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Spechnen Illustration. 

Frovt the Portrait by Henry Imnan. Now in the Possession of the family. 



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THE REV. JOHN BACHxMAN, D.D., &c., &c. J 


VOL. I. 

N E W- Y O R K : 


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1848, by 
"VTfV .J--^- AUDUBON, ^ 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New-York. 

H. L0DW1G, PRTNTER, 70 & 72 VESEY-ST., N. V. 


In presenting the following pages to the public, the authors 
desire to say a few words explanatory of the subject on 
which they have written. The difficulties they have attempted 
to surmount, and the labour attending their investigations, 
have far exceeded their first anticipations. 

Many of the " Quadi-upeds of North America " were long 
since described by European authors, from stuffed specimens ; 
and in every department of Natural History additions to 
the knowledge of the old writers have been making for years 
past ; researches and investigations having been imdertaken by 
scientific observers in all parts of the world, and many 
specimens accumulated in the Museums of Europe. Com- 
paratively httle, however, has of late been accomplished toward 
the proper elucidation of the animals which inhabit the 
fields, forests, fertile prairies, and mountainous regions of 
our widely-extended and diversified country. 

The works of Harlan and of Godman were confined to 
the limited number of species known in their day. The 
valuable " Fauna Boreah Americana " of Richardson was 
principally devoted to the description of species which exist in 
the British Provinces, north of the United States; and the 
more recent work of Dr. Dekav professes to describe only 
the Quadrupeds of the State of New York, although giving a 


catalogue of those noticed by authors as existing in other 
portions of North .America. 

Several American and European Zoologists have, however, 
at diflerent times, given the results of their investigations in 
various scientific journals, thus making it important for us 
to examine nmnberless papers, pubhshed in different cities 
of Europe and America. We have, in all cases, sought to 
discover and give due credit to every one who has in tliis 
manner made known a new species^ but as possibly some 
author may have published discoveries in a journal we have 
not seen, we must at once announce our conviction, that 
the task of procming and reading all the zoological papers 
scattered tlu-ough the pages of hundreds of periodicals, in 
many different languages, is beyond our power, and that no 
one can reasonably complain when we take the liberty of 
pronouncing for ourselves on new or doubtful species without 
hesitation fif-om the sources of knowledge to which we have 
access, and from om- own judgment. 

From the observations we have already made, we are in- 
duced to beUeve that a considerable number of .species are yet 
undescribed while others, now imperfectly known, require a 
closer investigation and a more scientific arrangement, and it 
will be a part of our task to give an accoimt of the former 
and defiaie the position of the latter. 

The geographical range which we have selected for our in- 
vestigations is very extensive, comprising the British and 
Russian possessions to the north, the whole of the United 
States and their territories, California, and that part of MexicQ' 
north of the tropic of Cancer, we having arrived at the con- 
clusion that in undertaking the natm-al history of a country, our 


researches should not be confined by the artificial boundaries 
of States — ^which may be frequently changed — but by those 
divisions the limits of which are fixed by nature, and where 
new forms mark the effects of a low latitude and warm 
cUmate. In this way America is divided into three parts: 
— North America, which includes all that country lying 
north of the tropics ; Central or Tropical America, the 
countries within the tropics ; and South America, all that 
coimtry south of the tropic of Capricorn. 

Within the tropical region peculiar forms are presented in 
every department of nature, — we need only instance the 
Monkey tribe among the animals, the Parrots among the birds, 
and the Pahns among the plants. 

A considerable portion of the country to which our attention 
has been directed, is at the present period an uncultivated and 
almost unexplored wild, roamed over by ferocious beasts and 
warlike tribes of Indians. 

The objects of our search, Quadi-upeds, are far less numer- 
ous than birds at all times, and are, moreover, generally 
-nocturnal in their habits, and consequently obtained with far 
greater difficulty than the latter. 

Although the Genera may be easily ascertained, by the 
forms and dental an-angements peculiar to each, many species 
so nearly approach each other in size, while they are so 
variable in colour, that it is exceedingly difficult to separate 
them, especially closely aUied squirrels, hares, mice, shrews, 
&c., with positive certainty. 

"We are, therefore, far from supposing that our work will be 
free fi-om errors, or that we shall be able to figure and^ 
describe every species that may exist within our range; al- 


though we have spared neither time, labour, nor expense, in 
collecting materials for this undertaking. 

We have had our labours lightened, however^- by many ex- 
cellent friends and gentlemen in different portions of the 
country, who have, at great trouble to themselves, procured 
and sent us various animals — forwarded to us notes upon the 
habits of different species, procured works on the subject 
otherwise beyond our reach, arid in many ways excited our 
warmest feelings of gratitude. Mr. J. K. Townsend, of Phila- 
delphia, allowed us to use the rare and valuable collection 
of Quadrupeds which he obtained during his laborious re- 
searches on the western prairies, the Rocky Mountains, 
and in Oregon, and furnished us with his notes on their 
habits and geograpliical distribution. Spexcer F. Baird, Esq., 
of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, aided us by carefully searching 
various hbraries for notes and information in regard to species 
published in different journals, and also by obtaining animals 
from the wilder portions of his State, &c. ; Dr. Barritt, of 
Abbeville, S. C, prepared and mounted specimens of Lepus 
aquaticiis, and several other species; Dr. Thomas M. Brewer, 
of Boston, favoured us with specimens of a new species of 
shrew-mole {Scalops Breweri), and sundry arvicolse; Edmund 
RuFFiN, Esq., of Virginia, sent us several specimens of the 
rodentia inhabiting that state, and obliged us by communi- 
cating much information in regard to their geographical range ; 
the late Dr. John Wright, of Troy, N. Y., fiirnished us 
valuable notes on the various species of quadrupeds found in 
the northern part of the State of New York, and several 
specimens ; Dr. Wurdeman, of Charleston, supphed us with 
several specimens of various species of bat from Cuba, thereby 


enabling us to compare them with genera and species existing 
in America. To Professor Leavis R. Gibbes, of the College 
of Charleston, we e.xpress our thanks, for several specimens 
of rare quadrupeds, and for his Idndness in imparting to us 
much information and scientific knowledge. 

Among others to whose zeal and friendship ' we are most 
indebted, we are proud to name : Dr. Geo. C. Shattttck and 
Dr. Geo. Parkman, of Boston ; J. Prescott Hall, Esq., James 
G. King, Esq., Major John Leconte, Mr. J. G. Bell, and 
our old friend Issachar Cozzens, of New York ; Hon. Daniel 
Wadsworth, of Hartford ; W. O. Ayres, Esq., of Sag Har- 
bour, Long Island ; Edward Harrls, Esq., of Moorestown, 
New Jersey ; Dr. Samuel George Morton and Samuel 
BisPHAM, Esq., of Philadelphia ; Wm. Case, Esq., Cleveland, 
Ohio ; Ogden Ha.mmond, Esq., of South Carolina ; Gideon 
B. Smith, Esq., M. D., of Baltunore ; Messrs. P. Chouteau, 
Jr. & Co., St. Louis ; Sir George Simpson, of the Hudson's 
Bay Fur Company ; John Martyn, Jr., Quebec ; Mr. Fo- 
thergill, of Canada, &c., &c., &c. 

In the course of this work we shall not indulge ourselves 
in the formation of new genera farther than we may find it 
necessar)^, and we think the genera at present estabhshed will 
include nearly all our species : we shall change no names of 
species abeady given, except in cases where their being re- 
tained would lead to error. 

We will endeavour to avoid a mischievous habit, into which 
many naturalists have falleu,- who, by the formation of new 
genera, considered themselves entitled to add their own after 
the specific name, thus taking credit for discoveries to which 
they were not entitled ; on the contrary, as it appears ne- 



cessary to give some check to this spirit of innovation, we 
have resolved to attach to each animal the name of the first 
describer, although it may have been arranged by subsequent 
authors under other genera. 

Conceiving that no author has a right to give a name to 
species which he has neither seen nor described, we have de- 
termined to reject the names proposed by close naturahsts 
who have ventured to name species noticed but not scientifi- 
cally described by travellers. Hence we do not consider our- 
selves bound to adopt the names given by Rafinesque, Har- 
lan, and others, to the animals noticed by LE^VIs & Clarke, 
who neither imposed on them scientitic names nor procured 
specimens. We shall in this respect follow the example of Dr. 
Richardson, and in illustration of our views, refer our readers 
to his Fauna Boreah Americana, p. 211. 

Lewis & Clarke (vol. iii., p. 39) described an animal which 
they called Sewellel, No specimens were preserved, and 
no scientific name was given by them. From the printed ac- 
count, Rafinesque bestowed on it the name of Anisonyx ? 
Rufa, which was adopted by Desmarest ; and Harlan, with- 
out any additional information, called it Arctomys Rufa. Many 
years afterwards Richardson obtained a specimen, gave the 
first scientific description, and named it Aplodontia Leporina, 
very properly rejecting the names of those who had no right 
to bestow them. 

In pursuing our researches we are often compelled to differ 
from the views of previous writers. In correcting what we 
conceive to be errors, we will endeavour to be swayed simply 
by a love of truth, treating all with respect, and adopting 
such language as can be offensive to none. 


For the sake of convenience and uniformity we have written 
in the plural number, although the facts stated, and the infor- 
mation collected, were obtained at difterent times by the 
authors in their individual capacities. 

Without entering into details of the labours of each in this 
undertaking, it will be sufficient to add that the history of the 
habits of our quadrupeds was obtained by both authors, either 
from personal observation or tlu-ough the kindness of friends 
of science, on whose statements full reUance could be placed. 

For the designation of species, and the letter-press of the 
present volume, the junior author is principally responsible. 

In our Illustrations we have endeavoured (we hope not 
without success,) to place before our patrons a series of 
plates, which are not only scientifically correct, but interesting 
to all, from the varied occupations, expressions, and attitudes, 
we l.ave given to the different species, together with the 
appropriate accessories, such as trees, plants, landscapes, &c., 
with which the figures of the animals are reheved ; and we 

have sought to describe those represented in the—first fifty 

-lilates, so as not only to clear away the obscurity which had 
gathered over some species, but to make our readers ac- 
quainted with their habits, geographical distribution, and all 
that we could ascertain of interest about them and the mode 
of hunting or destroying such as are pursued either to gratify 
the appetite, to fiirnish a rich fur or skin, or in order to get 
rid of dangerous or annoying neighbours. 

T' ~ '"'PHtieth number of the Illustrations of the Quadrupeds 
of ?^orth America is '^w nearly ready for our subscribers, 
and we hope to conclude this portion of the . .k without 


much irregularity or delay in the appearance of the remaining 

Our sincere thanks are respectfully offered to onr patrons 
for their liberal and generous encouragement of this under- 
taking, and we beg to assure them we shall ever entertain 
a hvely sense of the interest they have taken in the Avork, 
and the substantial support vouchsafed us. A hst of sub- 
scribers will be found appended to tiiis volume, and far- 
ther subscriptions will be acknowledged in out next. 

Some of the drawings have been executed by J. W. Au- 
DUBo.\, under our direction, and he is now engaged in 
Europe in making figures of those arctic animals, of which 
accessible specimens exist only in the museirais of that quar- 
ter of the globe. Many of the backgrounds were painted 
by V. G. ArDUBO?f. 

Of the manner in which the various artists engaged upon 
the illustrations, under the direction of Mr. J. T. Bowen, have 
done their part, our subscribers are able to judge for them- 
selves : we feel desirous, however, to say, that to our mind 
the work has been executed in a beautiful style, and we wish 
publicly to express our thanks to Mr. Bowe^j, to Mr. Trimbly, 
Mr. Hitchcock, and the other artists who transferred the 
original drawings to the stone, and to Mr. Bisbaugh, whose 
impressions from their plates merit our praise. To aO the 
other artists employed by us we also owe our acknowledg- 
ments for their valuable assistaiice. 

Of the style in wliich the letter-press is printed, we need 
only say, it was done at the esrablislmient of Mr. Heivry 
LuDwiG of this city, and that it has given us satisfaction. - 
New-York, Novcmljer, 1846. 


Lynx Kufus, . . 
Arctomjs Monax, 

Lepus TowBsendii, . 
Neotoma Floridana, 

Sciurus Richardsonii, . 
Vulpes FuItus (var. Decussatus), 

Sciurus Carolinensis, . 

Tamias Lysteri, . . . 

Spermophilus Parryi, . 

Scalops Aquaticus, . . 
Lepus Aniericaaus, 
Fiber Zibethicus, . . 
Sciiu-us Hudsonius, 

Pteromys Oregonensis, 
Lynx Canadensis, . 
Sciurus Cinereus, . 
Lepus PalustiTS, 
Sciurus MollipUosus, 
Tamias Townsendii, 
Vulpes Virginianus, 
Lepus Sylvatieus, . 
Mus Rattus, . . 
Tamias Quadrivittatns, 
Sciurus Lanuginosus, 
Gulo Luseus, . . 
Sciurus Lanigenis, . 
Pteromys Volucella, 
Neotoma Drummondii, 
Sigmodon Hispidum, 


Common American Wild Cat. — Bay Lynx, 2 
Wood-Chuck. — Maryland Marmot. — 

Ground Hog, 16 

Toimsend's Rocky Mountain Hare, ... 25 

Florida Rat, 32 

Richardson's Columbian Squirrel, ... 41 

American Cross Fox, 45 

Carolina Gray Squirrel, 55 

Chipping Squirrel. — Hackee, <Sj-c 65 

Parry's Marmot Squirrel. — Parry's Sper- 

mophile, 77 

Common American Shrew-Mole, .... 81 

Northern Hare 93 

Musk-Ral. — Musquash, 108 

Hudson's Bay Squirrel. — Chickaree. — Red 

Squirrel, 125 

Oregon Flying Squirrel, 132 

Canada Lynx, 136 

Cat Squirrel, 145 

Marsh-Hare, 151 

Soft-haired Squirrel, 157 

Townsend's Ground Squirrel, 159 

Gray Fox, 162 

Gray Rabbit, 173 

Black Rat 189 

Four-striped Ground Squirrel, .... 195 

Downy Squirrel, 199 

Wolverene, or Glutton, 202 

Woolly Squirrel, 214 

Common Flying Squirrel 216 

Rocky Mountain Neotoma, 223 

Cotton Rat, 228 



Dycotyles Torquatus, .... Collared Peccary, 233 

Lepus GlaciaEs, Polar Hare, 242 

Putorius Vison, Mink, 250 

Sciurus Niger, Black Squirrel, 261 

Sciurus Migratorius Migratory Gray Squirrel. — Northern Gray 

Squirrel, 265 

Hystrix Dorsata, Canada Porcupine, 277 

Lepus Aquations, Swamp-Hare, 287 

Sciurus Ferruginiventris, . . . Red-bellied Squirrel, 292 

Spermojjhilus Tridecemlineatus, . Leopard Spermophile 294 

Mus Leucopus, American White-footed Mouse, .... 300 

Mustela Canadensis, .... Pennant's Marten, or Fisher, 307 

Mephitis Chinga Common American Skunk, 317 

Sciurus Leporinus, Hare-Squirrel, 329 

Pseudostoma Bursarius, . . . Canada Pouched Rat, 332 

Arvicola Pennsylvanica, . . . Wilson's Meadow Mouse, 341 

Castor Fiber (var. Americanus), American Beaver, 347 

Meles Labradoria, American Badger, 360 

Sciurus Douglassii Douglass' Squirrel, 370 

Spermophilus Douglassii, . . . Douglass' Spermophile, 373 

Spermophilus Richardsonii, . . Richardson's Spermophile, 377 



Genus Lynx, 1 

" Arctomyg, ........... 16 

" Lepus, 25 

" Neotoma, 31 

" Sciurus,. ........... 38 

" Vulpes, 44 

" Tamias, 64 

" Spermophilus, 76 

" Scalops 81 

" Fiber, 107 

" Pteromys 132 

" Mus, 189 

" Gulo, 202 

" Sigmodon, ........-•• 227 

" Dycotyles, 233 

" Putorius, 250 

" Hystrix, ............ 277 

" Mustela, 307 

" Mephitis 316 

" Pseudostoma, 332 

" Arvicola, 340 

" Castor 347 

" Melea 360 




Incisive -=; Canine - — =■ ; Cheek-Teeth 5 — ; = 28. 

6 1 — 1 o — J 

The teeth in animals of this genus, with the exception of there being 
one less on each side, in the upper jaw ; do not differ from the dental ar- 
rangement of the genus Felis. The canine are very strong, there are 
but three molars on each side, above : The small false-molar, next to 
the canine, which exists in the larger species of long-tailed cats, such 
as the lion, tiger, panther, cougar, &c., as well as in the domestic or 
common cat, is wanting in the lynxes. There is one false-molar, or coni- 
cal tooth on each side — one carnivorous, with three lobes and a tubercle 
or blunted heel, on the inner. The third cheek-tooth is rather small, and 
is placed transversely. In the lower jaw there are on each side, two false, 
compressed, simple molars, and one canine, which is bicusped. 

The head is short, round, and arched ; jaws short ; tongue aculeated ; 
ears short, erect, more or less tufted. 

Fore-feet with five toes, hind-feet with only four; nails retractile. 
Tail shorter than the head, although nearly as long, in a few instances. 

The species heretofore classed in the genus Felis have been so multi- 
plied by the discoveries of late years in various parts of the world, that 
they have for some time demanded a careful examination, and the sepa- 
ration of such as present characters essentially different from the tj-pes 
of that genus, into other genera. 

Some of the distinctive marks by which the genus Lynx is separated 
* '2 


from the old genus Feus, are the tufted ears and shorter bodies and tails of 
the Ljiixes, as well as the slight difference above mentioned in the dental 
arrangement of the two genera. In a note in the American Monthly Maga- 
zine, vol. i., p. 4.37, R AFiKEsauE, in a few lines, proposed the genus Lynx, but 
gave no detailed characters, although he states that he had increased the 
species of this genus from fom- to fifteen 1 in which supposition, alas, he 
was sadly mistaken. 

Dr. Dekay, in the " Natural History of New- York," a work published 
" By Authority" of the State, has adopted the genus Lyncus, as established 
by Gray. 

We have not seen the work in which Mr. Gray proposed this generic 
name, and are consequently unable to ascertain on what characters it was 
founded, and we prefer the more classical name of Lynx. The name 
Lynx was formerly applied to one of the species of this genus. It is de- 
rived from the Greek word ^oy^ (Jugx,) a Lynx. Eight species of Lynx 
have been described ; one being found in Africa, two in Persia, one in 
Arabia, two in Europe, and two in North America. 

LYNX RUFUS. — Guldekstaed. 

Common American Wild Cat. — Bat Lynx. 

PLATE I.— Male. ~^ Natural Size. 

L. Cauda capite paullo breviore, ad extremum supra nigra, apice sub- 
albida ; auribus pagina posteriore maculo sub albido nigro marginato dis- 
tinctis ; hyeme et auctumno rufo-fuscus ; vere et sestate cinereo-fuscus. 


Tail nearly as long as the head, extremity on the ujyper surface Hack, 
tipped uith more or less white ; a whitish spot on the hinder part of the ear 
bordered ivith black ; general colour reddish-brown in autumn and ivinter, 
ashy-brown in spring and stimmer ; soles naked. 


Bay Lynx, Pennant, Hist. Quadr., No. 171. Arctic Zool., vol. i., p. 51. 

Felis Rufa, Guld. in Nov. Comm. Petross. xx., p. 499. 

Felis Rofa, Temm., Monog., &c., vol. i., page 141. 

Lynx Fasciatus, Rafin. in Amer. Month. Mag., 1817, p. 46. 

Lynx Montancs, Idem, Ibid. pp. 46, 2. 


Lynx Floridanus, Idem, Ibid. pp. 4, C4. 

Lynx Aureus, Idem, Ibid. p. 46, G. 

Felis Carolinensis, Dcsm., Mamm,, p. 231. 

Felis Rufa, Godm., Amer. Nat. Hist., vol. iii., p. 239 ; Fig. in vol. 1. 


la size and form, this species bears some resemblance to small speci- 
mens of the female Canada Lynx, {Lynx Canadensis,) the larger feet and 
more tufted ears of the latter, however, as well as its grayer colour, will 
enable even an unpractised observer at a glance to distinguish the difler- 
ence between the two species. 

Head of moderate size, rounded ; body rather slender ; legs long ; soles 
of feet naked ; hind-feet webbed to within five-eighths of an inch of the 
claws ; ears large, nearly triangular, erect, tipped with coarse hairs half 
an inch long, wliich drop out in summer ; the inner surface thinly sprinkled 
with loose hairs, outer, thickly covered with short fur. 

A ruff of elongated hairs surrounding the throat, more prominent in the 
male than female ; tail, short, slender, and slightly turned upwards, 
mammae eight ; four pectoral and four abdominal. 

The hind-head and back, yellowish-brcOTi, with a dorsal line more or 
less distinct, of dark-brown, running from the shoulder to near the inser- 
tion of the tail. A few irregular longitudinal stripes on the back, of the 
same colour. The sides spotted ^^'ith dark-brown, these spots being more 
distinct and in closer approximation in some specimens than in others. 

Forehead obscurely striped with dark-brown. Over and beneath the 
eyes, yellowish- white ; whiskers nearly all white. Ears, outer surface, 
a triangular spot of dull white, dilated towards the outer margin, bordered 
with brownish-black ; inner surface yellovi-ish- white. Under surface of 
body yellowish-white, spotted with black ; tail, above, barred -«ith rufous 
and black, towards the extremity a broad band of black, tipped at the 
point, and particularly in the centre with white ; under surface of tail, 
light-gray, interspersed with small and irregular patches of black hairs. 

Fore-feet, on the upper surface, broatUy, and towards the toes minutely, 
spotted with black on a light yellowish-brown ground; inner surface dull 
white, with two broad and several narrow bars of black ; paws beneath, 
and hair between the soles, dark-brown. Hind-legs barred and spotted 
similarly to the fore-legs. Chin and throat dull white, with two black 
lines, commencing at a point on a line with the articulation of the 
lower jaw, where they form an acute angle, and thence diverge to the 


sides of the neck, and unite with the ruff, which is black, mixed with yel- 
lowish-brown and gray hairs. 

The female is considerably smaller than the male, her body more slen- 
der, and her movements have a stronger resemblance, in their lightness 
and agility, to those of the common house-cat ; the markings appear more 
distinct, and the rounded black spots on the back and sides, smaller and 
more numerous. There is in this species a considerable diversity in 
colour, as well as in size. In spring and early summer, before it has shed 
its winter coat, it is uniformly more rufous, and the black markings are 
less distinct, than after shedding its hair, and before the new hair is elon- 
gated in autumn to form the winter coat. 

Our specimens obtained in summer and autumn, are of a light gray 
colour, with scarcely any mixture of rufous, and all the black markings 
are brighter and far more distinct than they are in those killed in the win- 
ter or spring months. 

There are, hoAvever, at all seasons of the jear, even in the same neigh- 
bourhood, strongl}--marked varieties, and it is difficult to find two indivi- 
duals precisely alike. 

Some specimens are broadly marked with fulvous under the throat, 
whilst in others the throat as well as the chin are gray. In some the 
stripes on the back and spots along the sides are very distinctly seen, 
whilst in others they are scarcely visible, and the animal is grayish-brown 
above, with a dark dorsal stripe. A specimen from the mountains of 
Pennsylvania presents this appearance strikingly, and is withal nearly 
destitute of the triangular marking under the throat, so that we hesitated 
for some time in refen-ing it to this species. A specimen from Louisiana 
is of the same uniform colour above, but with more distinct linear mark- 
ings on the face, and with coarse hair, not more than half the length of that 
of individuals from the Northern States. We obtained a specimen in 
Carolina, which in nearly every particular answers to the description of 
Felis CaroUncnsis of Desmarest. If the various supposed new species of 
Wild Cat, described by Rafinesque, Harlan, Desmarest, &c., are entitled 
to a place in our Fauna, on accomit of some peculiarity of colour, Ave have 
it in our power from specimens before us, to increase the number to a 
considerable extent ; but in doing so we think we should only swell the 
list of synonymes, and add to the confusion which already prevails in re- 
gard to some of the species belonging to this genus. 


Adult Male. — [Fine Specimen.] 

From point of nose to root of tail - - - 30 inches. 
Tail (vertebrae) 5 do. 


Tail, to end of hair 51 do. 

From nose to end of sliull 4J do. 

From nose, following the curvature of the head - 6 do. 

Tufts on the ears ...... i do. 

Breadth of ear If do. 

Anterior length of ear Ij do. 

Length of neck 4 do. 

We.ght 171b. 

The general appearance of this species conveys the idea of a degree of 
ferocity, which cannot with propriety be considered as belonging to its 
character, although it will, when at bay, show its sharp teeth, and with 
outstretched claws and infuriated despair, repel the attacks of either man 
or dog, sputtering the while, and rolling its eyes like the common cat. 

It is, however, generally cowardly when attacked, and always flies 
from its pursuers, if it can, and although some anecdotes have been re- 
lated to us of the strength, daring, and fierceness of this animal ; such as 
its having been knowTi to kill at different times a sheep, a full-grown doe, 
attack a child in the woods, &c. ; yet in all the instances that have come 
under our own notice, we have found it very timid, and always rather 
inclined to beat a retreat, than to make an attack on any animal larger 
than a hare or a young pig. In the American Turf register, there is an 
interesting extract of a letter from Dr. Coleman, U. S. A., written at Fort 
Armstrong, Prairie du Chien, giving an account of a contest between an 
eagle and a Wild Cat. After a fierce struggle, in which the eagle was 
so badly wounded as to be unable to fly, the Cat, scratched and pierced in 
many places, and having had one eye entirely "gouged out" in the com- 
bat, was found lying dead. 

In hunting at night for racoons and opossiuns, in which sport the negroes 
on the plantations of Carolina take great delight, a Cat is occasionally 
"treed" by the dogs ; and the negroes, who seldom carry a gun, climb up 
the tree and shake him oft' as they would do a racoon, and although he 
fights desperately, he is generally killed by the dogs. During a botanical 
excursion through the swamps of the Edisto river, our attention was at- 
tracted by the barking of a small terrier at the foot of a sapling, (young 
tree.) On looking up, we observed a Wild Cat, about twenty feet from 
the ground, of at least three times the size of the dog, which he did not 
appear to be much afraid of. He seemed to have a greater dread of 
man, however, than of this diminutive specimen of the canine race, and 
leaped from the tree as we drew near. 


The Wild Cat pursues his prey with both activity and cunning, sometimes 
bounding suddenly upon the object of his rapacity, sometimes with steallhy 
pace, approaching it in the darkness of night, seizing it with his strong retrac- 
tile claws and sharp teeth, and bearing it off to his retreat in the forest. 

The individual from which our figure was drawn had been caught in a 
steel-trap, and was brought to us alive. We kept it for several weeks ; 
it was a fine male, although not the largest we have seen. Like most of 
the predacious animals, it grew fat in confinement, being regularly fed 
on the refuse parts of chickens and raw meat, as ■well as on the common 
browii rat. 

The Bay Ljiix, (as this animal is sometimes called.) is fond of swampy, 
retired situations, as well as the wooded sides of hills, and is still seen oc- 
casionally in that portion of the Alleghany mountains, which traverses 
the States of Pennsylvania and New York. It is abundant in the Cane- 
brakes, (patches or thickets of the Miegia Macrosperma, of Michaux, which 
often extend for miles, and are almost impassable,) bordering the lakes, 
rivers, and lagoons of Carolina, Louisiana, and other Southern and South 
Western States. This species also inhabits the mountains and the undu- 
lating or rolling country of the Southern States, and frequents the thickets 
that generally spring up on deserted cotton plantations, some of which are 
two or three miles long, and perhaps a mile wide, and afford, from the 
quantit}- of briars, shrubs, and yomig trees of various kinds which have 
overgrown them, excellent cover for many quadrupeds and birds. In these 
bramble-covered old fields, the " Cats" feed chiefly on the rabbits and rats 
that make their homes in their almost impenetrable and tangled recesses ; 
and seldom does the cautious Wild Cat voluntarily leave so comfortable 
and secure a lurking place, except in the breeding season, or to follow in 
very sultry weather, the dry beds of streams or brooks, to pick up the cat- 
fish, &c., or cray-fish and frogs that remain in the deep holes of the 
creeks, during the drought of summer. 

The Wild Cat not only makes great havoc among the chickens, turkeys, 
and ducks of the planter, but destroys many of the smaller quadrupeds, 
as well as partridges, and such other birds as he can surprise roosting on 
the ground. The hunters often run down the Wild Cat with packs of 
fox-hounds. AVhen hard pressed by fast dogs, and in an open countrj% 
he ascends a tree with the agility of a squirrel, but the baying of the dogs 
calling his pursuers to the spot, the unerring rifle brings him to the 
ground, when, if not mortally wounded, he fights fiercely with the 
pack until killed. He will, however, when pursued by hunters with 
hounds, frequently elude both dogs and huntsmen, by an exercise of in- 
stinct, so closely bordering on reason, that we are bewildered in the at- 


tempt to separate it from the latter. No sooner does he become aware 
that the enemy is on his track, than, instead of taking a straight course 
for the deepest forest, he speeds to one of the largest old-fields overgro'WTi 
with briary thickets, in the neighbourhood ; and having reached this 
tangled maze, he runs in a variety of circles, crossing and re-crossing his 
path many times, and when he thinks the scent has been diffused suffici- 
ently in different directions by this manceuvre, to puzzle both men and 
dogs, he creeps sljly forth, and makes for the woods, or for some well 
known swamp, and if he should be lucky enough to find a half-dried-up 
pond, or a part of the swamp, on which the clayey bottom is moist and 
sticky, he seems to know that the adhesive soil, covering his feet and 
legs, so far destroys the scent, that although the hounds may be in full 
cry on reaching such a place, and while crossing it, they will lose the 
track on the opposite side, and perhaps not regain it without some diffi- 
culty and delajr. 

At other times the " Cat," when chased by the dogs, gains some tract 
of " burnt wood," common especially in the pine lands of Carolina, where 
fallen and upright trees are alike blackened and scorched, by the fire 
that has run among them burning before it every blade of grass, every 
leaf and shi-ub, and destroying many of the largest trees in its furious 
course ; and here, the charcoal and ashes on the ground, after he has 
traversed the burnt district a short distance, and made a few leaps along 
the trunk of a fallen tree, that has been charred in the conflagration, 
will generally put any hounds at fault. Should no such chance of safety 
be within his reach, he does not despair, but exerting his powers of flight 
to the utmost, increases his distance from the pursuing pack, and follow^- 
ing as intricate and devious a path as possible, after many a weary mile 
has been run over, he reaches a long-fallen trunlc of a tree, on which 
he may perchance at some previous time have baffled the hunters as he 
is now about to do. He leaps on to it, and hastily running to the 
farther end, doubles and returns to the point from which he gained the 
tree, and after running backward and forward repeatedly on the fallen 
trunk, he makes a sudden and vigorous spring, leaping as high up into 
a tree some feet distant, as he can ; he then climbs to its highest forks, 
(branches,) and closely squatted, watches the movements of his pursuers. 
The dogs are soon at fault, for he has already led them through many 
a crooked path ; the hunters are dispirited and weary, and perhaps the 
density of the woods, or the approach of night favours him. The hunts- 
men call off their dogs from the fruitless search, and give up the chase ; 
and shortly afterwards the escaped marauder, descends leisurely to the 
earth, and wanders off in search of food, and to begin a new series of ad- 


In some parts of Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the 
Wild Cat has at times become so great a nuisance as to have aroused the 
spirit of vengeance in the hearts of the planters, who are constant suf- 
ferers from his depredations. They have learned by experience, that one 
Cat will do as much mischief among the pigs and poultry as a dozen 
gray foxes. They are now determined to allow their hounds, which 
they had hitherto kept solely for the favourite amusement of deer hunt- 
ing, and which had always been whipped-in, from the trail of the Wild- 
Cat, to pursue him, through thicket, briar patch, marsh, and morass, until 
he is caught or killed. 

Arrangements for the Cat-hunt are made over night. Two or three 
neighbours form the party, each one bringing with him all the hounds he 
can muster. We have seen thirty of the latter brought together on such 
occasions, some of which were not inferior to the best we have examined 
in England, indeed, great numbers of the finest fox-hounds are annual- 
ly imported into Carolina. 

At the earliest da^vn, the party is summoned to the spot previously 
fixed on as the place of meeting. A horn is sounded, not low and with 
a single blast, as is usual in hunting the deer, lest the timid animal should 
be startled from its bed among the broom-grass (Andropagon dissitifiorus) 
and bound away out of the drive, beyond the reach of the hunter's 
double-barrel loaded with buckshot ; but with a loud, long, and oft-re- 
peated blast, wakening the echoes that rise from the rice-flelds and 
marshes, and are reverberated from shore to shore of the winding 
sluggish river, until lost among the fogs and shadows of the distant 

An answering horn is heard half a mile off, and anon comes another 
response from a different quarter. The party is soon collected, 
they are mounted, not on the fleetest and best-blooded horses, but 
on the most sure-footed, (sometimes called " Old field Tackles,") which 
know how to avoid the stump-holes on the burnt grounds of the pine 
lands, which stand the fire of the gun, and which can not only go with 
tolerable speed, but are, to use a common expression, " tough as a pine 
knot." The hunters greet each other in the open-hearted manner char- 
acteristic of the Southern planter. Each pack of dogs is under the 
guidance of a colom-ed driver, whose business it is to control the hounds 
and encourage and aid them in the hunt. The drivers ride in most cases 
the fleetest horses on the ground, in order to be able, whilst on a deer 
hunt to stop the dogs. These men, who are so important to the success 
of the chase, are possessed of a good deal of intelligence and shrewd- 
ness, are usually much petted, and regarding themselves as belonging to 


the aristocracy of the plantation, are apt to look down upon their fellow- 
servants as inferiors, and consider themselves privileged even to crack a 
joke w^it'a their masters. The drivers are ordered to stop the dogs if a 
deer should 1 e started, a circumstance which often occurs, and which 
has saved the life of many a Cat, whose fate five minutes before this un- 
lucky occurrence was believed to be sealed. Orders are given to destroy 
the Cat fairly, by running him do^vn with the hounds, or if this cannot 
be done, then by shooting him if he ascends a tree or approaches ^vithin 
gun shot of the stand which the hunter has selected as the most likely 
place for him to pass near. The day is most auspicious — there is not a 
breath of wind to rustle the falling leaves, nor a cloud to throw its 
shado ■ s over the wide joyous landscape. The dew-drops are sparkling 
on the few remaining leaves of the persimmon tree, and the asters and 
dog-fennel hang drooping beneath their load of moisture. The dogs 
are gamboling in circles around, and ever and anon, in spite of all re- 
straint, the joyous note breaks forth — the whole pack is impatient for the 
chase, and the j'oung dogs are almost frantic with excitement. 

But we have not time for a farther description of the scene — whilst we are 
musing and gazing, the word is given, " Go ! " and off start the hounds, 
each pack following its own driver to different parts of the old fields, or 
along the borders of the swamps and marshes. Much time, labour and 
patience are usually required, before the " Cat " can be found by the dogs : 
sometimes there is a sudden burst from one or the other of the packs, 
awakening expectation in the minds of the huntsmen, but the driver is 
not to be so easily deceived, as he has some dogs that never open at a 
rabbit, and the snap of the whip soon silences the riotous young babblers. 
Again there is a wild burst and an exulting shout, giving assurance that 
better game than a rabbit is on foot ; and now is heard a distant shot, 
succeeded in a second of time by another, and for an instant all is still : 
the echoes come roaring up through the woods, and as they gradually 
subside, the crack of the whip is again heard stopping the dogs. The 
story is soob told ; a deer had been started — ^the shot was too small — or 
the distance too great, or any other excuses, (which are always at hand 
among hunters of fertile imagination,) are made by the unsuccessful 
sportsman who fired, and the dogs are carried back to the " trail " of the 
Cat, that has been g^o^\'ing fresher and fresher for the last half hour. 
At length, " TrLmbush," (and a good dog is he,) that has been working 
on the cold trail for some time, begins to give tongue, in a way that 
brings the other dogs to his aid. The drivers now advance to each other, 
encouraging their dogs ; the trail becomes a drag ; onward it goes 
through a broad marsh at the head of a rice-field. " He will soon be 



started now ! " " He is up ! " What a burst ! you might have heard 
it two miles off — it comes in mingled sounds, roaring like thunder, 
from the muddy marsh and from the deep swamp. The barred owl, 
frightened from the monotony of his quiet life among the cypress 
trees, commences hooting in mockery as it were, of the wide-mouthed 
hounds. Here they come, sweeping through the resounding swamp lilie 
an equinoctial storm — the crackling of a reed, the shaking of a bush, a 
glimpse of some object that glided past like a shadow, is succeeded by 
the whole pack, rattling away among the vines and fallen timbers, and 
leaving a trail in the mud as if a pack of wolves in pm'suit of a deer 
had hurried by. The Cat has gone past. It is now evident that he will 
not climb a tree. It is almost invariably the case that where he can 
retreat to low swampy situations, or briar patches, he will not take 
a tree, but seeks to weary the dogs by making short windings among the 
almost impassable briar patches. He has now been twisting and turning 
half a dozen times in a thicket covering only three or four acres — let 
us go in and take our stand on the very trail where he last passed, and 
shoot him if we can. A shot is heard on the opposite edge of the 
thicket, and again all is still ; but once more the pack is in full cry. 
Here he comes, almost brushing our legs as he dashes by and ilisappears 
in the bushes, before we can get sight of him and pull trigger. But we 
see that the dogs are every moment pressing him closer, that the ma- 
rauder is showing evidences of fatigue and is nearly " done up." He be- 
gins to make narrower circles, there are restless flashes in his eye, his 
back is now curved upwards, his hair is bristled nervously forward, his 
tongue hangs out — we raise our gun as he is approaching, and scarcely 
ten yards off — a loud report-^the smoke has hardly blown aside, ere we 
see him lifeless, almost at our very feet — had we waited three minutes 
longer, the hounds would have saved us the powder and shot ! 

One fine morning in autumn, when we had crossed the Ohio river at 
Henderson, in Kentucky, with the view of shooting some wild turkeys, 
geese, and perhaps a deer, we chanced to seat ourselves about fifty 
yards from a prostrate tree, and presently saw a Wild-Cat leap on to it, 
and go through the manoeuvres we have described in a preceding page. 
He did not see us, and had scarcely reached one of the higher branches 
of a tall white-oak, after springing into it from the fallen tree, when we 
heard the dogs, which soon came up, with the hunters following not far 
behind. They asked, when they perceived us, whether we had seen the 
" Cat " that had given them the slip. Always willing to assist the hunter 
who has lost liis game, and having no particular liking towards this 
species, we answered in the affirmative, and showed them the animal, 


closely squatted on a large branch some distance from the ground. One 
of the party immediately put his rifle to his shoulder and pulled the 
trigger : the Cat leaped from the branch into the air, and fell to the 
earth quite dead. Whilst residing in Louisiana some twenty years 
since, we chanced one afternoon to surprise one of these depredators. 
He had secured a hare, (commonly called rabbit,) and was so eagerly 
engaged in satisfying his hunger as not to observe us, until we were 
near the spot where he was partially concealed behind a rotten 
log. At sight of us, he squatted flat on the ground. As we looked at 
him, we heard a squirrel close by, and turned our head for an instant, 
but scarce had we glanced at the squirrel, when looking again for the 
Wild-Cat, he had disappeared, carrying the remains of the hare away 
with him. 

About twenty miles from Charleston, South Carolina, resides a worthy 
friend of ours, a gentleman well known for his skill in the sports of the 
field, his hospitality to both friends and strangers, and the excellent man- 
ner in which his plantation is managed. The plantation of Dr. Desel is, 
in short, the very place for one who likes the sight of several fine bucks 
hanging on the branches of an old Pecan-nut tree ; while turkeys, 
geese, and poultry of other kinds, are seen in abundance in his well 
stocked poultry yards, affording certainty of good cheer to his visitors. 

The Doctor's geese were nightly lodged near the house, in an enclo- 
sure which was rendered apparently safe, by a very high fence. As an 
additional security, several watch dogs were let loose about the premises ; 
besides an excellent pack of hounds, which by an occasional bark or 
howl during the night, sounded a note of warning or alarm in case any 
marauder, whether biped or quadruped approached. 

Notwithstanding these precautions, a goose disappeared almost every 
night, and no trace of the ingress or egress of the robber could be dis- 
covered. Slow in attaching suspicion to his servants, the Dr. waited for 
time and watchfulness to solve the mystery. At length, the feathers, 
and other remains of his geese, were discovered in a marsh about a 
quarter of a mile from the house, and strong suspicions were fastened on 
the Wild-Cat ; still, as he came at odd hours of the night, all attempts to 
catch or shoot him proved for a time unavailing. 

One morning, however, he came about day-light, and having cap- 
tured a good fat goose, Avas traced by the keen noses of the hounds. 
The chase was kept up for some time through the devious windings of 
the thickets, when his career of mischief was brought to a close by a 
shot from the gun of our friend the Doctor, who, in self-defence, became 
his executioner. Thus ended his career. In this respect he fared worse 


than he deserved, compared with those beings of a superior nature, who, 
not understanding that " Honesty is the best policy " outdo our Wild-Cat 
in his destructive habits, until the laws, so just and useful, when mildly, 
but always, enforced, put an etfectual stop to their crLminal proceedings. 

The Wild-Cat is a great destroyer of eggs, and never finds a nest of 
grouse or partridge, wild turkey or other bird, without sucking every 
egg in it. Indeed, it will if practicable, seize on both young and old 
birds of theise and other species. Its '^penchant" for a "poulet au 
naturel " has suggested the following method of capturing it in Georgia, as 
related to us by our friend Major Leconte, late of the United States Army. 

A large and .strong box-trap is constructed, and a chicken-cock, 
(rooster,) placed at the farthest end of it from the door, is tied by one 
leg, so that he cannot move. There is a stout wire partition about half 
way between the fowl and the door, which prevents the Cat when enter- 
ing the trap, from seizing the bird. The trap is then set so that when 
the animal enters, the open door closes behind him by a spring, (commonly 
the branch of some tree bent down for the purpose, and released by a 
trigger set at the entrance or just within the trap.) These traps are placed 
in different parts of the plantations, or in the woods, and the Wild-Cat is 
generally attracted by the crowing of the cock at early dawn of day. 

Majok Leconte has caught many of them by this artifice, on and about 
his plantations in the neighbourhood of Savannah, in Georgia ; and this 
method of captm-ing the Wild-Cat is also quite common in South Caro- 
lina. Indeed, this species does not seem to possess the suspicion and 
cunning inherent in the fox, enabling the latter to avoid a trap of al- 
most any kind. We have seen the Wild-Cat taken from the common 
log-traps set for racoons. We saw one in a cage, that had been caught 
in a common box-trap, baited w-ith a dead partridge, and have heard 
intelligent domestics residing on the banks of the Santee river, state, 
that after setting their steel traps for otters, they frequently found the 
Wild-Cat caught in them instead. 

When this animal discovers a flock of wild ttrrkeys, he will generally 
follow them at a little distance for some tune, and after having ascertain- 
ed the direction in which they are proceeding, make a rapid detour, and 
concealing himself behind a fallen tree, or in the lower branches of some 
leafy maple, patiently wait in ambush until the birds approach, when 
he suddenly springs on one of them, if near enough, and with one bound 
secures it. We once, while resting on a log in the woods, on the banks 
of the Wabash river, perceived two wild turkey cocks at some distance 
below us, under the bank near the water, pluming and piclcing their 
feathers ; on a sudden, one of them flew across the river, and the other we 


saw struggling in the grasp of a Wild-Cat, which almost instantly dragged 
it up the bank into the woods, and made ofF. On another occasion we 
observed an individual of this species, about nine miles from Charleston, 
in pursuit of a covey of partridges, {Ortyx Tirginiana.) — so intent 
was the Cat upon its prey, that it passed within ten steps of us, as it was 
making a circle to get in advance and in the path of the birds, — its eyes 
were constantly fixed on the covey, and it stealthily concealed itself be- 
hind a log it expected the birds to pass. In a second attempt the marau- 
der succeeded in capturing one of the partridges, when the rest in great 
affright flew and scattered in all directions. 

An individual that was kept alive at Charleston, and afterw^ards for a 
short time at our house in the City of New- York, showed its affinity to the 
domestic cat, by purring and mewing at times loud enough to be heard at 
some distance. At the former place its cry was several times mistaken for 
that of the common house-cat. In the woods, during the winter season, its 
loud catterwauling can be heard at the distance of a mile. 

Although this species may perhaps be designated as nocturnal in its 
habits, it is, by no means, exclusively so, as is shown by the foregoing ac- 
count. We have, in fact, in several instances seen this Cat engaged in 
some predatory expedition in full sun-shine, both in winter and summer. 

It is not a very active swimmer, but is not averse to taking the water. 
We witnessed it on one occasion crossing the Santee river when not 
pursued, and at another time saw one swimming across some ponds to 
make its escape from the dogs. It has been observed, however, that 
when it has taken to the water during a hard chase, it soon after either as- 
cends a tree or is caught by the hounds. 

The domicile of the Wild-Cat is sometimes under an old log, covered 
with vines such as the Smilax, Ziziphus volubilus, Rubus, &c., but more 
commonly in a hollow tree. Sometimes it is found in an opening twenty 
or thirty feet high, but generally much nearer the ground, frequently in 
a cavity at the root, and sometimes in the hollow truiLk of a fallen tree, 
where, after collecting a considerable quantity of long moss and dried 
leaves to make a comfortable lair, it produces from two to four young. 
These are brought forth in the latter end of March in Carolina ; in the 
Northern States, however, the kittens appear later, as we have heard of 
an instance in Pennsylvania where two young were found on the 15th 
day of May, apparently not a week old. Our friend Dr. Sajiuel Wilson, 
of Charleston, a close observer of nature, has made the following note in 
our memorandum book. "April 15th, 1839, shot a female Wild-Cat as it 
started from its bed, out of which four young ones were taken, their eyes 
were not yet open." Our friend Dr. Desel, whom we have already mention- 


ed, saw three j'oung ones taken out from the hollow of a tree which was 
thirty feet from the ground. On four occasions, we have had opportuni- 
ties of counting the j'oung, either in the nest or having been very re- 
cently taken from it. In every case there were three young ones. In one 
instance the nest was composed of long moss, (Tillandsia iisneoides,) which 
seemed to have been part of an old, deserted, squirrel's nest. 

We once made an attempt at domesticating one of the young of this spe- 
cies, which we obtained when only two weeks old. It was a most spiteful, 
growling, snappish little wretch, and showed no disposition to improve its 
habits and manners under our kind tuition. We placed it in a wooden box, 
from which it was constantly striving to gnaw its way out. It, one night, 
escaped into our library, where it made sad work among the books, (which 
gave us some valuable lessons on the philosophy of patience, we could 
not have so readily found among our folios,) and left the marks of its teeth 
on the mutilated window-sashes. Finally we fastened it with a light 
chain, and had a small kennel built for it in the yard. Here it was con- 
stantly indulging its carnivoTous propensities, and catching the young 
poultry, which it enticed within reach of its chain by leaving a portion of 
its food at the door of its house, into which it retreated until an opportu- 
nity offered to pounce on its unsuspecting prey. Thus it continued, grow- 
ing if possible, more wild and vicious every day, growling and spitting at 
every servant that approached it, until at last, an unlucky blow, as a 
punishment for its mischievous tricks, put an end to its life, and with it 
to one source of annoyance. 

The Bay Lynx is generally in fine order, and often very fat. The 
meat is white, and has somewhat the appearance of veal. Although we 
omitted to taste it, we have seen it cooked, when it appeared savoury, 
and the persons who partook of it pronounced it delicious. 

The muscular powers of this species are very great, and the fore-feet 
and legs are rather large in proportion to the body. 


The geographical range of the Bay Lynx is very extensive, it being 
found to inhabit portions of the Continent from the tropics as far north as 
60°. It abounds in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and both the Caro- 
linas, and is found in all the States east of these, and likewise in New 
Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. We have seen it on the shores of the Up- 
per Missouri more than a thousand miles above St. Louis. We examined 
one that had been taken a few hours before, by some hunters in Erie coun- 
ty, in the State of New York, and have heard of its existing, although 
rather sparingly, in L^pper Canada, where it has been occasionally captured. 



We are not so fortunate as to possess any specimen from Oregon, or 
the regions west of the Roclcy Mountains, to enable us at this time to in- 
stitute a close comparison, and therefore cannot be certain that the Cat 
described by Lewis and Clarke, to wliich naturalists, without having seen 
it, have attached the name of Fclis fiisciata, or that the individual de- 
scribed by Dr. Richardson, and referred by him to Felts nifa, are identi- 
cal with the present species ; yet as they do not present greater marks 
of difference than those observable in many other varieties of it, and 
as we have carefully examined several hundred specimens in the 
museiuns and private collections of Eui'ope and America, and have, at this 
moment upwards of twenty Ijing before us, that were obtained in various 
parts of the country, from Texas to Canada, our present conclusion is, 
that in the United States, east and north of the Mississippi, there are but 
two species of Ljaix — the well known Canada Lynx, and the Bay Lynx — 
our present species, and that the varieties in colour, (especially in the lat- 
ter animal,) have contributed to the formation of many imaginary 
species. Whatever may be the varieties, however, there are some mark- 
ings in this species which are permanent, like the white ears and nose of 
the fox squirrel, {Sc. Capistratus,) and which serve to identify it through 
all the variations of sex, season, and latitude. All of them have naked 
soles, and the peculiar markings at the extremity of the slender tail, which 
terminates as abruptly as if it had been amputated. It may also be dis- 
tinguished from any variety of the Canada Lynx, (L. Canadensis,) by a 
white patch behind the ear, which does not exist in the latter. 

This peculiar mark is to be observed, however, in several species of 
the genus Felis. We have noticed it in the jaguar, royal tiger, pan- 
ther, ocelot, hunting-leopard, and other species. 




Incisive ^ ; Canine -^ ; Molar — — = 22. 

Incisors strong, narrow, and wedge-shaped, anterior surface rounded ; 
molars, with the upper surface thick and heavy. 

Head large, mouth small, and placed below ; eyes large, ears short, 
paws strong ; fore-feet with four toes and the rudiment of a thumb ; hind- 
feet with five toes ; nails strong, compressed ; tail buthy ; no cheek 

The name Arctomys, is derived from two Greek words «fxT«? (arJttos,) 
a bear, and n-vf, (,) a mouse. 

There are, as far as we are informed, but eight known species of the 
genus as it is now defined, five on the Eastern Continent and three in 
North America. 


Wood-Chuck. Marvland Maehot. Geound-Hog. 

PLATE II. — Female and Young. Nataral size. 

A. Supra fusco cinereus, subtus sub-rufus, capite, cauda, pedibusque 
fuscis, naso et buccis cinereis. 


Brownish-gray above ; head, tail, and feet, dark-brown ; nose and cheeks 
ashy-broiim, under surface reddish. 


Mrs MoNAX, Linn., 12 ed., p. 81. 
Maryland Marmot, Penn, Arct. Zool., vol. I., p. 111. 
MoNAX, ou Marmotte de Canada, Buff., Supp. 111. 
Marfland Marmot, Godman, Nat. Hist. vol. ii., p. 100, figure. 
Maryland Marmot, Griffiths' Cuvier, vol. iii., p. 130, figure. 


Quebec Marmot, Pennant, Hist. Quad., 1st ed.. No. 259. 

Mds Empetba, Pallas, Glir., p. 75. 

Arctomys Empetra, Salt, Linn., Trans., vol. xiii., p. 24. 

Arctomys Empetra, Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 208. 

Arctomys Monax, et Arctomys Empetra, Sabine, Trans. Linncean Soc, vol. xiii., pp. 

582, 584. 
Arctomys Empetra, Richardson, Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 147, pi. 9. 


The body is thick, and the legs are short, so that the belly nearly touches 
the ground. Head short and conical ; ears short, rounded, and thinly 
clothed with hair on both surfaces ; eyes moderate ; whiskers numerous, 
extending to the ear ; a membrane beneath the ears, on the posterior parts 
of the cheek, and a few setae on the eye-brows ; legs, short and muscu- 
lar ; fore-feet, with four toes, and the rudiment of a thumb, with a minute 
nail ; hind-feet, with five toes. Toes long and well separated, palms 
naked, ■with tubercles at the roots of the toes. The middle toe longest — 
the first and third, which are nearly equal to each other, not much shorter; 
the extremity of the nail of the outer, extends only to the base of the nail 
of the adjoining toe ; fore-claws moderately arched, obtuse and com- 
pressed ; the soles of the hind-feet long, and naked to the heel ; hind-feet 
semi-palmated ; nails channelled near the ends. Tail bushy, partly dis- 
tichous ; body clothed with soft woolly fur, which is mixed with coarse 
long hairs. 


This species (like the foregoing one) is subject to many variations in the 
colour of its fur, which may account perhaps for its numerous synonymes. 
We will, however, describe the animal in its most conunon colouring. 

The finer woolly fur is for two-thirds of its length from the roots upwards, 
of a dark ashy brown, with the extremities light yellowish-brown. The 
long hairs are dark brown for two-thirds of their length, tipped sometimes 
with reddish white, but generally with a silvery white. The general tint 
of the back is grizzly or hoary ; cheeks, and around the mouth, light gray ; 
whiskers black ; head, nose, feet, nails and tail, dark brown ; eyes black. 
The whole under surface, including the throat, breast, belly, and the fore 
and hind legs, reddish orange. 

The specimens before us present several striking varieties of colour ; 
among them is one from Lower Canada, coal-black -with the exception 
of the nose and a patch under the chin, which are light gray ; the fur is 
•short, and very soft ; and the tail less distichous than in other varieties 
of this species. 















Adult Male. 

From point cff nose to root of tail - - - I8| inches. 

Tail (vertebraj) 

Tail, to end of hair ------ 

Ear, posteriorly 

Girth of body ------- 

From fore to hind claw, when stretched - 
We have found some difference in the length of the tail, in different in- 
dividuals, it being, in some specimens, nearly seven inches long including 
the hair. 

Weight 91b. 11 oz. 


In the Middle States many individuals of this species seem to prefer 
stony places, and often burrow^ close to or in a stone wall. When this is 
the case, it is very difficult to procure them, as they are secure from the 
attacks of dogs, and much labour would be necessary in removing 
the large stones, and digging up the earth in order to dislodge them. 

From our own observations, we are obliged to contradict the following 
account given of the habits of this species. It has been said that " when 
about to make an inroad upon a clover field, all the marmots resident in 
the vicinity, quietly and cautiously steal towards the spot, being favoured 
in their march by their gray colour, which is not easily distinguished. 

"While the main body are actively engaged in cropping the clover heads, 
and gorging their ' amjde cheek-iwuches,' one or more individuals remain 
at some distance in the rear as sentinels. These watchmen sit erect, 
with their fore-paws held close to their breast, and their heads slightly 
inclined, to catch every soimd which may move the air. Their extreme 
sensibility of ear enables them to distinguish the approach of an enemy 
long before he is sufficiently near to be dangerous, and the instant the 
sentinel takes alarm, he gives a clear shrill whistle, which immediately 
disperses the troop in every direction, and they speedily take refuge in 
their deepest caves. The time at which such incursions are made is 
generally about mid-day, when they are less liable to be interrupted than 
at any other period, either by human or brute enemies," (Godman, Ame- 
rican Natural History, vol. ii., p. 102.) 

We kept two of these animals alive forseveral weeks, feeding them on 
different grasses, potatoes, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. We 
found them to be very active at times, though fond of placing themselves 


in an ereet posture, sitting on their rump, and letting tteir fore-legs and 
feet hang loosely do^v^^ in the manner of our squirrels. 

The old female, when approached, opened her mouth, showed her 
teeth, and made a rattling or clattering noise with the latter, evidently 
in anger. Neither the female nor the young appeared to become in any 
degree tame during the period we kept them. The former frequently 
emitted a shrill whistle-like noise, which is a note of alarm and anger, 
and may be heard when one is at a distance of about fifty yards from the 
animal. After we had made figures from those specimens, we examined 
their mouths, but did not find any pouches like those described by Dr. 
GoDMAN, although there appeared to be a ca-v-itj-, not larger than would 
admit a common green pea, and which was the only trace of any thing 
like a pouch in those we procured, and in all that have been observed by us. 

When the Wood-Chuck is feeding, it keeps its erect position, inclin- 
ing the head, and fore-part of its body forward and sideways, so as to 
reach its food ^vithout extending the fore-legs and feet, which are drawn 
back under it ; after getting a mouthful, it draws back its head again and 
brings its body to an upright posture by the muscular power of the hind- 
legs and feet. On being surprised or pursued, this species runs veiy fast 
for some eight or ten yards, and then frequently stops short and squats 
down close to the ground, watching ro see if it has been observed ; and 
will allow you to approach within a few feet, when it starts suddenly 
again, and again stops and squats down as before. Not unfrequently, un- 
der these circvunstances it puts its head under the dry leaves, or amid 
tufts of grass, to conceal itself from the pursuer. You may then gene- 
rally capture or kill it with a stick. These animals bite severely, and 
defend themselves fiercely, and will, when unable to escape, turn and 
make battle with a dog of more than double their own size. Sometimes 
whilst they were lying down as if asleep, we have heard them make the 
clattering noise before spoken of, with their teeth ; reminding us of a 
person's teeth chattering in an ague fit When walking leisiirely, they 
place their feet flat upon the ground at full length, arching the toes, how- 
ever, as is the habit of squirrels. These Marmots sleep during the greater 
part of the day, stealing from their burrows early in the morning and to- 
wards evening. They climb trees or bushes awkwardly, and when they 
have found a comfortable situation in the sunshine, either on the branch 
of a tree, or on a bush, will remain there for hours. They clean their 
faces with the fore-feet, whilst sitting up on their hind-legs, like a squir- 
rel, and frequently lick their fur in the manner of a cat, leaving the coat 
smoothed do\^'n by the tongue. The body of the Wood-Chuck is ex- 
tremely flabby after being killed, its flesh is, however, tolerably good. 


although a little strong, and is frequently purchased by the humbler 
classes of people, who cook it like a roasting pig. Occasionally, and espe- 
cially in autumn, it is exceedingly fat. 

This species becomes torpid about the time the leaves have fallen 
from the trees in the autumn, and the frosty air gives notice of the 
approach of winter ; and remains burrowed in the earth until the grass 
has sprung up and the genial warmth of spring invites it to come forth. 

We once observed one sunning itself at the mouth of its burrow, on the 
23d of October, in the State of New- York ; and in the same State, saw one 
killed by a dog on the first of March, when the winter's snow was yet 
lying in patches on the ground. 

Where the nature of the country wll admit of it, the Wood-Chucks se- 
lect a projecting rock, in some fissure under ■which, they can dig their bur- 
rows. In other localities they dig them on the sides of hills, or in places 
where the surface of the ground is nearly level. These burrows or exca- 
vations are sometimes extended to the length of twenty or thirty feet from 
the opening ; for the first three or four feet inclining obliquely downward, 
and the gallery being continued farther on, about on a level, or with a slight 
inclination upward to its termination, where there is a large round chamber, 
to which the occupants retire for rest and security, in which the female gives 
birth to her young, and where the family spends the winter in torpidity. 

Concerning this latter most singular state of existence, we are grati- 
fied in being able to communicate the following facts, related to us by the 
Hon. Daniel Wadsworth, of Hartford, Connecticut. "I kept," said he to us, 
" a fine Wood-Chuck in captivity, in this house, for upwards of two years. 
It was brought to me by a country lad, and was then large, rather wild, 
and somewhat cross and mischievous ; being placed in the kitchen, it 
soon found a retreat, in which it remained concealed the greater part of 
its time every day. During several nights it attempted to escape by 
gnawing the door and w^indow-sills ; gradually it became more quiet, and 
sufiered itself to be approached by the inmates of the kitchen, these 
being the cook, a fine dog, and a cat ; so that ere many months had elapsed, 
it \vould lie on the floor near the fire, in company with the dog, and would 
take food from the hand of the cook. I now began to take a particular 
interest in its welfare, and had a large box made for its use, and filled 
with hay, to which it became habituated, and always retired when in- 
clined to repose. Winter coming on, the box was placed in a warm 
comer, and the Wood-Chuck went into it, arranged its bed with care, 
and became torpid. Some six weeks having passed without its appear- 
ing, 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 \vas 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 in mj' power, I laid it close to the fire, and hav- 
ing ordered my dog to lie do\\-n 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 tew minutes, and then slowly crawl- 
ed 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 placed again in its 
box, where it went to sleep, as soundly as ever, until spring made its ap- 
pearance. 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. An accident deprived me of my pet, for having been trod- 
den on, it gradually became poor, refused food, and finally died extremely 

May we here be allowed to detain you, kind reader, for a few moments, 
whilst we reflect on this, one among thousands of other instances of the 
all-wise dispensations of the Creator. Could any of the smaller species 
of quadrupeds, incapable, as many of them are, of migrating like the 
swift-winged inhabitants of the air to the sunny climes of the South, and 
equally unable to find any thing to subsist on among the dreary wastes 
of snow, or the frost-bound lands of the North during winter, have a 
greater boon at the hands of Nature than this power of escaping the 
rigours and cold blasts of that season, and resting securely, in a sleep of 
insensibility, free from all cravings of hunger and all danger of perish- 
ing with cold, till the warm sun of spring, once more calls them into 
life and activity ? Thus this and several other species of quadrupeds, 
whose organization in this respect differs so widely from general rules, 
may be said to have no winter in their year, but enjoy the delightful 
weather of spring, summer, and autumn, without caring for the approacb 
of that season during which other animals often suffer from both cold 
and hvmger. 

" Whilst hunting one day, (said a good friend of ours, when we were 
last in Canada,) I came across a Wood-Chuck, called in Canada by 
the different names of Siffleur, Ground-Hog, and occasionally Marmot, 
with a litter of six or seven young ones by her side. I leaped from 
my horse, feeling confident that 1 could capture at least one or two 
of them, but I was mistaken ; for the dam, which seemed to anticipate 
my evil designs, ran round and round the whole of her young ' chucks,' 


urging them toM'ards a hole beneath a rock, with so much quickness — 
energ3% I may call it — that ere I could lay hands on even one of her pro- 
geny, she had them all in the hole, into which she then pitched herself, 
and left me gazing in front of her well-secured retreat, thus baffling all 
my exertions ! " 

We have now and then observed this Marmot in the woods, leaning 
with its back against a tree, and exposing its under parts to the rays 
of the hottest sun : on such occasions its head \vas reclining on its 
breast, the eyes were closed, the fore-legs hanging down, and it was 
apparently asleep, and presented a singular and somewhat ludicrous 

An intelligent naturalist has in his account of these animals, said 
that " their burrows contain large excavations in which they deposit 
stores of provisions." This assertion contradicts our o\m observations 
and experience. We are inclined to doubt whether storing up provisions 
at any or for any season of the year, can be a habit of this species. In the 
summer of 1814, in Renssellaer County, in the State of New York, we 
marked a burrow, which was the resort of a pair of Marmots. In the begin- 
ning of November, the ground was slightly covered with snow, and the frost 
had penetrated to the depth of about half an inch. We now had excava- 
tions made, in a line along the burrow or gallerj' of the IMarmots ; and at 
about twenty-five feet from the mouth of the hole, both of them were 
found lying close to each other in a nest of dried grass, which did not ap- 
pear to have been any of it eaten or bitten by them. They were each 
rolled up, and looked somewhat like two misshapen balls of hair, and 
were perfectly dormant. We removed them to a haj^ stack, in which we 
made an excavation to save them from the cold. One of them did not 
survive the first severe weather of the winter, having, as we thought on 
examining them, been frozen to death. The other, the male, was now 
removed to a cellar, ■where he remained in a perfectly dormant state 
until the latter part of February, when he escaped before we were aware 
of his reanimation. We had handled him only two days previously, and 
could perceive no symptoms of returning vivacity. During the time 
he was in the cellar, there was certainly no necessity for a " store of 
provisions " for him, as the animal was perfectly torpid and motionless 
from the day he was caught, until, as just mentioned, he emerged from 
that state and made his escape. 

In the month of May, or sometimes in June, the female brings forth 
her young, generally four or five in number. We have however on two 
occasions, counted seven, and on another eight, young in a litter. In 
about three weeks, they may be seen plajdng around the mouth of the 


burrow, where sitting on their hind-feet in the manner of the Kangaroo, 
they closely watch every intruder, retreating hastily into the hole at the 
first notes of alarm sounded by the mother. 

The Wood-Chuck, in some portions of our countrj', exists in considerable 
numbers, although it is seldom found associating with any of its o\vn 
species, except while the young are still unable to provide for themselves, 
until which period they are generally taken care of by both parents. 

When the young are a few months old, they prepare for a separation, 
and dig a number of holes in the vicinity of their early domicile, some of 
which are only a few feet deep, and are never occupied. These numer- 
ous burrows have given rise to the impression that this species lives in 
communities, which we think is not strictly the case. 


We have found the Wood-Chuck in every state of the Union north-east 
of South Carolina, and throughout the Canadas, Nova Scotia, and New 
Brunswick. We have also a specimen from Hudson's Bay ; but perhaps 
it is nowhere more plentiful than on the upper Missouri River, where we 
found its burrows dug in the loamy soil adjoining the shores, as well as 
in the adjacent woods. It is not found in the maritime districts either of 
North or South Carolina, but exists very sparingly in the mountainous 
regions of those states. We have also traced it along the eastern range 
of the Rocky Mountains as far south as Texas. A Marmot exists in 
California resembling the present species very nearly, but which will 
probably prove distinct from the latter, a point which time and a greater 
number of specimens must determine. 


It will be observed that we have united A. monax with A. empetra, 
and have rejected the latter as a species. This must necessarily follow 
from the fact, that if there is but one species, the name monax having 
been first given, must be retained. Schreber appears to have committed 
the first error in describing from a yoimg specimen of a variety of A. mo- 
nax and erecting it into a new species. The old authors followed, and 
most of them being mere compilers, have constantly copied his errors. 
Mr. Sabine (Transactions Linn. Soc, vol. xiii., part 2, p. 584,) described a 
specimen existing in the British Museum, as A. empetra, which we, after 
a careful examination, consider only a variety of A. monax. Mr. Sabine's 
description of the latter species, is, as he informed us, compiled from va- 
rious authors. Had he possessed a specimen, we think he would not 


have fallen into the common error. Dr. Richardson, who appears not to 
have known the A. monax, also described it under the name of A. empetra, 
and gave a figure of it. We have, however, been unable to discover any 
specific differences between the specimens now before us and the one so 
accurately described and figured by him in the Fauna-boreali- Americana. 
We are, therefore, compelled to consider them all as identical. 

The great varieties of colour to be observed in different specimens of this 
Marmot, together with the circumstance that no two of them are of the 
same size, have tended no doubt to confuse those who have described it. 
We have seen them of all colours, from black to brown, and from rufous 
to bluish-gray, although they are most frequently of the colour repre- 
sented in the plate. We have received a specimen from an eminent 
British naturalist as A. empetra, obtained from Hudson's Bay, which does 
not differ from the present species, and which instead of being eleven in- 
ches in length, the size given to A. empetra measures fifteen. As Richard- 
eon's species, moreover, was also from seventeen to twenty inches in 
length, and as we compared his specimen, (now in the museum of the 
Zoological Society of London,) with several specimens of the Maryland 
Marmot, without observing the least specific difference between them, 
we consider it necessary to strike off" the Canada Marmot, or Arctomys em- 
petra, from the North American Fauna. 

From the short and very unsatisfactory description, and the wretched 
figure of the Bahama Coney, contained in Catesby, vol. ii., p. 79, plate 
79, it is very difficult to decide either on the species or genus which he 
intended to describe. As however nearly all our writers on natural 
history have quoted his Bahama Coney as referring to the Maryland 
Marmot, we have carefully compared his descriptions and figure with 
this species, and have arrived at the conclusion that Catesby described 
and figured one of the species of jutia, {Capromys Foumieri, Desm.,) and 
that his Cuniculus Bahamiensis has been therefore erroneously quoted as 
a synonyme of A. monax. 




Incisive g ; Canine ^^ ; Molar g^ = 28. 

Upper incisors in pairs, two in front large and grooved, and two im- 
mediately behind, small ; lower incisors square ; molars, with flat 
crowns, and transverse laminae of enamel. Interior of the mouth and 
soles of the feet furnished with hair ; ears and eyes large ; fore-feet with 
five toes ; hind-feet with only four ; hind-legs very long ; tail short ; mam- 
mae, from sLs to ten. 

The word Lepus is derived from the Latin, lepus, and Greek Eolic, 
ymsfif, (leporis,) a hare. 

There are about thirty known species of this genus, of which rather 
the largest number, (perhaps sixteen or seventeen species,) exist in North 
and South America ; while the remainder belong to the Eastern continent. 


Townsbnd's Rocky Mountain Haee. 
PLATE in.— Male and Female.— Natural size. 

L. magnitudine, L. Americano par ; auribus, cauda, cruribus tarsisque 
longissimis ; supra diluti cinereus, infra albus. 


Size of the Northern hare, {L. Americanus :) ears, tail, legs, and tarsus, 
very long ; colour above, light gray ; beneath, white. 


Lepus Townsendh, Bach., Journal Acad. Nat. Sciences, Philadelphia, vol. viii., part 1, 
p. 90, pi. 3, (1839,) read Aug. 7, 1838. 




Body, long and slender ; head, much arched ; eyes large ; ears, long ; 
tail very long, (compared with others of the genus,) in proportion to the 
size of the animal ; legs long and slender ; tarsus very long. The whole 
conformation of this animal is indicative of great speed. 

Crown of the head, cheeks, neck, whole upper parts, and the front of 
the ears and legs, externall)% gray ; with a faint cream-coloured tinge. 
Hair, on back and sides, whitish, or silver gray, at the roots, followed by 
bro\vnish-white, which is succeeded by black, subdued gradually to a 
faint yellowish-white, and finall}' tipped ^vith black, interspersed with long 
silky hairs, some of which are black from their roots. On the chin, 
throat, under surface, interior of legs, and the tail, (with the exception of 
a narrow dark Line running longitudinally on the top,) the hair is pure 
white from the roots. Irides light hazel ; around the eyes white ; back 
part of the tips of the ears black ; external two-thirds of the hinder part 
of the ears white, running down to the back part of the neck, and then 
blending with the colour of the upper surface ; anterior third of the outer 
portion of the ear, the same gray colour as the back, fringed on the edge 
with long hairs, which are reddish fawn colour at the roots and white at 
the tips ; interior of the ear very thinly covered with beautiful fine white 
hairs, being more thickly clothed near the edge, where it is grizzlj-black 
and yellowish ; edge, fringed with pure white, becoming yellowish toward 
the tip, and at the tip black. Moustaches for the most part white, black 
at the roots, a few hairs are pure white, others wholly black. 

The specimen which was described and first published in the Transac- 
tions of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, was a female, 
procured by J. K. Tottssexd, Esq., on the Walla- Walla, one of the sources 
of the Columbia river. 

Another specimen now in our possession, the dimensions of which are 
given below, is in summer pelage, having been obtained on the 9th June. 
There is scarcely a shade of diiference in its general colour, although the 
points of many of the hairs are yellowish-white, instead of being tipped 
with black, as in the specimen obtained by ISIr. Townsexd. There is also 
a white spot on the forehead. The young is a miniature of the adult ; 
We observe no other differences than that the colour is a little lighter, 
and the tail pure white. 


















Adult Male, (killed on the Upper Missouri river.) 

From nose to root of tail . 

Tail (vertebrae) 

Do., to end of hair 

Height of ear, posteriorly . 

Length of head in a direct line 

" " following the curvature 

" from heel to end of claw 
Weight, 6J pounds. 

Adult Female, (shot by Edwakd Harris, Esq., on the 27th July, 1843.) 

From nose to root of tail 

Tail (vertebrae) . 

Do., to end of hair 

Height of ear, posteriorly 

Between the eyes 

From nose to hind feet (stretched out) 

Height from foot to shoulder 

Height to rump , , - . , 


From nose to root of tail . 
Tail (vertebrae) . , 

Do., to end of hair 
Height of ear, posteriorly . 
Height from claw to shoulder 
Length of head in a direct line 

" " following the curve 

" from heel to end of claw 



3 . 






























We subjoin the following note, received from the original discoverer of 
this Hare, which contains some valuable information in regard to its 
habits : — " This species is common in the Rocky Mountains. I made par^ 
ticular inquiries both of the Indians and British traders, as to the changes 
it undergoes at different seasons, and they all agreed that it never was 
lighter coloured. We first saw it on the plains of the Blackfoot river, 
east of the mountains, and observed it in all similar situations during our 
route to the Columbia, When first seen, which was in July, it was lean 


and unsavory, having, like our common species, the larva of an insect 
imbedded in its neck ; but when ■\ve arrived at Walla-Walla, in Septem- 
ber, we found the Indians, and the persons attached to the fort, using it 
as a common article of food. Immediately after we arrived, we w^ere re- 
galed with a dish of hares, and I thought I had never eaten any thing 
more delicious. They are found in great numbers on the plains covered 
w^ith wild Avormwood, (Artemesia.) They are so exceedingly fleet that 
no ordinary dog can catch them. I have frequently surprised them in 
their forms, and shot them as they leaped away, but I found it necessary 
to be very expeditious and to pull trigger at a particular instant, or the 
game was off among the wormwood, and I never saw it again. The In- 
dians kill them with arrows, by approaching them stealthily, as they lie 
concealed under the bushes ; and in winter take them with nets. To do 
this, some one or two hundred Indians, men, women, and children, collect, 
and enclose a large space with a slight net, about five feet wide, made of 
hemp ; the net is kept in a vertical position by pointed sticks attached to 
it and driven into the ground. These sticks are placed about five or six 
feet apart, and at each one an Indian is stationed, with a short club in 
his hand. After these arrangements are completed, a large number of 
Indians enter the circle, and beat the bushes in every direction. The 
frightened hares dart off towards the net, and in attempting to pass are 
knocked on the head and secured. Mr. Pambrun, the superintendent of 
Fort Walla- Walla, from whom I obtained this account, says that he has 
often participated in this sport with the Indians, and has known several 
hundred to be thus taken in a day. When captured alive it does not 
scream like the common gray rabbit, (L. Sylvaticus.)" " This Hare in- 
habits the plains exclusively, and seems particularly fond of the vicinity 
of the aromatic wormvi^ood. Immediately as you leave these bushes, in 
journeying towards the sea, you lose sight of the Hare." 

To the above account, we added some farther information on our last 
visit to the far West. On the 8th June, 1843, whilst our men were engaged 
in cutting wood and bringing it on board the steamer Omega, it being ne- 
cessary in that wild region, to stop and cut wood for fuel for the boat every 
day, one of the crew started a young Hare, and after a short chase the 
poor thing squatted, and was killed by a blow with a stick. It proved to 
be the young of Lepiis Tounsendii, was large enough to have left its dam, 
weighed rather more than one pound, and was a beautiful specimen. 
Its irides were pure amber colour, and the eyes large ; its hair was 
slightly curled. This Hare was captured more thein twelve himdred 
miles east of the Rocky Mountains. On the next day, in the afternoon, 
one of the negro fire-tenders, being out with a rifle, shot two others, both 


old individuals ; one of them was however cut in two by the ball, and left 
on the spot. The hair, or fur, of this individual was slightly curled, as in 
the young one, especially along the back and sides, but shortly after the 
skins had been prepared this character disappeared. These specimens 
are no^v in our collection. 

Pursuing our journey up the tortuous and rapid stream, we had not 
the good fortune to see any more of these beautiful animals until after 
our arrival at Fort Union, near the mouth of the Yellow Stone river, 
where we established ourselves for some time, by the kind permission of 
the gentlemen connected with the fur trade. 

On the 29th of Jul}', on our return from a buffalo-hunt, when we were 
some forty or fifty miles from the fort, suddenly a fine hare leaped from 
the grass before us, and stopped within twenty paces. Our friend, Ed- 
ward Harris, Esq., was with us, but his gun was loaded with ball, and 
ours with large buck-shot, intended for killing antelopes ; we fired at it, 
but missed : a^vay it ■went, and ran around a hill, Mr. Harris followed, 
and its course being seen by Mr. Bell, who observed " Pussy," stealing 
carefully along, with her ears low down, trying to escape the quick eyes 
of her pursuers, the former gentleman came up to and shot her. 

This species, like all others of the same family, is timid and fearful in 
the extreme. Its speed, we think, far surpasses that of the European 
hare, (L. timidus.) 

If the fo]-m is indicative of character, this animal, from its slender 
body, long hind legs, and great length of tarsus, must be the fleetest 
of the hares of the West. 

These hares generally place or construct their forms under a thick wil- 
low bush, or if at a distance from the water-courses on the banks of 
which those trees grow, or when they are in the open prairie, they place 
them under the edge of some rock, or seek the shelter of a stone, or large 
tuft of grass. 

The Rocky Mountain Hare produces from four to six young in the 
year. As far as we have been able to ascertain, it has but one litter. 
The young suck and follow the dam for about six weeks, after which she 
turns them oS", and leaves them to provide for themselves. The flesh of 
this species resembles in flavour that of the European hare, but is white, 
instead of dark-coloured, as is the case with the latter. 


Although the eiltire geographical range of this species has not been 
well defined, yet it must be very considerable. It is found in great 
numbers, long ere the western traveller has passed the prairies, on th^ 


shores of the lower Missouri, and has a range of fifteen hundred miles 
east of the great Rocky Mountain Chain. 

According to Mr. Townsend, it is common on the Rocky Mountains, 
and exists in considerable numbers on the western side of that great 
chain ; and if travellers have not confounded it with other species, it ex- 
tends southwardly as far as Upper California. 

The period may arrive when civilization shall have drawn wealth, and 
a large population, into these regions. Then will in all probability this 
poor hare be hunted by greyhounds, followed by gentlemen on horseback ; 
and whilst the level plains of our vast prairies will afford both dogs and 
horsemen every opportunity of rapid pursuit, the great swiftness of this 
species will try their powers and test their speed to the utmost. 


We have, since this species was first described, had some misgivings 
in regard to its being entitled to the name by which we have designated it. 

We had previously (Jour. Acad. Nat. Scien., vol. vii., part 2, p. 349, and 
vol. viii., part 1, p. 80,) described a species from the West, in its white win- 
ter colour, under the name of L. campestris. We had no other knowledge of 
its summer dress, than that given us by Lewis and Clarke. Being however 
informed by Mr. Townsend, who possessed opportunities of seeing it in w^in- 
ter, that the present species never becomes white, ^ve regarded it as dis- 
tinct, and bestowed on it the above name. We have however been since 
assured by the residents of Missouri, that like the Northern hare, Lepus 
Toumsendii assumes a white garb in winter, and it is therefore probable that 
the name will yet require to be changed to that of L. campestris. As, how- 
ever, another hare exists on the prairies of the West, the specific charac- 
ters of which have not yet been determined, we have concluded for the 
present to leave it as it stands, supposing it possible that the white winter 
colour may belong to another species. As we hope in a future volume 
to give a figure of the species in its white dress, we shall have an op- 
portunity of correcting errors, should any on farther investigation be 
found to exist. 




Incisive g-; Canine ^^■, Molar g^ = 16. 

Messrs. Say and Ord, who established this genus, having given an ex- 
tended description of its teeth, &c., we shall present a portion of it in 
their own words. 

" Molars, with profound radicles. Superior jaiv — Incisors even and 
slightly rounded on their anterior face : first molar with five triangles, 
one of which is anterior, two exterior, and two interior. Second molar 
with four triangles ; one anterior, two on the exterior side, and a very- 
small one on the interior side : third molar with four triangles ; one an- 
terior, two exterior, and a very minute one, interior. 

" Inferior jaw. — Incisors even, pointed at top : first molar with four di- 
visions or triangles, one anterior, a little irregular, then one exterior, one 
interior opposite, and one posterior : second molar, with four triangles an- 
terior and posterior, nearly similar in form, an intermediate one opposite 
to the interior and exterior one : third molar with two triangles, and an 
additional small angle on the inner side of the anterior one. Tail hairy ; 
fore-feet, four toed, with an armed rudiment of a fifth toe : hind-feet, 
five toed. 


The grinding surface of the molars differs somewhat from that of the 
molars of the genus Arvicola ; but the large roots of the grinders consti- 
tute a character essentially different. The folds of enamel which make 
the sides of the crown, do not descend so low as to the edge of the al- 
veolar processes ; in consequence of this conformation, the worn down 
tooth of an old individual must exhibit insulated circles of enamel on 
the grinding surface." 

Neotoma — Gr. nut, (neos,) new ; and Tif/.va, (temno,) I cut or divide. 

Two species of this genus have been described, both existing in North 



Flobida Rat. 
PLATE IV. — Male, Female, and Young. — NatuKJ-sieer- 

N. corpore robusto, plumbeo, quoad lineam dorsalem nigro mixto, facie 
et lateribus lusco-flavescentibus, infra albo ; cauda corpore paullo cur- 
tiore, vellere molli. 


Body robust, lead colour, mixed with black, on the dorsal line ; face and 
sides ferruginous-yellow, beneath white, tail a little shorter than the body ; 
fur soft. 


Mus Flobidanhs, Ord, NouT. Bull, de la Soclete Philomatique, 1818. 
Arvicola Floridanus, Harlan, Fauna Amer., p. 142. 

" " Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 69. 

Mos " Say, Long's Expedition, vol. i., p. 54. 

Neotoma Floridana, Say et Ord, Journ. Acad. Nat. Sciences, Philadelphia, vol. iv., part 

2, p. 352, figure. 
Neotoma Floridana, Griffiths, Animal Kingdom, vol. iii., p. 160, figure. 


The form of our very common white-footed or iield-mouse, (Mus leuco- 
pus,) may be regarded as a miniature of that of the present species ; its 
body has an appearance of lightness and agility, bearing some resem- 
blance to that of the squirrel ; snout elongated ; eyes large, resembling 
those of the common flying squirrel, (P. volucella ;) ears large, prominent, 
thin, sub-ovate, clothed so thinly with fine hair as to appear naked ; tail 
covered with soft hair ; whiskers reaching to the ears ; legs robust ; toes 
annulate beneath ; thumb, minute ; in the palms of the fore-feet there 
are five tubercles, and in the soles of the hind-feet six, of which the three 
posterior are distant from each other ; nails, concealed by hairs, which 
extend considerably beyond them ; mammae, two before, and four behind. 


The body and head are lead-colour, intermixed with yellowish and 


black hair ; the black predominating on the ridge of the back and head, 
forming an indistinct dorsal line of dark brown, gradually fading away 
into the brownish-yellow colour of the cheeks and sides ; border of the 
abdomen and throat, buff; whiskers, white and black ; feet white ; vmder 
surface of body, white, tinged with cream colour. 

In a very young specimen, the colour is dark brown on the upper sur- 
face, and plumbeous beneath ; differing so much from the adult, that the 
unpractised observer might easily be led to regard it as a new species. 


Adult Male. 

From nose to root of tail 8 inches. 

Length of tail 5i do. 

From fore-claws to hind-claws, when stretched . 13t do. 

From nose to end of ears ..... 2i do. 
Weight 71 ounces. Weight of an old Female, 8 ounces. 

Young Male. 

From nose to root of tail ..... 5y inches. 

From fore-claws to hind-claws, when stretched . 8-J do. 

From nose to end of ear ..... 2f do. 

Length of tail 4^ do. 

The specimens from which we drew the figures we have given on our 
plate, which represents this species in various ages and attitudes, on the 
branch of a pine tree, were obtained in South Carolina, and were pre- 
served alive for several weeks, in cages having wire fronts. They made 
no attempt to gna^v their 'vvay out. On a previous occasion we preserved 
an old female with three young, (which latter were born in the cage, a 
few days after the mother had been captured,) for nearly a year ; by 
which time the young had attained the size of the adult. We fed them 
on corn, potatoes, rice, and bread ; as well as apples and other fruit. 
They seemed very fond of corn flour, (Indian meal,) and for several 
months subsisted on the acorns of the live oak, {Quercus virens.) 

They became very gentle, especially one of them which was in a se- 
parate cage. It was our custom at dark to release it from confinement, 
upon ■which it would run around the room in circles, mount the table we 
were in the habit of writing at, and always make efforts to open a parti- 
cular drawer, in which we kept some of its choicest food. 



There are considerable differences in the habits of this species in va- 
rious parts of the United States, and we hope the study of these peculiari- 
ties may interest our readers. In Florida, they burrow under stones and 
the ruins of dilapidated buildings. In Georgia and South Carolina they 
prefer remaining in the woods. In some swampy situation, in the vicinity 
of sluggish streams, amid tangled vines interspersed with leaves and long 
moss, they gather a heap of dry sticks, which they pile up into a conical 
shape, and which, with grasses, mud, and dead leaves, mixed in by the 
^vind and rain, form, as they proceed, a structure impervious to rain, and 
inaccessible to the wild-cat, racoon, or fox. At other times, their nest, 
composed of somewhat lighter materials, is placed in the fork (branch) 
of a tree. 

About fifteen years ago, on a visit to the grave-yard of the Church at 
Ebenezer, Georgia, we were struck with the appearance of several very 
large nests near the tops of some tall evergreen oaks, {Quercus aquati- 
cus ;) on disturbing the nests, we discovered them to be inhabited by a 
nmnber of Florida rats, of all sizes, some of which descended rapidly to 
the ground, whilst others escaped to the highest branches, where they 
were concealed among the leaves. These nests, in certain situations are 
of enormous size. We have observed some of them on trees, at a height 
of from ten to twenty feet from the ground, where wild vines had made 
a tangled mass over head, which appeared to be larger than a cart 
wheel, and contained a mass of leaves and sticks, that would have more 
than filled a barrel. 

Those specimens, however, which we procured on our journey up the 
Missouri river, were all caught in the hollows of trees which were cut 
down by the crew^, as we proceeded, for fuel for our steamer. Lewis and 
Clarke, in their memorable journey across the Rocky Mountains, found 
them nestling among clefts in the rocks, and also in hollow trees. In 
this region they appeared to be in the habit of feeding on the prickly pear, 
or Indian fig, {Cactus opuntia,) the travellers having found large quanti- 
ties of seeds, and remnants of those plants, in their nests. In the Floridas, 
Mr. Bartram also found this species. He says, " they are singular, -with 
respect to their ingenuity and great labour in the construction of their 
habitations, which are conical pyramids about three feet high, construct- 
ed with dry branches, which they collect with great labour and persever- 
ance, and pile up without any apparent order ; yet they are so interwoven 
with one another, that it would take a bear or wild cat some time to pull 
one of these castles to pieces, and allow the animals sufficient time to se- 
cure a retreat with their young." 

This is a very active rat, and in ascending trees, exhibits much of the 


agility of the squirrel, although we do not recollect having observed it 
leaping from branch to branch in the manner of that genus. » 

The Florida rat is, in Carolina, a very harmless species ; the only de- 
predation we have known it to conmiit, was an occasional inroad on the 
corn-fields, when the grain was yet juicy and sweet. We have seen 
several whole ears of Indian corn taken from one of their nests, into which 
they had been dragged by these animals the previous night. They appear 
also to be very fond of the Chinquapin, {Castania purnila,) and we have 
sometimes observed aroimd their nests traces of their having fed on frogs 
and cray-fish. 

This species is nocturnal, or at least crepuscular, in its habits. In pro- 
curing specimens we were only successful when the traps had been set 
over night. Those we had in captivity scarcely ever left their dark 
chambers till after sunset, when they came forth from their dormitories, 
and continued playful and active during a great part of the night. They 
were mild in their dispositions, and much less disposed to bite when pur- 
sued than the common and more mischievous Norway rat. 

Wliilst the young are small, they cling to the teats of the mother, who 
runs about with them occasionally without much apparent inconvenience ; 
and even when older, they still, when she is about to travel quickly, cling 
to her sides or to her back. Thus on a visit from home, she may be said 
to carry her little family with her, and is always ready to defend them 
even at the risk of her life. We once heard a gratifying and affecting 
anecdote of the attachment to its young, manifested by one of this species, 
which we will here relate as an evidence that in some cases we may 
learn a valuable lesson from the instincts of the brute creation. 

Our friend, Gaillard Stoney, Esq., sent us an old and a young Florida rat, 
obtained under the following circumstances. A terrier was seen in pur- 
suit of a rat of this species, followed by two young, about a third grown. 
He had already killed one of these, when the mother sprang forward and 
seized the other in her mouth, although only a few feet from her relent- 
less enemy — hastened through a fence which for a moment protected her, 
and retreated into her burrow. They were dug out of the ground, and 
sent to us alive. We observed that for many months the resting place 
of the young during the day was on the back of its mother. 

From three to six are produced at a litter, by this species, which breeds 
generally twice a year ; we have seen the young so frequently in March 
and August, that we are inclined to the belief that these are the periods 
of their reproduction. We have never heard them making any other 
noise than a faint squeak, somewhat resembling that of the brown rat. 
The very playful character of this species, its cleanly habits, its mild, 


prominent, and bright eyes ; together with its fine form and easy suscep- 
tibility of domestication, would render it a far more interesting pet than 
many others that the caprice of man has from time to time induced him 
to select. 


This species is very widely scattered through the country. It was 
brought from East Florida by Mr. Ord, in 1818, but not published until 
1825. It was then supposed by him to be peculiar to Florida, and re- 
ceived its specific name from that circumstance. We had, however, ob- 
tained a number of specimens, both of this species and the cotton rat, 
(Sigmodon hispidum,) in 1816, in South Carolina, where they are very 
abundant. In Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, and 
the former States, it is a common species. Its numbers diminish greatly 
as we travel eastward. In North Carolina some specimens of it have 
been obtained. We observed a few nests among the valleys of the Vir- 
ginia mountains ; farther north we have not personally traced it, although 
we have somewhere heard it stated that one or two had been captured 
as far to the north as Maiyland. 


On a farther examination of Bartram's work, which is also referred to 
by GoDMAN, (Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 21,) we find his descriptions of the 
habits of this species very accurate ; the first part of that article, how- 
ever, quoted by Dr. Godman, is evidently incorrect. " The wood rat," 
says Barteam, " is a very curious animal ; they are not half the size of 
the domestic rat, of a dark brown or black colour ; thin tail, slender and 
shorter in proportion, and covered thinly with short hair." The error of 
Barteam, in describing one species, and applying to it the habits of an- 
other, seems to have escaped the observation of Dr. Godman. The cotton 
rat, or as it is generally called, wood rat, {Sigmodon hispidum^ answers 
this description of Barteam, in its size, colour, and tail ; but it does not 
build " conical pyramids ;" this is the work of a much larger and very dif- 
ferent species — the Florida rat of this article. 

The adoption of the genus Neotoma, when proposed by Say and Oed, 
was met with considerable opposition by naturalists of that day, and 
some severe strictures were passed upon it by Drs. Haelan and Godman, 
(See Harlan, p. 143, Godman, vol. ii., p. 72.) They contended that the 
variations in the teeth that separated this species from Mus and Arvicola, 
were not sufiicient to establish genuine distinctions. 

More recently naturalists have, however, examined the subject calmly 


and considerately. It is certain that this genus cannot be arranged either 
under Arvicola or Mus, without enlarging the characters of one or the 
other of these genera. Another species, from the Rocky Mountains, has 
been discovered by Dr. Richardson, {Neotonia Drmnmojidii,) and we feel 
pretty confident that the genus will be generally adopted. 


GENUS SCIURUS.— Linn., Erxleb., Cuv., Geoff., Illiger. 

Dental Formula. 

Incisive ^ ; Canine ^^ ; Molar j^ or j^ = 20 or 22. 

Body elongated ; tail long and furnished with hairs ; head large ; ears 
erect ; eyes projecting and brilliant ; upper lip divided. Four toes be- 
fore, with a tubercle covered by a blunt nail ; five toes behind. The four- 
grinders, on each side the mouth above and beneath, are variously tuber- 
culated ; a very small additional one in front, above, is in some species 
permanent, but in most cases drops out when the young have attained the 
age of from six to twelve weeks. Mammse, eight ; two pectoral, the 
others abdominal. 

The squirrel is admirably adapted to a residence on trees, for which 
nature has designed it. Its fingers are long, slender and deeply cleft, and 
its nails very acute and greatly compressed ; it is enabled to leap from 
branch to branch, and from tree to tree, clinging to the smallest twigs, 
and seldom missing its hold. When this happens to be the case, it has 
an instinctive habit of grasping in its descent at the first object which 
may present itself, or if about to fall to the earth, it spreads itself out in 
the manner of the flying squirrel, and thus by presenting a greater resist- 
ance to the air, is enabled to reach the ground without injury, and recover 
itself so instantaneously, that it often escapes the teeth of the dog that 
watches its descent, and stands ready to seize upon it at the moment of 
its fall. It immediately ascends a neighbouring tree, emitting very fre- 
quently a querulous bark, which is either a note of fear or of triumph. 

