dormant till this late date in more southern localities. 
Indeed, experience points to a contrary conclusion, as well in the 
present as in several other species. On the iith of February, 
1874, I caught an active male at Easthampton, Massachusetts ; 
and Mr. Elisha Slade writes me that in the vicinity of his home, at 
Somerset, Bristol County, Mass., the animal "retires to hollow 
trees, stumps, or fissures of rocks, during cold snaps," and reap- 
pears with every return of warm weather. During the winter of 
1881-1882, unprecedented for its mildness, I several times ob- 
served it in Lewis County, in Northern New York. 



Canada Porcupine. 

The Porcupine is a common and well-known resident of all the 
wooded parts of the Adirondacks, and is equally abundant in the 
lowlands and on the highest mountains. 

Of all the mammalian inhabitants of North America, not one 
possesses more striking peculiarities. To a person beholding him 
for the first time he seems a veritable prodigy. He presents a 
combination of positive characters which seem directly contradic- 
tory to his known habits of life. He is about twice the size of a 
full-grown woodchuck, well-conditioned adults averaging from fif- 
teen to twenty pounds in weight. His muzzle is short and blunt, 
and his eyes and ears are small the latter almost concealed in the 
bristles of the sides of the head. His neck is short and thick, and 
his body is large and chunked. He is very compactly built, and 


remarkably broad across the back. His legs are short. The soles 
of his plantigrade feet are broad and naked, like those of the bear, 
and his claws are large, well-curved, and channelled beneath. His 
tail is most extraordinary. It is a large, ponderous, and somewhat 
four-sided structure, capable of dealing a powerful blow. 

The entire upper surface of the animal, from in front of the eyes 
to the tip of the tail, the cheeks, sides of the neck, body and tail, 
the shoulders, flanks, and hips, are densely covered with thickly-set 
stout spines, varying from less than an inch (25.5 mm.) to more 
than four and one quarter inches (108 mm.) in length. These 
spines or quills, which in a state of rest are directed backward, are 
connected at their bases with a layer of muscle by which they may 
be erected at will. The mature quills cling so loosely to the skin 
that they are easily detached, and their finely barbed tips cause 
them to adhere to any animal with which they come in forcible 
contact. After having penetrated the skin, the tendency is to ad- 
vance, and the muscular action of their victim causes them to 
become more and more deeply imbedded. There is no part of the 
body to which they may not travel. I have found them in the hind 
leg of a fisher, firmly fixed between the tibia and fibula. 

The Porcupine, owing to this formidable dermal armature, has 
but few enemies. Chief among them, as has already been shown 
(Vol. I, pp. 30, and 48-50), are the panther and fisher ; and since 
these powerful Carnivores have become rare in the Adirondacks, 
the Porcupine has been, and still is, on the increase. He is occa- 
sionally attacked by wolves, eagles,* and the great-horned owl. 

He is a pretty strict vegetarian, deriving the greater part of his 
sustenance from different kinds of browse and bark. Among the 
conifers, the hemlock furnishes the most palatable food, for he is 
found upon it more often than upon any other evergreen. He 

* In Forest and Stream of March 20, 1884 (p. 144), Mr. J. L. Davison, of Lockport, N. Y., 
states that he had recently examined a golden eagle that had been shot at Plessis, Jefferson County, 
N. Y. He says : " The feet of the eagle were full of porcupine quills, which was probably the 
last animal he had dined off, and about as hot a meal as he ever had." 


also feeds upon the foliage and twigs of the maple and birch, and 
not infrequently comes to the water's edge to seek the lily-pads 
within reach from the bank. He is also partial to the staple com- 
modity of the region the beechnut and I have killed several 
whose stomachs were distended with beechnut-meal. 

The Porcupine is more strictly nocturnal than the majority of 
our mammals ; still, he occasionally ventures abroad in the day- 
time. The greater part of his life is spent high in the trees, 
though his den is usually concealed in some ledge of rocks. He 
is not so active during extreme cold as at other times, but is not 
known to hibernate. I have seen fresh tracks * leading to his hole 


in a rocky side-hill in January, the thermometer indicating a tem- 
perature of -27 C. If ledges are not at hand, he is sometimes 
found asleep under an old log or brush-heap, or in a hollow tree. 
When he has selected and settled himself in a tree to his liking he 


may not leave it, day or night, until he has denuded it of the whole 
of its foliage. I have seen many hemlocks thus completely stripped, 
not a green twig remaining, even on the smallest bough. It seems 
incredible that so large and clumsy an animal should be able to 
climb out far enough on the branches to reach the terminal leaves ; 
but he distributes his weight by bringing several branches together, 
and then, with his powerful paws, bends back their ends and passes 
them through his mouth. When high in the tree-tops he is often 
passed unnoticed, mistaken, if seen at all, for the nest of a crow or 

He is very fond of salt and frequently comes around camp dur- 
ing the night for the purpose of obtaining it. He will eagerly lick 
a bag that has contained salt meat, or the dirt where brine has 
been spilt. He takes pains to devour all pork and ham rinds that 
fall in his way, and, if occasion offers, will gnaw a buttertub or 
other wooden receptacle that has contained any saline substance. 

* His short legs allow his heavy body to drag in the snow, making even a deeper and broader 
rut than the otter. His footprints are nearer together than those of the otter, and are of n different 


His familiarity at such times is surprising, for, while not aggres- 
sive, he is by no means timorous, and explores the camp with cool- 
ness and determination. 

Porcupines have a curious habit of girdling trees, at a height of 
from six to thirty feet. The zone from which the bark is removed 
varies from a few inches to a foot or more in breadth. The spruce 
is more frequently girdled than any other tree, and those of small 
diameter more commonly than those of large size. 

When feeding on lily-pads along the borders of water-courses 
they sometimes utter extraordinary noises, and occasionally quar- 
rels arise for the possession of some log which affords them easy 
access to the coveted plants. At Beaver Lake, in Lewis County, 
Mr. John Constable once witnessed an encounter during which one 
of the combatants was tumbled into the water. The animals did 
not attempt to bite, but growled and snarled and pushed. 

Mr. Eugene P. Bicknell, while encamped on the summit of Slide 
Mountain in the Catskills, in June, 1882, was favored by a visit 
from a number of these curious animals, and his account of their 
actions well illustrates some of their prominent characteristics. 
Mr. Bicknell says : " From evening till morning dusk our cabin on 
the extreme summit of the mountain was virtually besieged by 
them, and through the chinks their dark forms could be seen mov- 
ing about among the shadows in the moonlight, while their sharp 
cries, and often low conversational chatter, singularly like the 
voices of infants, were weird interruptions of the midnight silence, 
or later, of the moaning wind. 

" The seeming nocturnal temerity of these creatures appeared to 
be simply an exhibition of excessive stupidity. It was found 
impossible to drive them from the camp for any length of time ; 
they seemed to be destitute of the faculty of memory, and even a 
light charge of shot sent among them was only for the moment 
effectual. Even when one particularly stupid individual had been 
shot dead in the doorway trying to effect an entrance by gnawing 


its way through a gap, another, shortly after, continued the opera- 
tion beside the lifeless body of its companion. 

i( It seems probable that these singular rodents cannot long sur- 
vive human settlement. Incapable of rapid motion they are easily 
approached, and their spiny armature, so potent a protection from 
their natural enemies, fails before the merciless power of man. In 
the isolation of the mountain top where we have just seen them, 
they appeared to be at a loss to understand the nature of their 
disturbers, and when met with showed little excitement, or anxiety 
to escape. Their greatest effort in this direction appeared to be 
leisurely shuffling out of the immediate way, often climbing with 
sluggish effort into a small balsam and composing themselves 
among the branches just out of easy reach." * 

Among certain Indian tribes the flesh of the Porcupine is a 
staple article of diet, and I have been informed by hunters and 
trappers that it is by no means bad eating. 

In the copper districts of Lake Superior, Porcupines are put to 
a novel use. The following clipping is from the Ontonagon 
[Michigan] Miner of July 28th, 1883 : " Porcupines as Fuel. Mr. 
Stratton who has charge of the work at the Wilmot mine has 


found a new article of fuel which is more effective than green 
wood, Porcupines ! Yes, Porcupines. These pests had become so 
numerous, that one day he threw a couple of them into the fire 
place of the steam-drill, and to his surprise his steam ran up to 80 
pounds in a short time. Having made this discovery he concluded 
to follow it up, and the boys are ordered to kill and bring in every 
porcupine they can catch, which are thrown in to help make fuel. 
They have now killed and burned 126 of them." 

By persons ignorant of natural history, the Porcupine is some- 
times called " Hedgehog." The hedgehog is a small animal, re- 
lated to the mole, and is not found in America. 

The Porcupine makes its nest in a ledge of rocks, or in the hol- 

* Transactions of the Linnaean Society of New York, Vol. I, 1882, pp. 121-122. 


low of a tree or log. Its young, generally one or two in number, 
are born about the first of May, and are monstrous for the size of 
the species. They are actually larger, and relatively more than 
thirty times larger, than the young of the black bear at birth.* 

Josselyn, in his account of Two Voyages to Neiu England, says : 
"The Porcupine likewise I have treated of, only this I forgot to 
acquaint you with, that they lay Eggs, and are good meat " (p. 


The intestines of these animals usually contain large numbers of 


Family LEPORID.<E. 

Great Northern Hare ; Northern Varying Hare. 

The Northern Hare is found in greater or less abundance in 
most parts of the Adirondacks above the altitude of fifteen hundred 
feet (477 metres). Below this altitude, particularly on the eastern 
or Champlain side of the Wilderness, it grades insensibly into the 
southern variety, Lcpus Americanus Virginiamis. 

In summer the Northern Hare feeds upon a variety of tender 
shoots, grasses, leaves, buds, and berries ; in winter its diet is 
limited to the twigs and bark of shrubs and small trees, particularly 
of the poplar, birch, and willow. 

The haunts of this species vary somewhat with the season. In 
summer it is found in the dark evergreen forests, while in winter, 
when the ground is frozen and covered with snow, it retires to the 
swamps, and to the dense thickets, chiefly of alder and black spruce, 

* May 1st, 1882, I shot, at Big Moose Lake, a female Porcupine which contained a foetus that 
would certainly have been born within two or three days. It weighed one and one-quarter pound 
avoirdupois (567 grammes), and measured in total length eleven and one-fourth inches (285 mm.), 
the head and body measuring about seven and three-fourth inches (just 195 mm.). It was densely 
covered with long black hair, and the quills on its back measured a little over half an inch (13 
mm.) in length. The discoid placenta measured two and one-quarter inches (57 mm.) in diameter. 


bordering many of the lakes and beaver meadows.* At all times 
of the year it inhabits the burnt districts that are strewn with 
charred logs and grown over with blackberry bushes, studded here 
and there with saplings of the poplar, birch, cherry, and shad-bush. 