Although the squirrel moves with considerable activity on the ground, 
it rather runs than leaps ; on trees, however, its activity and agility are 
surprising, and it is generally able to escape from its enemies, and conceal 
itself in a few moments, either among the thick foliage, in its nest, or in 
a hollow tree. The squirrel usually conveys its food to the mouth by the 
fore-paws. Nuts, and seeds of all kinds, are held by it between the rudi- 
mental thumbs and the inner portions of the palms. When disturbed or 
alarmed, it either drops the nut and makes a rapid retreat, or seizes it 
with the incisors, and carries it to its hole or nest. 

All our American species of this genus, as far as we have been able to 


become acquainted with their habits, build their nests either in the fork 
of a tree, or on some secure portion of its branches. The nest is hemi- 
spherical in shape, and is composed of sticks, leaves, the bark of trees, 
and various kinds of mosses and lichens. In the vicinity of these nests, 
however, they have a still more secure retreat in some hollow tree, to 
which they retire in cold or in very wet weather, and where their first 
litter of young is generally produced. 

Several species of squirrels collect and hide away food during the abun- 
dant season of autumn, to serve as a winter store. This hoard is com- 
posed of various kinds of walnuts and hickory nuts, chesnuts, chinqua- 
pins, acorns, corn, &.C., which may be found in their vicinity. The spe- 
cies, however, that inhabit the Southern portions of the United States, 
where the ground is seldom covered with snow, and where they can al- 
waj's derive a precarious support from the seeds, insects, and worms, 
which they scratch up among the leaves, &c., are less provident in this 
respect ; and of all our species, the chickaree, or Hudson's Bay squirrel, 
{Sc. Hudsonius,) is by far the most industrious, and lays up the greatest 
quantity of food. 

In the spring, the squirrels shed their hair, which is replaced by a thin- 
ner and less furry coat ; during simimer their tails are narrower and less 
feathery than in autumn, when they either receive an entirely new coat, or 
a very great accession of fur ; at this season also, the outer surfaces of 
the ears are more thickly and prominently clothed with fur than in the 
spring and summer. 

Squirrels are notorious depredators on the Indian corn fields of the far- 
mer, in some portions of our country, consuming great quantities of this 
grain, and by tearing off the husks, exposing an immense number of the 
unripe ears to the mouldering influence of the dew and rain. 

The usual note emitted by this genus is a kind of tremulous querulous 
bark, not very unlike the quacking of a duck. Although all our larger 
squirrels have shades of diflerence in their notes, which will enable the 
practised ear to designate the species even before they are seen, yet this 
difference cannot easily be described by words. Their bark seems to be 
the repetition of a syllable five or six times, quack-quack-quack-quack- 
qua — commencing low, gradually raising to a higher pitch, and ending 
with a drawl on the last letter in the syllable. The notes, however, of 
the smaller Hudson's Bay squirrel, and its kindred species existing on the 
Rocky Mountains, differ considerably from those of the larger squirrels ; 
they are sharper, more rapidly uttered, and of longer continuance ; seem- 
ing intermediate between the bark of the latter and the chipping calls of 
the ground-squirrels, (Tamhs.) The barking of the squirrel maybe heard 


occasionally in the forest during all hours of the day, but is uttered most 
frequently in the morning and afternoon. Any sudden noise in the woods, 
or the distant report of a gun, is almost certain, during fine weather, to be 
succeeded by the barking of the squirrel. This is either a note of playful- 
ness or of love. Whilst barking it seats itself for a few moments on a 
branch of a tree, elevates its tail over its back towards the head, and bend- 
ing the point backwards continues to jerk its body, and elevate and depress 
the tail at the repetition of each successive note. Like the mocking bird 
and the nightingale, however, the squirrel, very soon after he begins to sing, 
(for to his own ear, at least, his voice must be musical.) also commences 
skipping and dancing ; he leaps playfullj' from bough to bough, some- 
times pursuing a rival or his mate for a few moments, and then reiterat- 
ing with renewed vigour his querulous and monotonous notes. 

One of the most common habits of the squirrel is that of dodging around 
the tree when approached, and keeping on the opposite side, so as to 
completely baffle the hunter who is alone. Hence it is almost essential 
to the sportsman's success, that he should be accompanied by a second 
person, who, by w^alking slowly round the tree on w^hich the squirrel has 
been seen, and beating the bushes, and making a good deal of noise, 
causes him to move to the side where the gunner is silently stationed, 
waiting for a view of him to fire. When a squirrel is seated on a branch, 
and fancies himself undiscovered, should some one approach, he imme- 
diately depresses his tail, and extending it along the branch behind him, 
presses his body so closely to the bark, that he frequently escapes the 
most practised eye. Not^vithstanding the agility of these animals, man is 
not their only, nor even their most formidable enemy. The owl makes a 
frequent meal of those species which continue to seek their food late in 
the evening and early in the morning. Several species of hawks, espe- 
cially the red-tailed, (Buteo horealis,) and the red-shouldered, (Buteo line- 
afus,) pounce upon them by day. The black snake, rattle snake, and 
other species of snakes, can secure them ; and the ermine, the fox, and the 
wild cat, are incessantly exerting their sagacity in lessening their num- 

The generic name Sciurus is derived from the Latin sciurus, a squirrel, 
and from the Greek, mcicvfa, (skiouros,) from «<«, {skia,) a shade, and cvfx, 
(oura,) a tail. 

There are between sixty and seventy species of this genus known to 
authors ; about t^venty well determined species exist in North America. 



RicHAEDsoN's Columbian Schjibbel. 

PLATE V. — Male and Female. — Xatural size. 

S. Cauda corpore breviore, apice nigro ; supra griseus, subtus sub-albi- 
du.s. S. Hudsonico minoi'. 


Smaller than Sciurus Hudsonius ; tail shorter than the body : rusty gray 
above, whitish beneath ; extremity of the tail black. 


Brown Squirrel, Lewis and Clarke, vol. iii., p. 37. 

Sciurus Hudsonius, var. B. Richardson, Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 190. 

SciuBus RicHABDSONii, Bachman, Proceedings, Zool. Soc, London, 1338, (read Aug. 11, 

Sciurus Richabdsonii, Bach., Mag. Nat. Hist., London, new series, 1839, p. 113. 
" " Bach., Silliman's Journal. 


The upper incisors are small and of a light yellow colour ; the lower 
are very thin and slender, and nearly white. The first or deciduous mo- 
lar, as in all the smaller species of pine squirrel that we have examined, 
is wanting. 

The body of this diminutive species is short, and does not present that 
appearance of lightness and agility which distinguishes the Sciurus Hud- 
sonius. Head less elongated, forehead more arched, and nose a little 
more blunt, than in that species. Ears short ; feet of moderate size; 
the third toe on the fore-feet, but slightly longer than the second : claws, 
compressed, arched, and acute ; tail shorter than the body. Thumb 
nail broad, flat, and blunt. 

Fur on the back, dark plumbeous from the roots, tipped with rusty 
brown and black, giving it a rusty gi'ay appearance. It is less rufous 
than Sciurus Hudsonius, and lighter coloured than Sciurus Douglassii. 




Feet, on their upper surface rufous ; on the shoulders, forehead, ears, and 
along the thighs, there is a slight tinge of the same colour. Whiskers, 
(which are a little longer than the head,) black. The whole of the under 
surface, as well as a line around the eyes and a small patch above the 
nostrils, bluish-gray. The tail, for about one-half its length presents on 
the upper surface a dark rufous appearance, many of the hairs being 
nearly black, pointed with light rufous. At the extremity of the tail 
and along it for about an inch and three-quarters, the hairs are black, a 
few of them slightly tipped with rufous. Hind-feet, from the heel to the 
palms thickly clothed with short adpressed light-coloured hairs ; palms 
naked. The sides are marked by a line of black, commencing at the 
shoulder and terminating abruptly on the flanks ; this line is about two 
inches in length, and four lines wide. 


Length of head and body 
Tail (vertebrae) 
Do., including fur . 
Height of ear posteriorly 

Do., including fur 
Palm and middle fore-claw 
Sole and middle hind-claw 

6i inches. 

3f do. 

5 do. 

f do. 

I do. 

If do. 

n do. 

The only knowledge we have obtained of the habits of this species, is 
contained in a note from Mr. Townsend, who obtained the specimen from 
which the above description was taken. He remarks : " It is evidently 
a distinct species. Its habits are very different from the Sciurus Hud- 
sonius. It frequents the pine trees in the high ranges of the Rocky 
Mountains w^est of the Great Chain, feeding upon the seeds contained in 
the cones. These seeds are large and white, and contain a good deal of 
nutriment. The Indians eat a great quantity of them, and esteem them 

" The note of this squirrel is a loud jarring chatter, very different from 
the noise of Sciw-us Hudsonius. It is not at all shy, frequently coming 
doviTi to the foot of the tree to reconnoitre the passenger, and scolding 
at him vociferously. It is, I think, a scarce species." 


Lewis and Clarke speak of the " Brown Squirrel ", as inhabiting the 
banks of the Columbia river. Our specimen is labelled. Rocky ]\Ioun- 


tains, Aug. 12, 1834. From Mr. Townsend's account, it exists on the 
mountains a little west of the highest ridge. It wll be found no doubt 
to have an extensive range along those elevated regions. 

In the Russian possessions to the Northward, it is replaced by the 
Do^vny Squirrel (Sc. latiuginosus.) and in the South, near the Californian 
Mountains, within the Territories of the United States, by another 
small species which we hope to present to our readers hereafter. 


The first account we have of this species is from Lewis and Clarke, 
who deposited a specLmen in the Philadelphia Museum, where it still 
exists. We have compared this specimen with that brought by Mr. 
TowNSEND, and find them identical. The description by Lewis and Clarke 
(vol. iii., p. 37) is very creditable to the close obser^-ation and accuracy 
of those early explorers of the untrodden snows of the Rocky Mountains 
and the valleys bejond, to Oregon. 

" The small bro\\Ti Squirrel," they say, " is a beautiful little animal, 
about the size and form of the red squirrel {Sc. Hudsonius) of the Atlantic 
.States, and Western lakes. The tail is as long as the body and neck, and 
formed like that of the red squirrel ; the eyes are black ; the whiskers 
long and black, but not abundant ; the back, sides, head, neck, and outer 
parts of the legs, are of a reddish brown ; the throat, breast, belly, and 
inner parts of the legs, are of a pale red ; the tail is a mixture of black 
and fox- coloured red, in which the black predominates in the middle, and 
the red on the edges and extremity. The hair of the body is almost half 
an inch long, and so fine and soft that it has the appearance of fur. The 
hair of the tail is coarser and double in length. This animal subsists 
chiefly on the seeds of various species of pine and is always found in the 
pine country." 

Dr. Richardson, who had not seen a specimen, copied in his excellent 
■work, {Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 19,) the description of Lewis and 
Clarke, from which he supposed this species to be a mere variety of the 
Sc. Hudsonius. We had subsequently an opportunity of submitting a 
specimen to his inspection, when he immediately became convinced it 
was a different species. 

The difference between these two species can indeed be detected at a 
glance by comparing specimens of each together. The present species, 
in addition to its being a fourth smaller, — about the size of our little 
chipping squirrel {Tamias Lysteri) — has less of the reddish bro^vn on the 
upper surface, and may always be distinguished from the other by the 
blaclaiess of its tail at the extremity. 




Incisive ^ ; Canine j^ ; Molar ^^ = 42. 

Muzzle pointed ; pupils of the eyes forming a vertical fissur^ ; upper 
incisors less curved than in the genus Canis. Tail, long, bushy, and ey" 

Animals of this genus, generally are smaller, and the number of spe- 
cies known, greater, than among the wolves ; they diffuse a fcetid odour, 
dig burrows, and attack none but the weaker quadrupeds, or birds, &c. 

The characters of this genus, differ so slightly from those of the genus 
Canis, that we were induced to pause before removing it from the sub- 
genus in which it had so long remained. As a general rule, we are 
obliged to admit that a large fox is a wolf, and a small wolf may be 
termed a fox. .So inconveniently large, however, is the list of species in 
the old genus Canis, that it is, we think, advisable to separate into dis- 
tinct groups, such species as possess any characters different from the 
true Wolves. 

Foxes, although occasionally seen abroad during the day, are nocturnal 
in their habits, and their character is marked by timidity, suspicion and 
cunning. Nearly the whole day is passed by the Fox in concealment, 
either in his burrow under ground, in the fissures of the rocks, or in the 
middle of some large fallen-tree-top, or thick pile of brush- wood, where 
he is well hidden from any passing enemy. 

During the obscurity of late twilight, or in the darkness of night, he 
sallies forth in search of food ; the acuteness of his organs of sight, of 
smell, and of hearing, enabling him in the most mui-ky atmosphere, to 
trace and follow the footsteps of small quadrupeds or birds, and pounce 
upon the hare seated in her form, or the partridge, grouse, or turkey on 
their nests. 

Various species of squirrels, field-rats, and moles, afford him a rich re- 
past. He often causes great devastation in the poultry yard ; seizes on 
the goose whilst grazing along the banks of the stream, or carries off the 
lamb from the side of its mother. 

The cautious and wary character of the Fox, renders it exceedingly 


difficult to take him in a trap of any kind. He eludes the snares laid for 
him, and generally discovers and avoids the steel-trap, however carefully 
covered with brush-'wood or grasses. 

In the Northern States, such as Pennsylvania and New- York, and in 
New England, the rutting season of the Fox commences in the month of 
February. During this period he issues a succession of rapid yells, like 
the quick and sharp barking of a small dog. Gestation continues from 60 
to 65 days. The cubs are from 5 to 9 in number, and like young puppies, 
are born with hair, and are blind at birth. They leave their burrows 
generally, when three or four months old, and in all predatory expeditions, 
each individual goes singly, and plunders on his o^^^l account, and for 
his own especial benefit. 

The Generic name is derived from the Latin word vulpes, a Fox. 

There are about twelve well-known species belonging to this Genus 
— four of which exist in North America. 

VULPES FULVU S.— Desm : var. Decimalus.—PEmAyT. 

American Cross Fox. 

PLATE VI.— Male.— 5 Natural size. 

V. cruce nigra supra humeros, subtus liuea longitudinali nigra, auribus 
pedibusque nigris. 


A cross on the neck and shoulders, and a longitudincd stripe on the under 
surface, black ; ears and feet black. 


Renard Baree, Tsinantontongue, Sagard Theodat., Canada, p. 715. 
European Cross Fox, var. B., Cross Fox, Pennant, Arct., Zool., vol. i., p. 46. 
Cams Decussatus, Geoff., Coll. du Mus. 
Canis Fulvus, Sabine, Franklin's Journal, p. 656. 

" " var. B., (decussatus) Rich., Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 93. 


Form, agrees in every particular with that of the common red fox, ( V. 
fulvus.) Fur, rather thick and long, but not thicker or more elongated 
than in many specimens of the red fox that we have examined. Soles of 



the feet densely clothed with short woolly hair, so that the callous spots 
at the roots of the nails are scarcely visible. A black longitudinal stripe, 
more or less distinct, on the under surface. 

Front of the head, and back, dark gray ; the hairs being black at the 
roots, yellowish white near the ends, and but slightly tipped with black ; 
so that the light colour of the under part of each hair showing through, 
gives the surface a gray tint ; with these hairs a few others are mixed 
that are black throughout their whole length. 

The soft fur beneath these long hairs is of a bro^^Tiish black. Inner 
surface of ears, and sides of the neck from the chin to the shoulders, pale 
reddish yellow ; sides, behind the shoulders towards the top of the back, 
slightly ferruginous ; under surface, to the thighs, haunches, and under 
part of the root of tail, pale ferruginous. Fur underneath the long hair, 
yellowish. Tail dark brown ; fur beneath, reddish yellow ; the long hairs, 
yellowish at base, broadly tipped with black ; at the extremity of the tail a 
small tuft of w^hite hair. Nose, outer surface of ear, chin, throat, and 
chest, black. A line along the under surface for half its length, and 
broadest at its termination, black ; a few white hairs intermixed, but not 
a sufficient number to alter the general colour. The yellowish tint on 
each side of the neck and behind the shoulders, is divided by a longitudi- 
nal dark brown band on the back, crossed at right angles by another run- 
ning over the shoulders and extending over the fore-legs, forming a cross. 
There is another cross, yet more distinctly marked, upon the chest ; a 
black stripe, extending downward from the throat towards the belly, being 
intersected by another black line, which reaches over the chest from the 
inside of one fore-leg to the other. Hence, the name of this animal does 
not originate in its ill-nature, or by reason of its having any peculiarly 
savage propensity, as might be presumed, but from the singular markings 
we have just described. 


Adult Male. 

From nose to root of tail 
Tail (vertebrae) . 
Tail, to end of hair 
From nose to end of ear 
" to eyes 

Weight, 14 pounds. 

24i inches. 
12i do. 
16 do. 

8 do. 

21 do. 


In our }outh we had opportunities whilst residing in the northern part 
of the State of New York, of acquiring some knowledge of the habits of 
the Fox, and many other animals, which then were abundant around us. 

Within a few miles dwelt several neighbours who vied with each other 
in destroying foxes, and other predacious animals, and who kept a strict 
account of the number they captured or killed each season. As trappers, 
most of our neighbours were rather unsuccessful — the wary foxes, espe- 
cially, seemed very soon, as om- western hunters would say, to be " up to 
trap." Shooting them by star-light, from behind a hay-stack in the fields, 
when they had for sometime been baited and the snow covered the 
ground so that food was eagerly sought after by them, answered pretty 
well at first, but after a few had been shot at, the whole tribe of foxes 
— red, gray, cross, and black — appeared to be aware that safety was no 
longer to be expected in the vicinity of hay-stacks, and they all gave the 
latter a wde berth. 

With the assistance of dogs, pick-axes, and spades, our friends were far 
more successful, and we think might have been considered adepts. We 
were invited to join them, which we did on a few occasions, but finding 
that our ideas of sport did not accord precisely with theirs, we gradually 
withdrew from this club of primitive fox-hunters. Each of these sports- 
men was guided by his own " rules and regulations "' in the " chase ; " 
the horse was not brought into the field, nor do we remember any scarlet 
coats. Each hunter proceeded in the direction that to him seemed best — 
what he killed he kept — and he always took the shortest possible method 
he could devise, to obtain the fox's skin. He seldom carried a gun, but in 
lieu of it, on his shoulder was a pick-axe and a spade, and in his pocket 
a tinder box and steel. 

A half-hound, being a stronger and swifter dog than the thorough bred, 
accompanied him, the true foxhound being too slow, and too noisy for his 
purpose ; we remember one of these half-bred dogs, which was of great 
size and extraordinary fieetness ; it was said to have a cross of the grey- 

In the fresh-fallen and deep snows of mid- winter, the hunters were most 
successful. During these severe snow storms, the ruffed grouse, (Tetrao 
umbellus,) called in our Eastern States the partridge, is often snowed up 
and covered over ; or sometimes plunges from on wing into the soft sno-w, 
where it remains concealed for a day or two. The fox occasionally sur- 
prises these birds, and as he is usually stimulated at this inclement season 
by the gnawings of hunger, he is compelled to seek for food by day as 


well as by night ; his fresh tracks may be seen in the fields, along the 
fences, and on the skirts of the farm-yard, as well as in the deep forest. 

Nothing is easier than to track the Fox under those favourable circum- 
stances, and the trail having been discovered, it is followed up, until Rey- 
nard is started. Now the chase begins ; the half-hound yells out, in tones 
far removed from the mellow notes of the thorough-bred dog, but equally 
inspiriting perhaps, through the clear frosty air, as the solitary hunter 
eagerly follows, as fast as his limited powers of locomotion will admit. 
At intervals of three or four minutes, the sharp cry of the dog resounds, 
the Fox has no time to double and shuffle, the dog is at his heels almost, 
and speed, speed, is his only hope for life. Now the shrill baying of the 
hound becomes irregular ; we may fancy he is at the throat of his victim ; 
the hunter is far in the rear, toiling along the track which marks the 
course so well contested, but occasionally the voice of his dog softened by 
the distance, is borne on the wind to his ear. For a mile or two the Fox 
keeps ahead of his pursuer, but the latter has the longest legs, and the 
snow impedes him less than it does poor Reynard ; every bound and 
plunge into the snow, diminishes the distance between the fox and his re- 
lentless foe. Onward they rush through field, fence, brushwood, and open 
forest, the snow flying from bush and briar as they dart through the 
copse, or speed across the newly-cleared field. But this desperate race 
cannot last longer. The fox must gain his burrow, or some cavernous 
rock, or he dies. Alas ! he has been lured too far away from his custom- 
ary haunts and from his secure retreat, in search of prey, he is unable to 
reach his home ; the dog is even now within a foot of his brush. One more 
desperate leap, and with a sudden snappish growl he turns upon his pur- 
suer, and endeavours to defend himself with his sharp teeth. For a mo- 
ment 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, resting, 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 of the 
fox, the dog is upon him ; with renewed vigour 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. 

The hunter soon comes up : he has made several short cuts, guided by 
the bajdng of his hound ; and striking the deep trail in the snow again, at 
a point much nearer to the scene of the death-struggle, he hurries toward 
the place where the last cry was heard, and pushes forward in a half run 


until he meets his dog, which on hearing his master approach, generally 
advances towards him, and leads the way to the place where he has 
achieved his victory. 

We will now have another hunt, and pursue a Fox, that is within reach 
of his burrow when we let loose our dog upon him. We will suppose 
him " started ; " with loud shouts we encourage our , half-hound ; he 
dashes away on the Fox's track, whilst the latter, with every muscle 
strained to the utmost, is shortening the distance between himself and his 
stronghold ; increasing his speed with his renewed hopes of safety, he 
gains the entrance to his retreat, and throws himself headlong into it, re- 
joicing at his escape. Whilst yet panting for breath, he hears his foe 
barking at the entrance of his burrow, and flatters himself he is now be- 
yond a peradventure safe. But perhaps we do injustice to his sagacity ; 
he may have taken refuge in his hole, well aware of the possibility of his 
being attacked there — ^yet what better could he do ? However this may 
be, he has escaped one enemy, by means of a swift pair of heels, and has 
only to dread the skill, perseverance, and invention of the hunter ; who 
in time comes up, rigged out pretty much as we have already described 
him, with spade, pick-axe, flint and steel. 

On arriving at the spot where the Fox has been (in select phrase) 
" holed," the sportsman surveys the place, and if it is on level ground, 
where he can use the spade, he throws off" his coat, and prepares for his 
work wath a determination to have " that " fox, and no mistake ! He now 
cuts a long slender stick, which he inserts in the hole, to ascertain in 
what direction he shall dig the first pit. The edge or mouth of the burrow, 
is generally elevated a little above the adjacent surface of the gi'ound, 
by the earth which the Fox has brought from within ; and this slight 
embankment, serves to keep out the rain water, that might otherwise 
flow in from the vicinity in stormy weather. 

The burrow at first inclines do-wnward, for four or five feet, at an an 
gle of about twenty-five degrees, it then inclines upward a little, which 
is an additional security against inundations, and is continued, at a depth 
of about three or four feet from the surface, untU it reaches a point where 
it is divided into two or three galleries. 

This dividing point the hunter discovers after sinking three or four pits 
— it is generally twenty or thirty feet from the entrance of the burrow. 
The excavation is now made larger, the earth and rubbish thrown 
out, the dog is placed in the hole thus laid open, and his aid is sought, 
to ascertain into which branch of the gallery the Fox has retreated. 
There are seldom any tortuous windings beyond the spot whence the 
galleries diverge— the Fox is not far oflT. The stick is again inserted, and 

J ^ __ 


either reaches him, and the hunter is made aware of his whereabouts, by 
his snapping at it and growling, which calls forth a yelp of fierce anxiety 
from the dog ; or, as frequently happens, the Fox is heard digging for life, 
and making no contemptible progress through the earth. Should no rocks 
or large roots interfere, he is easily unearthed, and caught by the dog. 

It however very frequently occurs, that the den of the Fox is situat- 
ed on the mountain side ; and that its winding galleries run beneath 
the enormous roots of some stately pine or oak ; or it may be amongst 
huge masses of broken rock, in some fissure of too great depth to be 
sounded, and too contracted to be entered by man or dog. What is then 
to be done ? Should a " dead-fall" be set at the mouth of the hole, the 
Fox will (unless the ground be frozen too hard,) dig another opening, and 
not go out b}- the old place of egress ; place a steel-trap before it, and he 
will spring it without being caught. He will remain for days in his re- 
treat, ■without once exposing himself to the danger of having a dog snap- 
ping at his nose, or a load of duck-shot whistling rovmd his ears. Our 
hunter, however, is not much worried with such reflections as we have 
just made ; he has already gathered an armful or t'wo of dry wood, and 
perhaps some resinous knots, or bits of the bark of the pine-tree ; he cuts up 
a portion into small pieces, pulls out his tinder-box, flint, and steel, and in 
a few moments a smart fire is lighted within the burrow ; more wood is 
thrown on, the mass pushed further down the hole, and as soon as it be- 
gins to roar and blaze freelj', the mouth is stopped with brush-wood 
covered with a few spadefuls of earth, and the den is speedily exhausted 
of pure air, and filled with smoke and noxious gases. 

There is no escape for the Fox — an enemy woi-se than the dog or the 
gun, is destroying him ; he dies a protracted, painful death by suffoca- 
tion ! In about an hour the entrance is uncovered, large volumes of 
smoke issue into the pure air, and w^hen the hunter's eye can pierce 
through the dense smoky darkness of the interior, he may perhaps discern 
the poor Fox extended lifeless in the burrow, and may reach him with a 
stick. If not quite dead, the Fox is at least exhausted and insensible ; this 
is sometimes the case, and the animal is then knocked on the head. 

The number of Foxes taken by our neighbours, in the primitive mode 
of himting them we have attempted to describe, was, as nearly as we can 
now recollect, about sixty every winter, or an average of nearly twenty 
killed by each hunter. After one or two seasons, the number of Foxes 
in that part of the country was sensibly diminished, although the settle- 
ments had not increased materially and the neighbom-hood was at that 
time very wild. 

At this time Pennant's marten {Muslela Canadensis) was not very 


scarce in Rensselaer count}', and we had three different specimens 
brought to us to examine. 

These, the people called Black Foxes. They were obtained by cutting 
dowTi hollow trees, in which they were concealed, and to which their 
tracks on the snow directed the hunters. 

We cannot now find any note, in regard to the nimiber of Cross Foxes 
taken, as compared to the Red, Gray, and Black Foxes ; about one-fourth 
of the whole number captured, however, were Gray Foxes, and we recol- 
lect but a single one that was perfectly black with the exception of a white 
tip at the end of its tail, like the specimen figured in Dr. Godman's work. 
On examining several packages of Fox skins at Montreal, we saw 
about four specimens only of the Cross Fox, and three of the Black Fox, 
in some three hundred skins. We Avere informed during our recent visit 
to the Upper Missouri country, that from fifty to one hundred skins of the 
Cross Fox were annually procured by the American Fur Company, from 
the hunters and Indians. 

The specimen from which our drawing was made, was caught in a 
steel-trap, by one of its fore-feet, not far from the falls of Niagara, and 
was purchased by J. W. Audubon of the proprietor of the " Museum " 
kept there to gratify the curiosity of the travellers who visit the great 

In describing the habits of the Red Fox, (F. Fuluus,) which we trust 
to be able to do hereafter, we conceive that we shall have a further and 
better opportunity of giving the characteristics of the species of which 
this is a variety. 

Dr. Richardson (Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 93) adheres to the 
opinion of the Indians, who regard the Cross Fox of the fur traders as a 
mere variety of the Red Fox. He says, " I found on inquiry that the gra- 
dations of colour between characteristic specimens of the Cross and Red 
Fox, are so small that the hunters are often in doubt with respect to the 
proper denomination of a skin ; and I was frequentlj- told, " This is not a 
Cross Fox yet, but it is becoming so." It is worthy of remark, moreover, 
that the European Fox {Vulpes vulgaris) is subject to similar varieties, 
and that the " Cams crucigera of Gesner, differs from the latter animal in 
the same way that the American Cross Fox does from the red one." 
We have had several opportunities of examining C. crucigera in the mu 
seums of Europe, and regard it as a variety of the common European 
Fox, but it diflfers in many particulars from any variety of the American 
Red Fox that we have hitherto examined. 

The Cross Fox is generally regarded as being more wary and swift 
of foot, than the Red Fox ; with regard to its greater swiftness, we doubt 


the fact. We witnessed a trial of speed between the mongrel grej-hound 
already referred to in this article, and a Red Fox, in the morning, and 
another between the same dog and a Cross Fox, about noon, on the same 
day. The former was taken after an hoar's hard run in the snow, and the 
latter in half that time, which we accounted for from the fact that the 
Cross Fox was considerably the fattest, and from this circumstance be- 
came tired out very soon. We purchased from a country lad a specimen 
of the Cross Fox, in the, which he told us he had caught with a 
common cur dog, in the snow, which was then a foot in depth. 

In regard to the cunning of this variety, there may be some truth in 
the general opinion, but this can be accounted for on natural principles : 
the skin is considered very valuable, and the animal is always re- 
garded as a curiosity ; hence the hunters make every endeavour to ob- 
tain one when seen, and it would not be surprising if a constant succes- 
sion of attempts to capture it, together with the instinctive desire for self- 
preservation possessed by all animals, should sharpen its wits, and render 
it more cautious and wild than those species that are less frequently mo- 
lested. We remember an instance of this kind, which we will here relate. 

A Cross Fox, nearly black, was frequently seen in a particular cover. 
We offered what was in those days considered a high premium, for the 
animal in the flesh. The fox was accordingly chased, and shot at, by the 
farmers' boys in the neighbourhood. The autumn and winter passed 
away, nay, a whole year, and still the fox was going at large. It was at 
last regarded by some of the more credulous as possessing a charmed 
life, and it was thought that nothing but a silver ball could kill it. In the 
spring, we induced one of our servants to dig for the yoxmg Foxes that had 
been seen at the burrow which was known to be frequented by the Cross 
. Fox. With an immense deal of labour and fatigue the young were dug 
out from the side of a hill ; there were seven. Unfortunately we were 
obliged to leave home and did not return until after they had been given 
away, and were distributed about the neighbourhood. 

Three were said to have been black, the rest were red. The blackest 
of the young whelps, was retained for us, and we frequently saw at the 
house of a neighbour, another of the litter, that was red, and differed in 
no respect from the common Red Fox. The older our little pet became, 
the less it gre^v like the Black, and the more like the Cross Fox. It was, 
very much to our regret, killed by a dog when about six months old, and 
as far as we can now recollect, was nearly of the colour of the specimen 
figured in our work. 

The following autumn, we determined to try our hand, at pro- 
curing the enchanted fox which was the parent of these young varieties, 



as it could always be started in the same vicinity. We obtained a pair 
of fine fox-hounds, and gave chase. The dogs were young, and proved 
no match for the fox, which generally took a straight direction through 
several cleared fields, for five or six miles, after which it began winding 
and twisting among the hills, where the hounds on t^vo occasions lost the 
scent and returned home. 

On a third hunt, we took our stand near the corner of an old field, at a 
spot we had twice observed it to pass. It came at last, s^^dnging its brush 
from side to side, and running with great rapidity, three-quarters of a mile 
ahead of the dogs, which were yet out of hearing. — A good aim removed 
the mysterious charm — We killed it with squirrel-shot, without the aid of 
a silver bullet. It was nearly jet-black, with the tip of the tail white. 
This fox was the female which had produced the joung of the previous 
spring that we have just spoken of ; and as some of them, as we have al- 
already said, were Cross Foxes and others Red Foxes, this has settled the 
question in our minds, that both the Cross Fox and the Black Fox are 
mere varieties of the Red. 

J. W. Audubon brought the specimen he obtained at Niagara, alive to 
New York, where it was kept for six or seven weeks. It fed on meat of 
various kinds : it was easily exasperated, having been much teased on 
its way from the Falls. It usually laid down in the box in which it was 
confined, with its head toward the front, and its bright eyes constantly 
looking upward, and forward, at all intruders. Sometimes, during the 
night, it would bark like a dog, and frequently, during the day, its move- 
ments corresponded with those of the latter animal. It could not bear the 
sun-light shining into its prison, and continued shy and snappish to the 

The fur of the Cross Fox was formerly in great demand ; a single skin- 
sometimes selling for twenty-five dollars ; at present, however, it is said 
not to be worth more than about three times the price of that of the Red 


This variety seems to originate only in cold climates ; hence we have 
not heard of it in the southern parts of the States of Ne^v York and Penn- 
sylvania, nor farther to the South. In the northern portions of the State 
of New York, in New Hampshire, Maine, and in Canada, it is occa- 
sionally met with, in locations where the Red Fox is common. It 
also exists in Nova Scotia and Labrador. There is a Cross Fox on the 
Rocky Mountains, but we are not yet satisfied that it will eventually 
prove to be this variety. 



The animal referred to by Sagard Theodat, in his History of Canada, 
under the name of Reuard Barre, Tsinantontongue, was evidently this va- 
riety. Pennant probably also referred to it, (vol. i., p. 46,) although he 
blended it with the European T'. Crucigera of Gesner, and the Korsi-aef 
of the >Swedes. Geoff (Collect, du Mus.) described and named it as a 
true species. Desmarest (Mamm., p. 203, 308) and Cuvier (Diet, des So. 
]Vat., vol. viii., p. 566) adopted his views. It is given under this name 
by Sabine (Franklin's Jouru., p. 656.) Harlan (Fauna, p. 88) published it 
as a distinct species, on the authority and in the words of Desmarest. 
GoDMAN, who gave the Black or Silver Fox {A. argentatiis) as a true spe- 
cies, seemed doubtful whether the Cross Fox might not prove a " mule 
between the Black and Red Fox." Richardson, under the name of the 
American Cross Fox fuially described it as a mere variety of the Red 

We possess a hunter's skin, which we obtained whilst on the Upper 
Missouri, that differs greatly from the one we have described, in its 
size, markings, and the texture of its fur. The bod}-, from point of nose 
to root of tail, is 33 inches long ; tail to end of fur 18i ; the skin is pro- 
bably stretched beyond the natural size of the animal ; but the tail, which 
is very large in circumference, is, we think, of its proper dimensions. 
The hair is long, being on the neck, sides, and tail, five inches in length ; 
the under fur, which is peculiarly soft, is three inches long. There is 
scarcely a vestige of the yellowish-brown of our other specimen, on the 
whole body ; but the corresponding parts are gray. The tail is irregu- 
larly clouded, and banded, the tip for three inches white. The colour of 
the remaining portions of the body does not differ very widely from the 
specimen we have described. The ears, nose, and paws of this specimen 
(as in most hunters' skins) are wanting. It is not impossible that this 
may be a variety of a larger species of Red Fox, referred to by Lewis and 
Clarke, as existing on both sides of the Rocky Mountains. 



Carolina Gbay Sciuireel. 

PLATE VII. — Male and Female. — Natural size. 

S. griseus supra, subtus albus, colorem haud mutaris, S. migratorii, 
minor. Cauda corpore breviore, S. migratorii angustiore. 


Smaller than the Northern Gray Squirrel, {Sciurus Migratorius,) tail 
narrower than in that species, and shorter than the body ; above, rusty gray ; 
beneath, white ; does not vary in colour. 


EcuREUiL Geis de LA Carollne, Bosc, vol. ii., p. 96, pi. 29. 

SciORcs Carolinensis, Bach., Monog., Proceedings Zool. Soc, London, August, 1838. 
Mag., Nat. Hist., 1839, p. 113. 


This species, which has been many years knowB, and frequently de- 
scribed, has been always considered by authors as identical with the 
Gray Squirrel of the Northern States, {Sciurus migratorius.) There are, 
however, so many marked differences, in size, colour, and habit, that any 
student of nature can easUy perceive the distinction between these two 
allied species. 

Head shorter, and space between the ears proportionately broader than 
between those of the Northern Gray Squirrel ; nose sharper than in that 
animal. Small, anterior molar, in the upper jaw, permanent, (as we have 
invariably found it to exist in all the specimens we have examined ;) it 
is considerably larger than in S. migratorius, and all our specimens which 
give indications of the individual having been more than a year old when 
killed, instead of having a small, thread-like, single tooth, as in the latter 
species, have a distinct double tooth, with a double crown. The other 
molars are not much unlike those of S. migratorius in form, but are 
shorter and smaller, — the upper incisors being nearly a third shorter. 


Body, shorter and less elegant in shape, and not indicating the quickness 
and vivacity by which S. migratorius is eminently distinguished. 

The ears, which are nearly triangular, are so slightly clothed with hair 
on their interior surfaces, that they may be said to be nearly naked ; ex- 
ternally they are sparsely clothed with short "woolly hair, which, how- 
ever does not extend as far beyond the margins as in other species. 
Nails shorter and less crooked ; tail, shorter, and without the broad 
distichous appearance of that of the Northern Gray Squirrel. 

Teeth, light orange ; nails, brown, lightest at the extremities ; whis- 
kers, black ; on the nose and cheeks, and around the eyes, a slight tinge 
of rufous gray. 

Fur on the back, for three-fourths of its length, dark plumbeous, suc- 
ceeded by a slight indication of black, edged with yellowish-brown in 
some of the hairs, giving it on the surface a dark grayish-yellow tint. 
In a few specimens there is an obscure shade of light brown along the 
sides, where the yellowish tint predominates, and a tinge of this colour is 
observable on the upper surface of the fore-legs, above the knees. Feet, 
light gray ; tail, for three-fourths of its length from the root yellowish- 
brown ; the remainder, black, edged with white ; throat, inner surface of 
the legs, and belly, white. 

This species does not run into varieties, as do the Northern Gray 
Squirrel, and the Black Squirrel ; the specimens received from Alabama, 
Florida, and Louisiana, scarcely present a shade of difference from those 
existing in South Carolina, which we have just described. 


Length of head and body - . - . - 

" tail (vertebrse) - - - 

" " to end of hair - - . - 

Height of ear - - 

Palm to end of middle claw .... 

Heel to end of middle nail . - . - . 

Length of fur on the back 

Breadth of tail (with hair extended) - . . 

This species differs as much in its habits from the Northern Gray Squir- 
rel, as it does in form and colour. From an intimate acquaintance with 


















the habits of the latter, we are particularly impressed with the pecu- 
liarities of the present species. Its bark has not the depth of tone of 
that of the Northern species, and is more shrill and querulous. Instead 
of mounting high on the tree when alarmed, which the latter always 
does, the Sc. Carolinensis generally plays roimd the trunk, and on the 
side opposite to the observer, at a height of some twenty or thirty feet, 
often concealing itself beneath the Spanish moss {TUlandsia Usneoides) 
which hangs about the tree. When a person, w^ho has alarmed one of 
these Squirrels, remains quiet for a few moments, it descends a few feet, 
and seats itself on the first convenient branch, in order the better to ob- 
serve his movements. 

It is, however, capable of climbing to the extremity of the branches, 
and leaping from tree to tree with great agility, but is less wild than the 
Northern species, and is almost as easily approached as the chickaree, 
(Sc. Hudsonius.) One who is desirous of obtaining a specimen, has only 
to take a seat for half an hour in any of the swamps of Carolina, and 
he will be surprised at the immense number of these squirrels that may 
be seen running along the logs or leaping among the surrounding trees. 
A great many are killed, and their flesh is both juicy and tender. 

The Carolina Gray Squirrel is sometimes seen on high grounds, 
among the oak and hickory trees, although its usual haunts are \ovf 
swampy places, or trees overhanging streams, or growing near the mar- 
gin of some river. In deep cj-press swamps, covered in many places 
with several feet of water during the whole year, it takes up its constant 
residence, moving among the entwined branches of the dense forest 
with great facility. Its hole, in such situations may sometimes be found 
in the trunk of a decayed cypress. On the large tupelo trees, {Nyssa 
aqtmticfi,) which are found in the swamps, many nests of this species, 
composed principally of Spanish moss and leaves, are every where to 
be seen. In these nests, or in some woodpecker's hole, they produce 
their young. These are five or six in number, and are brought forth in 
March ; it is well ascertained also that the female litters a second time 
in the season, probably about mid-summer. 

This species has one peculiarity which we have not observed in any 
other. It is in some degree, nocturnal, or at least crepuscular, in its ha- 
bits. In riding along by-paths through the woods, long after sunset, we 
are often startled by the barking of this little Squirrel, as it scratches 
among the leaves, or leaps from tree to tree, scattering over the earth 
the seeds of the maple, &c., which are shaken ofi" from the uppermost 
branches, as it passes over them. 

This species is seldom, if ever, seen in company with the Fox Squirrel, 



{Sc. Capistratus,) or even found in the same neighbourhood ; this arises, 
probably, not so much from any antipathy to each other, as from the fact 
that very different localities are congenial to the peculiar habits of 

We have obser\-ed the Carolina Gray Squirrel on several occasions by 
moonlight, as actively engaged as the Flying Squirrel usually is in the 
evening, and this propensity to prolong its search after food, or its plajrful 
gambols, until the light of day is succeeded by the moon's pale gleams, 
causes it frequently to fall a prey to the Virginian owl, or the barred 
owl ; which last especially, is very abundant in the swamps of Carolina, 
where, gliding on noiseless pinions between the leafy branches, it seizes 
the luckless Squirrel ere it is aware of its danger, or can make the slight- 
est attempt to escape. The gray fox and the wild cat often surprise this 
and other species by stratagem or stealth. We have beheld the prowling 
lynx, concealed in. a heap of brushwood near an old log, or near the foot 
of a tree frequented by the Squirrel he hopes to capture. For hours to- 
gether will he lie thus in ambush, and should the unsuspicious creature 
pass within a few feet of him, he pounces on it with a sudden spring, and 
rarely fails to secure it. 

Several species of snakes, the rattle-snake, {Crotalus durassus,) black 
snake, {Coluber constrictor,) and the chicken snake, {coluber quadrivitta- 
tus,) for instance, have been found, on being killed, to have a Squirrel in 
their stomach, and the fact that Squirrels, birds, &c., although possessing 
great activity and agilitj% constitute a portion of the food of these rep- 
tUes, being well established, the manner in which the sluggish serpent 
catches animals so far exceeding him in speed, and some of them endow- 
ed with the power of rising from the earth, and skimming away with a 
few flaps of their wings, has been the subject of much speculation. Some 
persons have attributed a mjsterious power, more especially to the rattle- 
snake and black snake — we mean the power of fascinating, or as it is 
commonly called, charming. 

This supposed faculty of the serpent has, however, not been accounted 
for. The basilisk of the ancients killed by a look ; the eye of the rattle- 
snake is supposed so to paralyze, and at the same time attract, its intend- 
ed prey, that the animal slowly approaches, going through an infinite 
variety of motions, alternately advancing and retreating, imtil it finally 
falls powerless into the open jaws of its devourer. 

As long as we are able to explain by natural deductions, the very sin- 
gular manoeu-iTes of birds and squirrels, when " fascinated " by a snake, 
it would be absurd to imagine that anything mysterious or supernatural 
is connected -with the subject ; and we consider that there are many 


ways of accounting for all the appearances described on these occasions. 
Fear and surprise cause an instinctive horror, when we find ourselves 
unexpectedly within a foot or two of a rattle-snake ; the shrill, startling, 
noise proceeding from the rattles of its tail, as it vibrates rapidly, and its 
hideous aspect, no doubt produce a much greater effect on birds and 
small quadrupeds. It is said that the distant roar of the African lion 
causes the oxen to tremble, and stand paralyzed in the fields ; and Hum- 
boldt relates that in the forests of South America, the mingled cries of 
monkeys and other animals resound through the whole night, but as soon 
as the roar of the jaguar, the American tiger, is heard, terror seizes 
on all the other animals, and their voices are suddenly hushed. Birds 
and quadrupeds are very curious, also, and this feeling prompts them 
to draw near to strange objects. " Tolling " wild ducks and loons, as 
it is called, by waving a red handkerchief or a small flag, or by causing 
a little dog to bound backward and forward on the beach, has long 
been successfully practised by sportsmen on the Chesapeake Bay, and 

The Indians attract the reindeer, the antelope, and other animals, until 
they are within bow-shot, by ^vaving a stick to which a piece of red 
cloth is attached, or by throwing themselves on their backs, and kicking 
their heels up in the air. If any strange object is thrown into the poul- 
try-yard, such as a stuffed specimen of a quadruped or bird, &c., all the 
fowls will crowd near it, and scrutinize it for a long time. Every body 
almost, may have observed at some time or other dozens of birds collected 
around a common cat in a shrubbery, a tortoise, or particularly a snake. 
The Squirrel is remarkable for its fondness for " sights," and will some- 
times come down from the highest branch of a tree to within three feet 
of the ground, to take a view of a small scarlet snake, {Rhinostoma cocci- 
nea,) not much larger than a pipe-stem, and w^hich, having no poisonous 
fangs, could scarcely master a grasshopper. This might be regarded by 
believers in the fascinating powers of snakes, as a decided case in favour 
of their theories, but they would find it somewhat difficult to explain the 
following circumstances which happened to ourselves. After observing a 
Squirrel come dow^n to inspect one of the beautiful little snakes w^e have 
just been speaking of, the reptile being a rare species, w^as captured and 
secured in our carriage box. After we had driven off, we recollected 
that in our anxiety to secure the snake, we had left our box of botanical 
specimens at the place where w^e had first seen the latter, and on return- 
ing for it, we once more saw the Squirrel, darting backward and forward, 
and skipping round the root of the tree, eyeing with equal curiosity the 
article we had left behind, and we could not help making the reflection, 


that if the little snake had " charmed" the Squirrel, the same " fascinat- 
ing " influence was exercised by our tin box ! 

Quadrupeds and birds have certain antipathies, they are capable of 
experiencing many of the feelings that appertain to mankind ; they are 
susceptible of passion, are sometimes spiteful and revengeful, and are 
wise enough to know their " natural enemies," without a formal introduc- 
tion. The blue jay, brown thrush, white-eyed fly-catcher, and other little 
birds are often to be heard scolding, and fluttering about a thicket, in 
which some animal is concealed ; and on going to examine into the cause 
of their unwonted excitement, you will probably see a wild cat or fox 
spring forth from the covert. Every one familiar with the habits of our 
feathered tribes must have seen at times the owl or buzzard chased by 
the smallest birds, which unite on such occasions for the purpose of driv- 
ing off a common enemy ; in these cases, the birds sometimes approach 
too near, and are seized by the owl. We once observed some night-hawks 
{Chordeiles Virginianus) darting round a tree upon which an owl was 
perched. "Whilst looking on, we perceived the owl make a sudden move- 
ment, and found that he had caught one of them in his sharp claws, and 
notwithstanding the cries and menaces of the others, he instantly de- 
voured it. 

Birds dart in the same manner at snakes, and no doubt are often caught 
bypassing too near — shall we, therefore, conclude that they are fascinated? 

One of the most powerful " attractions " which remain to be consider- 
ed, is the love of offspring. This feeling, which is so deeply rooted in 
the system of nature, as to be a rule, almost without an exception, is 
manifested strongly by birds and quadrupeds ; and snakes are among 
the most to be dreaded destroyers of eggs and young birds, and of the 
young of small species of viviparous animals ; is it not likely there- 
fore, that many of the (supposed) cases of fascination that are related, 
may be referred to the intrepidity of the animals or birds, manifested in 
trying to defend their yotmg, or drive away their enemy from their vi- 
cinity 1 In our work, the " Birds of America," we represented a mock- 
ing-bird's nest attacked by a rattle-snake, and the nest of a red thrush 
invaded by a black snake ; these two plates each exhibit several birds 
assisting the pair whose nest has been robbed by the snake, and also 
show the mocking-bird and thrush courageously advancing to the jaws 
even of their enemy. These pictures were dravvTi after the actual oc- 
currence before our eyes, of the scenes which we endeavoured to repre- 
sent in them, and supposing a person but little acquainted with natural 
history, to have seen the birds, as we did, he might readily have fancied 
that some of them at least were fascinated, as he could not probably have 


been near enough to mark the angry expression of their eyes, and see 
their well-concealed nest. 

Our readers will, we trust, excuse us for detaining them yet a little 
longer on this subject, as we have more to say of the habits of the rattle- 
snake, in connexion with the subject we are upon. 

This snake, the most venomous known in North America, subsists 
wholly on animal food ; it digests its food slowly, and is able to exist 
without any sustenance for months, or even years, in confinement ; during 
this time it often increases in size, and the number of its rattles is aug- 
mented. In its natural state it feeds on rabbits, squirrels, rats, birds, or 
any other small animals that may come -in its way. It captures its prey 
by lying in wait for it, and we have heard of an instance, in which one 
of these snakes remained coiled up for two days before the mouth of the 
burrow of the Florida rat, (Neotoma Floridana,) and on its being killed 
it was found to have swallowed one of these quadrupeds. 

As far as we have been able to ascertain, it always strikes its intended 
prey with its fangs, and thus kills it, before swallowing it. The bite is 
sudden, and although the victim may run a few yards after it is struck, 
the serpent easily finds it when dead. Generally the common species of 
rattle-snake refuses all food when in a cage, but occasionally one is found 
that does not refuse to eat whilst in captivity. When a rat is turned 
loose in a cage with one of these snakes, it does not immediately kill 
it, but often leaves it unmolested for days and weeks together. When, 
however, the reptile, prompted either by irritation or hunger, designs to 
kill the animal, it lies in wait for it, cat-like, or gently crawls up to it, 
and suddenly gives it the mortal blow, after which, it very slowly and de- 
liberately turns it over into a proper position, and finally swallows it. 

We have seen a rattle-snake, in a very large cage, using every means 
within its power, and exerting its cunning, for a whole month, before it 
could succeed in capturing a browTi thrush, that was imprisoned with it. 
At night the bird roosted beyond the reach of the snake, and during the 
day-time it was too cautious in its movements, and too agile, snatching 
up its food at intervals, and flying instantly back to its perch, to be struck 
by the unwieldy serpent. We now added a mouse to the number of the 
inmates of the cage ; the affrighted animal retreated to a corner, vi^here 
the snake, slowly crawling up to it, with a sudden blow darted his fangs 
into and killed it ; soon after which he swallowed it. About a week 
after this adventure, the snake again resumed his attempts to capture the 
thrush, and pursued it all round the cage. 

This experiment offered a fair opportunity for the rattle-snake to exert 
its powers of fascination, had it possessed any : but as it did not exhibit 


them, we do not hesitate to say that it was entirely destitute of any fa- 
culty of the kind. 

After some hours' fruitless manoeuvring, the snake coiled itself up, near 
the cup of water from which the bird drank. For two days the thrush 
avoided the water ; on the third, having become very thirsty, it showed a 
constant desire to approach the cup ; the snake waited for it to come 
within reach, and in the course of the day struck at it two or three times, 
the bird darted out of its way, however, and was not killed until the 
next day. 

If, notwithstanding these facts, it is argued, that the mysterious and 
inexplicable power oi fascination is possessed by the snake, because birds 
have been seen to approach it, and with open wings and plaintive voice, 
seemed to wait upon its appetite, we must be prepared to admit that the 
same faculty is possessed by other animals. On a certain day, we saw 
a mocking-bird, exhibiting every appearance, usually, according to de- 
scriptions, witnessed vsrhen birds are under the influence of fascination. 
It approached a hog, vi'hich was occupied in munching something at the 
foot of a small cedar. The bird fluttered before the grunter mth open 
wings, uttered a low and plaintive note, alighted on his back, and 
finally began to peck at his snout. On examining into the cause of these 
strange proceedings, we ascertained that the mocking-bird had a nest 
in the tree, from which several of her younglings had fallen, which the 
hog was eating ! Our friend, the late Dr. Wkight, of Troy, informed us 
that he witnessed a nearly similar scene between a cat-bird and a 
dog which had disturbed her brood, on which occasion the cat-bird 
went through many of the movements generally ascribed to the effect of 


We have received a specimen of this Squirrel, which was procured in 
the market at New Orleans, where it is said to be exceedingly rare. 
We have not traced it farther to the South. It is the most abundant spe- 
cies in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. We have seen it in the 
svsramps of North Carolina, but have no positive evidence that it extends 
farther to the northward than that State. We have obtained it in Ala- 
bama, and in Mississippi we are told it is found in the swamps. Nothing 
has been heard of it west of the Mississippi river. 


This species was first described by Gmelin, and afterwards noticed and 


figured by Bosc. The descriptions in Harlan, Godman, and all other au- 
thors who have described this species under the name of Sciurus Caro- 
linensis, refer to the Northern Gray Squirrel. We believe ^'e were 
the first to observe and point out the distinctive characters which se- 
parate the present species from S. migratorius, the Gray Squirrel of the 


GENUS TAMIAS.— Illiger. 
Incisive ^ ; Canine ^ ; Molar ^^ = 22. 

Upper incisors, smooth ; lower ones, compressed and sharp ; molars, 
with short, tuberculous crowns. 

Nose, pointed ; lip, cloven ; ears, round, short, not tufted or fringed ; 
cheek-pouches, ample. 

Tail, shorter than the body, hairy, sub-distichous, somewhat tapering. 
Mammae, exposed ; feet, distinct, ambulatory ; fore-feet, foxir toed, with a 
minute blunt nail in place of a thumb ; hind-feet five toed ; claws, hooked. 

This genus differs from Sciurus in several important particulars. The 
various species that have been discovered, have all the same characteris- 
tics, and strongly resemble each other in form, in their peculiar markings, 
and in their habits. In form they difier from the true squirrels, and ap- 
proach nearer to the spermophiles ; they have a sharp, convex, nose, 
adapted to digging in the earth ; they have longer heads, and their ears 
are placed farther back than those of the former. They have a more 
slender body and shorter extremities. Their ears are rounded, without 
any tufts on the borders or behind them. They have cheek-pouches, of 
which all squirrels are destitute ; their tails are roundish, narrow, seldom 
turned up, and only sub-distichous. 

The species belonging to this genus are of small size, and are all lon- 
gitudinally striped on the back and sides. 

Their notes are very peculiar ; they emit a chipping clucking sound 
differing very widely from the quacking chattering cry of the squirrels. 

They do not mount trees unless driven to them from necessity, but dig 
burrows, and spend their nights and the season of winter under ground. 

They are, however, more closely related to the squirrels than to the sper- 
mophiles. The third toe from the inner side is slightly the longest, as in 
the former ; whilst in the latter, the second is longest, as in the mar- 
mots. The genus Tamias is therefore nearly allied to the squirrels, whilst 
the spermophiles approach the marmots. 

Authentic species of the genus Sciurus are already very numerous, and 
as we have now a number of species, to which constant additions are 
making by the explorers of our Western regions, which by their cheek- 
pouches, their markings, and habits, can be advantageously separated 


from that genus, no doubt naturalists will arrange them in the genus 

When this genus was first established by Iluger, but a single species 
was satisfactorily known, and naturalists were unwilling to separate it 
from the squirrels, to which it bore so strong an affinity ; but we are now, 
however, acquainted with six species, and doubt not that a few more 
years of investigation will add considerably to this number. We have 
consequently adopted the genus Tamias of that author. 

The word Tamias is derived from the Greek T«iK.(«?, (tamias,) a keeper 
of stores — in reference to its cheek-pouches. 

One species of this genus exists in the Northern portions of the Eastern 
continent ; four in North, and one in South, America. We also possess 
an undescribed species, the habitat of which is at present unknown to us. 


Chipping Squikrel, Hackee, &c. 

PLATE VIII. — Male, Female, and Young (First Autumn.) — Natural size. 

T. dorso fusco-cinereo, striis quinque nigris, et duobus luteo-albis longi- 
tudinalibus ornato ; ftonte et natibus fusco-luteis ; ventre albo. 


Broumish gray on the back ; forehead and buttocks brownish orange ; five 
longitudinal black stripes, and two yellowish white ones, on the back ; under 
surface, white. 


EcuREUiL SoissE, Sagatd Theodat, Canada, p. 746, A. D. 1636. 
Gboond Squirrel, Lawson'3 Carolina, p. 124. 

" " Catesby, Carol, vol. ii., p. 75. 

Edwards, vol. iv., p. 181. Kalm, vol. i., p. 322. 
SciuRUS LrsTERi, Ray, Syuops. Quad., p. 216, A. D. 1693. 
Le Suisse, Charlevoix, Nouv. Fr., vol. v., p. 196. 
Striped Dobmoosk, Pennant, Arc. Zool., 4 vols., vol. i., p. 126. 
SciURUS Carolinensis, Brisson, Reg. Anim., p. 155, A. D. 1756. 
EcuREUiL Suisse, (Desm. Enc. Mamm.,) Nota, p. 339, Esp., 547. 



SciuRUS Stbiatds, Harlan, Fauna, p. 183. 

" " Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 142. 

SciuRus (Tamias) Ltstebi, Rich., F. B. A., p. 181, plate 15. 

II ii " Doughty's Cabinet Nat. Hist., vol. i., p. 169, pi. 15. 

SciuBus Stbiaths, DeKay, Nat. Hist, of N. Y., part 1, p. 62, pi. 16, fig. 1. 


Body, rather slender ; forehead, arched ; head, tapering from the 
ears to the nose, which is covered with short hairs ; nostrils, opening 
downwards, margins and septum naked ; whiskers, shorter than the head. 
A few bristles on the cheeks and above the eye-brows ; eyes, of moderate 
size ; ears, ovate, rounded, erect, covered with short hair on both sur- 
faces, not tufted, the hair on those parts simply covering the margins. 
Cheek-pouches, of tolerable size, extending on the sides of the neck to a 
little below the ear, opening into the mouth between the incisors and mo- 
lars. Fore-feet, with four slender, compressed, slightly-curved, claws, 
and the rudiment of a thumb, covered with a short, blunt, nail ; hind-feet, 
long and slender, with five toes, the middle toe being a little the longest. 
Tail, rather short and slender, nearly cylindrical above, dilated on the 
sides, not bushy, sub-distichous. Hair on the ^yhole body short and 
smooth, but not very fine. 

A small black spot above the nose ; forehead, yellovwsh-brown ; above 
and beneath the eye-lids, white ; whiskers and eye-lashes, black ; a dark 
brown streak running from the sides of the face, through the eye, and 
reaching the ear ; a yellowish-brown stripe extending from near the nose, 
running under the eye to behind the ear, deepening into chesnut-brown 
immediately below the eye, where the stripe is considerably dilated. 

Anterior portion of the back, hoary gray, this colour being formed by a 
mixture of gray and black hairs. Colour of the rump, extending to a little 
beyond the root of the tail, hips, and exterior surface of the thighs, red- 
dish fawn, a few black hairs sprinkled among the rest, not sufiiciently 
numerous to give a darker shade to those parts. A dark dorsal line com- 
mencing back of the head is dilated on the middle of the back, and runs 
to a point within an inch of the root of the tail ; this line is brownish on 
the shoulder, but deepens into black in its progress dovmwards. 

On each flank there is a broad yellowish- white line, running from the 
shoulder to the thighs, bordered on each side with black. The species 
may be characterised by its having five black and two white stripes on a 
gray ground. The flanks, sides, and upper surface of feet and ears, are 


reddish-gray ; whole under surface white, with no line of demarcation 
between the colours of the back and belly. Tail, brown at its root, after- 
wards grayish-black, the hair being clouded and in some places banded 
\^'ith black ; underneath, reddish-brown, with a border of black, edged 
with light gray. 

There are some varieties observable among specimens procured in dif- 
ferent States of the Union. We have noted it, like the Virginian deer, 
becoming smaller in size as it was found farther to the South. In Maine 
and New Hampshire, it is larger than in the mountains of Carolina and 
Louisiana, and the tints of those seen at the North were lighter than the 
colouring of the Southern specimens we have examined. We possess an 
albino, sent to us alive, snow-white, with red eyes ; and also another spe- 
cimen jet-black. We have, however, found no intermediate varieties, 
and in general we may remark that the species of this genus are not as 
prone to variations in colour as those of the true Squirrels. 


Length of head and body - 
" head" 

" tail (vertebrsE) 

" tail, including fur 

Height of ear - - - 
Breadth of ear - - - 














The Chipping Squirrel, as this little animal is usually called, or Ground 
Squirrel, as it is named almost as frequently, is probably, with the excep- 
tion of the common flying squirrel, {Pteromys volucella.) one of the most 
interesting of our small quadrupeds. It is found in most parts of the 
United States, and being beautifully marked in its colouring, is known to 
every body. From its lively and busy habits, one might consider it 
among the quadrupeds as occupying the place of the wren among the fea- 
thered tribes. Like the latter, the Ground Squirrel, full of vivacity, plays 
with the utmost grace and agility among the broken rocks or uprooted 
stiunps of trees about the farm or wood pasture ; its clucking, resembles 
the chip, chip, chip, of a young chicken, and although not musical, like 
the song of the little winter wren, excites agreeable thoughts as it comes 
on the air. We fancy we see one of these sprightly Chipping Squirrels, 
as he runs before us vnth the speed of a bird, skimming along a log or 


fence, his chops distended by the nuts he has gathered in the woods ; he 
makes no pause till he reaches the entrance of his subterranean retreat 
and store-house. Now he stands upright, and his chattering cry is heard, 
but at the first step we make towards him, he disappears. Stone after 
stone we remove from the aperture leading to his deep and circviitous 
burrow ; but in vain is all our labour — with our hatchets we cut the 
tangled roots, and as we follow the animal, patiently digging into his in- 
nermost retreat, we hear his angry, querulous tones. We get within a 
few inches of him now, and can already see his large dark eyes ; but at 
this moment out he rushes, and ere we can " grab " him, has passed us, 
and finds security in some other hiding place, of which there are always 
plenty at hand, that he is well accustomed to fly to ; and we willingly 
leave him unmolested, to congratulate himself on his escape. 

The Chipping Squirrel makes his burrow generally near the roots of 
trees, in the centre of a de . ayed stump, along fences or old walls, or in 
some bank, near the woods whence he obtains the greater portion of his 

Some of these retreats have two or three openings, at a little distance 
from each other. It rarely happens that this animal is caught by digging 
out its burrow. When hard pressed and closely pursued, it will betake 
itself to a tree, the trunk of which it ascends for a little distance with 
considerable rapidity, occasionally concealing itself behind a large branch, 
but generally stopping within twelve or fifteen feet of the ground, 
where it often clings, with its body so closely pressed to the trunk, that it 
is difficult to detect it ; and it remains so immoveable that it appears like 
a piece of bark or some excrescence, till the enemy has retired from the 
vicinity, when it once more descends, and by its renewed clucking, seems 
to chuckle over its escape. 

We are doubtful whether this species can at any time be perfectly 
tamed. We have preserved it in cages from time to time, and generally 
found it wild and sullen. Those we had, however, were not yoimg when 

At a subsequent period we obtained in the State of New York, five 
or six young ones almost half grown. We removed them to Carolina, 
where they were kept during winter and spring. They were somewhat 
more gentle than those we had formerly possessed, occasionally took a 
filbert or a ground-nut from the fingers, but never became tame enough 
to be handled with safety, as they on more than one occasion were dis- 
posed to test the sharpness of their teeth on our hand. 

The skin which covered the vertebrae of their tails was so brittle that 
nearly all of them soon had mutilated them. They appeared to have some 


aversion to playing in a ■wheel, which is so favourite an amusement of 
the true squirrels. During the whole winter they only left their nest to 
carry into it the rice, nuts, Indian corn, &c., placed in their cage as food. 

Late in the following spring, having carried on our experiments as far 
as we cared to pursue them, we released our pets, which were occasionally 
seen in the vicinity for several months afterward, when they disappeared. 

We were once informed of a strange carnivorous propensity in this 
species. A lady in the vicinity of Boston said to us, " We had in oiu" 
garden a nest of young robins, {Turdus migratorius,) and one afternoon 
as I was walking in the garden, I happened to pass very close to the tree 
on which this nest was placed ; my attention was attracted by a noise 
which I thought proceeded from it, and on looking up I saw a Ground 
Squirrel tearing at the nest, and actually devouring one of the young 
ones. I called to the gardener, who came accompanied by a dog, and 
shook the tree violently, when the animal fell to the earth, and was in an 
instant secured by the dog." We do not conceive that the unnatural 
propensity in the individual here referred to, is indicative of the genuine 
habit of this species, but think that it may be regarded as an exception 
to a general rule, and referred to a morbid depravity of taste some- 
times to be observed in other genera, leading an individual to feed upon 
that which the rest of the species would loathe and reject. Thus we 
have known a horse which preferred a string of fish to a mess of oats ; 
and mocking-birds, in confinement, kill and devour jays, black-birds, or 

We saw and caught a specimen of this beautiful Tamias, in Louisiana, 
that had no less than sixteen chinquapin nuts (Castanea pumila) 
stowed away in its cheek-pouches. We have a specimen now lying be- 
fore us, sent from Pennsylvania in alcohol, which contains at least one 
and a half table-spoonfuls of Bush trefoil {Hedysarum cannahinum) in its 
widely-distended sacks. We have represented one of our figures in the 
plate, with its pouches thus filled out. 

This species is to a certain extent gregarious in its habits. We had 
marked one of its burrows in autumn, which we conceived well adapted 
to our purpose, which was to dig it out. It was in the woods, on a sandy 
piece of ground, and the earth was strewed with leaves to the depth of 
eight inches, which we believed would prevent the frost from penetrat- 
ing to any considerable depth. We had the place opened in January, 
when the ground was covered with snow about five inches deep. The 
entrance of the burrow had been closed from within. We followed the 
course of the small winding gallery with considerable difficulty. The hole 
descended at first almost perpendicularly for about three feet. It then 


continued with one or two windings, rising a little nearer the surface, un- 
til it had advanced about eight feet, when we came to a large nest made 
of oak leaves and dried grasses. Here lay, snugly covered, three Chip- 
ping Squirrels. Another was subsequently dug from one of the small la- 
teral galleries, to which it had evidently retreated to avoid us. They were 
not dormant, and seemed ready to bite when taken in the hand ; but they 
were not very active, and appeared somewhat sluggish and benumbed, 
which we conjectiu-ed was owing to their being exposed to sudden cold, 
from our having opened their burrow. 

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 
hasel nuts, (Corylus rostrata,) nearly a peck of acorns, some grains of In- 
dian corn, about two quarts of buckwheat, and a very small quantity of 
grass seeds. The late Dr. John Wright, of Troy, in an interesting com- 
munication on the habits of several of our quadrupeds, informs us, in re- 
ference to this species, that " It is a most provident little creature, con- 
tinuing to add to its winter store, if food is abundant, until driven in by 
the severity of the frost. Indeed, it seems not to know when it has 
enough, if we may judge by the surplus left in the spring, being some- 
times a peck of corn or nuts for a single Squirrel. Some years ago I 
watched one of these animals whilst laying up its winter store. As there 
were no nuts to be found near, I furnished a supply. After scattering 
some hickory nuts on the ground near the burrow, the work of carrying 
in was immediately commenced. It soon became aw^are that I was a 
friend, and approached almost to my feet for my gifts. It would take a 
nut from its paws, and dextrously bite off the sharp point from each end, 
and then pass it to its cheek-pouch, using its paws to shove it in, then one 
would be placed on the opposite side, then again one along with the first, 
and finally, having taken one between its front teeth, it would go into 
the burrow. After remaining there for five or ten minutes it would re- 
appear for another load. This was repeated in my presence a great 
number of times, the animal always carrying four nuts at a time, and 
always biting off the asperities." 

We perceive from hence, that the Chipping Squirrels retire to winter 
quarters, in small families, in the early part of November, sooner or later, 
according to the coldness or mildness of the season, after providing a 
store of food in their subterranean w^inter residence. When the snows 
are melted from the earth in early spring, they leave the retreat to which 
they had resorted during the first severe frosts in autumn. We have 
seen them sunning themselves on a stump during vvrarm days about the 
last of February, when the snows were still on the earth here and there 


in patches a foot deep ; we remarked, however, that they remained only 
for half au hour, when they again retreated to their burrows. 

The young are produced in May, to the number of four or five at a 
birth, and we have sometimes supposed from the circumstance of seeing 
a young brood in August, that they breed twice a year. 

The Chipping Squirrel does but little injury to the farmer. It seldom 
disturbs the grain before it is ripe, and is scarcely more than a gleaner 
of the fields, coming in for a small pittance, when the harvest is nearly 
gathered. It prefers wheat to rye, seems fond of buckwheat, but gives 
the preference to nuts, cherry-stones, the seeds of the red gum, or pepper- 
idge, {Nyssa MuUijlora,) and those of several annual plants and grasses. 

This species is easily captured. It enters almost any kind of trap with- 
out suspicion. We have seen a beautiful muff and tippet made of a host 
of little skins of this Tamias ingeniously joined together so as to give the 
appearance of a regular series of stripes around the muff, and longitudi- 
nally along the sides of the tippet. The animals had in most cases been 
captured in rat-traps. 

There is, besides, a simple, rustic, but effectual mode of hunting the 
Ground Squirrel, to w^hich w^e are tempted to devote a paragraph. 

Man has his hours of recreation, and so has the school-boy ; while the 
former is fond of the chase, and keeps his horses, dogs, and guns, the lat- 
ter, when released from school, gets up a little hunt, agreeable to his own 
taste and limited resources. The boys have not yet been allowed to carry 
fire-arms, and have been obliged to adhere to the command of a careful 
mother — " do n't meddle with that gun, Billy, it may go off and kill you" 
But the Chip Muck can be hunted without a gun, and Saturday, the 
glorious weekly retiu-n of their freedom and independence from the 
crabbed schoolmaster and the puzzling spelling-book, is selected for the 
important event. 

There are some very pleasing reminiscences associated with these little 
sports of boyhood. The lads, full of delightful anticipations, usually meet 
half an hoiu- before the time appointed. They come with their " shining 
morning faces," full of glee and talking of their anticipated success. In 
lieu of fire-arms they each carry a stick, about eight feet long. They 
go along the old fashioned worm-fences that skirt the woods, a crop of 
wheat or of buckwheat has just been gathered, and the little Hackee 
is busily engaged in collecting its winter store. 

In every direction its lively chirrup is heard, with answering calls from 
adjacent parts of the woods, and here and there you may observe one 
mounted on the top of a fence-stake, and chipping away as it were in ex- 
ultation at his elevated seat. One of the tiny huntsmen now places his 


pole on a fence rail, the second or third from the bottom, along which the 
Ground Squirrel is expected to pass ; a few yards behind him is another 
youngster, ready with his stick on another rail, in case the Chip Muck 
escapes the first enemy. One of the juveniles now makes a circuit, gets 
behind the little Hackee, and gives a blow on the fence to drive him to- 
ward the others, who are eagerly expecting him. The unsuspecting little 
creature, with a sweep of his half-erected tail, quickly descends from the 
top of the fence, along a stake, and betaking himself to some of the lo^'er 
rails, makes a rapid retreat. If no stone-heaps or burrows are at hand, 
it runs along the winding fence, and as it is passing the place where the 
young sportsmen are lying in wait ; they brush the stick along the raU 
with the celerity of thought, hitting the little creature on the nose, and 
knocking it six yards off. " He is ours," is the exulting shout, and the whole 
party noAv hurry to the spot. Perhaps the little animal is not dead, only 
stunned ; and is carried home to be made a pet. It is put into a calabash, 
a stocking, or a small bag, prepared for the occasion by some fond little 
sister, who ^vhilst sewing it for her brother, half longed to enjoy the romp 
and the sport herself. Reader, don't smile at this group of juvenile sports- 
men ; older and bigger " boys " are often engaged in amusements not 
more rational, and not half so innocent. 

Several species of hawks are successful in capturing the Chipping 
Squirrel. It furnishes also many a meal for the hungry fox, the wild cat, 
and the mink ; but it possesses an enemy in the common weasel or ermine, 
(mustela erminea) more formidable than all the rest combined. This blood- 
thirsty little animal pursues it into its dwelling, and following it to the 
farthest extremity, strikes its teeth into its skull, and like a cruel savage 
of the wilderness, does not satiate its thirst for blood, untU it has destroyed 
every inhabitant of the burrow, old and j'oung, although it seldom devours 
one fifth of the animals it so w^antonly kUls. We once observed one pur- 
sue a Chipping Squirrel into its burrow. After an interval of ten mi- 
nutes it reappeared, licking its mouth, and stroking its fur with its head, 
by the aid of its long neck. We watched it as it pursued its way through 
a buckwheat field, in which many roots and stumps were yet remaining, 
evidently in quest of additional \'ictims. On the follovnng day we were 
impelled by ciuiosity to open the burrow we had seen it enter. There 
we found an old female ground squirrel, and five young, half-grovm, lying 
dead, with the marks of the weasels' teeth in their skulls. 


The Chipping Squirrel has a pretty wide geographical range. It is 
common on the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior ; and has 


been traced as far as the fiftieth degree of north latitude. In the 
Eastern, Northern, and Middle States, it is quite abundant ; it exists 
along the whole of the Alleghany range, and is found in the mountainous 
portions of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. In the alluvial dis- 
tricts of Carolina and Georgia, it disappears. We have never found it 
nearer the seaboard of South Carolina than at Columbia, one hundred 
and ten miles from Charleston, where it is very rare. It is found in Ten- 
nessee and throughout Louisiana. 


We have, at the head of this article, endeavoured to preserve Tamias 
as a valuable genus distinct from Sciorus. We hope we have offered 
such reasons as will induce naturalists to separate this interesting and 
increasing little group, mostly of American species, from the squirrels, to 
which they bear about the same affinity, as do the marmot squirrels 
(Spermophilus) to the true marmots (Arctomts.) We will now inquire 
whether the present species, {Tamias Lysteri,) is a foreigner from Sibe- 
ria, naturalized in our Western w^orld ; or whether it is one of the abori- 
gines of our country, as much entitled to a name as the grisly bear or 
the cougar. 

Two of our American naturalists, Harlan and Godman, supposed that it 
was the Asiatic species, the S. striatus of KxErN, Pallas, Schreber, and 
other authors ; Dr. Richardson (1829) believed that the descriptions given 
of Sciurus striatus, did not exactly correspond with American specimens, 
and as he had no opportimity of instituting a comparison, he adopt- 
ed the specific name of Ray, Sciurus (Tamias) Lysteri, for our species ; 
and quoted what Pallas had written in regard to the habits of the Asia- 
tic animal, as appljdng to those of our little Chipping Squirrel. Very re- 
cently'(1842) Dr. Dekay, in the work on American quadrupeds, published 
by order of the State of New York, has again referred it to <S. striatus of 
LiNN^Ds, and endeavoured to prove the identity of the two species, from 
European vn-iters. We suspect he had no opportunity of making a com- 
parison from actual specimens. 

Reasoning from analogy in regard to the species of birds, or quadru- 
peds, found to be identical on both continents, we should be compelled to 
admit that if our species is the S. striatus of Asia, it presents a solitary 
exception to a long-established general rule. That many species of wa- 
ter-birds, such as geese, ducks, gulls, auks, and guillemots, which during 
the long days of summer, crowd toward the polar regions to engage in 
the duties and pleasures of reproduction, should be found on both con- 
tinents, cannot be a matter of surprise ; and that the ptarmigan, the white 



snow-bird, Lapland long-spur, &c., which resort annually to them, 
should, at that season, take wing and stray to either continent, is so proba- 
ble a case, that we might think it strange if it were otherwise. Neither 
need we regard it as singular if a few quadrupeds, with peculiar con- 
stitutions and habits suited to the polar regions, should be inhabitants of 
the northern portions of both continents. Thus, the polar bear which 
delights in the snow and ice, and which is indifferent as to whether it 
is on the land or on an iceberg at sea; the reindeer, which exists only in 
cold regions, and which, by alternately swimming and walking, can make 
its w^ay over the icy waters in winter, and over rivers and arms of the 
sea in summer, and which migrates for thousands of miles ; the beaver, 
which is found all over our continent ; on the banks of the Mackenzie 
river, leading into the polar sea, in latitude 68°, and in the Russian settle- 
ments near Behring's Straits ; the ermine, which riots in the snow-drifts, 
and has been found as far to the north as man has ever travelled ; and 
the common wolf, which is a cosmopolite, exhibits itself in all colours, 
and strays from the tropics to the north pole, may be found on both con- 
tinents, without surprising us : but if this little land animal, the Chipping 
Squirrel, which is unable to swim, and retires to the earth in cold wea- 
ther, should be found both in Asia and America, it would oppose all our 
past experience in regard to American quadrupeds, and be the only ex- 
ception to a long and universally admitted theory. The highest northern 
range in which this species has ever been seen is above Lake Huron, 
as far as latitude 50° ; from thence there is a distance of more than 
90° of longitude and 18° of latitude, before we reach its Asiatic range, 
and in its migrations either way it would have to cross Behring's Straits, 
and traverse regions, which even in summer are covered with snow and 
ice. From the above facts, and from our knowledge of the adaptation of 
various animals for extensive migrations, we must conclude that this spe- 
cies cannot possibly exist on both continents, even admitting the correct- 
ness of the supposition, that these continents had in some former age been 

Dr. RicHAKDsoN says, (p. 181,) "I am not aware that the identity of the 
species on the two continents has been established by actual comparison." 
In this he w^as quite correct. At the period at which his valuable work 
on American quadrupeds was published, nearly all the figures, and many 
of the descriptions of Tamias striatus of the Eastern continent, were taken 
Irom American specimens of Tamias Lysieri ; and the authors supposing 
them to be identical, were not sufficiently cautious to note this important 

In 1838 we carried to Europe, American specimens of nearly all those 


species which had their congeners on the Eastern continent. We 'were 
surprised at finding no specimen of the T. striatus in the museums of 
either England or France. At Berlin, however, an excellent opportunity- 
was afforded us for instituting a comparison. Through the kindness of 
Dr. LicHTENSTEiN, the superintendent of the museum, we were permitted 
to open the cases, examine several specimens in a fine state of 
preservation, and compare them with our American species, which 
we placed beside them. The differences, at first sight were so striking 
that we could only account for their ever having been considered identi- 
cal, from the fact that the descriptions of the old authors were so loose 
and unsatisfactory that many minute but important characteristics had 
not been noted. The following memorandum was made by us on the 
occasion : — " The Tamias striatus differs so widely from our American 
Chipping Squirrel or Hackee, that it is unnecessary to be very minute in 
making the comparison. The two species can always be distinguished 
from each other by one remarkable characteristic, which I have observed 
running through all the specimens. The stripes on the Asiatic, {T. stria- 
tus) rimning over the back, extend to the root of the tail ; whilst those 
on the American, {T. Lysteri) do not reach so far by a full inch. There 
are many other differences which may as well be noticed. T. stria- 
tus is a little the largest, the stripes on the back are situated nearer 
each other, and are broader than in the other species ; the stripes on each 
side of the back are nearly black, instead of yellowish-brovm ; on each 
side of the black stripe on the centre of the back of Tamias Lysteri, there 
is a broad space of reddish-gray. In T. striatus this part of the ani- 
mal is yellowish ; being an alternate stripe of black and yellowish- white. 
The tail of the latter is black towards the extremity, and tipped with 
white; its tail and ears also are larger than those of T. Lysteri: in short, 
these two species differ as widely from each other, as Tamias Lysteri 
differs from the four-lined ground squirrel of Say, (T, quadrivittatus.) 




Incisive •= ; Canine j— r ; Molar j^ — 22. 

The dentition of the Spermophiles differs from that of the true mar- 
mots, in the following particulars. The first longitudinal eminence (col- 
line) is nearly obliterated, and the curve (talon) which unites the second 
to the third, is prolonged much more internally, which makes the molars 
of the Spermophiles more narrow transversely than longitudinally, as 
compared ^vith those of the marmots. The teeth of the souslik (Spermo- 
philus citilliis) were examined by F. Cuvier, and considered as typical of 
this genus. 

Nose, convex ; ears, generally short ; cheek-pouches. 

Body, rather short ; mammae, pectoral and abdominal, from eight to 

Feet, of moderate length, adapted for walking on the ground ; nails, 
less in size than those of the marmots, less hooked than those of the 
squirrels ; on the fore-feet, four toes, with the rudiment of a thumb, pro- 
tected by a blunt nail ; second toe from the thumb longest, as in the 
marmots, and not the third, as in the squirrels ; hind-feet, with five toes. 

Tail, generally rather short, and always shorter than the body ; in 
several of the species, capable of a slightly distichous arrangement. 

The species belonging to this genus differ from the true marmots, not 
only in their teeth, as shown above, but also in several other striking 
particulars. They have cheek-pouches, of which the marmots are desti- 
tute. They are by no means clumsy, and in form are rather slender, and 
possess a degree of lightness and agility, approaching the activity of the 

With the genus Tamias, they assimilate so closely, that some of the 
species present intermediate characters, and authors may well differ as 
to which genus they ought to be referred to. Thus Tamias quadrivitta- 
tus, and Spermophilus lateralis, seem to form a connecting link between 
these two genera. It is to be recollected, however, that analogous cases 
exist, not only among the mammalia, but in every class of animals, and 
more especially in birds. 


In referring again to the dentition of these allied genera, we may re- 
mark that the anterior molar of the upper jaw, which is deciduous and 
falls out at an early period in most species of true squirrels, remains per- 
manently in all species of the genus Tamias and is smaller than in the 
Spermophiles. These genera differ also in the form and length of their 
claws. The long nails of the latter, the second claw, moreover, being 
longest, places them near the marmots ; while the shorter, weaker, 
and more arched nails of the ground squirrels, in which the third claw, 
besides, is the longest, approximates them more nearly to the true 

The clucking notes of the chipping squirrels, are replaced in the mar- 
mot-squirrels by the shrill whistling or chattering sounds emitted by the 

The generic appellation Spermophilus, is derived from the Greek 
words o5r£/>f<^, (sperma,) a seed, and ?'i>^(X, {philos,) a lover. 

There are now twelve species of this genus kno^vn as existing in North 
America, and three in Europe, and a few are set down as belonging to 
Asia and Africa. Some of the latter may, however, after more careful 
examination, be found to belong to the genus Arctomys. 

SPERMOPHILUS P A R R Y I .—Richardson. 


PLATE IX. — Male. Natural size. 

S. flavo-cinereus, supra albo variegatus, genis, lateribus, ventre, pedi- 
busque flavis ; fronte aureo, pilis ex flavo et nigro ; ad radices flavis, 
apice nigris. 


General colour, yellowish-gray ; upper parts, mottled with white ; cheeks, 
sides, under parts of the body, and feet, yellow ; fore-part of the head, deep 
rich yellow ; the hairs varied with yellow and black ; at the roots chiefly deep 
yellow, and at the points principally black. 



Ground-Squirrel, Heame's Journey, pp. 141 and 386. 

Quebec Marmot, Forster, Phil. Trans., vol. Ixii., p. 378. 

Arctomys Alpina, Parry, Second Voyage, p. 61, narrative. 

Arctomys Parryi, Richardson, Parry's Second Voyage, App., p. 316. 

Arctomys (Spermophilds) Parryi, Rich., Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 158, pi. 10, 

Seek- Seek, Esijuimaux, — Thoe-Thiay Rock-Badger, Chipewyans, Rich. 


This marmot-squirrel, although far from being as thick and heavy 
as the Maryland marmot, is not nearly so light and graceful as most 
of the other species of this genus, especially Sp. Douglassii ; and in 
form, this animal resembles the marmots more than it does the ground 
squirrels. The forehead is arched, the nose rather short, thick, and 
closely covered with short hair; ears, short, triangular, and situated 
above the auditory opening ; eyes, prominent, and of moderate size ; a 
few rather slender hairs over the eye ; along the cheeks are whiskers, 
arranged in five rows. Cheek-pouches, of medium dimensions, and open- 
ing into the mouth immediately behind the molars. 

Legs and feet rather short and stout ; toes well separated ; nails long ; 
feet covered with short hairs ; palms of the fore-feet naked ; soles of hind- 
feet for half an inch next the heel clothed with hair, the remainder naked. 
Tail, rather flat, rounded at base, hairs becoming longer towards the ex- 
tremity ; sub-distichous. The under fur on every part of the body, soft, 
glossy, and of a silky appearance. 

Hairs of the back, black at the roots, annulated above with black, 
nearer the tips yellowish-white, or white ; extreme tips black. 

The longest hairs black ; the under, black at the base, then whitish, 
and shaded into brown at the points. The whole upper surface is irre- 
gularly and thickly spotted with white ; the spots confluent, especially 
over the shoulders ; on the belly the under-fur is abundant, very soft and 
silky ; grayish-black at the base, and yellowish- white at the tips ; the 
visible portion of the longer hairs, deep yellow on the sides of the body, 
and paler yellow^ on the belly. Feet, yellow ; hairs on the toes a pale 
yellow ; claws blackish-brown ; the hinder half of the tarsus covered be- 
neath with brownish hairs ; upper surface of the head, as far back as 
the eyes, of a deep rich yellow ; around the eyes whitish ; cheeks yellow ; 
chin, throat, and sides of the muzzle, yellowish- white ; tail, at base, co- 
loured like the body ; in the middle, the hairs are yellowish, with two 


rings or bars of black at the tips. The hairs on the under surface of the 
tail are chiefly of a rusty or brownish-red colour ; moustaches black. 


From nose to root of tail 
Tail (vertebrae) 
Tail, to end of hair 
From heel to end of cla^v 
From ear to point of nose 
Height of ear 












The only account we have of this handsome spermophile is that given 
by its talented discoverer, who says of it, — 

" It is found generally in stony districts, but seems to delight chiefly in 
sandy hillocks amongst rocks, where burrows, inhabited by different in- 
dividuals, may be often observed crowded together. One of the society 
is generally observed sitting erect on the summit of the hillocks, whilst 
the others are feeding in the neighbourhood. Upon the approach of dan- 
ger, he gives the alarm, and they instantly betake themselves to their 
holes, remaining chattering, however, at the entrance until the advance 
of the enemy obliges them to retire to the bottom. When their retreat 
is cut off, they become much terrified, and seeking shelter in the first cre- 
vice that offers, they not unfrequently succeed only in hiding the head 
and fore-part of the body, whilst the projecting tail is, as usual with them 
when under the influence of terror, spread out flat on the rock. Their 
cry in this season of distress, strongly resembles the loud alarm of the 
Hudson's Bay squirrel, and is not very unlike the sound of a watchman's 
rattle. The Esquimaux name of this animal, Seek-Seek, is an attempt to 
express this sound. According to Hearne, they are easily tamed, and 
are very cleanly and playful in a domestic state. They never come 
abroad during the winter. Their food appears to be entirely vegetable ; 
their pouches being generally observed to be filled, according to the 
season, with tender shoots of herbaceous plants, berries of the Alpine 
arbutus, and of other trailing shrubs, or the seeds of bents, grasses, and 
leguminous plants. They produce about seven young at a time." 

Captain Ross mentions that some of the dresses of the Esquimaux, at 
Repulse Bay, were made of the skins of this species ; these people also 
informed him that it was very abundant in that inhospitable region. 



According to Dr. Richardson, " this spermophile inhabits the barren 
grounds skirting the sea-coast, from Churchill, in Hudson's Bay, round 
by Melville's Peninsula, and the whole northern extremity of the Conti- 
nent to Behring's Straits, where specimens precisely similar were pro- 
cured by Captain Beechey. It abounds in the neighbourhood of Fort 
Enterprise, near the southern verge of the barren grounds in latitude 65o, 
and is also plentiful on Cape Parry, one of the most northern parts of the 

general remarks. 

Our description of this rare animal was drawn up from a specimen de- 
posited by Dr. Richardson in the museum of the Zoological Society of 
London, which was said to have been the identical skin from which his 
description was taken. 

We possess another specimen, presented to us by Dr. Richardson, 
virhich is a little longer in the body, and shorter in the tail, than the one 
w^e have just spoken of; the body being I25 inches in length, and the 
tail (vertebrae) 3i inches, including fur 5 inches. The forehead and but- 
tocks of this specimen are reddish-brown. 




Incisive -r ; Molar =—4 ; False-Molars =—5 

3=3 =36- 

Incisive 7- ; Molar ^—^ ; False-Molars -^—^ ■= 44 

Head, long, terminated by an extended, cartilaginous, flexible, and 
pointed muzzle ; ej-es and ears, concealed by the hair, and very minute. 
Hind-feet, short and slender, ^vith five toes and delicate hooked nails ; 
fore-feet (or hands) broad ; claws, long and flat, fitted for excavating the 

The name Scalops is derived from the Greek mxXXa, (skallo,) and from 
the Latin scalpo, I scrape. 

The various species included in this genus, which approaches very 
closely to the genus Talpa, of Europe, (European mole,) are, we believe, 
confined to North America. There are, so far as we have been informed, 
only five species known at the present time. 


Common American Shrew Mole. 

PLATE X. — Male and Female. Natural size. 

S. magnitudine Talpss Europese similis ; corpore cylindrato, laiiugine 
sericea, argenteo-cinereo induto. 


Size of the European mole, (Talpa;) hody, cylindrical; fur, velvety; 
colour, silvery-gray ish-hrown. 




SoBEX Aquaticus, Linn. Syst. Nat., 12th ed. corrected, vol. i., p. 74. 

Talpa Fusca, Pennant, Brit. Zool., Qoadriipeds, 314. 

ScALOPS Canadensis, Desm., Mara., p. 115. 

ScALOPE DE Canada, Cuv., Regne Animal, p. 134. 

Shrew Mole, Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. i., p. 84, pi. 5, fig. .3. 

Scai.ops Canadensis, Harlan, Fauna, p. 32. Young. 

" Pennstlvanica, Harlan, Fauna, p. 33. Adult. 

" Canadensis, Emmons, Report on Quads, of Mass., p. 15. 

" Aquaticus, Bachman, Observations on the Genus Scalops, Boston Jour. Nat. 
Hist., vol. iv.. No. 1., p. 28, 1842. 

" Aquaticus, Dekay, Nat. Hist, of the State of New York, p. 15. 


Adult : — Teeth 36, corresponding with the first dental formula of this 
genus, given on the preceding page ; incisors of moderate size, rounded 
on their front surface and flattened posteriorly. Inrmiediately behind 
the incisors, two minute teeth on each side, crowded together — succeed- 
ed by four large false-molars, of a cylindrical shape, and pointed ; the 
fourth, smallest, the fifth a little larger and slightly lobed, and the sixth, 
which is the largest, more conspicuously lobed ; followed by three true 
molars, each furnished with three sharp tubercles. 

In the lower, or inferior jaw, sixteen teeth ; the two posterior incisors 
very small, succeeded on each side by another, much larger, pointed, and 
extending forward ; three false-molars which succeed these, are pointed, 
and the third and largest, slightly lobed ; three true molars composed of 
two parallel prisms, terminated each by three points, and "presenting one 
of their angles on the outer side, and one of their faces on the internal sur- 
face ; the two first of equal size, the other somewhat smaller." Part 
of the above description is in the ^vords of Dr. Godman, from his very cor- 
rect and interesting article on the Shrew Mole, (vol. i., p. 82,) which 
corresponds exactly with the results of our own investigationsof the teeth 
of this animal, made at various times, during a period of several j'ears. 

Young. — We have found in specimens less than a yearojd, that the two 
small thread-like teeth inserted behind the incisors in the upper jaw, were 
entirely wanting, as also the fourth lateral incisor on each side, leaving 
vacant spaces between them, and presenting the appearance ascribed to 
them by Baron Cuvier and by Desmarest ; the last mentioned teeth are first 
developed, the former appearing when the animal is full grown and all 
the edentate spaces between the molars are filled up. 

Body, thick and cylindrical ; neck, short, so that the head appears almost 


as if attached directly to the shoulders ; snout, naked, cartilaginous, and 
very flexible, extending five lines beyond the incisors ; the under surface 
projects a little beyond the nostrils, which are oblong, and open on the 
upper surface near each other ; mouth, large, and ^vhen open resembling 
somewhat (although in miniature) that of the hog ; eyes, concealed by 
the fur, apparently covered by an integument, and so minute, that they 
can with great difficulty be found. The orifice in the skin in which the 
eye is placed, is not of larger diameter than would admit .a bristle. No 
external ear ; there is, however, a very small circular aperture leading to 
the ear, about three quarters of an inch behind the eye. The fore-arms 
are concealed by the skin, and the palms only are visible, they are 
broad, and might be thought not unlike hands ; they are thinly clothed 
with hair, and bordered with stiff hairs ; the fingers are united at the 
base of the claws ; nails, large, slightly curved, nearly convex above, 
and flattened on the inner surface ; hind-feet, small and slender, naked 
on the under surface, and apparently above, although a close inspec- 
tion shows the upper surface to be covered with fine short hairs; nails, 
small, a little arched, and compressed ; tail, short, round, appears naked, 
but is very sparingly clothed with short adpressed hairs. On the inside 
of the thighs, near the tail, is a gland, about half an inch long,~from 
which a disagreeable musky odour issues, w^hich makes the animal of- 
fensive to delicate olfactories. All our other shrew moles, possess simi- 
lar glands, and we have perceived the musky smell still remaining'strong 
in skins that had been prepared and stuffed several weeks. 

Snout and palms, in the living animal, pinkish flesh-colour ; chin, feet, 
and tail, dull white ; hair on the body, about five lines in length, very soft, 
smooth, and lustrous ; for three-fourths of its length, plumbeous; tips light- 
brown, giving the surface of the hair, above, a dark-brown colour, which 
varies in different lights, sometimes exhibiting black, silver-gray, or pur- 
ple, reflections. 