It does not inhabit burrows, nor take refuge in hollow trees, like 
the gray rabbit, but seeks temporary shelter under a log, tree-top, 
young evergreen, or other covert where it is not likely to be dis- 
turbed. Here it spends the greater part of the day, feeding chiefly 
by night. It follows certain definite routes with such frequency 
that regular runways are formed. In these it is often snared. 

About the borders of the Wilderness the Varying Hare is a 
favorite object of the chase. It is hunted with hounds, during the 
early winter months, and is shot while circling through the swamps, 
or crossing from hill to hill in the burnt districts. Audubon and 
Bachman state that its flesh is not good eating, to which opinion 
I take exception, for, having eaten several dozens of them, I am 
prepared to pronounce them tender and well-flavored. When 
properly cooked they certainly constitute an excellent article of diet. 
The above-mentioned authors observe : " This species in the 
beginning of winter varies from three to six and a half pounds, but 
we consider five and a half pounds to be an average weight of a 
full-grown animal in o'ood condition." f In the Adirondack region 

o * * o 

a five-pound Hare is exceptionally large, the adults averaging not 
more than four and a half pounds (2,041 grammes) in weight. 

I have never found the nest, but it is doubtless placed under a 
brush heap, or in some other equally secure covert. From four to 
six young are produced at a birth, four being the usual number. 
They are born late in May. There may be two litters in a season, 
but I have no proof of it. This species has many enemies, among 

* In my journal of a snow-shoe tramp in the Adirondacks, in January, 1883, I find the following 
entry concerning this species : " Scarcely a track seen except about the borders of lakes and beaver 
meadows. Very common near Big Otter Lake, and tolerably so at Little Safford Lake and in a 
swamp west of Independence Lake ; also between Big Moose and Second Lake of North Branch, 
and near the Forge." 

f Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, p. 96. 


the most formidable of which are the lynx, fox, ermine, mink, 
marten, fisher, eagle, the snowy and great-horned owls, and the 
larger hawks. 

The Varying Hare derives its name from the well-known circum- 
stance that it changes color in spring and fall being dark reddish- 
brown in summer and snowy white in winter. Concerning the 
method of the change much difference of opinion exists, and some 
of the ablest of recent writers pass the point in silence. 

Pennant says : " These animals, at approach of winter, receive 
a new coat, which consists of a multitude of loner white hairs, t\vice 


as long as the summer fur, which still remains beneath." * Dr. 
Richardson stated that, in his opinion, " the change to the winter 
dress takes place by a lengthening and blanching of the summer fur ; 
whilst the change in the beginning of summer consists in the winter 
coat falling off during the growth of the new and coloured fur." f 
This opinion comes very near the truth, but does not express the 
whole truth. The first clause is absolutely correct ; for in the fall 
the change certainly does occur " by a lengthening and blanching 
of the summer fur," the individual hairs changing color after the 
first fall of snow. This species, like the great majority of mammals, 
is clothed with two kinds of hair a fine soft fur which densely 
covers all parts of the body, and longer, stiffer hairs, scattered 
through, and projecting beyond, the former. These long hairs 
are black in summer and white in winter. In the fall of the year, 
when the change begins, they become white at the tips first, the 
black gradually fading from above downwards until the entire hair 
is white. In spring the process is reversed, the exposed portion 
of the long hairs becoming black (though the extreme tip some- 
times remains white until the change is far advanced), which color 
gradually extends downward, at the expense of the white, until the 
entire hair is black. Sometimes the displacement of the white is 

* Arctic Zoology, Vol. I, 1792, p. no. 

f Fauna Boreali-Americana, Vol. I, 1829, p. 218. 


temporarily interrupted, the two colors appearing in alternate zones. 
And during the latter part of March, when the body of the animal 
is still white, it is not uncommon to find hundreds of black hairs 
scattered over the back, many of them with the extreme apices, 
and a narrow zone between the middle and base, white. In fall or 
early winter the soft fur becomes tipped with white, the white 
portion increasing somewhat in length and diameter. In spring a 
curious phenomenon takes place. The white portion of the fur 
loses its vitality, becomes brittle, and breaks off on slight friction, 
so that the animal, in brushing through the undergrowth, soon 
rids himself of it. As a rule the long hairs change first.* Both 
in spring and fall the time of the change seems to be governed by 
the presence or absence of snow, and is not affected by the tem- 
perature. It occurs independently of the moult, and the new hairs 
assume the prevailing color of the animal, or the color toward 
which it is tending at the time of their appearance. 

Mr. J. A. Allen, in his elaborate monograph of North American 
Hares, states that instances of melanism " are very rare among the 
American Lcporidce." He further says : " Among the specimens 
of var. Americanus is a single example of melanism, a mutilated 
skin (No. 6268) labeled as follows : ' Lcpus Americanus, Rainy 
Lake, H. B. T.' It is apparently a winter skin, the pelage being 
very long and full. The color is dull plumbeous-black throughout, 
there being a slight grayish cast to the surface of the pelage, par- 
ticularly on the head, breast, and back." f I have had the good 
fortune to examine two excellent melanistic specimens of this 
species, both in the collection of Mr. Romeyn B. Hough, of Low- 
ville, New York. The animals were shot in winter (one in March), 

* Specimens in my museum, killed in Lewis County, December ist, March 2ist, and April 3d, 
well illustrate the above described conditions of pelage. In spring, while the change is in progress, 
the attachment of the white tips is so feeble that hundreds may be blown off at a single puff. The 
change occurs more or less irregularly over the greater part of the body, but is usually symmetrical 
on the head, giving rise to a very pretty pattern. 

f Monographs of North American Rodentia, 1877, p. 305. 


in the town of Lyonsdale, in Lewis Count)-. In color they are 
a uniform dark sooty-brown, lighter on the soles of the feet. 


Southern Varying Hare. 

This variety or subspecies of the Varying Hare occurs in the 
low border-lands of the Adirondacks, particularly in the valleys of 
Lakes George and Champlain, but is not met with at any great 
elevation, a few hundred feet constituting, in this latitude, its 
altitudinal limit. 

Its food and habits are not known to differ from those of its 
nearest relative, the great northern hare, from which it may be 
distinguished, in winter, by the circumstance that the change to 
white is not complete, more or less light reddish-brown remain- 
ing about the head and ears, and on the upper surfaces of the fore- 

Rabbits are not commonly supposed to swim, but Mr. William 
Brewster has kindly written me of a case that fell under his personal 
observation. He says: "While at Lake Umbagog, Maine, in the 
summer of 18/3, I saw something which may interest you. I was 
paddling up Cambridge River one warm July morning when, upon 
rounding a bend, my attention was attracted by a slight splashing 
sound ahead, and looking closely I discovered a Rabbit (Lcpus 
Americanus) evidently about to attempt the passage of the stream 
which at that place was perhaps one hundred feet wide, and at 
least eight or ten deep. He entered the water deliberately, but 
without apparent fear or hesitation, and was soon beyond his depth 
and striking out boldly for the opposite shore. A more ridiculous 
(albeit successful) attempt at swimming can scarcely be imagined. 
He literally hopped through the water, using only his hind legs and 
kicking with such vigor that the whole forward part of his body 
was raised above the surface at each stroke. Between the strokes 


he would sink back until, sometimes, only the tip of the nose was 
exposed. I fancy that an immense bull-frog, weighted after the 
manner of 'Mark Twain's' ' Dan'l Webster,' would cut a some- 
what similar figure. 

" This method of progression was naturally fatiguing, and before 
the animal reached the opposite bank the strokes became feebler 
and the intervals between them longer until I began to fear that 
the tired creature would be drowned. At length, however, he 
struck bottom, and, loping across a stretch of bare mud, disappeared 
in the woods. Such an appearance as he presented upon emerging 
from the water ! the lankness of his form revealed by the clinging 
and bedraggled fur, the ears drooping and the whole expression 
one of dejection and shame. 

" None of the guides or trappers of my acquaintance have ever 
seen a Rabbit swim, although I have been told of an instance 
where one was observed to take to the shallow water on the margin 


of a pond and run through it for several hundred yards before 
leaping again into the woods. The purpose of this manoeuvre was 
apparent a moment later when a Sable appeared on the Rabbit's 
track and following it to the water's edge lost it there. 

" On the occasion just described, however, no pursuer appeared, 
nor do I think that tJiis Rabbit entered the water under compul- 
sion, or for the purpose of obliterating the scent of his tracks. On 
the contrary, the action was undertaken so deliberately, that I 
believe the animal to have been impelled by some idle whim, 
merely such as a desire to try fresh pasturage or, perhaps, to see 
what the world was like on the other side of the stream. How- 
ever this may be, the case is doubtless exceptional, for Lepus 
Americanus ordinarily has as great an aversion to the water as any 
house cat." 

Mr. Nelson Harris, a well-known Adirondack hunter, tells me 
that while still-hunting in Northern Michigan, a few winters ago, 
he saw a white Rabbit, that had stumbled into camp and was 


' cornered," plunge fearlessly into a swiftly flowing river and swim 
to the other side. 


Gray Rabbit. 

The Gray Rabbit is a more southern animal than either of the 
species heretofore considered, and only enters the Adirondack re- 
gion along its southern border, in Fulton, Saratoga, and Warreji 

In addition to the food which constitutes the diet of the varying 
hare, the Gray Rabbit enters the garden and orchard, sometimes 
committing great havoc. Robert Kennicott says: "In hunting 
these quadrupeds, every winter, and working every summer, for 
ten years, in a very large nursery of fruit-trees, where they were 
numerous, I have never seen a tree from which bark had been 
gnawed by them, though thousands were severely ' pruned,' the 
rabbits, in deep snows, appearing to feed entirely upon the twigs 
and buds of the young apple trees. From the larger limbs they 
cut off the buds, of which they are fond ; and in the woods, in win- 
ter, they can be tracked to living forest trees, recently felled, to 
which they repair to feed upon the buds. They also feed in win- 
ter upon the buds and young shoots of briars, sumach, hazel, thorn, 
oak, hickory, basswood, poplar, and other shrubs and trees." 

Its favorite haunts, according to my observation, f are pine 
barrens, and thickets of laurel (Kalmia latifolid) and other under- 
growth. Like the northern hare, it has regular runways which it 
uses at all times of the year ; but unlike that species it habitually 
takes refuse in burrows in the earth and in hollow trees. 


* Quadrupeds of Illinois Injurious and Beneficial to the Farmer. By Robert Kennicott, 1858, 
pp. 80-8 I. 

f I have found it in greater or less abundance in the Connecticut Valley in central Massachu- 
setts ; in southern Connecticut; in southern New York (Westchester County); in the vicinity of 
Elizabeth, New Jersey; about Aiken, .South Carolina ; and in Florida. 