There are many variations in the coloring of different individuals of 
this species, but none of them permanent : we possess some specimens 
which are nearly black, and others of a light cream-colour ; we also have 
a specimen, the tail of which, is clothed with short hairs, with a consider- 
able tuft at the extremity. From these, and similar differences in various 
other animals, it is not surprising that authors have described in their 
works, many as new, which on being closely examined afterwards 
prove to be mere accidental varieties of some well-known species. 


Adult male. inches. Lines. 

From nose to root of tail, ..... 58 

Tail, 8 

Breadth of palm, 5 

A specimen from Carolina. 

From nose to root of tail, . - - - . 4 7 

Tail, 9 

Breadth of palm, 06 


Whilst almost every farmer or gardener throughout the Northern and 
Eastern vStates, is well acquainted with this curious animal, as far as the 
mere observation of its meandering course through his fields and mea- 
dows, his beds of green peas or other vegetables, is concerned, but few 
have arrived at proper conclusions in regard to the habits of the Shrew 
Mole ; and it is generally caught and killed whenever practicable ; the 
common idea being, that the Mole feeds on the roots of tender plants, grasses, 
&c. ; while the fact that the animal devours great quantities of earth- 
worms, slugs, and grubs, all hurtful to the fruit trees, to the grasses, and 
the peas and other vegetables, seems to be unknown, or overlooked. 

In justice to the farmer and gardener, however, we must say, that the 
course taken occasionally, by this species, directly along a row of tender 
plants, throwing them oiit of the earth, as it does, or zig-zag across a valua- 
ble bed or beautiful lavwi, is rather provoking, and we have ourselves caus- 
ed traps to be set for moles, being greatly annoyed by their digging long gal- 
leries under the grass, on our sloping banks, which during a heavy shower, 
soon filled with water, and presently increased to large gutters, or deep 
holes, requiring repairs forthwith. At such times also, a Mole-track 
through loose soil where there is any descent, will be found by the garden- 
er, perchance, to have become a miniature ravine, some twenty or thirty 
yards in length, and a few (anticipated) bushels of carrots are destroyed. 
In neglected or sandjf soils, one of these gutters becomes deep and wide in 
a short time, and we may perhaps not err in hazarding the opinion that 
some of the unsightly ravines which run almost through large estates, oc- 
casionally might be traced to no higher origin than the wandering of an 
unlucky mole ! 

We kept one of this species alive, for some days ; feeding it altoge- 
ther upon earth-worms, but we soon found it difficult to procure a suffi- 


cient supply ; forty or fifty worms of moderate size, did not appear too 
much, for its seemingly insatiable appetite. At the expiration of four 
days, another of this species which we had in confinement, would not 
touch any vegetable substances, although the cage was filled with clods 
covered w^ithfine clover, pieces of sweet apples, bread, &c. 

We were much interested in observing that no matter how soiled its 
coat might have become in the cage, it would resume its beauty and 
glossiness after the mole had passed and re-passed through the earth, eight 
or ten times, which it always accomplished in a few minutes. We fre- 
quently remarked with surprise the great strength of this animal, which 
enabled it to lift the lid or top of a box in which it was kept although it 
was large and heavy ; the box-top was not however fastened do^\'Tl. 
Seating ourselves quietly in the room, after putting back the mole into the 
box, the animal supposing itself no longer watched, very soon raised its 
body against the side of the box, which was partly filled with earth, and 
presently its snout was protruded through the small space between the 
box and the cover ; and after a few efiibrts the creature got his fore-feet 
on to the edge of the box, raised itself over the latter, and fell upon a table 
on which we had placed the box. It immediately ran to the edge of the 
table, and thence tumbled on to the floor ; this, however, did not at all in- 
commode it, for it made off to a dark corner of the room at once, and re- 
mained there until again replaced in its prison. 

When this Mole was fed on earth-worms, (Lumbricus terrenus,) 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 con- 
tained in the bodies of the worms. These were placed singly on the ground 
near the auimak^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-pa^A^s, and pushed 
it into his mouth wth 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 verj' short time ; the ani- 
mal never failing to begin with the anterior end of the worm, and appa- 
rently cutting it as he eat, into small pieces, until the whole was devoured. 
On the contrary, when the earth-worm ^vas of a large size, the Mole seem- 
ed to find some difficulty in managing it, and munched the worm side- 
ways, moving it from one side of its mouth to the other. On these occa- 
sions the gritting of its teeth, which we have already spoken of, can be 
heard at the distance of several feet. 

We afterwards put the Mole into a large wire rat-trap, and to our sur- 


prise saw him insert his fore-paws or hands, between the wires, and force 
them apart suiRciently to give him room to pass out through them at 
once, and this without any great apparent effort. It is this extraordinary 
muscular power in the fore-paws and arms, that enables the Shrew Moles 
to traverse the galleries they excavate, Math so much rapidity, in doing 
which they turn the backs of their palms or hands toward each other, 
push them forward as far as the end of their snout, and then open and 
bring them round backward, in the manner of a person mo\'ing his hands 
and arms when swimming. When running along on the sui'face of the 
ground, they extend the fore-legs as far forward as they will reach, turn- 
ing the backs of the hands or paws (as just mentioned) towards each 
other, and placing them edge-wise, instead of flat on the earth as might 
be supposed, and in this manner they run briskl)', and viithout any 
awkward movement, crossing beaten-roads, or paved walks, and sometimes 
running swiftly twenty or thirty feet before they can get into the ground. 

The Shrew JNIole varies somewhat in its habits, according to our obser- 
vations, for while a solitary individual ^\•ill occasionally for some ■weeks, 
occupy and root up a large plot of grass, or a considerable portion of a 
garden, and on his being caught in a trap, the place will remain free from 
fresh Mole-tracks for a long period, proving that all the mischief was the 
■«rork of a single Mole, at other times we have caught several out of one 
gallery on the same day ; and while excavating a root-house, the lower 
part of which was rock, four of these animals came during the night 
through one gallery and tumbled down into the pit, where, the rock pre- 
venting their digging a way out, thej^ were found in the morning. No 
others ever came through that gallery, while the cellar was in progress, 
and those thus caught may probably have been one family. 

Although generally known to run through the same galleries often, so 
much so, that the most common method of capturing them, is to set a trap 
anj-vvhere in one of these tracks, to intercept them when again passing 
through it, we have knowTi a trap to remain set in a fresh track for eleven 
days before the animal passed that way, when it was caught ; and we 
are of opinion that many of their tracks are only passed through once, as 
this animal is known to travel from one field or wood to another, and pro- 
bably the only galleries they regularly traverse, are those adjacent to the 
spot they have selected for rearing their young. In relation to this sub- 
ject. Dr. GoDMAN says — 

"It is remarkable how unwilling they are to relinquish a long frequent- 
ed burrow ; I have frequently broken down, or torn off the surface of the 
same burrow for several days in succession, but would always find it re- 
paired at the next visit. This was especially the case with one individual 


whose nest I discovered, whicli was alwaj's repaired within a short time, 
as often as destroyed. It was an oval cavity, about five 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 down\vards 
from the gallery about two inches from the surface ; three times I entire- 
ly exposed this cell, by cutting out the whole superincumbent clay with a 
knife, and three times a similar one was made a little bej'ond the situa- 
tion of the former, the excavation having been continued from its back 
part. I paid a visit to the same spot two months after capturing its occu- 
pant, and breaking up the cell, 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. In the winter they burrow closer to the streams, 
where the ground is not so deeply frozen." 

This species whilst beneath the earth's surface, seems to search for 
food with the same activity and untiring perseverance that are observable 
in animals that seek for their provender above ground. It works through 
the earth, not only in a straight-forward direction, but loosens it to the 
right and left, beneath and above, so that no Avorm or insect can escape 
it. When in contact with any one of the objects of which it has been in 
search, it seizes it Avith remarkable quickness both with its fore-feet and 
its sharp teeth, drawing itself immediately backward with its prize, upon 
which it begins to prey at once. The Shrew Mole passes through loose 
soil, with nearlj^ the same ease and speed that it displaj^s in running, or 
" scrabbling" along above ground. It moves backward almost as rapidly 
as it goes forward. The nose is often seen protruded above the surface 
of the ground. 

The snout of this species although apparently delicate, is most power- 
fully muscular, as well as flexible ; the animal can turn it to the right or 
left, upward or downward, and at times inserts it in its mouth, as if for 
the purpose of cleansing it, and then suddenly withdraws it with a kind of 
smack of its lips ; this habit we observed three times in the course of a few 
minutes. The Shre'vv Mole is exceedingly tenacious of life ; it cannot 
easily be put to death, either by heavy pressure or strangling, and a severe 
blow on the head seems to be the quickest mode of despatching it. 

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 of a most singular perversity of taste, or of 
habits hitherto totally unknown 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 familyj, 
a Shrew Mole in the act of swallowing, or devouring, a common 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 Mv. Hammond 
saw and examined the animal, "s^dth 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 habif of making. The combatants sidled up to one another 
like two little pigs, and each tried to root the other over, in attempt- 
ing which, their efforts so much resembled the manner of two boars 
fighting, that the whole affair was supremelj^ 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, 
w^ould 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 rivalrj-, and that some " fair Mole " 
probably rewards the victor. When approached, the Moles attempted to 
escape, but were both shot on the spot, thus falling victims to their own 
passions ; and if we would read aright, affording us an instructive lesson, 
either as individuals, or in a national point of view. 

The Shrew Moles are able to work their way so rapidly, that in soft or 
loamy soil, it is almost impossible for the most active man to overtake and 
turn them out with a spade, unless he can see the spot where they are 
w^orking, by the movement of the earth, in which case they can be thro"mi 
out easily, by sticking the spade in front of them, or at one side of their 
gallery and ■with a quick movement tossing them on to the surface. 

They have been kno'«Ti to make a fresh track, after rain, during one 
night, several hundred j-ards in length — oftentimes they proceed for a 
considerable distance, in nearly a straight or direct line, then suddenlj- be- 
gin to excavate around and across a small space of not more than a few^ 
feet in diameter, until jou could hardl)' place your foot on a spot within 
this subterranean labyrinth, without sinking through into their track ; at 
this time they are most probably in pursuit of worms, or other food, ■which 
may be there imbedded. 

Although cold weather appears to us, to put a stop to the movements of 
the Mole, we do not feel by any means certain that such is the case ; and 
very probably the hardness of the ground when frozen, and the depth at 
which the Mole is then obliged to seek his food, may be a sufficient reason 
for our seeing no traces of this busy creature's movements during cold 
winter weather. We have, however, often perceived their tracks after a 


day or two of warm weather in January, and have repeatedly observed 
them about during a thaw, after the first autumnal frosts had occurred. 
In Carolina there are not many weeks in a winter in which we are not 
able to find here and there traces of the activity of the Mole. We admit, 
however, that even in this comparatively mild climate, they appear to 
be far less active in winter than at other seasons. 

From the foregoing facts we are inclined to think the Mole does not 
become torpid at any time ; and in corroboration of this idea, we find that 
the animal is not at any season found in high Northern latitudes. Dr. 
Richardson thinks " the absence of the Shrew Mole from these countries 
is owing to the fact that the earth-worm on which the Scalops, like the 
common Mole, principally feeds, is unknown in the Hudson's Bay coun- 

The idea commonly entertained by uninformed persons, that Moles 
have no eyes, is an error ; although our own experience confirms the 
opinion of others, that they appear to possess the power of seeing only in 
a very limited degree. We must not forget, however, that a wise Provi- 
dence has adapted their organs of vision to the subterraneous life they 
lead. Shut out from the light of the sun by a law of nature requir- 
ing them to search for food beneath the earth's surface, these animals 
would find a large pair of eyes one of the greatest of evils, inasmuch as 
they would be constantly liable to be filled with sand ; thus causing in- 
flammation, blindness, and eventually death. 

It is not, however, beyond the reach of possibility, nor contrary to the 
economy of Nature, to suppose that during the night, when this species is 
seen occasionally above ground, or when engaged in running or fighting, 
or for purposes we have not yet discovered, this animal may have the power 
of expanding its minute orbs, and drawing back the hair that entirely con- 
ceals its eyes. This, however, is a mere conjecture, which we have thrown 
out for the consideration of those who are fond of investigating Nature 
in her minutest operations. 

The inquiry has often been made, if the Shrew Mole does not, feed up- 
on the grains, or roots of the corn, peas, potatoes, &c., planted in rows or 
in hills, why is it that this pest so ingeniously and so mischievously follows 
the rows, and as effectually destroys the young plants, as if it had con- 
sumed them ? We answer, it is not the spirit of mischief by which the 
Mole is actuated ; it is the law of self-preservation. In the rows where 
these seeds have been sown, or these vegetables planted, the ground has 
been maniu-ed ; this, and the consequent moisture around the roots of the 
plants, attracts worms and other insects, that are invariably found in rich 
moist earth. 1*0 the accusations made against the Shrew Mole as a 



destroyer of potatoes, and other vegetables, he might often with great 
truth plead an alibi. Leconte's pine mouse, (Arvicola pmetormji,) is usu- 
ally the author of the mischief, whilst all the blame is thrown upon the 
innocent Shrew Mole. We are, moreover, inclined to think that whilst 
the earth-worm is the general, it is by no means the only food of the 
latter, and we had an opportunity of discovering to our cost, that when 
in captivity, this species relishes other fare. We preserved one in a 
cage in Carolina, during a winter, for the purpose of ascertaining on 
what kind of food it was sustained, and whether it became dormant. It 
at no time touched grains or vegetables ; the lower part of the cage was 
filled with a foot of moist earth, in which we occasionally placed a pint of 
earth-worms. It devoured pieces of beef, and for a week was engaged in 
demolishing a dead pigeon. Until the middle of January we found it 
every day actively running through the earth in search of worms. Sud- 
denly however, it seemed to have gone to winter quarters, as we could see 
no more traces of its customary burrowing. We now carefully searched 
for it in the box, to ascertain its appearance in a dormant state. But the 
little creature had forced itself through the wooden bars, and was gone. 
We examined every part of the room without success, and finally sup- 
posed it had escaped through the door. The cage of the Mole had been 
set on a box, full of earth, in which the chrysolides of some sixty or 
seventy species of rare butterflies, moths, and sphinges, had been carefully 
deposited. In this box we a few days afterwards heard a noise, and on 
looking, discovered our little fugitive. On searching for our choice insects 
we found not one left ; they had all been devoured by the Shrew Mole. 
He had greatly disappointed us, and had put an end to all our hopes of 
reading the following spring, a better lesson on entomology than ever 
could have been taught us — either by Fabricius, Spence, or Kirby. 

We had an opportunity on two difierent occasions of examining the 
nests and young of the Shrew Mole. The nests were about eight inches 
below the surface, the excavation was rather large and contained a 
quantity of oak leaves on the outer surface, lined vwth 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. 

Our kind friend, J. S. Haines, Esq., of Germantown, near Philadelphia, 
informed us that he once kept several Shrew Moles in confinement 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. 



The Shrew Mole is found inhabiting various parts of the country from 
Canada to Kentucky, in considerable numbers, and is abundant in Caro- 
lina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida. It is, according to Richardson, un- 
known in Labrador, the Hudson's Bay Territories, and probably North of 
Latitude 50°. We did not see any of them in our trip up the Missouri 
river, and there are none to be found on the dry prairies of the regions 
immediately east of the great Rocky Mountain chain. The figures in our 
plate were drawn from specimens procured near the City of New York. 
We mention this locality, because the colours differ a little from others 
that we have seen, and that have been described. 


In restoring to this species the specific name of its first describer we 
have adhered to a rule, from which, to prevent the repetition of synonymes, 
we should never depart, unless under very peculiar circumstances. The 
name " Aquaticus, " certainly does not apply to the habits of this animal, 
as, although it is fond of the vicinity of moist ground, where the earth- 
worm is most abundant, yet it is nowise aquatic. The name of Desmarest, 
however, viz., " Canadensis," is equally objectionable, as it is far more 
common in the Southern portion of the United States than in Canada. 

Some differences of opinion are observable in the works of authors in 
regard to the number of teeth which characterize this species. 

Although the genus was, until recently, composed of but a single ac- 
knowledged species, {Scalops Canadensis of Desm.,) its systematic arrange- 
ment has caused great perplexity among Naturalists. Linn^us placed it 
among the Shrews, (Sorex,) and Pennant among the Moles, (Talpa,) Baron 
CuviEE finally established for it a new genus, (Scalops,) in which it now 
remains. The specimen, however, which he made the type of the genus, 
contained but thirty teeth. The upper jaw^ had but three lateral incisors, 
or false-molars, on each side ; leaving considerable intermediate spaces be- 
tween the incisors and true molars. In this dental arrangement he was 
followed by Desmarest, Dr. Harlan, Griffith, and nearly all the Natural- 
ists of that period. Subsequently, however, Frederick Cuvier gave a 
correct description of the teeth, which he found amounted to thirty-six. 
Dr. Harlan finding a skeleton from the vicinity of Philadelphia, which in 
its dental arrangement corresponded generally with the characters given 
by Fred. Cuvier, considered it a new species, and described it under the 
name of Sc. Pennsylvanica, (see Fauna Americana, p. 33.) 


Dr. Richardson described a specimen which was obtained on the Co- 
lumbia river, (P. B. A., p. 9,) which contained forty-four teeth, very 
differently arranged. This animal he referred to our common Shrew 
Mole, supposing that the difference in the dentition, as observed by diffe- 
rent authors, was owing to their having examined and described speci- 
mens of different ages. 

In 1840, Professor EMiwoNg (Report on the Quadrupeds of Massachusetts,) 
characterizes the genus as having 44 teeth. In 1842, Dr. Dekay, (Nat. 
History of the State of New York, p. 15,) has very erroneously given as a 
character, its having from 34 to 46 teeth, and states that he had once seen 
the skull of one of this species containing 44 teeth. 

In an article in the Boston Journal, (vol. iv., No. i., p. 26, 1842.) We 
endeavoured to explain and correct the contradictory views of former 
authors, and we feel confident we have it in our power to account for the 
skull seen by Dr. Dekay, containing forty-four teeth. 

The specimens examined by Baron Cuvier, Desmarbst, and Dr. Harlan, 
each containing but 30 teeth, were evidently young animals, with their 
dentition incomplete. One half of the specimens now lying before us, 
present the same deficiency in the number of terth ; they also exhibit the 
edentate spaces between the incisors and grinders remarked by those au- 
thors. We have, in deciding this point, compared more than fifty speci- 
mens together. Those on the other hand that were examined by F. Cu- 
vier, and Dr. Godman, and the skeleton of Dr. Harlan's Scalops Pennsyl- 
vanica, containing 36 teeth, were adults of the same species. Dr. Richard- 
son's specimen was a new species, (Scalops Townsendii,) having 44 teeth, 
(see Journ. Acad. Nat. Sc, Philadelphia, vol. viii., p. 58.) With re- 
gard to the skull seen by Dr. Dekay, we have no doubt of its having be- 
longed to Scalops Brewerii, (see Bost. Journ. Nat. Hist., vol. iv., p. 32,) 
which has 44 teeth, and is not uncommon in the State of New York, as 
we obtained four specimens from our friend, the late Dr. Wright, who 
procured them in the vicinity of Troy. 




PLATE XI.— Fig. 1, Male ; Fig. S, Young Female. Summer Pelage. Natural Size. 
PLATE XII.— Winter Pelage. Natural Size. 

L. hyeme albus; pilis tricoloribus, apice albis, ad radices ccEruleis, 
medio fulvis ; aestate, supra rufo-fuscus, infra albus, auribus capite pauUo 
brevioribus ; L. Sylvatica paullo robustior. L. Glacialis minor. 


Size, larger than the gray rabbit, {Lepus Sylvaticus,) less than the Polar 
hare; (L. Glacialis.) Colour in summer, reddish-brown above, white be- 
neath ; in winter, white ; roots of the hairs, blue ; nearer the surface, fawn- 
colour, and the tips, white ; ears, a little shorter than the head. 


LiETRE, (Quenton Malisia,) Sagard Theodat, Canada, p. 747. 1636, 
Swedish Hare, Kalm's travels in North America, vol. ii., p. 45. 1749. 
American Hare, Philos. Trans., London, vol. Ixii., pp. U, 376. 1772. 
Lepus Amebicanus, Erxleben, Syst. regni Animalis, p. 330. 1777. 

" Nanus, Schreber,Tol. ii., p. 881, pi. 234, fig. 

" HuDSONius, Pallas, Glires, pp. 1, 30. 
Varyino Hare, Pennant, Arct. Zool., vol. i., p. 95. 
Lepus Virginianus, Harlan, Fauna, p. 196. 1825. 

« Variabilis, vai. Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 164. 
American Varying Hare, Doughty, Cabinet Nat. Hist., vol. i., p. 217, pi. 19. Au- 
tumn pelage. 
The Northern Hare, Audubon, Ornithological Biog., vol. ii., p. 469. Birds of America, 

pi. 181, (in the talons of the Golden Eagle,) Winter pelage. 
Lepus Americanus, Richardson, Fauna Boreali A., p. 217. 

" Virginianus, Bach, Acad. Nat. Sciences, Philadelphia, voL vii., p. 301. 

" Americanus, Bach, lb., p. 403, and lb., vol. viii., p. 76. 

" Americanus, Dekay, Nat. Hist. State of New York, p. 95, pi. 26. 


Incisors, pure white, shorter and smaller than in L. Glacialis ; upper ones 
moderately grooved ; the two posterior upper incisors very small. The 


margins of the orbits project considerably, having a distinct depression 
in the frontal bone ; this is more conspicuous in the old than in the younger 
animals. Head rather short ; nose blunt ; eyes large and prominent ; ears 
placed far back, and near each other ; whiskers, long and numerous ; 
body, elongated, thickly clothed with long loose hair, with a soft downy 
fur beneath ; legs, long ; hind-legs, nearly twice the length of the fore- 
legs; feet, thickly clothed with hair, completely concealing the nails, 
which are long, thin, very sharp, and slightly arched. So thickly are the 
soles covered with hair, that an impression by the nails, is not generally 
visible in their tracks made while passing over the snow, unless when 
running very fast. Tail, very short, covered with fur, but not very 
bushy. The form of this species is on the whole not very elegant ; its 
long hind legs, although remarkably well adapted for rapid locomotion, 
and its diminutive tail, would lead the spectator at first sight to pro- 
nounce it an awkward animal ; which is, nevertheless, far from being the 
fact. Its fur never lies smooth and compact, either in vi'inter or summer, 
as does that of many other species, but seems to hang loosely on its back 
and sides, giving it a somewhat shaggy appearance. The hair on the 
body, is in summer about an inch and a half long, and in winter, a little 

In summer, the whole of the upper surface is reddish-brown, formed by 
hairs that are at their roots and for two-thirds of their length, of a blue- 
ish ash colour, then, reddish-yellow, succeeded by a narrow line of dark- 
brown, the part next the tips or points, reddish-broT,vn, but nearly all 
the hairs tipped with black — this colour predominating toward the 
rump. Whiskers, mostly black, a few white, the longest reaching be- 
yond the head ; ears, brown, with a narrow black border on the outer 
margin, and a slight fringe of white hairs on the inner. In some speci- 
mens, there is a fawn, and in others a light coloured, edge, around the eyes, 
and a few white hairs on the forehead. The pupil of the eye is dark, the 
iris, light silvery-yellow ; point of nose, chin, and under the throat, white ; 
neck, yellowish-brown. Inner surface of legs, and under surface of body, 
white ; between the hind-legs, to the insertion of the tail, white ; upper 
surface of the tail, brown, under surface white. The summer dress of this 
species is assumed in April, and remains without much change till about 
the beginning of November in the latitude of Quebec, and till the middle of 
the same month, in the State of New York and the western parts of Penn- 
sylvania ; after which season the animal gains its winter pelage. During 
winter, in high Northern latitudes, it becomes nearly pure white, with the 


exception of the black edge on the outer borders of the ears. In the lati- 
tude of Albany, New York, it has always a tinge of reddish-brown, more 
conspicuous in some specimens than in others, giving it a wavy appear- 
ance, especially when the animal is running, or when the fur is in the least 
agitated. In the winter season the hair is plumbeous at base, then red- 
dish, and is broadly tipped with white. The parts of the body which are 
the last to assume the white change, are the forehead and shoulders ; we 
have two vi^inter-killed specimens before us that have the forehead, and 
a patch on the shoulders, brown. On the under surface, the fur in most 
specimens is white, even to the roots. A few long black hairs arise above 
and beneath the eyes, and extend backwarts. The soles have a yel- 
lowish soiled appearance. 

We possess a specimen of the young, about half grown, which in its 
general aspect resembles the adult ; the colour of the back, however, is 
a shade darker, and the under surface, an ashy white. The black edge is 
very conspicuous on the outer rim of the ear, and some of the whiskers are 
of unusual length, reaching beyond the head to the middle of the ear. 
The tail is very short, black above, and grayish-white beneath. The 
young become ^vhite in the autumn of the first year, but assume their 
winter colouring a little later in the season than the adults. We have 
met with some specimens in the New York markets, late in January, in 
which the change of colour was very partial, the summer pelage still pre- 


The size and weight of the Northern hare, we have found to vary very 
much. The measurements hitherto given, were generally taken from 
stuffed specimens, which afford no very accurate indications of the size of 
the animal when living, or when recently killed. Dr. Godman, on the au- 
thority of Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, gives the measurement of a 
recent specimen, as thirty-one inches, and Dr. Harlan's measurement of 
the same specimen after it had been stuffed, was sixteen inches. We think 
it probable that the Prince and the Doctor adopted different modes of 
measuring. All stuffed specimens shrink very much ; of a dozen now in 
our collection, there is not one that measures more than eighteen inches, 
from point of nose to root of tail, and several white adults measure but 
fifteen inches. 

The following measurements are from the largest specimen we have 
procured, taken when the animal was recently killed. 




From point of nose to root of tail 

Tail (vertebrae) 

Do., to end of hair 

From heel to end of middle claw 

Height of ear .... 

Another specimen of moderate size. 

From point of nose to root of tail 

Tail (vertebraB) . ♦ . 

Do., to ond of hair . 

From heel to end of middle claw 

Height of ear .... 
Weight: — This species in the beginning of winter varies from three to 
six and a half pounds, but we consider 5 J pounds to be the average weight 
of a full-grown animal in good condition. 





















Our different species of Hares, and more especially the present one and 
the little gray rabbit, have been so much mixed up in the accounts of 
authors, that great confusion exists in regard to their habits, and their 
specific identity. The assertion of Warden, that the American Hare re- 
treats into hollow trees when pursued, applies to the gray rabbit, for 
which it was no doubt intended, but not to the Northern Hare. We 
are not aware that the latter ever takes shelter either in a hole in the 
earth, or in a hollow tree. We have seen it chased by hounds for whole 
days, and have witnessed the repetition of these hunts for several succes- 
sive winters, without ever knovidng it to seek concealment or security in 
such places. It depends on its long legs, and on the thickness of the 
woods, to aid it in evading the pursuit of its enemies. When hunted, it 
winds and doubles among thick clusters of young pines and scrub-oaks, 
or leads the dogs through entangled patches of hemlock and spruce fir, 
until it sometimes wearies out its pursuers ; and unless the hunter should 
appear, and stop its career w^ith the gun, it is almost certain to escape. 

In deep snows, the animal is so Ught, and is so well supported by its 
broad fiirry-feet, that it passes over the surface making only a faint 
impression, whilst the hounds plunge deep into the snow at every 
bound, and soon give up the hopeless pursuit. It avoids not only open 
grounds, but even open woods, and confines itself to the densest and 
most impenetrable forests. Although it wanders by night in many direc- 


tions in search of its appropriate food, we have scarcely ever seen its 
tracks in the open fields ; it seems cautiously to avoid the cabbage and 
turnip fields of the farmer, and seldom even in the most retired places 
makes an encroachment on his cultivated grounds. 

The food of this species, in summer consists of various kinds of juicy 
and tender grasses, and the bark, leaves, and buds, of several small 
shrubs ; and these Hares seem to be particularly fond of the young twigs 
of the wild allspice, (Lauras benzoin,) but in winter, when the earth is 
covered with snow, they gain a precarious subsistence from the buds and 
bark of such trees as are suited to their taste. Sometimes they scratch 
up the snow to feed on the leaves and berries of the various species of 
Pyrola, found in the Northern States. The bark of the willow, birch, and 
poplar, and the buds of 3'oung pines, are sought after by them with avid- 
ity. We have seen persons in the Northern part of the State of New 
York, who were desirous of shooting these animals by moonlight, watch- 
ing near American black-poplar trees, {Populus Htidsonica.) which they 
had cut down for the purpose of attracting them to feed on their buds and 
tender twigs, in which they were often successful. Some of these Hares 
which we had in a domesticated state, were fed on cabbage leaves, turnips, 
parsnips, potatoes, and sweet apples. During one very cold winter, when 
these could not be conveniently obtained, they were frequently supplied 
\vith clover-hay, to which, when more agreeable food was not given 
them, they did not evince any aversion ; from time to time also, outer 
branches of willow, poplar, or apple, trees, were thrown into their en- 
closure, the bark of which, seemed to be greatly relished by them. 

The Northern Hare, like most others of the genus, seeks its food only 
by night or in the early part of the evening. To this habit it is more ex- 
clusively confined during autumn and winter, than in spring and summer. 
In the latter seasons, especially in spring, these animals are frequently 
observed in the morning, and as the sun is declining, in the afternoon, 
cautiously proceeding along some solitary by-path of the forest. Two or 
three may often be seen associated together, appearing full of activity and 
playfulness. When disturbed on these occasions, they stamp on the ground, 
making a noise so loud, that it can be heard at some distance, then hopping 
a few yards into the thicket, they sit with ears erect, seemingly listening, 
to ascertain whether they are pursued or not. This habit of thumping on 
the earth, is common to most hares and rabbits. We have particularly 
noticed it in the domesticated rabbit, (L. cuniculus) and in our common 
gray rabbit. They are more particularly in the habit of doing it on moon- 
light nights ; it is indicative either of fear or anger, and is a frequent ac- 
tion among the males when they meet in combat. During cold weather, 



this Hare retires to its form at early dawn, or shelters itself under the 
thick foliage of fallen tree tops, particularly those of the pine and 
hemlock. It occasionally retires to the same cover for a number of 
nights in succession, but this habit is by no means conunon ; and the 
sportsman who expects on some succeeding day to find this animal in 
the place from which it was once started, is likely to be disappointed; 
although we are not aware, that any other of oiu- species of hare are so 
attached to particular and beaten paths through the woods, as the one 
now under consideration. It nightly pursues these paths, not only during 
the deep snows of ^'sinter, but for a period of several years, if not killed 
or taken, wandering through them even during summer. We have seen 
a dozen caught at one spot, in snares composed of horse-hair or brass 
wire, in the course of a winter, and when the snow had disappeared, 
and the spring was advanced, others were still captured in the same 
way, and in the same paths. 

The period of gestation in this species is believed to be, (al- 
though we cannot speak with positive certainty,) about six weeks. 
Two females which we domesticated, and kept in a warren, produced 
young, one on the tenth, and the other on the fifteenth, of May ; one had 
four, and the other six leverets, which were deposited on a nest of straw, 
the inside of which was lined with a considerable quantityof hair plucked 
from their bodies. They succeeded in rearing all their young but 
one, which was killed by the male of a common European rabbit. 
They were not again gravid during that season. Ill health, and more 
important studies, required us to be absent for six months, and when 
we returned, all our pets had escaped to the woods, therefore we could 
not satisfactorily finish the observations on their habits in confinement, 
which had interested and amused us in many a leisure hour. 

We, however, think it probable that the females in their wild state, may 
produce young, twice during the season. Those referred to above, were 
much harassed by other species which were confined in the same war- 
ren, and might therefore have been less prolific than if they had enjoyed 
their liberty undisturbed, amid the recesses of their native woods. We 
have frequently observed the young of the Northern Hare in May, and 
again in July. These last must have been either from a second litter, or 
the produce of a young female of the previous year. The young, at birth 
were able to see. They w^ere covered with short hair ; and appeared 
somewhat darker in colour than the adults, at that season. They left their 
nest in ten or twelve days, and from that time seemed to provide for 
themselves, and to derive little sustenance or protection from their mo- 
thers. The old males at this period seemed to be animated with renewed 


courage ; they had previously suffered themselves to be chased and wor- 
ried by the common English rabbit, and even retreated from the at- 
tacks of the gray rabbit; but they now stood their ground, and engaged 
in fierce combats ■vvith the other prisoners confined with them, and gene- 
rally came off victorious. They stamped \vith their feet, used their teeth 
and claws to a fearful purpose, and in the fight, tore off patches of skin, 
and mutilated the ears of their former persecutors, till they were left in 
undisturbed possession of the premises ! 

The males did not evince the vicious propensity to destroy their young, 
which is observed in the domesticated English rabbit ; on the contrary, 
they would frequently sit beside their little family, when they were but a 
day or two old, seeming to enjoy their playfulness and to watch their pro- 
gress to matur t}'. 

The Northern Hare seems during summer to prefer dry and elevated 
situations, and to be more fond of grounds covered with pines and firs, than 
of those that are overgrown with oak or hickory. The s^vamps and marshes 
soil their feet, and after having been compelled to pass through them, 
they are for hours employed in rubbing and drjing their paws. In win- 
ter, however, when such places are hardened by the frost, they not 
only have paths through them in every direction, but occasionally seek a 
fallen tree top as a hiding or resting place, in the centre of a swamp. 
We have observed them in great numbers in an almost impenetrable 
thicket of black larch, or hackmatack, {Larix pendula,) considerable por- 
tions of which were during summer a perfect morass. In what are called 
the " bark clearings," places where hemlock trees have been cut down to 
procure tan bark, this species is sometimes so abundant that twenty or 
thirty of them may be started in a day's walk. 

As an article of food, this is the most indifferent of all our species of 
Hares; its flesh is hard, dry, almost juiceless, possessing none of the 
flavour of the English hare, and much inferior to that of ovu' gray rabbit. 
Epicures, however, who often regard as dainties dishes that are scarce, 
and who, by the skilful application of the culinary art, possess means of 
rendering things savoury that are of themselves insipid, may dispute 
this point with us. 

The Northern Hare, as is proverbially the case mth all the species, 
has many enemies. It is pursued by men and dogs, by carniverous beasts 
of the forest, by eagles, by hawks, and by owls. In the northern parts 
of Maine, in Canada, and in the countries farther north, their most formi- 
dable enemies are the Canada lynx, {Lrjnx Canadensis.) the jer falcon, 
(Falco Islandicus,) and the snowy owl, (Sitrnea nyctea.) In the New 
England States, however, and in New York-, the red-tailed hawk, {Buteo 


Borealts,) is occasionally seen with one of these species in its talons. But 
its most formidable enemy is the great horned owl, (Bubo Virginianus.) 
We have also, on one occasion, observed a common house-cat dragging a 
full gro^^Ti Northern Hare from the woods, to feed her young. Lads on 
their w^ay to school, entrap them with snares attached to a bent twig, 
placed along the paths they nightly resort to. The hunter finds recrea- 
tion in pursuing them with hounds, whilst he places himself in some 
wood-path where they were last seen to pass. The Hare runs from fifty 
to a hundred yards ahead of the dogs, and in its windings and turnings to 
escape from them frequently returns to the spot where the hunter is 
stationed, and falls by a shot from his gun. 

The Northern Hare, when rapidly pursued, makes such great efforts to 
escape, that the poor creature (as we have said already,) is occasionally 
successful, and fairly outruns the hounds, "whilst the hunter is cunningly 
avoided by it when doubling. After one of these hard chases, however, 
we have known the animal die from the fatigue it had undergone, or from 
having been overheated. We once saw one, which had been closely 
pressed by the dogs nearly all the afternoon, return to a thicket after the 
hounds had been called off, and the sportsmen had given up the vain pur- 
suit. Next morning we examined the place it had retired to, and to our 
surprise, discovered the hare sitting in its form, under a dwarfish, crooked, 
pine-bush ; it w^as covered with snow, and quite dead. In this instance the 
hare had no doubt been greatly overheated by the race of the preceding 
day, as well as exhausted, and terrified ; and the poor thing being in that 
condition very susceptible of cold, was probably chilled by the night air 
and the falling snow, until its palpitating heart, gradually impelling the 
vital fluid with fainter and slower pulsations, at length ceased its throb- 
bings forever. 

Sometimes we have found these Hares dead in the woods after the melt- 
ing of the snow in the Spring, and on examination we found they were 
entangled in portions of wire snares, frequently, entwined round their 
necks ; from which they had been unable to extricate themselves. 

This species when caught alive cannot be taken into the hand, like the 
gray rabbit, with impunity ; the latter, when seized by the ears or hind- 
legs, soon becomes quiet, and is harmless ; but the Northern Hare strug- 
gles to escape, and makes a formidable resistance with its teeth and nails. 
On one occasion a servant who was expert at catching the gray rabbit in 
traps, came to us with a rueful countenance, holding a hare in his hands, 
exhibiting at the same time sundry severe scratches he had received, 
showing us his torn clothes, and a place on his leg which the animal 
had bitten, and declaring that he had caught " a rabbit as cross as a 


cat." We ascertained it to be a Nortliern Hare, in its summer dress, and 
although its captor had not been able to distinguish it from the gray 
rabbit by its colour, he certainly had had a practical lesson in natural 
history, which he did not soon forget. 

A living individual of this species, which we have in Charleston in 
a partially domesticated state, for the purpose of trying to ascertain the 
effect of a vv^arm climate on its changes of colour, is particularly cross 
w^hen approached by a stranger. It raises its fur, and springs at the in- 
truder with almost a growl, and is ready with its claws and teeth to gratify 
its rage, and inflict a wound on the person who has aroused its ire. 
When thus excited, it reminded us by its attitudes of an angry racoon. 

The skin of the Northern Hare is so tender and easily torn, and the fur 
is so apt to be spoiled and drop off on being handled, that it is difficult to 
prepare perfect specimens for the naturalist's cabinet. The pelt is not in 
much request among the furriers, and is regarded by the hatter as of 
little value. The hind-feet, however, are used by the latter in a part of 
the process by which the soft, glossy, surface is imparted to his fabric, 
and answer the purpose of a soft hat-brush. 


This species is found in portions of the British possessions, as far as the 
sixty-eighth parallel of North latitude. It is, however, confined to the 
Eastern portion of our Continent ; Richardson, who represents it as " a 
common animal from one extremity of the Continent to the other," seems 
to have mistaken for it another species which replaces it on the North 
West coast. Although it does not range as far to the North as the 
Polar hare, it is decidedly a Northern species ; it is found at Hudson's 
Bay, in Newfoundland, Canada, all the New-England States, and in the 
Northern portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Mr. Doughty 
informed us that he had procured a specimen on the Alleghany Mountains 
in the Northern part of Virginia, Lat. 40° 29', where it had never before 
been observed by the inhabitants. On seeking for it afterwards in the 
locality from which he obtained it, we were unsuccessful, and we are in- 
clined to believe that it is only occasionally that some straggler ^vanders 
so far South among these mountains, and that its Southern limit may be 
set down at about 41". 


The history of this Hare has been attempted from time to time, by 
early and recent travellers and naturalists, and most of their accounts of 


it are only sources of perplexity, and additional difficulties in the way of 
the naturalist of the present daj-. Strange mistakes were committed by 
some of those ■who wrote on the subject, from Pennant down to Harlan, 
GoDMAN, and others still later : and one error appears to have led to another, 
until even the identity of the species meant to be described by different 
authors, •vvas finally involved in an almost inextricable 'web of em- 

As far as we have been able to ascertain, the Northern Hare was 
first noticed by Sagard Theodat, ( Canada,) in 1636. Kalm, (who 
travelled in America from 1748 to 1751, and whose work was published in 
the Swedish language, and soon after translated into German and English,) 
speaks of this species as follows : — " Hares are likewise said to be plen- 
tiful even in Hudson's Bay, and they are abundant in Canada, where 
I have often seen, and found them perfectly corresponding w^ith our 
Swedish hares. In summer they have a brownish-gra}% and in winter a 
snowj'-white colour, as ■with us." (Kalm's Travels, &c., vol. ii., p. 45. 
English translation.) 

This judicious and intelligent traveller, undoubtedly here referred to the 
Northern Hare. He supposed it to be identical with the Alpine, or vari- 
able Hare, (Lepus variabilis,) which is found in Sweden and other North- 
ern countries of Europe. That species is a little larger than the North- 
ern Hare, and the tips of its ears are black ; but although it is a distinct 
species, it so nearly resembles the latter, that several authors, Godman not 
excepted, were induced to regard these two species as identical. Kalm, 
(see vol. i., p. 105, Eng. trans.,) whilst he was in the vicinity of Philadel- 
phia, where the Northern Hare never existed, gave a correct account of 
another species, the American gray rabbit, which we will notice more 
in detail when we describe that animal. It is very evident that in these 
two notices of American hares, Kalm had reference to two distinct spe- 
cies, and that he pointed out those distinctive marks by ^vhich they are 
separated. If subsequent authors confounded the two species, and created 
confusion, their errors evidently cannot be owing to any fault of the emi- 
nent Swedish traveller. 

The first specmiens of the Northern Hare that appeared in Europe, 
were sent by the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company to England, in 
1771, (see Phil. Trans., vol. Ixii., p. 13.) There were four specimens in 
the collection, exhibiting the various gradations of colour. In addition to 
these, a living animal of the same species was received about the same 
time, probably by the same ship. It was brought to the notice of the 
Philosophical Society, in a letter from the Hon. Daines Barrington, read 
16th January, 1772. This letter is interesting, since it gives us some idea 


of the state of natural science in England, at that earlj"^ day. The ani- 
mal had for some time remained alive, but had died in the previous No- 
vember. It had at that time already changed its summer colour, and 
become nearly white. It was boiled, in order to ascertain whether it was 
a hare or a rabbit, as according to Ray, if the flesh was brown it was a 
hare, if white a rabbit. It proved to be brown, and was declared to be 
a hare. The test was strange enough, but the conclusion was correct. 
In May, of the same year, J. R. Forster, Esq., F. R. S., described this, 
among twenty quadrupeds, that had been sent from Hudson's Bay. After 
giving an account of the manner in which it was captured by snares made 
of brass wire and pack thi-ead, he designates its size as "bigger than the 
rabbit, but less than the Alpine hare." In this he was quite correct. 
He then goes on to show that its hind-feet are longer in proportion to 
the body than those of the rabbit, and common hare, &c. He finally 
speaks of its habits, and here his first error occurs. Kalm's accounts 
of two different species were supposed by him to refer to one species only, 
and whilst the Northern Hare was described — some of the habits of the 
American gray rabbit were incorrectly referred to it. 

As, however, Forster gave it no specific name, and liis description on 
the whole was but a loose one, it was left to another naturalist to give 
it a scientific appellation. 

In 1777, Erxleben gave the first scientific description of it, and named it 
Lepus Americanus. Schreber, (as we are prepared to show in our article 
on Lepus sylvaticus,) published an account of it immediately after^vards, 
under the name of Lepus nanus. 

This description, as may easily be seen, was principally taken from 
Forster. Schcepff about the same period, and Pallas in 1778, under the 
name of L. Hudsonicus, and Pennant in 1780, imder that of American hare, 
followed each other in quick succession. 

In Gmelin's Linn^us, (1788,) it is very imperfectly described in one 
single line. All these authors copied the error of Forster in giving to the 
Northern Hare the habits of the American gray rabbit. 

In the work of Desmarest, (Mammalogie, ou description des especes de 
Mammiferes, p. 351, Paris, 1820,) a description is given of "Esp. Lievre 
d' Amerique, Lepus Americanus." This however, instead of being a de- 
scription of the true L. Americanus of all previous authors, is in most par- 
ticulars a pretty good description of our gray rabbit. Harlan, who pub- 
lished his Fauna in 1825, translated and published this description very 
literally, even to its faults, (see Fauna Americana, p. 196.) Having thus 
erroneously disposed of the gray rabbit, under the name of L. America- 
nus, the true Lepus Americanus was named by him L. Virginianus ! The 


following year, Dr. Godman gave a description of the Norttern Hare, re- 
ferring it to the Lepus variabilis of Europe ! 

After Dr. Richardson's return from his perilous journey through the 
Polar regions, he prepared in England his valuable Fauna Boreali Ameri- 
cana, which was published in 1829. Specimens labelled jL. AmencawMS 
of Eexleben, were still in the British Museum, and he published descrip- 
tions of his own specimens, under that name. The gray rabbit did not 
come within the range of his investigations, but having received a hun- 
ter's skin, from the vicinity of the Columbia river, he supposed it to be 
the L. Virginianus of Haklan, and described it under that name. This 
skin, however, has since proved to belong to a different species ; the 
Northern Hare not being found in the regions bordering that river. 

In 18.37, having several new species of Hare to describe, we began to 
look into this subject, and endeavoured to correct the errors in regard to 
the species, that had crept into the works of various authors. 

We had not seen Erxleben's work, and supposing that the species were 
correctly designated, we published our views of the habits, &c., of the 
two species, (whose identitj' and proper cognomen we haA'e, we hope, 
just established,) under the old names of L. Virginianus and L. Ameri- 
canus, (see Jour, of Acad, of Nat. Sciences of Phila., vol. vii., pi. 2. p. 
282.) The article had scarcely been printed, before we obtained a copy 
of Erxleben, and we immediately perceived and corrected the errors that 
had been committed, giving the Northern Hare its correct name, L. Anteri- 
canus, and bestowing on the gray rabbit, which, through the mistakes 
w^e have already described, had been left without any name, that of 
Lepus sylvaticus, (Jour. Acad. Nat. Sciences of Phil., vol. vii., p. 403.) 
The reasons for this arrangement were given in our remarks on the 
genus Lepus, in a subsequent paper, (Jour. Acad. Sc, vol. viii., pi. 1, 
p. 75,) where we characterized a number of additional new species. In 
1842, Dr. Dekay, (see Nat. Hist, of New York, p. 95,) acceding to this ar- 
rangement of the Northern Hare, under the specific name of L. Americanus, 
remarks, " This Hare was first vaguely indicated by Erxleben in 1777." 
In a spirit of great fairness, however, that author's original description 
was published at the foot of the article. 

In order to set this matter at rest, remove this species from the false 
position in which it has so long stood, and give its first describer the 
credit to which he is entitled, we will here insert the description above 
alluded to. 

" Lepus Americanus, L. cauda abbreviata ; pedibus posticis corpore 
dimidio longioribus ; auricularum caudoque apicibus griseis. 

" Die Hasen — Kalm, Hudson's Bay Quadi-up., Barrington, Phil. Trans. 


vol. Ixii., p. 376. Magnitudine medius inter L. cuniculum et timidum Al- 
pinum, (sc. L. timidus, Foester, Phil. Trans, vol. Ixii., p. 375.) Auricu- 
lanum et caudae apices perpetuo grisei — Pedes postici longiores quam 
in L. timido et cuniculo, color griseo-fuscus ; Hieme in frigidioribus 

" Habitat in America boreali ad fretum Iludsoni copiosissimus, noctur- 
nus. Non foedit, degit sub arborum radicibus, inque cavis arboribus. 
Parit bis vel semel in anno ; pullos quinque ad septem ; caro bona, colore 
L. tiraidi." 

In great deference, we would submit whether the above is not more 
than a " vague indication " of a species. To us it appears a tolerably full 
description for the era in which the author lived, and considering the 
few species of Hare then known. 

There were at that early period but three Hares with which natural- 
ists were familiar: — L. timidus, the common European Hare ; L. variabilis, 
the variable Hare ; and L. cuniculus, the European burrowing rabbit. With 
these, Ersleben compares this species in size and colour. With the excep- 
tion of one of the habits he mentions, this description appears to us cre- 
ditable to him. There have been many occasions, when, perplexed in guess- 
ing at the species intended to be described by old authors, (the Father of na- 
tural history, Linn^us himself, not excepted,) we would have hailed a de- 
scription like this, as a light in darkness. The species Erxleben had in view 
cannot be mistaken ; he describes it very correctly as " magnitudine medius 
inter L. cuniculum et limidum Alpinum." Our American gray rabbit, in- 
stead of being intermediate between L. cuniculus and the Alpine hare, is 
smaller than either. " Pedes postici longiores quam in L. timido et cuni- 
culo." The long hind-feet are distinctive marks of the Northern Hare ; 
but those of our gray rabbit are much shorter than those of L. timidus, or 
common hare of Europe. " Hieme in frigidioribus albus." Our gray rab- 
bit, contrary to the assertion of most authors, does not become white in 
winter in any latitude. " Habitat in America boreali ad fretum Hudsoni 
copiosissimus." Dr. Richardson, and every Northern traveller with whom 
we have conversed, have assured us, that our gray rabbit does not exist at 
Hudson's Bay, where the Northern Hare is quite abundant, and where 
that, and the Polar hare, (the last named species existing still further 
North,) are the only species to be found. We have examined and com- 
pared the original specimen described by Dr. Richardson, and also those in 
the British Museum that have successively replaced the specimens first 
sent to England, and find that they all belong to this species. In fact 
our gray rabbit is very little known in England or Scotland ; since, after 
an examination of all the principal Museums in those countries, we met 



with but two specimens, one of which was not named, and the other was 
not improperly labelled, " Lepus Americanus Harlan, non Erxleben." 
The rigid rule of priority will always preserve for the Northern Hare 
the name of L. Americanus, ■whilst L. nanus, L. Httclsonicus, and L. Vir- 
ginianus, must be set down merely as synonymes. 


GENUS FIBER.— Ilugee. 


Incisive t^; Molar 5^ =16. 

Lower incisors, sharp-pointed, and convex in front ; molars, with flat 
crowns, furnished with scaly transverse zig-zag laminae. Fore-feet with 
four toes and the rudiment of a thumb ; hind-feet, with five toes, the 
edges furnished with stiff hairs, which assist the animal in swimming, in- 
stead of the feet being palmated or webbed ; hind-toes, slightly palmated. 
Tail, long, compressed, granular, nearly naked, having but a few scattered 
hairs. Glands, near the origin of the tail, which secrete a white, musky, 
and somewhat offensive fluid. Mammse six, abdominal. 

This genus differs from the Arvicol^ in its dentition ; the first inferior 
molar, has one point more than the corresponding tooth in the latter, and 
all the molars acquire roots immediately after the animal becomes an 
adult. We have frequently heard complaints made by students of natu- 
ral history, of the difficulties the}" had to encounter at the very outset, 
from the want of accuracy and uniformity in the works of authors, when 
stating the characters by which they defined the genera they established. 
The justness of these complaints may be well illustrated by examining the 
accounts of the present genus as given by several well-known WTiters. 

Illiger says it has four molars on each side, (Utrinqui quatemi,) 
see Prodromus systematis mammaliarum et avum, making in aU twenty 
teeth. WiEGMAN and Rhthe, have given the same dental arrangement, 
see Handbuch der Zoologie, Berlin, 1832. F. Guvier, who has been fol- 
lowed by most authors, has given it — Incisive f ; Canine |:::|, ^ sixteen 
teeth. Griffith, Animal Kingdom, vol. iii., p. 106, describes it as having — 
Incisive | ; Canine |:::t ^ twenty teeth ; and in his sjTiopsis of the spe- 
cies of mammalia, (sp. 532,) its dental arrangement is thus characterized — 
Incisive |, Canine l^\. Cheek-teeth, f^§, giving to it the extravagant 
number of twenty-eight teeth. This last statement is most probably 
only a typographical error. A correct examination and description of 
the teeth of this genus requires a considerable degree of labour, besides 
great attention and care, as they are placed so close to each other that 
without a good magnifying glass it is difficult to find the lines of separa- 

108 MUSK-RAT, 

tion, and almost impossible to ascertain their number, without extracting 
them one by one. 

The descriptions and figures of their dental arrangement, by Baron 
CuviER, and F. Cuvier are correct : see Ondatras, dents des mammiferes, 
pi. 53, p. 157, and Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles, t. 5, p. 1. 

Illiger's generic name. Fiber, is derived from the Latin word. Fiber, a 
beaver. There is only one species described as belonging to this genus. 


Musk-Rat. — MusauASH. 

PLATE XIII. — Old, akd Young. — Natural size. 

F. supra, rufo-fuscus ; subtus cinereus ; Leporem sylvaticum magni- 
tudine sub aequans. 


General colour, reddish-broum above, cinereous beneath ; about the size of 
ilte American gray rabbit. 


MnssASCDs, Smith's Virginia, 1626. (Pinkerton's Collection of Voyages and Travels, 

vol. xiii., p. 31.) 
Rat Mns<jUE, Sagard Theodat, Canada, p. 771. 
Castor Zibethichs, Linn. Syst. Nat., xii. ed., vol. 1, p. 79. 
L'Ondatba, Baffon, Tom 10, p. 1. 
Mi'SKBAT, Lawson, Carolina, p. 120. 
Musk Beaver, Peimant, Arc. Zoo]., vol. i., p. 106. 
Musquash, Hearne, Journey, p. 379. 
Mu» ZiBETHicus, Linn., Gmel., vol. i.,p. 135. 
Fiber Zibethicus, Sabine, Franklin's Journey, p. 65^. 
Musk Rat, Godman's Nat. Hist., p. 58. 
Okdatera, Huron Indians. 
Musquash, Watsuss, or Wacbusk ; the animal that sits on the ice in a round form. 

Cree Indians, (Richardson.) 


Body, of a nearly cylindrical shape, resembling that of the Norway 
rat. Head, short ; neck, very short, and indistinct ; legs, short ; thighs, 

MUSK-RAT. 109 

hid in the bod)'. Tail, two-thirds the length of the body, compressed, 
convex on the sides, thickest in the middle, tapering to an acute point 
at the extremity ; covered with small scales, which are visible through 
the thinly scattered hairs. Incisors, large ; upper ones, a little rounded 
anteriorly ^vithout grooves, truncated on the cutting edge ; lower ones, 
a little the longest ; nose, thick, and obtuse ; whiskers, moderate in 
length, seldom reaching beyond the ear ; ej'es, small, and lateral, nearly 
concealed in the fur ; ears, short, oblong, covered with hair, and hidden 
by the fur. 

On the fore-legs, the wrist and fingers only are visible beyond the 
body, they are covered with a short shining coat of hair. 

The thumb has a conspicuous palm, and is armed with a nail, as 
long as the adjoining finger nails. Hind-legs, as short as the fore-legs, 
so that the body Avhen the animal is walking touches the ground. 

The hind-feet are turned obliquely inwards, and at first sight remind us 
of the foot of a duck. The two middle toes may be called semi-palm- 
ated, and there is also a short web between the third and fourth toes. 
The margins of the soles, and toes, are furnished with an even row of 
rigid hairs, curving inwards ; under-surface of feet, naked ; claws, coni- 
cal, and slightly arched. 

The whole body is clothed with a short, downy, fur, intermixed with 
longer and coarser hairs. In many particulars the skin resembles that of 
the beaver, although the fur is far less compact downy and lustrous. 

Fur, on the npper parts a third longer than beneath ; from the roots 
to near the extremities, blueish-gray, or lead-colour, tipped with brown ; 
on the under surface it is a little lighter in colour, and the hairs are 
tipped with brownish-gray. This species, when viewed from above, ap- 
pears of a general dark-bro'wn colour, with a reddish tint visible on the 
neck, sides, and legs ; chin, throat, and under-surface, grayish-ash ; taU, 
dark-brown. Incisors, yellow ; nails, white. The colour of this animal, 
so much resembles that of the muddy banks on which it is frequently 
seated, that we have often, when looking at one from a little distance, 
mistaken it for a limip or clod of earth, until it moved. 


Length of head and body 

of tail . 
From heel to longest nail . 
Height of ear 









110 MUSK-RAT. 

Reader ! if you are a native of, or have sojourned in any portion, almost, 
of our continent, and have interested yourself in observing the " beasts of 
the field " in our woods or along our streams, to the slightest degree, you 
have probably often seen the Musk-Rat — or should you have been confined 
to the busy marts of commerce, in our large cities ; j'ou may even there 
have seen his skin, and thought it a beautiful fur. It is, in fact, when 
the animal is killed in good season, superior to very many other 
materials for making beaver (?) hats, as well as for other purposes, and 
thousands of Musk-Rat skins are annually used in the United States, 
while still greater numbers are shipped to Europe, principally to Great 

This species is nocturnal, and consequently its manners and customs 
cannot be correctly ascertained from the occasional glimpses of it, which 
we obtain by day-light, as it may chance to pass rapidly through the 
^\'ater, seeking to conceal itself under the root of some large tree project- 
ing into the deep pool, or as it dives suddenly to the mouth of its hole 
under the shelter of the steep or over-hanging bank of the stream, into 
which it hastily retires, when our appearance has alarmed it. 

We have often, in the northern part of the State of New York, or on the 
Schuylkill, or near Frankford, in Pennsylvania, gone, during the day, to 
look for, and observe these animals, to places where we knew they 
abounded ; but although we might patiently wait for hours, with book in 
hand to beguile the time, we could rarely see one, and should one appear, 
it \vas only for an instant. But at such places, so soon as the last rays of 
the setting sun have ceased to play upon the smooth water, and when 
the last bright sparkling tints he has thrown as a " farewell till to-mor- 
row," upon rock tree and floweret, are succeeded by the deep quiet-gray 
of twilight ; the placid surface of the stream is agitated in every direction, 
and many a living creature emerges from its diurnal retreat, and may be 
observed in full activity above or beneath the water, and first to 
appear is the Musk-Rat — which may perchance dart out from un- 
derneath the very old stump, on which we have been so patiently 
seated! We are perhaps startled by an unexpected noise and plash 
— and two seconds after, up comes the head of the animal to the 
surface, at least five yards ofi"— and, if we happen not to be observed, 
we may look on, and see him swimming merrily with his compa- 
nions, or seeking his " breakfast," for his day has just begun ! 

When we were about seventeen years of age, we resided on our 


farm, " Mill-Grove," situated at the confluence of the Schuylkill river 
and the Perkioming creek. 

On the latter, above a mill-dam which then existed, there was an is- 
land, divided from the shore on the southerlj' side by a small channel not 
more than twenty-five or thirty feet in width, in which we had occa- 
sionally observed Musk- Rats swimming. Having a friend at our house 
for a few weeks, we one evening persuaded him to accompany us to this 
spot, with the view of procuring a few of these animals. Accordingly, 
after due preparation, we made our way toward the creek. We ap- 
proached the bank quietly, and seated ourselves on some moss-covered 
stones, without disturbing the silence of the night ; the only interruption 
to which was the gentle ripple of the pure stream, which, united with 
the broader Schuylkill, still flows onward, and conveys to the now great 
city of Philadelphia, that inestimable treasure, pure water. Here then, we 
waited, long and patiently — so long, that our companion became restless, 
said that he would like to smoke a cigar, and accordingly lighted a 
" fragrant Havana." We remained watching, but saw no Musk-Rats 
that evening, as these cunning animals no doubt observed the light 
at the end of my friend's cigar. We have since that time known many a 
sportsman lose a shot at a fine buck, by indulging in this relaxation, while 
at a " stand" as it is generally termed. To return to our Musk-Rats, we 
went home disappointed, but on the next evening proceeded to the same 
spot, and in less than an hour shot three, w-hich we secured. Next day 
we made a drawing of one of them, which was afterwards lost. We 
have now in our possession only two drawings of quadrupeds made by us 
at this early period ; one of which represents the American otter, and 
the other a mink. They were drawn with coloured chalks and crayons, 
and both are now quite rubbed and soiled, like ourselves having suffered 
somewhat from the hand of time, and the jostling we have encountered. 

We have sometimes, when examining or describing one of our well- 
known animals, allowed ourselves to fall into a train of thought as we 
turned over the pages of some early writer, which carried us back to the 
period of the discovery of our country, or still earlier explorations of 
wild and unknown regions. We have endeavoured to picture to our- 
selves, the curiosity eagerly indulged, the gratified hopes, and the various 
other feelings, that must have filled the minds of the adventurous voyagers 
that first landed on America's forest-margined coast. What were their 
impressions, on seeing the strange objects that met their eyes in all 
directions ? what thought they of the inhabitants they met with ? and 
what were their ideas on seeing birds and quadrupeds hitherto unheard 
of and unknovm ? The most indifferent or phlegmatic temperament 

112 MUSK-RAT. 

must have been aroused, and the traveller, whatever his profession — 
whether soldier, sailor, trader, or adventurer — at such times, doubtless, 
would pause for awhile, conceal himself, and noiselessly observe the 
strange movements of the wonderful creature he has just for the first 
time seen — for all the Creator's works are wonderful — and it is only be- 
cause we behold many of them continually, that we finally cease to 
marvel at the conformation of the most common domesticated species. 

Something in this way were our reflections directed, while turning 
over the pages of Captain John Smith, whose life was preserved by 
the fair and heroic Pocahontas. This gallant soldier was, as well as 
we can learn, the first person who gave any account of the Musk-Rat. 
His " General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles," 
was published in London, in 1624, folio ; he styles himself, " sometime 
Governor in those Countries, and Admiral of New-England."' 

Smith, in this account of Virginia, &c., says of this animal — " A Mus- 
sascus is a beast of the form and nature of our water-rat, but many of 
them smell exceedingly strong of musk." 

La Hontan, in a letter dated Boucherville, May, 1687, (see Trav. in 
Canada.) says — " In the same place we killed some Musk-Rats, or a sort of 
animals which resemble a rat in their shape, and are as big as a rabbit. 
The skins of these rats are very much valued, as differing but little from 
those of beavers." He goes on to describe the manner in which the " strong 
and sweet smell " of musk is produced ; in which he so much betrays his 
ignorance of natural history, that we vwll not expose the ^-ulgar error by 
repeating it here. But if one Frenchman of the 17th century, committed 
some errors, in relating the habits of this species, another, early in the 
18th, (1725,) made ample amends, by giving us a scientific description of 
its form, internal structure, and habits, that would do credit to the most 
careful investigator of the present day. This accomplished naturalist, 
w^as Mons. Sarrasin, King's Phj^sician at Quebec, and correspondent of 
the French Academy ; in honour of whom LinnjEhs named the genus 
Sarrasenia. He dissected a number of Musk-Rats, described the animal, 
gave an account of the " follicles which contain the perfume," and noted 
its habits. 

To this intelligent physician, Buffon was principally indebted for the 
information which enabled him to draw up his article on the Canadian 

In 1789, Kalm, (Beschreibung derReise nach dem Noerdlichen Ame- 
rica,) gives a very correct account of the characteristics and habits of 
this species. 
Musk-Rats are lively playful animals when in their proper element. 

MUSK-RAT. 113 

tlie water, and many of them may be occasionally seen disporting on a 
calm night in some mill-pond, or deep sequestered pool, crossing and re- 
crossing in every direction, leaving long ripples in the water behind them, 
whilst others stand for a few moments on little knolls or tufts of grass, or 
on stones or logs, on which they can get footing above the water, or on 
the banks of the pond, and then plunge one after another into the water ; 
at times, one is seen lying perfectly still on the surface of the pond or 
stream, with its body widely spread out, and as fiat as it can be. Sud- 
denly it gives the water a smart flap with its tail, somewhat in the man- 
ner of the beaver, and disappears beneath the surface instantaneously — 
going down head foremost — and reminding one of the quickness and ease 
with which some species of ducks and grebes dive when shot at. At the 
distance of ten or twenty yards, the Musk-Rat comes to the surface again, 
and perhaps, joins its companions in their sports ; at the same time, others 
are feeding on the grassy banks, dragging off the roots of various kinds of 
plants, or digging underneath the edge of the bank. These animals thus 
seem to form a little community of social playful creatui'es, who only re- 
quire to be unmolested in order to be happy. Should you fire off a fowl- 
ing-piece, whilst the Musk-Rats are thus occupied, a terrible fright and 
dispersion ensues — dozens dive at the flash of the gun, or disappear in 
their holes ; and although in the day-time, when they see imperfectly, they 
may be shot whilst swimming, it is exceedingly difficult to kill one at 
night. In order to insure success, the gunner must be concealed, so that 
the animal cannot see the flash when he fires, even with a percussion lock. 

The burrows, and houses of this species, are not constructed on such ad- 
mirable architectural principles as those of the beaver, but are, neverthe- 
less, curious, and well-adapted for the residence of the animal. Having 
enjoyed opportunities of examining them in several portions of the North- 
ern States, and having been present when hundreds of Musk-Rats were 
taken, either by digging them out, or catching them in traps, we 
will endeavour to describe their nests, and the manner in which 
the hunters generally proceed in order to procure the animals that 
are in them. 

In different localities, the Musk-Rat has very opposite modes of 
constructing its ^vinte^ domicil. Where there are overhanging clayey 
or loamy banks along the stream or pond, they form a winter retreat 
in the side of the bank, with openings under the water, and their gal- 
leries run sometimes to the distance of fifteen or twenty yards from 
the shore, inclining upward, so as to be above the influence of the 
high waters, on the breaking up of the ice in spring, or during freshets. 
There are usually three or four entrances from under the water, which 


114 MUSK-RAT. 

all, however, unite at a point, some distance from the water, and suf- 
ficiently high to be secure from inundation, where there is a pretty large 
excavation. In tliis "central hall" we have seen nests that would fill a 
bushel basket. They were composed of decaj'ed plants and grasses, prin- 
cipally sedge, (Carex,) the leaves of the arrow-head, (Sagittaria,) and the 
pond-lily, (Ni/mpkcBa.) They always contained several dried sticks, some 
of them more than a foot in length ; these were sometimes arranged along 
the sides, but more frequently on the top of the nests. From these nests, 
there are several galleries extending still farther from the shore ; into the 
latter the animals retreat, when, after having been prevented from re- 
turning to the water, by stopping the entrances, they are disturbed in 
their chamfier. Sometimes we have found their suljterranean strong- 
holds leading into others by transverse galleries. These were never so 
far beneath the surface, as those of the fox, marmot, or skunk. On pass- 
ing near the burrows of the JMusk-Rat, there is always sufficient evidence 
of their existence in the vicinity ; the excrement of the animal, re- 
sembling that of the Norway rat, being deposited around, and paths that 
they have made through the rushes and aquatic plants, that grow in thick 
profusion in the immetliate neighbom-hood, being easily traced ; but it is 
not so easy to discover the entrances. The latter, are always under the 
water, and usually where it is deepest near the shore. Wlien the Musk- 
Rat is about to retire to its hole, it swuns to within a few feet of the 
shore, and then dives suddenly and enters it. If you are standing on the 
banlf directly above the mouth of the hole, the rumbling noise imder your 
feet, if you listen attentively, vnW inform you that it has entered its bur- 
row. It seldom, however, immediatelj' retreats far into its hole, but has 
small excavations and resting-places on the dry ground a little beyond the 
reach of the w.ater. 

There are, occasionally, very dilTereutly constructed nests of the Musk- 
Rat ; we have seen some of them, in the town of Clinton, Dutchess coun- 
ty, and along the margins of swamps in the vicinity of Lake Champlain, 
in the State of New York : and others, in several localities in Canada. 
A pond supplied chieflj-, if not entirely, by springs, and surrounded by low 
and marshy ground, is preferred by the Musk-Rats ; they seem to be aware 
that the spring- water it contains, probably ^vill not be solidly frozen, and 
there they prepare to pass the winter. Such a place, as you may well 
imagine, cannot without great ilifficulty be approached, until its boggy 
and treacherous foundation has been congealed Iiy the hard frosts and the 
water is frozen over ; before this time, the Musk-Rats collect coarse 
grasses and mud, with which, together with sticks, twigs, leaves, and any 
thing in the vicinity that will serve their purpose, they raise their little 

MUSK-RAT. 115 

houses from two to four feet above the water ; the entrance being always 
from below. We have frequently opened these nests, and found in the 
centre a dry comfortable bed of grass, sufficiently large to accommodate 
several of them. When the ponds arc frozen over, and a slight fall of 
snow covers the ground, these eiUfices resemble small hay-cocks. There 
is another peculiarity that, it appears to us, imlicates a greater degree of 
iuteUigence in the Musk-Rat than we arc usually disposed to award to it. 
The animal seems to know that the ice will cover the pond in winter, and 
that if it has no places to which it can resort to breathe, it will be suffo- 
cated. Hence you here and there see what are called breathing places. 
These are covered over with mud on the sides, -with some loose grass in 
the centre to preserve them from being too easily frozen over. We have 
occasionally seen these winter-huts of the Musk-Rat, in the vicinity of 
their snug siunmer retreats in some neighbom-ing river's bank, and have 
sometimes been half inclined to suppose, that for some cause or other, 
they gave a preference to this Idnd of residence. We are not, however, 
aware, that these nests are made use of by the Musk-Rat in spring, for 
the purpose of rearing its j'oung. We believe these animals always for 
that purpose resort to holes in the sides of ponds, sluggish streams, 
or dykes. 

In.such situations we have frequently observed the j^oung, which when 
they first make their appearance, arc seen emerging from a side gallery 
leading to the surface, so that they arc not of necessity obliged to " take 
a dive " until they have had a little acquaintance with the liquid ele- 
ment. They are at this time very gentle, and M'e have on several occa- 
sions taken them up -with the hand, without their making any violent 
struggles to escape, or attempts to punish us with their teeth. 

The fur of this species was formerly a valuable article of commerce, and 
is still in some demand. Rut since so many new inventions are supply- 
ing the public with cheap hats, and the Nutria skin has been extensively 
introduced from South America, the Musk-Rat is less sought after, and in 
some of our most thickly populated districts has gi'eatly increased in 
numbers. The country-people, however, continue to destroy it, to pre- 
vent its becoming so numerous as to cause loss, by making holes in the 
mill-dams, embankments, or ditches, that happen to be inhabited by it, and 
allowing the water to flow through, when frequently much mischief re- 
sults. The Musk-Rat has little of the cunning of the fox, the beaver, or 
even the common Norway rat, and may be easily taken in almost any kind 
of trap, and although it is very prolific, it might by proper attention be so 
thinned off in a single year as to cease to be a nuisance. A dozen com- 
mon rat-traps carefully and judiciously attended to, would go far toward 

116 MUSK-RAT. 

reducing, if not exterminating, tliese pests, in a small neighbourhood, in 
the course of one or two seasons. The traps should be set in shallow wa- 
ter, near the edge of the stream or pool, or on a log sunk about an inch 
under the water ; with a cord ten or twelve feet long, so as to prevent 
the animals from running away with the traps when they have been 
caught ; one or two slices of parsnips or sweet apples, may be stuck upon 
small twigs, so that they will hang about six inches above the traps. The 
animal, having evidently a good nose, whilst swimming at some little 
distance from the traps when thus set, suddenly turns as it scents the 
bait, swims along the shore toward it, and reaching up to seize it, 
is caught by the foot, and being of course greatly alarmed, jerks the 
trap off the log or pulls it into deep water, where the weight of the 
trap soon drowns it. The Musk-Rat also readily enters, and is easily ta- 
ken in a box-trap, but it ought to be lined with tin or sheet iron, for 
its formidable incisors otherwise enable the animal to make its escape by 
gnawing a hole in the box. We have sometimes seen it taken between 
two boards, in what is called a figure of 4 trap, with a heavy weight on 
the upper board. 

The following mode of hunting the Musk-Rat, frequently affords a con- 
siderable degree of amusement. A party is made up to go ; a spade, an 
axe, and a hoe, are carried along, and a spear, or in lieu of it, a pitch- 
fork ; in addition to these, a hoop-net is sometimes wanted, but what is 
most important, and regarded as a sine qu& non, is a dog accustomed to 
hunting these aquatic animals. The season which promises most suc- 
cess in this way of hunting them is the autumn, before the heavy rains 
have swelled the waters. The party go to some sluggish stream that 
winds through a meadow, or across a flat country, where the banks are 
not so high as to render the " digging" that has to be done, too laborious. 
The little islands, which in such places rise but a few^ feet above the water, 
are sometimes perforated by the Musk-Rats, and their holes and exca- 
vations undermine them in a great degree, so that it is difficult to find and 
stop all the mouths of these galleries, and thereby render success tolerably 
certain. But as these are the very places in which the greatest number 
of these animals are to be found, it is quite important to " invest " them. 
It is necessary to be very cautious in digging dowTi along the banks of 
these islets, in order to reach and stop up the holes, and it usually hap- 
pens that notwithstanding every precaution is taken, the animals find 
some way to escape. No sooner is their ancient domicil disturbed, than 
they issue forth from their holes under the water, to seek some safer re- 
treat along the banks of the main-land ; one after another is seen, alter- 
nately rising and diving, and making for the shore. If it is ascertained 

MUSK-RAT. 117 

that it is not possible to prevent their escape, the hunters resolve to drive 
them ail from the little islet. A hole is dug in the centre of the place, 
and the dog encouraged to go in ; the few remaining Musk-Rats, at this 
last and worst alarm, scamper out of the burrows with all haste, and the 
island is left in possession of the allied forces. All this time, the hunters 
have been sharply looking out, to observe to what spot the greatest num- 
ber of ]Musk-Rats have retired. They have marked the places in front of 
w^hich they were seen to dive, well knowing that the)' are closely con- 
cealed in some of the holes along the bank. The animals have now re- 
treated far up into their burrows, and are not very apt to make for the wa- 
ter. The ground is struck with a stick, in different places, and ^vhere a 
hollovi' sound is heard, the hunters know there is an excavation, and at 
once dig down to it. In this way, several holes are found, and are suc- 
cessively stopped, to prevent the return of the Musk-Rats to the water. 
The digging is then continued till the hunters reach the nest, which be- 
ing laid open, is entered by the dog, in order that the sagacious animal 
may ascertain the gallery into which the Musk-Rats have retired, as a 
last resort. The digging is seldom fatiguing, as the holes run very near 
the surface. A net to catch them, is now placed at the hole, or in lieu of 
it, a man stands with a spear touching the mouth of it, placing his foot im- 
mediately behind the spear. As the Rat attempts to rush out the weapon is 
driven into its neck. Thus, these animals are killed one after another, until 
the whole colony is destroyed ; sometimes they are knocked on the head 
with a club, instead of being speared. In some places, we have seen more 
than a dozen killed in one hole, and we have known upwards of fifty to 
be taken in this manner in a single day. 

When the Musk-Rats have gone to their winter huts among the marsh- 
es, there is another way of procuring them. The party go to the marshes, 
when the ice is sufficiently strong to support a man. They proceed cau- 
tiously to their nests (the manner of building which, we have already de- 
scribed,) where the Rats are snugly ensconced in their warm beds, within 
seven or eight inches of the top. A spear with four prongs, about as long 
as those of a pitch-fork, is used upon the occasion. One of the men strikes 
the spear into the nest, with all the force he is capable of exerting, and 
if he understands his business, and knows where to strike, he is almost 
sure to pin one, if not two or three, of the animals to the earth with one 
blow. Another hunter stands by with an axe to demolish the little mud 
habitation, and aid in securing the Musk-Rats, which have been speared 
by his companion. It often occurs that the water under the ice is shal- 
low, and the ice transparent, in which case the animals may be seen mak- 
ing their way through the A\ater, almost touching the ice, and we have 

118 MUSK-RAT. 

frequently seen them stunned by a blow with the axe on the ice above 
them, (in the manner in which pike and other fish are sometimes killed 
in our rivers, when they are frozen over ;) a hole is then cut in the ice, and 
they are secured without difficulty. The houses of the Musk-Rats, which 
have been broken up by the hunters are soon restored, the repairs com- 
mence the following night, and are usually completed by morning ! 

In regard to the food of the Musk-Rat, our experience induces us to be- 
lieve, that like its congener, the house rat, it is omnivorous. In 1813, we 
obtained two of this species, when very young, for the purpose of domesti- 
cating them, in order that we might study their habits. They became so 
perfectly gentle, that they came at our call, and were frequently carried 
to an artificial fish-pond near the house, and after swimming about for 
an hour or two, they would go into their cage, which was left for them at 
the water's edge. A few years ago, we received from Lee Allison, Esq., 
residing at Aikin, South Carolina, one of this species in a box lined with 
tin. We have thus had opportunities of ascertaining the Idud of food to 
which they gave a preference. We would, however, remark, that the 
food taken by an animal in confinement, is no positive evidence of what 
it Avould prefer vv^hen left to its free choice in the meadows, the brooks, 
and the fields it inhabits in a state of nature. Their food in summer, 
consists chiefly of grasses, roots, and vegetables. We have often watched 
them early in the morning, eating the young grass of the meadows ; they 
seemed very fond, especially of the timothy, (PMetim pratense,) and red- 
top, (Agrostis ;) indeed, the few bunches of clover, and other kinds of grass 
remaining in their vicinity, gave evidence that the Musk-Rats had been 
at work upon them. The injury sustained by the farmer, from these ani- 
mals, however, is by the destruction of his embanlcments and the excava- 
tions through his meadows, made in constructing their galleries, rather 
than from the loss of any quantity of grass or vegetables they may destroy ; 
although their depredations are sometimes carried on to the great injury 
of vegetable gardens. 

An acquaintance who had a garden in the neighbourhood of a meadow 
w^hich contained a large number of Musk-llats, sent one day, to enqmre 
whether we could aid in discovering the robbers who carried ofi" almost 
every night a quantity of turnips. We were surprised to find on examin- 
ing the premises, that the garden had been plundered and nearly ruined by 
these Rats. There were paths extending 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 duck-like tracks 
of the Musk-Rats were seen on the beds in every direction. The paths 

MUSK-RAT. 119 

were strewn with turnip leaves, which either had dropped, or were bitten 
off, to render the transportation more convenient. Their paths after en- 
tering the meadow diverged to several burrows, all of which, gave evi- 
dence that their tenants had been on a foraging expedition on the pre- 
vious 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 squirrel, 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 into halves, the 
lower part of the root having been left in the ground; but what struck us 
as most singular, was that ears of corn (maize) not yet quite ripe, had been 
dragged into the liurrow, with a considerable portion of the stalk attached. 

The corn-stalks then standing in the garden, were so tall, that the ears 
could not be reached by the JMusk-llats, and on examining the beds from 
which they had probably some days previously taken the corn we found 
in the burrow, we ascertained that the stalks had been gnawed off at 
the roots. 

Professor Lee, who resides at Buncomb, North Carolina, lately in- 
formed us, that for several summers past, his fields of Inihan corn, which 
are situated near a stream frequented b}- Musk-Rrits, have been greatly 
injured by their carrjing off whole stalks at a time, every night for some 
weeks together. The aliove, however, are the only instances, that have 
come to our knowledge of their doing any injury to the vegetable garden, 
or to the corn-field, although this maj- proliably be frequently the case, 
where the fields or gardens skirt the banks of vv'ater-courses. 

These animals walk so clumsil}-, that they seem rmwilling to trust them- 
selves anjf distance from tlie margin of the stream or dam on which they 
have taken up their residence. We have supposed, that a considerable 
portion of their food in the Northern States in some localities, was the root 
of the common arrow-bead, (Sugittfii-ifi, sngittifalia,) as we have often ob- 
serv-ed it had been gnawed off, and have fomid bits of it at the mouths of 
their holes. We have, also, seen stems of the common Indian turnip, 
{Armn triphylltmi,) w^hich were cut off, portions of which, near the root, 
appeared to have been eaten. They also feed on the spice wood, (Lau- 
rus benzoin.) Richardson says, " they feed in the Northern districts on 
the roots and tender shoots of the bulrush and reed-mace, and on the 
leaves of various carices and aquatic grasses." Penxant says, " they are 
very fond of the Acorus verus, or Calamus aromaticus ; " and Kalm speaks 
of apples being placed in traps, as a bait for them. Nearly all our ■vrnters 
on natural history, are correct in saying, that fresh water mussels com- 
pose a portion of their food. Sometimes several bushels of shells may be 

120 MUSK-RAT. 

found in a small space near their nests. Our young friend, Spencer F. 
Baird, Esq., assures us that in the neighbourhood of Carlisle, Pennsylva- 
nia, on the Conodoguinet creek, he has often observed large quantities of 
shells, most of which were so adroitly opened by these animals, as not to 
be at all broken, and would have made very good specimens for the con- 
chologist. He has seen the Musk-Rat eating a mussel occasionally on a 
log in the water, holding the shell between its fore-paws, as a squirrel 
holds a nut. 

We once placed a quantity of mussels in a cage, to feed some Mu^k- 
Rats we had domesticated in the North ; they carried them one by one, 
into an inner compartment, where they were hidden from view. Here we 
heard them gnawing at the shells ; we then removed a slide in the cage, 
which enabled us to see them at work ; they were seated, sometimes, up- 
right like a squirrel, at other times like a rat, with the shell-fish lying on 
the floor, holding on to it by their fore-paws, and breaking it open with 
their lower incisors. In Carolina, we obtained for the same purpose, al- 
though for a different family of Musk-Rats, a quantity of mussels of the 
species Vnio ang-ustatus and Anodon cataracta; some of these were too 
hard to be immediately opened by the animals with their^ teeth. They 
were carried by the Musk-Rats, as usual, into a separate and darkened 
portion of the cage. We heard an occasional gnawing, but three days 
afterwards, many of the harder species of shell still remained unopened. 
We did not again examine the cage, till after the expiration of ten days, 
when the shells were all empty. They had probably opened in conse- 
quence of the death of the animal within, when their contents were eaten 
by the Rats. Oysters were placed in the cage, which on account of their 
saltness, we believed would not be relished ; but a week afterwards the 
shells only were left. We procured a pint of a small species of imported 
snail, (Bulimus decollatus, Gmel., mutilatus. Say,) that has become very de- 
structive in many of the gardens of Charleston, and the Musk-Rats im- 
mediately began to crush them with their teeth, and in a few days no- 
thing but the broken shells remained. We have, therefore, come to the 
conclusion, that whilst vegetables are the general food of this species, va- 
rious kinds of shell-fish, form no inconsiderable portion of it. Our Musk- 
Rats refused fish, but were like most animals in confinement, fond of bread. 
They were generally fed on sweet potatoes, parsnips, cabbage, and ce- 
lery ; the sweet flag, {Acorus calamus,) they rejected altogether. 

Although the Musk-Rat walks awkwardly, and proceeds so slowly 
that it can scarcely be said to run, it swims and dives well. We regard 
it as a better swimmer than the mink, and from its promptness in diving, 
at the flash of the gun, it frequently escapes from its pursuers. It maj% 

MUSK-RAT. 121 

however, be easily drowned. We once observed several of them which had 
been driven from their holes, after struggling under the ice for about fifteen 
minutes rising to the surface ; and on taking them out, by cutting holes in 
the ice, they were found to be quite dead. Richardson speaks of " their 
being subject at uncertain intervals to a great mortality from some un- 
known cause." We have no doubt that in very cold winters, when the 
ice reaches to the bottom of the ponds, and they are confined to their holes 
they devour each other, since we have seen many burrows opened in 
autumn, and except in the instances we have already mentioned, we 
found no provision laid up for winter use. When a Musk-Rat has been 
caught by one foot in a trap set on the land, it is frequently found, torn 
to pieces and partially devoured ; and from the tracks around, one might 
be induced to believe, that, as is the case with porpoises, and many other 
animals, when one is wounded and cannot escape, its companions turn 
upon and devour it. When one is shot, and dies in the water, it is 
very soon carried off by the living ones, if there are any in the vicinity 
at the time, and is dragged into one of their holes or nests. We 
have frequently found carcasses of these animals thus concealed, but in 
these cases the flesh had not been devoured. This singular habit reminds 
us of the Indians, who always carry their dead off the field of battle when 
they can, and endeavour to prevent their bodies falling into the hands of 

their enemies. 

After a severe winter on a sudden rise in the water before the break- 
ing up of the ice, hundreds of Musk-Rats are drowned in their holes, 
especially where there are no high shelving banks to enable them 
to extend their galleries beyond the reach of the rising waters. 
During these occasional freshets in early spring, the Musk-Rats that 
escape drowning, are driven from their holes, and swim about from 
shore to shore, without shelter and without food, and may be easily 
destroyed. We remember that two hunters with their guns, coursing 
up and down opposite sides of a pond on one of these occasions, made 
such fearful havoc among these animals that for several years afterwards 
we scarcely observed any traces of them in that locality. Many rapa- 
cious birds as well as quadrupeds seize and devour the Musk-Rat. When 
it makes its appearance on land, the fox and the lynx capture it with 
great ease. One of our young friends at Dennisville, in the State of 
Maine, informed us that his greatest difficulty in procuring this species in 
traps, arose from their being eaten after they were caught, by the snowy 
owl and other birds of prey, which would frequently sit and watch the 
traps, as it were keeping guard over them, until the poor Musquash 
was in the toils, on seeing which, they descended, and made a hearty 


122 MUSK-RAT. 

meal at the trapper's expense, taking good care meanwhile not to expose 
themselves to his vengeance, by keeping a sharp look out for him in every 
direction. Our friend, however, got the better of these wary thieves by 
occasionally baiting his traps with meat instead of apples or vegetables, 
by which means he often caught an owl or a hawk, instead of a Musk- 
Rat. Although this species, has such a long list of enemies, it is so pro- 
lific, that like the common rat, (Mus decumanus,) it continues to increase 
and multiply in many parts of the country, notwithstanding their activity 
and voracity. 

The Musk-Rat has occasionally been kno-«Ti to leave its haunts along 
the streams and ponds, and is sometimes found travelling on elevated 
grounds. We were informed by our friend Mr. Baird, that one was caught 
in a house near Reading, in Pennsylvania, three-quarters of a mile from 
the water; and the late Dr. Wright of Troy, once discovered one making 
its way through the snow, on the top of a hill, near that city. 

The number of young produced at a litter, varies from three to six. 
Richardson states that they sometimes have seven, which is by no means 
improbable. They usually have three litters in a season. 

Although the Musk-Rat does not seem to possess any extraordinary 
instincts by which to avoid or baffle its pursuers, we were witnesses 
of its sensibility of approaching danger arising from a natural cause, 
manifested in a way we think deserving of being recorded. It is a 
w^ell-knovi'n fact, that many species of quadrupeds and birds, are endowed 
by Nature with the faculty of foreseeing or foreknoT\dng, the changes of 
the seasons, and have premonitions of the coming storm. The swallow 
commences its long aerial voyage even in summer, in anticipation of 
the cold. The sea-birds, become excessively restless, some seek the 
protection of the land, and others, like the loon, {Colymhus glaciali.i,) 
make the shores re-echo ■with their hoarse and clamorous screams, pre- 
vious to excessively cold Aveather ; the swine also, are seen carry- 
ing straw in their mouths, and enlarging their beds. After an unusual 
drought, succeeded by a warm Indian-summer, as we were one day 
passing near a mill-pond, inhabited by some families of Musk-Rats, we 
observed numbers of them swimming about in every direction, carry- 
ing mouthfuls of withered grasses, and building their huts higher on 
the land than any we had seen before. We had scarcely ever ob- 
served them in this locality in the middle of the day, and then onlj' 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 suc- 
cessive reports of several guns fired by some hunters, only produced a 
pause in their operations for five or ten minutes. Although the day was 

MUSK-RAT. 123 

bright and fair, on that very night there fell torrents of rain succeeded by 
an unusual freshet, and intensely cold weather. 

This species has a strong musky smell ; to us this has never appeared 
particularly offensive. It is infinitely less unpleasant than that of the 
skunk, and we are less annoyed by it than by the smell of the mink, or 
even the red fox. We have, however, observed in passing some of the 
haunts of this Rat, at particular periods during summer, that the whole 
locality was strongly pervaded by this odour. 

It is said, notwithstanding this peculiarity, that the Musk-Rat is not an 
unpalatable article of food, the musky smell not being perceptible when 
the animal has been properly prepared and cooked ; we have, indeed, heard 
it stated that Musk-Rat suppers are not unfrequent among a certain class 
of inhabitants on the Eastern shore of Maryland, and that some persons 
prefer them, when well dressed, to a wild duck. Like the flesh of the bear 
and some other quadrupeds, their meat somewhat resembles fresh pork, 
and is too rich to be eaten with much relish for any length of time. 

By what we may almost look at as a merciful interposition of Providence, 
the Musk-Rat is not found on the rice plantations of Carolina; it approach- 
es within a few miles of them, and then ceases to be found. If it existed 
in the banks and dykes of the rice fields, it would be a terrible annoyance 
to the planter, and possibly destroy the reservoirs on which his crops 
depend. Although it reaches much farther South, and even extends to 
Louisiana, it is never found on the alluvial lands within seventy miles of 
the sea either in Carolina or Georgia. 

The skins of the Musk-Rat are no longer in such high repute, as they 
enjoyed thirty-five years ago, and they are now, only worth from six and 
a quarter to twenty-five cents each. 

Dr. Richardson states, (in 1824,) that between four and five thousand 
skins were annually imported into Great Britain from North America. 


The Musk-Rat is found as far North as the mouth of the Mackenzie 
river, in latitude 69°, on the Rocky mountains, on the Columbia river, and 
on the Missouri. With the exception of the alluvial lands in Carolina, 
Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, it abounds in all parts of the United States 
north of latitude 30°. It exists, although not abundantly, in the mountains 
of Georgia, and the higher portions of Alabama. In South Carolina, we 
have obtained it from Aikin, and St. Matthew's parish, on the Congaree 
river, but have never found traces of it nearer the sea than seventy miles 
from Charleston. 

124 MUSK-RAT. 


The Musk-Rat, although the only species in the genns, was moved 
about among several genera, before it found a resting place under its 
present name. Schreber placed it under Mus. Gmelin and F. Cuviee de- 
scribed it as a Lemmus. Linn^us and Erxleben, arranged it with the 
beaver, and referred it to the genus Castor. Lesson, Lacepede and Cu- 
viee, under Ondatra. In 1811, Illiger proposed changing its specific into 
a generic name. As Linn^us had called it Castor Fiber, he then esta- 
blished for it the genus Fiber. 




Hudson's Bay Sciuikeel. — Chickaree. — Red-Sciuikeei. 

PLATE XIV. — Male and Female. — Natural size. 

S. Cauda corpore breviore, auriculis apice sub-barbatis ; corpore supra 
subrufo, subtus albo ; S. migratorii tertia parte minore. 


A third smaller than the Northern Gray-Squirrel, {Sc. migratorius ;) tail 
shorter than the body ; ears, slightly tufted ; colour, reddish above, white be- 


EcuREOiL CoMMiTN, oo Aroopen, Sagard Theodat, Canada, p. 746. 
Common Squirrel, Forster, Phil. Trans., vol. Mi., p. 378, 1772. 
SciuRUa ViTLGARis, var. E. Erxleben, Syst., An. 1777. 
SciuRus HuDsoNicua, Pallas, Glir., p. 377. 
SciOHUS HnosoNicns, Gmel., Linn., ^—^— 1788. 
Hddson's Bay Sqdirrel, Penn. Arctic Zool., vol. i., p. 116. 

" « " " Hist. Quadrupeds, vol. ii., p. 147. 
Common Squirrel, Heames' Journey, p. 385. 
Red Squirrel, Warden's Hist. U. S., vol. i., p. 330. 
Bed Barking Squirrel, Schoolcraft's Journal, p. 273. 
SciuRUs HoDsONicus, Sabine, Franlilin's Journey, p. 663. 

" " " Godman, vol. ii., p. 138. 

" " " Fischer, Mam., p. 349. 
Ecureoil de la Baie d'Hudson, F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. des Mammif^res. 
SciORUS HoDsoNicDS, Bach. Trans. Zool. Soc, London, 1839. 

» " " Dekay, Nat. Hist. New York, 1842. 


On examining the teeth of this species, we do not find the small and 
usually deciduous molar, that exists in all the other species of Sciorus, 
with which we are acquainted ; it is possible, however, that it may be 
found in very young animals. It will be perceived, on referring to the 
dental formula of the genus, (which we have given at p. 38,) that the 


molars are set down as ^—^ or ^=1 ; and we will for the present as- 
sign the former arrangement to this species. Forehead, very slightly 
arched ; nose, somewhat obtuse ; eyes, of ^moderate size ; ears, broad, 
rounded, clothed on both sides with short hairs, not distinctly tufted like 
those of the European Squirrel, {Sc. vulgaris,) although the hairs, when 
the animal has its winter pelage, project beyond the margins, and resem- 
ble tufts ; whiskers, a little longer than the head ; the body presents the 
appearance of lightness and agility ; the tail is somewhat depressed, and 
linear, not as bushy as in most other squirrels, but capable of a distichous 
arrangement ; limbs, robust ; claws, compressed, sharp, slightly hooked ; 
third toe a little the longest ; palms, and under surface of the toes, 
naked ; soles of hind-feet, clothed with hair, except on the tubercles at 
the roots of the toes. 

This species exhibits some shades of difference in colour, and we have 
sometimes, although very rarely, found a specimen that might be regard- 
ed as a variety. General colour, deep reddish-brown on the whole of the 
upper surface ; short fur beneath, plumbeous, mixed with so large a quan- 
tity of longer hairs, that the colour of the fur, does not show^ on the 
surface. These long hairs are dark at the roots, then brown, and are 
slightly tipped with black. In most specimens, there is an orange hue on 
the outer surface of the fore-legs, running up to the shoulder ; this colour 
is also frequently visible on the upper surface of the hind-feet, and be- 
hind the ears. Whiskers, black ; tail, on the upper surface, deep reddish- 
bro^vn ; the hair on the sides may be so arranged, as to present a line of 
black near the outer borders ; on the under side it has two or three annu- 
lations of light-brown and black ; lips, chin, throat, inside of legs, and 
belly, white ; in some specimens the hairs on these parts of the body are 
plumbeous at the roots, and white to the tips, giving it a light, grayish- 
white appearance. There is in a great many specimens a black line, 
running from near the shoulders along the sides to within an inch of the 


Recent specimen. 