Audubon and Bachman state: "In the Northern and Middle 
States, where the burrows of the Maryland marmot (Arctomys 
monax) and the holes resorted to by the common skunk, (Mephitis 
chinga^) are numerous, the Gray Rabbit, in order to effect its 
escape when pursued, betakes itself to them, and as they are gen- 
erally deep, or placed among rocks or roots, it would require more 
labour to unearth it when it has taken possession of either of these 
animal's retreats than it is worth, and it is generally left unmolested. 
It is not always safe in these cases, however, for the skunk occa- 
sionally is ' at home ' when the Rabbit runs into his hole, and often 
catches and devours the astonished fugitive before it can retrace 
its steps and reach the mouth of the burrow." * 

Kennicott says : " The grey rabbit is very prolific, producing 
young three or four times a year, and usually from four to six at a 
birth. In open ground the female scratches a shallow hollow, in 
which to bring forth her young. In this she forms a nest of soft 
leaves and grasses, well-lined with fur from her own body ; and 
when she is absent, the young are always completely covered and 
concealed in the nest, which they leave at an early age, and sepa- 
rate from the mother as soon as able to take care of themselves." f 

* Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. I, 1846, p. 177. 

f Quadrupeds of Illinois Injurious and Beneficial to the Farmer. By Robert Kennicott, 1858, 
p. 8l. 



alba, 21. 

balsamea, 21, 26. 

Canadensis. 21, 26. 

nigra, 21, 26. 

dasycarpum, 215. 

Pennsylvanicum, 22. 

rubrum, 21, 214. 

sacchannum, 21, 215. 

saccharinum nigrum, 21. 

spicatum, 22, 26. 
Achillea millefolium, 23. 
Acoru-s calamus, 23. 

alba, 22. 

spicaia rubra, 22. 

astricta, 25. 

Chardinyi, 25. 

conflua, 25. 

Alee Americanus, 138-143. 
Allium tricoccum, 24. 
Aln us 

incana, 22. 

viridis, 22. 

Canadensis, 22. 

Canadensis botryapium, 22. 

Canadensis oblongifolia, 22. 
Ampelopsis quinquefolia, 22. 
Andromeda polifolia, 22, 290. 

nemorosa, 22. 

Pennsylvanica, 23. 
Antennaria margaritacea, 23. 
Apocynum androssemifolium, 22. 
Aquilegia Canadensis, 22. 
Arabis lyrata, 22. 

midicaulis, 23. 

recemosa, 23. 

trifolia, 23, 26. 
Arbor Vitre, 21, 107, HO. 
Archangelica atropurpurea, 23. 
Arctomys monax, 240-252, 312. 
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, 22. 

Grcenlandica, 22, 26. 

laterifolia, 22. 
Aristema triphyllum, 23. 

riparius, 271, 272-275. 

scalopsoides, 170. 
Asarum Canadense, 23. 
^h, Black, 21. 
White, 21. 


American, 21. 

Large-toothed, 21. 
Aster acuminatus, 26. 

cinerea, 176-181. 

Xoveboracensis, 181-184, 

Azalea muli flora, 22, 291. 

Balsam Poplar, 21. 
]-!ass Wood, 21. 

Carolina, 184-187. 

Dusky, 184-187. 

Hoary, 176-181. 

Little Brown, 194-197. 

New York, 181-184. 

Red, 181-184. 

Silver-haired, 188-194. 
Hear, 27, 28, 95-104. 
Beaver, 17, 27, 253-258. 
Beech, 21. 
Beechnut, 107, no, 226-228, 

234, 238. 

glandulosa, 26. 

lenta, 21. 

lutea, 21. 

papyracea, 21. 
Bidens cernua, 23. 

Canoe, 21. 

Cherry, 21. 

Paper, 21. 

Yellow, 21. 

Blackbird, Rusty, 18, 25. 
Black Squirrel, 219-232. 

brevicauda, 122, 164-173. 

Carolinensis, 171. 

talpoides, 171. 
Blue Gentian, 17. 
Brewer's Mole, 147, 161-163. 
Butternut, 21. 

Calamagrostis, 16, 23, 26. 
Calla palustris, 23. 
Calopogon pulchellus, 23. 
Caltha palustris, 22. 
Calypso borealis, 23. 
Campanula rotundifolia, 23, 26. 
Canada Jay, 12, 17, 19, 25, 175. 
Canis lupus, 42-44. 
Carcajou, 48. 
Cardinal Flower, 17. 
Cariacus Virginianus, 107-138. 
Carpinus Americana, 22. 

Carya aniara. 21. 

1 issandra calyculata, 16,22,26, 


CasMopc hypnoides, 26. 
Castor fiber Canadensis, 253- 


Black, 48-51. 

Wild, 41-42. 

Caulophyllum thalictroides, 22. 
< < dar, White, 21, 107, no. 
Celastrus scandens, 22. 
Cfphalanthus occidentalis, 22. 
Cervus Canaden-is, 143-145. 
Cetraria Islandica, 24. 
Chat cervier, 41-42. 
Chelone glabra, 23. 
(.'liL-rry, Black, 21. 
Chewink, 12. 