Length from nose to root of tail 

Tail (vertebrEe) - - . . . 

Tail to end of hair - . . . . 








The genus Sciurus is illustrated in North America, by a greater variety 
of species than any other among the various genera we shall have the 
pleasure of introducing to our readers : — Permit us to dwell for a mo- 
ment on the subject, and to relate the following anecdote — 

When we began the publication in Great Britain of the " Birds of Ame- 
rica," we were encouraged bj' the approbation of many excellent friends, 
and by the more essential, although less heartfelt favours, bestowed by 
those noblemen and gentlemen, who kindly subscribed to the work, and 
without Avhose aid, it is frankly acknowledged it could never have been 
completed. Among those whom we then had the honour of calling pa- 
trons, ■we found as many varieties of character, as among the beautiful 
feathered inhabitants of our woods, lakes, and sea-shores, themselves ; 
and had Tve time just now to spare, we might undertake to describe 
some of them. We published as the first plate of the first number of 
" The Birds of America," the Wild Turkey Cock, and gave the Turkey 
Hen and Young, as the first plate of the second number. We 
need not stop to enumerate the other species of birds that completed 
those two numbers ; but judge of our surprise, on being told gravely, 
by a certain noble subscriber, that, " as the work was to con- 
sist of Turkeys only, he begged to be allowed to discontinue his 
subscription ! " 

Now, kind reader, we are obliged to follow Nature in the works of in- 
finite wisdom, which we humbly attempt to portray ; and although you 
should find that more Squirrels inhabit our forests than you expected, or 
desired to be figured in this work, '^ve assure you it ^vould give us pleasure 
to discover a new^ species at any time ! We are not, however, wanting 
in a due knowledge of the sympathy and kindness that exist among our 
patrons to^vard us, and we hope you will find this really beautiful genus, 
as interesting as anj- other among the quadrupeds we desire to place be- 
fore you. 

The Chickaree, or Hudson's Baj' Squirrel, is the most common species 
of this numerous genus, around New York and throughout the Eastern 
States. It is a graceful, lively animal, and were you to walk with us 
through the woods in the neighbourhood of our great commercial me- 
tropolis, where boys and sportsmen (?) for years past, have been hunting 
in every direction, and killing all the game left in the vicinity ; where 
w^oodcocks are shot before the first of July, and quails, (Virginian par- 
tridges) when they are half-grown, in defiance of the laws for their pre- 
servation, you would be glad to find the comparative silence, which now 


reigns amid the trees, interrupted by the sprightly querulous cry of the 
Chickaree, and would pause with us to look at him as he runs along the 
rocky surface of the ground, or nimbly ascends some tree ; for in these 
woods, once no doubt, abounding in both beasts and birds, it is now a hard 
task to start anything larger than a robin, or a High-hole, (Picits auratus.) 
The Hudson's Bay Squirrel is fearless, and heedless, to a great degree, of 
the presence of man ; we have had one occasionally pass through our 
yard, sometimes ascending an oak or a chesnut, and proceeding leisurely 
through our small woody lawn. These little animals are generally found 
singly, although it is not uncommon for many to occupy the same piece 
of wood-land, if of any extent. In their quick, graceful motions from 
branch to branch, they almost remind one of a bird, and they are 
always neat and cleanly in their coats, industrious, and well provided 
for the cold of winter. 

In parts of the country, the Chickaree is fond of approaching the far- 
mer's store-houses of grain, or other products of the fields, and occasion- 
ally it ventures even so far as to make a nest for itself in some of his out- 
buildings, and is not dislodged from such snug quarters without undergo- 
ing a good deal of persecution. 

One of these Squirrels made its nest between the beams and the rafters 
of a house of the kind we have just spoken of, and finding the skin of a 
peacock in the loft, appropriated the feathers to compose its nest, and 
although it was destroyed several times, to test the perseverance of the 
animal, it persisted in re-constructing it. The Chickaree, obtained this 
name from its noisy chattering note, and like most other Squirrels, is fond 
of repeating its cries at frequent intervals. Many of the inhabitants of 
our Eastern States refuse to eat Squirrels of any kind, from some preju- 
dice or other ; but we can assure our readers that the flesh of this species, 
and many others, is both tender and well-flavoured, and when nicely broil- 
ed, does not require a hunter's appetite to recommend it. 

The habits of this little Squirrel are, in several particulars, peculiar ; 
whilst the larger Gray Squirrels derive their sustenance from buds and 
nuts, chiefly inhabit warm or temperate climates, and are constitution- 
ally fltted to subsist during winter on a small quantity of food, the Chick- 
aree exhibits the greatest sprightliness and activity amidst the snows 
and frosts of our Northern regions and consequently is obliged, dur- 
ing the winter season, to consume as great a quantity of food as at any 
other. Nature has, therefore, instructed it to make provision in the sea- 
son of abundance for the long winter that is approaching ; and the quan- 
tity of nuts and seeds it often lays up in its store-house, is almost incre- 
dible. On one occasion we were present, when a bushel and a half of 



shell-barks {Carya alba), and chesnuts, were taken from a hollow tree oc- 
cupied by a single pair of these industrious creatures ; although gene- 
rally the quantity of provision laid up by them is considerably less. The 
Chickaree has too much foresight to trust to a single hoard, and it often 
has several, in different localities among the neighbouring trees, or in 
burrows dug deep in the earth. Occasionally these stores are found under 
leaves, beneath logs, or in brush-heaps, at other times they are deposited 
in holes in the ground ; and they are sometimes only temporarily laid 
by, in some convenient situation to be removed at leisure. When, for in- 
stance, nuts are abundant in the autumn, large quantities in the green 
state, covered by their thick envelope, are collected in a heap near the tree 
whence they have fallen ; they are then covered up with leaves, until the 
pericarp, or thick outer covering, either falls off or opens, when the Squir- 
rel is able to carry off the nuts more conveniently. In obtaining shell- 
barks, butter-nuts, {Juglans cinerea) chesnuts, hazel-nuts, &c., this Squir- 
rel adopts the mode of most of the other species. It advances as near to 
the extremity of the branch as it can vnth safety, and gnaws off that 
portion on which the nuts are dependent. This is usually done early in 
the morning, and the noise occasioned by the falling of large bunches of 
of chesnut burrs, or clusters of butter-nuts, hickory, or beech-nuts, thus 
detached from the parent stem, may be heard more than a hundred j'ards 
off. Some of the stems attached to the nuts are ten inches or a foot in 
length. After having thrown down a considerable quantity, the Squir- 
rel descends and drags them into a heap, as stated above. 

Sometimes the hogs find out these stores, and make sad havoc in the 
temporary depot. But Providence has placed much food of a different 
kind within reach of the Red-Squirrel during winter. The cones of 
many of our pines and firs in high northern latitudes, are persistent dur- 
ing winter ; and the Chickaree can be supported by the seeds they con- 
tain, even should his hoards of nuts fail. This little Squirrel seems also 
to accommodate itself to its situation in another respect. In Pennsylva- 
nia, and the southern part of New York, where the winters are com- 
paratively mild, it is very commonly satisfied with a hollow tree as a 
winter residence ; but in the latitude of Saratoga, N. Y., in the northern 
part of Massachusetts, in New Hampshire, Maine, Canada, and farther 
north, it usually seeks for additional protection from the cold, by forming 
deep burrows in the earth. Nothing is more common than to meet with 
five or six Squirrel-holes in the ground, near the roots of some white pine 
or hemlock ; and these retreats can be easily found by the vast heaps of 
scales from the cones of pines and firs, which are in process of time accu- 
mulated around them. This species can both swim and dive. We once 



observed some lads shaking a Red-Squirrel from a sapling that grew on 
the edge of a mill-pond. It fell into the water, and swam to the oppo- 
site shore, performing the operation of swimming moderately well, and re- 
minding us by its movements of the meadow-mouse, when similarly 
occupied. It was " headed" by its untiring persecutors, on the opposite 
shore, where on being pelted with sticks, we noticed it diving two or 
three times, not in the graceful curving manner of the mink, or musk-rat, 
but with short and ineffectual plunges of a foot or two at a time. 

We have kept the Chickaree in cages, but found it less gentle, and 
more difficult to be tamed, than many other species of the genus. 

Richardson informs us that in the fur countries, " the Indian boys kill 
many with the bow and arrow, and also take them occasionally with 
snares set round the trunks of the trees which they frequent." We have 
observed that during winter a steel-trap baited with an ear of corn, 
(maize,) placed near their burrows at the foot of large pine or spruce 
trees, will secure them with the greatest ease. 


The limits of the northern range of this species are not precisely deter- 
mined, but all travellers who have braved the snows of our Polar regions, 
speak of its existence as far north as their journeys extended. It has been 
observed in the 68th or 69th parallel of latitude ; it also exists in Labra- 
dor, Newfoundland and Canada. It is the most common species in 
New England and New York, and is by no means rare in Pennsylvania 
and New Jersey, especially in the hilly or mountainous portions of the 
latter State. It is seen, in diminished numbers, in the mountains of Vir- 
ginia, although in the alluvial parts of that State, it is scarcely known ; as 
we proceed southwardly, it becomes more rare, but still continues to be 
met with on the highest mountains. The most southern locality to which 
we have traced it, is a high peak called the Black mountain, in Bun- 
combe county, N. Carolina. The woods growing in that elevated 
situation are in some places wholly composed of balsam-fir trees, (Abies 
halsamea,) on the cones of which these Squirrels feed. There this little 
animal is quite common, and has received a new English name, viz., that 
of, " Mountain boomer." Toward the west we have traced it to the 
mountains of Tennessee ; beyond the Rocky mountains, it does not exist. 
In the Russian settlements on the Western coast, it is replaced by the 
Downy Squirrel, {Sc. lanuginosus.) In the vicinity of the Columbia, and 
for several hundred miles along the mountains South of that river, by 
Richardson's Columbian Squirrel ; and in the mountainous regions border- 


ing on California, by another small species much resembling it, which we 
hope, hereafter, to present to our readers. 


Although this species from its numbers and familiarity, as well as from 
its general diffusion, has been longer known than any other of our Squir- 
rels, and has been very frequently described, it has, with few exceptions, 
retained its name of Hiidsonius. Erxleben supposed it to be only a variety 
of the common Squirrel, S. vulgaris, of Europe, and so described it. The 
Sciurus Hudsonius of Gmelin is a flying Squirrel, {Pteromys sabrinus,) and 
the Carolina Gray Squirrel, which in Shaw's General Zoology, vol. ii., 
p. 141, is given as a variety of Sciurus Hudsonius, is our own species, 
{Sc. Carolinensis.) This species was unknown to Linn^us. Pallas ap- 
pears to have been the first author, who gave the specific name of Hud- 
sonius, (see Pall. Glir.,p. 377, a. d. 1786,) and Gmelin, in 1788, adopted his 

In examining the form, and inquiring into the habits of this species ; 
we cannot but observe a slight approach to Tamias, and a more distant 
one to SpERMoPHrLus. Its ears are placed farther back than in the Squir- 
rels generally, its tail is only sub-distichous, and withal it often digs its 
own burrow, and lives indiscriminately in the ground and on trees. In 
all these particulars it appears, in connexion with the Downy Squirrel, 
(Sc. lamiginosus,) to form a connecting link between Sciurus and Tamias. 
It has, however, no cheek pouches, and does not carry its food in its 
cheeks in the manner of the Tami^ and Spermophili, but between its 
front teeth, like the rest of the squirrels. 




Incisive 5 ! Molar j— r = 22. 
£ 4—4 

Dentition similar to that of the genus Scnmus. Head, round; ears, 
round ; upper lip, divided ; eyes, large ; fore-feet, with four elongated 
toes, furnished ■with, compressed, sharp, talons, with the rudiment of a 
thumb having an obtuse nail ; hind-feet, with five long toes, much divid- 
ed, and fitted for seizing or climbing ; tail, long, villose ; skin of the sides, 
extending from the anterior to the posterior extremities, forming a thin 
membrane, by the aid of which, when extended, the animal sails through 
the air in a descending curve from a tree or any elevated point, occasion- 
ally for some distance. 

The generic name pteromys is derived from two Greek ■«'ords, mfta, 
(pteron,) a wing, and fcvi, (mus,) a mouse. 

There are thirteen well-determined species belonging to this genus. 
One is found in the north of Europe, four in North America, and the re- 
mainder in Asia and other parts of the old world. 


Oeegon Flying Squikeel. 
PLATE XV. — Male and Female. — ^Natural size. 

P. magnitudine inter P. volucellam et P. sabriniun medius, supra fus- 
cus, subtus luteo-albus ; auribus P. sabrini auriculis longioribus ; vellere 
densiore, membrana volatica largiore, pedibus grandioribus. 


Intermediate in size between P. volucella, and the Northern species, P. sa- 
brinus ; ears, longer than in the latter, and far more compact ; lobe of the 
flying membrane joining the fore-feet, much longer in proportion ; making 
that membrane broader. Foot larger ; general colour above, brown ; be- 
neath, yellowish-white. 



Ptebomys Oregonensis ; Oregon Flying Squirrel, Bach., Jour. Acad, of Nat. Sciences, 
Phil., vol. viii., pt. i., p. 101. 


This species differs from P. sabrinus, in several very striking particu- 
lars ; the arm which supports the flj'ing membrane is 1 H lines in length, 
whilst that of the latter is only 9. Thus the smaller of the two has the 
largest flying membrane. 

The fur of P. sabrinus is much the longest, and is white, whilst that of 
P. Oregonensis has a yellowish tinge. The hairs on the tail of the for- 
mer, are only slightly tinged Avith lead-colour, at the roots, . whilst in the 
latter, that colour e.\tends outwardly, (towards the tips,) for half their 
length. The different shape of the ear, it being longer and narrower in 
our present species than in P. sabrinus, is a sufficient distinctive charac- 
ter. P. Oregonensis differs from the common flying squirrel, {P. volucel- 
Id) so entirely, that it is hardly necessary to give a particular comparison. 
Besides being much larger than the latter, and not possessing the beauti- 
ful downy- white on the belly, it may be distinguished from P. volucella, 
by the hairs on that species being white to the roots, which is not the 
case with the Oregonensis. Whiskers, numerous, and very long. 

Fur, deep gray at the base, on the back tipped with yellowish-brown; 
tail, pale-brown above, dusky toward the extremity ; beneath, brownish- 
white ; whiskers, chiefly black, grayish at the tips. Hairs covering the 
flying membrane, mostly black, slightly tipped with pale-brown ; feet, 
dusky ; around the eyes, blackish ; ears, with minute adpressed brown 
hairs externally, and brownish-white internally. 


Inches. Lines. 

Length from point of nose to root of tail - - - 6 8 

Tail, to point of fur- - - - - - -6 

Height of ear posteriorly .... - 7 

Breadth between the outer edges of the flying mem- 
brane ......--80 

Longest hind-toe, including nail . - . - 5i 

" fore-toe, " " .... 54 

From heel to point of nail . .... 1 6 J 

From nose to ear .....--1 6 


The habits of this handsome Flying Squirrel, we regret to say, are al- 
most unkno^vn to us, but from its general appearance, it is undoubtedly as 
active and volatile as our common little species ; and much do we regret 
that Ave have never seen it launch itself into the air, and sail from the 
highest branch of one of the enormous pines of the valley of the Columbia 
river, to some other tall and magnificent tree. Indeed much should we 
like to know the many works of the Creator, that j'et remain to be dis- 
covered, examined, figured, and described, in the vast mountain-valleys 
and forests, beyond the highest peaks of the great Rocky Chain. 

We hope, however, to obtain a good deal of information through va- 
rious sources ere the conclusion of this work, from the remote portions 
of our Continent that have not yet been "well explored by naturalists, 
and we shall then perhaps be able to say something more in regard to 
the subject of this article, of which we can now only add, that I\Ir. 
TowNSEND remarks, that it inhabits the pine woods of the Columbia, 
near the sea, and has the habits of P. volucella. 


Dr. RicHARDSox (Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 195,) speaks of a Flying 
Squirrel, •which w^as " discovered by Mr. Drujimontj on the Rocky moun- 
tains, living in dense pine-forests, and seldom venturing from its retreats, 
except in the night." This animal he considers, a variety of P. sahrinus, 
(var. B. Atpinus.) The locality in which it was found, and parts of his 
description, however, on the whole incline us to suppose that the speci- 
men procured by Mr. Drcmmond was one of our present species, although 
of a very large size. Dr. Richardson says, " I have received specimens 
of it from the head of Elk river, and also from the south branch of the 
Mackenzie." So that if this supposition be correct, we may conclude that 
it inhabits a very extensive tract of country, and is, perhaps, most com- 
mon on, and to the west, of the Rocky Moimtains ; in which last locality 
Mr. TowNSEND met with it, in the woods on the shores of the Columbia 


There are no accounts of this species of Flj-ing Squirrel, or of the 
larger one, P. sahrinus, in Lewis and Clarke's Journal. Those travellers 
not having, as we suppose, heard of either, although they traversed a 


considerable portion of the country in which both species have since been 

We hope, when presenting an account of the habits of P. sabrinus, to be 
able to identify the variety above-mentioned, (P. sabrinus, var. B. Alpinus 
of Richardson,) and if necessary, correct any error in our account of the 
geographical distribution of the present species {P. Oregonensis.) 



Canada Lynx. 
PLATE XVI.— Male, i Natural size. 

L. magnitudine L. rufum superans ; auribus triangularibus, apice pilis 
crassis nigris erectis barbatis ; cauda capite breviore, plantis villosis ; 
supra cinereus, maculis obscuris nebulosus, subtus dilutior. 


Larger than F. rufus ; ears, triangular, tipt with an upright slender tuft 
of coarse black hairs ; tail, shorter than the head ; soles, hairy ; general co- 
lour, gray above, a little clouded with irregular darker spots, lighter 


LouF-CERViER, (anaris qua,) Sagard Theodat, Canada, 744, An. 1636. 

" " or Ltnx, Dobb's Hudson's Bay, p. 41, An. 1744. 
Ltnx, Pennant, Arc. Zool., toI. i., p. 50. 

" or Wild Cat, Hearne's Journey, p. 366. 
Canadian Lxnx, Buff., vol. v., suppl. p. 216, pi. 125. 

" " Mackenzie's Journey, p. 106. 
Felis Canadensis, Geoffroy, An. du Mus. 

" Canadensis, Sabine, Franklin's Journey, p. 659. 

" Canadensis, Desm. Mam., p. 225. 
Northern Ltnx, Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. i., p. 302. 
Felis Borealis, Temminck, Monographie, t. i., p. 109. 

" Canadensis, Rich., F. B. A. p. 101. 

" " Reichenbach, Regnum Animale, sp. 551, p. 46, pi. 551, Lipsite, 1836. 

LyNcns Borealis, Dekay, Nat. Hist. N. Y., p. 50, pi. 10, fig. 2. 


This species has a rounder, broader, and proportionably shorter head 
than (L. rufus,) the Bay Lynx ; nose, obtuse ; eyes, large ; teeth, very 
strong ; whiskers, stiff, horizontal, arranged in three oblique series ; ears, 
acute, thickly clothed with hair on both surfaces, tipped by a long and 
slender tuft of coarse hairs ; beneath the ears commences a broad ruff 

Canada lynx. 137 

formed of longer hairs than those on the surrounding parts; this ruff sur- 
rounds the throat and reaches the chin, but does not extend around the 
neck above. The female has the ruff much shorter than the male. Body, 
robust, thick, and heavy ; and from the form, we are inclined to believe 
that this species is far less fleet than its congener the Bay lynx. The 
hair has a woolly appearance ; under-fur, Tery dense and soft, mixed 
with hairs somewhat rigid and two inches in length. On the under sur- 
face, the hairs are thinner, and a little longer than those above. Thighs, 
strong ; legs, thick and clumsy, presenting a slight resemblance to those 
of the bear. Toes, thick, so completely concealed by the fur that the 
tracks made in the snow by this animal, do not show distinct impressions 
of them, like those made by the fox, or the Bay lynx. Their tracks are 
round, leaving no marks of the nails unless the animal is running, when 
its toes are widely spread, and its nails leave the appearance of slight 
scratches in the snow. Tail, thickly covered with hair, short, slightly 
turned upward. Nails, very strong, much larger than those of the Bay 
lynx, curved, and acuminate. 

Nose, flesh coloured ; pupil of the eye, black, iris amber colour ; mar- 
gin of the lips, and inner surface of the ears, yellowish-brown ; face, and 
around the eyes, light-gray ; whiskers, nearly all white, a few black ; out- 
er margin of the ear, edged with black, widening as it approaches the ex- 
tremity, where it is half an inch broad ; tuft of ear, black ; the ruff under 
the throat is light-gray, mixed in the centre of the circle with long tufts 
of black hair. When the hairs on the back are blown aside, they exhibit 
a dark yellowish-brovim colour. The long hairs on the back, black to 
near the extremity, where there is an annulation of yellowish-brown, 
finally tipped with black ; general colour of the back, gray, with a shade 
of rufous, and slightly varied with shades of a darker colour ; under 
surface, dull white, with irregular broad spots of dark-brown situated on 
the inner surface of the fore-legs, and extending along the belly, these 
spots are partially covered by long whitish hairs in the vicinity. In one 
of our specimens these dark-coloured spots are altogether wanting. The 
legs are of the colour of the sides; upper surface of the tail, to within an 
inch of the tip, and exterior portion of the thighs, rufous ; beneath yellow- 
ish- white ; extremity of the tail black. 





The Male represented on the Plate : — Recent. 
From nose to root of tail 
Tail (vertebrae) . ^. . . 
Tail, to end of hair 
Entire length .... 

From nose to end of slvuU 

" " " root of ears 

" " " end of ears laid down 
Breadth of ears in front 
Height of ears .... 
Length of tufts of hair on the ear 
From nose to hind-foot stretched beyond tail 
From do. to end of fore-foot stretched beyond nose 
Distance between roots of ears anteriorly 

" " tips of do. 

Spread of fore-foot, between the claws 

Breadth of arm 

Height to shoulder from middle of fore-claw . 

Weight 16 pounds ; extremely lean. 

33 inches 

































A specimen in the flesh from the Petersburg Mountains, east of Troy : — 

From point of nose to root of tail 

Tail (vertebrae) 

Tail, to end of fur 

Height of ear .... 

Length of tufts on the ears . 

From shoulder to extremity of toes on fore-feet 

From heel to end of hind-claw 

Weight 22 pounds. 















In some parts of the State of Maine, and in New Brunswick, there are 
tracts of land, formerly covered with large trees, but over-run by fires not 
many years since, now presenting a desolate appearance as you look 
in every direction and see nothing but tall, blackened and charred trunks 
standing, with only their larger branches occasionally stretching out to 
the right or left, while many of them are like bare poles, half burnt off 


near the roots perhaps, and looking as if they might fall to the earth with 
the slightest breath of air. Into one of these " burnt districts," let us go 
together. Nature has already begun to replace the stately trees, which 
the destroying element had consumed, or stripped of all beauty and vi- 
tality, and we find the new growth already advanced ; instead of the light, 
brittle, and inflammable pine, the solid and hard, maple, oak, or beech, 
are thickly and rapidly raising their leafy branches to hide from our view 
the unsightly trunks that, half-destroyed, charred, and prostrate on the 
ground, are strevi^n around in almost every direction. We must pursue 
our way slowly and laboriously, sometimes jumping over, and sometimes 
creeping under, or walking along a fallen tree, our progress impeded by 
the new growth, by brambles, holes in the ground, and the necessitj^ of 
cautiously observing the general direction of our crooked and fatiguing 
march ; here and there we come to a small open space, where the wild 
raspberry tempts us to pause and allay our thirst, and perhaps whilst 
picking its ripe fruit, a pack of grouse rise with a whirr- whirr, and attract 
our attention — they are gone ere ^ve can reach our gun : but we are not 
alone ; — see, under cover of yon thicket, crouched behind that fallen pine 
tree, is the Canada Lynx — stealthily and slowlj' moving along — it is he 
that startled the game that has just escaped. Now he ascends to the lower 
branch of a thick leaved tree, and closely squatted, awaits the approach of 
some other prey, to dart upon and secure it, ere the unsuspecting object of 
his appetite can even see whence the devourer comes. We move carefully 
toward the concealed prowler — but his eyes and ears are full as good as 
our own — with a bound he is upon the earth, and in an instant is out 
of sight amid the logs and brush-wood — for savage and voracious as he 
may be when pursuing the smaller animals, he is equally cowardly when 
opposed to his great enemy — man ; and as his skin is valuable, let us ex- 
cuse him for desiring to keep it \vhole. 

The Canada Lynx is more retired in its habits than our common wild 
cat, keeping chiefly far from the habitations of even the settlers who first 
penetrate into the depths of the wilderness. Its fine long fur enables it to 
withstand the cold of our northern latitudes, and it is found both in the 
wooded countries north of the great lakes, and as far south as the Mid- 
dle States, dispersed over a great many degrees of longitude : even occa- 
sionally approaching the sea-coast. The specimen from which we drew 
the figure of this animal, was sent to us from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It 
had been taken in a wolf-trap, after having, (as was supposed.) de- 
stroyed several sheep. We kept it alive for a few weeks, feeding it 
on fresh raw meat ; it ate but a small quantity at a time, and like 
all predacious animals, appeared able to support a long fast with. 


out inconvenience. The precarious life led by beasts of prey, in fact 
makes this a wise provision of Nature, but for which many would no 
doubt soon perish, as occasionally several days may pass without their 
being able to secure a hearty meal. 

The Lynx we have just mentioned, when a dog approached the cage in 
which it w^as confined, drew back to the farthest part of it, and with open 
jaws spit forth like a cat at the intruder. We often admired the brilliancy 
of its large eyes, when it glared at us from a corner of its prison. 
When lulled, it was extremely poor, and we found that one of its legs had 
been broken, probably by a rifle-ball, some considerable time previous 
to its having been captured, as the bone was united again pretty firmly ; 
it was in other respects a fine specimen. 

When alarmed, or when pursued, the Canada Lynx leaps or bounds 
rapidly in a straight direction, from the danger ; and takes to a tree if 
hard pressed by the dogs. It is very strong, and possessing remarkably 
large and powerful fore-legs and claws, is able to climb trees of any size, 
and can leap from a considerable height to the ground w ithout feeling the 
jar, alighting on all four feet at the same instant, ready for fiight or bat- 
tle. If dislodged from a tree by the hunter, it is instantly surrounded by 
the dogs, in which case it strikes with its sharp claws and bites severely. 
In crossing the Petersburg mountains east of Albany, more than 
thirty years ago, we procured from a farmer a male Lynx, the 
measurement of which was taken at the time, and ha.s just been given 
by us, (see p. 138.) It had been killed only half an hour before, and 
was in very fine order. The farmer stated that in hunting for the 
ruffed grouse, his dog had started this Ljnx from a thicket of laurel 
bushes ; it made no doublings, but ran about a quarter of a mile 
up the side of a hill, pursued by the dog, when it ascended a tree, 
on which he shot it ; it fell to the ground quite dead, after having 
hung for some time suspended from a branch to which it clung 
with great tenacity until life was extinct. 

It has been stated that the Canada Lynx, " is easily destroyed by a 
blow on the back, -with a slender stick;" this we are inclined to 
think a mistake, never having Avitnessed it, and judging merely by 
the activitj' and strength manifested by the animal, although we agree 
with the farther remarks of the same viTiter, " that it never attacks 
man." This indeed is a remark applicable to nearly all the beasts 
of prey in our country, except in extreme cases of hunger or desperation. 
It is said by Dr. Richakdson, that the Canada Lynx " swims well, and 
will cross the arm of a lake two miles wide " — this is a habit which 
is also shared by the more southern species. (Lynx ruftis.) 


The Canada Lynx, like all other animals of its general habits, breeds 
but once a year, generally having two young; we have heard of an in- 
stance, however, of three whelps being littered at a time. 

The skin of this animal is generally used for muffs, collars, &c., and is 
ranked among the most beautiful materials for these purposes. It varies 
somewhat in colour, and the best are much lighter, when killed in good 
season, than the specimen from which our drawing was made. 

We have been informed by the northern trappers that the Canada Lynx 
is usually taken in steel-traps, such as are used for the beaver, and otter, 
into which he enters very readily. 

The Indians' we are told, regard its flesh as good eating, which 
may perhaps, be ascribed to the excellence of their appetites. Hearnb, 
(see Journey, p. 366,) who ate of it in the neighborhood of York Fort, 
says, " the flesh is white, and nearly as good as that of the rabbit." We 
think we would give the preference, however, to a bufialo-hump well 
roasted, for either dinner or supper. 

The stories told of the great cunning of this species, in throwing mosses 
from the trees in order to entice the deer to feed on them, and then drop- 
ping on their backs and tearing their throats, may as well be omitted 
here, as they fortunately require no refutation at the present day. 

The food of the Canada Lynx, consists of several species of grouse and 
other birds, the northern hare, gray rabbit, chipping squirrel, and other 
quadrupeds. It has been mentioned to us, that in the territories to the 
north of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, they destroy the Arctic fox, and make 
great havoc among the lemmings, (Georychus.) Hearne informs us, that 
in Hudson's Bay they " seldom leave a place which is frequented by 
rabbits, till they have killed nearly all of them." They are said to pounce 
on the wild goose at its breeding places, and to destroy many marmots 
and spermophiles, by lying in wait for them at their burrows. At a pub- 
lic house in Canada, -we were showTi the skin of one of these Lynxes, the 
animal having been found quite helpless, and nearly dead in the woods. 
It appears, that leaping on to a porcupine, it had caught a Tartar, as 
its head was greatly inflamed, and it was nearly blind. Its mouth was 
full of the sharp quills of that well-defended animal, which would in a 
day or two, have occasioned its death. We have heard one or two ac- 
counts of the Canada Lynx having killed a deer ; we are somewhat 
sceptical in regard to this being a general habit of the species, although 
when pressed by hunger, which renders all creatures desperate at times, 
it may occasionally venture to attack a large animal. 

Hearne states that he " once savir a Lynx that had seized on the carcass 
of a deer just killed by an Indian, who was forced to shoot it, before 


it would relinquish the prize," (See Hearne's Journey, p. 372.) Young 
fawns, as we have ourselves ascertained, are killed by these animals, and 
farmers in some of the wilder portions of our Northern States, and of Ca- 
nada, complain of their carrying off their lambs and pigs. The Canada 
Lynx is, however, by no means so great a depredator in the vicinity of 
the farm-yard, as the wild-cat or Bay lynx, as his more retired habits in- 
cline him to keep in the deepest recesses of the forests — and besides, for 
aught we know, he may prefer " game " to " pigs and poultry." 

The slow multiplication of this species proves that it is not intended 
to be abundant, but to exist only in such moderate numbers as are neces- 
sary to enable it to play its part with other carnivora in preventing too 
fast an increase of many of the smaller animals and birds ; if the hare, 
the squirrel, the rat, and all the graminivorous quadrupeds and birds were 
allowed to increase their species without being pre3'ed upon by the owl, 
the hawk, the fox, the lynx, and other enemies, the grass would be cut off, 
and the seeds of plants destroyed, so that the larger animals would find 
no subsistence, and in time, from the destruction of the seeds by the teeth 
of the rodentia, the forest itself would become a wide desert. 

There is then a meaning in this arrangement of Providence ; and the 
more w^e investigate the vi'orks of Him ■who hath created nothing in vain, 
the more we are led to admire the wisdom of His designs. 


The Canada Lynx is a northern species — it is known to exist north of 
the great Lakes eastward of the Rocky Mountains ; it is found on the 
Mackenzie river as far north as latitude 66°. It exists in Labrador, and 
in Canada. It still occurs, although very sparingly, in some of the New 
England States. It is occasionally met with in the northern part of New 
York. We heard of one having been taken some fifteen years ago in the 
mountains of Pennsylvania. Farther south, we have not traced it. It is 
not found in Kentucky, or in the valley of the Mississippi. Westward of 
that river it does not appear to exist. There are Lynxes between the 
Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean ; these seem, however, to be the 
Bay lynx, or a species so nearly resembling the latter, that they appear to 
be no more than one of its numerous varieties. There is a specimen in 
the Museum of the Zoological Society of London, marked F. horealis, 
which is stated to have been brought from California by Douglass, which 
we did not see, having somehow overlooked it. Its characters and history 
deserve investigation. 



The question whether the Canada Lynx is, or is not, identical with 
any species of the north of Europe, is by no means settled. Pennant, 
considered it the same as the lynx (Felis lynx,) of the old world. Buf- 
PON, after pointing out the distinctive marks of each, came to the conclu- 
sion that they were mere varieties. These naturalists, however, lived at 
a period when it was customary to consider the animals of America as 
mere varieties of those of the Eastern continent. Geoffroy St. Hilaire 
named our present species, considering it distinct from the LjTixes of Eu- 
rope ; and Temminck described it under the name of F. borealis, as exist- 
ing in the northern parts of both continents, thinking it a species distinct 
from Felis lynx of the north of Europe. 

We spent some time with Professor Reichenbach, in comparing speci- 
mens of European and American lynxes, which exist in the museum of 
Dresden. From the general appearance of these specimens, a great si- 
milarity between L. Canadensis, and the LjTix {Felis lynx,) of the north 
of Europe, may undoubtedly be remarked, and they might be regarded as 
mere varieties of one species. The forms of animals, however, approach 
each other in both continents where there is a similarity of climate. Many 
of the genera of New York and Pennsylvania plants are largely repre- 
sented in Germany, and although nearly all the indigenous species are 
different, they are closely allied. In South Carolina, there are several 
birds, quadrupeds, and reptiles, which bear a striking resemblance to 
those found in Egypt, in nearly the same parallel of latitude. The black- 
winged hawk (F. dispar) resembles the F. melanopterus so nearly, that 
Bonaparte published them as identical. Our alligator is a near relative 
of the crocodile, our soft-shelled turtle (Trionyx ferox) is much like the 
T. JEgypticus, and our fox squirrel, {Sc. capistralus,) has a pretty good re- 
presentative in Sc. Madagascariensis. In a more northern latitude, we 
may point to the American and European badgers, to Lepus Americanus, 
and L. variabilis, and to Tamias striatiis of Siberia and T. Lysterii, as ex- 
amples of the near approach of distinct species to each other ; to which 
we may add that the wild sheep of the Rocky Mountains {Ovis montana) 
bears so striking a resemblance to the Ovis Anunon, another species ex- 
isting on the mountains of Asia, that the two have been confounded ; and 
our Spermophilus Toimsendii is in size and colour so like the Souslik, (Sp. 
guttatus,) of the mountains of Hungary, that Dr. Richardson published 
it as a mere variety. Taking these facts into consideration, after a 
careful examination of Lynx Canadensis, and after having compared it 
with Felis lynx, of Europe, we pronounce them distinct species without 


Although the European lynx varies considerably in colour, especially 
specimens killed at different seasons of the year, it is, in all the varie- 
ties vi'e have seen, of a deeper rufous tint than the Canada Lynx ; the 
spots on the body are more distinct, and the hair, in some specimens 
from Russia and Siberia, is much shorter than in our animal, while the 
tail is longer and more tufted. Tbmminck, a very close observer, and 
distinguished naturalist, thinks the Canada Lynx is, found on both 
continents — in this he may possibly be correct ; we, however, saw no 
specimens in the museums of Europe that corresponded with the descrip- 
tion of L. Canadensis, that did not come from America. The name, 
F. borealis, which Temminck bestowed on it, can, however, only be consi- 
dered a synonyme, as Geoffkoy described the animal previously, giving it 
the name of Felis Canadensis. We have not been able to find in Ame- 
rica, the European species described by Temminck, under the name of 
Felis cervaria, which, as he supposes, exists also in the northern part of 
our continent. 




PLATE XVII.— Natural size. 

S. corpore robusto, S. capistratus minore, S. migratorio majore ; cruri- 
bus paullum curtis ; naso et auribus nunquam albis ; cauda corpore 
paullo longiore. 


A little smaller than the fox squirrel, (S. capistratus,) larger than the 
northern gray squirrel, {S. migratorius ;) body, stout ; legs, rather short ; 
nose and ears, never white ; tail, a little shorter than the body. 


SciDRDs CiNERECs, Ray, Quad., p. 215, A.D. 1693. 
Cat-Squirrel, Catesby, Carolina, vol. ii., p. 74, pi. 74, A.D. 1771. 

" " Kalm's Travels, vol. ii., p. 409, English trans. 

" " Pennant's Arctic Zoology, vol. i., p. 119, 1784. 
SciDRUS CiNEREUs, Linn., Gmel., —^ 1788. 
Fox-Squirrel, (S. vulpinus) Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 138. 
Cat-Sqdirrel, " " " " " " vol. ii., p. 129. 
SciuRus Cinereus, Appendix to American Edition of McMurtrie's Translation of Cuvier'a 
Animal Kingdom, vol. i., p. 433. 

" " Bach, Monog. Zoological Society, 1838. 

Vulco, Fox- Squirrel, of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, distinct from the 

Fox-Squirrel (S. capistratus,) of the southern States. 


Head, less elongated than that of S. capistratus, (the fox-squirrel,) and 
incisors rather narrower, shorter, and less prominent, than in that spe- 
cies. Ears broad at base and nearly round, thickly clothed on both sur- 
faces with hair ; behind the ears the hairs are longer in winter than 
during summer, and in the former season, extend beyond the margin of 
the ear. Whiskers, numerous, longer than the head ; neck, short ; body, 
stouter than that of S. capistratus, or any known species of Squirrel pe- 
culiar to our continent. Fur, more woolly, and less rigid than in S. ca- 



pistratus ; not as smooth as in S. migratorius. Hinder parts heavy, 
giving it a clumsy appearance. Tail, long, broad, and flat, rather less 
distichous than in S. capistratus, or S. migratorius ; feet, shorter than in 
the former. Nails, strong, compressed, moderately arched, and acute. 

Perhaps none of our squirrels are subject to greater varieties of colour 
than the present ; we have seen specimens in (formerly) Peale's museum, 
of every tint, from light-gray almost to black. Two others that came 
under our observation, were nearly white, and had not red or pink eyes, 
which last, are a characteristic mark of that variety in any animal which 
is commonly called an albino. 

Between the varieties of our present species, and the almost equally 
numerous varieties of the fox-squirrel, (S. capistratus^ there may be re- 
marked an important difference. In the latter species the varieties are 
generally permanent, scarcely any specimens being found of intermediate 
colour, between the well-known shades which exist in different localities 
or families, whilst in the former, every variety of tint can be observed, 
and scarcely two can be found exactly alike. The prevailing variety, 
or colour, however, is gray, and one of this colour we will now describe 
from a specimen before us. 

Teeth, orange ; nails, dark-brown near the base, lighter at the extre- 
mities. On the cheeks, a slight tinge of yellowsh-bro\^Ti, extending to 
the junction of the head with the neck ; inner surface of the ears, yellow- 
ish-brown ; outer surface of the ear, fur soft and woolly in appearance, 
extending a little beyond the margin, light cinereous edged with rusty- 
brown. Whiskers both black and white, the black ones most numerous ; 
under the throat, inner surface of the legs and thighs, and the whole un- 
der-fur, white, producing an iron-gray colour at the surface ; tail, less 
flat and distichous, (being rather more rounded, and narrower.) than in 
many other species of this genus, composed of hairs which separately 
examined are of a dull white near the roots, succeeded by a narrow 
marking of black, then white, followed by a broad line of black, and 
broadly tipped with white. 

Another specimen is dark-gray on the back and head, with a mix- 
ture of black and cinereous on the feet, thighs, and under-surface. Whis- 
kers, nearly all white. The markings on the tail, are similar to those of 
the other specimen. A third specimen, obtained from Pennsylvania, is 
dark yellowish-bro^\Ti on the upper-surface ; legs and belly, of a bright, 
orange-colour. A fourth specimen, obtained in the New York market, 
is grayish-brown above, and black beneath. The bones of this species 



are invariably of a reddish-colour — this is strikingly perceptible after the 
flesh is cooked. 

We have represented in the plate three of these Squirrels, all of dif- 
ferent colours, but the varieties of tint to be observed in different speci- 
mens of the Cat-Squirrel, are so great, that among fifty or more perhaps, 
we never could find two exactly alike; for which reason we selected for 
our drawing an orange-coloured one, a gray one, and one nearly black. 


An old male. — ^Recent. 

From nose to root of tail ...... 

Length of tail, (vertebras) 

do. of tail, to end of hair 

do. from fore-claws to hind-claws, stretched out 
Weight, 1 lb. 13 oz. 

Female specimen sent to us, by Mr. Baird, of Pennsylvania. 
Length of body 

do. of tail, from root to end of vertebras 

do. of tail, " to end of hair ... 

do. to end of hind-legs ------ 

Extent of fore-legs .-.--.. 

Hind-foot - 

Fore-foot - ......-- 

Height of ear, anteriorly ...--. 

do. of " posteriorly 

do. of " laterally, (inside,) - - - - - 

Nose to occiput 

Breadth of ear - 

do. of tail .....--. 
Weight, 2 lb. 5 oz. 













This Squirrel has many habits in common with other species, residing 
in the hollows of trees, bmlding in summer its nest of leaves, in some 
convenient fork of a tree, and subsisting on the same kinds of food. It is, 
however, the most inactive of all our known species ; it climbs a tree, 
not with the lightness and agility of the northern gray squirrel, but with 
the slowness and apparent reluctance of the little striped squirrel, {Tamias 
Lysteri.) After ascending, it does not immediately mount to the top, as is 
the case with other species, but clings to the body of the tree, on the side 
opposite to you, or tries to conceal itself behind the first convenient 


branch. We have seldom observed it leaping from bough to bongh. 
When it is induced, in search of food, to proceed to the extremit)- of a 
branch, it moves cautiously and heavily, and generally returns the same 
Ava)r. On the ground it runs clumsily, and makes slower progress than 
the gray squirrel. It is usually fat, especially in autumn, and the flesh is 
said to be preferable to that of any of our other species of squirrel. The 
Cat-Squirrel does not appear to be migratory in its habits. The same 
pair, if undisturbed, may be found in a particular vicinity for a number 
of years in succession, and the sexes seem paired for life. 

William Batrd, Esq., of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, says of this species — 
" The Fox-Squirrel as this species is called ^vith us, will never, unless al- 
most in the very jaws of a dog, ascend any other tree than that which 
contains its nest, differing very greatly in this respect from our gray 

The nest, which we have only seen on two occasions, was constructed 
of sticks and leaves, in the crotch of a tree about twenty fjet from the 
ground, and in both cases the pair had a safer retreat in a hollow of 
the same tree above. 

This species is said to have j'otmg but once a year. We have no posi- 
tive evidence to the contrary, but suspect that it will hereafter be dis- 
covered that it produces a second litter in the summer, or toward 

On taking some of them from the nest, we found on one occasion three, 
and on another four, young. These nests were placed in the hollows of 
oak trees. 


The Cat-Squirrel, is rather a rare species, but is not very uncommon in 
the oak and hickory woods of Pennsylvania, we have seen it near Easton 
and York ; it is found occasionally in Maryland and Virginia, and is met 
with on Long Island, and in some other portions of the State of New 
York, but in the northern parts of that State, is exceedingly rare, as we 
only saw two pair during fifteen years' close observation. At certain 
seasons, we have found these squirrels tolerably abundant in the markets 
of the city of New York, and have ascertained that persons who had 
them for sale were aware of their superior value, as we were frequently 
charged 37i cents for one, whilst the common gray squirrel could easily 
be purchased for 12i cents. The south-eastern portion of New Jersey 
seems to be well suited to them. This species is rarely found in Massa- 
chusetts, and one we received from the north-western part of that State, 
was there regarded as a great curiosity. 



This species has been sometimes confounded with the fox-squirrel, (S. 
capistratus,) and at other times with the northern gray squirrel. (S. migra- 
torius,) and all three have by some been considered as forming but one 
species ; it is, however, in size, intermediate between the two former, and 
has some distinctive marks by which it may be kno\vn from either. 

The northern gray squirrel has (as far as we have been able to ascer- 
tain from an examination of many specimens,) permanently five molars 
on each side in the upper jaw, and the present species has but four. The 
Cat-Squirrel, however, like the young fox-squirrel, has no doubt, a small 
deciduous tooth, which drops out in the very young state, and at so early 
a period that we have not succeeded in detecting it. 

Sciurus capistratus is in all its varieties, as far as we have observed, 
invariably and permanently distinguished by its having white ears and 
a white nose, which is not the case with S. cinereus. The former, is a 
southern species, the latter, is found in the middle and northern States, 
but not in the colder portions of New England or in Canada. 

S. capistratus, is a longer, thinner and more active species, running 
with almost the speed of a hare, and ascending the tallest pines to so 
great a height that nothing but a rifle-ball can bring it down ; the pre- 
sent species is heavy, clumsy, and prefers clinging to the body of a tree, 
not generally ascending to its extreme branches. The hair of S. capis 
tratus is more rigid and smoother than that of S. cinereus, which is rather 
soft and woolly. 

We have instituted this comparison in order to prove the inaccuracy of 
a statement contained in one of the last works published in our country, 
on the American quadrupeds. The author says, "We suspect that God- 
man's fox-squirrel {S. vulpinus) as well as his Cat, {8. cinereus) are varie- 
ties only of the hooded squirrel." Under the above names Godman pub- 
lished only one and the same species, but the hooded squirrel, (S. capis- 
tratus) with w^hite ears and nose, is a very different species, and is not 
given by Godman. 

The Cat-Squirrel was the first of the genus described from America. 
Ray characterizes it as <S'. virginianus cinereus major. Catesby gives a 
tolerable description of it, and a figure, which although rather extrava- 
gant in the size of its tail, cannot from its short ears, w^hich as well as the 
nose are destitute of the white marks of S. capistratus, be mistaken for 
the gray variety of the latter species. 

He says — " These squirrels are as large as a half-grown rabbit ; the 
whole structure of their bodies and limbs, thicker in proportion, and of a 


grosser and more clumsy make than our common squirrels." From this 
time it became for many years either lost or confounded with other spe- 
cies by naturalists. Desmarest under the name of cinereus entirely mis- 
took the species, and applied it to two others, the Carolina gray, and the 
northern gray squirrel. Harlan copied the article, adopting and per- 
petuating the error. Godman by the aid of Le Conte as it appears to 
us, (see a reference to his letter — Amer. Nat. Hist. vol. ii., p. 129,) was 
enabled to correct this error, but fell into another, describing one spe- 
cies under two names, and omitting the southern fox-squirrel (S. capistra- 
tus) altogether, assigning its habits to his <S. vulpinus. In our monograph 
of this genus, 1838 ; we endeavoured to correct the errors into which au- 
thors had fallen in regard to this species, time and further experience, 
have only strengthened us in the views we then expressed. 


LEPUS P A L U S T R I S .— Bachman. 


PLATE XVIII Male and Female. Natural size. 

L. corpore supra flavo-fuscente, siibtus griseo, L. sylvatico minore 
auribus capite in multum brevioribus, oculis aliquantulum parvis, cauda 
brevissima, cruribus curtis varipilis. 


Smaller than the gray rabbit ; ears, much shorter than the head ; eyes, ra- 
ther small ; tail, very short ; legs, short ; feet, thinly clothed with hair ; 
upper parts of body, yellowish-brown ; beneath, gray. 


Lepus Palustris, Bach., Jour. Acad, of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, vol. vii., pp. 194, 
366, read May 10, 1836. 

Lepus Douglassii, Gray, read. Zoological Society, London, Nov. 1837. 

Lepus Palustris, Audubon — Birds of America, first edition — pounced upon by the com- 
mon buzzard, {Buteo vulgaris.) Ornithological Biography, vol. iv., p. 510. 


Upper incisors, longer and broader than tbose of the gray rabbit, mark- 
ed like all the rest of the genus, with a deep longitudinal furrow ; the 
small accessory incisors are smaller and less flattened than those of the 
gray rabbit, the molars are narrower, and a little shorter. The trans- 
verse measurement of the cranium is much smaller, the vertical, about 
equal. Orbits of the eyes one-third smaller. 

This last, is a striking peculiarity, giving this a smaller and less 
prominent eye than that of any other American hare, of equal size, with 
which we are acquainted. 

The zygomatic processes of the temporal bone, run do^^^lwards nearly 
in a vertical line, whilst those of the gray rabbit, are almost horizontal. 
Head, rather large ; forehead, slightly arched ; whiskers, numerous, rigid ; 
nose, blunt ; eyes, rather small ; ears, short, rounded, broad, clothed on 
both surfaces with short hairs. Neck, moderately long; body, short, 


thick, and of rather a clumsy shape ; hairs, rather long and much coarser 
than those of the gray rabbit. Legs, short, and rather small ; feet so 
thinly clothed with hair, that the nails in most of the specimens are not 
covered, but project beyond the hair ; the feet leave a distinct impres- 
sion of the toes and clavi's, on the mud, or in moist places where their 
tracks can be seen. Heel, short, thinly covered with hair ; nails, long, 
stout, and very acute ; tail, short ; scarcely visible vsrhilst the animal is 

Teeth, yellowish-white ; eyes, dark-brown, appearing in certain lights, 
quite black. Upper part of the head, brown, and grayish-ash. Around 
the orbits of the eyes, slightly fawn-coloured ; whiskers, black ; ears, 
dark grayish-brown. Back, whole upper-parts, and upper-surface of the 
tail, yellowish-brown intermixed with many strong black hairs. The 
hairs, when examined singly, are bluish-gray at the roots, then light- 
brown, and are tipped with black. Throat, brownish-gray. Outer- 
surface of fore-legs, and upper-surface of thighs, reddish-yellow. The 
fur beneath, is light plumbeous ; under the chin, gray ; belly, and 
under-surface of tail, light-gray ; the fur beneath, bluish, giving it a dark 
yellovirish-brown appearance. Under-surface of the tail, ash-colour, 
edged with bro^vn. During winter the upper surface becomes consider- 
ably darker than in summer, and the under-parts of the tail in a few spe- 
cimens become nearly white. 


A specimen in the flesh. 

Length from point of nose to insertion of tail 

do. of tail, (vertebrae) ..... 

do. do. do. including fur - - - - . 

Height from end of middle claw to top of shoulder 
Length of head ....... 

do. ears ....... 

do. hind-foot ...--. 

Weight, 2 1 lb. 

13 : 








The Marsh-Hare, chiefly confines itself to the maritime districts of the 
southern States, and is generally found in low marshy grounds that are 
sometimes partially inundated, near rivers subject to freshets that occa- 
sionally overflow their banks, or near the large ponds called in Caroliua, 


" reserves," which are dammed up or otherwise made to retain the wa- 
ter intended to flood the rice-fields at the proper season. 

In these situations — to which few persons like to resort, on account of 
the muddy nature of the ground, and the many thorny and entangling 
vines and other obstructions that abound near them ; and which, besides, 
continually exhale from their stagnant waters a noxious vapour, which 
rapidly generates disease — surrounded by frogs, water-snakes and alliga- 
tors, this species resides throughout the year, rarely molested by man, 
and enabled by its aquatic habits, to make up for any want of speed 
when eluding the pursuit of its enemies. 

It winds with great facility through miry pools, and marshes overgrovv^n 
with rank weeds and willow bushes, and is quite at its ease and at 
home in the most boggy and unsafe parts of the swamps. 

We have met with this animal a few miles from Columbia, South 
Carolina, one hundred and twenty miles north of Charleston, along the 
muddy shores of the sluggish rivers and marshes, but on arriving at 
the high grounds beyond the middle country, where the marshes disap-- 
pear, it is no longer to be found. 

In its movements it is unlike most of our other hares ; it runs low on 
the ground, and cannot leap with the same ease strength and agility they 
display. From the shortness of its legs and ears, and its general clumsy 
appearance as we see it splashing through the mud and mire, or plung- 
ing into creeks or ponds, it somewhat reminds us of an over-grown Nor- 
way rat endeavouring to escape from its pursuers. 

The Marsh-Hare is so slow of foot, that but for the protection afforded 
it by the miry tangled and thorny character of its usual haunts, it would 
soon be overtaken and caught by any dog of moderate speed. We have 
observed the negroes of a plantation on a holiday, killing a good many 
of them by first setting fire to the half-dried grasses and weeds in a 
marshy piece of ground during a continued drought, when the earth had 
absorbed nearly all the moisture from it, and then surrounding the place, 
with sticks in their hands, and waiting until the flames drove the hares 
from their retreats, when they were knocked down and secured as they 
attempted to pass. Several gray-rabbits ran out of this place, but the 
men did not attempt to stop them, knowing their superior speed, but 
every Marsh-Hare that appeared, was headed, and with a loud whoop set 
upon on all sides and soon captured. 

The feet of the Marsh-Hare are admirably adapted to its aquatic ha- 
bits. A thick covering of hair on its feet, like that on the soles of other 
species, would be inconvenient ; they would not only be kept wet for a 
considerable length of time, but would retard the animal in swimming, 



Quadrupeds that frequent the water, such as the beaver, otter, musk-rat, 
mink &c., and aquatic birds, have nearly naked palms ; and it is this pe- 
culiar structure, together with the power of spreading out its feet, and 
thus increasing the space between each of its toes, that enables this quad- 
ruped to swim with great ease and rapidity. Its track when observed 
in moist or muddy situations differs very much from that of other species. 
Its toes are spread out, each leaving a distinct impression like those of 
the rat. Some of the habits of this Hare, differ greatly from those of 
others of the genus ; it seeks the water, not only in order the easier to 
escape from its pursuers, but when in sportive mood ; and a stranger in 
Carolina should he accidentally see one amusing itself by swimming 
about, if unacquainted with the habits of the animal, would be puzzled 
by its manoeuvres. 

When the Marsh-Hare is startled by the approach of danger, instead 
of directing its flight toward high grounds like the gray rabbit, it hastens 
to the thickest part of the marsh, or plunges into some stream, 
mill-pond, or " reserve," and very often stops and conceals itself where 
the water is many feet deep, among the leaves of lilies or other aqua- 
tic plants. 

After a heavy rain had produced a flood, which inundated some swamps 
and rice-fields near us, we sallied forth to see what had become of the 
Marsh-Hares, and on beating the bushes, we started many of them which 
ran from their hiding places, plunged into the water, and swam off with 
such rapidity that some escaped from an active Newfoimdland dog that 
we had with us. Several of them, supposing they were unobserved, hid 
themselves in the water, about fifteen yards from the shore, protruding 
only their eyes and the point of their nose above the surface ; when thus 
almost entirely under the muddy water, with their ears pressed back and 
flat against their neck, they could scarcely be discovered. On touching 
them with a stick they seemed unwilling to move until they perceived 
that they were observed, when they swam off with great celerity. 

A few evenings afterwards when the waters had subsided and returned 
to their ordinary channels, we saw a good many of these Hares swimming 
in places where the water w^as seven or eight feet deep, meeting, or pur- 
suing each other, as if in sport, and evidently enjoying themselves. 

When the gray-rabbit approaches the ■water, it generally goes around 
or leaps over it, but the Marsh-Hare enters it readily and svv^ims across. 

We have on a few occasions seen this Hare, take to a hollow tree 
when hard pressed by dogs, but (as we have just remarked) it usually 
depends more for its safety, on reaching marshy places, ponds, or im- 
penetrable thickets. 


This species possesses a strong marshy smell at all times, even when 
kept in confinement, and fed on the choicest food. Its flesh, however, 
although dark, is fully equal, if not superior, to that of the gray rabbit. 

The Marsh-Hare never, that ■we are aware of, visits gardens or culti- 
vated fields, but confines itself throughout the year to the marshes. It is 
occasionally found in places overflowed by salt, or brackish, water, but 
seems to prefer fresh-water marshes, where its food can be most conve- 
niently obtained. It feeds on various grasses, and gnaws oS" the twigs of 
the young sassafras, and of the pond-spice (Laurus geniculata.) We have 
seen many places in the low grounds dug up, the foot-prints indicating 
that it was the work of this species in search of roots. It frequently is 
found digging for the bulbs of the wild potatoe, {Apios tuberosa,) as also 
for those of a small species of amaryllis, {AmaryUis atamasco.) 

We kept an individual of this species in confinement, which bad been 
captured when full-grown. It became so gentle in a few days that it 
freely took its food from the hand. It was fed on turnips and cabbage- 
leaves, but preferred bread to any other food that was oflered to it. In 
warm weather it was fond of lying for hours in a trough of water, and 
seemed restless and uneasy when it was removed ; scratching at the 
sides of its cage, until the trough was replaced, when it immediately 
plunged in, burying the greater part of its body in the water. 

This species, lilce all others of the genus existing in this country, 
as well as the deer and squirrels, is infested with a troublesome larva 
of an oestrus in the summer and autumn ; which penetrating into the flesh 
and continually enlarging, causes pain to the animal and renders it lean. 

The Marsh-Hare deposits its young in a pretty large nest, frequently 
composed of a species of rush, (Juncus effasus) growing in convenient 
situations. The rushes appear to be cut by it into pieces of about a foot 
in length. We have seen these nests nearly surrounded by, and almost 
floating on the water. They were generally arched by carefullj- bending 
the rushes or grasses over them, admitting the mother by a pretty large 
hole in the side. A considerable quantity of hair was found lining them, 
but whether plucked out by the parent, or the result of the natural shed- 
ding of their coat, (it being late in the spring, when these animals 
shed their hair,) we were unable to ascertain. 

The young number from five to seven. They evidently breed several 
times in the season, but we have observed that the females usually 
produce their young at least a month later than the gray rabbit. 
Twenty-one specimens were obtained from the 9th to the 14th day of 
April ; none of the females had produced young that season, although 
some of them would have done so in a very few days. On one occasion 


only, have we seen the young in March. They bear a strong resemblance 
to the adult, and may almost at a glance be distinguished from those of 
the gray rabbit. 


The Marsh-Hare has been seen as far north as the swamps of the 
southern parts of North Carolina. In South Carolina, it is in some lo- 
calities quite numerous. Nearly all the muddy swamps and marshes 
abound with it. We have known two persons kill twenty in the 
course of a few hours. 

In high grounds it is never seen ; it continues to increase in numbers 
as we proceed southwardly. It is abundant in the swamps of Georgia, 
Alabama, and Louisiana. We received a living specimen from Key 
West, the southern point of Florida. We have seen it in Texas, from 
whence the specimen described by Gray was brought, and we are in- 
clined to believe that it will be found to extend into the northern part of 


As a remarkable instance of a species continuing to exist in a thickly 
settled country without having found its way into scientific works, we 
may refer to this very common species. We obtained specimens in Caro- 
lina in the spring of 1815. It was called by the inhabitants by the names 
of Swamp, and Marsh, Hare, and generally supposed to be only a variety 
of the gray rabbit. We did not publish a description of the species until 
1836. In the following year, Gray, who had not then seen the Transac- 
tions of the Acad, of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, in which our de- 
scription was contained, described it under the name of Lepus Douglassii. 

This species may always be distinguished from our other hares, by its 
colour, its rather short and broad ears, its short tail, which is never pure 
white beneath, by its narrow hind-feet, and by its aquatic habits. 





PLATE XIX Natural Size. 

S. Cauda corpore curtiore ; dorso fusco ; iliis partibusque colli laterali- 
bus rufis ; abdomine cinereo. 


Tail, shorter than ike body ; back, dark brown ; sides of the neck, and 
flanks, rufous ; under surface, cinereous. 


SciuRHS MoLLiPiLosus, Aud. and Bach., Journal Acad, of Nat. Sciences, Philadelphia, 
Oct. 1841, p. 102. 


A little larger than the chickaree, {S. Hudsonius ;) head, rather large, 
slightly arched : ears, round, broad, but not high, clothed on the outer 
and inner surfaces with short, smooth hairs ; whiskers, longer than the 

In form this species does not approach the Tami^, as S. Hudsonius does 
in some degree : it, on the contrary, very much resembles the Carolina 
gray-squirrel, ;S. Carolinensis, which is only an inch longer. 

Legs, robust ; toes, rather long ; nails, compressed, arched ; tail bushy, 
but apparently not distichous, as far as can be judged from the dried 
specimen ; hairs of the tail about as long as those of the Carolina gray- 
squirrel. The hairs on the whole of the body are soft and very smooth. 

Teeth, light yellow ; upper parts, including the nose, ears, and outer 
surface of the tail, dark-brown ; this colour is produced by the hairs being 
plumbeous at the roots, tipped with light-brown and black. On the sides 
of the neck, the shoulder, and near the thighs, it is of a reddish-brown 
colour. The tail is brown, twice annulated with black ; a few of the 



hairs are tipped with gray. On the under surface, the lips and chin are 
grayish-brown ; inner surface of the fore-legs, throat, and abdomen, 
cinereous, lightly tinged in some places with rufous. 




Length of head and body 



" of tail (vertebrae) 



" " to end of hair . 


Height of ear 


From heel to end of nail 




This species was procured in Upper California, near the Pacific ocean, 
and we are obliged to confess ourselves entirely unacquainted with its 
habits. From its form, however, we have no doubt of its having more 
the manners of the Carolina grajf-squirrel, than those of the chickaree. 
We may suppose that it lives on trees, and never burrows in the ground, 
as the chickaree sometimes does. 


Our specimens were obtained in the northern part of California, near 
the Pacific ocean. 


This species difliers so widely in all its details from S. Hudsonius, that 
it is scarcely necessary to point out the distinctive marks by which it is 
separated from the latter. The space occupied by the lighter colours on 
the under surface, is much narrower than in S. Hudsonius, and there is 
not, as in that species, any black line of separation between the colours 
of the back and under surface. 



Townsend's G round-Squirrel. 

PLATE XX.— Natural size. 

T. obscurus, supra flavo-fuscescens, striis qiiinque nigris longitudinali- 
bus subequaliter distantibus dorsali usque ad caudam porrecta ; subtus 
cinereus. T. Lysteri magnitudiiie superans. 


A little larger than Tamias Lysteri ; tail much longer ; upper surface, 
dusky yellowish-brown, with Jive nearly equidistant parallel black stripes 
on the back, the dorsal one extending to the root of the tail ; under sur- 
face cinereous. 


Tamias Townsendii, Townsend's Ground Squirrel, Journal Acad, of Natural Sciences, 
Philadelphia, vol. tiii., part 1, 1839. 


Head, of moderate size ; forehead, convex ; nose, rather obtuse, clothed 
with very short hairs ; nostrils, opening downward, their margins and 
septum naked ; whiskers, as long as the head ; eyes, large ; ears, long, 
erect, obovate, clothed with short hair on the outer, and nearly naked on 
the inner surface ; cheek-pouches, tolerably large. In form this species 
resembles T. Lysteri ; it is, however, longer and stouter. Legs, of mode- 
rate size ; toes, long ; the fore-feet have four toes, with the rudiment of 
a thumb, protected by a short convex nail ; the palms are naked, with 
five tubercles. Claws, curved, compressed, and sharp-pointed. On the 
hind-feet, five toes, the third and fourth nearly of equal length, the second 
a little shorter, and the first, or inner toe, shortest. Tail, long and sub- 

Teeth, dark orange ; whiskers, black ; a line of fawn-colour, commencing 
at the nostrils, runs over the eye-brows, and terminates a little beyond 



them in a point of lighter colour ; a patch of a similar colour commences 
under the eye-lids, and running along the cheeks terminates at the ear. 

A line of dark bro^vn, commencing at the termination of the nose, 
where it forms a point, and bordering the fawn-colour above, is gradually 
blended with the colours of the head ; fur on the outer surface of the ear, 
brown on the anterior parts, with a patch of white covering about one- 
fourth of the ear. On the posterior part of the ear there is a slight cine- 
reous tint about six lines in length, terminating near the shoulder. A 
black stripe commences on the hind part of the head and runs over the 
centre of the back, where it spreads out to the width of four lines, termi- 
nating in a point at the insertion of the tail ; a line of the same colour 
commences at the shoulders, and running parallel to the first terminates 
a little beyond the hips ; another, but narrower and shorter, line of black 
runs parallel with this, low down on the sides, giving it five black stripes 
about equi-distant from each other. On the throat, belly, and inner parts 
of the legs and thighs, the colour is light cinereous ; there is no line of 
separation between the colours of the back and belly. The tail is, on the 
upper surface, grayish-black, having a hoary appearance. Underneath, 
it is reddish-brown for two-thirds of its breadth, then a narrow line of 
black, tipped with light ash. Nails, brown. 


Length of head and body 
" tail (vertebrae) 

" " including fur 

" head 

Height of ear . 

Length from heel to end of nail 











No doubt the different species of this genus are as uniform in their 
habits as the true squirrels. They are usuallj' found seated low, on 
stumps or rocks, at the roots of or near which, they have their burrows. 
Their cheek-pouches enable them to carry to these hiding-places, nuts, 
grains, &c., to serve them for food in winter. Mr. Townsend, who pro- 
cured the specimens from which we have drawn up our description, ob- 
serves, " This pretty little fellow, so much resembling our common T. 
striatus, (Lysteri,) is quite common ; it lives in holes in the ground ; run- 
ning over your foot as you traverse the woods. It frequently perches 
itself upon a log or stump, and keeps up a continual clucking, which is 


usually answered by another at some distance, for a considerable time. 
Their note so much resembles that of the dusky grouse, (Tetrao ohscurus,) 
that I have more than once been deceived by it." 


We have heard of this species as existing from the 37th to the 45th 
degree of latitude, on the Rocky Mountains. It probably does not extend 
to the eastward of that chain, as we saw nothing of it on our late expe- 
dition up the Missouri river, to the mouth of the Yellow-Stone, &c. 


The markings of this Ground-Squirrel differ widely from those of any 
other known species. From Tamias Lysteri it differs considerably, 
being larger and having a much longer tail ; it has a white patch 
behind the ear, and cinereous markings on the neck, of which the latter 
is destitute ; the ears are a third longer than in T. Lysteri. The stripes 
on the back are also very differently arranged. In Tamias Lysteri there 
is first a black dorsal stripe, then a space of grayish-brown, half an inch 
wide, then two shorter stripes, within two lines of each other ; which 
narrow intervening portion is yellowish-white. The stripes in the pre- 
sent species are at a uniform distance from each other, the dorsal one 
running to the tail ; whereas, in the other it does not reach within an 
inch of it, and the intervening spaces are filled up by a uniform colour. 
This species has not the whitish stripes on the sides, nor the rufous colour 
on the hips, which are so conspicuous in T. Lysteri. 




Gray Fox. 
PLATE XXI.— Male. S-Tlhs natural size. 

V. griseo nigroque variegatus, lateribus et partibus colli lateralibus 
fulvis, genis nigris. 


Gray, varied with black, sides of neck and flank, fulvous ; black on the 
sides of the face between the eye and nose. 


Fox OF Carolina, Lawson, Car., p. 125. 

Gray Fox, Catesby, Car., vol. ii., p. 78, fig. C. 

■ " " Pennant, Synop., p. 157, 114. 

Canis ViRGiNiANUs, Schrcber, Saugethiere, p. 361, 10 to 92 B, 1775. 

" " Ersleben, Syst., p. 567, 10, 1777. 

" " Linn., Syst. Nat., ed. Gmel., vol. i., p. 74, 16, 1788. 

" Cineheo-Abgenteos, Erxleben, Syst., p. 576, 9. 

" Ciisereo-Argentatus, Say, Long's Expedition, vol. ii., p. 340. 

" ViRGiNiANCs, Desm., Mamm., p. 204. 

" Cinebeo-Abgentatds, Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. i., p. 280, fig. 2. 

" (VuLPEs) ViRGi.MANUs, Rich., F. Boreali A., p. 96. 
Vulpes ViRGiNiANHS, Dekay, Nat. Hist, of Nevr York, p. 45. 


Head, considerably broader and shorter than that of the red fox, ( Vul- 
pes fuhus ;) nose, also shorter, and a little more pointed ; teeth, not so 
stout ; ears, a little longer than in the latter animal, of an oval shape, 
and thickly clothed with hair on both surfaces ; whiskers, half the 
length of the head. Bod}"-, rather thicker and more clumsy in appearance 
than that of either the swift fo.x, (F. velox.) or the red fox; far, much 
coarser than that of the other species. Legs, rather long ; nails, strong, 
slightly arched, visible bej'ond the fur ; soles, ^vith five stout tubercles, 
not clothed virith hair ; tail, large, bushy, clothed like the body with two 
kinds of hair ; the fur, or inner hair, being soft and woolly, the outer 
hairs longer and coarser. 



There are slight differences in the colour of different specimens ; we 
will, however, give a description of one which is of the colour most com- 
mon to this species in every part of the United States. Head, brownish- 
gray ; muzzle, black ; a broad patch of dark brown runs from the eye to 
the nose, on each side of the face ; whiskers, black ; inner surface of ears, 
dull white ; outer surface of ears, sides of neck, outer surface of fore-legs 
and thighs, tawny ; a yellowish wash under the throat, and along the 
sides ; chin, and around the mouth, dark-brown ; cheeks, throat, and un- 
der surface of body, dull white, occasionally tinged vv^ith a yellowish 
shade ; under surface of hind and fore-feet, yellowish-brown : upper sur- 
face of feet and legs, grizzly black and white ; nails, dark-brown. The 
soft inner fur on the back, which is about an inch and a half long, is for 
half its length from the roots, plumbeous, and pale yellowish- white at the 
tips. The long hairs which give the general colour to the body above, 
are whit,', at their roots, then for more than a third of their length black,' 
then white, and are broadly tipped with black, giving the animal a hoary 
or silver-gray appearance. It is darkest on the shoulder, along the back 
and posterior parts. The fur on the tail, has a little more fulvous tinge 
than that of the back ; the longer hairs are much more broadly tipped 
with black. When the fur lies smooth, there is a black line along the 
upper surface of the tail from the root to the extremity ; end of brush, 
black. Some specimens are a little lighter coloured, having a silver-gray 
appearance. Specimens from the State of New York are rather more 
fulvous on the neck, and darker on the back, than those of Carolina. In 
some specimens there is a dark spot on the sides of the throat about an 
inch from the ear. 

We possessed for many j'ears a beautiful specimen of a variety of the 
Gray Fox, which was barred on the tail like the racoon, and had a dark 
cross on the back like that of Canis crucigera of Gesn'er, which latter is 
regarded by Baron Cuvier as a mere variety of the European fox. 


Length of head and body 
" of tail (vertebrae) . 
" " to end of hair 

Height of ear 

From heel to end of nail . 

28 inches. 
12i do. 
14 do. 

2§ do. 

S do, 

164 GRAY FOX. 

Throughout the whole of our Atlantic States, from Maine to Florida, 
and westwardly to Louisiana and Texas, there are but two species of 
fox known, viz., the red fox, (F. fulvus,) and the present species, (F. Vir- 
ginianus,) although there are several permanent varieties. The former 
may be regarded as a Northern, the latter as a Southern species. Whilst 
the Northern farmer looks upon the red fox as a great annoyance, and 
detests him as a robber, w^ho is lying in wait for his lambs, his turkeys, 
and his geese, the Gray Fox, in the eyes of the Southern planter, is the 
object of equal aversion. To ourselves, however, who have witnessed 
the predatory dispositions of each, in different portions of our country, it 
appears that the red fox is far more to be dreaded than the gray ; the 
latter is a pilfering thief, the former a more daring and cunning plun- 
derer. When they have whelps, the females of both species, urged by the 
powerful pleadings of their young, become more bold and destructive 
than at any other time ; the red fox produces its young very early in the 
season, sometimes indeed Avhilst the snow is still remaining here and 
there in large banks unthawed on the ground, and becomes more daring 
in consequence of being stinted for food ; whilst the present specieS; 
having its young later when breeding in the Northern States, and finding 
a more abundant supply of food when inhabiting the Middle or Southern 
States, is less urged by necessity to depredate on the poultry of the planter. 

We have never, indeed, heard any well authenticated account of this 
species having entered the poultry-yard of the farmer ; it is true, it will 
seize on a goose, or a turkey hen, that happens to stray into the woods 
or fields and make its nest at some distance from the house ; but we have 
not heard of its having attempted to kill pigs, or like the red fox, visited 
the sheep pasture in spring, and laid a contribution, from day to daj', on 
the young lambs of the flock. 

The Gray Fox is shy and cowardlj% and the snap of a stick or the 
barking of a dog will set him off on a full run. Although timid and 
suspicious to this degree, his cunning and voracity place him in a con- 
spicuous rank among the animals that prey upon other species weaker 
than themselves. The wild turkey hen often makes an excavation in 
which she deposits her eggs, at a considerable distance from the low 
grounds, or makes her nest on some elevated ridge, or under a pile of 
fallen logs covered over with scrub oaks, ferns, tall weeds and grasses ; 
we have often seen traces of a violent struggle at such places ; bunches 
of feathers scattered about, and broken egg-shells giving sufficient evi- 
dence that the Fox has been there, and that there will be one brood 

GRAY FOX. 165 

of wild turkeys less that season. Coveys of partridges, which gene- 
rally at the dusk of the evening, fly into some sheltered place, and hide 
in the tall grass, arrange themselves for the night in a circle, with 
their tails touching each other, and their heads turned outward ; the 
Gray Fox possessing a considerable power of scent, winds them like a 
pointer dog, and often discovers where they are thus snugly nestled, and 
pounces on them, invariably carrying off" at least one of the covey. 

On a cold, drizzly, sleety, rainy day, while travelling in Carolina, we 
observed a Gray Fox in a field of broom-grass, coursing against the 
wind, and hunting in the manner of the pointer dog. We stopped to wit- 
ness his manoeuvres : suddenly he stood still, and squatted low on his 
haunches ; a moment after, he proceeded on once more, but with slow 
and cautious steps ; at times his nose was raised high in the air, moving 
about from side to side. At length he seemed to be sure of his game, and 
went straight forward, although very slowly, at times crawling on the 
earth ; he was occasionally hidden by the grass, so that we could not see 
him very distinctly ; however, at length we observed him make a dead 
halt. There was no twisting or horizontal movement of the tail, like that 
made by the common house-cat when ready to make a spring, but his tail 
seemed resting on the side, whilst his ears were drawn back and his head 
raised only a few inches from the earth ; he remained in this attitude 
nearly half a minute, and then made a sudden pounce upon his prey ; at 
the same instant the whirring of the distracted covey was heard, as the 
affrighted birds took wing ; two or three sharp screams succeeded, and 
the successful prowler immediately passed out of the field with an unfor- 
tunate partridge in his mouth, evidently with the intention of seeking a 
more retired spot to make a dainty meal. We had a gun with us, and 
he passed within long gun-shot of us. But why wound or destroy him ? 
He has enabled us for the first time to bear witness that he is not only a 
dog, but a good pointer in the bargain ; he has obeyed an impulse of na- 
ture, and obtained a meal in the manner in which it was intended by the 
wise Creator that he should be supplied. He seized only a single bird, 
whilst man, who would wreak his vengeance on this poacher among 
the game, is not satisfied till he has killed half the covey with the mur- 
derous gun, or caught the whole brood in a trap, and wrung off their 
necks in triumph. Condemn not the Fox too hastily ; he has a more 
strikingly carnivorous tooth than yourself, indicating the kind of food he 
is required to seek ; he takes no wanton pleasure in destroying the bird, 
he exhibits to his companions no trophies of his skill, and is contented 
with a meal ; whilst you are perhaps not satisfied when your capacious 
bird-bag is filled. 

166 GRAY FOX. 

That this Fox occasionally gives chase to the gray rabbit, pursuing 
him in the manner of the dog, we have strong reason to suspect. We on 
one occasion observed a half-grovro rabbit dashing by us with great ra- 
pidity, and running as if under the influence of fear ; an instant after- 
wards a Fox followed, seeming to keep the object of his pursuit fairly in 
sight ; scarcely had they entered the woods, when we heard the repeated 
cry of the rabbit, resembling some'what that of a young child in pain, and 
although we were not eye witnesses of his having captured it by sheer 
speed, we have no doubt of the fact. We do not believe, however, that 
the Fox is an enemy half as much to be dreaded by the family of hares 
as either the Bay Ijiix, or the great horned owl, {Strix Virginianus.) 

In the Southern States this species is able to supply itself with a great 
variety and abundance of food, and is consequently generalljf in good con- 
dition and often quite fat. We have followed the track of the Gray Fox 
in moist ground until it led us to the scattered remains of a marsh 
htire, which no doubt the Fox had killed ; many nests of the fresh water 
marsh hen {Rallus elegans) are torn to pieces and the eggs devoured by 
this prowler. In Pennsylvania and New-Jersey, the meadow-mouse {Ar- 
vicola Pennsylvanica,) is often eaten by this species, and in the Southern 
States, the cotton-rat, and Florida rat, constitute no inconsiderable por- 
tion of its food. We have seen places where the Gray Fox had been 
scratching the decayed logs and the bark of trees in order to obtain in- 

This species is not confined exclusively to animal food ; a farmer of the 
State of New York called our attention to a field of corn, (maize,) which 
had sustained no inconsiderable injury from some unknown animals that 
had been feeding on the unripe ears. The tracks in the field convinced 
us that the depredation had been committed by Foxes, which was found to 
be the case, and they were afterwards chased several successive mornings, 
and three of them, apparently a brood of the previous spring, were captured. 

Although this Fox is nocturnal in his habits, Ave have frequently ob- 
served him in search of food at all hours of the day ; in general, how- 
ever, he lies concealed in some thicket, or in a large tuft of tall broom- 
grass, till twilight invites him to renew his travels and adventures. 

On a cold starlight night in winter, we have frequently heard the 
hoarse querulous bark of this species ; sometimes two of them some dis- 
tance apart were answering each other in the manner of the dog. 

Although we have often seen this Fox fairly run down and killed by 
hounds, without his having attempted to climb a tree, j^et it not unfre- 
quently occurs that when his strength begins to fail he ascends one that 
is small or sloping, and standing on some horizontal branch 20 or 30 

GRAY FOX. 167 

feet from the ground, looks down on the fierce and clamorous pack which 
soon comes up and surrounds the foot of the tree. We were on one oc- 
casion, in company with a friend, seeking for partridges in an old field 
partially overgrown with high grass and bushes, when his large and ac- 
tive pointer dog suddenly started a Gray Fox, which instantly took to its 
heels, pursued by the dog : after a race of a minute, the latter was so close 
upon the Fox that it ascended a small tree, and our friend soon came up, 
and shot it. We were unable to obtain any information in regard to the 
manner in which the Fox climbs trees, as he does not possess the retrac- 
tile nails of the cat, or the sharp claws of the squirrel, until we saw the 
animal in the act. At one time when we thus observed the Fox, he first 
leaped on to a low branch, four or &ve feet from the ground, from whence 
he made his way upwards by leaping cautiously and rather awkwardly 
from branch to branch, till he attained a secure position in the largest 
fork of the tree, where he stopped. On another occasion, he ascended 
in the manner of a bear, but with far greater celerity, by clasping the 
stem of a small pine. We have since been informed that the Fox also 
climbs trees occasionally by the aid of his claws, in the manner of a ra- 
coon or a cat. During winter only about one-fifth of the Foxes chased 
by hounds, will take a tree before they suffer themselves to be run 
down ; but in summer, either from the warmth of the weather causing 
them to be soon fatigued, or from the greater number being young ani- 
mals, they seldom continue on foot beyond thirty or forty minutes before 
they fly for protection to a tree. It may here be observed that as long 
as the Fox can wind through the thick underbrush, he will seldom resort 
to a tree, a retreat to which he is forced by open woods and a hard chase. 
. In general, it may be said that the Gray Fox digs no burrow, and does 
not seek concealment in the earth ; we have, however, seen one instance 
to the contrary, in a high, sandy, pine-ridge west of Albany, in the State 
of New- York. We there observed a burrow from which a female Gray 
Fox and four young were taken. It differed widely from the burrows 
of the red fox, having only a single entrance. At about eight feet from 
the mouth of the burrow there was an excavation containing a nest com- 
posed of leaves, in which the young had been deposited. We have, on 
several occasions, seen the kennel of the Gray Fox — it is usually in a 
prostrate hollow log ; we once, however, discovered one under the roots of 
a tree. In the State of New-York we were shown a hollow tree, leaning 
on another at an angle of about forty-five degrees from a large hole in 
which two Gray Foxes had been taken ; they were traced to this retreat 
by their footsteps in the deep snow, and from the appearance of the nest 
it seemed to have been their resort for a long time. 

168 GRAY FOX. 

This species, in many parts of the country where caves, fissures, or holes 
in the rocks, offer it a safe retreat from danger, makes its home in such 
places. Some little distance above the city of New- York, in the wild and 
rocky woods on the Jersey side of the Hudson river, a good manj' Gray 
Foxes abide, the number of large fissures and holes in the rocks there- 
abouts furnishing them secure dwelling places, or safe resorts in case 
they are pursued. In this neighbourhood they are most easily killed by 
finding the paths to their hole, and, after starting the animal, making the 
best of your way to near the entrance of it, while he doubles about a lit- 
tle before the dogs ; you can thus generally secure a shot at him as he 
approaches his home, which if the dogs are near he will do without look- 
ing to see if he be watched. The Gray Fox is frequently caught in steel- 
traps, and seems to possess far less cunning than the red species ; we 
have never, however, seen it taken in box-traps, into which the Bay lynx 
readily enters ; and it is not often caught in dead-falls, which are very 
successful in capturing the racoon and opossum. 

The Gray Fox does not possess the rank smell of the red fox, or the 
European fox ; as a pet, however, we have not found him particularly 
interesting. It is difiicult to subdue the snappish disposition of this spe- 
cies, and we have never seen one that was more than half tamed. It 
does not at any time become as playful as the red fox, and continually 
attempts to escape. 

This species affords good sport when chased, vidnding and doubling 
when in favourable ground, so that when the hunter is on foot even, he 
can occasionally obtain a " view," and can hear the cry of the pack al- 
most all the while. When started in an open part of the country the 
Gray Fox, however, generally speeds toward some thickly grown and 
tangled retreat, and prefers the shelter and concealment of a heavy 
gro^vth of young pines along some elevated sandy ridge ; having gained 
which, he threads along the by-paths and dashes through the thickets, 
some of which are so dense that the dogs can hardly follow him. He does 
not, like the red fox, run far ahead of the pack, but generally courses 
along from seventy to a hundred yards in advance of his pursuers. 

We have been told that the Gray Fox has been run down and caught 
in the winter season, by a remarkably fleet pack of hounds, in forty mi- 
nutes, but a two hours' chase is generally necessary, with tolerably good 
dogs, to tire out and capture him. As many as two or three Foxes have 
been occasionally caught on the same day by one pack of hounds ; but in 
most cases both hunters and dogs are quite willing to give over for the 
lay, after they have captured one. 


GRAY FOX. 169 

From Maryland to Florida, and farther west, tirougli Alabama to Mis- 
sissippi and Louisiana, fox-hunting, next to deer-hunting, is the favourite 
amusement of sportsmen, and the chase of that animal may in fact be 
regarded exclusively as a Southern sport in the United States, as we be- 
lieve the fox is never followed on horseback in the Northern portion of 
our country, ■where the rocky and precipitous character of the surface in 
many districts prevents the best riders from attempting it ; whilst in others, 
our sturdy independent farmers would not much like to see a dozen or 
more horsemen leaping their fences, and with break-neck speed galloping 
through the wheat-fields or other " fall " crops. Besides, the red fox, 
w^hich is more generally found in the Northern States than the Gray spe- 
cies, runs so far before the dogs that he is seldom seen, although the 
huntsmen keep up with the pack, and after a chase of ten miles, during 
which he may not have been once seen, he perhaps takes refuge in some 
deep fissure of a rock, or in an impenetrable burrow, which of course' 
ends the sport very much to the satisfaction of — the Fox ! 

In the Southern States, on the contrary, the ground is in many cases 
favorable for this amusement, and the planter sustains but little in- 
jury from the passing hunt, as the Gray Fox usually courses through 
woods, or worn-out old fields, keeping on high dry grounds, and seldom 
during the chase running across a cultivated plantation. 

Fox-hunting, as generally practised in our Southern States, is regarded 
as a healthful, manly exercise, as well as an exhilarating sport, which in 
many instances would be likely to preserve young men from habits of 
idleness and dissipation. The music of the hounds, whilst you breathe 
the fresh sweet morning air, seated on a high-mettled steed, your friends 
and neighbours at hand with light hearts and joyous expectations, await- 
ing the first break from cover, is, if you delight in nature and the re- 
creation we are speaking of, most enlivening ; and although we our- 
selves have not been fox-hunters, we cannot wholly condemn the young 
man of leisure who occasionally joins in this sport ; at the same time let 
him not forget that whilst exercise and amusement are essential to health 
and cheerfulness of mind; the latter especially was not intended to 
interfere with the duties of an active and useful life, and should never 
be more than a relaxation, to enable him to return the more energetically 
to the higher and nobler pursuits which are fitted for an intelligent and 
immortal mind. 

In fox-hunting, the horse sometimes becomes as much excited as his 
rider, and at the cry of the hounds we have known an old steed which 
had been turned loose in the woods to pick up a subsistence, prick up his 
ears, and in an instant start off full gallop until he overtook the pack, 


170 GRAY FOX. 

keeping in the van until the chase was ended. Although exercise and 
amusement are the principal inducements to hunt the Fox, we may men- 
tion that it is also a desirable object in many parts of our country, to get 
rid of this thievish animal, which exists in considerable numbers in some 

We will now return to our subject, and try to make you familiar with 
the mode of hunting the Gray Fox generally adopted in Carolina and 
Louisiana. The hounds are taken to some spot where the animal is 
likely to be found, and are kept as much as possible out of the " drives " fre- 
quented by deer. Thickets on the edges of old plantations, briar patches, 
and deserted fields covered with broom-grass, are places in which the Fox 
is most likely to lie down to rest. The trail he has left behind him during 
his nocturnal rambles is struck, the hounds are encouraged by the voices 
of their masters, and follow it as fast as the devious course it leads them 
will permit. Now they scent the Fox along the field, probably when 
in search of partridges, meadow-larks, rabbits, or field-mice ; presently 
they trace his footsteps to a large log, from whence he has jumped on to 
a worm-fence, and after walking a little way on it, has leaped a ditch 
and skulked toward the borders of a marsh. Through all his crooked 
ways the sagacious hounds follow his path, until he is suddenly aroused, 
perchance from a sweet, dreamy vision of fat hens, geese, or turkeys, 
and with a general cry the whole pack, led on by the staunchest and best 
dogs, open-mouthed and eager, join in the chase. The startled Fox 
makes two or three rapid doublings, and then suddenly flies to a cover 
perhaps a quarter of a mile off", and sometimes thus puts the hounds off 
the scent for a few minutes, as when cool and at first starting, his scent 
is not so strong as that of the red fox ; after the chase has continued for 
a quarter of an hour or so, however, and the animal is somewhat heated, 
Ms track is followed with greater ease and quickness and the scene be- 
comes animating and exciting. Where the woods are free from under- 
brush, which is often the case in Carolina, the grass and bushes being 
burnt almost annually, many of the sportsmen keep up with the dogs, 
and the Fox is very frequently in sight and is dashed after at the horses' 
greatest speed. He now resorts to some of the mancEUvres for which he 
is famous ; he plunges into a thicket, doubles, runs into the water, if any be 
at hand, leaps on to a log, or perhaps gets upon a worm-fence and runs 
along the top of it for a hundred yards, leaping from it with a desperate 
bound and continuing his flight instantly, with the hope of escape from 
the relentless pack. At length he becomes fatigued, he is once more 
concealed in a thicket where he doubles hurriedly ; uncertain in what 
direction to retreat, he hears, and perhaps sees, the dogs almost upon 

GRAY FOX. 171 

him, and as a last resort climbs a small tree. The hounds and hunters 
are almost instantly at the foot of it, and whilst the former are barking 
fiercely at the terrified animal, the latter determine to give him another 
chance for his life. The dogs are taken off to a little distance, and the 
Fox is then forced to leap to the ground by reaching mth a long pole, or 
throwing a billet of wood at him. He is allowed a quarter of an hour 
before the hounds are permitted to pursue him, but he is now less able to 
escape than before ; he has become stiff and chill, is soon overtaken, and 
falls an easy prey, turning however upon his pursuers with a growl of 
despair, and snapping at his foes until he bites the dust, and the chase is 

The following anecdotes of the sagacity of this animal, we hope, may 
interest our readers. Shortly after the railroad from Charleston to Ham- 
burgh, South Carolina, had been constructed, the rails for a portion of the 
distance having been laid upon timbers at a considerable height from the 
ground, supported by strong posts, we observed a Fox which was hard 
pressed by a pack of hounds, mounting the rails, upon which he ran 
several hundred yards ; the dogs were unable to pursue him, and he 
thus crossed a deep cj'press swamp over which the railroad ■was in this 
singular manner carried, and made his escape on the opposite side. The 
late Benjamin C. Yancey, Esa., an eminent lawyer, who in his youth was 
very fond of fox-hunting, related the following. A Fox had been pur- 
sued, near his residence at Edgefield several times, but the hounds always 
lost the track at a place ■where there was a foot-path leading doAvn a 
steep hill. He, therefore, determined to conceal himself near this decli- 
vity the next time the Fox was started, in order to discover his mode of 
bafHing the dogs at this place. The animal was accordingly put up and 
chased, and at first led the hounds through many bayous and ponds in 
the woods, but at length came running over the brow of the hill along 
the path, stopped suddenly and spread himself out flat and motionless on 
the ground ; the hounds came down the hill in pursuit at a dashing pace, 
and the whole pack passed and did not stop until they were at the bot- 
tom of the hill. As soon as the immediate danger was over, the Fox 
casting a furtive glance around him, started up, and ran ofi" at his greatest 
speed on his " back track." 

The Gray Fox produces from three to five young at a time. In Ca- 
roliaa this occurs from the middle of March to the middle of April ; in 
the State of New York they bring forth somewhat later. Gestation con- 
tinues for about three months. 

172 GRAY FOX. 


The Gray Fox is scarce in New England, and we have not heard of it 
to the north of the State of Maine ; in Canada we have heard of its occa- 
sional, but rare appearance. In the vicinity of Albanj', N. Y., it is not 
an uncommon species ; south of this, through Pennsylvania and New 
Jersey, it is about as abundant as the red fox. In the Southern States, 
except in the mountains of Virginia, it is the only species, and is 
abundant. It exists plentifully in Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana ; 
it is found on the prairies of the West, and we have received a specimen 
from California, scarcely differing in any of its markings from those of 


This species was noticed by Lawson, Catesbt, and Pennant. Schrebee, 
in 1775, gave it a specific, name ; he was followed two years afterwards 
by Erxleben, and in 1788 by Gmelin. In the meantime Erxleben, Schre- 
BER, and Gmelin published a variety of the Gray Fox, which was a little 
more cinereous in colour, as a new^ species, under the name of Canis cine- 
reo-argenteus. Richardson was correct in having applied the specific 
name of Virginianus to the Gray Fox, but he erred in referring the West- 
ern kit-fox or swift-fox, (F. velox,) to C. cinereo-argentatus. To us, the 
short description of these authors, of C. cinereo-argentatus, appears to ap- 
ply more strictly to the Gray Fox than to their accounts of C. Virginianus ; 
the latter, we know, is intended for the present species, as it is the only 
fox in Virginia, with the exception of the red fox, which exists sparingly 
in the mountains. The views of Desmarest in regard to our American 
foxes are very confused, and the translation by Harlan partakes of all 
the errors of the original. Richardson did not meet with this species in 
the Northern regions he visited, and on the whole very little has been 
said of its habits by any author. 




Gbat Rabbit. 
PLATE XXII. Old Male, Female, and YonNG. Natural size. 

L. auribus capite curtioribus, aurium apice et margine aut nigro ; cor- 
pore L. Americano minore, supra cinereo-fulva, fusco mixto, subtus sub- 


Smaller than the Northern hare ; ears, shorter than the head, not tipped or 
margined icith black ; colour, grayish-fawn, varied with brown above ; whit- 
ish beneath. 


CoNr, Third Voyage of the English to Virginia, 1586, by Thomas Heniott. From Pin- 

kerton's Voy., vol. xii., p. 600. 
Hare, Hedge Coney, Lawson, p, 123, Catesby, Appendix 28. 
American Hare, Kalm's Travels, vol. i., p. 105. 
Lepus Amehicanus, Desmarest, Mam., p. 351. 

" " Harlan, Fauna, p. 193. 

" " Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 157. 

" " Audubon, Birds of America, vol. ii., p. 51, in the talons of Falco 

Borealis ; Ornithological Biography, vol. i., p. 272. 
Lepus Americanus, Bach., Jour. Ac. Sc. Phil., vol. vii., p. 326. 

" Sylvaticus, Bach., Jour. Ac. Sc. Phil., vol. vii., p. 403, & vol. viii., p. 78 & 326. 

" Americanus, Emmons, Mass. Report, 1840, p. 56. 

" Nanus, Dekay, Nat. Hist, of New York, 1842. 


This species bears some resemblance to the European burrowing rab- 
bit, {L. cuniculus,) in the gray colour which is natural to the latter in a 
wild state, but does not change to the different colours the European rab- 
bit presents in a state of domestication. It is a little smaller, and is of 
a more slender form than L. cuniculus. Head, short ; eyes, large ; ears, 
well clothed with short hairs on the outer surface ; within, the hairs are 
a little longer, but less dense, the outer border for the fourth of an inch 



pretty well covered, but nearer the orifice the skin visible through the 
thinly scattered hairs ; legs, of moderate size ; claws, strong, sharp, and 
nearly straight, concealed by the hair ; tail, longer in proportion than 
that of the Northern hare. Fur, compact and soft, about an inch and a 
quarter in length in winter. 

Summer dress. — Fur on the back, yellowish-bro-svn ; soft fur, from the 
roots to the surface, plumbeous ; the long hairs which extend beyond the 
fur, and give the general colour to the animal, are for three-fourths of 
their length lead coloured, then yellowish, and are tipped with black. 
Ears, dark-brown on the outer surface, destitute of the distinct black bor- 
der seen in the Northern hare, and not tipped with black like those of the 
Polar and the variable hare ; whiskers, nearly all black ; iris, light 
brownish-yellow ; a circle of fawn colour around the eye, more conspicu- 
ous nearest the forehead. Cheeks, grayish ; chin, under surface of body, 
and inner surface of legs, light grayish-white ; tail, upper surface gray- 
ish-brown, beneath, white. Breast, light yellowish-gray ; behind the 
ears, a broad patch of fawn colour ; outer surface of fore-legs and thighs, 

Winter colour. — Very similar to the above ; in a few specimens, the 
hairs are whitest at the tips ; in others, black tips prevail. This Hare 
never becomes white in any part of our country, and so far as our re- 
searches have extended, we have scarcely found any variety in its co- 


Adult Male. 




of head and body 










tail (vertebrae) 




tail, including fur . 



From heel to end of middle claw . 



Weight, 21b. 7oz. 

This species abounds in our woods and forests, even in their densest 
coverts ; it is fond of places overgrovs^n with young pines thickly crowded 
together, or thickets of the high bush-blackberry, (Rubus villosus ;) and 
is also fond of frequenting farms and plantations, and occupying the cop- 


pices and grassy spots in the neighbourhood of cultivation, remaining in 
its form by day, concealed by a brush-heap, a tuft of grass, or some hedge- 
row on the side of an old fence ; from which retreat it issues at night, to 
regale itself on the clover, turnip, or corn-fields of the farmer. It not un- 
frequently divests the young trees in the nurserj' of their bark ; it makes 
frequent inroads upon the kitchen-garden, feasting on the young green 
peas, lettuces, cabbages, &c., and doing a great deal of mischief; and 
when it has once had an opportunity of tasting these dainties, it becomes 
difRcult to prevent its making a nightly visit to them ; although the place 
it enters at may be carefully closed, the Rabbit is sure to dig a fresh 
hole everj' night in its immediate vicinity ; and snares, traps, or guns, 
are the best auxiliaries in such cases, soon putting an end to farther depre- 

This animal, when first started, runs with greater swiftness, and makes 
fewer doublings than the Northern hare, (L. Americanus ;) having ad- 
vanced a hundred yards or more it stops to listen ; finding itself pursued 
by dogs, should the woods be open and free from swamps or thickets, it 
runs directly toward some hole in the root of a tree or hollow log. In 
the lower parts of Carolina, where it finds protection in briar patches, 
and places thickly overgrown \vith smilax and other vines, it continues 
much longer on foot, and by winding and turning in places inaccessible 
to larger animals, frequently makes its escape from its pursuers, without 
the necessity of resorting for shelter to a hollow tree. 

The Gray Rabbit possesses the habit of all the other species of this 
genus, with which we are acquainted, of stamping wth its hind feet on 
the earth when alarmed at night, and when the males are engaged in 
combat. It is also seen during the spring season, in wood-paths and 
along the edges of fields, seeking food late in the mornings and early in 
the afternoons, and during the breeding season even at mid-day : on such 
occasions, it may be approached and shot with great ease. This species, 
like all the true hares, has no note of recognition, and its voice is never 
heard, except when wounded or at the moment of its capture, when it 
utters a shrill, plaintive cry, like that of a young child in pain ; in the 
Northern hare this cry is louder, shriller, and of longer continuance. 
The common domesticated European rabbit seems more easily made to 
cry out in this way than any other of the genus. 

Dr. Richardson, in his -work on the American quadrupeds, expresses an 
opinion from a careful examination of many specimens in different State.s 
that the change to the winter dress in the Northern hare, is effected not 
by a shedding of its hair, but by a lengthening and blanching of the sum- 
mer fur. Having watched the progress of this change, in the present 


species in a state of confinement, and ha\dng also examined many speci- 
mens at all seasons of the year, we have arrived at the opposite conclu- 
sion as far as regards the Gray Rabbit. In autumn, the gi-eater portion, if 
not all, the summer fur drops off' in spots, and is gradually replaced by 
the winter coat. In this state, as there are shades of difference between 
the summer and winter colours, the animal presents a somewhat singular 
appearance, exhibiting at the same time, (as in the Northern hare, al- 
though far less conspicuously,) patches of different colours. The Gray 
Rabbit, although it breeds freely in enclosed warrens, seldom becomes 
tame, and will probably never be domesticated. When captive, it seems 
to be constantly engaged in trying to find some means of escape, and 
though it digs no burrows in a state of nature, yet, when confined, it is 
capable of digging to the depth of a foot or more under a wall, in order 
to effect its object. We, however, at the house of Dr. De Benneville at 
Milcstown, near Philadelphia, saw five or six that were taken from the 
nest when very young and brought up by hand, so completely tamed 
that they came at the call and leapt on to the lap of their feeder ; they 
lived sociably and without restraint in the yard, among the dogs and 
poultry. The former, although accustomed to chase the wild rabbit, ne- 
ver molesting those which had, in this manner, grown up with them, and 
now made a part of the motley tenants of the poultry-yard. We have 
not only observed dogs peacefully associating with the hare when thus 
tamed ; but have seen hounds, accustomed to the chase of the deer, eat- 
ing from the same platter with one of those animals that was domesti- 
cated and loose in the yard, refraining from molesting it, and even de- 
fending it from the attacks of strangers of their own species, that hap- 
pened to come into the premises ; and when this tame deer, which occa- 
sionally visited the woods, was started by the pack of hounds here re- 
ferred to, they refused to pursue it. 

The Gray Rabbit is one of the most prolific of all our species of this 
genus ; in the Northern States it produces young about three times in the 
season, from five to seven at a litter, whilst in Carolina, its young are 
frequently brought forth as early as the twentieth of February, and as 
late as the middle of October, and in all the intermediate months. Na- 
ture seems thus to have made a ■wise provision for the preservation of the 
species, since no animal is more defenceless or possesses more numerous 
enemies. Although it can run with considerable swiftness for some dis- 
tance, its strength in a short time is exhausted, and an active dog would 
soon overtake it if it did not take shelter in some hole in the earth, heap 
of logs, or stones, or in a tree with a hollow near its root ; in these re- 
treats it is often captured by young hunters. 


In the Northern and Middle States, where the burrows of the Maryland 
marmot {Arctomijs 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 generally 
deep, or placed among rocks or roots, it would require more labour to un- 
earth it when it has taken possession of either of these animals' retreats 
than it is worth, and it is generally left unmolested. It is not always safe 
in these cases, however, for the skunk occasionally is " at home " when 
the Rabbit runs into his hole, and often catches and devours the as- 
tonished fugitive before it can retrace its steps and reach the mouth of 
the burrow. 

This species is also captured occasionally by the skunk and other car- 
nivorous animals when in its form. Its most formidable enemy, how- 
ever, is the ermine, which follows its tracks until it retires to a hole 
in the earth or to a hollow tree, which the little but ferocious creature, 
although not one-fourth as large as the timid Rabbit, quickly enters 
and kills it — eating off the head, and leaving the body until a want of 
food compels it to return for more. 

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 wouldbenearly extirpated in our neighbourhood ; 
our design being to set them at liberty in the spring. At this period we 
had in confinement several weasels of two species existing in that part 
of the country, {Putorius erminea and P.fusca,) in order to ascertain in 
what manner their change of colour from brown in summer to white in 
winter, and vice versa, was effected. 

We bethought ourselves of using one of each species of these weasels 
instead of a ferret, to aid in taking the RabLits 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 prevent them from es- 
caping, or remaining in the holes to eat the Rabbits, whilst it could not 
slip and choke them. 

We soon raced a Rabbit to its hole, and our first experiment was made 
with the little brown weasel, (P. fusca ;) it appeared to be frighten- 
ed, and refused to enter the hole ; the common species, (P. erminea,) al- 
though we had captured the individual but a few days before, entered 
readily ; but having its jaws at liberty, it killed the Rabbit. Relinquish- 
ing the weasel to our man, he afterwards filed its teeth down to prevent 
it from destroying the Rabbits ; and when thus rendered harmless, 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 in- 
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 vi^eeks, when we requested him to desist. 

On more than one occasion we have seen the tracks of this species on 
the snow, giving evidence, by their distance from each other, that the 
animal had passed rapidly, running under the influence of fear. Exam- 
ining the surface of the snow carefully, we observed the foot-prints of the 
weasel, as if in pursuit, and following up the double trail, we found, at 
the mouth of a hole a short distance beyond, the mutilated remains of the 
luckless Rabbit. 

The Canada lynx, the Bay lynx, (wild cat,) the red and the gray fox, 
&c., capture this species by stratagem or stealth ; various species of 
hawks and owls prey upon them, and the rattle-snake, chicken-snake, 
and other serpents have been killed with the Gray Rabbit in their sto- 
mach. These reptiles probably caught their victims by stratagem, or by 
stealing upon them when in their form, and enclosing them in their twin- 
ing folds, as the boa constrictor captures larger animals. 

In order to catch or kill the Gray Rabbit, different means are resorted 
to according to the fancy of the hunter or the nature of the locality in 
which the animal may be. In the northern parts of the United States it 
is pursued with dogs, and either shot or taken from the hole or other re- 
treat to which it may have been driven. It is also frequently captured 
in box-traps, or snares placed in the gaps of some brush-fence made in 
the woods for the purpose. In the Southern States it is generally hunted 
\/ith pointer dogs and shot at the moment when it leaps from its form. 


We have not heard of the existence of this species farther north than 
the southern counties of the State of New Hampshire, beyond which it 
is replaced by other and larger species. It cannot be said to be abun- 
dant in the New England States, except in a few localities, and it does 
not seem to prefer high mountainous regions. In occasional botanical 
excursions among the Catskill mountains, and those of Vermont and New 
Hampshire, where we saw considerable numbers of the Northern hare 
we found scarcely any traces of the present species, especially in the 
mountains east of the Hudson river. It exists in the chain of the Alle- 
ganies running through Virginia to the upper parts of Carolina, but is 


there far from being abundant. It was exceedingly scarce north-east of 
Albany thirty-five years ago, where it has now become far more numer- 
ous tban the Northern hare, which was then the only species usually met 
with. It abounds in the sandy regions covered with pine trees west of 
that city. From Dutchess county to the southern limits of New-York it 
is found in considerable numbers. In Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, Mary- 
land, and all the Southern States, hunting the Gray Rabbit affords more 
amusement to young sportsmen than the pursuit of any other quadruped 
in the countrj^ We have traced this species through all the higher por- 
tions of Florida. To the west we have seen it in all the Southern States, 
and it is very abundant on the upper Missouri River to nearly 1000 miles 
above Saint Louis. 


This being the most common of our hares in the Atlantic States of 
America, it has been longest and most familiarly known. Hereiott, who 
gave an account of the third voyage of the English to Virginia in 1586, 
in enumerating the natural productions of that country, under the head 
of Conies, says, " Those that we have seen, and all that we can hear of, 
are of a gray colour like unto hares ; in some places there are such plen- 
ty that all the people, of some to\vns, make them mantles of the fur, or 
fleece of the skins of those which they usually take." It is subsequently 
mentioned by the intrepid Governor Smith of Virginia, by Lavvson and by 
Catesby. Kalm, in the 1st vol. of his Travels in America, gave a cor- 
rect description, not only of the animal, but of its habits. The following 
is an extract from his Journal, the entry was made either at Philadelphia 
or his favourite retreat " Racoon," in the vicinity of that city, on the 6th 
Jan. 1749. " There are a great number of hares in this country, but 
they differ from our Swedish ones in their size, which is very small, 
and but little bigger than that of a rabbit ; they keep almost the 
same gray colour both in summer and winter, which our Northern 
hares have in summer only ; the tip of their ears is always gray, and 
not black ; the tail is likewise gray on the upper side, at all seasons ; 
they breed several times a year. In spring they lodge their young ones 
in hollow trees, and in summer, in the months of June and July, they 
breed in the grass. When they are surprised they commonly take refuge 
in hollow trees, out of which they are taken by means of a crooked stick, 
or by cutting a hole into the tree, opposite to the place where they lie ; 
or by smoke which is occasioned by making a fire on the outside of the 
tree. On all these occasions the greyhounds must be at hand. These 
hares never bite, and can be touched without any danger. In the day-time 


they usually He in hollo'w trees, and hardly ever stir from thence, unless 
they be disturbed by men or dogs ; but in the night they come out and 
seek their food. In bad w-eather, or when it snows, they lie close for a 
day or two, and do not venture to leave their retreats. They do a great 
deal of mischief in the cabbage-fields, but apple-trees suffer infinitely 
more from them, for they peel off all the bark next to the ground. The 
people here are agreed that the hares are fatter in a cold and severe 
winter, than in a mild and wet one, for which they could give me several 
reasons from their own conjectures. The skin is useless because it is so 
loose that it can be dra^vn off ; for when you ^vould separate it from the 
flesh, you need only pull at the fur and the skin follows. These hares 
cannJ; be tamed. They were at all times, even in the midst of winter, 
plagued with a number of common fleas." 

In 1820 (as we have observed in our article on L. Americanus) Des- 
MAREST mistaking the species, gave a pretty good description of the Gray 
Rabbit, and unfortunately referred it to L. Americanus. He had evident- 
ly been misled by Foester, Schcepff, Pennant, Erxleben and Bodd, who 
having confounded these two species, induced him to believe that as he 
was describing an American hare, only one American species at that 
time being kno\vn, it must be the one referred to bj' previous authors. 
Hence he quoted Gmelin, Schcepff, Erxleben, Pallas and Bodd, and gave 
to the species the extravagant geographical range, from Churchill, Hud- 
son's Bay, to California, and assigned it a habitation in Xew- Albion, Loui- 
siana, Florida, the two Carolinas, &c. Harlan, in giving an account of 
the American quadrupeds in 1825, finding the Gray Rabbit described by 
Desmarest, translated the article very literally, even to its faults, from the 
French of that author, (See Encj-clopedie de Mammalogie, p. 351.) 
lan's translation represents the fur as " becoming whiter during winter, 
but the ears and tail remaining always of the same gray." In the fol- 
lowing year Godman (Amer. Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 157) once more described 
this species under the (wrong) name of Lepus Americanus. In speaking 
of its colour, he saj-s, " in winter the pelage is nearly or altogether 
white," and he gives it the extraordinary weight of seven pounds. This 
is rather surprising, as we know no city in the union where the market 
in winter is better supplied -n-ith this species of hare than Philadelphia. 
In this singular manner the Gray Rabbit, the most common and 
best known of all the species of quadrupeds in America, had never re- 
ceived a specific name that was not pre-occupied. In 1827, we proposed 
the name of Lepus sylvaticus, and assigned our reasons for so doing in a 
subsequent paper, (See Journ. Acad. Nat. Sc, vol. viii., part 1, p. 75.) In 
1840, Dr. Emmoks also, (Report on Quadrupeds of Massachusetts,) de- 


scribed it under the (wrong) name of L. Americanus, giving as synony- 
mous, L. Hudsonhis, Pallas ; American hare, Forster, Pennant, Arct. 
Zool. Hearne's Journe}', Sabine, Parry and Richardson ; ^vho each de- 
scribed the Northern hare, and not this species. He, however, quoted 
Harlan and Godman correctlj", with the exception of the name which they 
had misapplied. 

In 1842 Dr. Dekat (See Nat. Hist. N. York, part 1st, p. 93,) refers 
this species to Lepiis nanus of Schreber, supposing the description of that 
author, (which is contained in an old work that is so scarce in America 
that our naturalists have seldom had an opportunity of referring to it.) 
to have escaped the notice of modern authors. After giving a trans- 
lation from Schreber, he remarks, " The whole history of the habits of 
this species, and its abundance, sufficiently confirm the fact, that Schreber 
had our Rabbit in view, although he was misled by Schcepff and Pennant, 
and confounded two species." 

We regret that we are obliged to differ from an author who is gene- 
rally accurate, and who is always courteous in his language towards 
other naturalists, but in this case we must do so. 

In order to save the student of natural history the labour of searching 
for Schreber's ^vo^k, to refer to his description, we have concluded to insert 
it here, together with our translation of the article, adding the references 
to authors, &c., which were omitted by Dekay, and which we conceive 
very important in pursuing our inquiries. 

extract froji schreber. 



Lepus nanus. Lepus auribus extrorsum nigro marginatis, cauda supra 


Lepds Hudsonics. 

Lepd3 Apice AcRiuM CxcDiiQCE CiNEREO, Pall., NoT. Spec. Glis., p. 30, 15, Zimmerm., 

E. E. z. 336. 
Lepus Americanus, Lepus eauda abbreviata pedibus postici corpore dimidio locgioiibus 

auricularum caudaeque apieibus griseis, Erxleben, Mamm., p. 330. 
America.v Hare, Forster, Phil. Tr., Ixxii., p. 376, Pennant, Hist., p. 372 u. 243. 
Hare, Hedge Coney, Lawson, Car., p. 123, Catesby's App., p. xxviii. 


HARiR, en art som at midt emellau hare ach canin, Kalm, Rese, vol. ii., p. 236, vol. iii, 

p. 8, 285. 
Der AMERiKANiscHE Hase, Forster, von den Tliieren in Hudson's Bay, in Sprenge's 

Der nokdamerikanische Hase, Schcepff. 
Wabi's, (Algo.nquinisch,) Jefferson's Notes, (Phil. 1788,) p. 51, 57. 


Der Kopf hat nichts Unterscheidendes. Die Baeken sind dickharig. 
Die Ohren diinne, auswendig diinne behaart, inwendig kahl, und reichen, 
vorwarts gebogen, noch nicht bis an die Nasenspitze ; nach hinten gelegt, 
bis an die Scliulterblatter. Ueber den grossen schwarzen Augen vier bis 
funf Borsten. Die Bartborsten grossentheils schwarz ; einige weiss ; die 
langsten scheineu langer als der Kopf zu sein. 

Die Sommerfarbe ist folgende. Die Ohren braunlich, mit einer sehr 
schmalen schwarzen Eiufassung am aussern Rande, die an der Spitze 
eben die Breite behalt, oder gegen die Spitze hin gar verschwindet. 
Stime, Baeken, Riicken und Seiten, Aerme und Schenkel auswendig 
leicht braun, mit Schwarz uberlauf n. 

Der Umfang des Afters weiss. Die Fiisse dicht und kurz behaart, von 
einem hellern leicht Braun, ohne alles Schwarz, an der innern Seite starker 
in grau-weiss abfallend. Der Schwanz oben auf von der Farbe des 
Riickens, (vermuthlich starker mit Schwarz iiberlaufen, denn Herr Pen- 
nant beschreibt ihn oben schwarz,) unten weiss. Die Kehle weiss ; der 
Untertheil des Halses leicht braun, mit Weiss iiberlaufen. 

Brust, Bauch, innere Aerme und Schenkel, einem weichen Weiss. Die 
Winterfarbe, wo sie verschieden, ist weiss. Backenzahne oben und unten 
auf jeder Seite fiinf Die Lange des Korpers hochstens anderthalb eng- 
lische Fuss ; des Schwanzes nicht viel iiber zwei Zoll. Das Gewicht 
2i bis 3 Pfund ; nach Herrn Pennant 3 bis 41 Pfund. 

Die underscheidenden Merkmale dieser Art sind nach den Herren For- 
ster, Pennant und ScHCEPFr, 1. die Grosse ; er kommt dem gemeinen und 
veranderlichen Hasen lange nicht bei, und ist kaum grosser als ein Ka- 
ninchen, daher er auch in Nord-Amerika nicht seiten den Namen Rabbit 
oder Kaniuchen bekommt. 2. Das Verhaltniss der Fiisse ; die Vorterfiisse 
sind kiirzer imd die Hinterfiisse langer als an alien Dreien. 3. Die Far- 
be der Ohren : sie haben eine schwarze Einfassung auswendig, aber 
keinen schwarzen Fleck an der Spitze. Ihre geringere Lange unter- 
scheidet von den Ohren des gemeinen Hasen. 4. Die Farbe des Schwan- 
zes ; diese ist oben auf nicht schwarz, oder doch night so sattschwarz als 
am Hasen. 5. Die Farbe des Korpers. 6. Die Lebeusart und Eigen- 


schaften. Er kann also unmoglich etwas anders als eine fiir sich beste- 
hende Art sein. Sein Vaterland is ganz Nord-Amerika, von Hudson's 
Bay an bis nacb Florida hinab. Er schweift nicht herum, sondern 
schrankt sich auf kleine Raume ein. 

In Hudson's Baj', Canada und Neu-England vertauscht er sein kurzes 
Sommerhaar im Herbste gegen ein langes seitenartiges und bis an die 
Wurzel silberweisses Haar, und nur der Rand der Ohren und der 
Schwanz behalten ihre Farbe, (Pennant, Kalm.) In den siidlichen Lan- 
dern bleibt die Farbe, auch in den hiirtesten Wintern, unverandert, 

Daher konnte man diesen Hasen fiiglich den /ia?6-veranderlichen 

In carefully reading the above description, the attentive reader can 
scarcely have failed to remark that if Lepus Americanus of Erxleben, and 
Lepus Hudsonius of Pallas, are the Northern hare, Lepus nanus must be 
the same species, as the descriptions agrefe in every particular ; and where 
ScHREBER enters more into detail, he describes the Northern hare still 
more minutely, and only confirms us still farther in the conviction that 
he had never seen the Gray Rabbit, and was describing the very species 
he professed to describe, viz., the Hudson's Ba}' quadruped of Daines 
Bareington, (See vol. Ixii. Phil. Trans., p. 11,) and the "American hare, 
called rabbit at Hudson's Bay," of Fokster, (See the above vol., p. 376,) 
which, however, had already received from two of his countrymen, Pallas 
and Erxleben, the names of L. Americanus and L. Hudsonius. 

The time when this description was made must not be overlooked. At 
the close of the year 1772, the Philosophical Transactions, containing the 
two accounts of this new American hare, were published. No specific 
Latin name, such as would accort'ing to the binary s}"stem w^hich was 
then coming into use, entitle the first describer to the species, had as j'et 
been given to it ; and whilst the English naturalists were looking for de- 
cided characters, by which it could be distinguished, (and we know from 
experience with how much difficulty these characteristics are found in 
the hares,) the German naturalists, with the example of Linnaeus, their 
next door neighbour, before their eyes, went forward in hot haste to de- 
scribe the species. Leaving the English philosophers to cook their ani- 
mal, to ascertain by the colour of its flesh whether it was a hare or a rab- 
bit, they sought for a Latin cognomen, desirous that their own names 
should be handed down to posterity along with it. Hence Erxleben, Pal- 
lab and ScHREBER, (the two former evidently without the knowledge of 


the latter,) named the species, very likely, as we are inclined to think, 
without having had any specimen before them, and simply attaching a 
name to the descriptions of the English naturalists. Be this as it may, 
in less than three years it had already received, in Germany alone, the 
several names of L. Amcricanus, nanus, and Hudsonius. If Schreber, 
who had the Philosophical Transactions lying before him when he drew 
up his description, (for he quotes both the accounts,) and who also pos- 
sessed the accounts of Erxleben and Pallas, had examined a different 
species, surely he would have made the discovery ; but after a careful 
examination, and not a bad description, he gives the size, colour, and 
measurements of the Northern hare, and finally quotes Foester, Pexnant, 
ScHCEPFF, &c., as his authorities for the species. 

The name Lepiis nanus, given to it by Sciikeber, might at first lead us 
to conjecture that as he meant to designate his species as a small hare, 
and as the Northern hare is rather large, he could not have intended it 
for the latter, but had in view the Gray Rabbit — hence the name, nanus, 
dwarf. There can, however, be no difficulty in accounting for the choice 
of that name. On turning to the eleventh page of the Philosophical 
Transactions, vol. xlii., where the species was first announced, it will be 
perceived that Barrixgton had been closely investigating the several spe- 
cies of hare with which the naturalists of Europe were acquainted at 
that early day ; and he gives the following measurements : — 




Back and Head. 


4i inches 

6i inches 

16^ inc 


71 " 



22 " 

Hudson's Bay quadruped 

6J " 



18 « 

Alpine hare 

. 61 " 



22 « 


' From uppermost joint 

to toe. 

Here then we have the relative sizes of the several species. The 
first is the common wild rabbit of England, (-L. cuniculus,) which is a 
little larger than our Gray Rabbit. The second is the common Eng- 
lish hare, (L. timidus.) The third, the American hare from Hudson's 
Bay ; and the fourth, the Alpine or variable hare, (L. variabilis.) The 
rabbit being a burrowing animal with white flesh, w^as not considered a 
hare, and the American animal was smaller than either the European or 
the Alpine hare, measuring only eighteen inches in length, whilst these 
last measured twent3'-two inches each. We, perceive, therefore, that it 
was called Lepus nanus, because it was the smallest of the species then 
known. For the same reason our American woodcock was called scolopax 



minor, because it was smaller than the Eaglish woodcock, although it 
finally proved to be the largest snipe in America. 

Let us compare the description of Sciieeber's L. nanus, with the North- 
ern hare, oi' which we have a number of specimens, (including all its 
various changes of colour,) before us, to refer to as we proceed. 


Lepus nanus. 
The head has nothing peculiar ; 
cheeks, thickly haired ; ears, thin, 
externally with few hairs, naked 
within, and when bent forward do 
not reach the point of the nose, 
when bent backward they reach 
the shoulder blades. 

Eyes, large and black, with four 
or five bristles above them ; whis- 
kers, mostly black ; some are white, 
the longest appear to be longer than 
the head. 

The following is the colour in 
summer ; ears, brownish, with a 
very narrow black border on the 
outer margin, being at the tips the 
same breadth, or it even disappears 
towards the tips. 

Lepus Americanus. 
This description agrees with L. 
Americanus ; the ears in our dried 
specimens are none of them more 
than 3i inches long, whilst from 
nose to ear they measure 4 inches ; 
the ears therefore could not reach 
the nose. 

Applies perfectly to our speci- 
mens of L. Americanus, except the 
colour of the eyes, which applies to 
neicher the Northern hare nor the 
Gray Rabbit, and which he must 
have obtained from some other 
source than a dried skin. 

The very narrow black border on 
the outer margin betrays the spe- 
cies ; it belongs to the Northern 
hare, but not to the Gray Rabbit. 
They only become effaced when 
covered with white hair in winter ; 
and it is evident this last expression 
was taken from Kalm, who says of 
the Rabbit, " the tip of their ears 
is always gray, and not black, as is 
the case in the European, common, 
and Alpine hares." 

Forehead, cheeks, back and sides, All agreeing with the description 
fore and hind-legs externally, light of the Northern hare, 
brown, mixed with black ; around 
the breech, white. 





Feet, thickly covered with short 
hairs of a light brown, unmixed 
with black, changing on the inside 
to a grayish white. 

Upper part of the tail the colour 
of the back, (perhaps mixed with 
black, as Pennant describes it black 
above,) beneath white. 

Throat, white ; lower part of the 
neck, bright brown, mixed with 
white ; chest and belly, inside of 
fore and hind-legs, a dull white. 

Colour in winter, when it does 
change, white. 

Molars above and beneath, on 
each side, five. The length of the 
body at farthest eighteen inches, 
the tail not over two inches. 


Such is the colour of the feet of 
several of our specimens of the Nor- 
thern hare in summer pelage. 

The upper part of the tail is like 
the back in most specimens, but it 
is seen how^ anxious he was not to 
depart from the views of Pennant, 
who describes it as black, which is 
the case in some specimens. 

These distinctive marks all be- 
long to the Northern hare. 

The weight is from 2| to 3 lbs. ; 
according to Pennant, from 3 to 4^ 

The most striking distinctions in 
this species, according to Forster, 
Pennant, and Schcepff, are, 1st, its 
size ; it is not near as large as the 
common hare or the changeable 

The Gray Rabbit does not become 
white in winter. 

This size applies to the Northern 
hare, and not to the Gray Rabbit. 
None of our dried specimens of the 
former reach quite eighteen inches, 
and none of the Gray Rabbit beyond 
fifteen. Tail of the Northern hare, 
including fur, two inches ; that of 
the Gray Rabbit is longer. 

These weights were compiled 
from authors. Carver, who had re- 
ference to the Gray Rabbit, gave 
the lesser weight : and Pennant, 
who referred to the Northern hare, 
gave the greater. 

Forster says in regard to the 
Northern hare — " The proper cha- 
racteristics of this species seem to 
be, 1st, its size, which is some- 
what bigger than a rabbit, but less 




hare, and scarcely larger than a than that of the Alpine or lesser 
rabbit ; hence in North America he hare." 
is frequently called rabbit. 

2d, The proportion of the legs. 
The hind-feet being longer and the 
fore-feet shorter than either of the 

3d, The colour of the ears ; they 
have a black margin outside, but 
no black spot at the tip. 

2d, FoRSTER says, " The propor- 
tion of its limbs. Its hind-feet being 
longer in proportion to the body 
than those of the rabbit and the 
common hare. 

3d, " The tip of the ears and 
tail, which are constantly gray, not 
black," Kalm's Travels, vol. ii., p. 

The ear being less in length se- 
parates it from the comLmon hare. 

4th, The colour of the tail ; this 
is on the upper surface not black, 
or as intensely black as that of the 

The ears of the Northern hare, 
the species here referred to, are con- 
siderably less in length than those 
of the common European hare. 

The upper side of the tail of the 
European hare, (L. timidus,) is 
black, that of the Northern hare 
generally dark brown. 

5th, The colour of the body. 

That of the European hare is not 
as dark. 

6th, Its mode of living and habits. In the description of these habits 

by FoRSTER, two species had been 

It can therefore only be a distinct He meant distinct from those of 
species. Europe. 

It is a native of all North Ameri- 
ca, from Hudson's Bay to Florida. 
It does not migrate far, but confines 
itself to a narrow compass. 

The Gray Rabbit is not found at 
Hudson's Bay, where the other 
abounds. In his views of the South- 
ern range of the Northern hare, he 
was misled by Forster, and suppos- 
ing Kalm's rabbit referred to the 




In Hudson's Bay, Canada, and 
New England, it changes in au- 
tumn this short summer hair into a 
long silky fur, white from the roots, 
and only the border of the ears and 
the tail preserve their colour, (Pen- 
nant, Kalm.) 

In the Southern parts, his colour, 
even in the coldest winters, remains 
unchanged, (Kalm.) He might, 
therefore, be properly called the 
half changing hare. 

same species, he quoted Kalm as 
authority for its existence as far 
south as Florida. 

The Gray Rabbit does not change 
in this manner. He meant by this 
to show that whilst this species be- 
came white in winter, the border of 
the ear and upper part of the tail 
underwent no change. 

ScHKEBER, never having been in 
America, had to compile his account 
of its habits from others. It is easi- 
ly seen that in this he was misled 
by FoRSTER, who misunderstood 
Kalm ; the latter having here re- 
ferred to the Gray Rabbit, which 
never changes its colour. 

Dekay conceives Schreber to have described the Gray Rabbit, from the 
abundance of the species ; but the Northern hare, where it does exist, is 
not less abundant. In particular localities in the Northern States, it is 
more frequently met with than the Gray Rabbit in the Middle or Southern 

Hearne says that on the south side of Anawed Lake they were so 
plentiful, that several of the Indians caught twenty or thirty of a night 
with snares ; and at Hudson's Bay, where all the specimens first brought 
to Europe were procured, it is represented as very abundant. 

We think we have now shown that Schreber's account of L. nanus — 
its size, length of legs, the black margin around the ear, its change of 
colour, and his references to authors all prove explicitly that he had no 
reference to the Gray Rabbit, but described the Northern hare. 

His name must therefore stand as a synonjone of L. Americanus, which 
is to be somewhat regretted, as although the name itself is very objec- 
tionable, his description of that species appears to us the best that was 
given, from its first describer, Foester, down to the time of Richardson, 
whose description is so accurate that nothing need be added to it. 


GENUS MUS.— Linn. 
Incisive 5-; Canine jpqj ; Molar ^^ = 16. 

Cheek-teeth, furnished with tubercles ; ears, oblong or round, nearly 
naked ; without cheek-pouches ; fore-feet, with four toes and a wart, 
covered with an obtuse nail, in place of a thumb ; hind-feet, pendac- 
tylous ; tail, long, usually naked and scaly ; fur, with a few long, 
scattered hairs, extending beyond the rest. 

The generic name Mus is derived from the Latin mus, a mouse, from 
the Greek r^vs, (mus,) a mouse. 

There are upwards of two hundred species of this genus described as 
existing in various quarters of the globe, of which about nine well-deter- 
mined species are found in North America, three of which have been in- 

Black Rat. 

PLATE XXIII. — Old and Young, of various Coloues. Natural size. 

M. Cauda corpore longiore ; pedibus anterioribus ungue pro pollice in- 
structis ; corpore atro, subtus cinereo. 


Tail, longer than the body ; fore-feet, with a claw in place of a thumb, 
hluisli-blach above, dark ash-coloured beneath. 


Mus Rattus, Linn., 12th ed., p. 83. 

" " Schreber, Saugetliiere, p. 647. 

" " Desmar., in Nouv. Diet., 29, p. 48. 

Rat, Buffon, Hist. Nat., vol. vii., p. 278, t. 36. 
Rat Ordinaire, Cuv., Regne Anim., p. 197. 
Black Rat, Penn., Arc. Zool., vol. i., p. 129. 
Roller Pontopp., Dan. i., p. 611. 


Mns Rattus, Griffith's Animal Kingdom, vol. v., 578, 5. 
" " Harlan, p. 148. 

" " Godman, vol. ii., p. 83. 

" " Richardson, p. 140. 

" " Emmons, Report on Quadrupeds of Massachusetts, p. 63. 

" " Dekay, Natural History of New York, vol. i., p. 80. 


Head, long : nose, sharp pointed ; lower jaw, short ; ears, large, oval, 
broad and naked. Whiskers, reaching beyond the ear. 

Body, smaller and more delicately formed than that of the brown rat ; 
thickly clothed with rigid, smooth, adpressed hairs. 

Fore-feet, \^'ith four toes, and a claw in place of a thumb. Feet, plan- 
tigrade, covered on the outer surface with short hairs. Tail, scaly, 
slightly and very imperfectly clothed with short coarse hairs. The taQ 
becomes square when dried, but in its natural state is nearly round. 
Mammae, 12. 

"Whiskers, head, and all the upper surface, deep bluish-black ; a few 
\\'hite hairs interspersed along the back, giving it in some lights a shade 
of cinereous ; on the under surface it is a shade lighter, usually cinereous. 
Tail, dusky : a few light-coloured hairs reaching beyond the toes, and 
covering the nails. 


Length of head and body 8 inches. 

tail 8i do. 

The character of this species is so notoriously bad, that were we to ^^Tite 
a volume in its defence we would fail to remove those prejudices ■which 
are every where entertained against this thieving cosmopolite. Possess- 
ing scarcely one redeeming quality, it has by its mischievous propensities 
caused the world to unite in a ^vish for its extermination. 

The Black Rat is omnivorous, nothing seeming to come amiss to its 
voracious jaws — flesh, fowl or fish, and grain, fruit, nuts, vegetables, &c., 
■whether raw or cooked, being indiscriminately devoured by it. It is very 
fond of plants that contain much saccharine or oleaginous matter. 

The favourite abodes of this species are barns or granaries, holes under 
out-houses or cellars, and such like places ; but it does not confine itself 
to any particular locality. We have seen its burrows under cellars used 



for keeping the winter's supply of sweet potatoes in Carolina, in dykes 
surrounding rice-fields sometimes more than a mile from any d^velling, 
and it makes a home in clefts of the rocks on parts of the Alleghany 
mountains, where it is very abundant. 

In the neighbourhood of the small streams which are the sources of the 
Edisto river, we found a light-coloured variety, in far greater numbers 
than the Black, and we have given three figures of them in our Plate. 
They were sent to us alive, having been caught in the woods, not far from 
a mill-pond. We have also observed the same variety in Charleston, and 
received specimens from Major Leconte, who obtained them in Georgia. 

During the summer season, and in the autumn, many of these rats, as 
well as the common or Norw^ay rat, (Mus decmnanus,) and the common 
mouse, (Mus musculus,) leave their hiding places near or in the farmer's 
bams or hen-houses, and retire to the ^voods and fields, to feed on various 
wild grasses, seeds, and plants. We have observed Norway rats bur- 
rowing in banks and on the borders of fields, far from any inhabited 
building ; but when the w^inter season approaches they again resort to 
their former haunts, and possibly invite an additional party to join them. 
The Black Rat, however, lives in certain parts of the country permanently 
in localities where there are no human habitations, keeping in crevices 
and fissures in the rocks, under stones, or in hollow logs. 

This species is by no means so great a pest, or so destructive, as the 
bro\\Ti or Norway rat, which has in many parts of the country either 
driven off or exterminated it. The Black Rat, in consequence, has become 
quite rare, not only in America but in Europe. 

Like the Norway rat this species is fond of eggs, young chickens, ducks, 
&c., although its exploits in the poultry house are surpassed by the au- 
dacity and voraciousness of the other. 

We have occasionally observed barns and hen-houses that were infested 
by the Black Rat, in which the eggs or young chickens remained unmo- 
lested for months together ; when, however, the Rats once had a taste of 
these delicacies, they became as destructive as usual, and nothing could 
save the eggs or young fowls but making the buildings rat-proof, or kill- 
ing the plunderers. 

The following information respecting this species, has been politely 
communicated to us by S. W. Roberts, Esa., civil engineer: — 

" In April, 1831, when leading the exploring party which located the 
portage railroad over the Alleghany mountains, in Pennsylvania, I found a 
multitude of these animals living in the crevices of the silicious limestone 
rocks on the Upper Conemaugh river, in Cambria county, where the large 
viaduct over that stream now stands. The countv was then a wilder- 


ness, and as soon as buildings were put up the rats deserted the rocks, 
and established themselves in the shanties, to our great annoyance ; so 
that one of my assistants amused himself shooting at them as he lay in 
bed early in the morning. They ate all our shoes, whip-lashes, &,c., 
&c., and we never got rid of them until we left the place." 

We presume that in this locality there is some favourite food, the seeds 
of wild plants and grasses, as well as insects, lizards, (Salamandra,) &c., 
on which these Rats generally feed. We are induced to believe that 
their range on the Alleghanies is somewhat limited, as we have on 
various botanical excursions, explored these mountains at different points, 
to an extent of seven himdred miles, and although we saw them in the 
houses of the settlers, we never observed any locality where they existed 
permanently in the woods, as they did according to the above account. 

The habits of this species do not differ very widely from those of the 
browii or Norway rat. When it obtains possession of premises that re- 
main unoccupied for a few years, it becomes a nuisance by its rapid 
multiplication and its voracious habits. We many years ago spent a few 
days with a Carolina planter, who had not resided at his country seat 
for nearly a year. On our arrival, we found the house infested by seve- 
ral hundreds of this species ; they kept up a constant squeaking during 
the whole night, and the smell from their urine was exceedingly of- 

The Black Rat, although capable of swimming, seems less fond of fre- 
quenting the water than the brown rat. It is a more lively, and we 
think a more active, species than the other ; it runs with rapidity, and 
makes longer leaps ; when attacked, it shrieks and defends itself with its 
teeth, but we consider it more helpless and less courageous than the brown 
or Norway rat. 

It is generally believed that the Black Rat has to a considerable extent 
been supplanted both in Europe and America by the Norway rat, which 
it is asserted kills or devours it. We possess no positive facts to prove 
that this is the case, but it is very probably true. 

We have occasionally found both species existing on the same pre- 
mises, and have caught them on successive nights in the same traps ; but 
we have invariably found that where the Norway rat exists in any con- 
siderable numbers the present species does not long remain. The Nor- 
way rat is not only a gross feeder, but is bold and successful in its attacks 
on other animals and birds. We have known it to destroy the domes- 
ticated rabbit by dozens ; we have seen it dragging a living frog from the 
banks of a pond ; we were once witnesses to its devouring the young of 
its own species, and we see no reason why it should not pursue the Black 


Rat to the extremity of its burrow, and there seize and devour it. Be 
this as it may, the latter is diminishing in number in proportion to 
the multiplication of the other species, and as they are equally prolific 
and equally cunning, we cannot account for its decrease on any other 
supposition than that it becomes the prey of the more powerful and more 
voracious Norway rat. 

The Black Rat brings forth young four or five times in a year ; we 
have seen from six to nine young in a nest, which was large and com- 
posed of leaves, hay, decayed grasses, loose cotton, and rags of various 
kinds, picked up in the vicinity. 


This species is constantly carried about in ships, and is found, although 
very sparinglj^, in all our maritime cities. We have met with it occa- 
sionally in nearly all the States of the Union. On some plantations in 
Carolina, particularly in the upper country, it is the only species, and is 
very abundant. We have, however, observed that in some places where 
it was very common a few years ago, it has altogether disappeared, and 
has been succeeded by the Norway rat. The Black Rat has been trans- 
ported to every part of the world where men carry on commerce by 
means of ships, as just mentioned. 


Pennant, Kalm, Linnxus, Pallas, Desmarest, and other European 
writers, seem disposed to consider America the Fatherland of this pest of 
the civilized world. Harlan adopted the same opinion, but Bartram, (if 
he was not misunderstood by Kalm,) did more than any other to perpe- 
tuate the error. 

In the course of a mutual interchange of commodities, the inhabitants 
of the Eastern and Western Continents have presented each other with 
several unpleasant additions to their respective productions, especially 
among the insect tribe. 

We are willing to admit that the Hessian fly was not brought to Ame- 
rica in straw from Hanover, as we sought in vain for the insect in Ger- 
many ; but we contend that the Black Rat and the Norway rat, which 
are in the aggregate, greater nuisances, perhaps, than any other animals 
now found in our country, were brought to America from the old world. 
There are strong evidences of the existence of the Black Rat in Persia, 
long before the discovery of America, and we have no proof that it was 
known in this country till many years after its colonization. It is true, 



there were rats in our country, which by the common people might have 
been regarded as similar to those of Europe, but these have novir been 
proved to be of very diflerent species. Besides, if the species existed in 
the East from time immemorial, is it not more probable that it should 
have been carried to Europe, and from thence to America, than that it 
should have been originally indigenous to both continents? As an evi- 
dence of the facility vv^ith vsrhich rats are transported from one country to 
another, we will relate the following occurrence. A vessel had arrived 
in Charleston from some English port, we believe Liverpool. She was 
freighted with a choice cargo of the finest breeds of horses, horned cat- 
tle, sheep, &c., imported by several planters of Carolina. A few phea- 
sants {Phasianus colchicus) were also left on board, and we were in- 
formed that several of the latter had been killed by a singular looking set 
of rats, that had become numerous on board of the ship. One of them 
was caught and presented to us, and proved to be the Black Rat. Months 
after the ship had left, we saw several of this species at the wharf where 
the vessel had discharged her cargo, proving that after a long sea voyage 
they had given the preference to terra firma, and like many other sailors, 
at the clearing out of the ship had preferred remaining on shore. 

We have seen several descriptions of rats, that we think will eventually 
be referred to some of the varieties of this species. The Mus Americanus 
of Gmelin, Mus nigricans of Rafinesuue, and several others, do not even 
appear to be varieties ; and we have little doubt that our light-coloured 
variety, if it has not already a name, will soon be described by some 
naturalist, who will consider it new. To prevent any one from taking 
this unnecessary trouble, we subjoin a short description of this variety, 
as observed in Carolina and Georgia. 

Wliole upper surface, grayish-brown, tinged with yellow ; light ash be- 
neath ; bearing so strong a resemblance to the Norway rat, that without 
a close examination it might be mistaken for it. 

In shape, size, and character of the pelage, it does not differ from the 
ordinary black specimens. 



Four Striped GBOuND-SftuiKKEL. 

PLATE XXV.— Male, Female, and Young. Natural size. 

T. striis quinque sub nigris longitudinalibus, cum quatuor sub albidis 
dorso alternatum distributis ; corpore magnitudine T. Lysteri minore ; 
lateribus rufo fuscis, ventre albo. 


Smaller than Tamias Lysteri ; five dark brown stripes, and four light- 
coloured stripes occupying the whole back ; sides, reddish-brown; underneath, 


SciURHS QuADBiviTTATUs, Say, Long's Expedition, vol. ii., p. 3-19. 

" " GrifEth, Animal Kingdom, vol. v., No. 665. 

" " Harlan, Fauna, p. 180. 

" " Godman, vol. ii., p. 137. 

SciuRus (Tamias) Quadrivittatus, Rich., Zool. Jour., No. 12, p. 519, April, 1828; Fauna 

Boreali Americana, p. 184, pi. 16. 
Tamias Minimus, Bach., Journ. Acad. Nat. Sc. Phila., vol. viii., part 1, Young. 


Head, of moderate size ; nose, tapering, but not very sharp. The mouth 
recedes very much, (as in all the other species of Tamias ;) cheek-pouches, 
of moderate size ; whiskers, about the length of the head ; eye, small ; 
ears, erect, of moderate length, clothed on both surfaces with very short 
hairs ; body, rather slender ; fore-feet, with four toes and a small thumb, 
armed with an obtuse nail ; pabns, naked ; claws, compressed, and curved 
like those of Tamias Lysteri. Hind-feet, with five slender toes; soles, 
covered with short hairs for three-fourths of their length ; tail, long, nar- 
row and sub-distichous. 


Forehead, dark-brown, with a few whitish hairs interspersed ; a nar- 



row black line from the nostril to the corner of the eye ; above and be- 
neath the eye, a line of white, which continues downward to the point of 
the nose. 

A dark-brown dorsal line, commencing behind the ears, continues along 
the back to the insertion of the tail ; another line, which is not quite so 
dark, begins at each shoulder and ends on the buttocks, near the tail ; on 
each flank there is another shorter and broader line, which runs along 
the sides to near the haunches ; on each side of the dorsal line there is a 
light-coloured stripe running down to near the insertion of the tail. The 
outer brown stripes are also separated by a line of yellowish-white ; thus 
the whole back is covered by five dark and four pale lines. From the 
neck a broad line of reddish-brown extends along the sides, terminating 
at the hips ; feet, light yellowish-brown ; under surface of the body, and 
inner surface of the legs, grayish-white. 

The tail, which is slightly distichous, is composed of hairs yellowish- 
brown at the roots, then dark-brown, and tipped with reddish-brown ; on 
its under surface they are reddish-brown, then black for a narrow space, 
and reddish-brown at the tips. 


A fine Male (killed Aug. 19th, 1843, on the Upper Missouri 
Nose to anterior canthus 
Nose to opening of ear 
Height of ear 
Width of ear 

Between centre of eyes . 
Length of head and body 
Tail (vertebrae) 
Tail to end of hair . 
Heel to end of hind-claws 
Palm and fore-feet to claws 

Weight 4 oz. 





















lA do. 

This pretty little species was discovered by Mr. Sav, during Colonel 
Long's expedition. Mr. Say does not however appear to have seen much 
of its habits, and gives us but the following short account of them : — 

" It does not seem to ascend trees by choice, but nestles in holes, and 
on the edges of rocks. We did not observe it to have cheek-pouches. 
Its nest is composed of a most extraordinary quantity of the burrs of the 


cactus, and their branches, and other portions of the large upright cactus, 
and small branches of pine trees and other vegetable productions, suffi- 
cient in some instances, to fill an ordinary cart. What the object of so 
great and apparently so superfluous an assemblage of rubbish may be 
we are at a loss to conjecture ; we do not know what peculiarly danger- 
ous enemy it may be intended to exclude by so much labour. Their prin- 
cipal food, at least at this season, is the seeds of the pine, which they 
readily extract from the cones." 

We met with this species as we were descending the Upper Missouri 
river in 1843 ; we saw it first on a tree ; afterwards we procured both 
old and young, among the sandy gulleys and clay cliffs, on the sides of the 
ravines near one of our encampments. 

These Ground Squirrels ascend trees when at hand and offering them 
either shelter or food, and seem to be quite as agile as the common 
species Tamias Lysteri. 

Dr. Richardson, who found this Ground Squirrel, during his long and 
laborious journeyings across our great continent, says of it — " It is an ex- 
ceedingly active little animal, and very industrious in storing up pro- 
visions, being very generally observed with its pouches full of the seeds 
of leguminous plants, bents and grasses. It is most common in dry sandy 
spots, where there is much underwood, and is often seen in the summer, 
among the branches of willows and low bushes. It is a lively restless 
animal, troublesome to the hunter, and often provoking him to destroy it, 
by the angry chirruping noise that it makes on his approach, and which 
is a signal of alarm to the other inhabitants of the forest. During winter 
it resides in a burrow with several openings, made at the roots of a tree ; 
and is even seen on the surface of the snow. At this season, when the 
snow disappears, many small collections of hazel-nut shells, from which 
the kernel has been extracted by a minute hole gnawed in the side, are 
to be seen on the ground near its holes." 

Dr. Richardson further informs us that on the banks of the Saskatcha- 
wan, the mouths of the burrows of this species are not protected with 
heaps of vegetable substances, as described by Mr. Say, and we have no 
doubt the animal adapts its nest (as many of our birds do) to the lo- 
cality and circumstances that surround it. 

These animals bite severely when captured, and probably resemble 
Tamias Lysteri in their general habits and mode of living. 


This species was originally discovered by Say, who procured it on the 
Rocky Mountains, near the sources of the Arkansas and Platte rivers. 


We obtained it on the Upper Missouri, and Mr. Drummond brought speci- 
mens from the sources of the Pearl river. It is found as far north as 
Lake Winnipeg, in lat. 50°. 


When we published Tamias minimus, we had some misgivings lest it 
might prove the j'oung of the present species. The discoverer however 
assured us that the two species did not exist within many hundred miles 
of each other, and that the specimens he sent us were those of full grovvm 
animals ; we consequently ventured on their publication. Having, how- 
ever, since procured young specimens of T. quadrivittatus, we are satis- 
fied of the error we committed, and hasten to correct it. In the investi- 
gation of species existing in distant and little known portions of country, 
it always requires a length of time to settle them beyond the danger of 
error. The traveller who makes these investigations very hastily, and 
seizes on a specimen wherever there is a moment's pause in the journey, 
is often himself deceived, and the describer, having perhaps only a single 
specimen, is very apt to fall into some mistake. The investigation of de- 
scribed species in every branch of natural history, both in Europe and 
America, occupied much of the time of the naturalists of our generation, 
who corrected many of the errors of a former age ; most fortunate are 
they who are permitted to live to correct their own. 



Downy SainsBEL. 
PLATE XXV. Natural size. 

S. auribus brevibus, cauda subdisticba ; S. Hudsonico paullo robustior, 
supra castaneo-fuscus, subtus albus, naso concolori ; lateribus argenteis ; 
occipite macule distincto. 


Ears, short ; tail, sub-distichous ; light chesnut-hrown on the upper sur- 
face ; sides, silver-gray. A spot on the hind part of the head, nose, and 
under surface of body, pure white. A little stouter than S. Hudsonius. 

SciDBUs Landginosus, Bach., Jour. Acad. Nat. Sc. of Phila., vol. viii., pt. 1, p. 67, 1838. 


Head, broader than in S. Hudsonius ; forehead, much arched ; ears, 
short and oval ; whiskers, longer than the head ; feet and toes, short ; 
thumb, armed with a broad flat nail. Nails, compressed and acute ; the 
third, on the fore-feet, longest. 

The tail, (which bears some resemblance to that of the flying squirrel, 
P. volucella,) is clothed with hairs a little coarser than those on the back, 
and is much shorter than the body. On the fore-feet the palms are nearly 
naked, the under surface of the toes being only partially covered with 
hair ; but on the hind-feet, the under surface from the heel to the ex- 
tremity of the nails is thickly covered with soft short hairs. Fur, softer 
and more downy than that of any other of our species. The fur indicates 
that the animal is an inhabitant of a cold region. 

Teeth, dark orange ; whiskers, brown ; fur on the back from the roots 
to near the tip of the hair, light plumbeous, tipped with light chesnut- 



brown ; on the sides tipped with silver-gray. A broad line of white 
around the eyes, a spot of white on the hind part of the head, a little in 
advance of the anterior portion of the ears ; nose, white, which colour 
extends along the forehead over the eyes, where it is gradually blended 
with the colour of the back ; the whole under surface, feet, and inner 
surface of the legs, pure white. Tail, irregularly covered with markings 
of black, light brown, and white, scarcely two hairs being uniform in 

In general it may be said that the tail, when examined w^ithout re- 
ference to its separate hairs, is light-ash at the roots of the hairs, a broad 
but not well defined line of light rufous succeeding, then a dark brown 
space in the hairs, which are tipped with rufous and gray. 


Length of head and body 
" tail (vertebrae) 

" tail, including fur 

Palm, and middle fore-claw 
Sole and middle hind-claw . 
Length of fur on the back . 
Height of ear, measured posteriorly 
Distance between the orbits 














This downy and beautifully furred squirrel exists in the north-western 
portions of our continent. The specimen from which our drawing was 
made, is the only one which we have seen, and was brought from near 
Sitka, by Mr. J. K. Townsend, who kindly placed it in our hands, in order 
that we might describe it. As the animal was presented to Mr. Town- 
send by an officer attached to the Hudson's Bay Company, and was not 
observed by him, he could give us no account of its habits. We think, 
however, that from its close approximation to that group of squirrels, of 
which the Hudson's Bay, or chickaree squirrel, is the tj^pe, and with 
which we are familiar, we can form a pretty correct judgment in regard 
to its general characteristics, and we will venture to say that it is less 
agile, and less expert in climbing than the chickaree ; it no doubt burrows 
in the earth in winter like the latter species, and as its tail is more like 
that of a spermophile than the tail of a squirrel, although the rest of its 
specific characters are those of the true squirrels, we are disposed to con- 
sider it a closely connecting link between these two genera, and it very 


probably, according to circumstances, adopts the mode of life commonly 
observed in each. 


This species is found several degrees to the north of the Columbia 
river, and is said to extend through the country adjoining the sea-coast 
as far as into the Russian settlements. Mr. Townsend says, " It viras 
killed on the coast near Sitka, and given me by my friend, W. F. Tolmie, 
Esa., Surgeon of the Honourable Hudson's Bay Company." 



GENUS GULO.— Storr. 


Incisive ~ ; Canine r^ ; Molar ^—^ = 38. 

6 I — 1 6 — o 

The three first molars in the upper, and the four first in the lower 
jaw, small ; succeeded by a larger carnivorous or trenchant tooth, and a 
small tuberculous tooth at the back. 

In the upper jaw^ the three first molars are uni-cuspidateous, and 
may be called false-carnivorous teeth, increasing successively in size ; the 
following or carnivorous tooth is large and strong, furnished with two 
points on the inner side, and a trenchant edge in front ; the last tooth 
is small, and tuberculous or flattish. 

In the lower jaw the first four molars are false, each presenting onlj' 
one point or edge ; the fifth is long and large, with two trenchant points ; 
the last molar is nearly flat. All the teeth touch each other successively, 

Head, of moderate length ; body, long ; legs, short ; tail, bushy ; feet, 
with five deeply divided toes, terminated by long curved nails. 

No glandular pouch in some of the species, but a simple fold beneath 
the tail. 

Habits, carnivorous and nocturnal. 

The generic name is derived from the Latin gulo, a glutton. 

Four species of this genus have been described ; one existing in the 
Arctic regions of both continents, two in South America, and one in 


The WoiVERENE, oh Glutton. 

PLATE XXVI. Three quarters natural size. 

G. subniger ; fascia subalbida utrinque a humero per ilia producta, 
fasciis supra coxas se jungentibus ; cauda pilis longis hirsuta. 



Dark-brown, passing into Mack, above ; a pale hand on each side, running 
from the shoulders around tkejlanks, and uniting on the hips; tail, with long 
bushy hairs. 


MusTELA GuLo, Linn., Syst. Nat., 12th edit. 
Ursus Luscus, Linn , Syst. Nat., 12th edit. 
Ursus Gulo, Pallas, do., Schreber, Stiugeth., p. 525. 

" " F. Cuv., in Diet, des Sc. Nat., 19th edit., p. 79, c. fig. 
QuiCKH.iTCH or Wolverine, Ellis, Voy. Hudson's Bay, p. 42. 
Ursus Freti Hudsonis, Briss, Quad., p. 188. 
WoLVERiNG, Caitwright's Journal, vol. ii., p. 407. 

Wolverine, Pennant's Hist. Quad., vol. ii., p. 8, t. 8, Hearne's Journey, p. 372. 
GuLO Arcticus, var. A. Glouton Wolverine, Desm., Mamm., p. 174. 
Gulo Luscus, (Capt.) Sabine, supp. Parry's 1st Voyage, p. 184. 

" " Sabine, (Mr.) Franklin's 1st Journey, p. 650. 

" " Richardson's Appendix Parry's 2d Voyage, p. 292. 

" " Fischer's Mammalium, p. 154. 

The Glutton, Buffon, vol. vii., p. 274, pi. 243. 
Ursus Gulo, Shaw's Gen. Zool., vol. i., p. 46. 
Gulo Vulgaris, Griffith's Animal Kingdom, sp. 331. 
Gulo Wolverine, Griffith's Animal Kingdom, sp. 332. 
Gulo Luscus, Rich., F. B. A., p. 41. 

" " Capt. Ross, Expedition, p. 8. 
Carcajou, French Canadians ; Quickhatch, English residents. 


Head, of moderate size, broad on the hinder part, much arched, rounded 
on all sides ; nose, obtuse, naked ; eyes, small ; ears, short, broad, rounded, 
and partially hidden by the surrounding fur. The whole head bears a 
strong resemblance to that of some of the varieties of the dog. 

Body, very long, stout, and compactly made ; back, arched ; the whole 
form indicating strength without much activity. The Wolverene is 
covered with a very thick coat of two distinct kinds of hair. The inner 
fur, soft and short, scarcely an inch long ; the intermixed hairs, nume- 
rous, rigid, smooth, and four inches long ; giving the animal the appear- 
ance of some shaggy dog. 

Legs, short and stout ; feet, broad, clothed on the under surface with a 
compact mass of woolly hair. Toes, distinct, and armed with five strong, 
rounded, and pretty shai-p claws. The tracks made in the snow by this 
species are large, and not very unlike those of the bear. There are five 



tubercles on the soles of the fore-feet, and four on the hind-feet ; no tuber- 
cle on the heel. 

The tail is rather short, hangs low, and is covered with pendulous 
hairs. " There are two secretory organs about the size of a walnut, from 
which it discharges a fluid of a yellowish-browTi colour and of the con- 
sistence of honey, by the rectum, when hard pressed by its enemies." — 


Under fur, deep chesnut-brown, a shade lighter near the roots ; the 
longer hairs are blackish-brown throughout their whole length, the 
hair having very much the appearance of that of the bear. Eyes, nose, 
and whiskers, black ; a pale reddish-brown band commences behind the 
shoulder, and running along the flanks, turns up on the hip, and unites 
on the rump with similar markings on the opposite side. There is a 
brownish-white band across the forehead running from ear to ear. On 
the sides of the neck there are tufts of white hair extending nearly in a 
circle from the inside of the legs around the chest. Legs and tail, broAvn- 
ish-black; claws, dark-brown. The colour varies greatly in difl'erent 
specimens, and although there is a strong general resemblance among all 
we have examined, we are not surprised that attempts have been made 
from these varieties to multiply the species. There are however no per- 
manent varieties among the many specimens we have examined. The 
peculiar lateral band, although it exists in all, diflers a few shades in 
colour. In some specimens it is of a chesnut colour, in others light fer- 
ruginous, and in a few cases ash-coloured. We find these differences of 
colour existing on both continents, and not confined to either. We have 
never seen a specimen of a Wolverene as light in colour as that to which 
LiNNiEus gave the specific name of luscus, and we regard it as a mere 
accidental variety. We have found American specimens obtained in the 
Polar regions fully as black as those from Russia. 


Recent specimen, obtained in Rensselaer county, N. Y. 


From point of nose to root of tail 
Tail (vertebrEe) 
Height to shoulder . 

" of ear, posteriorly 
Length of hair on body . 
From heels to point of nails 
Breadth of hind-foot 









Specimen from which our figure was made. 

From point of nose to root of tail 
Tail (vertebrae) ..... 
Tail, including fur ..... 
Height of ear 









The Wolverene, or Glutton as he is generally called, is one of the ani- 
mals whose history comes down to us blended with the superstitions of 
the old writers. Errors when once received and published, especially 
if they possess the charm of great singularity or are connected with tales 
of wonder, become fastened on the mind by early reading and the im- 
pressions formed in youth, until we are familiarized with their extrava- 
gance, and we at length regret to find ideas (however incorrect) adopted 
in early life, not realized by the sober inquiries and investigations of ma- 
turer years. 

The Wolverene, confined almost exclusively to Polar regions, where 
men have enjoyed few advantages of education, and hence have im- 
bibed without much reflection the errors, extravagances, and inventions 
of hunters and trappers, has been represented as an animal possessing 
extraordinary strength, agility, and cunning, and as being proverbially 
one of the greatest gormandizers among the " brutes." Olaus Magnus 
tells us that " it is wont when it has found the carcass of some large 
beast to eat until its belly is distended like a drum, when it rids itself of 
its load by squeezing its body betwixt two trees growing near together, 
and again returning to its repast, soon requires to have recourse to the 
same means of relief." It is even said to throw down the moss which the 
reindeer is fond of, and that the Arctic fox is its jackal or provider. 
BuFFON, in his first description of this animal, seems to have adopted the 
errors and superstitions of Olaus Magnus, Schoeffer, Gesnee, and the 
early travellers into Sweden and Lapland. He says of this animal, (vol. 
vii., p. 277,) " the defect of nimbleness he supplies v/iih cunning, he lies 
in wait for animals as they pass, he climbs upon trees in order to dart 
upon his prey and seize it with advantage ; he throws himself down 
upon elks and reindeer, and fixes so firmly on their bodies with his claws 
and teeth that nothing can remove him. In vain do the poor victims fly 
and rub themselves against trees ; the enemy attached to the crupper or 
neck, continues to suck their blood, to enlarge the w^ound, and to devour 
them gradually and with equal voracity, till they fall down." 

" More insatiable and rapacious than the wolf, if endowed with equal 


agility the Glutton would destroy all the other animals ; but he moves so 
heavily that the only animal he is able to overtake in the com-se is the 
beaver, whose cabins he sometimes attacks, and devours the whole unless 
they quickly take to the w^ater, for the beaver outstrips him in swimming. 
When he perceives that his prey has escaped, he seizes the fishes ; and 
when he can find no living creature to destroy, he goes in quest of the 
dead, whom he digs up from their graves and devours with avidity." 

Even the intelligent Gmelin, who revised and made considerable addi- 
tions to the great work of Linn^us, on a visit to the North of Europe im- 
bibed many of the notions of the Siberian hunters, and informs us, with- 
out however giving full credence to the account, that the Wolverene 
" watches large animals like a robber, or surprises them \vhen asleep," 
that " he prefers the reindeer," and that " after having darted do^\'Ti from 
a tree like an arrow upon the animal, he sinks his teeth into its body and 
gnaws the flesh till it expires ; after which he devours it at his ease, and 
swallows both the hair and skin." 

However, although Buffon in his earlier history of the species, adopted 
and published the errors of previous writers, he subsequently corrected 
them and gave in a supplementary chapter not onlj' a tolerable figure but 
a true historj^ He received a Wolverene alive from the northern part 
of Russia, and preserved it for more than eighteen months at Paris. And 
when the Count was thus enabled to examine into its habits, as thej^ were 
developed from day to day, he found them of a very ordinary charac- 
ter, and it was discovered to be an animal possessing no very striking 
peculiarities. He informs us, " He was so tame that he discovered no 
ferocity and did not injure any person. His voracity has been as much 
exaggerated as his cruelty ; he indeed ate a great deal, but when de- 
prived of food he was not importunate." 

" The animal is pretty mild ; he avoids water, and dreads horses, and 
men dressed in black. He moves by a kind of leap, and eats pretty vo- 
raciously. After taking a full meal he covers himself in the cage Avith 
straw. When drinking he laps like a dog. He utters no cry. After 
drinking, he throws the remainder of the water on his belly with his 
paws. He is almost perpetually in motion. If allowed he would devour 
more than four pounds of flesh in a day; he eats no bread, and devours 
his food so voraciously, and almost without chewing, that he is apt to 
choke himself." 

We have seen this species in a state of confinement in Europe ; the 
specimens came, vire were informed, from the north of that continent. 
In Denmark, a keeper of a small caravan of animals allowed us the pri- 
vilege of examining a Wolverene which he had exhibited for two jears. 


We took him out of his cage ; he was very gentle, opened his mouth to 
enable us to examine his teeth, and buried his head in our lap whilst we 
admired his long claws, and felt his woolly feet ; he seemed pleased to 
escape from the confinement of the cage, ran round us in short circles, 
and made awkward attempts to play with and caress us, which reminded 
us very much of the habit of the American black bear. He had been 
taught to sit on his haunches, and hold in his mouth a German pipe. 
We observed he was somewhat averse to the light of the sim, keeping 
his eyes half closed when exposed to its rays. The keeper informed us 
that he suffered a good deal from the heat in warm weather, that he 
drank water freely, and ate meat voraciously, but consumed more in -win- 
ter than in summer. There was in the same cage a marmot from the 
Alps, {Arctomijs marnwta.) to which the Wolverene seemed much at- 
tached. When returned to his cage he rolled himself up like a ball, his 
long shaggy hairs so completely covering his limbs that he presented the 
appearance of a bear-skin rolled up into a bundle. 

In the United States the Wolverene has always existed very sparingly, 
and only in the northern districts. About thirty-five years ago, we saw 
in the possession of a country merchant in Lansingburg, New York, three 
skins of this species, that had as we were informed been obtained on the 
Green Mountains of Vermont ; about the same time we obtained a speci- 
men in Rensselaer county, near the banks of the Hoosack river. While 
hunting the Northern hare, Lnunediately after a heavy fall of snow, 
■we unexpectedly came upon the track of an animal which at the time 
we supposed to be that of a bear, a species which even then was scarcely 
kno^vn in that portion of the country, (which was already prettj- thickly 
settled.) We followed the broad trail over the hills and through the de- 
vious windings of the forest for about five miles, till within sight of a 
ledge of rocks on the banks of the Hoosack river, when, as we found the 
night approaching, we were reluctantly compelled to give up the pursuit 
for that day, intending to resume it on the following morning. It snowed 
incessantly for two days afterwards, and believing that the bear had re- 
tired to his winter retreat, we concluded that the chance of adding it to 
our collection had passed by. Some weeks afterwards a favourite ser- 
vant, ^vho was always anxious to aid us in our pursuits, and who not 
only knew many quadrupeds and birds, but was acquainted with many 
of their habits, informed us that he had on a previous day seen several 
tracks similar to those we had described, crossing a ne^v road cut through 
the forest. As early on the following morning as we could see a track 
in the snow, we were fully accoutred, and with a gun and a pair of choice 
hounds, started on what we conceived our second bear-hunt. Before 


reaching the spot where the tracks had been observed, however, we met 
a fresh trail of the previous night, and pursued it without loss of time. 
The animal had joined some foxes which were feeding on a dead horse 
not a hundred yards from a log cabin in the forest, and after having 
satiated itself with this delicate food, made directly for the Hoosack 
river, pursuing the same course along which we had formerly traced it. 
To our surprise it did not cross the river, now firmly bound with ice, 
but retired to its burrow, which was not far from the place ■where 
we had a few weeks before abandoned the pursuit of it. The hounds 
had not once broke into full cry upon the track, but no sooner had they 
arrived at the mouth of the burrow than they rushed into the large 
opening between the rocks, and commenced a furious attack on the ani- 
mal within. This lasted but for a few moments, and they came out as 
quickly as they had entered. They showed some evidence of having 
been exposed to sharp claws and teeth, and although they had been only 
a moment engaged in battle, had no disposition to renew it. No effort 
of ours could induce them to re-enter the cavern whilst their furious 
barking at the mouth of the hole was answered by a growl from within. 
The animal, although not ten feet from the entrance, could not be easily 
reached with a stick on account of his having retreated behind an angle 
in the chasm. As vre felt no particular disposition to imitate the ex- 
ploits of Colonel Pdtnam in his rencontre with the wolf, we reluc- 
tantly concluded to trudge homeward through the snow, a distance of 
five miles, to obtain assistance. On taking another survey of the place, 
how^ever, we conceived it possible to effect an opening on one of its sides. 
This was after great labour accomplished by prying away some heavy 
fragments of the rock. The animal could now be reached with a pole, 
and seemed very much irritated, growling and snapping at the stick, 
which he once succeeded in tearing from our hand, all the while emitting 
a strong and very offensive musky smell. He was finally shot. What 
was our surprise and pleasure on discovering that we had, not a bear, 
but what was more valuable to us, a nevir species of quadruped, as we 
believed it to be. It was six months before we w^ere enabled, by consult- 
ing a copy of BuFFON, to discover our mistake and ascertain that our 
highly prized specimen was the Glutton, of which we had read such mar- 
vellous tales in the school-books. 

In some of the figures that we have seen of the Wolverene, or Glutton, 
he is represented as touching the ground to the full extent of his heel, and 
in several of the descriptions this habit is also assigned to him. Our 
notes, in reference to this point were made in early life, and it is possible 
that we may have laboured under a mistake ; but we are confident, from 


our own observation, that the animal treads upon its hind-feet in the 
manner of the dog, that the impression of the tarsus or heel can only 
be observed in deep snow, and that in its ordinary walk on the ground 
the heel seldom touches the earth. We made no note in regard to the 
living Wolverene we saw in Europe, but are under an impression that 
its method of walking was similar to that stated above. There is 
another peculiarity in the tracks of the animal : in walking, the feet do 
not cross or approach each other in the manner of the feet of a fox or 
wolf, but make a double track in the snow, similar in this respect, to 
that of the skunk. 

There was a large nest of dried leaves in the cavern, which had evi- 
dently been a place of resort for the Wolverene we have been speaking 
of, during the whole winter, as its tracks from every direction led to 
the spot. It had laid up no winter store, and evidently depended on 
its nightly excursions for a supply of food. It had however fared well, 
for it was very fat. 

It has been asserted that the Wolverene is a great destroyer of beavers, 
but we are inclined to think that this can scarcely be the case, unless it 
be in summer, when the beaver is often found some distance from the 
water. In such cases we presume that the Wolverene, although not 
swift of foot, could easily overtake that aquatic animal. But, should he 
in winter attempt to break open the frozen mud-walls of the beaver-huts, 
which would be a very difficult task, this w^ould only have the effect of 
driving the occupants into their natural element, the water, where their 
hungry pursuer could not follow them. The statement of his expert- 
ness in swinmiing, diving, and catching fish, we believe to be apocry- 

We are inclined to adopt the views of Richardson in regard to the 
Wolverene, that it feeds chiefly on the carcasses of beasts that have 
been killed by accident. " It also devours meadow-mice, marmots, and 
other rodentia, and occasionally destroys disabled quadrupeds of a larger 

That it seizes on deer or large game by pouncing on them is incredible ; 
it neither possesses the agility nor the strength to accomplish this feat. 
This habit has also been ascribed to the Canada lynx as well as to the 
Bay Ij-nx ; we do not think it applies to either. That the Wolverene oc- 
casionally captures the grouse that have plunged into the fresh snow as 
a protection from the cold is probable. 

Richardson observes that he saw one chasing an American hare, which 
was at the same time harassed by a snowy owl. The speed of the hare 
however is such that it has not much to fear from the persevering but 



slow progress of the Wolverene ; and the one seen by Richardson, in his 
efforts to catch the tempting game must have been prompted by a long- 
ing desire after hare's flesh, rather than by any confidence in his ability 
to overtake the animal. 

All Northern travellers and writers on the natural history of the Arctic 
regions, Ellis, Pennant, Hearne, Parry, Franklin, Richardson, &c., speak 
of the indomitable perseverance of the Wolverene in following the foot- 
steps of the trappers, in order to obtain the bait, or take from the traps the 
Arctic fox, the marten, beaver, or any other animal that may be caught 
in them. They demolish the houses built around the dead-falls, in order 
to obtain the bait, and tear up the captured animals apparently from 
a spirit of wanton destructiveness. Hearne (p. 373) gives an account 
of their amazing strength, one of them having overset the greatest part 
of a large pile of wood, measuring upwards of seventy yards round, to 
get at some provisions that had been hid there. He saw another take 
possession of a deer that an Indian had killed, and though the Indian ad- 
vanced within twenty yards he would not relinquish his claims to it, but 
suffered himself to be shot, standing on the deer. Hearne farther states, 
'• they commit vast depredations on the foxes during the summer, while 
the young ones are small ; their quick scent directs them to their den, 
and if the entrance be too small, their strength enables them to widen it, 
and go in and kill the mother and all her cubs ; in fact they are the most 
destructive animals in this country." 

Capt. J. C. Ross, R.N., F.R.S., who gave an interesting account of the 
animals seen in the memorable expedition of Sir John Ross, relates the 
following anecdote of this species : — " In the middle of winter, two or 
three months before ■we abandoned the ship, we ^vere one day surprised 
by a visit from a Wolverene, which, hard pressed by hunger, had climbed 
the snow wall that surrounded our vessel, and came boldly on deck where 
our crew were walking for exercise. Undismayed at the presence of 
twelve or fourteen men he seized upon a canister that had some meat in 
it, and was in so ravenous a state that whilst busily engaged at his feast 
he suffered me to pass a noose over his head, by which he was imme- 
diately secured and strangled." 

The Wolverene is at all times very suspicious of traps, and is seldom 
taken in the log-traps set for the marten and Arctic fox; the usual mode 
in which it is obtained is by steel-traps, which must be set with great 
caution and concealed with much art. 

Captain Cartwright in his joui'nal speaks of having caught all he ob- 
tained at Labrador in this manner, and we have seen several skins giving 
evidence that the animals had been taken by the foot. 


Captain Cartvveight (see Journal, vol. ii., p. 407) records an instance 
of strength and cunning in this species that we cannot pass by in giving 
its history ; we will use his own words. " In coming to the foot of Table 
Hill I crossed the track of a Wolvering with one of Mr. Callixgham's 
traps on his foot ; the foxes had followed his bleeding track. As this 
beast went through the thick of the woods, under the north side of the 
hill, where the snow was so deep and light that it was with the greatest 
difficulty I could follow him even in Indian rackets, I was quite puzzled 
to know how he had contrived to prevent the trap from catching hold of 
the branches of the trees or sinking in the snow. But on coming up with 
him I discovered how he had managed ; for after making an attempt to 
fly at me, he took the trap in his mouth and ran upon three legs. These 
creatures are surprisingly strong in proportion to their size ; this weighed 
only twenty-six pounds and the trap eight ; yet including all the turns he 
had taken he had carried it six miles." 

The Wolverene produces young but once a year, from two to four at a 
litter. Richardson sajs the cubs are covered with a downy fur of a pale 
or cream colour. The fur of the Wolverene resembling that of the bear, 
is much used for muffs, and when several skins are sewed together 
makes a beautiful sleigh-robe. 


The Wolverene exists in the north of both continents. On the Eastern 
continent it inhabits the most northern parts of Europe and Asia, oc- 
curring in Sweden, Norway, Lapland, and Siberia, as well as in some of 
the Alpine regions, and in the forests of Poland and Courland. In North 
America it is found throughout the whole of the Arctic circle. They were 
caught to the number of ten or twelve every winter by Capt. Cartwright 
in Labrador. It exists at Davis' Straits, and has been traced across the 
continent to the shores of the Pacific. It is found on the Russian islands 
of Alaska. Richardson remarks, " It even visits the islands of the Polar 
sea, its bones having been found in Melville Island, nearly in latitude 75°. 
It occurs in Canada, although diminishing in numbers the farther we pro- 
ceed southerly. We have seen specimens procured at Ne^^^oundland, 
and have heard of its existence, although very sparingly, in Maine. 
Professor Emmons, (Dekay, Nat. Hist, of New York) states that it still 
exists in the Hoosack Mountains of Massachusetts. We examined a 
specimen obtained in Jefferson county, near Sackett's Harbour, N. Y., in 
1827, and in 1810 we obtained a specimen in Rensselaer county, latitude 
42° 46' ; we have never heard of its existence farther south. 



This species has been arranged by different authors under several 
genera. Linnaeus placed it under both Mustela and Ursus. Store esta- 
blished for it the genus Ghlo, which was formed from the specific name, 
as it had been called Ursus Gulo, by Stoee's generic name has 
been since adopted by Cuvier and other modern naturalists. Gray nam- 
ed it Grisonia. Linn^us is notwithstanding entitled to the specific name, 
although this is the result of an error into which he was led in this man- 
ner : Edwards had made a figure from a living specimen imported from 
America. It was a strongly marked variety, with much white on its fore- 
head, sides, and neck. Linn^us regarding it as a new species described 
it as such. In seeking for some name by which to designate it, he ob- 
served that it had lost one eye, and it is supposed applied the trivial 
name " luscus," one-eyed, to the animal, merely on account of the above 
accidental blemish. 

The vulgar names Glutton, Carcajou, &c., have given rise to much 
confusion in regard to the habits of the species. 

The name Glutton induced many ancient authors to ascribe to it an 
appetite of extravagant voraciousness. 

Carcajou appears to be some Indian name adopted by the French, and 
this name has evidently been applied to different species of animals. 
Charlevoix, in his Voyage to America, vol. i., p. 201, speaks of the " car- 
cajou or quincajou, a kind of cat, with a tail so long that he twists it 
several times round his body, and with a skin of a brownish red." He 
then refers to his climbing a tree, where after two foxes have driven the 
elk under the tree, the cat being on the watch pounces on it in the 
manner ascribed to the Wolverene. Here he evidently alludes to the 
cougar, as his long tail and colour apply to no other animal in our coun- 
try. Lawson refers the same singular habit to the wild cat of Carolina ; 
he says, (p. 118,) " the wild cat takes most of his prey by surprise, getting 
up the trees which they pass by or under, and thence leaping directly 
upon them. Thus he takes deer, which he cannot catch by running, and 
fastens his teeth into their shoulders. They run with him till they fall 
down for want of strength and become a prey to the enemy." 

In the last work published on American Quadrupeds, Lawsok is quoted 
as authority for the former existence of the Wolverene in Carolina, and 
a reference is also made to a plate of that species. On looking over the 
work of Lawson, (London, 1709,) we find that no mention is made of the 
Wolverene, and no plate of the animal is given. We have supposed it 


possible that the author of the " Natural History of New York " might 
have intended to refer to Catesby ; but the latter gave no plate of the 
species, and only noticed it as existing in the very northern parts of 
America. We feel confident that the geographical range of the Wol- 
verene has never extended to Carolina, that it existed only as a strag- 
gler in the northern portion of the Middle States, and that it is now, 
and ever has been, almost entirely confined to the Northern regions. 



Woolly Squibeel. 

PLATE XXVII. Natural size. 

Sc. migratorii magnitudine ; pilis longis et lanosis ; cauda arapla, vil- 
losa vixque disticha ; naso, auriculis, pedibusque pene nigris ; vellere 
supra ex cinereo fusco ; subtus dilute fusco. 


Size of Sciurus migratorius ; hair, long and woolly ; tail, large and 
bushy ; nose, ears, and feet, nearly black ; upper surface, grizzly dark gray, 
and brown ; under parts, pale brown. 

SciuRDS LANtGEEHS, Aud. and Bach., Journal of the Acad. Nat. Sc, Philad., 1841, p. 100. 


Head, short ; forehead, arched ; nose, blunt ; clothed with soft hair ; 
whiskers, longer than the head; eyes, large ; ears, large, broad at base, 

Body, stout, covered with long and woolly hairs, which are much 
longer and a little coarser than those of the Northern gray squirrel. 

Legs, stout ; feet, of moderate size ; claws, strong, compressed, arched 
and sharp. The third toe, longest ; a blunt nail in place of a thumb. 
Palms, naked ; toes, hairy to the extremity of the nails. 

Tail, long and bushy, and the hairs long and coarse. 

Incisors, dark orange on the outer surface ; the head, both on the upper 
and lower surface, as far as the neck, the ears, whiskers, fore-legs to the 
shoulder, feet, and inner surface of hind-legs, black ; with a few yellow- 
ish-brown hairs intermixed. The long fur on the back is for half its 




length from the roots, light pkimbeous, then has a line of light-brown, 
and is tipped ^vith reddish-brown and black. 

The hairs on the tail, in which the annulations are very obscure, are 
for one third of their length browiiish-black, then light-bro^vn, then 
brownish-black, and are tipped with ashy-white. On the under surface 
the hairs, which are short, are at the base light-plumbeous, tipped with 
light-bro\A'n and black ; the throat is light grayish-brown. 

Of two specimens received from the same locality, the head of one is 
lighter-coloured than that of the other, having a shade of yellowish- 
brown ; in other respects they are precisely similar ; a figure of each is 
given on the plate. 


Length of head and body 

Tail (vertebra) . 

Tail, to end of fur 

Height of ear posteriorly 

Breadth of ear . 

From heel to end of middle 

Hairs on the back 
















We have been unable to obtain any information in regard to the habits 
of this species. Its forni, however, indicates that it is a climber, like all 
the species of the genus, living in forests, feeding on nuts and seeds. Its 
long woolly coat proves its adaptation to cold regions. 


Our specimens were procured from the northern and mountainous por- 
tions of California. 


The difHculty in finding characters by which the various species of 
this genus can be distinguished, is very great. There is, however, no 
variety of any other species of squirrel that can be compared with that 
here described. Its black head and legs, bro\\Ti back and bellj', its broad 
ears and long woolly hair, are markings by which it may be easily dis- . 
tinguished from all others. 

Owing to an error in the lettering of our plate of this species, the name 
attached to the figures was improperly given as S. longipilis. 



Common Flying-Squikbei. 

PLATE XXVIII Maies, Females, and Young. Natural size. 

Pt. Tamias Lysteri magnitudine, supra ex fusco-cinereo et albido, infra 
ex albo. 


Size of Tamias Lysteri ; above, brownish-ash tinged with cream colour ; 
beneath, white. 


AssAPANicK, Smith's Virginia, p. 27, 1624. 
SciURUS Americanos Volans, Ray, Syn. Quad. 
Flying Squirrel, Lawson's Carolina, p. 124. ^ 
La Palatouche, Buff., X., pi. 21. 
SciuRus VoLDCELLA, Pallas, Glires, p. 353, 359. 

" '' Schreber, Saugethiere, p. 808, 23, t. 822. 

" " Gmelin, Linn., Syst. Nat., p. 155, 26, 

SciuRus ViBGiNiANTJS, Gmelin, Syst. Nat. 

" " Shaw's Gen. Zool., vol. ii., p. 155, t. 150 

Flying Squirrel, Catesby's Carolina, vol. ii., p. 76. 

" " Pennant's Quadrupeds, p. 418, 283. 

Pteromys Volucella, Desm., Mamm., p. 345, 554. 
" " Harlan, p. 187. 

« " Godman, vol. ii., p. 146. 

" " Emmons, Report, p. 69. 

« " Dekay, p. 65. 


Head, short and rounded ; nose, blunt ; eyes, large and prominent ; 
ears, broad and nearly naked ; whiskers, numerous, longer than the 
head ; neck, short ; body, rather thicker than that of the chipping squir- 
rel. The flying membrane is distended by an additional small bone of 
about half an inch in length, articulated ■with the wrist. The fur on the 
whole body is very fine, soft and silky ; legs, rather slender ; claws, feeble, 
compressed, acute, and covered with hair ; tail, flat, distichous, rounded 
at the tip, and very thickly clothed with fine soft fur. Ten mammEe. 




A line of black around the orbits of the eye ; whiskers, nearly all 
black, a few are whitish toward their extremities. Ears, light-brown. 
In most specimens there is a light-coloured spot above the eyes ; 
sides of the face and neck, light cream-colour ; fur on the back, dark 
slate-colour, tipped with yellowish-brown. On the upper side of the fly- 
ing membrane the colour gradually becomes browner till it reaches the 
lower edge, where it is of a light cream-colour ; throat, neck, inner sur- 
face of legs, and all beneath, white ; with occasionally a tint of cream- 
colour. The upper surface of the tail is of the colour of the back ; tail, 
beneath, light fawn. 


Length of head and body 


" tail (vertebrae) 

" tail, including fur .... 

Of a specimen from which one of our figures was drawn. 
From nose to eye 

" " opening of ear 

root of tail . 
Tail (vertebrae) .... 
Tail, to end of hair 
Breadth of tail, hair extended 
Spread of fore-legs to extremity of claws 
Spread of hind-legs .... 


























It has sometimes been questioned whether the investigation of objects 
of natural history was calculated to improve the moral nature of man, 
and whether by an examination into the peculiar habits of the inferior 
animals he would derive information adapted to the wants of an immortal 
being, leading him from the contemplation of nature up to nature's God. 

Leaving others to their own judgment on this subject, we can say for 
ourselves that on many occasions when studpng the varied characters of 
the inferior creatures, w^e have felt that we were reading lessons taught 
us by nature, that were calculated to make us wiser and better. Often, 
whilst straying in the fields and woods with a book under our arm, have 
we been tempted to leave Homer or Aristotle unopened, and attend to 



the teachings of the quadrupeds and birds that people the solitudes of 
the wilderness. Even the gentle little Flj'ing-Squirrel has more than 
once diverted our attention from the pages of Griesbach and Michaelis, 
and taught us lessons of contentment, of innocence, and of parental and 
filial affection, more impressive than the theological disquisitions of learned 

We recollect a locality not many miles from Philadelphia, 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 his 
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 com- 
menced their graceful flights from some upper branch to a lower bough. 
At times one would be seen darting from the 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 propensitj'. We watched and mused till the last shadows of 
day had disappeared, and darkness admonished us to leave the little 
triflers to their nocturnal enjoyments, 

During the day this species avoids the light, its large eyes like those of 
the owl cannot encounter the glare of the sun ; hence it appears to be a 
dull and uninteresting pet, crawling into your sleeve or pocket, and seek- 
ing any dark place of concealment. But twilight and darkness are its 
season for activity and pleasure. At such times, in walking through the 
woods you hear a rattling among the leaves and branches, and the fall- 
ing acorns, chesnuts, and beech-nuts, give evidence that this little crea- 
ture is supplying itself with its food above you, 


This is a harmless and very gentle species, becoming tolerably tame 
in a few hours. After a few days it will take up its residence in some 
crevice in the chamber, or under the eaves of the house, and it or its 
progeny may be seen in the vicinity years afterwards. On one occasion 
we took from a hollow tree four young with their dam ; she seemed quite 
willing to remain with them, and was conve3'ed home in the crown of a 
hat. We had no cage immediately at hand, and placed them in a drawer 
in our library, leaving a narrow space open to enable them to breathe ; 
next morning we ascertained that the parent had escaped through the 
crevice, and as the window was open, we presumed that she had aban- 
doned her young rather than be subject to confinement in such a narrow 
and uncomfortable prison. We made efforts for several days to preserve 
the young alive by feeding them on milk ; they appeared indifferent 
about eating, and yet seemed to thrive and were in good order. A few 
evenings afterwards we were surprised and delighted to see the mother 
glide through the window and enter the still open drawer ; in a moment 
she was nestled with her j'oung. She had not forsaken them, but visited 
them nightly and preserved them alive by her attentions. We now 
placed the young in a box near the window, which was left partly open. 
In a short time she had gained more confidence and remained with them 
during the whole day. They became very gentle, and they and their de- 
scendants continued to reside on the premises for several years. 

During the first wnter they were confined to the room, boxes were plac- 
ed in different parts of it containing Indian meal, acorns, nuts, &c. As soon 
as it was dark they were in the habit of hurrjdng from one part of the 
room to the other, and continued to be full of activity during the whole 
night. We had in the room a wheel that had formerly been attached to 
the cage of a Northern gray squirrel. To this they found an entrance, 
and they often continued during half the night turning the wheel ; at times 
we saw^ the whole group in it at once. This squirrel, we may conclude, 
resorts to the wheel not from compulsion but for pleasure. 

In an interesting communication which we have received from Gideon 
B. Smith, Esa., M.D., of Baltimore, he has given us the following details 
of the singular habits of this species : — 

" After having arrived at the top of a tree from which they intend to 
make their airy leap, they spring or jump, stretch their fore-legs forward 
and outward and their hind-legs backward and outward, by this means 
expanding the loose skin with which they are clothed, and which forms a 
sort of gliding elevator. In this way they pass from tree to tree, or to 
any other object, not by flying as their name imports, but by descending 
from a high position by a gliding course ; as they reach the vicinity of 


the earth, their impetus, aided by their expanded skin, enables them to 
ascend in a curved line and alight upon the tree aimed at, about one-third 
as high from the ground as they were on the tree they left. On reaching 
a tree in this manner they run briskly up its trunk as high as they wish 
to give them a start for another ; in this way they will travel in a few 
minutes, from tree to tree or object to object a quarter of a mile or more. 
There is nothing resembling flying in their movements. 

" They are gregarious, living together in considerable communities, 
and do not object to the company of other and even quite different ani- 
mals. 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 w^ere surprised to see 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 hickory-nuts, chesnuts, acorns, corn, &c., intended for the 
winter supply of food. There must have been as many as tw^enty Flying- 
Squirrels in the box, as many bats, and we 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 ex- 
posed the extension of his skin, smoothed his fur, put him in our pocket 
or bosom, &c., he pretending all the time to be asleep. 

" It was a common occurrence that these Squirrels flew into the house 
on a summer's evening when the windows were open, and at such times 
w^e caught them. They were always perfectly harmless. Although I 
frequently seized them in my hand I was never bitten. We caught so 
many of them one season that the young girls bordered their winter capes 
with their tails which are very pretty. It was a curious circimistance 
that the Flying-Squirrels never descended to the lower parts of the house, 
and we never knew of any rats in the upper rooms. Whether the Squir- 
rels or the rats were the repulsive agents I do not know ; certain it is 
they never inhabited the lower location in common." 

The Flying-Squirrel, as is shown above, is gregarious. In Carolina, 
we have generally found six or seven in one nest ; it is difficult, however, 
to count them, as on cutting down a tree which they inhabit, several es- 
cape without being noticed. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, 
" they appear to be more numerous, and the families are larger. 


The Flying-Squirrels never build their nest of leaves on the trees dur- 
ing summer like the true squirrels, but confine themselves to a hollow, 
or some natural cavity in the branches or trunk. We have verv fre- 
quently found them inhabiting the eaves and roofs of houses, and we dis- 
covered a considerable number of them in the crevices of a rock in the 
vicinity of the Red Sulphur Springs in Virginia. 

Although the food of this species generally consists of nuts and seeds 
of various kinds, together with the buds of trees in winter, yet we have 
known many instances in which it manifested a strong desire for animal 
food. On several occasions we found it caught in box-traps set for the 
ermine, which had been baited only with meat. The bait, (usually a 
blue jay,) was frequently wholly consumed by the little prisoner. In a 
room in which several Flying-Squirrels had been suffered to go at large, 
we one evening left a pine grosbeak, (Cort/tkus enucleator,) a rare speci- 
men, which we intended to preserve on the following morning. On 
searching for it however next day it was missing ; we discovered its feet 
and feathers at last in the box of the Flying-Squirrels, they having con- 
sumed the whole body. 

This species has from three to six young at a time. We have been 
assured by several persons that they produce young but once a year in 
the Northern and Middle States. In Carolina, however, we think they 
have two litters in a season, as we have on several occasions seen young 
in May and in September. 

A writer in Loudox's Magazine, under the signature of D. W. C, says 
at p. 571, vol. ix., in speaking of the habits of this animal in confinement 
in England, " I found that as soon as the female was pregnant she would 
not allow any one to approach her ; and as the time went on, she became 
more savage and more tenacious of the part of the cage which she had 
fixed upon for her nest, which she made of leaves put in for that purpose. 
Two of the females produced young last spring. I think the period of 
their gestation is a month ; but of this fact I am not certain. The young 
are blind for three weeks after their birth, and do not reach puberty till 
the next spring. I never obtained more than two young ones at a time, 
nor more than one kindle in a year from the same female. The young 
were generally born in March or April. The teats of the female appear 
through the fur some time before she brings forth. One of them produced 
two young ones without making a distinct nest, or separating herself 
from the rest, but the consequence was that they disappeared on the 
third day." 