Chickadee, Hudsonian, 25. 
Chickaree, 209-218. 
Chimaphila umbellata, 23, 26. 
Chiogenes hispidula, 15,'- 23, 

Chipmunk, 27, 28, 29, 122,233- 


albolineata, 25. 

cunigerata, 25. 

hersiliata, 25. 

Packardata, 25. 

truncata, 25. 
Circa_-a alpina, 23, 26. 
Cladonia rangiferina, 24. 
Claytonia Caroliniana, 23, 26. 
Clematis Virginiana, 22. 
Clintonia borealis, 23, 26. 
Cock-of-the-Woods, 18. 
Comandia umbellata, 23. 

cristata, 146-153. 

macroura, 152. 
Cnptis trifolia, 22, 26. 
Coremia ferrugaria, 25. 

alternifolia, 22. 

Canadensis, 23, 26, no, 

circinata, 22. 

[laniculata, 22. 

stolonifera, 22. 
Cory his n>-trata, 23, 235. 
Cougar, 29-39, 113-114. 

coccinea, 22. 

crus-galli, 22. 

tOllKMltii^a, 22. 

Creeper, Brown, 20. 




Red, ig, 25. 

White-winged, 19, 25. 

Morrisoni, 23. 

officinale, 23. 

acaule, 23, 26. 

parviflorum, 23. 

pubescens, 23, 26. 

spectabile, 23, 26. 

Dalibarda repens, 23, 26. 

I >rer, 27, 29, 107-138. 

diphylla, 22. 

laciniata, 22. 

Diapensia Lapponica, 23, 26. 

Canadensis, 22, 26. 

cucullaria, 22. 
Dicranum, 24. 
Diervilla trifida, 22. 

Americanus, 292-294. 

mellivorus, 294. 
Dove, Mourning, 12. 

longifolia, 22. 

rotundifolia, 22. 

Golden-eyed, 25. 

Wood, 1 3. 
Dusky Bat, 184-187. 

Elephant, Fossil, 145. 
Elephus Americanus, 145. 
Elk, 143-145- 
Elm, 21. 

Slippery, 21. 
Elodes Virginica, 22. 
Empetrum nigrum, 26. 
Epigrea repens, 23. 

alpinum, 26. 

angustifolium, 17, 23. 

coloratum, 23. 

palustre lineare, 23, 26. 
Epiphegus Virginiana, 23. 
Equus major, 145. 
Erethizon dorsatus, 300-305. 
Eriocaulon septangulare, 24. 
Ermine, 27, 56-64, 65. 
Erythronium Americanum, 24. 

ageratoides, 23. 

perfohatum, 23. 

purpureum, 23. 

Evotomys rutilus Gapperi, 271 

Fagus ferruginea, 21. 
Felis concolor, 29-39. 
Fiber zibethicus, 275-289. 
Finch, Purple, 20. 
Fir, Balsam, 21. 
Fisher, 24, 27, 48-51. 

Flycatcher, Olive-sided, 17, 25. 
Flying Squirrel, 197-206. 

Northern, 206-208. 
Fossil Elephant, 145. 
Fossil Horse, 145. 
Fox, 45-47, 92. 
Fox Squirrel, 232-233. 
Fragaria vesca, 23. 

Americana, 21. 

sambucifolia, 21. 

Cialium trifidum pusillum, 23. 

Gaultheria procumbens, 23, no. 

Gaylussacia resinosa, 22. 

Gentiana, 23. 

Geranium Robertianum, 22, 26. 

Gerbillus, 296. 

Geum macrophyllum, 22, 26. 

Goodyera repens, 23, 26. 

Goshawk, 25, 228. 

Gray Rabbit, 311-312. 

Gray Squirrel, 27, 28, 123, 219- 


Great Northern Hare, 305-309. 
Grosbeak, Pine, 19. 
Ground Squirrel, 233-239. 

Ruffed, 19, 40. 

Spruce, 12, 16, 19, 25. 
Gulo luscus, 47-48. 


blephariglottis, 23. 

dilatata, 16, 23, 26. 

fimbriata, 23. 

Hookeri, 23. 

hyperborea, 23, 26. 

lacera, 23. 

orbiculata, 23. 

psycodes, 23. 

tridentata, 23. 

viridis bracteata, 23. 
Hairy-tailed Mole, 161-163. 
Ilammamelis Virginica, 22. 
Hare, Great Northern, 24, 52, 
122, 305-309. 

Southern Varying, 309-311. 
Helianthemnm Canadensis, 22. 
Hemlock, 21. 
Hepatica triloba, 22. 
Heracleum lanatum, 23. 
Herb, Willow, 17. 
Heron, Great Blue, 18, 101. 
Hesperomys leucopus, 165-167, 


Hickory, Swamp, 21. 
Hoary Bat, 176-181. 
Horse, Fossil, 145. 
House Mouse, 260-263. 
Houstonia crerulea, 23. 

Canadense, 23. 

Virginicum, 23. 

ellipticum, 22. 
perforatum, 22. 

Hypericum pyramidatum, 22. 
Hypnum, 24. 

splendens, 15. 

Ilex lan-igata, 22, 291. 
Impatiens pallida, 22, 26. 

Jaculus Hudsonius, 297. 


Blue, 19. 

Canada, 12, 17, 19, 25 175. 
Juglans cinerea, 21. 
lumping Mouse, 290-300. 
[unco hiemalis, 25. 
Juniper, 21. 
Juniperus Virginiana, 21. 


angustifolia, 22, 291. 

glauca, 16. 22, 26, 290. 
Kinglet, Golden-crowned, 20. 

Labrador Mouse, 290-300. 
Laportea Canadensis, 23. 
Larch, 21. 

Larentia'cresiata, 25. 
Larix Americana, 21, 207. 
Ledum latifolium, 16, 22, 26. 

Americanus, 305-309. 

Americanus Virginianus, 

sylvaticus, 311-312. 
Linden, American, 21. 
Linnrea borealis, 15, 23. 
Listera cordata, 23, 26. 

cardinalis, 23. 

inllata, 23. 

Kalmii, 23. 

syphylitica, 23. 
Locust, 21. 
Lonicera ciliata, 22. 
Loon, 19, 37, 87. 
Lutra Canadensis, 87-91. 
Lynx, 24, 40-42. 

Bay, 41-42. 

Canada, 40. 

Canadensis, 40. 

rufus, 41-42. 

ciliata, 23. 

thyrsiflora, 23. 


Red, 21. 

Sugar, 21. 

Swamp, 21. 
Marmot, 240-252. 
Marten, 24, 27, 48-54. 

Pennant's, 48-51. 

Pine, 52-54. 

Maryland Yellow-throat, iS. 
Mastodon, 145. 

Meadow Mouse, 165, 272-275. 
Medeola Virginica, 23. 


Melanerpes erythrocephalus, 

226- 228. 

fluctuata, 25. 

hastata, 25. 

Mephitis mephitica, 69-87, 312. 
Microstylis monophyllos, 23, 26. 
Mimulus ringens, 23. 
Mink, 27, 48, 64-69, 78, 92. 
Mitchella repens, 23. 

diphylla, 23, 26. 

nuda, 23, 26. 

Brewer's, 161-163. 

Hairy-tailed, 161-163. 

Shrew, 153-160. 

Star-nosed, 146-153. 
Monarda didyma, 23. 
Monotropa uniflora, 23. 
Moose, 17, 27, 138-143. 

Iceland, 24. 

Reindeer, 24. 

Shining Feather, 15. 

House, 260-263. 

Jumping, 24, 28, 290-300. 

Long-eared Wood, 24, 271 

Meadow, 272-275. 

Red-backed, 271-272. 

White-footed, 263-271. 

decumanus, 208, 259-260. 

musculus, 260-263. 
Muskrat, 27, 275-289. 

Americana, 52-54. 

Pennanti, 48-51. 
Myrica gale, 22, 290. 


Bootii, 26. 

nanus, 26. 
Nuphnr ad vena, 22. 
Nuthatch, Red-bellied, 12, 20, 

Nymphsea ordorata, 22. 

Oak, 21. 

biennis, 23. 

pumila, 23. 

Oporabia cambricaria, 25. 
Orchis spectabilis, 23, 26. 
Orthotrichum, 24. 

brevistylis, 23. 

longistylis, 23. 
Ostrya Virginica, 21. 
Otter, 27, 48, 66, 87-91, 92. 
Owl, 19, 37, 79. 

Great-horned, 79. 
Oxalis acetosella, 22, 26. 

Panther, 29-39, 113-114. 


Canada, 16. 

Spruce, 40. 
Peabody Bird. 18. 
Pedicularis Canadensis, 23. 
Pekan, 48-51. 
Pewee, Wood, 17, 18. 
Phoca vi tul ina, 104-106. 
Picoides arcticus, 207. 

Norway, 21. 

Pitch, 21. 

Red, 21. 

White, 21. 

rigida, 21. 

resin osa, 21. 

strobus, 21, 26, 214. 

bimaculata, 25. 

u-aureum, 25. 

Pogonia ophioglossoides, 23. 
Polecat, 69-87. 
Polygala paucifqlia, 22, 26. 
Polygonatum trifloium, 23. 
Pontederia cordata, 24. 

balsamifera, 21. 

grandidentata, 21. 

tremuloides, 21, 255. 
Porcupine, 24, 29, 30, 300-305. 

Canadensis, 23. 

Norvegica, 22. 

palustris, 22. 

tridentata, 22, 26. 
I'oterium Canadense, 22, 26. 
Progne subis, 154. 

Pennsylvanica, 22. 

pumila, 22. 

serotina, 21. 
Primus Virginiana, 22. 
Puma, 29-39. 

erminea, 56-64. 

vison, 64-69, 171 . 

vulgaris, 54-56. 

chlorantha, 23. 

rntundifolia, 26. 

secunda, 23. 
Pyrus sambucifolia, 22. 

UllerCUS, 21. 

Rabbit, Little Gray, 122, 311- 


Raccoon, 27, 28, 91-95. 

abortive, 22. 

Mammilla reptans, 22, 26. 

recurvatus, 22. 
Rat, 208, 259-260. 
Raven, 12, 19, 25. 
Red-backed Mou>e, 271-272. 
Red Bat, 181-184. 

I >eer, 27. 29, 107-138. 
Red-headed Woodpecker, 226- 

Red Squirrel, 18, 2 , 66, 209- 

jiS, 220-229. 
Rhinanthus crista-galli, 23. 
Rhododendron Lapponicum, 26. 
Rhodoru < 'anndeiiM-, 22, 26. 

lacustre, 22, 26. 

rubruni, 22. 
Roliin, 17, 19. 
Robinia pseudacacia, 21. 
Ro^a ( 'anilina, 22. 

Canadensis, 22. 

occidcntalis, 22. 

oiloratus, 22. 

strigoMis, 22. 

triflorus, 22. 

villoslis, 22. 