" If on any occasion we disturbed the young in their nest, the mother 
removed them to another part of the cage. The common squirrel of this 


country, (England,) is said to remove her j'oung in the same manner, if 
disturbed. Finding this the case we often took the young Squirrels out 
of their nest, for the purpose of watching the mother carry them away, 
which she did by doubling the little one up under her body with her 
fore-feet and mouth till she could take hold of the thigh and the neck, 
when she woidd jump away so fast that it was difficult to see whether 
she w^as carrjing her young one or not. 

'• As the young increased in size (which they soon do) and in weight, 
the undertaking became more difficult. We then saw the mother turn 
the young one on its back, and while she held the thigh in her mouth, 
the fore-legs of the young one were clasped round her neck. Sometimes 
when she was attempting to jump upon some earthen pots which I had 
placed in the cage, she was overbalanced and fell with her young to the 
ground, she would drop the j'oung Squirrel, so as to prevent her own 
weight from crushing it, which would have been the case if they had 
fallen together. I have seen the young ones carried in this manner till 
they were half-grown." 


This species is far more numerous than it is generally supposed to be ; 
in traps set for the smaller rodentia in localities where we had never seen 
the Flying Squirrel, we frequently caught it. We have met with it in 
all the Atlantic States, and obtained specimens in Upper Canada, within 
a mile of the falls of Niagara. In Lower Canada it is replaced by a 
larger species, (P. sabrinus^ and we have reason to believe that it does 
not exist much to the north of the great lakes ; we obtained specimens 
in Florida and in Texas, and have seen it in Missouri, and according to 
LicHTENSTEiN it is found in Mexico. 


This species was among the earliest of all our American quadrupeds 
noticed by travellers. Governor Smith of Virginia, in 1624, speaks of it 
as " a small beaste they call Assapanick, but we call them Flying Squir- 
rels, because spreading their legs, and so stretching the largeness of their 
skins, that they have been seen to fly thirty or forty yards." Ray and Lin- 
N^us supposed it to be only a variety of the European P. volans, from 
which it differs very widely. Linnaeus arranged it under Mus ; Gmelin, 
Pallas, Cuvier, Ray, and Brisson under Sciurus ; F. Cuvier and Desma- 
REST under Sciuropterus ; Fischer under Petauristus ; and Geoffrov and 
more recent naturalists, under Pteromys. 



RocK¥ Mountain Neotoma. 

PLATE XXIX, Winter and Summer colours. Natural Size. 

N. subtus albida ; supra hyeme flavo-fuscescens, asstate saturate cine- 
reus ; cauda crassa, corpore longiore muse decumano robustior. 


Colour, above, yellowish-browti in winter and darh-asli in summer ; 
whitish beneath ; tail, bushy and longer than the body ; larger than the Nor- 
way rat. 


Rat or the Rocky Mountains, Lewis and Clarke, vol. iii., p. 41. 

Myoxus Drhmmondii, Rich., Zool. Jour., 1828, p. 5, 7. 

Neotoma Dbummondii, Rich., Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 137, pi. 7. 


This species bears a striking resemblance to the Florida rat. It differs 
from the Norway rat by its longer and broader ears, and by its bushy 
tail and light active form. Fur, long and loose, bearing a considerable 
resemblance to that of the gray rabbit ; nose, rather obtuse ; the nostrils 
have a very narrow naked margin ; the tip of the nose is covered with 
short hairs ; ears, large, oval, and rounded, nearly naked within, except 
near the margins, where they are slightly clothed with short hairs. On 
the outer surface there are a few more hairs, but not enough to conceal 
the skin beneath ; eyes, small, much concealed by the fur ; whiskers, 
like hogs' bristles, very strong, the longest reaching to the shoulders ; 
neck, short, and fully as thick as the head. 

Fore-legs, short ; feet, of moderate size, with four toes ; claws, small, 
compressed, and pointed. The third toe nearly equals the middle one, 
which is the longest, the first is a little shorter, and the outer one not 
more than half the length of the other two ; there is also the rudiment of 
a thumb, which is armed with a minute nail. The toes of the hind-feet 


are longer than those of the fore-feet, and the claws less hooked ; the 
middle toe is the longest, those on each side of it of nearly an equal 
length ; the outer one a little shorter, and the inner shortest of all. The 
palms on the fore and hind-feet are naked, but the toes, even beyond the 
nails, are covered with short, adpressed hairs. The hairs of the tail 
(which are not capable of a distichous arrangement) are short near the 
root, and gradually lengthen toward the end, where it is large and bushy, 
the hairs being one inch in length. 

Incisors, yellow ; on the whole of the back, the head, shoulders, and 
outsides of the thighs, a dusky darkish-brown, proceeding from a mixture 
of yellowish-brown and black hairs. From the roots to near the tips, the 
fur is of a dark lead-colour, tipped with light-brown and black. The 
sides of the face and the ventral aspect, are bluish-gray. Margin of the 
upper lip, chin, feet, and under surface, dull white ; whiskers, black and 
white, the former colour predominating ; tail, grayish-brown above, dull 
yellowish-white beneath. 

The above is the colour of this species from the end of summer through 
the following winter to the time of shedding the hair in May ; when in 
its new coat it has far less of yellowish-brown, and puts on a gray ap- 
pearance on the back, this colour gradually assuming more of the yellow- 
ish hue as the autumn advances and the fur lengthens and thickens 
toward wrinter. 

From point of nose to root of tail 

9 inches 

Tail (vertebrae) . 


7J do. 

Tail, including fur 


84 do. 

Height of ear, posteriorly 


1 do. 

Length of whiskers 


4 do. 

We regret that from personal observation, we have no information to 
give in regard to the habits of this species, having never seen it in a living 
state. It was, however, seen by Lewis and Clarke, by Drummond, Doug- 
lass, NuTTALL, and Townsend. According to the accounts given by these 
travellers, this Neotoma appears to have nearly the same general habits 
as the smaller species, {N. Floridana,) the Florida rat, but is much more 
destructive than the latter. It has a strong propensity to gnaw, cut to 


pieces, and carry to its nest every thing left in its way. The trappers 
dread its attacks on their furs more than they would the approach of a 
grisly bear. These rats have been known to gnaw through whole packs 
of furs in a single night. The blankets of the sleeping travellers are 
sometimes cut to pieces by them, and they carry off small articles from 
the camp of the hunter. 

" Mr. Dkummond," says Richardson, " placed a pair of stout English 
shoes on the shelf of a rock, and as he thought, in perfect security ; but 
on his return, after an absence of a few days, he found them gnawed into 
fragments as fine as saw-dust." 

Mr. Douglass, who unfortunately lost his life in ascending Mouna 
Roa, in the Sandwich Islands, by falling into a pit for catching wild 
bulls, where he was gored by one of those animals, was one of the most 
indefatigable explorers of the Western portions of our continent, and 
kept a journal of his travels and discoveries in natural history. It was 
never published, but a few copies were printed some time after his 
death, by his friend and patron. Sir William Hookek, who presented one 
of them to us. In it we found the following account of this animal : — 

" During the night I was annoyed by the visit of a herd of rats, which 
devoured every particle of seed I had collected, ate clean through a bun- 
dle of dried plants and carried off my soap, brush, and razor. As one 
was taking away my inkstand, w^hich I had been using shortly before, 
and which lay close to my pillow, I raised my gun, which, with my faith- 
ful dog, always is placed under my blanket by my side with the muzzle to 
my feet, and hastily gave him the contents. When I saw how large 
and strong a creature this rat was, I ceased to wonder at the exploits 
of the herd in depriving me of my property. The body and tail together 
measured a foot and a half; the hair was brown, the belly white ; 
it had enormous ears three quarters of an inch long, and whiskers three 
inches in length. Unfortunately the specimen was spoiled by the shot 
which in my haste to secure the animal and recover my inkstand, I did 
not take time to change ; but a female of the same sort venturing to re- 
turn some hours after, I handed it a smaller shot, w^hich did not destroy 
the skin. It was in all respects like the former, except being a little 
smaller." This identical specimen is in the museum of the Zoological 
Society of London, where we examined it. 

Mr. TowNSEND has kindly furnished us with some remarks on this spe- 
cies, from which we make the following extracts : — " I never saw it in 
the Rocky Mountains, but it is very common near the Columbia river. It 
is found in the store-houses of the inhabitants, where it supplies the place 
of the common rat, which is not found here. It is a remarkably mis- 



cMevous animal, destroying every thing which comes in its way — papers, 
books, goods, &c. It has been known not unfrequently to eat entirely 
through the middle of a bale of blankets, rendering the whole utterly 
useless ; and like a pet crow carries away every thing it can lay its hands 
on. Even candle-sticks, porter-bottles, and large iron axes, being some- 
times found in its burrows." 

The food of this species consists of seeds and herbage of various kinds ; 
it devours also the small twigs and leaves of pine trees, and generally 
has a considerable store of these laid up in the vicinity of its residence. 

It is said by Dkummond to make its nest in the crevices of high rocks. 
The nest is large, and is composed of sticks, leaves, and grasses. The 
abode of this Rat may be discovered by the excrement of the animal, 
which has the colour and consistence of tar, and is always deposited in 
the vicinity. It is stated by those who have had had the opportunity of 
observing, that this species produces from three to five young at a time. 


We were informed by a gentleman who was formerly engaged as a 
clerk in the service of the Missouri fur company, that this Rat exists in the 
valleys, and along the sides, of the Rocky Mountains, through an extent 
of thirty degrees of latitude. Douglass states that it is very numerous 
near the Mackenzie and Peace rivers, latitude 69°. Townsend found it 
in Oregon. We have seen a specimen that was said to have been ob- 
tained in the Northern mountains of Texas, and have heard of its exist- 
ence in North California. 



GENUS SIGMODON.— Say and Ord. 


' " = 16. 

Incisive -^ ; Canine g^ ; Molar g^ = 

As the present genus was instituted after a careful examination of the 
teeth of Sigmodon hi'spidum, by Messrs. Say and Ord, who first described 
that species ; we think it due to those distinguished naturalists, to give 
the dental formula in their own words, more especially as this species 
was named by us, in our illustrations, Arvicola hispidus, we having had 
some doubts whether it was sufficiently distinct from the arvicolae in its 
generic characters, to warrant us in adopting the genus Sigmodon, to 
w^hich we now cheerfully transfer it. 

" Superior Jaw. — Incisor, slightly rounded on its anterior face, truncated 
at tip ; first molar, equal to the second, composed of four very profound, 
alternate folds, two on each side, extending at least to the middle of the 
tooth ; second molar, quadrate, somewhat wider, and a little shorter than 
the preceding, with three profound folds extending at least to the middle, 
two of w^hich are on the exterior side ; posterior molar, a little narrower, 
but not shorter than the preceding, with three profound folds, two of 
which are on the exterior side, extending at least to the middle ; the inner 
fold, opposite to the anterior exterior fold, and not extending to the middle. 

" Inferior Jaw. — Incisor obliquely truncate at tip, the acute angle being 
on the inner side ; it originates in the ascending branch of the maxillary 
bone, passing beneath the molars ; molars, subequal in breadth, inclining 
slightly forwards ; first molar, a little narrower than the second, with 
five profound alternate folds, three of which are on the inner side ; second 
molar, subquadrate, with two alternate profound folds, the inner one an- 
terior ; third molar, about equal in length and breadth to the anterior 
one, but rather larger and somewhat narrower than the second, with 
which it corresponds in the disposition of its folds, excepting that they 
are less compressed." 


" The enamel of the molars is thick, but on the anterior face of each fold 
excepting the first is obsolete. From the arrangement of the folds, as 



above described, it is obvious that the configuration of the triturating sur- 
face, (occasioned by the folds of enamel dipping deeply into the body of the 
tooth, in the second and third molar of the lower jaw,) accurately repre- 
sents the letter S, which is reversed on the right side ; that bearing con- 
siderable resemblance to the posterior tooth of the genus Spalax, and to 
which also it has a slight affinity in the truncature of the inferior in- 
cisors. The configuration of the intermediate molar of the upper jaw 
may be compared to the form of the Greek letter 2, whence our generic 

" In respect to its generic affinities, it is very obvious that its system of 
dentition indicates a proximity to Arvicola, but the different arrangement 
of the folds, and the circumstance of the molars being divided into radi- 
cles, certainly exclude it from that genus. With respect to the radicles, 
it resembles the genus Fiber ; but is allied to this genus in no other re- 

" We may further remark that the teeth of our specimen are consider- 
ably worn, a condition that materially afliects the depths of the folds." 

Although the animal described below is the only species of Sigmodon 
at present admitted into this genus, there are several well known, and 
one undescribed, species, that we apprehend will yet be arranged un- 
der it. 


Cotton- Rat. 
PLATE XXX.— Natural size. 

S. flavo fuscescens, infra cinereiun ; cauda corpore breviore ; auribus 
amplis rotundatisque ; Tamise Lysteri magnitudine. 


Size of the chipping squirrel, {T. Lysteri;) tail, shorter than the body ; 
ears, broad and rounded ; above, dark yellowish-brown ; cinereous beneath. 


Marsh-Rat, Lawson'o Carolina, 1709, p. 125. 

The Wood-Rat, Bartram's Travels in East Florida, 1791, p. 124. 



SiGMODON HispiDUM, Say and Ord, Journ. Ac. Nat. Sc, Phila., vol. iv., pt. 2, p. 354, read 

March 22d, l.s25. 
Arvicola Hortensis, Harlan, Fauna, 1825, p. 138. 

" HispiDus, Godman, vol. ii., p. 68, 1826. 

" Hortensis, Griffith, Cuvier, vol. v., sp. 547. 


In its general external appearance this species approaches nearer to 
the genus Arvicola than to Mus. It has the thick short form of the former, 
and the broad and rather long ears of many species of the latter. The 
fur is long and coarse. 

Head, of moderate size, rather long ; nose, pointed ; whiskers, few, 
weak, and shorter than the head ; eyes, of moderate size and rather pro- 
minent ; ears, broad, rounded, and slightly covered with hair. 

Fore-legs, rather short and slender; four toes on each foot, the middle 
ones nearly of equal length, the inner one a size shorter, and the outer 
shortest ; there is also a rudimentary thumb, protected by a strong conical 
nail. Hind-legs, stouter ; five toes on each foot, much longer than those 
on the fore-feet ; middle claw longest, the two on each side nearly equal, 
the outer, not one-third the length of the others, and the inner, which 
rises far back, shortest of all ; nails, rather small, sharp, and slightly 
arched ; toes, covered with hair extending to the roots of the nails ; tail, 
clothed with short hairs. 


Hairs, on the whole upper surface of the body of a dark plumbeous 
colour from the roots to near the extremities, edged with brown, and ir- 
regularly tipped with black ; giving it a rusty reddish-brown appear- 
ance. The ears, head, and tail, are of the colour of the back ; chin, 
throat, and under surface of body, dull- white, the hairs being ashy-gray 
at the roots, and whitish at the points. 


From point of nose to root of tail 

Tail .... 

Length of ear 

Breadth of ear 

From eye to point of nose 

From point of nose to ear 

From heel to point of longest nail 

6 inches. 

4 do. 

i do. 

i do. 

§ do. 

n do. 

li do. 



This is the most common wood-rat existing in the Southern States, being 
even more abundant than any of the species of meadow-mice in the 
Northern and Eastern States. It is however a resident rather of hedges, 
ditches, and deserted old fields, than of gardens or cultivated grounds ; it 
occasions very little injury to the planter. Although its paths are every- 
where seen through the fields, it does not seem to destroy many plants or 
vegetables. It feeds on the seeds of coarse grasses and leguminous plants, 
and devours a considerable quantity of animal food. In its habits it is 
gregarious. We have seen spots of half an acre covered over with tall 
weeds, (Solidago and Eupatorium,) which were traversed in every direc- 
tion by the Cotton-Rat, and which must have contained several hundred 

Although this species does not reject grains and grasses, it gives the 
preference in all cases to animal food, and we have never found any 
species of rat more decidedly carnivorous. Robins, partridges, or other 
birds that are wounded and drop among the long grass or weeds in the 
neighbourhood of their burrows are speedily devoiu-ed by them. They 
may sometimes be seen running about the ditches with crayfish, (Astacus 
Bartoni) in their mouths, and have been known to subsist on Crustacea, 
especially the little crabs called fiddlers, {Gelasimus vocans.) 

We have frequently kept Cotton-Rats in cages ; they killed and de- 
voured every other species placed with them, and afterwards attacked 
each other ; the weakest were killed and eaten by the strongest. They 
fight fiercely, and one of them will overpower a Florida rat twice its 
own size. 

The old males when in confinement almost invariably destroy their 

This species delights in sucking eggs, and we have known a Virginian 
partridge nest as completely demolished by these animals, as if it had 
been visited by the Norway rat. They will sometimes leave Indian-corn 
and other grain untouched, when placed as a bait for them in traps, but 
they are easily caught when the traps are baited with meat of any kind. 

Although the Cotton-Rat is nocturnal in its habits, it may frequently be 
seen by day, and in places where it is seldom disturbed, it can generally 
be found at all hours. 

The galleries of this species often run twenty or thirty yards under 
ground, but not far beneath the surface ; and the ridges thrown up as the 
animals excavate their galleries, can often be traced along the surface 



of the earth for a considerable distance, like those formed by the common 

Each burrow or hole contains apparently only one family, a pair of old 
ones with their young ; but their various galleries often intersect each 
other, and many nests may be found within the compass of a few yards ; 
they are composed of withered grasses, are not very large, and may 
usually be found within a foot of the surface. In summer the nests are 
often seen in a cavity of the earth, on the surface in some meadow, or 
among rank weeds. 

This is a very prolific species, producing young early in spring, and 
through all the summer months, till late in autumn. We have on several 
occasions knovm their young born and reared in cages. They produce 
from four to eight at a litter. The young are of a bright chesnut-brown 
colour, and at the age of five or six days begin to leave the nest, are very 
active and sprightly, and attain their full growth in about five months. 

This species has no other note than a low squeak, a little hoarser than 
that of the common mouse ; when captured it is far more savage than 
the Florida rat. On one occasion, while seizing one of them, we were 
bitten completely through a finger covered by a buckskin glove. 

The Cotton-Rat is fond of burrowing in the old banks of abandoned rice- 
fields. In such situations we have, during freshets, observed that it could 
both swim and dive like the water-rat of Europe, and Wilson's meadow- 
mouse of the Middle States. 

This species supplies a considerable number of animals and birds 
with food. Foxes and wild-cats especially, destroy thousands ; we have 
observed minks coursing along the marshes in pursuit of them, and have 
frequently seen them with one of these Rats in their mouth. Marsh- 
hawks, and several other species, may be constantly seen in the autimin 
and winter months sailing over the marsh, looking out for the Cotton- 
Rat. No animal in the Southern States becomes more regularly the 
food of several species of owls than this. The barred owl {Syrnium 
nebulosum) is seen as early as the setting of the sun, flitting along the 
edges of old fields, seeking to make its usual evening meal on it or carry 
it oflf as food for its young. We were invited some years since to ex- 
amine the nest of the American barn-owl (Strix Americana) in the loft of 
a sugar refinery in Charleston. There were several young of different 
sizes, and we ascertained that the only food on which they were fed was 
this Rat, to obtain which the old birds must have gone several miles. 

The Cotton-Rat has obtained its name from its supposed habit of mak- 
ing its nest with cotton, which it is said to collect for the purpose in large 
quantities. We have occasionally, although very seldom, seen cotton in 


its nest, but we have more frequently found it composed of leaves 
and withered grasses. Indeed, this species does not appear to be very 
choice in selecting materials for building its nest, using indiscrimi- 
nately any suitable substance in the vicinity. We should have preferred 
a more characteristic English name for this Rat, but as it already has 
three names, Cotton-Rat, Hairy Campagnol, and Wood-Rat, the latter 
being in Carolina applied both to this and the Florida rat, we have con- 
cluded not to add another, although one more appropriate might be found. 


We have traced the Cotton-Rat as far north as Virginia, and have seen 
it in North Carolina, near Weldon and Wilmington. It is exceedingly 
abundant in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida ; in Alabama, Missis- 
sippi, and Louisiana, traces of it are every where seen. We have re- 
ceived a specimen from Galveston, Texas, but have had no opportunity 
of ascertaining whether it exists farther south. 


Although this species was noticed by Lawson a century and a half ago, 
it was not described until a comparatively recent period. Ord obtained 
specimens In Florida in 1818, and it was generally supposed that it was 
not found further to the north. In the spring of 1815, three years earlier 
than Mr. Ord, we procured a dozen specimens in Carolina, which we 
neglected to describe. Say and Ord, and Harlan, described it about 
the same time, (in 1825,) and Godman a year afterwards. We prefer 
adopting the name given to it by the individual who first brought it to 
the notice of naturalists. In its teeth it differs in a few particulars from 
Arvicola, and approaches nearer to Mus. The genus Sigmodon, at the time 
it was proposed, was strongly objected to by Harlan and Godman ; we 
have, however, after a good deal of investigation, concluded to adopt it, 
although our plate of the Cotton-Rat was lettered Arvicola hispidus. 




Incisive =- ; Canine = — ^ i Molar - — t. = 38. 

6 1 — 1 b — 6 

Tusks or canine teeth, projecting slightly, not curved near the points 
as in the common hog, (Sus,) small, triangular, and very sharp ; molars, 
with tubercular crowns ; tubercles, rounded and irregularly disposed. 
Head, broad and long ; snout, straight, terniinated by a cartilage ; ears, 
of moderate size and pointed ; eyes, rather small, pupil round. Fore-feet, 
with four toes, the two middle toes largest, the lateral toes quite short, 
not reaching to the ground ; hind-feet, with three toes, the external little 
toe of the hog w^anting in this genus. 

The metatarsal and metacarpal bones of the two largest toes on all the 
feet are united together like those of the ruminantia ; all the toes are 
protected by hoofs. A gland situated on the back a few inches from the 
root of the tail, concealed by the hair, discharges an oily foetid secretion. 
Body, covered with strong, stiff, bristles ; tail, a mere tubercle. 

Only two species are known, both inhabiting the warmer climates of 
America ; the generic name Dycotyles, is derived from the Greek words, 
Sis, (dis,) double, and xotuAs;, (kotule,) a cavity ; or double navel, from the 
opening on the back. 


Collared Peccary. 
PLATE XXXI. Four-sevenths natural size. 

D. pilis nigro alboque annulatis ; vitta albida ab humeris in latere 
colli utroque decurrente. 





Hair, annulated mth black and white ; a light-coloured hand extending 
from the sides of the neck around the shoulders, and meeting on the hack. 


Tattetou, D'Azara, Quad, du Paraguay, Tol. i., p. 31. 

Tajacu, Buffon, vol. v., p. 272, pi. 135. 

Sus Tajacu, Linn., 12th ed. vol. i., p. 103. 

Qdathtla Cotmatl, Quaherotl, Hern., Mex., 637. 

Tajacu, Ray, Quad., p. 97. 

Sus Tasassa, Erxleben, Syst., p. 185. 

Sus Tagassa, Schreber, Saugethier, t. 325. 

ApER Americanus, Briss., Regne An., p. 3. 

Tajacu Caaigoana Marcgr, Bras., p. 229. 

Mexican Hog, Pennant, Quadr., p. 147. 

PoRCUs Moschiferus, Klein, Quadr., p, 25. 

Peccari, Shaw, Gen. Zool., vol. ii., p. 469, 224. 

Dycotylbs Torquatus, F. Cuvier, Diet, des Sciences Naturelles, torn, ix., p. 518. 

" " Desm., Mamm., p. 393. 

« " Cuv., Regne An., vol. i., p. 237. 

" " Pr. Maxim. Beitr., vol. ii., p. 557. 

" " Harlan, Fauna, p. 220. 

" " Griffith's Animal Kingdom, sp. 740. 


The form of the Collared Peccary bears a very striking resemblance 
to that of the common domesticated hog, it is however smaller in size, 
shorter, and more compact. 

Head, rather large ; snout, long ; ears, upright, and of moderate size ; 
eyes, rather small. The cartilage on the extremity of the nose is naked, 
with the exception of a few bristles on the upper lip. On the upper sur- 
face of the nose, near the cartilage, there is a spot half an inch in length 
that is naked ; nostrils, large ; the upper tusks, in the living animal, pro- 
trude downward below the lower lips half an inch ; the ears are on both 
surfaces thinly clothed with hair that is softer than that on the remainder 
of the body. The hairs on the head are short. From the hind part of 
the head along the dorsal line on the back, there are long strong bristles, 
which are erected when the animal is irritated. Many of these bristles 
are five inches in length, whilst the hairs on the other parts of the body 
are generally about three. 

On the lower part of the back, a slight distance from the rump, there 



is a naked glandular orifice surrounded by a few bristles in a somewhat 
radiated direction. From this orifice there exudes a strong scented fluid. 
This part of the animal has been vulgarly supposed to be its navel. 

The legs, which strongly resemble those of the common hog, are rather 
short. There is not even a vestige of the small upper external hind-toe, 
which is always present in the common hog. There is a ruff" under the 
throat, protruding about three inches beyond the surrounding hairs. The 
under surface of the body is rather thinly clothed with hair. 

In place of a tail there is a mere protuberance about half an inch in 
length, which is rounded and like a knob. 

Eyes, dark-brovm ; nostrils, flesh-colour. The hairs are at their roots 
yellowish-white, are thrice annulated with dark-brown and yellowish- 
white, and are tipped with black. Head, cheeks, and sides of the 
neck, grayish ; legs, dark-brown ; a whitish band two inches broad runs 
from the top of the shoulder on each side toward the lower part of the 
neck. The long hairs on the dorsal line are so broadly tipped with black 
that the animal in those parts appears of a black colour ; along the sides 
however the alternate annulations are so conspicuous that it has a deep 
gray or grizzled appearance. On the chest, outer surface of shoulders 
and thighs, it is of a darker colour than on the sides. Immediately be- 
hind the lightish collar on the shoulders the hairs are dark, rendering this 
collar or band more conspicuous. 

The young have a uniform shade of red. 


Living female. 

Length of head and body 

ear . 
Height to shoulder 
Length of tail . 

Adult male (recent) obtained in Texas. 
From nose to anterior canthus 
From nose to begirming of ear 
Length of ear .... 
Breadth of ear 
Length from snout to root of tail 



















From knee to end of hoof 

Hind-knee to end of hoof 

Spread of fore-feet .... 

Girth across the centre of body 

Spread of mouth when fully extended 

Breadth between the eyes 












The accounts that have been handed down to us of the habits of this 
species by old travellers, Aldrovanda, Fernandez, Mons. De la Borde, 
Marcgrave, Acosta, and others, who furnished the information from which 
BuFFON, Brisson, Ray, and Linnaeus, drew up their descriptions of the 
Mexican hog, are not to be fully relied on, inasmuch as their descriptions 
referred to two very distinct species, the white-lipped peccarj% {D. labia- 
tus,) : nd the subject of the present article. Neither Linn^us nor his con- 
temporaries seem to have been aware of the difference which exists be- 
tween the species, and although Buffon was informed by M. De la Borde 
that another and larger species existed at Cayenne, he does not appear to 
have drawn any line of distinction between it and our animal. 

D'Azara, who vi ited South America in 1783, (Essais sur I'Histoire 
Naturelle des Quadrupfides de la Province du Paraguay, Paris, 1801,) 
endeavoured to correct the errors into which previous writers had fallen, 
and gave an account of the present species, which, although somewhat 
unmethodical, is nevertheless of such a character that it may on the 
whole be relied on. He commences his article on the " taytetou," as he 
designates this species, by first giving correct measurements ; afterwards 
he describes the colour of the adult and young, points out the distinctive 
marks which separate this species from the white-lipped peccary, which 
he calls " tagnicate," and then gives a tolerable account of the habits of 
the species no^v under consideration. From the accounts which travellers 
have given us of the Collared Peccary it appears that this species is gre- 
garious, and associates for mutual protection in pretty large families ; it 
is however stated by D'Azapa that the white-lipped peccary is more dis- 
posed to congregate in very large herds than our animal. 

Although they are usually found in the forests and prefer low and 
marshy grounds, like common hogs, Peccaries wander wherever they can 
find an abundance of food, often enter the enclosures of the planters, and 
commit great depredations on the products of their fields. 

When attacked by the jaguar, the puma, the wolf, the dog. or the hun- 


ter, they form themselves into a circle, surrounding and protecting their 
young, repelling their opponents with their sharp teeth, and in this man- 
ner sometimes routing the larger predatory animals, or severely wound- 
ing the dogs and the hunters. 

When angry they gnash their teeth, raise their bristles, (which at such 
time resemble the quills of the porcupine,) and their sharp, shrill grunt 
can be heard at a great distance. 

This species feeds on fruits, seeds, and roots ; and like the domesticated 
hog is constantly rooting in the earth in quest of worms, insects, reptiles, 
or bulbous roots. It is said also to devom- the eggs of alligators, turtles, 
and birds ; and to be destructive to lizards, toads, and snakes. In fact, 
like the common hog it is omnivorous, feeds upon every thing that 
comes in its way, and is not particularly choice in the selection of its 

Mons. De la Borde (D'Azaka, Quad, du Paraguay, vol. i., p. 31,) relates 
that " they are easily shot ; for instead of flying, they assemble together, 
and often give the hunters an opportunity of charging and discharging 
several times." He mentions " that he was one day employed, along 
with several others, in hunting these animals, accompanied by a single 
dog, which as soon as they appeared, took refuge between his master's 
legs. For greater safety he with the other hunters stood on a rock. They 
were nevertheless surrounded by the herd of hogs. A constant fire was 
kept up, but the creatures did not retire till a great number of them were 
slain." " These animals, however," he remarks, " fly after they have 
been several times hunted. The yoimg, when taken in the chase, are 
easily tamed, but they will not associate or mix with the domestic species. 
In their natural state of liberty they frequent the marshes, and swim 
across large rivers. Their flesh," says he, " has an excellent taste, but 
is not so tender as that of the domestic hog ; it resembles the flesh of the 
hare, and has neither lard nor grease." 

The same author also states that " when pursued they take refuge in 
hollow trees, or in holes in the earth dug by the armadilloes. These 
holes they enter backwards and remain in as long as they can. But when 
highly irritated they instantly issue out in a body. In order to seize them 
as they come out, the hole is inclosed with branches of trees ; one of the 
hunters, armed with a pitchfork, stands above the hole to fix them by the 
neck, while another forces them out, and kills them with a sabre." 

" When there is but one in a hole, and the hunter has not leisure to 
seize it, he shuts up the entrance, and is sure of his game next day." 

All authors agree in stating that the dorsal glands of either the male 
or female should be cut off instantly after the animal is killed, for their 


retention for only a single hour gives the meat so strong an odour that it 
can scarcely be eaten. 

The only recent account we have thus far received, that contains 
original and authentic information about this singular wild hog, was fur- 
nished us by Mr. William P. Smith. He had been sent to this country 
by our ever kind friend, the Right Honourable the Earl of Derby, for the 
purpose of procuring living animals to enrich his collection at Knowsley, 
near Liverpool. We engaged him also to obtain for us any rare species 
he could meet wth in Texas, and to send descriptions of their habits, 
and any other information likely to be of interest to the readers of this 
work. Mr. Smith went to Texas in 1841, and shortly afterwards sent us 
the following account of the Peccary. He says, — 

" The Mexican hogs previous to the overflowing of the bottom lands in 
1833, struck terror into the hearts of the settlers in their vicinity, often- 
times pursuing the planter whilst hunting or in search of the lost track 
of his wandering cattle — at which time they frequently killed his dogs, 
or even at times forced him to ascend a tree for safety, where he would 
sometimes be obliged to wait until the hogs got tired of dancing attend- 
ance at the foot of his place of security, or left him to go and feed. These 
animals appeared quite savage, and would, after coming to the tree in 
which the planter had ensconced himself, snap their teeth and run about 
and then lie down at the root of the tree to wait for their enemy to come 
down. At this early period of the settlement of Texas, (this refers to 
1833,) they used to hunt this animal in companj^. From five to fifteen 
planters together, and occasionally a larger number of hunters, would 
join in the pursuit of these ravagers of their corn-fields, in order to 
diminish their number and prevent their farther depredations, as at times 
they would nearly destroy a farmer's crop. Since this time, however, 
their number has greatly decreased, and it is now a difficult matter to 
find them." 

" On some parts of the Brazos they still exist, and in others are qviite 

Mr. Smith further says, " The two I send you are the only ones I have 
heard of since my arrival in this country. I happened with the assist- 
ance of a person, to find out their lair, which is alwa)fs in some hollow 
tree, although they have many sleeping places. Being late in the day 
I was determined not to disturb them until a more favourable time would 
present itself, as I was anxious, if possible, to procure them alive. Some 
time passed, and everything being ready, the dogs soon compelled them 
to make for home, when they having entered, we secured the entrance of 
their hole, and cut a large opening up the body of the tree, a few feet 


above them, from which " point of vantage " we were enabled easily to 
drop a noose round their necks, which we tightened until we thought 
they were nearly suffocated ; we then drew them out, tied their legs and 
feet securely, and fastened their mouths by binding their jaws together 
with cords, and then left them lying on the ground for a time. On our 
return we found that they had got over the effect of the ' experimental 
hanging ' they had gone through. We put them across a horse, and in 
trying to get loose they so tightened the ropes and entangled them about 
their necks, that they died before we observed this on our way home with 
them. This is the usual mode of taking these animals alive, although 
some are caught in pits. They have a large musk-bag upon the back, 
from which a very disagreeable odour is emitted whilst the animal is ex- 
cited ; but this is not observable after they are killed. The flesh of the 
female is good at some seasons of the year, but that of the male is strong, 
coarse and disagreeable at all times. Their principal food consists of 
nuts of every description (mast) during %vinter ; but in summer they feed 
on succulent plants, with which the bottom lands in the Brazos abound. 
The male measured forty inches from the tip of its nose to that of its tail ; 
the female is shorter by two inches. The eyes are very dark hazel 

" As soon as they get within their den, one of them, probably the oldest 
male, stands sentinel at the entrance. Should the hunter kill it, another 
immediately takes its place, and so in succession until all are killed. 
This animal, which in Texas is always called the wild hog, is considered 
the bravest animal of these forests, for it dreads neither man nor beast." 

The Collared Peccary is easily domesticated, and breeds readily in 
confinement. We saw a pair on board of a ship that arrived in 
Charleston from South America, the female of ^vhich had produced two 
young whilst on the passage ; they were then several weeks old, and 
seemed to be in a thriving condition. 

Mons. M. L. E. Moreau Saint Meey, the translator of the work of 
D'AzABA, from the Spanish into the French language, states that in 1787 
he saw at the residence of the Governor General La Luzerne, a tame 
Collared Peccary, which he had procured from Carthagena, with the in- 
tention of multiplying the species in San Domingo, (Note du Traducteur 
D'AzARA, tom. i., p. 42.) We observed at the Zoological Gardens in Lon- 
don, young Peccaries that had been born in the menagerie. This animal, 
however, is less prolific than the common domesticated hog, and its odor- 
ous glands being moreover offensive, the extensive domestication of it 
would not be attended with any profit to the agriculturist. 

We have frequently seen the Collared Peccary in confinement. One 



that is at present (184C) in a menagerie in Charleston, is exceedingly 
gentle, taking its food from the hand, and allowing itself to be caressed 
even by strangers. It lies down in the manner of a pig, and next to 
giving it food, the greatest favour you can bestow on it is to scratch it 
either with the hand or a stick. It however is easily irritated. We no- 
ticed that it has a particular antipathy to the dog, and when approached 
by that animal immediately places itself in a defensive attitude, raising 
its bristles, showing its tusks, stamping its feet, and uttering a sharp 
cry which might be heard at the distance of seventy yards ; when in a 
good humour, however, it occasionally utters a low grunt like a pig. It 
seems to suffer much from cold, and is always most lively and playful on 
warm days. It appears to prefer Indian-corn, potatoes, bread and fruits, 
but like the domestic hog evinces no unwillingness to take any kind of 
food that is presented to it. We remarked, however, that it is decidedly 
less carnivorous than the common hog. 

It is stated by authors that this species produces but once a year, and 
brings forth only two at a litter. 


The Collared Peccary has a most extensive geographical range. It 
was seen by Nuttal at the Red River in Arkansas, north latitude 31°. 
Our specimens "svere obtained in Texas. It exists in all the lower portions 
of Mexico and Yucatan, and is found every where viithin the tropics. It 
is said by D'Azara to be abundant at Paraguay, south latitude 37", thus 
spreading itself through an extent of sixty-eight degrees of latitude. 


This species has been noticed by all the early travellers in South 
America and Mexico. They however almost invariably confounded 
the habits of two species. D'Azara pointed out the distinctive marks 
which separate these species. They differ so much from each other 
that they ought never to have been mistaken. Linn^us applied the name 
Stis tajacu, but as it is impossible to ascertain which species he had in 
view we cannot use his name for either. Rat, Erxleben, and Schreber 
applied the same name, and committed the same error. Brisson gave the 
name Aper Americanus, and Klein that of Porcus muschiferus in the same 
manner, without discriminating the species. Baron Cuvier established 
the genus Dycotyles, and F. Cuviek applied the specific name of torquatus. 
BuFFON, who had heard from M. De la Borde that there were two distinct 
species in Cayenne, considered them as mere varieties produced by age. 


but gave as he supposed a figure of each ; his figures, however, which 
are of no value, both refer to the present species, and bear no resemblance 
to the white-lipped Peccary, {D. labiatus.) 

It is somewhat strange that Grifffth, in his " Animal Kingdom," which 
he states was arranged by Baron Cu^qER, should have completely misun- 
derstood D'AzAKA, (Histoire Naturelle, torn, i., p. 31,) and reversed the 
habits of the two species, (Cuvier, Animal Kingdom, by GRiFFrrH, vol. iii., 
P- 411,) giving D'AzARA as authority for applying the habits of the pre- 
sent species, Tajassu, {Dycotyles torquatus,) to those of his Tagnicati, (JD. 
labiatus) giving at the same time a pretty good figure of the latter. It 
may however be easily seen that the whole object of D'Azara's article 
on these species was to correct the very error into which Griffith has 




Polar Hake. 

PLATE XXXII, — Male. In summer pelage. Natural size. 

L. aestate dilute cinereus, hyeme niveus, pilis apice ad radicem albis ; 
aurium apicibus nigris ; vulpes magnitudine. 


As large as a fox; colour, f« summer, light gray above; in winter, white, 
the hairs at that season being white from the roots. Tips of ears, black. 


White Harks, Discoveries and Settlements of the English in America, from the reign of 
Henry 11. to the close of that of Queen Elizabeth, quoted from Pinkerton's Voyages, 
vol. xii., p. 276. 
Alpine Hare, Philosophical Transactions, London, vol. Ixvi., p. 375, An. 1777. 
Lepus Timidus, Fabri., Fauna Grcenlandica, p. 25. 
Varying Hare, Pennant, Arc. Zool., vol. i., p. 94. 
Whiti Hare, Heame's Journey, p. 3S2. 

" " Cartwright's Journal, vol. ii., p. 75. 

Lepus Glacialis, Leach, Zool. Miscellany, 1814. 

" " Ross's Voyage. 

" " Captain Sabine's Snppl. Parry's 1st Voyage, p. 188. 

" " Franklin's Journal, p. 664. 

" " Richardson, Appendix to Parry's 2d Voyage, p. 321. 

Polar Hare, Harlan, Fauna, p. 194. 

" " Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 162. 

Lefus Glacialis, Richardson, Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 221. 

" " Bacbman, Acad. Nat. Sciences, Phila., vol. vii., part 2. 


This fine species is considerably larger than the English hare, {L. timi- 
dus) Head, larger and longer than that of the European hare ; fore- 
head, more arched ; body, long ; nose, blunt ; eyes, large ; ears, long ; 
whiskers, composed of a few stiff long hairs ; legs, long ; soles of feet, 
broad, thickly covered with hair concealing the nails, which are long. 




moderately broad, and somewhat arched. Tail, of moderate length, 
woolly at the roots, intermixed with longer hairs. The fur on the back 
is remarkably close and fine ; that on the under surface is longer, and not 
quite so close. 

In winter, the Polar Hare is entirely white on every part of the body 
except the tips of the ears ; the hairs are of the same colour to the roots. 
The ears are tipped with hairs of a brownish-black colour. In its sum- 
mer dress, this species is of a grayish-brown colour on the whole of the 
head extending to the ears ; ears, black, bordered with white on their 
outer margins ; under parts of the neck, and the breast, dark bluish-gray ; 
the whole of the back, light brownish-gray. The fur under the long hairs 
of the back is soft and woolly, and of a grayish-ash; the hairs inter- 
spersed among the fur are dark blue near the roots, then black, tipped 
with grayish-fawn colour ; a few black and white hairs are interspersed 
throughout. The wool on the under surface is bluish-white, interspersed 
with long hairs of a slate colour ; the hairs forming the whiskers are 
white and black, the former predominating. The inner sides of the fore- 
legs, thighs, and under surface of the tail, pure white ; the hairs on the 
soles are yellowish-brown ; nails, nearly black. According to Richard- 
sox, " the irides are of a honey-yellow colour." The skin of this species 
appears to be nearly as tender as that of the Northern hare. 


Specimen, obtained at Labrador. 
Length of head and body . 

" from point of nose to ear 

" of ear, measured posteriorly . 

" tail (vertebrae) . 

" tail, including fur 

" -whiskers .... 

" from wrist-joint to point of middle claw 

" " heel to middle claw 

Weight, from 7 to 1 1 lbs. 
These measurements were taken from the specimen after it had been 
stuffed. We are under the impression that it was a little longer in its 
recent state. 

















It is to the cold and inhospitable regions of the North, the rugged valleys 


of Labrador, and the wild mountain-sides of that desolate land, or to the 
yet wilder and more sterile countries that extend from thence toward the 
west, that we must resort, to find the large and beautiful Hare we have 
now to describe ; and if we advance even to the highest latitude man has 
ever reached, we shall still find the Polar Hare, though the mercury fall 
below zero, and huge snow drifts impede our progress through the track- 
less waste. 

Both Indians and trappers are occasionally relieved from almost certain 
starvation by the existence of this Hare, which is found throughout the 
whole range of country extending from the Eastern to the Western shores 
of Northern America, and includes nearly thirty-five degrees of latitude, 
from the extreme North to Newfoundland. 

In various parts of this thinly inhabited and unproductive region, the 
Polar Hare, perhaps the finest of all the American hares, takes up its re- 
sidence. It is covered in the long dark winter with a coat of warm fur, 
so dense, that it cannot be penetrated by the rain and is an efiectual pro- 
tection from the intense cold of the rigorous climate. 

Its changes of colour help to conceal it from the observation of its 
enemies ; in summer it is nearly of the colour of the earth and the sur- 
rounding rocks, and in winter it assumes a snow-white coat. The changes 
it thus undergoes, correspond with the shortness of the summers and the 
length of the Arctic winters. In the New England States the Northern 
hare continues white for about five months, that being the usual duration 
of the winters there ; but in the Arctic regions, where the summer lasts for 
about three months only, whilst the earth during the remainder of the 
year is covered -with snow, were the Polar Hare not to become white till 
November, (the time when the Northern hare changes,) it would for two 
months be exposed to the keen eyes of its greatest destroyers, the golden 
eagle and the snowy ow^l, as its dark fur would be conspicuous on the 
snow ; or were it to become brown in April, it would wear its summer 
dress long before the earth had thrown off" its mantle of white, or a single 
bud had peeped through the snow. 

The eye of the Polar Hare is adapted to the twilight that reigns during 
a considerable part of the year within the Arctic circle ; in summer it 
avoids the glare of the almost continual day-light, seeking the shade of 
the little thickets of dwarfish trees that are scattered over the barren 
grounds, the woods that skirt the streams, or the shelter of some over- 
hanging rock. 

In addition to the circumstance that the eye of this Hare is well fitted 
for seeing with a very moderate light, it may be remarked that in winter 
the frequent and long continued luminous appearance of the heavens 


caused by the aurora borealis, together with the brightness of the unsul- 
lied snow, afford a sufficient degree of light for it to proceed with its cus- 
tomary occupations. 

During the summer this species is found on the borders of thickets, or 
in stony or rocky places. In winter it is often seen in the barren and 
open country, where only a few stunted shrubs and clumps of spruce fir, 
{Abies rubra,) afford it shelter, differing in this habit from the Northern 
hare, which confines itself to thick woods throughout the year, avoiding 
cleared fields and open ground. 

Captain Ross says of the Polar Hare, " There is scarcely a spot in the 
Arctic regions, the most desolate and sterile that can be conceived, where 
this animal is not to be found, and that too, throughout the winter ; nor 
does it seek to shelter itself from the inclemency of the w^eather by bur- 
rowing in the snow, but is found generally sitting solitarily under the lee 
of a large stone, where the snow drift as it passes along, seems in some 
measure to afford a protection from the bitterness of the blast that impels 
it, by collecting around and half burying the animal beneath it." 

The food of this species varies with the season. Hearne tells us that 
" in winter it feeds on long rye-grass and the tops of dwarf willows, but 
in summer it eats berries and different sorts of small herbage." 

According to Richaedson, " it seeks the sides of the hills, where the 
wind prevents the snow from lodging deeply, and where even in the win- 
ter it can procure the berries of the Alpine arbutus, the bark of some 
dwarf willows, {Salix,) or the evergreen leaves of the Labrador tea- 
plant," {Ledum latifolium.) Captain Lyon, in his private journal has 
noted that on the barren coast of Winter Island, the Hares went out on 
the ice to the ships, to feed on the tea-leaves thrown overboard by the 

The Polar Hare is not a very shy or timid animal, but has on being ap- 
proached much the same habits as the Northern hare. " It merely runs 
to a little distance, (says Richardson,) and sits doviTi, repeating this man- 
oeuvre as often as its pursuer comes nearly within gun-shot, until it is 
thoroughly scared by his perseverance, when it makes off. It is not dif- 
ficult to get within bow-shot of it by walking round it and gradually con- 
tracting the circle — a method much practised by the Indians." Hearne 
had previously made the same observations ; he says also, " the middle 
of the day, if it be clear weather, is the best time to kill them in this 
manner, for before and after noon the sun's altitude being so small, makes 
a man's shadow so long on the snow as to frighten the Hare before he 
can approach near enough to kill it. The same may be said of deer when 


on open plains, which are frequently more frightened at the long shadow 
than at the man himself." 

All travellers concur in stating the flesh of this animal to be of a finer 
flavour than that of any of our other hares. We obtained one while at 
St. George's Bay, in Newfoundland, and all our party made a meal of it ; 
we pronounced it delicious food. 

A lady residing at that place informed us that she had domesticated 
the Polar Hare, and had reared some of them for food. She said that the 
flesh was fine-flavoured, and the animals easily tamed, and that she had 
only been induced to discontinue keeping them in consequence of their 
becoming troublesome, and destructive in her garden. 

The Polar Hare is stated by Richardson, on the authority of Indian 
hunters, to bring forth once in a year, and only three young at a litter : 
That, owing to the short summer of the Arctic regions, it does not produce 
more than once annually, is no doubt true, but the number of young 
brought forth at a time, we are inclined to believe was not correctly 
given by the Indian hunters. 

Cartwright (see Jour., vol. ii., p. 76) killed a female of this species at 
Labrador on the 11th June, from which he took five young. 

Capt. Ross says, " a female killed by one of our party at Sherifi" Har- 
bour on the 7th of June, had four young in utero, perfectly mature, 5^ 
inches long, and of a dark gray colour. In one shot at Igloolik, on the 
2d June, six young were found, not quite so far advanced." 

An intelligent farmer who had resided some years in Newfoundland, 
informed us that he had on several occasions counted the young of the 
Polar Hare, and had never found less than five, and often had taken seven 
from one nest. He considered the average number of young to each lit- 
ter as six. Fabricius, alluding to the habits of this species as existing in 
Greenland, says, " They pair in April, and in the month of June produce 
eight young at a birth." 

Some idea may be formed of the very short period this species con- 
tinues in its summer colours, from the following remarks of difierent 
observers. In Beachy's Narrative, (p. 447,) is the following notice : — > 
" May 5th. The party killed a white Hare, it was getting its summer 
coat." Cartwright killed one on the 11th June, and remarks that it was 
yet white. We obtained a specimen on the 15th August, 1833, and ascer- 
tained that the change from summer to winter colours had already com- 
menced. There was a large spot, nearly a hand's breadth, of pure white 
on the back, extending nearly to the insertion of the tail ; three or four 
white spots about an inch in diameter were also found on the sides. 


Captain Ross states — " One taken by us on the 28th of June, a few 
days after its birth, soon became sufficiently tame to eat from our hands, 
and was allowed to run loose about the cabin. During the summer we 
-fed it on such plants as the country produced, and stored up a quantity of 
grass and astragali for its winter consumption ; but it preferred to share 
with us whatever our table could afford, and would enjoy peas-soup, 
plum-pudding, bread, barley-soup, sugar, rice, and even cheese, with us. 
It could not endure to be caressed, but was exceedingly fond of company, 
and would sit for hours listening to a conversation, which was no sooner 
ended than he would retire to his cabin ; he was a continual source of 
amusement by his sagacity and playfulness." * * * " The 

fur of the Polar Hare is so exceedingly soft, that an Esquimaux woman 
spun some of its wool into a thread, and knitted several pairs of gloves, 
one pair of which, beautifully white, came into my possession. It resem- 
bled the Angola wool, but was still softer." 

The specimen we procured in Newfoundland weighed seven and a half 
pounds; it was obtained on the 15th August, in the midst of summer, 
when all hares are lean. It was at a period of the year also, when in 
that island they are incessantly harassed by the troublesome moose-fly. 
Deer, hares, &,c., and even men, suffer very much in consequence of their 
attacks. The Indians we saw there, although tempted by a high reward, 
refused to go in search of these Hares, from a dread of this persecuting 
insect, and our party, who had gone on a moose-hunt, were obliged by 
the inflammation succeeding the bites inflicted on them to return on the 
same day they started. 

Dr. Richardson sets down the weight of a full grown Polar Hare as 
varying according to its condition from seven to fourteen pounds. 

In Beachy's Narrative there is an account of a Polar Hare, killed on 
the 15th May, that weighed nearly twelve pounds ; and Hearne (see 
Journey, p. 383) says that, " in good condition many of them weigh from 
fourteen to fifteen pounds." 


This species occupies a wide range in the northern portions of our con- 
tinent ; it extends from the shores of Baffin's Bay across the continent to 
Behring's Straits. It has been seen as far north as the North Georgian 
Islands, in latitude 75°. On the western portion of the American con- 
tinent it has not been found further to the south than latitude 64°, but on 
the eastern coast it reaches much farther south. Richardson has stated 
that its most southerly known habitat is in the neighbourhood of Fort 


Churchill, on Hudson's Bay, which is in the 58th parallel of latitude, but 
remarks, that it may perhaps extend farther to the southward on the 
elevated ridges of the Rocky Mountains, or on the Eastern coast, in Labra- 
dor. We have ascertained that on the eastern coast of America it exists 
at least ten and a half degrees south of the latitude assigned to it above ; 
as we procured our specimen at Newfoundland, in latitude 47^°, where 
it was quite common ; and we have been informed that it also exists in 
the northern portions of Nova Scotia. To the north-east, it has found its 
way across Baffin's Bay, and exists in Greenland. 


Although the Polar Hare was noticed at a very early period in the his- 
tory of America, until recently it was considered identical with other 
species that have since been ascertained to differ from it. The writer of 
the History of Discoveries and Settlements of the English in America, 
from the reign of Henry VII. to the close of that of Queen Elizabeth, 
speaking of the animals at Churchill and Hudson's Bay (see Pinkerton, 
Voy., vol. vii., p. 276) says " the hares grow white in winter, and recover 
their colour in- spring; they have very large ears which are always 
black ; their skins in winter are very pretty, of fine long hair which does 
not fall ; so that they make very fine mufis." 

There can be no doubt that the Polar Hare was here alluded to. Pek- 
NANT remarked that its size was greater than that of the varying hare, 
with which it had so long been considered identical. Hearnb, who ob- 
served it on our continent, and Fabkicius, who obtained it in Greenland, 
regarded it as the varying hare. Leach, in 1814 (Zoological Miscellany) 
characterized it as a new species. It was subsequently noticed by Sa- 
bine, Franklin, and Richardson. As an evidence of how little was known 
of our American hares until very recently, we would refer to the fact that 
in the last general work on American quadrupeds by an American 
author, published by Dr. Godman in 1826, only two hares were admitted 
into our Fauna — Lepus Americanus, by which he referred to our gray 
rabbit, and Lepus glacialis, which together with Lepus Virginianus of 
Harlan, he felt disposed to refer to Lepus variabilis of Europe, leaving us 
but one native species, and even to that applying a wrong name. We 
hope in this work to be able to present our readers with at least fourteen 
species of true hares, that exist in America north of the tropic of Cancer, 
all peculiar to this country. 

In 1829 Dr. Richardson gave an excellent description, (Fauna Boreali 
Americana, p. 221,) removing every doubt as to Lepus glacialis being a 


true species. In 1838, having obtained a specimen in summer pelage, 
the only one that as far as we have learned existed in any collection in 
our country, we were induced to describe it, (Journal Acad. Nat. 
Sciences, Philadelphia, vol. vii., p. 285.) 





Incisive g ; Canine j^j ; Molar ^zr- ^^ 34. 

There are two false molars above, and three below ; the great car- 
nivorous tooth below, without an internal tubercle ; the tuberculous tooth 
in the upper jaw, very long. 

Head, small and oval ; muzzle, short and blunt ; ears, short and round ; 
body, long and vermiform ; neck, long ; legs, short ; five toes on each foot, 
armed with sharp crooked claws ; tail, long and cylindrical. Animals of 
this genus emit a fetid odour, and are nocturnal in habit ; they are separat- 
ed from the martens in consequence of having one tooth less on each 
side of the upper jaw ; their muzzle is also shorter and thicker than 
that of the marten. The species are generally small in size, and seldom 
climb trees like the true martens. 

There are about fifteen well determined species of this genus, six of 
which belong to America, and the remainder to the Eastern continent. 

The generic name putorius is derived from the Latin word putor — a 
fetid smell. 



PLATE XXXIII. Male and Female. Natural size. 

P. fulvns, mente albo ; auribus curtis ; pedibus semi-palmatis ; cauda 
corporis dimidiam longa. Mustela marte minor. 


Less than the pine marten; general colour, brown; chin white; ears 
short ; feet semi-palmate ; tail, half the length of the body. 

MINK. 251 


The Mink, Smith's Virginia, 1624. Quoted from Pinkerton's Voyages, vol. xiii., p. 31. 

Otat, Sagard Theodat, Hist, du Can., p. 749, A.D. 1636. 

FouTBREAU, La Hontan, Voy. 1., p. 81, A.D. 1703. 

Mink, Kalm's Travels, Pinkerton's Voy., vol. xiii., p. 522. 

Le Vison, Butfon, xiii., p. 308, t. 43. 

MusTELA VisoN, Linn., Gmel., i., p. 94. 

Minx, Lawson's Carolina, p. 121. 

Mhstela Lutreola, Forster, Phil. Trans., Ixii., p. 371. 

Minx Otter, Pennant, Arct. Zool., i., p. 87. 

VisoN Weasel, Ibid., i., p. 78. 

Jackash, Hearne's Journey, p. 376. 

McsTELA Vison, Cuv., Regno Anim., vol. i., p. 150, t. 1, fig. 2. 

MnsTELA LuTBEOLA, Sabine, Frank Journ., p. £52. 

MusTELA Vison and M. Ldtreocephala, Harlan, Fauna, p. 63, 65. 

Mink, Godman, Nat. Hist., vol.!., p. 206. 

PuToRiDs VisoN, Dekay, Nat. Hist. New-York, p. 37, fig. 3, a. b. skull. 


Body, long and slender ; head, small and depressed ; nose, short, flat, 
and thick ; eyes, small, and placed far forward ; whiskers, few. and reach- 
ing to the ears ; ears, broad, short, rounded, and covered with hair ; neck, 
very long ; legs, short and stout. The toes are connected by short hairy 
webs, and may be described as semi-palmated. There are short hairs on 
the webs above and below. Claw^s, very slightly arched, and acute. On 
the fore-feet, the third and fourth toes, counting from the inner side, are 
about of equal length ; the second a line shorter, the fifth a little less, 
and the first, shortest. On the hind-feet, the third and fourth toes are 
equal, the second and fifth shorter and nearly equal, and the first very 
short. There are callosities on the toes resembling in miniature those 
on the toes of the Bay lynx. The feet and palms are covered \vith hair 
even to the extremity of the nails ; tail, round, and thick at the roots, 
tapering gradually to the end ; the longer hairs of the tail are inclined 
to stand out horizontally, giving it a bushy appearance. There are two 
brown-coloured glands situated on each side of the under surface of the 
tail, which have a small cavity lined by a thin white ^vrinkled mem- 
brane ; they contain a strong musky fluid, the smell of which is rather 
disagreeable. Mammae, six, ventral. 

The coat is composed of two kinds of hair : a very downy fur beneath, 
with hairs of a longer and stronger kind interspersed. The hairs on the 
upper surface are longer than those on the lower. They are smooth and 

252 MINK. 

glossy both on the body and the tail, and to a considerable extent 
conceal the downy fur beneath. 

Under fur light brownish-yellow ; the longer hairs, and the surface of 
the fur, are of a uniform brown or tawny colour, except the ears which 
are a little lighter, and the sides of the face, under surface, tail, and poste- 
rior part of the back, which are a little darker than the general tint, lower 
jaw white. In most specimens there is a white spot under the throat, and 
in all that we have seen, a longitudinal white stripe on the breast between 
the fore-legs, much wider in some specmens than in others ; tail, darkest 
toward the end ; for an inch or two from the tip it is often very dark- 
brown or black. 

There are some striking and permanent varieties of the Mink, both in 
size and colour. We possess a specimen from Canada, which is consid- 
erably darker than those of the United States. Its tail is an inch longer 
than usual, and the white markings on its throat and chest are much 
narrower and less conspicuous than in most individuals of this species. 
In other respects w^e can see no difference. 

In the Southern salt-water marshes this species is considerably larger 
in size, the white markings on the chin and under surface are broader, 
the hair is much coarser, the colour lighter, and the tail less bushy, than 
in Northern specimens. Those, however, which we obtained on the head 
waters of the Edisto river are as dark as specimens from Pennsylvania 
and New- York. 

Along the mountain streams of the Northern and Middle States, we 
have often met with Minks which were considerably smaller and darker 
than those found on large water-courses or around mill-ponds. The size, 
however, (and in this there was no uniformity,) and the colour, constituted 
the only differences between the small and the large ones, that we could 
perceive, and there were no specific characters that would warrant us in 
designating the former as a new species. 

The upper figure on the plate represents this variety. 


Length of head and body 13 inches. 

" tail (vertebras) ..... 7 do. 

" tail, to end of fur .... 8 do. 

Another specimen. 

Length from point of nose to root of tail . . 14 do. 

MINK. 253 

Length of tail (vertebrae) 7i do. 

" tail, to end of hair .... 8 do. 

A small specimen, of a black colour, from the Catskill mountains. 

Length of head and body 11 inches. 

" tail (vertebrae) ..... 6 do. 

" tail, to end of hair .... 7 do. 


Next to the ermine, the Mink is the most active and destructive little 
depredator that prowls around the farm-yard, or the farmer's duck-pond ; 
where the presence of one or two of these animals will soon be made 
kno^vn by the sudden disappearance of sundry joung ducks and chickens. 
The vigilant farmer may perhaps see a fine fowl moving in a singular 
and most involuntary manner, in the clutches of a Mink, towards a fis- 
sure in a rock or a hole in some pile of stones, in the gray of the morn- 
ing, and should he rush to the spot to ascertain the fate of the unfortunate 
bird, he will see it suddenly twitched into a hole too deep for him to 
fathom and wish he had carried with him his double-barreled gun, to 
have ended at once the life of the voracious destroyer of his carefully 
tended poultry. Our friend, the farmer, is not, however, disposed to 
allow the Mink to carry on the sport long, and therefore straitway 
repairs to the house for his gun, and if it be loaded and ready for use, (as 
it always should be in every well-regulated farm-house,) he speedily re- 
turns with it to watch for the re-appearance of the Mink and shoot him 
ere he has the opportunity to depopulate his poultry-yard. The farmer 
now takes a stand facing the retreat into which the Mink has carried his 
property, and waits patiently until it may please him to show his head 
again. This, however, the cunning rogue w^ill not always accommodate 
him by doing, and he may lose much time to no purpose. Let us intro- 
duce you to a scene on our own little place near New- York. 

There is a small brook, fed by several springs of pure water, which 
we have caused to be stopped by a stone dam to make a pond for ducks 
in the summer and ice in the winter ; above the pond is a rough bank of 
stones through which the water filters into the pond. There is a little 
space near this where the sand and gravel have formed a diminutive 
beach. The ducks descending to the water are compelled to pass near 
this stony bank. Here a Mink had fixed his quarters with certainly a 
degree of judgment and audacity worthy of high praise, for no settle- 
ment could promise to be more to his mind. At early dawn the crowing 
of several fine cocks, the cackling of many hens and chickens, and the 

254 MINK. 

paddling, splashing, and quacking of a hundred old and young ducks 
would please his ears ; and by stealing to the edge of the bank of stones, 
with his body nearly concealed between two large pieces of broken 
granite, he could look around and see the unsuspecting ducks within a 
yard or two of his lurking place. When thus on the look out, dodging 
his head backward and forward he waits until one of them has ap- 
proached close to him, and then with a rush seizes the bird by the neck, 
and in a moment disappears with it between the rocks. He has not, 
however, escaped unobserved, and like other rogues deserves to be 
punished for having taken w^hat did not belong to him. We draw near 
the spot, gun in hand, and after waiting some time in vain for the ap- 
pearance of the Mink, we cause some young ducks to be gently driven 
dowii to the pond — diving for worms or food of various kinds while 
danger so imminent is near them — intent only on the objects they are 
pursuing, they turn not a glance toward the dark crevice where -we can 
now see the bright eyes of the Mink as he lies concealed. The unsus- 
pecting birds remind us of some of the young folks in that large pond we 
call the world, where, alas ! they may be in greater danger than our poor 
ducks or chickens. Now ■we see a fine hen descend to the water ; cau- 
tiously she steps on the sandy margin and dipping her bill in the clear 
stream, sips a few drops and raises her head as if in gratitude to the 
Giver of all good; she continues sipping and advancing gradually; she 
has now approached the fatal rocks, when with a sudden rush the Mink 
has seized her ; ere he can regain his hole, however, our gun's sharp 
crack is heard and the marauder lies dead before us. 

We acknowledge that w^e have little inclination to say anything in 
defence of the Mink. We must admit, however, that although he is a 
cunning and destructive rogue, his next door neighbour, the ermine or 
common weasel, goes infinitely beyond him in liis mischievous propensi- 
ties. Whilst the Mink is satisfied with destroying one or two fowls at a 
time, on which he makes a hearty meal ; the weasel, in the very spirit 
of wanton destructiveness, sometimes in a single night puts to death 
every tenant of the poultry-house ! 

Whilst residing at Henderson, on the banks of the Ohio river, we ob- 
served that Minks were quite abundant, and often saw them carrying off 
rats which they caught like the weasel or ferret, and conveyed a'way in 
their mouths, holding them by the neck in the manner of a cat. 

Along the trout streams of our Eastern and Northern States, the Mink 
has been known to steal fish that having been caught by some angler, 
had been left tied together 'with, a string while the fisherman proceeded 
farther in quest of more. An angler informed us that he had lost in this 

MINK. 255 

way thirty or forty fine trout, which a Mink dragged off the bank into 
the stream and devoured, and we have been told that by looking care- 
fully after them, the Minks could be seen watching the fisherman and in 
readiness to take his fish, should he leave it at any distance behind him. 
Mr. HuTsoN of Halifax informed us that he had a salmon weighing four 
pounds carried off by one of them. 

We have observed that the Mink is a tolerably expert fisher. On one 
occasion, whilst seated near a trout-brook in the northern part of the 
State of New York, we heard a sudden splashing in the stream and saw 
a large trout gliding through the shallovir water and making for some 
long overhanging roots on the side of the bank. A Mink was in close 
pursuit, and dived after it ; in a moment afterwards it re-appeared with 
the fish in its mouth. By a sudden rush we induced it to drop the trout, 
which was upwards of a foot in length. 

We are disposed to believe, however, that fishes are not the principal 
food on which the Mink subsists. We have sometimes seen it feeding 
on frogs and cray-fish. In the Northern States we have often observed 
it with a Wilson's meadow-mouse in its mouth, and in Carolina the very 
common cotton-rat furnishes no small proportion of its food. We 
have frequently remarked it coursing along the edges of the marshes, 
and found that it was in search of this rat, which frequents such locali- 
ties, and we discovered that it was not an unsuccessful mouser. We 
once saw a Mink issuing from a hole in the earth, dragging by the 
neck a large Florida rat. 

This species has a good nose, and is able to pursue its prey like a 
hound following a deer. A friend of ours informed us that once while 
standing on the border of a swamp near the Ashley river, he perceived a 
marsh-hare dashing by him ; a moment after came a Mink with its nose 
near the ground, following the frightened animal, apparently by the 
scent, through the marsh. 

In the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina, a hen-house was one 
season robbed several nights in succession, the owner counting a chicken 
less every morning. No idea could be formed, however, of the manner 
in which it was carried off. The building was erected on posts, and was 
securely locked, in addition to which precaution a very vigilant watch- 
dog was now put on guard, being chained underneath the chicken-house. 
Still, the number of fowls in it diminished nightly, and one was as before 
missed every morning. 

We were at last requested to endeavour to ascertain the cause of the 
vexatious and singular abstraction of our friend's chickens, and on a 
careful examination we discovered a small hole in a corner of the build- 

256 MINK. 

ing, leading to a cavity between the weather-boarding and the sill. On 
gently forcing outward a plank, we perceived the bright eyes of a Mink 
peering at us and shining like a pair of diamonds. He had long been 
thus snugly ensconced, and was enabled to supply himself with a regular 
feast without leaving the house, as the hole opened toward the inside on 
the floor. Summary justice was inflicted of course on the concealed rob- 
ber, and peace and security once more were restored in the precincts of 
the chicken-yard. 

This species is very numerous in the salt-marshes of the Southern 
States, where it subsists principally on the marsh-hen, (Rallus crepitans^ 
the sea-side finch, (Ammodra77ius maritimus,) and the sharp-tailed finch, 
(A. caudacutus,) which, during a considerable portion of the year, feed 
on the minute shell-fish and aquatic insects left on the mud and oyster- 
banks, on the subsiding of the waters. We have seen a Mink winding 
stealthily through the tall marsh-grass, pausing occasionally to take an 
observation, and sometimes lying for the space of a minute flat upon the 
mud : at length it draws its hind-feet far forwards under its body in the 
manner of a cat, its back is arched, its tail curled, and it makes a sudden 
spring. The screams of a captured marsh-hen succeed, and its up- 
raised fluttering wing gives sufiicient evidence that it is about to be 
transferred from its pleasant haunts in the marshes to the capacious maw 
of the hungry Mink. 

It is at low tide that this animal usually captures the marsh-hen. We 
have often at high spring tide observed a dozen of those birds standing 
on a small field of floating sticks and matted grasses, gazing stupidly at 
a Mink seated not five feet from them. No attempt was made by the 
latter to capture the birds that were now within his reach. At first we 
supposed that he might have already been satiated with food and was 
disposed to leave the tempting marsh-hens till his appetite called for 
more ; but we were after more mature reflection inclined to think that the 
high spring tides which occur, exposing the whole marsh to view and 
leaving no place of concealment, frighten the Mink as well as the marsh- 
hen ; and as misery sometimes makes us familiar with strange associates, 
so the Mink and the marsh-hen like neighbour and brother hold on to 
their little floating islands till the waters subside, when each again 
follows the instincts of nature. An instance of a similar effect of fear on 
other animals was related to us by an old resident of Carolina : some forty 
years ago, during a tremendous flood in the Santee river, he saw two or 
three deer on a small mound not twenty feet in diameter, surrounded by 
a wide sea of waters, with a cougar seated in the midst of them ; both 
parties, having seemingly entered into a truce at a time when their lives 

MINK. 257 

seemed equally in jeopardy, were apparently disposed peaceably to await 
the falling of the waters that surrounded them. 

The Minks which resort to the Southern marshes, being there furnished 
with an abundant supply of food are always fat, and appear to us con- 
siderably larger than the same species in those localities where food is 
less abundant. 

This species prefers taking up its residence on the borders of ponds 
and along the banks of small streams, rather than along large and broad 
rivers. It delights in frequenting the foot of rapids and waterfalls. 
When pursued it flies for shelter to the water, an element suited to its 
amphibious habits, or to some retreat beneath the banks of the stream. 
It runs tolerably well on high ground and we have found it on several 
occasions no easy matter to overtake it, and when overtaken, \vc have 
learned to our cost that it was rather a troublesome customer about our 
feet and legs, where its sharp canine teeth made some uncomfortable in- 
dentations ; neither was its odour as pleasant as we could have desired. 
It is generally supposed that the Mink never resorts to a tree to avoid 
pursuit ; we have, however, witnessed one instance to the contrary. In 
hunting for the ruffed-grouse, (T. umhellus,) we observed a little dog that 
accompanied us, barking at the stem of a young tree, and on looking up, 
perceived a Mink seated in the first fork, about twelve feet from the 
ground. Our friend, the late Dr. Wright, of Troy, informed us that whilst 
he was walking on the border of a wood, near a stream, a small animal 
which he supposed to be a black squirrel, rushed from a tuft of grass, 
and ascended a tree. After gaining a seat on a projecting branch, it 
peeped down at the intruder on its haunts, when he shot it, and picking 
it up, ascertained that it was a Mink. 

We think, however, that this animal is not often seen to ascend a 
tree, and these are the only instances of its doing so which are known 
to us. 

This species is a good swimmer, and like the musk-rat dives at the 
flash of a gun ; we have observed, however, that the percussion-cap now 
in general use is too quick for its motions, and that this invention bids 
fair greatly to lessen its numbers. When shot in the water the body of 
the Mink, as well as that of the otter, has so little buoyancy, and its bones 
are so heavy, that it almost invariably sinks. 

The Mink, like the musk-rat and ermine, does not possess much cun- 
ning, and is easily captured in any kind of trap ; it is taken in steel-traps 
and box-traps, but more generally in what are called dead-falls. It is at- 
tracted by any kind of flesh, but we have usually seen the traps baited 
with the head of a ruffed grouse, wild duck, chicken, jay, or other 


258 MINK. 

bird. The Mink is exceedingly tenacious of life, and we have found it 
still alive under a dead-fall, with a pole \jing across its body pressed 
down by a weight of 150 lbs., beneath which it had been struggling for 
nearly twenty-four hours. 

This species, as well as the skunk and the ermine, emits an offensive 
odour when provoked by men or dogs, and this habit is exercised like- 
wise in a moderate degree whenever it is engaged in any severe struggle 
with an animal or bird on which it has seized. We were once attracted 
by the peculiar and well known plaintive cry of a hare, in a marsh on 
the side of one of our Southern rice-fields, and our olfactories were at the 
same time regaled A^ath the strong fetid odour of the Mink ; we found it 
in possession of a large marsh-hare, with which, from the appearance of 
the trampled grass and mud, it had been engaged in a fierce struggle for 
some time. 

The latter end of February or the beginning of March, in the latitude 
of Albany, N. Y., is the rutting season of the Mink. At this period the 
ground is usually stUl covered with snow, but the male is notwithstanding 
very restless, and his tracks may everjr where be traced, along ponds, 
among the slabs around saw-mills, and along nearly every stream of 
water. He seems to keep on foot all day as well as through the whole 
night. Ha\'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 
observed any during a whole winter, we took a position near a place 
■which ^ve 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 female in a 
week, whilst we obtained a great number of males, "\ve came to the con- 
clusion that the females, during this period, remain in their burrows. 
About the latter end of April the 3-oimg are produced. We saw six young 
dug from a hole in the bank of a Carolina rice-field ; on another occa- 
sion we found five enclosed in a large nest situated on a small island in 
the marshes of Ashley river. In the State of New York, we saw five 
taken from a hollow log, and we are inclined to set do\vn that as the 
average nmnber of young this species brings forth at a time. 

The Mink, w^hen taken young, becomes very gentle and forms a strong 
attachment to those who fondle it in a state of domestication. Richaed- 
BON saw one in the " possession of a Canadian woman, that passed the 
day in her pocket, looking out occasionally when its attention was roused 
by any unusual noise." We had in our possession a pet of this kind for 
eighteen months ; it regularlj' made a visit to an adjoining fish-pond both 
morning and evening, and retvirned to the house of its own accord, where 

MINK. 259 

it continued during the remainder of the daj-. It waged war against the 
Norway rats which had their domicile in the dam that formed the fish- 
pond, and it caught the frogs which had taken possession of its banks. 
We did not perceive that it captured many fish, and it never attacked 
the poultry. It was on good terms with the dogs and cats, and molested 
no one unless its tail or foot was accidentally trod upon, when it invaria- 
bly revenged itself by snapping at the foot of the offender. 

It was rather dull at mid-da}', but very active and playful in the morn- 
ing and evening and at night. It never emitted its disagreeable odour 
except when it had received a sudden and severe hurt. It was fond of 
squatting in the chimney-corner, and formed a particular attachment to 
an arm-chair in our stud}'. 

The skins of the Mink were formerly an article of commerce, and were 
used for making muffs, tippets, &c. ; they sold for about fifty cents each. 
Richardson states that they at present are only taken by the traders of 
the fur company to accommodate the Indians, and that they are afterwards 
burnt, as they will not repay the expense of carriage. The fur, however, 
although short, is even finer than that of the marten. 

A short time since, we were kindly presented by Ch.\eles P. Chouteau, 
Esq., with a Mink skin of a beautiful silver-gray colour, the fur of which 
is quite different from the ordinary coat of the animal. These beautiful 
skins are exceedingly rare, and six of them, when they are united, will 
make a muff, worth at least a hundred dollars. A skin, slightly approach- 
ing the fine quality and colour of the one just mentioned, exists in the 
Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia, but it is brownish, and the 
fur is not very good. 


The Mink is a constant resident of nearly every part of the continent 
of North America. Richardson saw it as far north as latitude 66°, on the 
banks of the Mackenzie river, and supposed that it ranged to the mouth 
of that river in latitude 69° ; it exists in Canada, and we have seen it in 
every State of the Union. We observed it on the Upper Missouri and on 
the Yellow Stone river ; it is said to exist also to the West of the Rocky 
Mountains and along the shores of the Pacific ocean. 


This species appears, as far as we have been able to ascertain, to have 
been first noticed by Governor Smith of Virginia, in 1624, and subsequently 
by Sagakd Theodat and La Hontan. The latter calls it an amphibious 

260 MTNK. 

sort of little pole-cat, — " Les fouteriaux, qui sent de petites fouines am- 
phibies." Kalm and Lawson refer to it ; the former stating that the 
English and the Swedes gave it the name of Mink, Moenk being the 
name applied to a closely allied species existing in Sweden. 

The doubts respecting the identity of the American Mink (P. vison) 
and the Mustela lutreola of the north of Europe, have not as yet been 
satisfactorily solved. Pennant in one place admits the American vison 
as a true species, and in another supposes the M. lutreola to exist on both 
continents. Baron Cuvier at one time regarded them as so distinct that 
he placed them under different genera ; but subsequently in a note stated 
his opinion that they are both one species. Dr. Godman supposed that 
both the Pekan (Mustela Canadensis) and vison {P. vison) are nothing 
more than mere varieties of Mustela lutreola ; in regard to the Pekan 
he was palpably in error. Richardson considers them distinct species, 
although he does not seem to have had an opportunity of institut- 
ing a comparison. We have on two or three occasions compared speci- 
mens from both continents. The specimens, however, from either coun- 
try differ so considerably among themselves that it is some^vhat difficult 
without a larger number than can generally be brought together, to insti- 
tute a satisfactory comparison. 

The fact that both species exist far to the northward, and conse- 
quently approach each other toward the Arctic circle, presents an argu- 
ment favourable to their identity. In their semi-palmated feet, as well 
as in their general form and habits, they resemble each other. 

The following reasons, however, have induced us, after some hesita- 
tion, and not without a strong desire for farther opportunities of compari- 
son, especially of the skulls, to regard the American P. vison as distinct 
from the lutreola of the north of Europe. 

P. lutreola, in the few specimens we have examined, is smaller than P. 
vison, the body of the latter frequently exceeding eighteen inches, (we 
have a large specimen that measures twenty-one inches.) but ^ve have 
never found any specimen of the lutreola exceeding thirteen inches from 
nose to root of tail, and have generally found that specimens, even when 
their teeth were considerably worn, thereb)^ indicating that the animals 
were adults, measui'ed less than twelve inches. 

P. lutreola is considerably darker in colour, resembling in this respect 
the small black variety mentioned by us as existing along our mountain 
streams. The tail is less bushy, and might be termed sub-cylindrical. 
P. lutreola is, besides, more deficient in white markings on the under sur- 
face than the other species ; the chin is generally, but not always, white ; 
but there is seldom any white either on the throat or chest. 



Black SauiRREL. 

PLATE XXXIV Male and Female. Natural size. 

S. corpore S. migratorio longiore ; vellere molli nitidoque, auribus, 
naso et omni corporis parte iiigerrimis, cirris albis dispersis. 


A little larger than the Northern gray squirrel ; fur, soft and glossy ; 
ears, nose, and all the body, black; a few white tufts of hair intei-- 


SciURUS Niger, Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 133. 

" " Bachman, Proceedings Zool. Society, 1838, p. 96. 

" " Dekay, Nat. Hist, of New York, part i., p. 60. 


Head, a little shorter and more arched than that of the Northern gray- 
squirrel, (in the latter species, however, it is often found that differences 
exist, in the shape of the head, in different individuals.) Incisors, com- 
pressed, strong, and of a deep orange colour anteriorly ; ears, elliptical, 
and slightly rounded at the tip, thickly clothed with fur on both surfaces, 
the fur on the outer surface extending three lines beyond the margin ; 
there are however no distinct tufts ; whiskers, a little longer than the 
head ; tail, long, not very distichous, thickly clothed with moderately 
coarse hair ; the fur is softer than that of the Northern gray squirrel. 

The whole of the upper and lower surfaces, and the tail, glossy jet 
black ; at the roots the hairs are a little lighter. Specimens pro- 
cured in summer do not differ materially in colour from those obtained in 
winter, except that before the hairs drop out late in spring, they are not 
so intensely black. In all we have had an opportunity of examining, 



there are small tufts of white hairs irregularly disposed on the under 
surface, resembling those on the body of the mink. There are also a 
few scattered white hairs on the back and tail. 


Length of head and body 

" tail (vertcbrEe) 

" tail, including fur . 

Palm, to end of middle fore-claw . 
Length of heel to the point of middle claw 

" fur on the back 

Breadth of tail with hair extended 













An opportunity was afforded us, many years since, of observing the 
habits of this species, in the northern part of the State of New York. 
A seat under the shadow of a rock near a stream of water, was for 
several successive summers our favourite resort for retirement and read- 
ing. In the immediate vicinity were several large trees, in which were a 
number of holes, from which at almost every hour of the day were seen 
issuing this species of Black Squirrel. There seemed to be a dozen of 
them ; they were all of the same glossy black colour, and although the 
Northern gray squirrel and its black variety were not rare in that neigh- 
bourhood, during a period of five or six years we never discovered any 
other than the present species in that locality ; and after the lapse of 
twenty years, a specimen (from which our description was in part 
drawn up,) was procured in that identical spot, and sent to us. 

This species possesses all the sprightliness of the Northern gray squir- 
rel, evidently preferring valleys and swamps to drier and more elevated 
situations. We observed that one of their favourite trees, to which 
they retreated on hearing the slightest noise, was a large white-pine 
(Pinus strobus) in the immediate vicinity. We were surprised at some- 
times seeing a red squirrel, {Sciurus Hudsonius,) which had also given a 
preference to this tree, pursuing a Black Squirrel, threatening and 
scolding it vociferously, till the latter was obliged to make its retreat. 
When the Squirrels approached the stream, which ran within a few feet 
of our seat, they often stopped to drink, when, instead of lapping the water 
like the dog and cat, they protruded their mouths a considerable distance 
into the stream, and drank greedily ; they would afterwards sit upright, 
supported by the tarsus, and with tail erect, busy themselves for a quar- 


ter of an horn- in wiping their faces with their paws, the latter being also 
occasionally dipped in the water. Their barking and other habits did 
not seem to differ from those of the Northern gray squirrel. 


Many of our specimens of the Black Squirrel, were procured through 
the kindness of friends, in the counties of Rensselaer and Queens, New 
York. We have seen this species on the borders of Lake Champlain, 
at Ogdensbui-g, and on the eastern shores of Lake Erie ; also near 
Niagara, on the Canada side. The individual described by Dr. Rich- 
ardson, and which may be clearly referred to this species, was obtain- 
ed by Captain Bayfield, at Fort William on Lake Superior. Black 
Squirrels exist thi'ough all our western forests, and to the northward of 
our great lakes ; but whether they are of this species, or the black variety 
of the gray squirrel, we have not had the means of deciding. It is a well 
ascertained fact that the Black Squirrel disappears before the Northern 
gray squirrel. Whether the colour renders it a more conspicuous mark 
for the sportsman, or whether the two species are naturally hostile, we 
are unable to decide. It is stated by close observers that in some neigh- 
bourhoods where the Black Squirrel formerly abounded, the Northern 
gray squirrel now exclusively occupies its place. 


We have admitted this as a true species, not so much in accordance 
with our own positive convictions, as in deference to the opinions of 
our naturalists, and from the consideration that if it be no more than 
a variety, it has by time and succession been rendered a permanent race. 
The only certain mode of deciding whether this is a true species or mere- 
ly a variety, would be to ascertain whether male and female Black Squir- 
rels and gray squirrels associate and breed together in a state of nature. 
When a male and a female, however different in size and colour, unite 
in a wild state and their progeny is prolific, we are warranted in pro- 
nouncing them of the same species. When, on the contrary, there is no 
such result, we are compelled to come to an opposite conclusion. 

We had great doubts for many years whether this species might not 
eventually prove another of the many varieties of the Northern gray 
squirrel, (S. migratorius.) Although these doubts have not been altoge- 
ther removed by our recent investigations, they were considerably lessened 
on ascertaining the uniformity in size, shape, colour, and habits of all the 


individuals we have seen in a living state, as well as all the prepared 
specimens we have examined. 

Much difficulty has existed among authors in deciding on the species 
to which the name of S. niger should be appropriated. The original de- 
scription by LiNN^us was contained in the single word " niger." If he 
had made no reference to any author, his description w^ould have served 
quite well, as this was the only species of squirrel purely black, that was 
known at that day. He ho^vever made a reference to Catesby, who 
figured the black variety of the Southern fox-squirrel, {S. capistratus,) 
and Brisson, Pexnant, Erxleben, and Schreber referred the species in the 
same manner to the description and figure of Catesby. Our American 
writers on natural history, as well as Dr. Richaedson, have however 
adopted the name given by Linn/eus, and applied it to this species. We 
consider it advisable to retain the name, omitting the reference to 

It is difficult to decide, from the descriptions of Drs. Harlan and God- 
man, whether they described from specimens of the black variety of the 
Northern gray squirrel or from the present species. 

Dr. Richardson has, under the head of Sciurus niger, (see Fauna Bo- 
reali Americana, p. 191,) described a specimen from Lake Superior, 
which we conceive to be the black variety of the gray squirrel ; but at 
the close of the same article (p. 192) he described another specimen from 
Fort William, which answers to the description of this species. 



Migratory Gray SauiRREL. — Northern Gray Squirrel. 
PLATE XXXV. Male, Female, and Yoong. Natural size. 

S. S. Caroliiiense robustior, S. cinereo minor ; cauda corporc mullo 
longiore ; variis coloribus. 


Larger than the Carolina gray squirrel; smaller than llie caL-squirrel ; 
tail, much longer than the body ; subject to many varieties of colour. 


Gray Squirrel, Pennant, Arct. Zool., vol. i., p. 185, Hist. Quad., No. 273. 
SciBRDs CiNEREUs, Harlan, Fauna, p. 173. 

" Carolinensis, Godman, non Gmel. 

" Leccotis, Gapper, Zool. Journ., London, to!, v., p. 206, (published about 1830.) 

" " Bach., Proceedings of the Zoological Society, p. 91, London, 1838. 

Common, or Little Gray Squirrel, Emmons, Report, 1842, p. 66. 
SciuRus Leccotis, Dekay, Nat. Hist. N. Y., p. 57. 

" VuLPINUs, do. do. do. p. 59. 


This Squirrel seems to have permanently twenty-two teeth. A large 
number of specimens procured at different seasons of the year, some of 
which from the manner in which their teeth were w^om appeared to be 
old animals, presented the small front molars in the upper jaw. Even 
in an old male, obtained in December, with tufted ears, (the measure- 
ments of which will be given in this article,) the small molar existed. 
This permanency in teeth that have been usually regarded as deciduous, 
would seem to require an enlargement of the characters given to this 
genus ; it will moreover be seen that several of our species are similar to 
this in their dental arrangement. 

Incisors, strong, and compressed, a little smaller than those of the 
cat-squirrel, convex, and of a deep orange colour anteriorly. The upper 



ones have a sharp cutting edge, and are chisel-shaped ; the lower are 
much longer and thinner. The anterior grinder, although round and 
small, is as long as the second ; the remaining four grinders are consider- 
abl)- more excavated than those of the cat-squirrel, presenting two trans- 
verse ridges of enamel. The lower grinders corresponding to those above 
have also elevated cro\vns. 

The hair is a little softer than that of the cat-squirrel, being coarsest 
on the forehead. 

Nose, rather obtuse ; forehead, arched ; whiskers, as long as the head ; 
ears, sharply rounded, concave on both sides, covered with hair ; on the 
outside the hairs are longest. In winter the fur projects upward, about 
three lines beyond the margin ; in summer, however, the hairs covering 
the ears are very short, and do not extend beyond the margin. 

This species appears under many varieties ; there are, however, two 
very permanent ones, which we shall attempt to describe. 

1st, Gray variety. — The nose, cheeks, a space around the eyes extend- 
ing to the insertion of the neck, the upper surface of the fore and hind- 
feet, and a stripe along the sides, yellowish-brown ; the ears on their 
posterior surface, are in most specimeas brownish-yellow ; in about one 
in ten they are dull white, edged with, brown. On the back, from the 
shoulders there is an obscure stripe of brown, broadest at its commence- 
ment, running down to a point at the insertion of the tail. In some 
specimens this stripe is wanting. On the neck, sides, and hips, the colour 
is light gray; the hairs separately are for one half their length dark 
cinereous, then light umber, then a narrow mark of black, and are tipped 
with white ; a considerable number of black hairs are interspersed, 
giving it a yellowish-brown colour on the dorsal aspect, and a light gray 
tint on the sides ; the hairs in the tail are light yellowish-brown from 
the roots, with three stripes of black, the outer one being widest, and 
broadly tipped Mnth white ; the whole under surface is white. The above 
is the most common variety. 

There are specimens in which the yellowish markings on the sides 
and feet are altogether wanting. Dr. Godman, (vol. ii., p. 133.) supposed 
that the golden colour of the hind-feet is a very permanent mark. The 
specimens from Pennsylvania in our possession, and a few from the 
Upper Missouri, have generally this peculiarit)^ but many of those from 
New York and New England have gray feet, without the slightest mix- 
ture of yellow. 

2d, Black variety. — This we have on several occasions seen taken 



with the gray variety- from the same nest. Both varieties breed and rear 
their young together. 

The black ones are of the same size and form as the gray ; they are 
dark brownish-black on the whole upper surface, a little lighter be- 
neath. In summer their colour is less black than in winter. The hairs 
of the back and sides of the body, and of the tail are obscurely annulated 
with yellow. There is here and there a white hair interspersed among 
the fur of the body, but no tuft of white as in Sciui-us niger. 


A Female in summer. 

Length of head and body 
" tail (vertebrEe) 

" tail, to the tip 

Height of ear 

Palm to the end of middle claw 
Heel to the end of middle nail 
Length of fur on the back 
Breadth of tail with hairs extended 

An old Male in w^inter pelage, obtained Dec 
Length of head and body 
" tail (vertebrae) 

" tail, to end of hair 

Height of ear 

" ear, to end of fur 

Heel to end of longest nail 
Length of fur on the back 

Weight 1 lb. 6 oz 

























This appears to be the most active and sprightly species of squirrel 
existing in our Atlantic States. It sallies forth with the sun, and is 
industriously engaged in search of food for four or five hours in the 
morning, scratching among leaves, running over fallen logs, ascending 
trees, or playfully skipping from bough to bough, often making almost 
incredible leaps from the higher branches of one tree to another. In the 
middle of the day it retires for a few hours to its nest, resuming its active 
labours and amusements in the afternoon, and continuing them without 
intermission till long after the setting of the sun. During the warm 


weather of spring and summer it prepares itself a nest on a tree, but not 
often at its summit. When constructing this summer-house it does not 
descend to the earth in search of materials, finding them ready at hand 
on the tree it intends to make its temporary residence. It first breaks ofl" 
some dry sticks, if they can be procured ; if. however, such materials are 
not within reach, it gnaws off green branches as large as a man's thumb, 
and lays them in a fork of the stem, or of some large branch. It then 
proceeds to the extremities of the branches, and breaks oS" twigs and 
bunches of leaves, with which a compact nest is constructed, which, on 
the inner side is sometimes lined with moss found on the bark of the tree. 
In the preparation of this nest both male and female are usually en- 
gaged for an hour in the morning during several successive days ; and 
the noise they make in cutting the branches and dragging them with 
their leaves to the nest can be heard at a great distance. In winter they 
reside altogether in holes in trees, where their young in most instances 
are brought forth. 

Although a family, to the number of five or six, probably the offspring 
of a single pair the preceding season, may occupy the same nest during 
winter, they all pair off in spring, when each couple occupies a separate 
nest, in order to engage in the duties of reproduction. The young, in 
number from four to six, are brought forth in May or June ; they in- 
crease in size rapidly, and are sufficiently grown in a few weeks to leave 
the nest ; at this time they may be seen clinging around the tree which 
contains their domicile ; as soon as alarmed they run into the hole, but 
one of them usually returns to the entrance of it, and protruding his head 
out of the hollow, watches the movements of the intruder. In this stage 
of their growth they are easily captured by stopping up the entrance of 
the nest, and making an opening beneath ; they can then be taken out 
by the hand protected by a glove. They soon become tolerably gentle, 
and are frequently kept in cages, with a ^vheel attached, which revolves 
as they bound forward, in which as if on a treadmill they exercise 
themselves for hours together. 

Sometimes two are placed within a wheel, when they soon learn to 
accommodate themselves to it, and move together with great regularity. 
Notwithstanding the fact that they become very gentle in confinement, 
no instance has come to our knowledge of their having produced young 
while in a state of domestication, although in a suitable cage such a 
result would in all probabilitj' be attained. This species is a troublesome 
pet ; it is sometimes inclined to close its teeth on the fingers of the in- 
truder on its cage, and does not always spare even its feeder. When 
permitted to have the freedom of the house, it soon excites the displea- 


sure of the notable housewife by its habit of gnawing chairs, tables, and 

During the rutting season the males (like deer and some other species) 
engage in frequent contests, and often bite and wound each other se- 
verely. The story of the conqueror emasculating the vanquished on 
these occasions, has been so often repeated, that it perhaps is somewhat 
presumptuous to set it down as a vulgar error. It may, however, be ad- 
vanced, that the admission of such skill and refinement in inflicting re- 
venge would be ascribing to the squirrel a higher degree of physiological 
and anatomical knowledge than is possessed by any other quadruped. 
From the observations we have been enabled to make, ^ve are led to 
believe that the error originated from the fact that those parts in the 
male, which in the rutting season are greatly enlarged, are at other 
periods of the year diminished to a very small size ; and that, in young 
males especially, they are d^a^^^l into the pelvis by the contraction of the 
muscles. A friend, who was a strenuous believer in this spiteful propen- 
sity ascribed to the squirrel, was induced to test the truth of the theory 
by examining a suitable number of squirrels of this species. He ob- 
tained in a few weeks upwards of thirty males ; in none of these had any 
mutilation taken place. Two however out of this number were trium- 
phantly brought forward as evidences of the correctness of the general 
belief On examination it appeared that these were young animals of 
the previous autumn, with the organs perfect, but concealed in the man- 
ner above stated. 