Alaska, 69-87. 

I [udson's Bay, 52-54. 
Sagittaria calycina, 23. 
Salix, 22, 26. 

Canadeiisis, 22. 

pubens, 22. 

Sanguinaria Canadensi>, 22. 
Sarraernea pui^iurea, 22. 
Saxifraga Pennsylvanica, 23. 
Scalops aquations, 153-160, 161, 


Americanus, 161-163. 

I'.reweri, 148, 161-163. 
Scheuchzeria palustris, 23. 

volucella, 197-206. 

volucella Hu'dsonius, 206- 


Carolinensis, 219-232. 

1 1 u<U< miu>, 209-218. 

niger cinereus, 232-233. 
Scrophularia nodo-a, 23. 

galericulata, 23. 

lateriflora, 23. 
Seal. I larbor, 27, 104-106. 
Senecio aureus, 23. 
Shrew, 27. 

Broad-nosed, 175. 

Cooper's, 173-17 = . 

Mole, 147, 153-160. 

Short-tailed, 164-173. 
Silene inllata, 22. 
Silver-haired Bat, 188-194. 
Skunk, 27, 67, 69-87, 93, 312. 

bifolia, 23, 26. 

racemosa, 23. 

stellata, 23. 

trifolia, 23. 26. 



Snow-berry, Creeping, 15. 
Snowbird, Slate-colored, 18, 19 

virga-aurea alpina, 26. 

thyrsoidea, 23, 26. 

Cooperi, 173-175. 

platyrhinus, 175. 
Spargania magnoliata, 25. 

Field, 12. 

Fox-colored, 20. 

Song, 18, 19. 

White-throated, 12, 19, 25. 
Sphagnum, 15, 16, 17, 24. 
Spike-horn Deer, 120-124. 

cernua, 23. 

gracilis, 23. 

latifolia, 23. 

salicifolia, 22, 290. 

tomentosa, 22, 291. 

Black, 21. 

White, 21. 

Black, 219-232. 

Flying, 197-206. 

Fox, 27, 232-233. 

Gray, 27, 28, 219-232. 

Ground, 233-239. 

Hudsonian Flying, 24, 206- 

Red, 18, 29, 66, 209-218. 

Striped, 233-239. 
Star-nosed Mole, 146-153. 
Stoat, 56-64. 
Streptopus roseus, 23, 26. 
Symphytum officinale, 23. 

Tacamahac, 21. 

Americana, 161. 

Europaea, 163. 
Tamarack, 21. 
Tamias striatus, 233-239. 
Tanacetum vulgare, 23. 
Taxus baccata Canadensis, 22. 
Thamnonoma brunneata, 25. 
Thalictrum dioicum, 22. 
Thrasher, Brown, 12. 


Hermit, 12, 18, 20, 24, 

Large-billed Water, 12. 

Olive-backed, 12. 

Swainson's, 24. 

Wood, 12. 
Thuja occidental is, 21, 26, 107 


Tiarella cordifolia, 23, 26. 
Tilia Americana, 21. 

Hudsonian, 19, 25. 

Black-capped, 19. 
Trientalis Americana, 23, 26. 
Trifolium pratense, 241. 

erectum, 23, 26. 

erythrocarpum, 23, 26. 

grandiflorum, 23, 26. 
Triosteum perfoliatum, ^23. 
Tussilago farfara, 23. 


Americana, 21. 

fulva, 21. 

Ursus Americanus, 95-104. 

grandiflora, 23. 

sessifolia, 23. 
Usnea, 16, 24. 
Utricularia cornuta, 23. 


caespitosum, 23, 26. 

corymbosum, 22. 

macrocarpon, 23. 

rennsylvanicum, 22. 

uliginosum, 26. 

Vitis-Idrea, 26. 
Varying Hare, 

Northern, 305-309. 

Southern, 309-311, 
Verbascum thapsus, 23 
Veratrum viride, 16, 23. 

lucifugus, 194. 

subulatus, 190, 194-197. 

serotinus fuscus, 184-187. 

noctivagans, 176, 188-194. 


acerifolium, 22. 
lantanoides, 22. 
lentatro, 22. 

o * 

OpulllS, 22. 


blanda, 22. 

Canadensis, 22, 26. 

canina sylvestris 22. 

cucullata, 22. 

pubescens, 22. 

rotundifolia, 22, 26. 

rostrata, 22. 

Selkerki, 22. 

Vulpes vulgaris Pennsylvanicus, 

VValdsteinia fragarioides, 22, 26. 

Wapiti, 143-145. 


Blackburnian, 12, 24. 

Black and Yellow, 12, 24. 

Blue Yellow-backed, 16. 

Canada Fly-catching, 12 16, 

Mourning. 12, 17, 24. 

Nashville, 20. 

Tennessee, 24 ; 

Yellow-rumped 12, 24. 

Brown, 56 64 

Large, 56-64 

Least, 54-56. 

White 56-64. 
White-footed Mouse, 166-168, 

263-271, 291. 
White-tailed Deer, 27, 29, 107- 


Wild Cat, 41-42. 
Wolf, 42-44, 79, 112. 
Wolverine, 47-48. 
Woodchuck, 28, 240-252. 

Banded-backed, 25. 

Black-backed, 25. 

Downy, 20. 

Hairy, 20. 

Three-toed, 12, 18, 25. 

House, 12. 

Winter, 12, 18, 20, 24. 

Zapus Hudsonius, 290-300.