It is generally believed that this species lays up a great hoard of food 
as a winter supply ; it may however be reasonably doubted whether it 
is very provident in this respect. The hollow trees in which these Squir- 
rels shelter themselves in winter are frequently cut down, and but a very 
small supply of provisions has ever been found in their nests. On fol- 
lowing their tracks in the snow, they cannot be traced to any hoards 
buried in the ground. We have sometimes observed them during a warm 
day in winter coming from great distances into the open fields, in search 
of a few dry hickory nuts which were still left suspended on the trees. 
If provisions had been laid up nearer home, they would hardly have un- 
dertaken these long journeys, or exposed themselves to so much danger 
in seeking a precarious supply. In fact, this species, in cold climates, 
seldom leaves its nest in winter, except on a warm sunny day, and in a 
state of inactivity and partial torpidity, it requires but little food. 

Although this Squirrel is at particular seasons of the year known to 
search for the larvse of different insects, which it greedily devours, it feeds 
principally on nuts, seeds, and grain, which are periodically sought for 


by all the species of this genus ; among these it seems to prefer the shell- 
bark, {Carya alba,) and several species of hickory nuts, to any other kind of 
food. Even when the nuts are so green as to afford scarcely any nourish- 
ment, it may be seen gnawing off the thick pericarp or outer shell 
which drops in small particles to the ground like rain, and then with its 
lower incisors it makes a small linear opening in the thinnest part of the 
shell immediately over the kernel. When this part has been extracted, 
it proceeds to another, till in an incredibly short space of time, the nut 
is cut longitudinally on its four sides, and the whole kernel picked out, 
leaving the dividing portions of the hard shell untouched. 

At the season of the year when it feeds on unripe nuts, its paws and 
legs are tinged by the juices of the shells, which stain them an ochrey-red 
colour, that wears off, however, towards spring. 

Were this species to confine its depredations to the fruit of the hickory, 
chesnut, beech, oak and maple, it would be less obnoxious to the far- 
mer ; but unfortunately for the peace of both, it is fond of the green 
Indian-corn and young wheat, to which the rightful owner imagines him- 
self to have a prior claim. A war of extermination consequently ensues, 
and various inducements have been held out at different times to tempt 
the gunner to destroy it. In Pennsylvania an ancient law existed offer- 
ing three pence a head for every squirrel destroyed, and in one year (1749) 
the sum of eight thousand pounds was paid out of the treasury in pre- 
miums for the destruction of these depredators. This was equal to 
640,000 individuals killed. In several of the Northern and Western States 
the inhabitants, on an appointed day, are in the habit of turning out on 
what is called a squirrel hunt. They arrange themselves under opposite 
leaders, each party being stimulated by the ambition of killing the 
greatest number, and fastening on the other the expense of a plentiful 
supper. The hunters range the forest in every direction, and the ac- 
counts given us of the number of squirrels brought together at the 
evening rendezvous are almost incredible. 

In addition to the usual enemies of this species in the Northern States, 
such as the weasel, fox, lynx, &c., the red-tailed hawk seems to regard it 
as his natural and lawful prey. It is amusing to see the skill and dex- 
terity exercised by the hawk in the attack, and by the squirrel in at- 
tempting to escape. When the hawk is unaccompanied by his mate, he 
finds it no easy matter to secure the little animal ; unless the latter be 
pounced upon whilst upon the ground, he is enabled by dodging and 
twisting round a branch to evade the attacks of the hawk for an hour 
or more, and frequently worries him into a reluctant retreat. 

But the red-tails learn by experience that they are most certain of this 


prey when hunting in couples. The male is frequentl)' accompanied by 
his mate, especially in the breeding season, and in this case the Squirrel 
is soon captured. The hawks course rapidly in opposite directions, 
above and below the branch ; the attention of the Squirrel is thus di- 
vided and distracted, and before he is aware of it the talons of one of 
the hawks are in his back, and with a shriek of triumph the rapacious 
birds bear him off, either to the aerie in which their young are deposit- 
ed, to some low branch of a tree, or to a sheltered situation on the 
grovmd, where with a suspicious glance towards each other, occasionally 
hissing and grumbling for the choice parts, the hawks devour their pr«y. 

This species of squirrel has occasionally excited the wonder of the po- 
pulace by its wandering habits and its singular and long migrations. 
Like the lemming (Lemmiis Norvegicus) of the Eastern continent, it is 
stimulated either by a scarcity of food, or by some other inexplicable 
instinct, to leave its native haunts, and seek for adventures or for food in 
some (to it) unexplored portion of our land. 

The newspapers from the West contain many interesting details of 
these migrations ; they appear to have been more frequent in former 
years than at the present time. The farmers in the Western wilds re- 
gard them with sensations which may be compared to the anxious ap- 
prehensions of the Eastern nations at the flight of the devouring locust. 
At such periods, which usually occur in autxmm, the Squirrels congregate 
in different districts of the far North-west ; and in irregular troops bend 
their way instinctively in an eastern direction. Mountains, cleared 
fields, the narrow bays of some of our lakes, or our broad rivers, present 
no unconquerable impediments. Onward they come, devouring on their 
way every thing that is suited to their taste, laying waste the com 
and wheat-fields of the farmer ; and as their numbers are thinned by the 
gun, the dog, and the club, others fall in and fill up the ranljs, till they oc- 
casion infinite mischief, and call forth more than empty threats of ven- 
geance. It is often inquired, how these little creatures, that on com- 
mon occasions have such an instinctive dread of water, are enabled to 
cross broad and rapid rivers, like the Ohio and Hudson for instance. It 
has been asserted by authors, and is believed by many, that they carry 
to the shore a suitable piece of bark, and seizing the opportunity of a 
favourable breeze, seat themselves upon this substitute for a boat, hoist 
their broad tails as a sail, and float safely to the opposite shore. This, 
together with many other traits of intelligence ascribed to this species, 
we suspect to be apocrj-phal. That they do migrate at irregular, and oc- 
casionally at distant periods, is a fact sufficiently established ; but in the 
only two instances in which we had opportunities of witnessing the mi- 


grations of these Squirrels, it appeared to us, that they were not only 
unsltilful sailors but clumsy swimmers. One of these occasions, (as far 
as our recollection serves us) was in the autumn of 1808 or 1809 ; troops 
of Squirrels suddenly and unexpectedly made their appearance in the 
neighbourhood ; among them were varieties not previously seen in those 
parts ; some were broadly striped with yellow on the sides, and a few 
had a black stripe on each side, bordered with yellow or brown, re- 
sembling the stripes on the sides of the Hudson's Bay squirrel, {S. Hud- 
sonius.) They swam the Hudson in various places between Water- 
ford and Saratoga ; those which we observed crossing the river were 
swimming deep and awkwardly, their bodies and tails wholly sub- 
merged ; several that had been drowned were carried downwards by the 
stream, and those which ^vere so fortunate as to reach the opposite bank 
were so wet and fatigued, that the boys stationed there with clubs found 
no difficulty in securing them alive or in killing them. Their migrations 
on that occasion did not, as far as we could learn, extend farther east- 
■ward than the mountains of Vermont ; many remained in the county of 
Rensselaer, and it was remarked that for several years afterwards squirrels 
were far more numerous there than before. It is doubtful whether any 
ever return to the west, as finding forests and food suited to their taste 
and habits, they take up their permanent residence in their newly explor- 
ed country, where they remain and propagate their species, until they 
are gradually thinned off by the increase of inhabitants, new clearings, 
and the dexterity of the sportsmen around them. The other instance oc- 
curred in 1819, when we were descending the Ohio river in a flat-boat, or 
ark, chiefly with the intention of seeking for birds then unknown to us. 
About one hundred miles below Cincinnati, as we were floating down 
the stream, we observed a large number of Squirrels swimming across 
the river, and we continued to see them at various places, until we had 
nearly reached Smithland, a tovvTi not more than about one hundred 
miles above the mouth of the Ohio. 

At times they were strewed, as it were, over the surface of the water, 
and some of them being fatigued sought a few moments' rest on our long 
" steering oar," which hung into the water in a slanting direction over 
the stern of our boat. The boys, along the shores and in boats were kill- 
ing the Squirrels with clubs in great numbers, although most of them got 
safe across. After they had reached the shore we saw^ some of them 
trimming their fur on the fences or on logs of drift-^vood. 

We kept some of these Squirrels alive ; they were fed with hickory 
nuts, pecans, and ground or pea-nuts, {Arachis hypogcsa.) Immediately 
after eating as much as sufficed for a meal, they hid away the remainder 


be eath the straw and cotton at the bottom of their cage in a little heap. 
A very tame and gentle one we had in a room at Shippingport, near 
Louisville, Kentucky, one night ate its way into a bureau, in virhich we 
had a quantity of arsenic in powder, and died next morning a victim to 
curiosity or appetite, probably the latter, for the bureau also contained 
some wheat. 


This species exists as far to the north as Hudson's Bay. It was for- 
merly very common in the New England States, and in their least cul- 
tivated districts is still frequently met with. It is abundant in New York 
and in the mountainous portions of Pennsylvania. We have observed it 
on the northern mountaii.s of Virginia, and we obtained several speci- 
mens on the Upper Missouri. The black variety is more abundant in 
Upper Canada, in the western part of New York, and in the States of 
Ohio and Indiana, than elsewhere. The Northern Gray Squirrel does 
not exist in any of its varieties in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, or 
Alabama ; and among specimens sent to us from Louisiana, stated to in- 
clude all the squirrels existing in that State, we did not discover this 


There exists a strong general resemblance among all our species of 
this genus, and it is therefore not surprising that thers should have been 
great difficulty in finding characters to designate the various species. In 
the museums we examined in Europe, we observed that several species 
had been confounded, and we were every where told by the eminent 
naturalists with whom we conversed on the subject, that they could find 
no characters by which the difierent species could be distinguished. 
The little Carolina gray squirrel was first described by Gmelin. Desma- 
EEST, who created a confusion among the various species of this genus, 
which is almost inextricable, confounded three species — the Northern 
Gray Squirrel, the Southern Carolina squirrel, and the cat-squirrel — under 
the name of Sc. cinereus, and gave them the diminutive size of ten inches 
•six lines. His article vi^as literally translated by Harlan, including the 
measurements, (Desm., Mamm., p. 332 ; Harlan's Fauna, p. 173,) and he 
also apparently blended the three species — S. cinereus, S. migratorius, 
and S. Carolinensis. Godman called the Northern species S. Cavolinensis, 
and Leconte, who appears to have had a more correct view^ of the species 
generally than all previous authors, (see Appendix to McMurtkie's trans- 



lation of Cijvier, vol. i., p. 433,) regarded the Carolina and the Nor- 
thern Gray Squirrel as identical. 

In 1833 and 1834 Gapper, (Zoological Journal, vol. v., p. 201,) found in 
Upper Canada an individual, of vrhat -we suppose to be a variety of the 
Northern Gray Squirrel, with white ears, with the upper parts varied 
with a mixture of white, black, and ochre, and with a stripe of similar 
colour along the sides. Supposing it to be a species different from the 
common gray squirrel, he bestowed on it the characteristic name of Sciu- 
rus Leucotis (white eared). In our monograph of the genus Sciurus, read 
before the Zoological Society, (Proceedings ZooL Soc, 1838, Op. Sup., cit., 
p. 91,) we adopted the name of Gapper, without having seen his descrip- 
tion, having been informed by competent naturalists that he had describ- 
ed this species. , 

Having, however, afterwards obtained a copy of the articles of Gap- 
per, and ascertained that he had described a variety that is very seldom 
met with, we were anxious to rid our nomenclature of a name which is 
very inappropriate to this species, and which is calculated constantly 
to mislead the student of nature. 

Gapper compared his specimen with the Northern Gray Squirrel, and 
finding that the latter species was gray, and not of an ochreous colour 
like the one he described, with . ears not white but of the colour of the 
back, he regarded his variety as a different species. He designated the 
Northern Gray Squirrel as the Carolina squirrel, the difference between 
the Northern and Southern Gray Squirrels not having been pointed out 
till it was done in our monograph four years afterwards. 

As a general rule we adhere to the views entertained by naturalists, 
that it is best to retain a name once imposed, however inappropriate, 
unless likely to propagate important errors; in the present instance, 
however, we propose the name of S. migratorius, as applicable to the 
wide-ranging habits of this Squirrel, it being the only one in our country 
that appears to possess this peculiarity. 

The name leucotis is appropriate only to the Southern fox-squirrel, 
which has permanently, and in all its varieties, white ears. 

We have been somewhat at a loss where to place the species given as 
the fox-squirrel, S. vuljmms of Dekay, (see Nat. Hist. New York, p. 59,) 
and have marked our quotation with a doubt. His description does not 
apply very well to the Pennsylvania fox-squirrel, {S. cinereus,) of which 
Gmelin's S. vulpinus is only a synonyme. He states indeed, " We suspect 
that Godman's fox-squirrel as well as his cat-squirrel, are varieties only 
of the hooded squirrel, and not to be referred to our Northern animal." 
We have, in our article on S. cinereus, noticed the errors contained in the 


above quotation, and only allude to it here as a possible clue to tbe spe- 
cies he had in view, viz., " not the species " given by Godman as S. cbie- 
reus, but another that agrees with the Northern Gray Squirrel " in every 
particular except the size." He further adds, that " its habits and geo- 
graphical distribution are the same as in the preceding," meaning the 
Northern Gray Squirrel. 

He evidently has reference to a larger species of the Gray Squirrel as 
existing in the same localities, with " the hair on the posterior surface 
of the ears projecting two lines beyond the margins," differing from the 
species he had just described as the Northern Gray Squirrel, which he 
characterized as having ears " covered with short hairs ; no pencil of 
hairs at the tips." Although his figure resembles in several particulars 
that of the cat-squirrel, (S. cinereus,) parts of his description and his ac- 
count of the habits seem more appropriate to the tufted winter speci- 
mens of the present species. The appearance of the ears in specimens 
obtained in winter and summer pelage differs so widely that we our- 
selves were for many years misled by the tufts and larger size of the old 
in winter. We recollect that in our school-boy days we were in the habit 
of obtaining many specimens of the Gray Squirrel during summer and 
autumn, which answered to the description of S. migratorius, having their 
ears clothed with short hairs which did not project beyond the margins 
on the posterior surface. During the following winter, however, we oc- 
casionally caught in a steel-trap a specimen much larger, very fat, and 
with ears tufted like that described as S. vulpinus ; and we prepared the 
specimens under an impression that a new species had made its appear- 
ance in the neighbourhood. The following summer, however, we pro- 
cured in that locality no other than the common Gray Squirrel, destitute 
of the fringes on the ears. We now resorted to a different mode of solv- 
ing the problem. We obtained several young Northern Gray Squirrels, 
which we kept in cages ; during the first winter their ears underwent no 
particular change. But in the month of December of the second year, 
when they had become very fat and had grown considerably larger, 
their ears on the posterior surface became fringed and exactly corres- 
ponded with the winter specimens we had previously obtained. As we 
could not feel a perfect confidence in our own notes made more than 
thirty years ago, we recently made inquiries from Dr. Leonard, of Lan- 
singburg. New York, an accurate and intelligent naturalist, whose an- 
swer we subjoin : — " It is considered established by naturalists and 
observing sportsmen, that the Gray Squirrel, after the first year, has 
fringed ears in its \vinter pelage, and that of course there is but one spe- 
cies. Of ten prepared specimens, which I have recently examined, eight 


have bare ears, and two (one of them being of the black variety) have 
the ears fringed ; differing in no other respect, except the general fuller 
development of the hair, from the other specimens of their respective 

We are moreover under an impression that the specimen of the North- 
ern Gray Squirrel, from which Dekay took his measurement, must have 
been a young animal. He gives head and body, eight inches ; tail, eight 
inches five lines. Out of more than fifty specimens that we have mea- 
sured in the flesh, there was not one that measured less than ten inches 
in body and eleven inches in taO. 

The true S. cinereus or S. vvlpinus has moreover not the same geogra- 
phical range as the Northern Gray Squirrel. It is not found in Canada, 
where the present species is common, nor in the most northerly parts of 
either New York or the New England States. We obtained several 
specimens from the New York market, and as we have shown in our ar- 
ticle on S. cinereus, it is occasionally found in the southern counties of 
the State ; but it is a very rare species north and east of Pennsylvania, 
and is principally confined to the Middle and some of the South-western 

The Northern Gray Squirrel (S. tnigratorius) may be easily distinguish- 
ed from the Carolina Gray Squirrel (S. Carolinensis) by its larger size, 
broader tail, and lighter gray colours on the sides, and by its smaller 
persistent tooth. 

(S. cinereus or S. vulpinus differs from this species in being a little 
longer, having a much stouter body and legs, and a longer tail. It has, 
in proportion to its size, shorter ears, which are more rounded, and 
have the tufts or fringes in winter much shorter. The fur is also 
coarser, and it has in each upper jaw but four teeth, dropping its milk- 
tooth when very young, whilst the Northern Gray Squirrel {S. migra- 
toriiis) has five on each side, which appear to be permanent. 




Incisive •= ; Canine t— ; ; Molar - — - = 20. 

£ — 4 — 4 

Superior incisors, on the anterior portion, smooth, cuneiform at their 
extremity ; inferior incisors, strong and compressed. 

Molars, compound, with flat cro^wns, variously modified by plates of 
enamel, between which are depressed intervals. 

Head, strong ; snout, thick and tumid ; ears, short and round ; tongue, 
bristled with spiny scales ; fore-feet, four-toed ; hind-feet, five-toed ; all 
the toes armed with powerful nails. 

Spines on the body, sometimes intermixed with hair : tail, moderately 
long, in some species of the genus, prehensile. 

Herbivorous, fesding principally on grain, fruits, roots, and the bark of 
trees — dig holes in the earth, or nestle in the hollows of trees. 

The generic name is derived from the Greek word, uai-fi^, (hustrix,) a 
porcupine — Cs, (hus,) a hog, and «/>i|, (thrix,) a bristle. 

There are two species in North, and three in South America, one in 
Southern Europe, one in Africa, and one in India. 


Canada Poecvpine. 
PLATE XXXVI.— Male. 4-5ths natural size. 

H. spinus brevibus, vellere sublatentibus ; sine jubea ; capite et collo 
setis longis vestitis ; colore inter fulvum et nigrum variante. 


Spines, short, partially concealed by long hair ; no mane ; long bristles 
on the head and neck ; colour, varying between light-brown and black. 



Htstbix Piloses Amebicanus, Catesby, Cuv., App., p. 30, 1740. 
The Porcupine from Hudson's Bat, Edwards' Birds, p. 52. 
HvsTRix HuDSONius, Brlsson, Re^e Animal, p. 128. 
Hystrix Dorsata, Linn., Syst., Edwards, xii., p. 57. 

" " Erxleben, p. 345. 

" " Schreber, Saugethiere, p. 605. 

L'Ubson, Buffon, toI. xii., p. 426. 
Canada Porcupine, Forst., Phil. Trans., vol. Ixii., p. 374, 

" " Penn., Quadrupeds, toI. ii., p. 126. 

" " Arctic Zoology, vol. i., p. 109. 

The Porcupine, Hearne's Journal, p. 381. 
Erethizon Dobsatcm, F. Cuv., in Mem. du Mus., ix., t. 20. 
PoBC-Epic Velu, Cuv., Regno Animal, i., p. 209. 
HrsTRix Dorsata, Sabine, Franklin's Journ., p. 664. 

" " Harlan, Fauna, p. 109. 

" " Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 160. 

" PiLosus, Rich., Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 214. 

" HuDSONins, Dekay, Nat. Hist. New York, p. 77. 


The body of this species is thick, very broad, cylindrical, and to a high 
degree clumsy. The back is much arched in a ciu've from the nose to 
the buttocks, when it declines in an angle to the tail. 

The whole upper surface of the body from the nose to the extremity of 
the tail is covered by long and rather coarse hair, intermixed with a 
dense mass of spines or quills. These are of a cylindrical shape, very 
sharp at the extremity and pointed at the roots. The animal is capable 
of erecting them at pleasure, and they are detached by the slightest 
touch ; they are barbed with numerous small reversed points or prickles, 
which, when once inserted in the flesh, will by the mere movement of the 
limbs work themselves deeper into the body. There seems to be in cer- 
tain parts of the body of this species a regular gradation from hair to 
spines ; on the nose for instance, the hair is rather soft, a little higher up 
it is succeeded by bristles intermixed ■with small spines. These spines 
continue to lengthen on the hinder parts of the head, to increase in size 
on the shoulders, and are longer and more rigid on the buttocks and 
thighs. In specimens of old animals, the whole upper surface of the 
body is covered by a mass of quills, with thin tufts of long hairs, six 
inches in length, on the forehead, shoulders, and along the sides. 

Head, rather small for the size of the animal, and very short ; nose, 
truncated, broad, flattish above, and terminating abruptly. The eyes are 


lateral and small ; ears, small, rounded, covered by short fur, and con- 
cealed by the adjoining long hair ; incisors, large and strong. 

Legs, very short, and rather stout ; claws, tolerably long, compressed, 
moderately arched, and channeled beneath. 

There are tufts of hair situated between the toes ; palms, naked, and 
nearly oval, hard and tuberculous ; on the fore-feet there are four short 
toes, the second, counting from the inside, longest, the third a little 
smaller, the first a size less, and the fourth smallest. On the hind-foot 
there are five toes, with claws corresponding to those on the fore-foo.. 
The hairs are so thickly and broadly arranged along the sides of the soles 
that they give a great apparent breadth to the foot, enabling this clumsy 
animal to walk with greater ease in the snow. It is plantigrade, and 
like the bear, presses on the earth throughout the whole length of the 
soles. Tail, short and thick, covered above vrith spines, beneath with 
long rigid hairs ; when walking or climbing, it is turned a little upwards. 
Four mammae, all pectoral. 

WhOst the whole upper surface of the body is covered with spines, the 
under surface is clothed with hair intermixed with fur of a softer kind. 
The hair on the throat, and under the belly is rather soft ; along the sides 
it is longer and coarser, and under the tail appears like strong bristles. 

Incisors, deep orange ; whole upper surface, blackish-brown, inter- 
spersed with long hairs, many of them being eight inches in length ; 
these hairs are for four-fifths of their length dark-brown, vnth the points 
from one to two inches white. There are also long white hairs inter- 
spersed under the fore-legs, on the chest, and along the sides of the tail. 

The spines, or quills, which vary in length from one to four inches, are 
white from the roots to near their points, which are generally dark brown 
or black ; frequently brown, and occasionally white. On some speci- 
mens the spines are so abundant and protrude so far beyond the hair that 
portions of the body, especially the hips, present a speckled appearance, 
owing to the preponderance of the long white quills tipped with black. 
The nails and whole under surface are dark brown. 

There is in this species a considerable difference both in the size and 
colour of different specimens. 

There are three specimens before us, that with slight variations an- 
swer to the above description and to the figure on our plate. Another, 
■which we obtained at Fort Union on the Missouri, is of enormous size, 
measuring thirteen inches across the back ; the long hairs on the shoulders, 
forehead, and sides of which, are light yellowish-brown, whilst another 


29 inches 

• « ■ 

7 do. 


8J do. 


. . IJ do. 

■ • 

31 do. 


- pecimen from the same locality, which appears to be that of a young 
animal, i • duU -white, with brown nose ears and rump. In every speci- 
men, however, the hair on the hips, upper surface of tail, and under 
surface of body, are dark blackish-brown. In all these cases, it is the 
long, overhanging, light-coloured hairs, that give the general whitish 

The difference between these specimens is so striking, that whilst 
those from Lower Canada may be described as black, the others from the 
far West, may be designated as light-gray. Except in size and colour, 
there are no especial marks of difference. 

Length of head and body 
Tail (vertebrae) . 
Tail, to end of fur 
Breadth of nose . 
From heel to longest nail 
We possess one specimen a little larger than the above, and several 
that are considerably smaller. 

The Canada Porcupine, of all North American quadrupeds, possesses 
the strangest peculiarities in its organization and habits. In its move- 
ments it is the most sluggish of all our species. Although the skunk is 
slow of foot, he would prove no contemptible competitor with it in a trial 
of speed. Under such circumstances the inquiry arises, what protection 
has this animal against the attacks of the wolverene, the lynx, the 
wolf, and the cougar ? and how long will it be before it becomes total- 
ly exterminated ? But a wise Creator has endowed it with powers by 
which it can bid defiance to the whole ferine race, the grisly bear 
not excepted. If the skunk presents to its enemies a formidable bat- 
tery, that stifles and burns at the same time, the Porcupine is clothed in 
an impervious coat of mail bristling with bayonets. 

We kept a living animal of this kind in a cage in Charleston for six 
months, and on many occasions witnessed the mamier in which it arrang- 
ed its formidable spines, in order to prove invulnerable to the attacks of 
its enemies. 

It -wsLS occasionally let out of its cage to enjoy the benefit of a pro- 
menade in the garden. It had become very gentle, and evinced no spite- 
ful propensities ; when we called to it, holding in our hand a tempting 


sweet-potatoe or an apple, it would turn its head slowly toward us, and 
give us a mild and wistful look, and then wth stately steps advance 
and take the fruit from our hand. It then assumed an upright posi- 
tion, and conveyed the potatoe or apple to its mouth with its paws. 
If it found the door of our study open it would march in, and gently 
approach us, rubbing its sides against our legs, and looking up at us 
as if supplicating for additional delicacies. We frequently plagued 
it in order to try its temper, but it never evinced any spirit of re- 
sentment by raising its bristles at us ; but no sooner did a dog make 
his appearance than in a moment it was armed at aD points in defence. 
It would bend its nose downward, erect its bristles, and by a threatening 
sideway movement of the tail, give evidence that it was ready for the 

A large, ferocious, and exceedingly troublesome mastiff, belonging to 
the neighbourhood, had been in the habit of digging a hole under the 
fence, and entering our garden. Early one morning we saw him making 
a dash at some object in the corner of the fence, which proved to be our 
Porcupine, which had during the night made its escape from the cage. 
The dog seemed regardless of all its threats, and probably supposing it 
to be an animal not more formidable than a cat, sprang upon it with 
open mouth. The Porcupine seemed to swell up in an instant to nearly 
double its size, and as the dog pounced upon it, it dealt him such a side- 
wise lateral blow with its tail, as caused the mastiff to relinquish his hold 
instantly, and set up a loud howl in an agony of pain. His mouth, tongue, 
and nose, were full of porcupine quills. He could not close his jaws, but 
hurried open-mouthed out of the premises. It proved to him a lesson for 
life, as nothing could ever afterwards Induce him to revisit a place 
where he had met with such an unneighbourly reception. Although the 
servants immediately extracted the spines from the mouth of the dog, 
we observed that his head was terribly swelled for several weeks af- 
terwards, and it was two months before he finally recovered. 

Cartwright, (Journal, vol. ii., p. 59,) gives a description of the destruc- 
tive habits of the Porcupine, which in many particiilars is so much in 
accordance with our own observations, that we will present it to our 

" The Porcupine readily climbs trees ; for which purpose he is furnish- 
ed with very long claws ; and in the winter, when he moimts into a tree, 
I believe he does not come down until he has eaten the bark from the 
top to the bottom. He generally makes his course through the wood in 
a straight direction, seldom missing a tree, unless such as are old. He 
loves young ones best, and devours so much, (only eating the inner part 




of the rind,) that I have frequently known one Porcupine ruin nearly a 
hundred trees in a winter. 

" A man who is acquainted with the nature of these animals will sel- 
dom miss finding them when the snow is on the ground. If he can but 
hit upon the rinding of that winter, by making a circuit around the bark- 
ed trees, he will soon come on his track unless a very deep snow should 
have chanced to fall after his last ascent. Having discovered that, he 
will not be long ere he find the animal." 

In reference to the manner in which the Porcupine defends itself with 
its quills, he makes the following observations : " It is a received opinion 
that a Porcupine can dart his quills at pleasure into a distant object, 
but I venture to affirm that this species cannot, (whatever any other may 
do,) for I have taken much pains to discover this fact. On the approach 
of danger he retreats into a hole, if possible, but where he cannot find 
one he seizes upon the best shelter that offers, sinks his nose between his 
fore-legs, and defends himself by a sharp stroke of his tail, or a sudden 
jerk of his back. As the quills are bearded at their points and not deeply 
rooted in the skin, they stick firmly into whatever they penetrate ; great 
care should be taken to extract them immediately, otherwise by the mus- 
cular motion of the animal into which they are stuck, enforced by the 
beards of the quills, they soon work themselves quite through the part, 
but I never perceived the puncture to be attended with any worse symp- 
toms than that of a chirurgical instrument." 

We had on three occasions in the northern and western parts of New 
York opportunities of witnessing the effects produced by the persevering 
efforts of this species in search after its simple food. In travelling 
through the forest from Niagara to Louisville a few years ago, we passed 
through two or three acres of ground where nearly all the young trees, 
had on the previous winter been deprived of their bark, and were as per- 
fectly killed as if a fire had passed through them. We were informed by 
our coachman that in driving through this place during the winter he 
had on several occasions seen the Porcupine on one of these trees, and 
that he believed all the mischief had been done by a 'single animal. We 
perceived that it had stripped every slippery elm {Ulmus fulvd) in the 
neighbourhood, left not a tree of the bass wood (Tilia glabra) alive, but 
had principally feasted on the hemlock, (Abies Canadensis.) 

Mr. J. G. Bell, one of our companions in our recent journey to the 
West, met with some Porcupines that resorted to a ravine, in which about 
a hundred cotton-wood trees {Populus angulatus) were standing, that 
had been denuded of both the bark and leaves. They had remained in 
this locality until they had eaten not only the tender branches, but had 


devoured the bark of some of the largest trees, by which they killed 
nearly every one. They then were forced in their owii defence to remove 
to new quarters. We were informed that in a similar ravine to the one 
just spoken of, no less than thirteen Porcupines were killed in a single 
season by a young hunter. 

On a visit to the western portion of the county of Saratoga, New York, 
in the winter of 1813, a farmer residing in the vicinity carried us in his 
sleigh to show us a Porcupine which he had frequently seen during the 
winter, assuring us that he could find it on the very tree where he 
had observed it the previous day. We were disappointed, finding that 
it had deserted the tree ; we however traced it in the snow by a well 
beaten path, which it seemed to have used daily, to a beech tree not 
far distant, which w^e cut down, and at the distance of t^venty feet from 
the root we found the object of our search in a hollow^ part. It 
growled at us, and was particularly spiteful towards a small dog that 
was with us. Our friend killed it by a blow on the nose, the only vul- 
nerable part as he informed us. It seemed to have been confined to a 
space of about two acres of ground through the winter. It had fed prin- 
cipally on hemlock bark, and had destroyed upwards of a hundred trees. 
The observations made on this occasion incline us to doubt the correct- 
ness of the statement that the Canada Porcupine does not leave a tree 
until it has eaten ofi" all the bark, and that it remains for a week or more 
on the same tree ; we were on the contrary led to suppose that the indi- 
vidual we have just spoken of, retired nightly to its comfortable domicile 
and warm bed in the hollow beach, in which we discovered it. 

The Porcupine we kept in Charleston did not appear very choice in 
regard to its food. It ate almost any kind of vegetable we presented to 
it. We gave it cabbages, turnips, potatoes, apples, and even bread, and 
it usually cut to pieces every thing we placed in the cage that it could 
not consume. We had a tolerably large sweet bay tree (Laurus nobilis) 
in the garden : the instant that we opened the door of the cage the Por- 
cupine would make its way to this tree, and not only feed greedily on its 
bark, but on its leaves also. When it had once fixed itself on a tree it 
was exceedingly difficult to induce it to come down, and our efforts to 
force it from the tree were the only provocatives by which it could be 
made to growl at us. We occasionally heard it during the night, utter- 
ing a shrill note, that might be called a low querulous shriek. 

As the spring advanced, we ascertained that the constitution of our 
poor Porcupine was not intended for a warm climate ; when the hot 
weather came on it suff"ered so much that we wished it back again in its 
Canadian wilds. It would lie panting in its cage the whole day. seemed 


restless and miserable, lost its appetite and refused food. We one even- 
ing placed it on its favourite bay tree ; it immediately commenced gnaw- 
ing the bark, which we supposed a favourable symptom, but it fell off 
during the night, and was dead before morning. 

Whilst on the Upper Missouri river, in the year 1843, as our com- 
panion, Mr. J. G. Bell, was cautiously making his way through a close 
thicket of willows and brush-wood in search of a fine buck elk, that be 
with one of our men had seen enter into this cover when they were at 
least a mile distant, he could not avoid cracking now and then a dry 
stick or fallen branch. He could not see more than ten paces in any 
direction, from the denseness of the thicket, and, as he unfortunately trod 
upon a thicker branch than usual which broke with a crash, the elk 
brushed furiously out of the thicket, and was gone in a moment, making 
the twigs and branches rattle as he dashed them aside with (shall we 
say) " telegraphic " rapidity. Mr. Bell stood motionless for a minute, 
when as he was about to retreat into the open prairie, and join his com- 
panion after this unsuccessful termination of the elk hunt, his eyes were 
fixed by an uncouth mass on the ground, almost at his feet ; it w^as a 
Porcupine ; it remained perfectly still, and when he approached did 
not attempt to retreat. Our friend was rather perplexed to know how to 
treat an enemy that would neither " fight nor fly," and seizing a large 
stick, he commenced operations by giving the Porcupine (which must 
have been by this time displeased at least, if not " fretful,") a severe 
blow with it on the nose. The animal immediately concealed the in- 
jured organ, and his whole head also, under his belly ; rolling himself 
up into a ball, with the exception of his tail, which he occasionally jerked 
about and flirted upwards over his back. He now remained still again, 
and Mr. Bell drew a good sized knife, with which he tried to kill him 
by striking at his side so as to avoid the points of the quills as much as 
he could. This fresh attack caused the Porcupine to make violent efforts 
to escape, he seized hold of the branches or roots within reach of his fore- 
feet, and pulled forwards with great force ; Mr. Bell then placed his 
gun before him, which stopped him ; then finding he could not lay hold 
of him nor capture him in any other way, he drew his ramrod, which had 
a large screw at the end, for wiping out his gun, and commenced screwing 
it into the Porcupine's back. This induced the poor animal again to 
make violent efforts to escape, but by the aid of the screw and repeated 
thrusts with the knife, he soon killed the creature. 

He was now anxious to rejoin his companion, but did not like to relin- 
quish his game ; he therefore, not thinking it advisable to stop and skin 
it on the spot, managed to tie it by the fore-legs, and then dragged it on 


the ground after him until he arrived at the spot where the hunter was 
impatiently waiting for him. Here he skinned the Porcupine, and turn- 
ed the skin entirely inside out, so that the quills were all within, and 
then no longer fearing to handle the skin, it was secured to the saddle of 
his horse, and the carcass thrown away. 

A Porcupine that was confined for some time in the garret of a build- 
ing in Broadway, New York, in which Peale's Museum was formerly 
kept, made its escape by gnawing a hole in a corner of the garret, and, 
(as was supposed,) got on to the roof, from whence it tumbled into the 
street, either by a direct fall from this elevation, or by pitching on to some 
roof in the rear of the main building, and thence into Murray-street. It 
was brought the next day to the museum for sale, as a great curiosity. 
The man who brought it, of course not knowing from whence it came, 
said that early in the morning, he (being a watchman) was attracted by 
a crow^d in the Park, and on approaching discovered a strange animal 
which no one could catch ; he got a basket, however, and captured the 
beast, which he very naturally carried off to the watch-house, thinking of 
course no place of greater security for any vagrant existed in the neigh- 

On an explanation before the keeper of the museum, instead of the 
police justices, and on payment of half a dollar, the Porcupine was again 
restored to his friends. He was now, however, watched more closely, 
and bits of sheet tin were frequently nailed in different parts of the room 
on which he had a predilection for trying his large teeth. 

We have mentioned in our article on the Canada lynx, that one of 
those animals was taken in the woods in a dying state, owing to its 
mouth being filled with Porcupine quills. We have heard of many dogs, 
some wolves, and at least one panther, that were found dead, in conse- 
quence of inflammation produced by seizing on the Porcupine. 

Its nest is found in hollow trees or in caves under rocks. It pro- 
duces its young in April or May, generally two at a litter ; we have 
however heard that three, and on one occasion four, had been found in 
a nest. 

The Indians residing in the North, make considerable use of the quills 
of the porcupine ; mocassins, shot-pouches, baskets made of birch bark, 
&c., are ingeniously ornamented with them, for which purpose they are 
dyed of various bright colours. 

The flesh of this species is sometimes eaten, and is said to have the 
taste of flabby pork. 

The following informatioTi respecting the Porcupine was received by 
us from our kind friend William Case, Esq., of Cleveland, Ohio. " This 


animal was several years since (before my shooting days) very abundant 
in this region, the Connecticut Western Reserve, and no more than ten 
years ago one person killed seven or eight in the course of an afternoon's 
hunt for squirrels, within three or four miles of this city, while no-w 
probably one could not be found in a month. They are rapidly becom- 
ing extinct : the chief reason is probably the extreme hatred all hunters 
bear them on account of the injuries their quills inflict on their dogs. 
They do not hibernate neither do I think they are particularly confined 
to their hollow trees during the coldest days in winter. Their move- 
ments from tree to tree in search of food (browse and bark) are rather 
slow and awkward, their track in the snow very much resembles that of 
a child (with the aid of imagination.) 

" They most delight in browsing and barking young and thrifty Elms, 
and are generally plenty in Elm, or Bass-wood Swail." 


This species, according to Richardson, has been met with as far north 
as the Mackenzie river, in latitude 67°. It is found across the continent 
from Labrador to the Rocky Mountains, and is tolerably abundant in the 
woody portions of the western part of Missouri. To us this has been 
rather a rare species in the Atlantic districts ; we having seldom met 
■with it in the Northern and Eastern States. It is found, however, in the 
northern and ■western parts of New York, and is said to be increasing 
in some of the western counties of that State. Dr. Leonard, of Lansing- 
burg, recently obtained specimens from the mountains of Vermont. It 
exists sparingly in the mountains of the northern portion of Pennsj'lvania, 
and in a few localities in Ohio ; ^ve obtained it on the Upper Missouri. 
Lewis and Clarke have not enumerated it as one of the species inhabit- 
ing the ■west of the Rocky Mountains. 

It does not exist in the southern parts of New York or Pennsylvania. 
Dekay (Nat. Hist, of New York, p. 79) states, that it is found in the 
northern parts of Virginia and Kentucky. We however sought for it 
without success in the mountains of Virginia, and could never hear of 
its existence in Kentucky. 



PLATE XXXVII.— Male. Natural size. 

L. L. Americani magnitudine ; capite, auribus, caudaque longis ; pedi- 
bus longis minus pilosis quam in L. sj Ivatico ; supra fuscus ; subtus 


Size of the Northern hare ; head, ears, and tail, long ; feet, long, less 
covered with hair than those of the gray rabbit ; general colour, dark gray- 
ish-brown above, white beneath. 


Lephs Aqdaticus, Bach., Journal Acad. Nat. So., Philad., vol. vii., p. 2, p. 319, read 

March 21, 1837. 
Lepos Douglassii, var. I, Gray, Magazine Nat. Hist., London, November, 1837. 


The body of this species is large, and formed both for strength and 
speed ; the hairs do not hang as loosely on the surface as those of the 
Northern hare, but lie smooth and compact ; the fur is coarser and more 
glossy than that of the gray rabbit. 

Head, long, and moderately arched ; skull, considerably larger than 
that of the Northern hare, {L. Americanus) with a larger orbital cavity. 
The margins of the orbits project so as to produce a visible depression 
in the anterior part of the frontal bone ; whiskers, half the length of the 
head ; ears, long, shaped like those of the marsh-hare, clothed externally 
with a dense coat of very short hairs ; internally, they are partially 
covered along the margins, but nearer the orifice are nearly naked. 

The feet bear no resemblance to those of the Northern hare or those 
of the gray rabbit. Instead of being clothed, as in those species, with 
a compact mass of hair, they are formed like those of the marsh-hare ; 
the toes, when spread, leaving distinct impressions on the earth. The 



fore-toes are long, and their claws large and considerably curved ; on 
the hind-feet, the claws are verj' stout and broad, nearly double the size 
of those of the Northern hare. 

The tail is rather long for the genus, upturned, and thickly clothed on 
both surfaces ■wdth long fur. 

Teeth, yellowish- white ; the whole of the upper part of the body light 
bro\\'nish-yellow, blotched on the surface with black ; in the winter, the 
whole of the back and the sides of the head, become brownish-black, 
with here and there a mixture of reddish-brown visible on the surface ; 
the fur beneath the long hairs is dark plumbeous, tipped with black. 
The long hairs, when examined singly, are dark-blue at the roots, then 
light buff, and are pointed with black. Behind the ears, rufous, with a 
stripe of a similar colour extending to the shoulders. A line around the 
eyes, light reddish-buff. Upper lip, chin, and belly, white, tinged with 
blue. Nails, in a winter specimen of a young male, dark-brovioi ; in an 
old female procured in summer, yellowish ; whiskers, black ; inner sur- 
face of the ears, light grayish-white ; outer surface, above, edged with 
black : under surface of the tail, pure white. 


(The follow^ing measurements were taken by Dr. Lee, of Alabama, 
from a specimen in the flesh.) 

Length from point of nose to insertion of tail 
" of head 
" of ears, posteriorly 
Height to shoulder 
Length of the hind-foot 

" " middle hind-claw 

" of tail (vertebrEe) . 
" tail, including fur . 
Weight of a female kUled in the spring, (when suckling its young, and 

not in good condition,) 6 


















The habits of this animal are very singular, differing in one remark- 
able peculiaritjr from those of any other species of hare yet knowTi, with 
the exception of the marsh-hare. Although the Swamp-Hare is occa- 
sionally seen on high grounds in the dense forest, it prefers low and 



marshy places, or the neighbourhood of streams and ponds of water, to 
which it is fond of resorting. It swims with great facility from one little 
islet to another, and is generally found seeking its food in wet places, or 
near the water, as it subsists on the roots of various kinds of aquatic 
plants, especially on a species of iris growing in the w^ater. 

Persons who have given us information on the subject of this hare, in- 
form us, that when first started, and whilst running, its trampings are 
louder, and can be heard at a greater distance, than those of any other 

As it suddenly leaps or bounds from its hiding place ere it is seen, it 
is apt to startle the rambler who has intruded upon its solitary retreat, 
and he may be impressed with the belief that he has started a young 
deer. When chased by dogs, the Swamp-Hare runs with great swiftness, 
and is able to escape from them without difficulty ; but it almost invari- 
ably directs its flight towards the nearest pond, as if led by instinct to 
seek an element in which all traces of its scent are soon lost to its eager 
pursuers. There is a specimen of the Swamp-Hare, which we added to 
the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, con- 
siderably larger than the Northern hare ; this individual, on being pur- 
sued by hounds, swam twice across the Alabama river, and was not 
captured till it had finally retreated to a hollow tree. 

We have been informed that it is a very common habit of this species 
when pursued, to swim to the edge of some stream or pond, retreat be- 
neath the overhanging roots of the trees that may be growing on its bor- 
der, or seek for a secure shelter under the hollows made by the washing 
of the banks. The swiftness of foot possessed by this Hare, and the stra- 
tagems to which it is capable of resorting might easily enable it to elude 
pursuit but for this habit of seeking for shelter as soon as it is chased, 
which is the cause of its being frequently captured. 

When the waters in the swamps are low, it seeks the first hollow tree, 
where it is easily secured. In this manner. Major Lee informed us, that 
in his vicinity the boys and the domestics caught thirty or forty in three 

The j'oung of this Hare are frequently found in nests formed of leaves 
and grasses, placed on hillocks in the swamps, or in the hollow of some 
fallen tree. We have been informed that it produces young at least 
twice in a season, and from four to six at a litter. 


We have not heard of the existence of this animal to the east or north 
of the State of Alabama, but it is nmnerous in all the swamps of the 



western part of that State, is still more abundant in the State of Missis- 
sippi, and in the lower part of Louisiana, and is frequently brought by 
the Indians to the market of New Orleans. It was also obtained in 
Texas by Douglass and by J. W. Audubon. Gray states that it exists in 
California ; we have however carefully inquired into the history of the 
specimen in the British Museum, which was received after the melan- 
choly death of Douglass, and have reason to believe that the label was 
accidentally misplaced, and that it came from the eastern portion of 


Although all our hares bear a strong resemblance to each other, 
particularly in their summer colours, yet all have different marks, by 
which they can, with a little attention be distinguished. The present 
species, in its colour on the upper surface and in its aquatic habits, is 
closely assimilated to the marsh-hare ; it differs, however, very widely in 
other respects. 

The Swamp-Hare is a third larger than the marsh-hare ; the largest 
specimen of the latter in more than fifty that we measured, was only 
fourteen inches long, whilst the largest Swamp-Hare ■was twenty-two 
inches, and we are informed that it is often much larger. The tail of the 
marsh-hare is exceedingly short, its vertebrae being not more than an 
inch long, ^vhilst that of the present species is two inches and an eighth, 
being more than double the length. The ears differ in the same propor- 
tion. The under surface of the tail of the marsh-hare is ash-coloured, 
mixed with brown, whilst that of the present species is pure white. Its 
feet are thinly covered Tvith hair, and its toes, (which are capable of 
being ■widely spread,) are well adapted to enable it to swim, and to pass 
over marshy and muddy places. 

The tracks of this species, and of the marsh-hare, in the mud, leave a 
distinct impression of the toes, ■whilst on the contrary the tracks of the 
gray rabbit, the Northern hare, and the Polar hare, exhibit no such 
traces, their feet being so thickly clothed ■with long hair that even the 
points of the nails are scarcely perceptible. The present species is 
larger than the gray rabbit, being very nearly the size of the Northern 
hare, which it probably exceeds in weight. Indeed the Northern hare 
and this species, when divested of their hides, are very nearly equal in 
size ; but the fur of the former being loose and long, whilst that of the 
present species lies compact and smooth, the Northern hare appears to 
be the larger of the two. This species differs from the gray rabbit in 


other particulars ; whilst the oints of the hair in the latter animal be- 
come whiter in winter, those of the Swamp-Hare become jet-black ; 
whilst the gray rabbit strenuously avoids water, the present species 
plunges fearlessly into it, and finds it a congenial element. 






PLATE XXXVIII.— Male, Female, akd Young. NatHral size. 

Sc. Caroliniano paullulum minor ; cauda corpore longiore ; vellere, 
supra albo-cinereo, infra rufo, armis fuscis. 


A size smaller than the Carolina gray squirrel ; tail, longer than the 
body; light gray above, reddish-brawn on the shoulders, beneath, bright 


ScinRns Ferruginitentris, Aad. and Bach., Jour. Acad, of Nat. Sc, Philadelphia, read 
October 5, 1841. 


This species in form bears some resemblance to the Carolina gray 
squirrel, but differs widely from it in colour. The forehead is arched ; 
nose, rather sharp, clothed with short fur ; eyes, of moderate size ; whisk- 
ers, as long as the head ; ears, rather long, broad at base, ovate in shape. 

The body is slender, seemingly formed for an agility equalling that of 
Sciurus Hudsonius. It is covered with a soft thick coat of fur, intermixed 
with longer hairs. 

The feet are rather robust. Like all the squirrels, it has a blunt nail 
in place of a thumb, and the third toe, counting from the inner side, is 
longest ; palms, nearly naked. 

The tail is long, and capable of a distichous arrangement, but the hairs 
are not very thick or bushy. 

Teeth, yellow ; nails, brown ; point of nose and whiskers, black ; ears, 
on the outer edges, tinged with brown, within gray ; behind the ears on 
the neck a line of dull white. On the upper surface, the head, neck, back, 
and tail, are light gray, formed by hairs, which are light plumbeous from 










the roots to near the tips, where they have white and black annulations ; 
most of the hairs are tipped with white. From the outer surface of the 
fore-legs there is a reddish-brown tinge, which extends over the shoulders 
and nearly meets on the back, gradually fading into the colours of the 
back and neck. The hairs on the tail are black at the roots, then yel- 
lowish, succeeded by a broad line of black tipped with white. The feet 
on the upper surface are grizzled with white and black. Sides of the 
face, chin, and throat, light-gray. All the rest of the under surface of the 
body, a line around the eyes, the neck, and the inner surface of the legs, 
are of a uniform bright rufous colour. 


Length of head and body 

Height of ear, posteriorly 
Length of tarsus 

We are unfortunately without any information or accoimt of the habits 
of this singularly marked and bright coloured Squirrel. We have re- 
presented three of them in our plate in different attitudes on a branch of 


Several specimens, differing a little in colour, which differences we 
have represented in our plate, were received from California ; the pre- 
cise locality was not given. 


This species should perhaps be compared with the dusky squirrel 
(S. nigrescens) of Bennet, to which it bears some resemblance. From 
the description, however, which we made of the original specimen of S. 
nigrescens, deposited in the museum of the London Zoological Society, we 
have little hesitation in pronouncing this a distinct species. 

To Sciurus socialis of Wagner, (Beitrage zur Kentniss der warmbluti- 
gen Wirbelthiere Amerikas, p. 88, Dresden,) the present species also 
bears some distant resemblance, but in some of its markings differs 
widely from Wagner's animal. 



PLATE XXXIX.— Male and Female. Natural size. 

Magnitudine Tamiae Lysteri ; supra striis octo longitudinalibus dilute 
fulvis cum striis novem fulvis alternatum distributis ; harum quinque, 
stria media at duabus utrinque proximis guttis subalbidis subquadratus 


Size of the chipping-squirrel (Tamias Lysteri) ; eight pale yellowish- 
brown stripes on the back, which alternate with nine broader yellowish-brown 
ones ; the five uppermost being marked with a row of pale spots. 


Leopard Ground-Squirrel, Schoolcraft's Travels, p. 313, and Index, anno 1821. 
SciHRCs Tridecem Lineatds, Mitchill, Med. Repository, 1821. 
Arctomys Hoodii, Sabine, Linn. Trans., vol. xiii., p. 590, 1822. 

" " Franklin's Journey, p. 663. 

Striped and Spotted Ground-Squirrel, Say, Long's Expedition. 
Spermophile, F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. des Mamm. 
Arctomys Teidecem Lineata, Harlan, Fauna, p. 164. 
Hood's Marmot, Godman, vol. ii., p. 112. 
Arctomys Hoodii, Fischer's Synopsis, p. 544. 
Spermopeilcs Hoodii, Less., Mamm., p. 243, 654. 

" " Desmarest, in Diet, des Sc. Nat., L. p. 139. 

" " F. Cuv. et Geoff., Mamm., fasc. 46. 

Arctomys Tridecem Lineata, Griffith, sp. 641. 
Arctomys (Speemopbihis) Hoodii, Rich., Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 177, pi. 14. 


In form this species bears a considerable resemblance to the very com- 
mon chipping squirrel of the Atlantic States ; by its shorter ears, how- 
ever, and by its longer nails, virhich are intended more for digging than 
climbing, it approaches the marmots. The head has a convex shape and 
is very much curved, especially from the forehead to the nose ; the nose 



is obtuse, and v,'iih the exception of the nostrils and septum is completely 
covered with very short hairs. The mouth is far back ; the cheek- 
pouches of moderate size. Whiskers, a little shorter than the head ; 
eyes, large ; ears, very short, consisting merely of a low short lobe be- 
hind and above the auditory opening ; they are covered with very short 
hairs. The hair on the whole body is short, adpressed, and glossy. 

Legs and feet, rather slender ; nails, long, slightly arched, and chan- 
neled beneath toward their extremities. On the fore-feet the thumb has 
one joint, with an obtuse nail ; the second toe is longest, (as in the sper- 
mophiles, and not the third, as in the squirrels ;) the first and third are 
of equal length ; the fourth shortest, and removed far back. The tail is 
linear ; for an inch from the root the fur lies so close that it appears 
rounded, it then gradually widens, becomes flattened, and seems capable 
of a slight distichous arrangement. Mamma, twelve, situated along the 
sides of the abdomen. 

A line around the eye and a spot beneath, inner and outer surfaces of 
the legs, and the whole under part of the body, of a pale yellowish 
colour ; on the sides of the neck, the fore-legs near the shoulders, and on 
the hips, there are tinges of reddish-brown ; the feet near the nails, and 
the under-jaw, are dull white. On the head, there are irregular and 
somewhat indistinct alternate stripes of brown and yellowish-white, 
being an extension of the stripes on the back, which, from the irregular 
blending of the colours, give it a spotted appearance. 

On the back there are five longitudinal brown stripes, each having 
regular rows of square spots of yellowish- white ; the dorsal stripe, ■which 
runs from the back part of the head, and extends for half an inch beyond 
the root of the tail, is a little the broadest. These dark-coloured stripes 
are separated from each other by straight and uniform lines of yellowish- 
white. There are also on each side, two less distinct brown stripes, that 
are not spotted. Thus the animal has five brown stripes that are 
spotted, and four that are plain and without spots, together with eight 
yellowish-white stripes. 

The hairs in the tail are yellowish-white at the roots, then broadly 
barred with black, and at the tips yellowish-white, giving it when dis- 
tichally arranged a bar of black on each side of the vertebra. 


Head and body ....... 6§ inches. 

Tail (vertebrae) . , 3J do. 



Tail, to end of hair 
From heel to end of nail 
Longest claw on the fore-foot 

Measurement of an old female. 
Nose to root of tail 
Tail (vertebrae) . 
Tail, to end of hair 
Fore-feet to end of claws 
Heel to end of longest claw 
Nose to opening of ear 
Length of pouch, to angle of mouth 

Dr. Richardson measured a male that was nine inches to the insertion 
of the tail. He remarks that the females are smaller than the males. 



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We believe it is generally supposed that " birds," with their varied 
and pleasing forms, their gay and beautiful plumage, their tuneful 
throats, and their graceful movements through the air, present greater 
attractions to the student of nature than " quadrupeds," and awaken in 
him a stronger desire to acquire a knowledge of their natures and cha- 
racters than he may entertain to study the habits of the mammalia. 

In addition, however, to the fact that the latter are like ourselves 
viviparous, and approach our own organization, it should be remem- 
bered that all the productions of nature are the w^ork of so infinite a w^is- 
dom, that they must, in every department of the physical world, excite 
our greatest interest and our admiration, even when examined super- 

Among the quadrupeds, there are innumerable varieties of form and 
character, and although most animals are nocturnal, and therefore their 
habits cannot be studied w^ith the same facility with which the manners 
and customs of the lively diurnal species of birds may be observed ; yet 
when w^e follow them in their nightly wanderings, penetrate into their 
retreats, and observe the sagacity and extraordinary instincts with which 
they are endowed, we find in them matter to interest us greatly, and 
arouse our curiosity and astonishment. 

Owls seem to us a dull and stupid race, principally because we only 
notice them during the day, which nature requires them to spend in 
sleep, the structure of their eyes compelling them to avoid the light, 
and seek concealment in hollow trees, in caves, and obscure retreats. 


But we should recollect that the diurnal birds are, during night, the 
time for their repose, as dull and stupid as owls are during the day. 
We should therefore not judge the habits of quadrupeds by the same 
standard. In regard to their fur, and external markings, there are many 
that will strike even the most careless observer as eminently beautiful. 
The little animal which is here presented to you is one of this descrip- 
tion. In the distribution of the tints that compose its gaudy dress, in the 
regularity of its lines and spots, and in the soft blendings of its various 
shades of colour, we have evidence that even species whose habitations 
are under ground, may present to the eye as rich and beautiful a vesture 
as is found in the garb of a majority of the lively songsters of the woods. 

In the warm days of spring the traveller on our Western prairies is 
often diverted from the contemplation of larger animals, to watch the 
movements of this lively little species. He withdraws his attention for 
a moment from the bellowing buffalo herd that is scampering over the 
prairies, to fix his eyes on a lively little creature of exquisite beauty 
seated on a diminutive mound at the mouth of its burrow, which seems 
by its chirrupings and scoldings to warn away the intruder on its peace- 
ful domains. On a nearer approach it darts into its hole ; but although 
concealed from view, and out of the reach of danger, its tongue, like that 
of other scolds of a more intelligent race, is not idle ; it still continues 
to vent its threats of resentment against its unwelcome visitor by a shrill 
and harsh repetition of the ^vord " seek — seek." 

There is a great similarity in the habits of the various spermophili 
that compose the interesting group to which the present species belongs. 

They live principally on the open prairies, make their bm-rows in the 
earth, and feed on roots and seeds of various kinds, which they carry in 
their pouches to their dark retreats under ground. 

The holes of this species, according to Richardson, run nearly per- 
pendicularly, and are so straight, that they will admit a stick to be in- 
serted to the depth of four or five feet. He supposes that owing to the 
depth of their burrows, which the sun does not penetrate very early in 
spring, they do not make their appearance as early as some others, espe- 
cially S. Richardsonii. 

As soon as they feel the warmth of spring they come forth and go 
in quest of their mates ; at this period they seem fearless of danger, and 
are easily captured by the beasts and birds of prey that frequent the 
plains. The males are said to be very pugnacious at this season. 

This is believed to be the most active and lively of all our known 
species of marmot-squirrels ; we recently observed one in New York 
that played in a wheel in the manner of the squirrel. We saw in 



Charleston a pair in a cage, that were brought from Missouri by an 
officer of the army. They were adults, had but recently been captured, 
and were rather wild. They seemed to keep up a constant angry 
querulous chattering ; they were fed on various kinds of nuts and 
grains, but principally on corn-meal and pea or ground-nuts, {Arachis 
kijpogcBa.) They would come to the bars of the cage and take a nut 
from the hand, but would then make a hasty retreat to a little box in 
the corner of their domicile. On our placing a handful of filberts in 
front of the cage, they at first came out and carried off" one by one to 
their store-house, but after we had retired so as not to be observed, 
they filled their pouches by the aid of their paws, and seemed to prefer 
this mode of transporting their provisions. As we were desirous of 
taking measurements and descriptions, we endeavoured to hold one in 
the hand by the aid of a glove, but it struggled so lustily and used its 
teeth so savagely that we were compelled to let it go. 

This species frequently takes up its residence near the fields and gar- 
dens of the settlers, and in the neighbourhood of Fort Union and other 
places, was represented as particularly destructive to the gardens. 

We found the Leopard-Spermophile quite abundant near Fort Union, 
on the Upper Missouri. Their burrows were made in a sandy gravelly 
soil, they were never deep or inclined downwards, but ran horizontally 
within about a foot of the surface of the earth. This difference in habit 
from those observed by Richardson may be owing to the nature of the 
different soils. We dug some of their burrows and discovered that the 
holes ran in all directions, containing many furcations. 

Richardson states that " the males fight when they meet, and in their 
contests their tails are often mutilated." All the specimens, however, 
that we obtained were perfect and in good order. 

The Leopard-Spermophile has two more teats than are found in the 
majority of the species of this genus, and hence it may be expected to 
produce an additional number of young. Richardson informs us that ten 
young were taken from a female killed at Carlton House. This was on 
the 17th May, and we from hence presume that they produce their young 
soon after this period. 

geographical distribution. 

We have not heard of the existence of this species farther to the north 
than latitude 55°. It was found by Say at Engineer Encampment on 
the Missouri ; we found it at Fort Union, latitude 40° 40' ; and it is said 
to extend along the prairies on the Eastern side of the Rocky Mountains 
into Mexico. 



The name iridecem lineaius (thirteen lined) is not particularly eupho- 
nious, nor very characteristic, yet as it has ifi conformity with long 
established usages existing among naturalists, been admitted into our 
standard works, we have concluded to adopt it. 

The figm-es given by Sabine and F. Cuvier of this species, are defec- 
tive, each having been taken from a specimen in which the tail had 
been mutilated. That given by Richardson, Fauna boreali Americana, 
drawn by Landseer, is more characteristic. 


M U S L E U C O P U S .— RAFiNESQtiE. 

American White-Footed Mouse. 

PLATE XL. JIale, Female and Young. Natural size. 

Cauda elongata, villosa ; auribus magnis ; supra fulvo-fuscescens, 
subtus albus ; pedibus albis. 


Tail, long and hairy ; ears, large ; yellowish, brawn above ; feet and 
lower parts of the body, white. 


Mos Sylvaticos, Forster, Phil. Trans., toI. Ixii., p. 380. 
Field-Rat, Penn., Hist. Quad., toI. ii., p. 185. 

" Arctic Zool., vol. i., p. 131. 
Mi'scDLDS Leucopus, Rafinesque, Amei. Month. Review, Oct. 1818, p. 414. 
Mos Leocopus, Desmar. Mamm., esp. 493. 
Mus Sylvaticcs, Harlan, Fauna, p. 151. 
Mns Agrabius, Godm., Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 88. 
MuB Leucopus, Richardson, F. B. A., p. 142. 
Abvicola Nuttallii, Harlan, variety. 
Abvicola Emmonsii, Emm., Mass. Report, p. 61. 
Mus Leucopus, Dekay, Nat. Hist. N. Y., pi. 1, p. 82. 


Head, of moderate size ; muzzle, sharp pointed ; eyes, large ; ears, 
large, membranous, rounded above, nearly naked. There are a few 
short hairs on the margins, on both surfaces, not sufficient to conceal the 
integument. Whiskers, longer than the head. 

The form of this species is delicate and of fine proportions ; the fur 
(which is not very long) is soft and fine, but not lustrous. 

Feet, slender, and clothed with short adpressed hairs, covering the toes 
and nails ; there are four toes on the fore-feet, with six tubercles on 
each palm ; the thumb is rudimentary, and covered by a very small 
blunt nail. The nails are small, sharp, and hooked ; the hind-feet are 
long, especially the tarsal bones ; the toes are longer than on the fore- 
feet. The tail is round, slender, tapering, and thickly clothed with short 


hairs ; no scales being visible like those on the common mouse, (Mus 

Fur, from the roots to near the extremity, dark bluish-gray ; on the 
upper parts, brownish yellow ; being a little darker on the crown and 
back, and lighter on the sides ; the colour of the cheeks and hips ap- 
proaches reddish-brown. The above is the colour of this species 
through the winter and until it sheds its hair late in spring, when it as- 
sumes a bluish-gray tint, a little lighter than that of the common 
mouse. Whiskers, white and black ; upper surface of the tail, the 
colour of the back. The lips, chin, throat, feet, legs, and the whole 
under surface of the body and tail, are pure white. On the sides, this 
colour extends high up along the flanks ; there is a very distinct line of 
demarcation between the colours of the back and sides. 

There are some varieties in this species ; specimens which we ex- 
amined, from Labrador, Hudson's Bay, and Oregon, were lighter in 
colour, and the white on the under surface extended farther toward the 
back, than on those from the Atlantic States ; we also observed a strik- 
ing diff"erence in the length of their tails, some being longer than the 
body, whilst others were not much more than half the length. In size 
they also differ \videly ; we have seen some that are scarcely larger than 
the common mouse, whilst others are nearly double that size ; they are 
considerably larger in Carolina than in the Eastern States. 


Length of head and body 
" tail 

Another specimen. 

Length of head and body 

" tail . 










Next to the common mouse, this is the most abundant and widely dif- 
fused species of mouse in North America. We have received it (under 
various names) from every State in the Union, and from Labrador, Hud- 
son's Bay, and the Columbia River. Being nocturnal in its habits it is 
far more common than is generally supposed. In familiar localities, 
where we had never known of its existence, we found it almost the 
only species taken in traps at night. 


The White-footed Mouse is an exceedingly active species. It runs, 
leaps, and climbs, with great facility. We have observed it taking up 
its abode in a deserted squirrel's nest, thirty feet from the earth ; we 
have seen a family of five or six scamper from a hollow in an oak that 
had just been cut down ; we have frequently found them in the loft of 
a corn-house or stable in Carolina ; and at times have discovered their 
nests under stone-heaps or old logs, or in the ground. 

In New Jersej' their favourite resorts are isolated cedars growing on 
the margins of damp places, where green briars (SmiJax rotuiidifolio, and 
S. kerhaced) connect the branches with the ground, and along the stems 
of which they climb expertly. 

When started from their nests in these trees, they descend along the 
vines in safety to the earth. When thus disturbed, however, if the nest 
is at some distance from the ground, they hesitate before they come 
down, and go out on a branch perhaps, to scrutinize the vicinit)', and, if 
not farther molested, appear satisfied, and again retreat to their nests. 
They have been known to take possession of deserted birds' nests — such 
as those of the cat-bird, red-winged starling, song thrush, or red-eyed fly- 

In the northern part of New York we could always obtain specimens 
from under the sheaves of ^vheat that were usually stacked in the 
harvest fields for a few days before they were carried into the barn. We 
have also occasionally found their nests on bushes, from five to fifteen 
feet from the ground. They are in these cases constructed with nearly 
as much art and ingenuity as the nests of the Baltimore Oriole. There 
are several nests now lying before us, that were found near Fort Lee, 
New Jersey. They are seven inches in length and four in breadth, the 
circumference measuring thirteen inches ; they are of an oval shape and 
are outwardly composed of dried moss and a few slips of the iimer bark 
of some wild grape-vine ; other nests are more rounded, and are com- 
posed of dried leaves and moss. We have sometimes thought that two 
pair of these Mice might occupy the same nest, as ■we possess one, nine 
inches in length and eight inches in diameter, which has two entrances, 
six inches apart, so that in such a case the little tenants need not have 
interfered with each other. The entrance in all the nests is from below, 
and about the size of the animal. 

When we first discovered this kind of nest we were at a loss to decide 
whether it belonged to a bird or a quadruped ; on touching the bush, 
however, we saw the little tenant of this airy domicile escape. At our 
next visit she left the nest so clumsily, and made her way along the 
ground so slowly, that we took her up in our hand, when we discovered 


that she had four young about a fourth grown, adhering so firmly to the 
teats that she dragged them along in the manner of the jumping mouse 
{Meriones Atnericanus),. or of the Florida rat. We preserved this little 
family alive for eighteen months, during which time the female produced 
several broods of young. During the day they usually concealed them- 
selves in theit nests, but as soon as it was dark they became very active 
and playful, running up and down the wires of their cages, robbing each 
other's little store-houses, of various grains that had been carried to 
them, and occasionally emitting the only sound we ever heard them 
utter, — a low squeak resembling that of the common mouse. We have 
been informed by William Cooper, Esq., of Weehawken, New Jersey, an 
intelligent and close observer, to whom science is indebted foi^many ex- 
cellent papers on various branches of natural history, that this species 
when running off with its young to a place of safety, presses its tail 
closely under its abdomen to assist in holding them on to the teats — a 
remarkable instance of the love of offspring. 

The White-footed Mouse seems less carnivorous than most of its kin- 
dred species. We found it when in confinement always dragging to its 
nest any kind of meat we placed in the cage, but it was generally left 
there unconsumed. We have often caught it in traps, set for larger 
animals, and baited with meat. Its first object is to drag the meat to its 
little store-house of provisions ; the bait, however, being tied with a 
string to the pan of the steel-trap, is not so easily carried off ; but, with- 
out much loss of time the mouse gnaws the string in two, and, if not 
caught in the attempt, drags off the meat. Our friend, the late Dr. John 
Wright, of Troy, furnished us with information confirming the above ; 
he says, " In trapping for a weasel last summer I tied bits of beef above 
each trap with twine. On my first visit to the traps I found the twine 
at one, cut, and the meat in the jaws of the trap. The next day the 
same thing was observed at one of the traps, but another held fast a 
specimen of the Mas leucopus. I am informed that the trapper is not 
unfrequently troubled in this manner." 

We have known this Mouse to cut into pieces snares set for the ruffed 
grouse, placed in gaps left for the purpose in fences of brushvi^ood. 

In its wild state it is continually laying up little stores of grain and 
grass seeds. We have seen it carrying in its mouth acorns and chinque- 
pins. In the Northern States, these little hoards are often composed 
wholly of wheat ; in the South, of rice. This species, like all rats and 
mice, is fond of Indian-corn, from which it only extracts the choicest, 
sweetest portions, eating the heart and leaving the rest untouched. 

In the thickly settled portions of the United States this Mouse avoids 


dwellings, and even outhouses, and either confines itself to the woods, or 
keeps near fences, stone-heaps, &c., but in partially deserted houses, or 
in newly formed settlements, it seems to take the place of the common 
mouse. Richardson states that in the fur countries it becomes an inmate 
of the dwelling houses. Dr. Leitner, an eminent botanist, who, whilst 
acting as surgeon in the army, was unfortunately killed in the Florida 
war, informed us that whilst on a botanizing tour through Florida a few 
years ago, he was frequently kept awake during a portion of the 
night by the White-footed Mice which had taken possession of the huts of 
the Indians and the log cabins of the early white settlers. We are under 
an impression that in these localities the common cat, and the Norway 
rat, were both absent ; as we have reason to believe that this species de- 
serts premises whenever they are frequented by either of the above ani- 
mals. We kept a pair of white Norway rats (Albino variety) separated 
by a partition from an interesting family of white-footed mice, but before 
we were aware of it, the rats gnawed through the partition and devour- 
ed all our little pets. 

This is a timid and very gentle species ; we have seldom known it to 
bite when taken into the hand, and have observed that in a state of con- 
finement it suffered itself to be killed by the very carnivorous cotton-rat 
(Sigmodo7i hispidum) M'ithout making any resistance. 

We are disposed to believe that this species produces at least two lit- 
ters of young in a season, in the Northern States, and three, in the 
Southern. In the State of New York we have seen the young every 
month from May to September, and in Carolina a female that was 
kept in confinement had young three times, first having three, at a 
.second litter five, and having six at a third. 

The White-footed Mouse has many enemies. Foxes, wild-cats, and 
owls, destroy it frequently ; the house-cat strays into the fields and 
along fences in search of it. In Carolina some domesticated cats live 
in the fields and woods in a partially wild state, avoiding houses al- 
together ; these subsist on birds and the smaller rodentia, and this species 
furnishes a considerable portion of their food ; but we are disposed to re- 
gard the ermine (common ^veasel) as its most formidable and voracious 
persecutor. We believe that the White-footed Mouse does not always 
dig a burrow of its own, but that it takes possession of one dug by some 
other small species ; in the Northern States, generally that of the chip- 
ping squirrel. Be this as it may, it is certain that wherever the White- 
footed Mouse can enter, the ermine can follow, and he not only feeds up- 
on it, but destroys whole families. An ermine at one time made its es- 
cape from us, carrying with it a small portion of a chain fastened around 


its neck : it was traced by a servant over the snow a mile into the 
woods, to a spot where it entered a very small hole. It was dug out, 
and the man brought us five or six Mice, of this species, that he found 
dead in the hole, having been killed, doubtless, by the ermine. From ap- 
pearances, two only had been devoured, the remainder we observed had 
not been seized by the throat in the manner of the cat, but had the marks 
of the ermine's teeth in their skulls. 

We do not regard this species as doing very extensive injury either to 
the garden or farm, in any of the Atlantic States of America. We sus- 
pect that its reputation in this respect, as well as that of the shrew-mole, 
has been made to suffer very unjustly, when in reality the author of 
the mischief is the little pine-mouse (Arvicola pineiorum, Le Conte), or 
perhaps Wilson's meadow-mouse, {Arvicola Pennsylvanica, Ord, A. hir- 
sulus, Emmons, and Dekay). The farmers and gardeners, of the North- 
ern and Eastern States, however, complain that this Mouse, which they 
generally call the " Deer-mouse," destroys many of their cabbage-plants 
and other young and tender vegetables, and gnaws the bark from young 
fruit trees, and if they have made no mistake in regard to the species, 
it must be much more destructive than we have heretofore considered it. 


According to Richardson this species is found as far north as Great 
Bear Lake. We saw in the London museums several specimens from 
Hudson's Bay ; it extends across the continent to the Columbia River on 
the Pacific, from whence Mr. Townsend brought us several skins. We 
received specimens from Florida by Dr. Leitner, we found it west of the 
Mississippi at Fort Union, where it commits depredations in the garden 
attached to the Fort, and we have received specimens from Arkansas 
and Texas. 


That a species so widely distributed, and subject to so many varieties 
in size, length of tail, and colour, should have been often described under 
different names is not surprising. We have ourselves often been in a 
state of doubt on obtaining some striking variety. The name Hypudceus 
gossipinus of our friend. Major Le Conte, (see Appendix to McMurtrie's 
translation of Cuv. An. Kingd., vol i., p. 434,) was intended for this 
species, as it is found in the Southern States. We were for several years 
disposed to regard it as distinct, and have, not without much hesitation, 




and after an examination of many hundred specimens, been induced to 
set it down as a variety only. 

We have adopted the name given to it by RAPiNEsanE, in deference 
to the opinions of Richardson who supposed that it applied to this species, 
Richardson himself, however, — not RAFiNEsauE, gave a true description 
of it. 

GoDMAN, in describ'ng Mus agrarius, we feel confident, had reference 
to this species. He had, however,-never seen the European Mas agra- 
rius of Pallas, else he would not have made so great a mistake ; we 
have on several occasions in Denmark and Germany compared them, 
and found that they scarcely bear any resemblance to each other. Mas 
agrarius has a short tail and short hairy ears. Fokstee, and Harlan, 
refer this species to Mus sylvaticus of Europe. Forster's specimens came 
from Hudson's Bay at an early period, when it was customary to consider 
American species of Quadrupeds and Birds as mere varieties of those of 
Europe. Harlan instead of describing from an American specimen, 
literally translated Desmarest's description of the European Mus syl- 
vaticus and applied it to our species, (see Mam. p. rOl,) in doing which 
by neglecting to institute a comparison he committed a great error. 

We were favoured with the privilege of comparing specimens of Mus 
sylvaticus and M. leucopus, through the kindness of Prof. Lichtenstein at 
the Berlin museum. Although there is a general resemblance, a mo- 
ment's examination will enable the naturalist to discover sufficient 
marks of difference to induce him to separate the species. Mus leucopus 
has a little longer tail. Its ears are longer, but not so broad. The under 
surface of the tail of Mus sylvaticus is less w^hite, and the white on the 
under surface of the body does not extend as high on the sides, nor is 
there any distinct line of separation between the colours of the back and 
under surface, which is a striking characteristic in the American species. 
But they may always be distinguished from each other at a glance by 
the following mark : in more than twenty specimens we examined of 
Mus sylvaticus we have always found a yellowish line edged with dark- 
brown, on the breast. In many hundred specimens of Mus leucopus 
we have without a single exception found this yellow line entirely want- 
ing, all of them being pure white on the breast, as well as on the whole 
under surface. We have no hesitation in pronouncing the species 




Incisive -^ ; Canine z — = ; Molar 7=— p. = 38. 
6 ' 1 — 1 ' 6—6 

Head, small and oval ; muzzle, rather large ; ears, short and round ; 
body, long, vermiform ; tail, usually long and cylindrical ; legs, short ; 
five toes on each foot, armed Avith sharp, crooked, slightly retractile 
claws. No anal pouch, but a small gland which secretes a thickish 
offensive fluid. Fur, very fine. 

This genus differs from the genus Putorrts, having four carnivorous 
teeth on each side, in the ujjper jaw, instead of three, the number the true 
weasels exhibit, and, the last carnivorous tooth on the lower jaw, has a 
rounded lobe on the inner side, w^hich renders this genus somewhat less 
carnivorous in its habit than Putoriu.", and consequently a slight dimi- 
nution of the cruelty and ferocity displayed by animals of the latter 
genus, may be observed in those forming the present. 

There are about twelve species of true Martens known, four of which 
inhabit North America. 

The generic name Mustela, is derived from the Latin word nmstela, 
a weasel. 


Pennant's Marten or Fisher. 
Black Fox or Black Cat of the Northern Hunters. 

PLATE XLI Male. Natural size. 

Capita et humeris cano fuscoque mixtis ; naso, labiis, cruribus, et 
Cauda, fusco-nigris. 



Head and shoulders, mixed with gray and brown ; nose, lips, legs, 
and tail, dark brown. 


Le Pekan, Buffon, vol. xiii., p. 304, A.D. 1749. 
Mhstela Canadensis, Schreber, Saugeth. p. 492, 1775. 
McsTELA Pennanti, Erxleben, Syst., p. 470, A.D. 1777. 
FisHEB, Penn., Arct. Zool., 4 vols., vol. i., p. 82, A.D. 1784. 
MusTELA Canadensis, Gniel., Lin., vol. i., p. 95, 1788. 
Wejack, Hearne's Journey. 

Fisher, or Black Fox, Lewis and Clarke, vol. iii., p. 25. 
Fisher, Weasel, or Pekan, Warden's United States. 
Mustela Pennanti, Sabine, Frank. First Journey, p. G51. 
MosTELA Canadensis, Harlan, F., p. 65. 

" " Godman, vol. i., p. 203. 

MnsTELA GoDMANi, Less., Mamm., p. 150. 
Mustela Canadensis, Rich., F. B. A., p. 52. 
Pekan, or Fisher, Dekay, Nat. His. N. Y., p. 31. 


The head of this species bears a stronger resemblance to that of a dog 
than to the head of a cat. Its canine teeth, in the upper jaw, are so long 
that with the slightest movement of the lip they are exposed. Head, 
broad and round, contracting rather suddenly toward the nose, which is 
acute. Eyes, rather small and oblique ; ears, low, broad, semicircular, 
and far apart, covered on both surfaces with short soft fur ; w^hiskers, 
half the length of the head ; body, long, and formed for agility and 

The pelage is formed of a short fine do^vn next the skin, intermixed 
with longer and coarser hairs about an inch and a half in length ; these 
hairs are longer on the posterior parts of the animal than on the 

The feet are robust. Fore-feet, shorter than the hind-feet, thickly 
clothed with rather fine and short hairs ; nails, long, strong, curved, and 
sharp ; soles, hairy ; the toes on all the feet are connected at the base 
by a short hairy web ; the callosities consequently make only a slight 
impression when the animal is walking or running on the snow. 

Tail, long, bushy, and gradually diminishing to a point toward the 

This species has so strong a smell of musk, (like the pine marten,) 



that we have found the skin somewhat unpleasant to our olfactories, 
several years after it had been prepared as a specimen. 

Fur on the back, from the roots to near the extremity, chesnut-brown, 
tipped with reddish-brown and light gray. On the head, shoulders, and 
fore part of the back, there are so many long whitish hairs interspersed, 
that they produce a somewhat hoary appearance. Whiskers, nose, chin, 
ears, legs, feet, and tail, dark-brown ; margins of the ears, light-brown ; 
hips and posterior part of the back, darker than the shoulders ; eyes, 
yellowish-brown ; nails, light horn-colour. 

In some specimens, we have seen a white spot on the throat, and a line 
of the same colour on the belly ; others, (as w^as the case with the one 
from which our dravdng was made,) have no white markings on the 
body. We have seen a specimen, nearly white, with a brown head. 
Another obtained in Buncombe county. North Carolina, was slightly 
hoary on the w^hole upper surface. 


From point of nose to root of tail 

23 inches 

Tail (vertebrae) 

12 do. 

" to end of hair 

14 J do. 

Breadth of head 

3§ do. 

Height of ear 

1 do. 

Breadth of ear 

2 do. 

From point of nose to eye 

2 do. 

" heel to point of longest nail 

4i do. 

Weight, 8i lbs. 


Although this species is represented as having been rather common 
in every part of the Northern and Middle States, in the early periods of 
our history, and is still met with in diminished numbers, in the thinly 
settled portions of our country ; very little of its history or habits has 
been written, and much is still unknown. We have occasionally met 
with it, but it has been to us far from a common species. Even in the 
mountainous portions of the Northern and Eastern States, the Fisher, 
thirty years ago, was as difficult to procure as the Bay lynx. It has 
since become still more rare, and in places where it was then known, 


scarcely any vestige of the knowledge of its former existence can now 
be traced. 

Dr. Dekay (Nat. Hist. N. Y., p. 32, 1843,) states that, " in Hamilton 
county, (N. Y.,) it is still numerous and troublesome." On an excursion 
we made in the State of New York, in 1827, we heard of it occasionally 
near the head waters of Lake Champlain, along the St. Lawrence, and 
to the west as far as Lake Erie, but it was every where represented as 
a species that was fast disappearing. 

Whilst residing in the northern part of our native State, (New York,) 
thirty-five years ago, the hunters were in the habit of bringing us two or 
three specimens of this Marten in the course of a winter. Thej' obtained 
them by following their tracks in the sno'vv, when the animals had 
been out in quest of food on the previous night, thus tracing them to 
the hollow trees in which they were concealed, which they chopped 
down. They informed us that as a tree was falling, the Fisher would 
dart from the hollow, which was often fifty feet from the ground, and 
leap into the snow, ■when the dogs usually seized and killed him, 
although not without a hard struggle, as the Fisher was infinitely more 
dangerous to their hounds than either the graj- or the red fox. They 
usually called this species the Black Fox. 

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



The only opportunity that was ever afforded us of judging of the 
speed of the Fisher occurred near the Virginia Gray-Sulphur Springs, in 
1839. We had ascended Peter's Mountain in search of rare plants for 
our herbarium ; out of health and fatigued, we had for some time vbeen 
seated on a rock to rest, M'hen -we observed a gray squirrel pass within 
ten feet of us, seemingly in a great fright, and with all the speed it could 
command, with a Fisher in full pursuit. They were both too much 
occupied with their own affairs to take any notice of us. The Fisher 
seemed to make more rapid progress than the squirrel, and we feel con- 
fident that if the latter had not mounted a tree it would have been over- 
taken before it could have advanced many feet farther ; it ran rapidly up 
the sides of a cucumber tree, {Magnolia acuminati,) still pursued by its 
hungry foe. The squirrel leaped lightly among the smaller branches, on 
which its heavier pursuer seemed unwilling to trust himself. At length 
the affrighted animal pitched from one of the topmost boughs and 
landed on its feet unhurt among the rocks beneath. We expected 
every moment to see the Fisher give us a specimen also of his talent 
at lofty tumbling, but he seemed to think that the " better part of valour 
w^as discretion," and began to run down the stem of the tree. At this 
point w^e interfered. Had he imitated the squirrel in its flying leap, he 
might have been entitled to the prey, provided he could overtake it, but 
as he chose to exercise some stratagy and jockeying in the race, w^hen 
the chances were so much in his favour, •we resolved to end the chase 
by running to the foot of the tree which the Fisher was descending. He 
paused on the opposite side as if tr3'ing to ascertain whether he had been 
observed ; we were vi^ithout a gun, but rattled aw^ay with a knife on our 
botanizing box, which seemed to frighten the Marten in his turn, most 
effectually ; — the more noise we created the greater appeared to be his 
terror ; after ascending to the top of the tree he sprang to another, 
which he rapidly descended, till within twent}' feet of the earth, when he 
jiunped to the ground, and with long leaps ran rapidly down the side of 
the mountain, and was out of sight in a few moments. 

This scene occurred in the morning of a warm day in the month of 
Jul}', a proof that this species is not altogether nocturnal in its habits. 
We are, however, inclined to believe that the above was only an ex- 
ception to the general character of the animal. 

Species that are decidedly nocturnal in their habits, frequently may be 
seen moving about by day during the period when they are engaged in 
providing for their young. Thus the raccoon, the opossum, and all our 
hares, are constantly met with in spring, and early summer, in the morn- 


ing and afternoon, whilst in the autumn and winter they only move 
about by night. 

In the many fox-hunts, in which our neighbours were from time to 
time engaged, not far from our residence at the north, during the period 
when we obtained the information concerning their primitive mode of 
enjoying that amusement, which we have laid before our readers, in 
pages 49 and 50, (where we also spoke of Pennant's Marten as not 
being very scarce at that time in Rensselaer county, N. Y.,) we never 
heard of their having encountered a single Fisher in the day-time ; but 
when they traversed the same grounds at night, in search of raccoons, 
it was not unusual for them to discover and capture this species. We 
were informed by the trappers that they caught the Fisher in their traps 
only by night. 

The specimen, from which the figure in our plate was drawn, was 
taken alive in some part of the Alleghany Mountains, in the State of 
Pennsylvania, and we soon afterwards received a letter from our 
esteemed friend, Spencer F. Baird, Esq., of Carlisle, in that State, in- 
forming us of its having been captured, which enabled us, through that 
gentleman, to purchase it. We received it at New- York, in good con- 
dition, in a case tinned inside, with iron bars in front, to prevent the 
animal from making its escape, as it was so strong and so well supplied 
with sharp teeth that it could easily have eaten its way out of a common 
wooden box. In Mr. Baird's note he says, " all the account I was able 
to procure respecting this species was the following : — It was found in 
company with an older one, in Peter's Mountain, six miles above Harris- 
burgh, about five weeks ago. (His letter is dated Carlisle, March 16th, 
1844.) After a most desperate resistance the old one was killed, after 
having beaten off" the dogs, to whose assistance the hunters vsrere 
obliged to come. This individual ran up a tree, and being stoned by the 
hunters, jumped off" from a height of about forty feet ! when being a little 
stunned by the leap, the men ran up quickly, threw^ their coats over 
it, and thus secured it. The old one was said to have been about the size 
of a pointer dog. The young one is very savage, and emits a rather 
strong musky odour." 

We kept this individual alive for some days, feeding it on raw meat, 
pieces of chicken, and now and then a bird. It was voracious, and very 
spiteful, growling snarling and spitting when approached, but it did not 
appear to suffer much uneasiness from being held in captivity, as, like 
many other predacious quadrupeds it grew fat, being better supplied 
with food than when it had been obliged to cater for itself in the 


The older one, which, as Mr. Baird mentions, was killed by the dogs 
and the hunters, was a female, and no doubt was the mother of the one 
that was captured, and probablj' died in the hope of saving her young. 

On several occasions we have seen the tracks of the Fisher in the 
snow ; they resemble those of the pine marten, but are double their size. 
To judge by them, the animal advances by short leaps in the manner of 
a mink. Pennant's Marten appears to prefer low swampj' grounds. 
We traced one which had followed a trout stream for some distance, and 
ascertained that it had not gone into the water. Marks were quite 
visible in different places where it had scratched up the snow b)" the 
side of logs and piles of timber, to seek for mice, or other small quad- 
rupeds, and we have no doubt it preys upon the Northern hare, gray 
rabbit, and ruffed grouse, as w^e observed a great many tracks of those 
species in the vicinity. It further appears, that this animal makes an 
occasional meal on species which are much more closely allied to it 
than those just mentioned. 

In a letter we received from Mr. Fotheegill, in which he furnished us 
with notes on the habits of some of the animals existing near Lake 
Ontario, he informs us that " a Fisher was shot by a hunter named 
Marsh, near Port Hope, who said it was up in a tree, in close pursuit of 
a pine marten, which he also brought with it." Mr. Fothergill stuffed 
them both at the time. 

Lewis and Clarke state that in Oregon the Fisher captures not only 
the squirrel, but the raccoon, and that in pursuing them it leaps from 
tree to tree. 

Richardson remarks that, " the Fisher is said to prey much on frogs 
in the summer season ; but I have been informed that its favourite food 
is the Canada porcupine, which it kills by biting in the belly." He 
says also, "it will feed on the hoards of frozen fish laid up by the 

We can scarcely conceive in what manner it is able to overturn the 
porcupine, so as to bite it on the belly, as it is large and heavy, and is 
armed with bristles at all points. 

It is stated by Dr. Dekay, on the authority of a person who resided 
many years near Lake Oneida, New York, that the name (Fisher) 
" was derived from its singular fondness for the fish used to bait traps." 

An individual of this species, which had been caught in a steel-trap, 
was brought to Charleston and exhibited in a menagerie. It had been 
taken only a few months, and was sullen and spiteful ; when fed, it 
gulped down a moderate quantity of meat in great haste, swallowing 
it nearly whole, and then retired in a growling humour to a dark corner 
of its cage. 41 



The Fislier is represented as following the line of traps set by the 
trappers, and in the manner of the wolverene, robbing them of their 
bait. The season for hunting this species is stated, by Dr. Dekay, to 
commence in the western part of Ne'vv York, about the 10th of October, 
and to last till the middle of May ; and he says the ordinary price paid 
for each skin is a dollar and a half 

This species brings forth once a year, depositing its young in the 
trunk of a large tree, usually some thirty or forty feet from the ground. 
Dr. Richardson observes that it produces from two to four young at a 
litter ; Dekay confines the number to two. We once saw three ex- 
tracted from the body of a female on the 20th of April, in the northern 
part of New York. 

geographical distribution. 

This species inhabits a wide extent of country. To the north it 
exists, according to Richardson, as far as Great Slave Lake, latitude 
63°. It is found at Labrador, and extends across the continent to the 
Pacific. It is stated by all our authors that it does not exist further 
south than Pennsylvania. This is an error, as we saw it on the moun- 
tains of Virginia. We had an opportunity of examining a specimen 
obtained by Dr. Gibbes, of Columbia, South Carolina, from the neighbour- 
hood of Ashville, Buncombe county. North Carolina. We have seen 
several skins procured in East Tennessee, and we have heard of at 
least one individual that was captured near Flat-Rock, in that State, 
latitude 35°. 

We have also seen many skins from the Upper Missouri, and the 
Fisher is enumerated, by Lewis and Clarke, as one of the species exist- 
ing on the Pacific Ocean, in the vicinity of the Columbia River. 

general remarks. 

Notwithstanding the fact that on our plate we gave to Linn^us the 
credit of having first applied a scientific name to this species, we 
must now transfer it to Schreber, by whom, Linnaeus having been unac- 
quainted with it, it was described in 1775. It was described two years 
afterwards by Erxleben, and in 1788, by Gmblin, &c. It is probable 
that, by some mistake, the habits of the mink have been ascribed to 
the Fisher ; hence its English name seems to be inappropriate, but 
as it appears to be entitled to it, by right of long possession, we do not 
feel disposed to change it. We are, however, not quite sure of its having 
no claim to the name by its mode of living. Its partially webbed feet seem 


indicative of aquatic habits ; it is fond of low swampy places, follows 
streams, and eats fish when in captivity. We feel pretty confident that 
it does not dive after the finny tribes, but it is not improbable that it 
surprises them in shallow water, and we are well informed that, like 
the raccoon, it searches under the banks of water-courses for frogs, &c. 
By the Canadian hunters and trappers, it is universally called the 
Pekan. In New England and the Northern counties of New York it is 
sometimes named the Black Fox, but more frequently is known as the 
Fisher. According to Dekay, it is called the Black Cat by the inhabi- 
tants of the western portion of New York. 




Incisive g ; Canine j^ ; Molar ^^ = 34. 

Canine teeth, very strong, conical ; two small anterior cheek-teeth, or 
false molars, above, and three below, on each side. The superior tuber- 
culous teeth, very large, as broad as they are long ; inferior molars 
having two tubercles on the inner side. 

Head, short ; nose, somewhat projecting ; snout, in most of the species 

Feet, with five toes ; toes of the fore-feet, armed with long, curved 
nails, indicating the habit of burrowing in the earth ; heel very little 
raised in walking. 

Hairs on the bod}^ usually long, and on the tail, very long. 

The anal glands secrete a liquor which is excessively fetid. The 
various species of this genus burrow in the ground, or dwell in fissures 
of rocks, living on poultry, bird's eggs, small quadrupeds, and insects. 
They move slowly, and seldom attempt to run from man, unless they 
chance to be near their burrows. They are to a considerable extent, 
gregarious ; large families being occasionally found in the same hole. 

In the recent work of Dr. Lichtenstein, (Ueber die Gattung Mephitis, 
Berlin, 1838,) seventeen species of this genus are enumerated, one of 
which is found at the Cape of Good Hope, two in the United States of 
America, and the remainder in Mexico and South America. 

The generic name Mephitis, is derived from the latin word Mephitis, 
a strong odour. 



Common Amebican Skunk. 

PLATE XLII.— Female. Natural size. 

Magnitudine F. cati ; supra nigricans, stries albis longitudinalibus in- 
signeta ; cauda longa villosissima. 


She of a cat ; general colour, blackish-brown, with white longitudinal 
stripes on the back ; many varieties in its white markings ; tail, long and 


Odinesque, Sagard Theodat, Canada, p. 748. 

Enfant du Diable, Charlevoix, Nouv. France, iii., p. 133. 

Skcnk-Weasel, Pennant's Arctic Zool,, vol. i., p. 85. 

Skunk, Hearne's Journey, p. 377. 

Mephitis Chinga, Tiedimann, Zool. i., p. 361, (Anh. 37,) 1808. 

Pole-Cat Skunk, Kalm's Travels, vol. ii., p. 378. 

VivERA Mephitis, Gmel. (L.) Syst. Nat., p. 88. 

MnsTELA Americana, Desm. Mam., p. 186, A. D. 1820. 

Mephitis Americana, Sab., Frank. Journal, p. 653. 

" " Harlan, Fauna, p. 70. 

The Skunk, Godm., Nat. Hist., vol. i., p. 213. 
Mephitis Americana, Var. Hudsonica, Rich., F. B. A., p. 55. 

" Chinga, Lichlenstein, Darstellung neuer oder wenig bekanntei Sauuethiere, 

Berlin, 1827-34, xlv. Tafel, 1st figure. 

" Chinque, Licht., Ueber die Gattung Mephitis, p. 32, Berlin, 1838. 

" Americana, Dekay, Nat. Hist. N. Y., pt. 1, p. 29. 


This species in all its varieties has a broad fleshy body, resembling 
that of the wolverene ; it stands low on its legs, and is much wider at 
the hips than at the shoulders. Fur, rather long and coarse, with much 
longer, smooth and glossy hairs, interspersed. 

The head is small compared with the size of the body ; forehead, 
somewhat rounded ; nose, obtuse, covered with short hair to the snout 


which is naked ; eyes, small ; ears, short, broad and rounded, clothed 
with hair on both surfaces ; whiskers, few and weak, extending a little 
beyond the eyes ; feet, rather broad, and covered with hair concealing 
the nails, which on the fore-feet, are robust, curved, compressed, and 
acute ; palms, naked. The trunk of the tail is nearly half as long as 
the body. Hair on the tail, very long and bushy, containing from with- 
in an inch of the root to the extremity, no mixture of the finer fur. The 
glands are situated on either side of the rectum : the ducts are about an 
inch in length, and are of a somewhat pjTiform shape. The inner mem- 
brane is corrugated ; the principal portion of the glands is a muscular 
tendinous substance. The sac is capable of containing about three 
drachms. When the tail is erected for the purpose of ejecting the nau- 
seous fluid, the open orifices of the ducts are perceptible on a black disk 
surrounding the anus. The exit from the duct at the anus when dis- 
tended will admit a crow-quill. 

This species varies so much in colour that there is some difficulty in 
finding two specimens alike ; we have given a representation on our 
plate of the colour which is most common in the Middle States, and 
which Dr. Harlax described as Mephitis Americana, our specimen only 
difiering from his in having a longitudinal stripe on the forehead. 

The under fur on all those portions of the body which are dark colour- 
ed, is dark bro^vn ; in those parts which are light coloured, it is white 
from the roots. These under colours, however, are concealed by a thick 
coat of longer, coarser hairs, which are smooth and glossy. 

There is a narrow white stripe commencing on the nose and running 
to a point on the top of the head ; a patch of white, of about two inches 
in length, and of the same breadth, commences on the occiput and covers 
the upper parts of the neck ; on each side of the vertebrae of the tail 
there is a broad longitudinal stripe for three fourths of its length ; the 
tail is finally broadly tipped with white, interspersed wdth a few black 
hairs. The colour on every other part of the body is blackish-brown. 

Another specimen from the same locality has a white stripe on the 
forehead ; a large white spot on the occiput, extending downwards, di- 
verging on the back, and continuing do^vn the sides to within two inches 
of the extremity of the tail, leaving the back, the end of the tail, and the 
whole of the under surface blackish-bro-svn. 

The young on the plate are from the same nest ; one has white stripes 
on the back, with a black tail ; the other has no stripes on the back, but 
the end of its tail is white. 


In general we have found the varieties in a particular localitj' marked 
with tolerable uniformitj". To this rule, however, there are many excep- 

In the winter of 1814 we caused a burrow to be opened in Renssellaer 
county, N. Y., which we knew contained a large family of this species. 
We found eleven: they were all full grown, but on examining their 
teeth and claws, we concluded that the family was composed of a pair 
of old ones, with their large brood of young of the previous season. The 
male had a white stripe on the forehead ; and from the occiput down 
the whole of the back had another white stripe four inches in breadth ; 
its tail was also white. The female had no white stripe on the fore- 
head, but had a longitudinal stripe on each side of the back, and a very 
narrow one on the dorsal line ; the tail was wholly black. The voung 
differed very widely in colour ; we could not find two exactly alike ; 
some were in part, of the colour of the male, others were more like the 
female, whilst the largest proportion were intermediate in their mark- 
ings, and some seemed to resemble neither parent. We recollect one 
that had not a white hair, except the tip of the tail and a minute dorsal 

On the other hand, we had in February (the same winter) another 
family of Skunks, captured with a steel-trap placed at the mouth of 
their burrow ; they were taken in the course of ten days, and we have 
reason to believe none escaped. In this family there was a very strong 
resemblance. The animals which we considered the old pair, had two 
longitudinal stripes on the back, with a spot on the forehead ; in the 
young, the only difference was, that in some of the specimens the white 
line united on the back above the root of the tail, whilst in others it ex- 
tended do%i'n along the sides of the tail till it nearly reached the extremi- 
ty ; and in some of the specimens the taU was tipped with white, in 
others, black. We had an opportunity near Easton, Pennsylvania, of 
seeing an old female Skunk with six young. We had no knowledge of 
the colour of the male. The female, however, had two broad stripes, 
with a very narrow black dorsal line ; the young differed considerably 
in their markings, some having black, and others white, tails. 

In the sand-hills near Columbia, South Carolina, we met along the 
sides of the highway four half-gro^^^l animals of this species ; they all 
had a narrow white line on each side of the back, and a small white 
spot on the forehead ; the tails of two of them were tipped with white ; 
the others had the whole of their tails black. 

From all the observations we have been able to make in regard to the 
colours of the different varieties of this species, we have arrived at the 



conclusion that when a pair are alike in colour the young will bear a 
strong resemblance in their markings to the old. When on the contrary ■ 
the parents differ, the young assume a variety of intermediate colours. 


From point of nose to root of tail 



Tail (vertebrae) 

• 8| 


Tail, to end of hair 

. 12f 


Distance between eyes .... 

• H 


From point of nose to corner of mouth 

• If 


Weight, 6i pounds. 


There is no quadruped on the continent of North America the ap- 
proach of which is more generally detested than that of the Skunk : 
from which we may learn that, although from the great and the strong 
we have to apprehend danger, the feeble and apparently insignificant 
may have it in their power to annoy us almost be3'ond endurance. 

In the human species we sometimes perceive that a particular faculty 
has received an extraordinary development, the result of constant devo- 
tion to one subject ; w^hilst in other respects the mind of the individual 
is of a very ordinary character. The same remark will hold good ap- 
plied to any particular organ or member of the body, which, by constant 
use, (like the organs of touch in the blind man,) becomes so improved as 
to serve as a substitute for others : but in the lower orders of animals 
this prominence in a particular organ is the result of its peculiar confor- 
mation, or of instinct. Thus the power of the rhinoceros is exerted 
chiefly by his nasal horn, the wild boar relies for defence on his tusks, 
the safety of the kangaroo depends on his hind-feet, which not only en- 
able him to make extraordinary leaps, but with which he deals vigorous 
blows, the bull attacks his foes with his horns, the rattlesnake's deadly 
venom is conveyed through its fangs, and the bee has the means of de- 
stroying some of its enemies by its sting, whilst in every other power for 
attack or self-defence these various creatures are comparatively feeble. 

The Skunk, although armed with claws and teeth strong and sharp 
enough to capture his prey, is slow on foot, apparently timid, and would 
be unable to escape from many of his enemies, if he were not possessed 
of a power by which he often causes the most ferocious to make a rapid 
retreat, run their noses into the earth, and roll or tumble on the ground 
as if in convulsions ; and, not unfrequently, even the bravest of our 


boasting race is by this little animal compelled suddenly to break off 
his train of thought, hold his nose, and run, as if a lion were at his 
heels ! 

Among the first specimens of natural history we attempted to procure' 
was the Skunk, and the sage advice to " look before you leap," was im- 
pressed on our mind, through several of our senses, by this species. 

It happened in our early school-boy days, that once, when the sun had 
just set, as we were slowly wending our way home from the house of a 
neighbour, we observed in the path before us a pretty little animal, play- 
ful as a kitten, moving quietly along : soon it stopped, as if waiting for 
us to come near, throwing up its long bushy tail, turning round and look- 
ing at us like some old acquaintance : we pause and gaze ; what is it ? 
It is not a young puppy or a cat ; it is more gentle than either ; it seems 
desirous to keep company with us, and like a pet poodle, appears most 
happy when only a few paces in advance, preceding us, as if to show 
the path : what a pretty creature to carry home in our arms ! it seems 
too gentle to bite ; let us catch it. We run towards it ; it makes no ef- 
fort to escape, but waits for us ; it raises its tail as if to invite us to take 
hold of its brush. We seize it instanter, and grasp it with the energy of 
a miser clutching a box of diamonds ; a short struggle ensues, when — 
faugh ! we are suffocated ; our eyes, nose, and face, are suddenly bespat- 
tered with the most horrible fetid fluid. Imagine to yourself, reader, our 
surprise, our disgust, the sickening feelings that almost overcome us. 
We drop our prize and take to our heels, too stubborn to cry, but too 
much alarmed and discomfitted just now, to take another look at the 
cause of our misfortune, and effectually undeceived as to the real cha- 
racter of this seemingly mild and playful little fellow. 

We have never felt that aversion to the musky odour imparted by 
many species of the ferine tribe of animals, that others evince ; but we 
are obliged to admit that a close proximity to a recently killed Skunk, 
has ever proved too powerful for our olfactories. We recollect an in- 
stance when sickness of the stomach and vomiting were occasioned, in 
several persons residing in Saratoga county, N. Y., in consequence of 
one of this species having been killed under the floor of their residence 
during the night. We have seen efforts made to rid clothes which have 
been sprinkled by a Skunk, of the offensive odour : resort was had to 
burying them in the earth, vi^ashing, and using perfumes ; but after be- 
ing buried a month they came forth almost as offensive as when they 
had first been placed in the ground, and as for the application of odorifer- 
ous preparations, it seemed as if all the spices of Araby could neither 
weaken or change the character of this overpowering and nauseating 




fluid. Washing and exposure to the atmosphere certainly weaken the 
scent, but the wearer of clothes that have been thus infected, should he 
accidently stand near the fire in a close room, may chance to be morti- 
fied by being reminded that he is not altogether free from the conse- 
quences of an " unpleasant " hunting excursion. We have, however, 
found chloride of lime a most effectual disinfector when applied to our 
recent specimens. That there is something very acrid in the fluid eject- 
ed by the Skunk, cannot be doubted, when we consider its effects. Dr. 
Richardson states that he knew several Indians who lost their eyesight 
in consequence of inflammation produced by its having been thro'vvn into 
them by the animal. The instant a dog has received a discharge of this 
kind on his nose and ejes, he appears half distracted, plunging his nose 
into the earth, rubbing the sides of his face on the leaves and grass, and 
rolling in every direction. We have known several dogs, from the eyes 
of which the swelling and inflammation caused by it did not disappear 
for a week ; still we have seen others, which, when on a raccoon hunt, 
did not hesitate in despite of the consequences, to kill every Skunk they 
started, and although severely punished at the time, they showed no re- 
luctance to repeat the attack the same evening, if a fresh subject pre- 
sented itself 

This off'ensive fluid is contained in two small sacs situated on each 
side of the root of the tail, and is ejected through small ducts near the 
anus. We have on several occasions witnessed the manner in which 
this secretion is discharged. When the Skunk is irritated, or finds it 
necessarjf to defend himself, he elevates his tail over his back, and by a 
strong muscular exertion ejects it in two thread-like streams in the direc- 
tion in which the enemy is observed. He appears to take an almost un- 
erring aim, and almost invariably salutes a dog in his face and ej-es. 
Dr. RicHARDsox states that he ejects this noisome fluid for upwards of 
four feet ; in this he has considerably underrated the powers of this natu- 
ral syringe of the Skunk, as we measured the distance on one occasion, 
when it extended upwards of fourteen feet. The notion of the old 
authors that this fluid is the secretion of the kidneys, thrown to a dis- 
tance by the aid of his long tail, must be set down among the vulgar 
errors, for in that case whole neighbourhoods would be compelled to 
breath a tainted gale, as Skunks are quite common in many parts of the 

The Skunk, in fact, is a very cleanly animal, and never suffers a drop 
of this fluid to touch his fur ; we have frequently been at the mouth of 
his burrow, and although a dozen Skunks might be snugly sheltered 
within, we could not detect the slightest unpleasant smell. He is as 


careful to avoid soiling bimself with this fluid, as the rattlesnake is, not 
to suffer his body to come in contact with his poisonous fangs. 

Should the Skunk make a discharge from this all-conquering battery 
during the day, the fluid is so thin and transparent that it is scarcely 
perceptible, but at night it has a yellowish luminous appearance ; we 
have noticed it on several occasions, and can find no more apt com- 
parison than an attenuated stream of phosphoric light. That the spot 
where a Skunk has been killed will be tainted for a considerable time, 
is well known. At a place where one had been killed in autumn, 
we remarked that the scent was still tolerably strong after the snows 
had thawed away the following spring. Generally, however, the spot 
thus scented by the Skunk is not particularly ofiensive after the expira- 
tion of a week or ten days. The smell is more perceptible at night 
and in damp weather, than during the day or in a drought. 

The properties of the peculiarly ofl'ensive liquor contained in the sacs 
of the Skunk, have not, so far as we are advised, been fully ascertained. 
It has, however, been sometimes applied to medical purposes. Professor 
Ives, of New Haven, administered to an asthmatic patient a drop of this 
fluid three times a day. The invalid was greatly benefitted: all his 
secretions, however, were soon affected to such a degree, that he became 
highly offensive both to himself and to those near him. He then dis- 
continued the medicine, but after having been apparently well for some 
timC the disease returned. He again called on the doctor for advice, — 
the old and tried recipe was once more recommended, but the patient 
declined taking it, declaring that the remedy was worse than the disease ! 

We were once requested by a venerable clergyman, an esteemed friend, 
who had for many years been a martyr to violent paroxysms of asthma, 
to procure for him the glands of a Skunk ; which, according to the pre- 
scription of his medical adviser, were kept tightly corked in a smelling 
bottle, which was applied to his nose when the symptoms of his disease 

For some time he believed that he had found a specific for his dis- 
tressing complaint ; we were however subsequently informed, that hav- 
ing uncorked the bottle on one occasion while in the pulpit during 
service, his congregation finding the smell too powerful for their olfacto- 
ries, made a hasty retreat, leaving him nearly alone in the church. 

We are under an impression, that the difficultjr of preparing specimens 
of this animal may be to a considerable extent obviated, by a proper 
care in capturing it. If it has been worried and killed by a dog, skin- 
ning a recent specimen is almost insupportable ; but if killed by a sudden 
blow, or shot in a vital part, so as to produce instant death, the Skunk 


emits no unpleasant odour, and the preparation of a specimen is even 
less unpleasant than stuffing a mink. We have seen several that were 
crushed in deadfalls, that were in nowise offensive. 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 walk- 
ing 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 offensive, and we were enabled without incon- 
venience to prepare six of them for specimens. 

The Skunk does not support a good character among the farmers. He 
will sometimes fipd his way into the poultry-house, and make some havoc 
with the setting hens ; he seems to have a peculiar penchant for eggs, 
and is not very particular whether they have been newly laid, or contain 
pretty large rudiments of the young chicken ; yet he is so slow and clumsy 
in his movements, and creates such a commotion in the poultry-house, 
that he usuallj' sets the watch-dog in motion, and is generally detected 
in the midst of his depredations ; when, retiring to some corner, he is 
either seized by the dog, or is made to feel the contents of the farmer's 
fowling piece. In fact the poultry have far more formidable enemies 
than the Skunk. The ermine and brown weasel are in this respect rivals 
with which his awkward powers cannot compare ; and the mink is a 
more successful prowler. • 

The Skunk is so slow^ in his actions, that it is difficult to discover in 
what manner he obtains food to enable him always to appear in good 
condition. In the northern part of New York the gray rabbit frequently 
retires to the burrow of the fox, Maryland marmot, or Skunk. Many of 
them remain in these retreats during the day. We have seen the tracks 
of the Skunk in the snow, on the trail of the gray rabbit, leading to these 
holes, and have observed tufts of hair and patches of skin scattered in 
the vicinity, betokening that the timid animal had been destroyed. We 
on one occasion marked a nest of the ruffed grouse, (T. umbellus,) with 
the intention of placing the eggs under a common hen a few days before 
they should hatch, but upon going after them we found they had been 
eaten, and the feathers of the grouse were lying about the nest. Believ- 
ing the depredator to have been an ermine, "we placed a box-trap near 
the spot baited with a bird ; and on the succeeding night caught a 
Skunk, which we doubt not was the robber. This species also feeds on 
mice, frogs, and lizards ; and during summer no inconsiderable portion 
of its food consists of insects, as its excrements usually exhibit the legs 
and backs of a considerable number of beetles. 


On dissecting a specimen which we obtained from the middle districts 
of Carolina, we ascertained that the animal had been a more successful 
collector of entomological specimens than ourselves, as he had evidently- 
devoured on the night previous a greater number (about a dozen) of a 
very rare and large beetle, {Scarabceus tilyus,) than we had been able to 
find in a search of ten years. 

The Skunk being very prolific, would, if allowed to multiply around 
the farm-yard, prove a great and growing annoyance. Fortunately there 
are nocturnal animals that are prowling about as ^vell as he. The dog, 
although he does not eat this species, scarcely ever fails to destroy a 
Skunk whenever he can lay hold of him. A wolf that had been sent 
from the interior of Carolina to Charleston, to be prepared as a specimen, 
we observed was strongly tainted with the smell of this animal, and we 
concluded from hence, that as a hungry wolf is not likely to be very 
choice in selecting his food, he will, if nothing better offers, make a meal 
on it. Whilst riding along the border of a field one evening, we observed 
a large bird of some species darting to the ground, and immediately 
heard a struggle, and were saluted by the odour from the "Enfant du 
diable," as old Charlevoix has designated the Skunk. We visited the 
spot on the following day, and found a very large animal of this species 
partly devoured. We placed a fox-lrap in the vicinity, and on the fol- 
lowing morning found our trap had captured a large horned owl, 
which had evidently caused the death of the Skunk, as in point of offen- 
sive effluvia there was no choice between them ; this species is gene- 
rally very easily taken in traps. It will not avoid any kind of snare — is 
willing to take the bait, whether it be flesh, fish, or fowl, and proves a 
great annoyance to the hunters whose traps are set for the fisher and 
marten. The burrows of the Skunk are far less difficult to dig out than 
those of the fox. They are generally found on a flat surface, whilst the 
dens of the fox are more frequently dug on the side of a hill. They 
have seldom more than one entrance, whilst those of the fox have two, 
and often three. The gallery of the burro^v dug by the Skunk runs 
much nearer the surface than that excavated by the fox. After extend- 
ing seven or eight feet in a straight line, about two feet beneath the sur- 
face, there is a large excavation containing an immense nest of leaves. 
Here during winter may be found lying, from five to fifteen individuals of 
this species. There are sometimes one or two galleries diverging from 
this bed, running five or six feet further ; in which, if the burrow has 
been disturbed, the whole family may generally be found, ready to em^ 
ploy the only means of defence with which Nature has provided them. 



This animal generally retires to his burrow about December, in the 
Northern States, and his tracks are not again visible until near the 
tenth of February. He lays up no winter store ; and like the bear, rac- 
coon, and Maryland marmot, is very fat on retiring to his winter quarters, 
and does not seem to be much reduced in flesh at his first appearance 
toward spring, but is observed to lall off soon afterwards. He is not a 
sound sleeper on these occasions ; on opening his burrow we found him, 
although dull and inactive, certainly not asleep, as his black eyes were 
peering at us from the hole, into which we had made an opening, seem- 
ing to warn us not to place too much reliance on the hope of finding this 
striped " weasel asleep." 

In the upper districts of Carolina and Georgia, where the Skunk is 
occasionally found, he, like the raccoon in the Southern States, does not 
retire to winter quarters, but continues actively prowling about during the 
night through the winter months. 

A large Skunk, which had been in the vicinity of our place, near New 
York, for two or three days, was one morning observed by our gardener 
in an old barrel with only one head in, which stood upright near our 
stable. The animal had probably jumped into it from an adjoining pile 
of logs to devour an egg, as our hens were in the habit of laying about 
the yard. On being discovered, the Skunk remained quietly at the bottom 
of the barrel, apparently unable to get out, either by climbing or by leap- 
ing from the bottom. We killed him by throwing a large stone into the 
open barrel ; — he did not make the least effort to eject the nauseous fluid 
with which he was provided. Had he not been discovered, he would no 
doubt have died of starvation, as he had no means of escaping. At times, 
especially during the summer season, the Skunk smells so strongly of the 
fetid fluid contained in his glands, that when one or two hundred yards 
distant it is easily known that he is in the neighbourhood. 

We doubt not the flesh of the Skunk is well tasted and savoury. We 
observed it cooked and eaten by the Indians. The meat was white and 
fat, and they pronounced it better than the opossum, — infinitely superior 
to the raccoon, (which they called rank meat,) and fully equal to roast 
pig. We now regret that our squeamishness prevented us from trj-ing it. 

We have seen the young early in May ; there were from five to nine 
in a litter. 

The fur is rather coarse. It is seldom used by the hatters, and never 
we think by the furriers ; and from the disagreeable task of preparing 
the skin, it is not considered an article of commerce. 



This species has a tolerably wide range, being found as far to the north 
as lat. 56'' or 57°. We have met with it both in Upper and Lower 
Canada, where it however appeared less abundant than in the Atlantic 
States. It is exceedingly abundant in every part of the Northern States. 
In New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, it is more frequently met 
with than in Maryland, Virginia, and the more Southern States. It is not 
uncommon on both sides of the Virginia Mountains, and is well known 
in Kentuck}-, Indiana, and Illinois. It is not unfrequently met with in 
the higher portions of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. In the 
alluvial lands of these three States, however, it is exceedingly rare. 
We possess in the Charleston Museum two specimens procured in Christ 
Church Parish, by Professor Edmund Ravenel, that were regarded as a 
great curiosity bj' the inliabitants. It becomes more common a hundred 
miles from the seaboard, and is not unfrequently met with in the sand- 
hills near Columbia. To the south we have traced it to the northern 
parts of Florida, and have seen it in Louisiana. To the w^est it has 
been seen as far as the banks of the Mississippi. Lewis and Clarke, 
and others, frequently saw Skunks west of the Rocky Mountains, near 
their winter encampments, but we have as yet had no means of ascer- 
taining that they were of this species. 


Although we do not regard the distribution of colours in the American 
Skunk, as of much importance in deciding on the species, and hence, have 
rejected as mere varieties, all those that can only be distinguished from 
each other by their markings, we nevertheless differ very widely from 
Baron Cuvier (Ossemens Fossiles, iv.) and others, who treat all the 
American Mephites as mere varieties. We have examined and com- 
pared many specimens in the museums of Europe and America, and pos- 
sess others from Texas and other portions of the United States, and we 
feel confident that both in North and South America several very distinct 
species exist. We will endeavour, as we proceed in the present work, to 
investigate their characters, and describe those species that are found 
within the range to which we have restricted our inquiries. We have 
in the museums of London examined and compared the species described 
by Bennet, (Proceeds. Zool. Soc, 1833, p. 39,) as M. nasuta, which appears 
to have been previously described by Dr. Lichtenstein, of Berlin, under 
the name of M. mesoleiica, (Darst. der Saugeth. tab. 44, fig. 2,) as also 
several species characterized by Gray, (Magazine of Nat. Hist., 1837, p. 


581,) that are very distinct from the present. In the immense collection 
existing in the museum at Berlin, one of the best regulated museums in 
Europe, and which is particularly rich in the natural productions of 
Mexico, Texas, California, and South America, several species are 
exhibited that cannot be referred to our Skunk. We are under obliga- 
tions to Dr. LicHTENSTEiN for a valuable work, (Darstellung neuer oder 
wenig bekannter Saugethiere, Berlin, 1827-1834,) which contains figures 
and descriptions of a number of new species of Skunks. Also a mono- 
graph, (Ueber die Gattung Mephitis, Berlin, 1838,) in sixty-five pages, 
quarto, with plates, which contains much learned research, and has greatly 
extended our previous knowledge of the species. He describes seventeen 
species, all, with one African exception, belonging to North and South 
America. North of Texas, however, he recognizes only two species, the 
present, and Mephitis interrupta, of RAFiNBsauE ; the latter, however, still 
requires a more careful comparison. All our American authors have 
applied the name Mephitis Americana, of Desmaeest, to our present spe- 
cies. It is now ascertained, how^ever, that Tiedimann described it twelve 
years earlier under the name of M. chinga, which, according to the rigid 
rules to which naturalists feel bound to adhere, must be retained, and 
Ave therefore have adopted it in our text although our plate was lettered 
M. Americana, Desmahest. 




Hare SauiBREL. 

PLATE XLIIL— Natural size. 

S. magnitudine S. cinereum inter et S. migratorium intermedius ; 
Cauda corpore longiore, crassa maximeque disticha ; vellere supra ex 
cinereo fusco ; subtus albo. 


Intermediate in size between the Northern gray squirrel and the cat 
squirrel. Tail, longer than the body, large and distichous; colour, grayish- 
brown above, white beneath. 


SciURus Leporinus, Aud. & Bach., Proceedings of tlie Acad, of Nat. Sci., Pliiladelphia, 
1841, p. 101. 


Head, of moderate size ; nose, blunt, covered with short hairs ; fore- 
head, arched ; eyes, large ; whiskers, numerous, extending to the ears ; 
ears, broad at base, rounded at the edges, and forming an obtuse angle 
at the extremity, clothed with sharp hairs on both surfaces. Body, stout, 
covered by a coat of thick but rather short hair, coarser than that of the 
Northern gray squirrel ; limbs, large, and rather long ; tail, distichous, 
but not very bushy. 

Teeth, orange ; whiskers, black ; nose, dark brown ; ears, light brown j 
behind the ears, a tuft of soft cotton-like, whitish fur. The hairs of 
the back are cinerous at the roots, then light brown, and are tipped 
with brown and black, giving it so much the colour of the English hare 
that we determined to borrow from it our specific name. On the sides, 
the colour is a shade lighter than on the back ; the tail, which, from 
the broad white tips of the hair, has a white appearance, is brown at 
the roots, q,nd three times annulated with black. The upper lips, chin, 














neck, and whole under surface, including the inner surface of the legs, 
white ; the hair being of this colour from the roots. Feet, dull yellowish- 
white. On the outer surface of the hind-leg, above the heel, a small 
portion of the fur is brown ; there is also a spot of the same colour on 
the upper surface of the hind-foot. 


Length of head and body . . 
" tail . . . . 

Height of ear, .... 

Heel to end of middle claw . , 
Breadth of tail with hairs extended 

This species, which is one of our most beautifully furred Squirrels, is 
especially remarkable for its splendid tail, with its broad white border. 
We know nothing of its habits, as it was brought from California, with- 
out any other information than that of its locality. 

We have represented two of these Squirrels in our plate, on a branch 
of hickory, with a bunch of nearly ripe nuts attached. 


The range of this Squirrel through California, is, as well as its habits, 
totally unknown to us. It will not be very long, however, we think, 
before a great deal of information respecting that portion of our con- 
tinent, so rich in rare and new species, may be expected, and we 
should not be surprised to find it extending toward the south-western 
portions of Texas, where several species of Squirrels that we have not 
obtained, are said to exist. 


This species, in its general appearance, so much resembles some 
varieties of Sciurus migratorius and >S. cinereus, that had- it not been for 
its distant western locality, we should at first have been tempted to set 
it down, without further examination, as one or other of those species. 
There can, however, be no doubt, from its differing in size and in so many 
details of colour from all other species, that it must be regarded as 
distinct. It should be further observed that S. migratorius has never 


been found south of Missouri, and that S. cinereus is not found west of 
the Mississippi. Indeed the geographical range of the latter terminates 
several hundred miles to the eastward of that river, and it would be 
contrary to all our past experience, that a species existing in one part of 
our continent should be found in another, separated by an extent of 
several thousand miles of intermediate country, in no portion of which 
is it known to exist. 




Incisive ■= ; Canine r^ ; Molar -— = 20. 

2 — 4 — 4 

Incisors, naked, truncated ; molars, destitute of radicles ; crowns, 
simple, oval ; anterior ones, double. 

Head, large and depressed ; nose, short ; mouth, small. 

The cheek-pouches are large, and open exterior to the mouth. 

The eyes are small and far apart. The external ear is very short ; 
auditory openings, large. Body, sub-cylindrical ; tail, rather short, round, 
tapering slightly, clothed with short hairs. 

Legs, short, with five toes to each foot. 

Burrowing in sandy soils, feeding on grasses, roots, nuts, &.C., which 
they convey to their burrows in their capacious cheek-pouches, are habits 
common to this genus. 

There are about six well determined species of Pouched Rats, all ex- 
isting in North America. 

The generic name is derived from -j/ivSa^ {pseudo,) false, and trrcfue, 
{stoma,) a mouth, in illusion to the false mouths or cheek-pouches of the 


Canada Pottcbed Rat. 
PLATE XLIV — Males, Female aitd Youmg. Natural size. 
P. supra, rufo-fuscus ; subtns, cinereo-fuscus ; pedibus, albis. 


Reddish-brown above, ashy-brown beneath ; feet, white. 


Mus BuKSARius, Shaw, Descript. of the M. Bursarius in Linn. Transact., vol. t., p. 

227 to 228. 
Mns Bursarius, Shaw's Gen. Zool., vol. ii., p. 100, pi. 138, (figures with cheek-pouches 

unnaturally inverted.) 
Mus Bursarius, Mitchill, Silliman's Journal, vol. iv., p. 183. 
Mus Saccatus, Mitchill, N. Y. Medical Repository, Jan. 1821. 
Saccophorus Bursarius, Kuhl, Beit., p. 66. 
Cricetus Bursarius, Desm. in Nouv. Diet., 14, p. 177. 

" " F. Cuv. in Diet, des Sc. Nat., t. XX, p. 257. 

PsEUDOSTOMA BuRSAEiDS, Say, in Long's Expedi., vol. i., p. 406. 
" " Godm., vol. ii., p. 90, fig. 2. 

" " Harlan, p. 133. 

Geomys % Bursarius, Rich., F. B. A., p. 203. 


Head, large ; nose, broad and obtuse, covered with hair, with the ex- 
ception of the margins of the nostrils, which are naked ; the nostrils are 
small oblong openings a line apart, and are on their superior margins 
considerably vaulted. 

The incisors protrude beyond the lips ; they are very large and trun- 
cated ; in the superior jaw they are each marked by a deep longitudinal 
groove near the middle, and by a smaller one at the inner margin : in 
the young, they exhibit only a single groove. The molars penetrate to 
the base of their respective alveoles without any division into roots, their 
cro\vns are simply discoidal, transversely oblong-oval, margined by the 
enamel ; the posterior tooth is rather more rounded than the others, and 
that of the upper-jaw has a small prominent angle on its posterior face ; 
the anterior tooth is double, in consequence of a profound duplicature in 
its side, so that its crown presents two oval disks, of which, the anterior 
one is smallest, and in the lower-jaw somewhat angulated. (Sat.) 

Eyes, small ; ears, very short, and scarcely visible ; whiskers, not 
nimierous, shorter than the head. 

The cheek-pouches are very large, extending from the sides of the 
mouth to the shoulders, and are internally lined with short soft hairs ; 
the body is broad and stout, sub-cylindrical, and has a clumsy appear- 
ance, not unlike that of the shrew-mole. It is thickly clothed on both 
the upper and lower surfaces with soft hair, that on the back being in 
some parts half an inch long, whilst on the under surface it is much 
shorter, and more compact. 

The feet have five toes each ; the fore-feet are robust, with large, elon- 
gated, compressed, and hooked nails ; the middle nail is much the 
longest, the fourth is next in length, the second shorter, the fifth still 



shorter, and the first very short : there is a large callous protuberance 
on the hinder-part of the palms. On the hind-feet the toes are short, 
and the nails are very short, concave beneath, and rounded at tip ; the 
middle nail is longest, the second almost as long, the fourth a little 
shorter, the first still shorter, the fifth very short. This Rat is planti- 
grade, and presses on the earth from the heel to the toes. 

The tail is for one third of its length from the root clothed with hair, 
but toward the extremity is naked. 


Incisors, yellow ; nostrils, light pink ; eyes, black. The fur is plum- 
beous from the roots to near the extremity, where it is broadly tipped 
with reddish-brown ; on the under surface it is a little paler, owing to 
the ends of the hairs being but slightly tipped with brown. 

The head and the dorsal line are a shade darker than the surrounding 

Moustaches, white and black ; nails, and all the feet, white. 

The colours here described are those w^hich this species exhibits during 
winter and the early part of summer. Immediately after shedding its 
hair it takes the colour of the young, light-plumbeous, which gradually 
deepens at the approach of winter. 


From nose to root of tail . 

" " to ear 

" •' to end of pouch 


Depth of pouch . 
Fore-foot with longest claw 
Distance between the eyes 

Weight of largest specimen, 14 oz. 















During a visit which we made to the Upper Missouri in the spring and 
summer of 1843, we had many opportunities of studying the habits of this 
species. In the neighbourhood of St. Louis, at the hospitable residence 
of Pierre Chouteau, Esq., we procured several of them alive. In that 
section of country they are called " Muloes." 

They are considered by the gardeners in that vicinity as great plagues, 
devouring every tap-root vegetable, or grass, within their reach, and 


perforating the earth in every direction, not only at night, but often- 
times during the day. 

Having observed some freshly thrown up mounds in Mr. Chouteau's 
garden, several servants were called, and set to work to dig out the 
animals, if practible, alive ; and we soon dug up several galleries work- 
ed by the Muloes, in different directions. One of the main galleries was 
about a foot beneath the surface of the ground, except where it passed 
under the walks, in which places it was sunk rather lower. We turned 
up this entire gallery, which led across a large garden-bed and two 
walks, into another bed, where we discovered that several fine plants 
had been killed by these animals eating off their roots just beneath the 
surface of the ground. The burrow ended near these plants under a 
large rose-bush. We then dug out another principal burrow, but its 
terminus ^vas amongst the roots of a large peach-tree, some of the bark 
of which had been eaten off by these animals. We could not capture 
any of them at this time, owng to the ramifications of their galleries 
having escaped our notice whilst follo^ving the main burrows. On care- 
fully examining the ground ^ve discovered that several galleries existed, 
that appeared to run entirely out of the garden into the open fields and 
woods beyond, so that we w^ere obliged to give up the chase. This 
species throws up the earth in little mounds about twelve or fifteen 
inches in height, at irregular distances, sometimes near each other, and 
occasionally ten, twenty, even thirty, paces asunder, generally opening 
near a surface well covered with grass or vegetables of different kinds. 

The Pouched Rat remains under ground during cold weather in an 
inactive state, most probably dormant, as it is not seen to disturb the 
surface of the earth until the return of spring, when the grass is well 

The earth when thrown up is broken or pulverized, and as soon as the 
animal has completed his galleries and chambers, he closes the aperture 
on the side towards the sun, or on the top, although more usually on the 
side, leaving a sort of ring or opening about the size of his body. 

Possessed of an exquisite sense of hearing, and an acute nose, at the 
approach of any one travelling on the ground the " Muloes " stop their 
labours instantaneously, being easily alarmed ; but if you retire some 
twenty or thirty paces to leeward of the hole, and wait there for a quarter 
of an hour or so, you will see the "Gopher" (another name given to 
these animals by the inhabitants of the State of Missouri), raising the 
earth with his back and shoulders, and forcing it out before and around 
him, leaving an aperture open during the process. He now runs a few 


Steps from the hole and cuts the grass, with which he fills his cheek- 
pouches, and then retires into his burrow to eat it undisturbed. 

You may see the Pseudostoma now and then sitting on its rump and 
basking in the rays of the sun, on which occasions it may easily be shot 
if you are prompt, but if missed it disappears at once, is seen no more, 
and will even dig a burrow to a considerable distance, in order to get out 
of the ground at some other place where it may not be observed. 

This species may be caught in steel-traps, or common box-traps, with 
which we procured two of them. When caught in a steel-trap, they fre- 
quently lacerate the leg by which they are held, which is generally the 
hind one, by their struggles to get free. They are now and then turned 
up by the plough, and we have known one caught in this manner. They 
sometimes destroy the roots of young fruit-trees to the number of one or 
two hundred in the course of a few days and nights ; and they will cut 
those of full grown trees of the most valuable kinds, such as the apple, 
pear, peach and plum. This species is found to vary in size very 
greatly on comparing different individuals, and they also vary in their 
colour according to age, although we found no difference caused by sex. 

The commonly received opinion is, that these rats fill their pouches 
with the earth from their burrows, and empty them at the entrance. 
This is, however, quite an erroneous idea. Of about a dozen, which were 
shot dead in the very act of rising out of their mounds and burrows, none 
had any earth in their sacs ; but the fore-feet, teeth, nose, and the ante- 
rior and upper portion of their heads, were found covered with adherent 
earth. On the contrary, most of them had their pouches filled with either 
blades of grass or roots of different trees ; and we think of these pouches, 
that their being hairy within, rather corroborates the idea that they are 
only used to convey food to their burrows. This species appears to raise 
up the earth very much in the manner of the common shrew-mole. 

When running, the tails of these animals drag on the ground, and they 
hobble along at times with their long front claws bent underneath their 
feet as it were, backwards, and never by leaps. They can travel almost 
as fast backwards as forwards. When turned on their backs they have 
great difficulty in regaining their natui-al position, and kick about in the 
air for a minute or two with their legs and claws extended, before they 
can turn over. They can bite severely ; as their incisors by their size 
and sharpness plainly indicate ; and they do not hesitate to attack their 
enemies or assailants with open mouth, squealing when in a rage like the 
common Norway or wharf rat, (3Ius decumanus.) When they fight 
^mong themselves they make great use of their snouts, somewhat in the 


manner of hogs. They cannot travel faster when above ground than a 
man walks ; they feed frequently whilst seated on their rump, using 
their lore-feet and long claws somewhat in the manner of squirrels. 
When sleeping they place their heads beneath the shoulder on the breast, 
and look like a round ball or a lump of earth. They clean their hair, 
whiskers, and body, in the same manner as rats, squirrels, 6j.c. 

We kept four of these animals alive for several weeks, and they never 
during that time drank any thing, although we offered them both water 
and milk. We fed them on cabbages, potatoes, carrots, &c., of which 
they ate a larger quantity than we supposed them capable of consuming. 
They tried constantly to make their escape, by gnawing at the floor of 
the apartment. They slept on any of the clothing about the room which 
would keep them warm ; and these mischievous pets cut the lining of our 
hunting coat, so that we were obliged to have it repaired and patched. 
We had left a handkerchief containing sundry articles, tied as we thought 
securely, but they discovered it, and on opening it one of them caught 
hold of our thumb, with (luckily) only one of his incisors, and hung on 
until we shook it off violently. While confined thus in our room, these 
animals gnawed the leather straps of our trunks, and although we rose 
frequently from our bed at night to stop their career of destruction, they 
began to gnaw again as soon as we ^vere once more snugly ensconced 
beneath the counterpane. Two of them entered one of our boots, and 
probably not liking the idea of returning by the same way, ate a hole at 
the toes, by which they made their exit. We have given in our plate 
four figures of this singular species. 

The nest of the Canada Pouched Rat is usually rounded, and is about 
eight inches in diameter. It is well lined with soft substances as well as 
with the hair of the female. It is not placed at the end of a burrow, nor 
in a short gallery, but generally in one that is in the centre of sundry 
others diverging to various points, at which the animal can escape if 
pursued, and most of which lead to the vicinity of grounds where their 
favourite food is abundant. 

The female brings forth from five to seven young at a litter, about the 
end of March or early in April . They are at a very early period able to 
run about, dig burrows, and provide for themselves. 


The Pseudostoma bursarius has a wide geographical range. We 
found it in all those places we visited, east of the Rocky Mountains and 
west of the Mississippi, where the soil and food suited its habits. It 



has been observed as far to the north as lat. 52". It abounds in Michi- 
gan and Illinois. Farther to the south it extends along the western 
prairies, and it was observed near the shores of the Platte, Arkansas, 
Canadian, and Red Rivers, to. lat. 34°, and probably ranges still further 
to the south. 

There are pouched rats in Texas and Mexico, but we are at present 
unable to determine whether they are of this species. 


The first naturalist who gave a specific name to this Pouched Rat was 
Dr. Shaw, in the Linnsean Transactions, accompanied by a figure repre- 
senting it as having only three toes. The drawing had been made by 
Major Davies. Subsequently (in 1801) he again described and figured it 
in his General Zoology, vol. ii., p. 100, pi. 138. The pouches in both cases 
are inverted, and hanging down like long sacks on each side. These 
would be very inconvenient, as the animal could not place its nose on the 
earth or fill its sacks, with such an unnatural appendage dangling at its 
mouth. The error seems to have originated from the whim or ignorance 
of an Indian. It is recorded, that in 1798 one of this species was pre- 
sented by a Canadian Indian to the Lady of Governor Prescott. Its 
pouches had been inverted, filled, and greatly distended with earth ; and 
from this trivial circumstance an error originated which has been per- 
petuated even to the present day. 

Rafinesque, who was either careless or unscrupulous in forming new 
genera and species, and whose writings are so erroneous that we have 
seldom referred to him, contributed to create still farther confusion among 
the species of this genus. He arranged them under two genera. Geomys, 
■with cheek-pouches opening into the mouth, and Diplostoma, with cheek- 
pouches opening exterior to the mouth. This last genus he characterizes 
by its having no tail, and only four toes on each foot, (Am. Monthly 
Magazine, 1817.) 

We consider it unfortunate that our friend Dr. Richardson should have 
adopted both these genera, and given several species under each. We 
have examined nearly all the original specimens from which his descrip- 
tions were taken, and feel confident that they all belong to the genus 


In regard to the present species. Dr. Rich.ardson was undecided under 
what genus it should be placed. The opportunities aflbrded us for mak- 
ing a careful examination, leave no room for any doubt on that subject. 

That there are several species of pouched rats on both sides of the 


Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada, cannot be doubted, but the 
difficulty of distinguishing the species is greater than is usually supposed. 

They possess similar habits, specimens belonging to the same species 
are found of different sizes and of different colours ; all the species have 
short ears and tails. They live under the earth ; and many persons who 
have for years resided in their immediate vicinity, although they daily 
observe traces of their existence, have never seen the animals. 

American naturalists have sometimes been reminded by their Euro- 
pean brethren, of the duty devolving on them of investigating the 
habits and describing the species of animals existing in their country. 
The charge of our having hitherto depended too much on Europeans to 
effect this laudable object, is true to a considerable extent. It should, 
however, be borne in mind, that this vast country belongs to many 
nations, that large portions of it are either unpeopled deserts or are 
roamed over by fierce savage tribes, that the Northern regions visited by 
Richardson are exclusively under the control of Great Britain, and that 
the vast chain of the Rocky Mountains presents more formidable barriers 
than the oceans v^hich separate Europe from the Western shores of 

It is not, therefore, surprising, that in order to become acquainted with 
some rare species, American naturalists are obliged to seek access to 
European museums, instead of the imperfect private collections of their 
own country. 

In the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains, we are not aware 
of the existence of more than two species of Pouched Rat, — the present 
species and another existing in Georgia and Florida. It is, however, not 
improbable that Pseudostoma Mexicanus may yet be found in Texas. 




Ijicisive 2; Canine j^; Molar g^ = 16. 

Incisors, in the upper jaw, large and cuneiform ; in the inferior jaw, 

Molars, compound, flat on their crowns, the enamel forming angular 
ridges on the surfase. 

Fore-feet, having the rudiments of a thumb, and four toes, furnished 
with weak nails. 

Hind-feet, with five toes, hairy on their borders, armed with claws. 

Ears, clothed with hair ; tail, cylindrical and hairj, shorter than the 
body. From eight to twelve pectoral and ventral mammae. 

The old family of Mus has undergone many subdivisions. It formerly 
included many of our present genera. The Arvicolse, by the structure of 
their teeth, and the hairy covering of their ears and tail, the latter being 
besides short, may advantageously be separated from the rest. 

They burrow in the earth, and feed on grain, bulbous roots and grasses ; 
some are omnivorous, they do not climb, are not dormant in winter, but 
seek their food during cold weather, eating roots, grasses, and the bark 
of trees. 

There have been about forty species of Arvicola described ; some of 
these, however, are now arranged under other genera. Some of the 
species are found in each quarter of the world, about seven species 
inhabit North America. 

The generic name is derived from two Latin words, arvus, a field, and 
colo, I inhabit. 



Wilson's Meadow-Mocse. 

PLATE XLV.— Two figures. Natural size. 

A., supra, cervinus ; subtus, subalbicans ; auriculis abreviatis rotun- 


Browish fawn-colour above ; beneath, grayish-white ; eyes, small ; ears, 
short atid round. 


Shobt-tailed Mouse, Forster, Phil. Trans., vol. Ixii., p. 380, No. 18. 

Meadow Mouse, Pennant's Arctic Zoology, vol. i., p. 133. 

The Campagnol or Meadow Mouse of Pennsylvania, Warden's Description of the U. S., 

vol. v., p. 625. 
Arvicola Pennstlv amicus, Ord, Guthrie's Geography. 

" " " in Wilson's Ornithology, vol. vi., pi. 50, fig. 3. 

" Peknsylvanica, Harlan, F. A., p. 144. 
Arvicola Albo-rcfescens, Emmons, Mass. Reports, p. 60, variety. 
Arvicola Hirsutus, Emmons, Mass. Report. 

" " Dekay, Nat. Hist. N. Y., p. 86. 


Body, robust, cylindrical, broadest across the shoulders ; diminishing 
towards the loins ; fur, on the whole body, long and fine, but not lus- 
trous ; on the upper surface (in winter specimens) half an inch long, 
but not more than half that length beneath. 

Head, large and conical ; forehead, arched ; nose, rather blunt ; in- 
cisors, projecting ; eyes, small, situated equidistant from the auditory 
opening and the point of the nose ; the longest whiskers, about the length 
of the head ; nostrils, lateral ; nose, bilobate, clothed with short hairs ; 
lips, fringed ^vith longer hairs; mouth, beneath, not terminal ; ears, 
large, rounded, membranous, concealed by the fur, naked within, except 
along the margins where they have a few long soft hairs ; auricular 


opening, large. The neck is so short that the head and shoulders seem 
united, like those of the shrew-mole. 

Fore-feet, slender, having four toes and a thumb, which is furnished 
with a sharp nail ; nails, small, compressed, slightly hooked and sharp. 
The toes have five tubercles ; the second toe from the thumb is longest, 
the third a little shorter, the first still shorter, and the outer one shortest. 

The hind-feet are a little longer than the fore-feet ; the third and fourth 
toes from the inner side are nearly of equal length, the second toe is a 
little shorter, the fifth still shorter, and the first is shortest. The soles of 
the hind-feet have five distinct tubercles ; all the feet are clothed with 
short, adpressed, hairs. The tail is short, scaly, cylindrical, slightly 
clothed with rigid hair extending beyond the vertebrae. 

Teeth, dark orange ; fur, from the roots to near the tips, on every part 
of the body, dark plumbeous. The colour differs a shade or tvi^o between 
winter and summer. It may be characterized as brownish-gray above, 
a little darker on the back. The lips, chin, throat, and abdomen, are 
light bluish-gray. Feet, dark-brown ; tail, brown above, and a shade 
lighter beneath : eyes, black ; whiskers, white and black. 

Length of head and body . 

5 inches. 

" tail 

1| do. 

Another specimen. 

Length of head and body . 

5i do. 

" " tail (vertebrae) . 

n do. 

" " " including fur 

15 do. 

We have had opportunities in New- York, Pennsylvania, and the New 
England States, of learning some of the habits of this species. It is, in 
fact, the common Meadow-Mouse of the Northern and Eastern States. 

Wherever there is a meadow in any of these States, you may find 
small tortuous paths cut through the grass, appearing as if they had been 
partially dug into the earth, leading to the roots of a stump, or the 
borders of some bank or ditch. These are the work of this little animal. 
Should you dig around the roots, or upturn the stump, you may find a 
family of from five to ten of this species, and will see them scampering 


off in all directions, and although the}' do not run fast, they have so 
many hiding places, that unless you are prompt in your attack, they are 
likely to escape you. Their galleries do not run under-ground like those 
of the shrew-mole, or the mischievous pine-mouse (of Leconte,) but 
extend along the surface sometimes for fifty yards. 

The food of this species consists principally of roots and grasses. 
During summer it obtains an abundant supply of herds-grass, {Phleum 
pratense,) red-top, (Agrostis vulgaris,) and other plants found in the 
meadows ; and when the fields are covered with snow it still piu-sues its 
summer paths, and is able to feed on the roots of these grasses, of which 
there is always a supply so abundant that it is generally in good con- 
dition. It is also fond of bulbs, and feeds on the meadow-garlic, {Allium 
Canadense.) and red lily, (Lilium Philadelphicum.) 

We doubt whether this active little arvicola ever does much injury 
to the meadows, and in the wheat-fields it is not often a depredator, as 
it is seldom seen on high ground. Slill, we have to relate some of its 
habits that are not calculated to win the aff"ections of the farmer. In 
very severe winters, when the ground is frozen, and there is no covering 
of snow to protect the roots of its favourite grasses, it resorts for a sub- 
sistance to the stems of various shrubs and fruit trees, from which it 
peals off" the bark, and thus destroys them. We possessed a small but 
choice nursery of fruit trees, which we had grafted ourselves, that was 
completely destroyed duing a severe vnnter by this Meadow-Mouse, the 
bark having been gnawed from the wood for several inches from the 
ground upwards. Very recently our friend, the late Dr. Wright, of 
Troy, sent us the following observations on this species : — 

" Two or three winters ago several thousand young fruit trees were 
destroyed in two adjoining nurseries near our city ; the bark was 
gnawed from them by some small animal, for the space of several 
inches, the lowest part of the denuded surface being about ten inches 
from the ground. I examined the premises the following spring. The 
ground had been frozen very hard all winter, owing to the small 
quantity of snow that had fallen. I supposed that some little animal that 
subsists on the roots of grasses, had been cut off from its ordinary food 
by the stony hardness of the ground, and had attacked the trees from 
the top of the snow. I looked around for the destroyer, and found a 
number of the present species and no other. I strongly suspect that this 
animal caused the mischief, as it is very abundant and annoys the 
farmer not a little. 

" A few years ago a farmer gave me permission to upset some stacks 
of corn on a piece of low land, I found an abundance of this species in 


shallow holes under them, and discovered some distance up between the 
stalks, the remains of cobs and kernels, showing that they had been 
doing no friendly work for the farmer." 

We suspect, however, that the mischief occasioned to the nursery by 
this species is infinitely greater than that arising from any depredations 
it commits on wheat or corn-fields. 

The nests of this arvicola are always near the surface ; sometimes 
two or three are found under the same stump. We have frequently 
during summer, observed them on the surface in the meadows, where 
they were concealed by the over-shadowing grasses. They are com- 
posed of about a double handful of leaves of soft grasses, and are of an 
oval shape, with an entrance on the side. 

Wilson's Meadow-Mouse, swims and dives well. During a freshet 
which covered some neighbouring meadows, we observed several of 
them on floating bunches of grass, sticks, and marsh weeds, sitting in 
an upright posture as if enjoying the sunshine, and 'we saw them leav- 
ing these temporary resting places and swimming to the neighbouring 
high grounds with great facility ; a stick thrown at them on such occa- 
sions will cause them to dive like a musk-rat. 

This species does not, in any part of the United States, visit dwellings 
or outhouses, although Richardson states that it possesses this habit in 
Canada. We have scarcely ever met \vith it on high grounds, and it 
seems to avoid thick vi^oods. 

It produces young three or four times during the summer, from two to 
five at a birth. As is the case with the Florida rat and the white-footed 
mouse, the young of this species adhere to the teats, and are in this way 
occasionally dragged along by the mother. We would, however, here 
remark that this habit, which is seen in the young of several animals, 
is by no means constant. It is only when the female is suddenly 
surprised and driven from her nest whilst suckling her young, that 
they are carried off" in this manner. The young of this species that we 
had in confinement, after satisfying themselves, relinquished their hold, 
and permitted the mother to run about without this incimibrance. 

This species is easily caught in wire-traps baited with a piece of 
apple, or even meat ; we have occasionally found two in a trap at the 
same time. When they have become accustomed to the confinement of 
a cage they are somewhat familiar, feed on grass and seeds of different 
kinds, and often come to the bars of the cage to receive their food. 

They frequently sit erect in the manner of marmots or squirrels, and 
while in this position clean their faces with their paws, continuing thus 
engaged for a quarter of an hour at a time. They drank a good deal 


of water, and were nocturnal in their habits. During the day-time they 
constantly nestled under some loose cotton, where they lay, unless dis- 
turbed, until dusk, when they ran about their place of confinement with 
great liveliness and activity, clinging to the wires and running up and 
down in various directions upon them, as if intent on making their 


We have found this species in all the New England States, where it 
is very common. It is abundant in all the meadows of the State of New 
York. It is the most common species in the neighbourhood of Philadel- 
phia. We have found it in Maryland and Delaware. It exists in the 
valleys of the Virginia Mountains ; and we obtained a number of speci- 
mens from our friend, Edmund Ruffin, Esq., who procured them on the 
Pamunkey River, in Hanover county, in that State, where it is quite 
abundant. We have trace I it as far south as the northern boundary of 
North Carolina ; and to the north have met with it in Upper and Lower 
Canada. Fokster obtained it from Hudson's Bay, and Richardson speaks 
of it as very abundant from Canada to Great Bear Lake, latitude 65°. 

To the west it exists along the banlcs of the Ohio, but we were unable 
to find it in any part of the region lying between the Mississippi and the 
Rocky Mountains. 


We are fully aware of the difficulty of finding characters by which 
the various species of this genus may be distinguished. We cannot 
speak positively of Wilson's diminutive figure of the Meadow-Mouse, 
(American Ornithology, vol. vi., plate 50, fig. 3 ; description given, p. 59, 
in the article on the barn-owl,) but the accurate description of it by Ord, 
which is creditable to him as a naturalist, cannot possibly apply to any 
other species than this. It is the most common arvicola near Philadel- 
phia, and no part of the description will apply to either of the only two 
other species of this genus existing in that vicinity. 

• We had an opportunity, at the museum of Zurich, to compare speci- 
mens of this species with the campagnol or meadow-mouse of Europe, 
Mas agrestis of Linn^us, and Arvicola vulgaris of Desmarest, to which 
GoDMAN, (Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 88,) referred it. There is a strong gene- 
ral resemblance, but the species are distinct. The European animal 
has longer and narrower ears, protruding beyond the fur ; its tail is 



shorter, and the body is more ferruginous on the upper surface than in 
our species. 

In the last work published on American quadrupeds, the wi-iter en- 
deavours to show that this species, (which he has named A. hirsutus,) 
differs from A. Pennsylvanica. The following remarks are made at p. 
87 : — " Upon the suggestion that it might possibly be the Pennsylvanicus 
of Ord and Harlan, it was shown to both those gentlemen, who pro- 
nounced it to be totally distinct." To this we would observe, without 
the slightest design of undervaluing the scientific attainments of the 
respectable naturalists here referred to, that it was taxing their memo- 
ries rather too much, to expect them, after the lapse of fifteen or twenty 
years, during which time their minds had been directed to other pur- 
suits, to be as well qualified to decide on a species as they were when 
they first described it, (with all the specimens before them,) and when 
the whole subject was fresh in their minds. In regard to Dr. Harlan, 
he candidly wrote in answer to our inquiries respecting this and several 
other species, that having been long engaged in other investigations, 
and never having preserved specimens, he could not rely on his present 
judgment with any degree of accuracy. His description, moreover, being 
contained in two and a half lines, cannot be depended on, and is equally 
applicable to a considerable number of species. In regard to referring 
subjects, requiring such minute investigation, to the memory, when the 
period at which the specimens were examined has long passed, we have 
in mind the reply of Johnson, the great philologist, to an inquiry for infor- 
mation in regard to the derivation of a word, and of Newton, when asked 
for a solution of some knotty point in the higher branches of science : 
the former referred the inquirer to his " Dictionary," — the latter, to his 
" Principia." The description of Mr. Ord is full and accurate, and by 
this we are quite willing to abide. We, moreover, are perfectly satis- 
fied that when that gentleman has an opportunity of comparing speci- 
mens of the several species found in the vicinity of Philadelphia with 
his own descriptions, he will refer the species described and figured as 
A. hirsutus to his A. Pennsylvanica. 

The arvicola Albo-rufescens of Emmons is evidently a variety of this 
species. We obtained a specimen from a nest in the northern part of 
New York, which answered in every particular to his description. From 
the same nest two others were taken, with white rings round their 
necks, and three marked like the common Arvicola Pennsylvanica, 
differing in no respect from Arvicola hirsutus. 




Incisive ^ ; Canine ^^ : Molar -^ = 20. 

Incisors very strong. In the upper jaw their anterior surface is flat 
and their posterior surface angular. The molars differ slightly from each 
other in size, and have one internal and three external grooves. In the 
lower jaw the incisors present the same appearance as those of the 
upper ; but are smaller. In the molars there are three grooves on the 
inner side, with one on the external. 

Eyes small ; ears short and round ; five toes on each foot. On the fore- 
feet the toes are short and close ; on the hind-feet long and palmated. 
Tail, large, flat, and scaly. Mammae, four, pectoral : a pouch near the 
root of the tail, in which an unctuous matter is secreted. 

There is but one well established species known to belong to this 

The generic name is derived from the Latin word Castor, a beaver. 



PLATE XLVI. Two-thirds natural size. 

C. Arct. menace major, supra badius, infra dilutior ; cauda plana, 
ovata, squamosa. 


Larger than the ground-hog, {Arctomys monax ;) of a reddish-broivn colour, 
with a short downy grayish fur beneath ; tail, flat, scaly, and oval. 




Castor Fiber, Linn., I2th ed., p. 78. 

Castor, Sagard Theodat, Canada, p. 767. 

Beaver, Castor, Pennant, Arc. Zool., vol. i., p. 98. 

Castor Ordinaire, Desm., Mamm. 

Castor Americanus, F. Cuvier. 

Castor Fiber. Levpis and Clarke's E.xpedition, vol. i. 

The Beaver, Hearne's Journal, vol. viii., p. 245, 

Beaver, Cartwright's Journal, vol. i., p. 62. 

" Catesby, App., p. 29. 
Castor Fiber, Harlan, Fauna, p. 122. 

" " Godman, vol. ii., p. 21. 

" " Americanus, Richardson, F. B. A., p. 105. 

" " Emmons, Mass. Reports, p. 51. 

" " Dekay, pi. 1, p. 72. 


The shape of the body bears a considerable resemblance to that of the 
musk-rat ; it is, however, much larger, and the head is proportionally 
thicker and broader. It is thick and clumsy, gradually enlarging from 
the head to the hips, and then is somewhat abruptly rounded off to the 
root of the tail. 

Nose, obtuse and divided ; eyes, small ; ears, short, rounded, well 
clothed with fur, and partially concealed by the longer surrounding 
hairs ; moustaches, not numerous, but very rigid like hogs' bristles, 
reaching to the ears ; neck, rather short. The fur is of two kinds. 
The upper and longer hair is coarse, smooth, and glossy ; the under coat 
is dense, soft, and silky. Fore-feet, short and rather slender ; toes, well 
separated and very flexible. The fore-feet are used like hands to convey 
food to the mouth. The fore-claws are strong, compressed, and chan- 
nelled beneath. The middle toe is the longest, those on each side a 
little shorter, and the outer and inner ones shortest. 

The hind-feet bear some resemblance to those of the goose. They are 
■webbed beyond the roots of the nails, and have hard and callous soles. 
In most of the specimens we have seen, there is a double nail on the 
second inner toe. The palms and soles are naked. When walking, the 
whole heel touches the ground. The Beaver is accustomed to rest itself 
on its hind-feet and tail ; and when in this sitting position contracts its 
fore-claws in the manner of the left hand figure represented in the plate. 
The upper surface of all the feet, with the exception of the nails, which 
are naked, is thickly covered with short adpressed hairs 


The tail is very broad and flat, tongue-shaped, and covered with angular 
scales. The root of the tail is for an inch covered with fine fur. The 
glandular sacs containing the castoreum, a musky unctuous substance, 
are situated near the anus. 

Incisors, on their outer surface, orange ; moustaches, black ; eyes, light- 
brown. The soft under down is light grayish-brown. The upper fur on 
the back is of a shining chesuut colour ; on the under surface, and around 
the mouth and throat, a shade lighter. Nails, brown ; webs between the 
toes, and tail, grayish-brown. We have seen an occasional variet3\ 
Some are black ; and we examined several skins that were nearly white. 


Male, represented in the plate. — Rather a small 



From nose to root of tail 






From heel to end of middle claw. 



Greatest breadth of tail, .... 



Thickness of tail, 



Weight, Hi lbs. 

The sagacity and instinct of the Beaver have from time immemorial 
been the subject of admiration and w^onder. The early writers on both 
continents have represented it as a rational, intelligent, and moral being, 
requiring but the faculty of speech to raise it almost to an equality, in 
some respects, with our o^\^l species. There is in the composition of 
every man, whatever may be his pride in his philosophy, a proneness in 
a greater or less degree to superstition, or at least credulity. The ^vorld 
is at best but slow to be enlightened, and the trammels thrown around 
us by the tales of the nursery are not easily shaken off. Such travellers 
into the northern parts of Sweden, Russia, Norway, and Lapland, as 
Olaus Magnus, Jean Marius, Rzaczynsky, Leems, &c., vi^hose extravagant 
and imaginary notions ■were recorded by the credulous Gesner, who wrote 
marvellous accounts of the habits of the Beavers in Northern Europe, 
seem to have worked on the imaginations and confused the intellects of 
the early explorers of our Northern regions — La Hontan, Charlevoix, 
Theodat, Ellis, Beltrami, and Cartwright. These last, excited the enthu- 
siasm of Buffon, whose romantic stories have so fastened themselves on 


the mind of childhood, and have been so generally made a part of our 
education, that we now are almost led to regret that three-fourths of the 
old accounts of this extraordinary animal are fabulous ; and that with 
the exception of its very peculiar mode of constructing its domicile, the 
Beaver is in point of intelligence and cunning greatly exceeded by the 
fox, and is but a few grades higher in the scale of sagacity than the 
common musk-rat. 

The following account was noted down by us as related by a trapper 
named Prevost, who had been in the service of the American Fur Com- 
pany for upwards of twenty years, in the region adjoining the spurs of 
the Rocky Mountains, and who was the " Patroon" that conveyed us 
down the Missouri river in the summer and autumn of 1843. As it con- 
firms the statements of Hearne, Richardson, and other close observers of 
the habits of the Beaver, we trust that although it may present little that 
is novel, it will from its truth be acceptable and interesting to our 
readers. Mr. Prevost states in substance as follows. 

Beavers prefer small clear-water rivers, and creeks, and likewise resort 
to large springs. They, however, at times, frequent great rivers and 
lakes. The trappers believe that they can have notice of the approach 
of winter weather, and of its probable severity, by observing the prepa- 
rations made by the Beavers to meet its rigours ; as these animals always 
cut their wood in good season, and if this be done early, winter is at 

The Beaver dams, where the animal is at all abundant, are built across 
the streams to their very head waters. Usually these dams are formed of 
mud, mosses, small stones, and branches of trees cut about three feet in 
length and from seven to twelve inches round. The bark of the trees in 
all cases being taken off for winter provender, before the sticks are car- 
ried away to make up the dam. The largest tree cut by the Beaver, 
seen by Prevost, measured eighteen inches in diameter ; but so large a 
trunk is very rarely cut dovim by this animal. In the instance just men- 
tioned, the branches only were used, the trunk not having been appro- 
priated to the repairs of the dam or aught else by the Beavers. 

In constructing the dams, the sticks, mud and moss are matted and 
interlaced together in the firmest and most compact manner ; so much so 
that even men cannot destroy them without a great deal of labour. The 
mud and moss at the bottom are rooted up vnth the animal's snout, some- 
what in the manner hogs work in the earth, and clay and grasses are 
stuffed and plastered in between the sticks, roots, and branches, in so 
workmanlike a way as to render the structure quite water-tight. The 
dams are sometimes seven or eight feet high, and are from ten to twelve 


feet wide at the bottom, but are built up with the sides inclining towards 
each other, so as to form a narrow surface on the top. They are occa- 
sionally as much as three hundred yards in length, and often extend be- 
yond the bed of the stream in a circular form, so as to overflow all the 
timber near the margin, which the Beavers cut down for food during 
winter, heap together in large quantities, and so fasten to the shore 
under the surface of the water, that even a strong current cannot tear 
it away ; although they generally place it in such a position that the 
current does not pass over it. These piles or heaps of wood are placed 
in front of the lodges, and when the animal wishes to feed he proceeds 
to them, takes a piece of wood, and drags it to one of the small holes 
near the principal entrance running above the water, although beneath 
the surface of the ground. Here the bark is devoured at leisure, and 
the wood is afterwards thrust out, or used in repairing the dam. These 
small galleries are more or less abundant according to the number of 
animals in the lodges. The larger lodges are, in the interior, about 
seven feet in diameter, and between two and three feet high, resembling 
a great oven. They are placed near the edge of the water, although 
actually built on or in the ground. In front, the Beavers scratch away 
the mud to secure a depth of \vater that will enable them to sink 
their wood deep enough to prevent its being impacted in the ice when 
the dam is frozen over, and also to allow them always free egress from 
their lodges, so that they may go to the dam and repair it if necessary. 
The top of the lodge is formed by placing branches of trees matted with 
mud, grasses, moss, &c., together, until the whole fabric measures on 
the outside from twelve to twenty feet in diameter, and is six or eight 
feet high, the size depending on the nmnber of inhabitants. The out- 
ward coating is entirely of mud or earth, and smoothed off as if plaster- 
ed with a trowel. As Beavers, however, never work in the day-time, no 
person we believe has yet seen ho^v they perform their task, or give 
this hard-finish to their houses. This species does not use its fore-feet 
in swimming, but for carrying burthens : this can be observed by watch- 
ing the young ones, which suffer their fore-feet to drag by the side of the 
body, using only the hind-feet to propel themselves through the water. 
Before diving, the Beaver gives a smart slap with its tail on the water, 
making a noise that may be heard a considerable distance, but in swim- 
ming, the tail is not seen to work, the animal being entirely submerged 
except the nose and part of the head ; it swims fast and well, but with 
nothing like the speed of the otter, {Liitra Canadensis.) 

The Beavers cut a broad ditch all around their lodge, so deep that it 
cannot freeze to the bottom, and into this ditch they make the holes 


already spoken of, through which they go in and out and bring their food. 
The beds of these singular animals are separated slightly from each 
other, and are placed around the wall, or circumference of the interior of 
the lodge ; they are formed merely of a few grasses, or the tender bark 
of trees : the space in the centre of the lodge being left unoccupied. The 
Beavers usually go to the dam every evening to see if repairs are needed, 
and to deposit their ordure in the water near the dam, or at least at some 
distance from their lodge. 

They rarely travel by land, unless their dams have been carried away 
by the ice, and even then they take the beds of the rivers or streams for 
their roadway. In cutting down trees they are not always so fortunate 
as to have them fall into the water, or even towards it, as the trunks of 
trees cut down by these animals are observed lying in various positions ; 
although as most trees on the margin of a stream or river lean somewhat 
towards the water, or have their largest branches extended over it, many 
of those cut down by the Beavers naturally fall in that direction. 

It is a curious fact, saj's our trapper, that among the Beavers there are 
some that are lazy and will not work at all, either to assist in building 
lodges or dams, or to cut down ■wood for their winter stock. The 
industrious ones beat these idle fellows, and drive them away ; some- 
times cutting off a part of their tail, and otherwise injuring them. These 
" Paresseux" are more easily caught in traps than the others, and the trap- 
per rarely misses one of them. They only dig a hole from the water run- 
ning obliquely towards the surface of the ground twenty-five or thirty feet, 
from which they emerge when hungry, to obtain food, returning to the 
same hole with the wood they procure, to eat the bark. 

They never form dams, and are sometimes to the number of five or 
seven together ; all are males. It is not at all improbable, that these 
unfortunate fellows have, as is the case with the males of many species 
of animals, been engaged in fighting M'ith others of their sex, and 
after having been conquered and driven away from the lodge, have 
become idlers from a kind of necessity. The working Beavers, on the 
contrary, associate, males, females, and young together. 

Beavers are caught, and found in good order at all seasons of the year 
in the Rocky JNIountains ; for in those regions the atmosphere is never 
warm enough to injure the fur ; in the low-lands, however, the trappers 
rarely begin to capture them before the first of September, and they relin- 
quish the pursuit about the last of May. This is understood to be along 
the Missouri, and the (so called) Spanish country. 

Cartwright, (vol. i., p. 62,) found a Beaver that weighed forty-five 
pounds ; and we were assured that they have been caught weighing 


sLxty-one pounds before being cleaned. The only portions of their flesh 
that are considered fine eating, are the sides of the belly, the rump, 
the tail, and the liver. The tail, so much spoken of by travellers and by 
various authors, as being very delicious eating, we did not think equalled 
their descriptions. It has nearly the taste of beef marrow, but is rather 
oily, and cannot be partaken of unless in a very moderate quantity, ex- 
cept by one whose stomach is strong enough to digest the most greasy 

Beavers become very fat at the approach of autumn ; but during win- 
ter they fall off in flesh, so that they are generally quite poor by spring, 
when they feed upon the bark of roots, and the roots of various aquatic 
plants, some of which are at that season white, tender, and juicy. 
During winter, when the ice is thick and strong, the trappers hunt the 
Beaver in the following manner. A hole is cut in the ice as near as 
possible to the aperture leading to the dwelling of the animal, the situa- 
tion of which is first ascertained ; a green stick is placed firmly in front 
of it, and a smaller stick on each side, about a foot from the stick of 
green wood ; the bottom is then patted or beaten smooth and even, and a 
strong stake is set into the ground to hold the chain of the trap, which is 
placed within a few inches of the stick of green wood, well baited, and 
the Beaver, attracted either by the fresh bark or the bait, is almost al- 
ways caught. Although when captured in this manner, the animal strug- 
gles, diving and swimming about in its efibrts to escape, it never cuts ofi" 
a foot in order to obtain its liberty ; probably because it is drowned before 
it has had time to think of this method of saving itself from the hunter. 
When trapping under other circumstances, the trap is placed within five 
or six inches of the shore, and about the same distance below the surface 
of the water, secured and baited as usual. If caught, the Beavers now 
and then cut ofi" the foot by which they are held, in order to make their 

A singular habit of the Beaver was mentioned to us by the trapper, 
Prevost, of which we do not recollect having before heard. He said that 
when two Beaver lodges are in the vicinity of each other, the animals 
proceed from one of them at night to a certain spot, deposit their casto- 
reum, and then return to their lodge. The Beavers in the other lodge, 
scenting this, repair to the same spot, cover it over with earth, and then 
make a similar deposit on the top. This operation is repeated by each 
party alternately, until quite a mound is raised, sometimes to the height 
of four or five feet. 

The strong musky substance contained in the glands of the Beaver, is 

called castoreum ; by trappers, bark-stone ; with this the traps are baited. 



A small stick, four or five inches long, is che^'ed at one end, and that 
part dipped in the castoreum, which is generally kept in a small horn. 
The stick is then placed with the anointed end abov'e water, and the 
other end do^vniwards. The Beaver can smell the castoreum at least 
one hundred }'ards, makes towards it at once, and is generally caught. 

Where Beavers have not been disturbed or hunted, and are abun- 
dant, they rise nearly half out of water at the first smell of the casto- 
reum, and become so excited that they are heard to cry aloud, and 
breathe hard to catch the odour as it floats on the air. A good trap- 
per used to catch about eighty Beavers in the autumn, sixty or seventy 
in the spring, and upwards of three hundred in the summer, in the 
mountains ; taking occasionally as many as five hundred in one year. 
Sixty or seventy Beaver skins are required to make a pack weighing 
one hundred pounds ; which, when sent to a good market, is worth, 
even now, from three to four hundred dollars. 

The Indians occasionally destroy Beaver-dams in order to capture these 
animals, and have good dogs to aid them in this purpose. The Moun- 
tain Indians, ho\vever, are not trappers. 

Sometimes the Indians of the Prairies break open Beaver lodges in the 
summer-time, as, during winter they are usually frozen hard. The Bea- 
ver is becoming very scarce in the Rocky Mountains, so much so, that if 
a trapper now secures one hundred in the winter and spring hunt, he is 
considered fortunate. 

Formerly, when the fur was high in price, and the animals abundant, 
the trading companies were wont to send as many as thirty or forty men, 
each with from six to twelve traps and two good horses : when arrived 
at a favourable spot to begin their work, these men erected a camp, and 
each one sought alone for his game, the skins of which he brought to 
camp, where a certain number of men always remained to stretch and 
dry them. 

The trappers subsist principally upon the animals they kill, having a 
rifle and a pair of pistols with them. After a successful hunt, on meet- 
ing each other at the camp, they have a " frolic " as they term it. 

Some old and wary Beavers are so cunning, that on finding the bait 
they cover it over, as if it M^ere on the ground, with sticks, &c., deposit 
their own castoreum on the top, and manage to remove the trap. This 
is often the case when the Beaver has been hunted previousl)'. In places 
■where they have remained undisturbed, but few escape the experienced 
trapper. The trappers are not very unfrequently killed by the Indians, 
and their occupation is one involving toil and hazard. They rarely gain 
a competence for their old age, to say nothing of a fortune, and in fact 


all the articles they are of necessity obliged to purchase in the " Indian 
country," cost them large sums, as their price is greatly increased by 
the necessary charges for transportation to the remote regions of the 

When at Fort Union, we saw a trapper who had just returned from an 
unfortunate expedition to the mountains ; his two horses had been stolen, 
and he lost his gun and rifle in coming down the river in a slender canoe, 
and was obliged to make for the shore, dig a hole wherein to deposit the 
few furs he had left, and travel several hundred miles on foot with only 
berries and roots for his food. He was quite naked when he reached 
the Fort. 

The Beaver which we brought from Boston to New York was fed prin- 
cipally on potatoes and apples, which he contrived to peel as if assisted 
with a knife, although his lower incisors were his only substitute for that 
useful implement. While at this occupation the animal was seated on 
his rump, in the manner of a ground-hog, marmot, or squirrel, and looked 
like a very large wood-chuck, using his fore-feet, as squirrels and mar- 
mots are wont to do. 

This Beaver was supplied every day with a large basin filled with 
water, and every morning his ordure was found to have been deposited 
therein. He generally slept on a good bed of straw in his cage, but one 
night having been taken out and placed at the back of the yard in a 
place where we thought he would be secure, we found next morning to 
our surprise that he had gnawed a large hole through a stout pine door 
which separated him from that part of the yard nearest the house, and 
had wandered about until he fell into the space excavated and walled 
up outside the kitchen window. Here he was quite entrapped, and 
having no other chance of escape from this pit, into which he had un- 
luckily fallen, he gnawed away at the window-sill and the sash, on 
which his teeth took such effect that on an examination of the 
premises we found that a carpenter and several dollars' worth of work 
were needed, to repair damages. When turned loose in the yard in the 
day-time he would at times slap his tail twice or thrice on the brick 
pavement, after which he elevated this member from the ground, and 
walked about in an extremely awkward manner. He fell ill soon after 
we had received him, and when killed, was examined by Dr. James 
Teude.'^u, who found that he would shortly have died of an organic 

It is stated by some authors that the Beaver feeds on fish. We doubt 
whether he possesses this habit, as we on several occasions placed fish 
before those we saw in captivity, and although they were not very 


choice in their food, and devoured any kind of vegetable, and even bread, 
they in every case suffered fish to remain untouched in their cages. 

The food of this species, in a state of nature; consists of the bark of 
several kinds of trees and shrubs, and of bulbous and other roots. It is 
particularly fond of the bark of the birch, {Beiula) the cotton-wood, 
{Popidus,) and of several species of willow, {Salix ;) it feeds also with 
avidity on the roots of some aquatic plants, especially on those of the 
Nuphair luteum. In summer, when it sometimes wanders to a distance 
from the water, it eats berries, leaves, and various kinds of herbage. 

The young are born in the months of April and May ; those produced 
in the latter month are the most valuable, as they grow rapidly and be- 
come strong and large, not being checked in their growth, which is often 
the case with those that are born earlier in the season. Some females 
have been taken in July, with young, but such an event is of rare occur- 
rence. The ej'es of the young Beaver are open at birth. The dam at 
times brings forth as manj' as seven at a litter, but from two to five is 
the more usual number. The young remain with the mother for at least 
a year, and not unfrequently two years, and when they are in a place of 
security, where an abundance of food is to be procured, ten or twelve 
Beavers dwell together. 

About a month after their birth, the young first follow the mother, and 
accompany her in the water ; thej' continue to suckle some time longer, 
although if caught at that tender age, they can be raised without any dif- 
ficulty, by feeding them with tender branches of willows and other trees. 
Many Beavers from one to two months old are caught in traps set for old 
ones. The gravid female keeps aloof from the male until after the 
young have begun to follow her about. She resides in a separate lodge 
till the month of August, when the whole family once more dwell 


According to Richardson the Beaver exists on the banks of the Mac- 
kensie, which is the largest river that discharges itself into the Polar 
Sea : he speaks of its occurring as high as 67J or 68° north latitude, and 
states that its range from east to west extends from one side of the con- 
tinent to the other. It is found in Labrador, Newfoundland, and Canada, 
and also in some parts of Maine and Massachusetts. There can be no 
doubt that the Beaver formerly existed in every portion of the United 
States. Catesby noticed it as found in Carolina, and the local names of 
Beaver Creek, Beaver Dam, &c., now existing, are evidences that the 
animal was once known to occupy the places designated by these com- 


pounds of its name. We have indeed, examined several localities, some 
of which are not seventy miles from Charleston, where we were assured 
the remains of old Beaver dams existed thirty-five years ago. Baetram, in 
his visit to Florida in 1778, (Travels, p. 281,) speaks of it as at that time 
existing in Georgia and East Florida. It has, however, become a scarce 
species in all the Atlantic States, and in some of them has been entirely 
extirpated. It, however, may still be found in several of the less culti- 
vated portions of many of our States. Dr. Dekay was informed that in 
1815 a party of St. Regis Indians obtained three hundred Beavers in a 
few weeks, in St. LawTence county, N. Y. In 1827 we were shown seve- 
ral Beaver-houses in the north-western part of New York, where, al- 
though we did not see the animals, we observed signs of their recent la- 
bours. Dekav supposes, (N. Y. Fauna, p. 78,) that the Beaver does not at 
present exist south of certain localities in the State of Xew York. This 
is an error. Only two jears ago we received a foot of one, the animal 
having been caught not twenty miles from Ashville in North Carolina. 
We saw in 1839 several Beaver-lodges a few miles west of Peter's 
Mountain in Virginia, on the head'waters of the Tennessee River, and 
observed a Beaver swimming across the stream. There is a locality 
within twenty miles of Milledgeville, Georgia, where Beavers are still 
found. Our friend, Major Logan, residing in Dallas county, Alabama, 
informed us that they exist on his plantation, and that within the last 
few years a storekeeper in the immediate vicinity purchased twenty or 
thirty skins annually, from persons residing in his neighbourhood. 

We were invited to visit this portion of Alabama to study the habits 
of the Beaver, and to obtain specimens. Some years ago we shot one 
near Henderson, Kentucky, in Canoe Creek ; it was regarded as a 
curiosity, and probably none have been seen in that section of the 
country since. We have heard that the Beaver ^vas formerly found near 
New Orleans, but we never saw one in Louisiana. This species exists 
on the Arkansas River, in the streams running from the Rocky Moun- 
tains, and along their whole range on both sides ; we have traced it as 
far as the northern boundaries of Mexico, and it is no doubt found much 
farther south along the mountain range. Thus it appears that the Bea- 
ver once existed on the whole continent of North America, north of the 
Tropic of Cancer, and may still occur, although in greatly diminished 
numbers, in many localities in the wild and uncultivated portions of our 
country ; w^e are nevertheless under the impression, that in the Southern 
States the Beaver was seldom found in those ranges of country where 
the musk-rat does not exist, hence we think it could never have been 
abundant in the alluvial lands of Carolina and Georgia, as the localities 


where its dams formerly existed are on pure running streams, and not 
on the sluggish rivers near the sea-coast. 


It is doubted by some authors whether the American Beaver is identi- 
cal with the Beaver which exists in the north of Europe ; F. Cuvier, 
KuHL, and others, described it under the names of C. Americanus, C. 
Canadensis, &c. From the amphibious habits of this animal, and its 
northern range on -both continents, strong arguments in favour of the 
identity of the American and European species, might be maintained, 
even without adopting the theory of the former connexion of the two ad- 
jacent continents. We carefully compared many specimens (American 
and European,) in the museums of Europe, and did not perceive any dif- 
ference between them, except that the American specimens were a very 
little larger than the European. We saw a living Beaver in Denmark 
that had been obtained in the north of Sweden ; in its general appear- 
ance and actions it did not differ from those we have seen in confine- 
ment in America. It has been argued, however, that the European ani- 
mal differs in its habits from the American, and that along the banks of 
the Weser, the Rhone, and the Danube, the Beavers are not gregarious, 
and that they burro^v in the banks like the musk-rat. But change of 
habit may be the result of altered circumstances, and is not in itself suf- 
ficient to constitute a species. Our Avild pigeon (Columha migratoria,) 
formerly bred in communities in the Northern States ; we once saw one 
of their breeding places near Lake Champlain, where there were more 
than a hundred nests on a single tree. They still breed in that portion 
of the country, but the persecutions of man have compelled them to 
adopt a different habit, and two nests are now seldom found on a tree. 

The banlis of the European rivers, (on which the Beaver still remains 
although scarcely more than a straggler can be found along them now,) 
have been cultivated to the water's edge, and necessity, not choice, has 
driven the remnant of the Beaver tribe to the change of habit we 
have referred to. But if the accounts of travellers in the north of Europe 
are to be relied on, the habits of the Beaver are in the uncultivated por- 
tions of that country precisely similar to those exhibited by the animal in 
Canada. We consider the account of these animals given us by Hearne, 
(p. 234,) as very accurate. He speaks of their peculiarly constructed 
huts, their living in communities, and their general habits. In the ac- 
count of Swedish Lapland, by Professor Leems, published in Danish 
and Latin, Copenhagen, 1767, we have the following notice of the 
European species : (we quote from the English translation in Pinker- 


ton's Voyages, vol. i., p. 419.) " The Beaver is instinctively led to 
build his house near the banks of lakes and rivers. He saws with his 
teeth birch trees, with which the building is constructed ; with his teeth 
he drags the wood along to the place destined for building his habitation ; 
in this manner one piece of timber is carried after another, where they 
choose. At the lake or river where their house is to be built, they lay 
birch stocks or trunks, covered with their bark, in the bottom itself, and 
forming a foundation, they complete the rest of the bviilding, with so 
much art and ingenuity as to excite the admiration of the beholders. 
The house itself is of a round and arched figure, equalling in its circum- 
ference the ordinary hut of a Laplander. In this house the floor is for a 
bed, covered with branches of trees, not in the very bottom, but a little 
above, near the edge of a river or lake ; so that between the foundation 
and flooring on which the dwelling is supported, there is formed as it 
were a cell, filled with water, in which the stalks of the birch tree are 
put up ; on the bark of this, the Beaver family who inhabit this mansion 
feed. If there are more families under one roof, besides the laid flooring, 
another resembling the former is built a little above, which you may not 
improperly name a second story in the building. The roof of the dwell- 
ing consists of branches very closely compacted, and projects out far over 
the water. You have now, reader, a house consisting and laid out in a 
cellar, a flooring, a hypocaust, a ceiling, and a roof, raised by a brute 
animal, altogether destitute of reason, and also of the builder's art, with 
no less ingenuity than commodiousness." 

It should be observed that Leems, who was a missionary in that 
country, gave this statement as related to him by the Laplanders who re- 
side in the vicinity of the Beavers, and not from his o\\ti personal ob- 
servations. This account, though mixed up with some extravagancies 
and the usual vulgar errors, (which we have omitted,) certainly proves 
that the habits of the Beaver in the northern part of Europe are precise- 
ly similar to those of that animal on the northern continent of America. 




Incisive ^ ; Canine ;^ ; Molar =— = = 34. 

D 1 — 1 5—0 


Incisive =- ; Canine -^ ; Molar -:—, = 32. 

D 1 — 1 4 — 4 

The canine teeth in this genus are rather large and strong. In addi- 
tion to the four persistent molars on each side in the upper jaw, there is 
an additional small molar which is deciduous, dropping out when the 
animal is quite young. 

Nose, somewhat elongated, obtuse at the point ; tongue, smooth ; ears, 
short and round ; eyes, small ; body, thick-set ; legs, short. Mammae, six, 
two on the lower part of the chest and four on the abdomen. There are 
transverse glandular follicles between the anus and the root of the tail, 
which discharge a fetid matter. 

The feet are five-toed, and are armed with strong nails. The fore-feet 
are longer than the hind-feet. 

Three species of this genus have been described ; one inhabits Europe, 
one India, and one America. 

The generic name is derived from the Latin word Meles, a badger. 


Ahebican Badger. 

PLATE XL VII Male. Natural size. 

Supra, ftisco-ferruginea ; infra, subalbida ; capite, fascia longitudinale 
alba ; cniribus et pedibus nigris. 



Colour above, hoary-yellowish-brown ; a broad white longitudinal line 
dividing the head above into two equal parts ; dull uhite, beneath ; legs and 
feet, black. 


Carcajou, Buffon, lorn, vi., p. 117, pi. 23. 
Common Badger, Pennant's Arctic Zool., vol. i., p. 71. 
Badger, Var. B. American, Penn. Hist. Quad., vol. ii., p. 15. 
Ursus Taxus, Schreber, Saugeth, p. 520. 

" Labradoril's, Gmel., vol. i., p. 102. 
Prarow, Gass, Journal, p. 34. 

Blaireau, Lewis and Clarke's Voyage, vol. i., pp. 50, 137, 213. 
Taxus Labradoricus, Long's Expedition, vol. i., p. 261. 
Meles Labradoria, Sabine, Franklin's First Journey, p. 649. 
American Badger, Harlan, F., p. 57. 

" " Godm., vol.i., p. 179. 

Blairead D'Ameriqce, F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. des Mamm. 
Meles Labradoria, Richardson, F. B. A., pi. 2. 

" " Walerhouse, Trans. Zool. Soc, London, vol. ii., p. I, p. 343. 


There is a very striking difference between the teeth of this species 
and those of the European Badger, {Meles vulgaris ;) besides which the 
present species has one tooth less than the latter on each side in the 
lower jaw. We have ascertained, by referring to three skulls in our 
possession, that the dentition of the American Badger corresponds so 
minutely with the scientific and accurate account given of it by Watek- 
HousE, in the Transactions of the Zool. Society of London, vol. ii., part 5, 
p. 343, that we are willing to adopt his conclusions. 

He says : " The subgeneric name, Taxfoea, may be applied to the 
American Badger, and such species as may hereafter be discovered with 
incisors | ; canines iz| ; false molars lz|, the posterior false molar of the 
lower jaw, with an anterior large tubercle, and a posterior smaller one ; 
molars |z| ; the carnassiere and the grinding molars of the upper jaw 
each of a triangular form, or nearly so, and about equal in size. The 
modification observable in the form of the molars of the upper jaw of 
TAsmEA, furnishes us with an interesting link between Mephitis and 
Meles, whilst the former of these genera links the Badger with Mustela 
and its subgenera." 

The body of this species is thick, heavy, flat, very broad and fleshy, 



and its whole structure indicates that it is formed more for strength than 

Head, of moderate size, and conical ; the skull, between the ears, 
broad, giving it somewhat the appearance of a pug-faced dog. Tip of 
the nose, hairy above ; ears, short, and of an oval shape, clothed on both 
surfaces with short hairs ; whiskers, few, not reaching beyond the eyes. 
The fur on the back is (in winter) three inches long, covering the body 
very densely ; on the under surface it is short, and so thin that it does not 
conceal the colour of the skin. There is, immediately below the tail, a 
large aperture leading into a kind of sac. Although there seems to be 
no true glandular apparatus, this cavity is covered on its sides by an 
unctuous matter ; there is a second and smaller underneath, in the midst 
of which the anus opens, and on each side of the anus is a pore from 
which an unctuous matter escapes, which is of a yellow colour and offen- 
sive smell. Legs, short ; feet, robust, palmated to the outer joint ; nails, 
long and strong, slightly arched, and channelled underneath toward 
their extremities ; palms, naked. The heel is well clothed with hair ; 
the tail is short, and is covered with long bushy hairs. 

Hair on the back, at the roots dark-gray, then light-yellow for two- 
thirds of its length, then black, and broadly tipped with white ; giving 
it in w^inter a hoary-gray appearance ; but in summer it makes a near 
approach to yellowish-brown. The eyes are bright piercing black. 
Whiskers, upper lips, nose, forehead, around the eyes, and to the back of 
the head, dark yellowish-brown. There is a white stripe running from 
the nose over the forehead and along the middle of the neck to the 
shoulder. Upper surface of ear, dark brown ; inner surface and outer 
edge of ear, white ; legs, blackish-brown ; nails, pale horn-colour ; sides 
of face, white, which gradually darkens and unites with the brown colour 
above ; chin and throat, dull white ; the remainder of the under surface 
is yellowish-white ; tail, yellowish-brown. 

We have noticed some varieties in this species. In one of the speci- 
mens before us the longitudinal white line does not reach below the 
eyes, leaving the nose and forehead dark yellowish-brown. In two of 
them the under surface of the body is yellowish-white, with a broad and 
irregular longitudinal line of white in the centre ; whilst another and 
smaller specimen has the whole of the under surface pure white, shaded 
on the sides by a line of light yellow. 




A male in winter pelage. 

From point of nose to root of tail, 
Tail, (vertebrEB,) 

" to end of hair, 
Nose to root of ear. 
Between the ears. 
Height of 
Breadth of " 
Length of head. 
Breadth of body. 
Length of fore-leg to end of claw, 

Weight, 16 J lbs. 

21 inches. 

4 do. 

6i do. 

3f do. 

4 do. 

U do. 

1& do. 

4| do. 

lOJ do. 

71 do. 

A living specimen, (examined in a menagerie at Charleston, S. Carolina,) 
Length of head and body, 
" tail, (vertebrae,) . 

" " to end of hair, 

Breadth of body. 
Heel to end of nail, 

Weight, 23 lbs, 

30 inches 

5 do. 

7§ do. 

12 do. 

4 do. 

A stuffed specimen in our collection. 
Length of head and body, 
" tail, (vertebrae,) . 

" " to end of hair, 

" heel to end of nail. 

31 inches. 
5i do. 
7J do. 
4S do. 

During our stay at Fort Union, on the Upper Missouri River, in the 
summer of 1843, we purchased a living Badger from a squaw, who had 
brought it from some distance to the Fort for sale ; it having been caught 
by another squaw at a place nearly two hundred and fifty miles distant, 
among the Crow Indians. It was first placed in our common room, but 
was found to be so very mischievous, pulling about and tearing to pieces 
every article within its reach, trying to dig up the stones of the hearth, 
&c., that we had it removed into an adjoining apartment. It was regu- 
larly fed morning and evening on raw meat, either the flesh of animals 
procured during the day, or small birds shot during our researches through 
the adjacent country. It drank a good deal of water, and was rather 


cleanly in its habits. In the course of a few days it managed to dig 
a hole under the hearth and fire-place nearly large and deep enough to 
conceal its body, and we were obliged to drag it out by main force when- 
ever we wished to examine it. It was provoked at the near approach of 
any one, and growled continuously at all intruders. It was not, how- 
ever, very vicious, and would suffer one or two of our companions to 
handle and play -with it at times. 

At that period this Badger was about five months old, and was nearly 
as large as a full grown Vood-chuck or ground-hog, {Arctoniys monax.) 
Its fur was of the usual colour of summer pelage, and it was quite a 
pretty looking animal. We concluded to bring it to New York alive, if 
possible, and succeeded in doing so after much trouble, it having nearly 
made its escape more than once. On one occasion when our boat was 
made fast to the shore for the night, and we were about to make our 
" camp," the Badger gnawed his way out of the box in which he was 
confined, and began to range over the batteau ; we rose as speedily as 
possible, and striking a light, commenced a chase after it with the aid of 
one of the hands, and caught it by casting a buffalo robe over it. The 
cage next day was wired, and bits of tin put in places where the wooden 
bars had been gnawed through, so that the animal could not again easily 
get out of its prison. After having become accustomed to the box, the 
Badger became quite playful and took exercise by rolling himself rapidly 
from one end to the other, and then back again with a reversed move- 
ment, continuing this amusement sometimes for an hour or two. 

On arriving at our residenc? near New York we had a large box, tinned 
on the inside, let into the ground about two feet and a half, and filled to 
the same depth with earth. The Badger was put into it, and in a few 
minutes made a hole, in which he seemed quite at home, and where he 
passed most of his time during the winter, although he always came out 
to take his food and water, and did not appear at all sluggish or inclined 
to hibernate even when the weather Avas so cold as to make it necessary 
to pour hot water into the pan that was placed within his cage, to enable 
him to drink, as cold water would have frozen immediately, and in fact 
the pan generally had a stratum of ice on the bottom which the hot 
water dissolved when poured in at feeding-time. 

Our Badger was fed regularly, and soon grew very fat ; its coat 
changed completely, became woolly and of a buflf-brown colour, and the 
fur by the month of February had become indeed the most effectual pro- 
tection against cold that can ■well be imagined. 

We saw none of these animals in our hunting expeditions while on 
our journey up the Missouri River, and observed only a few burrowing 


places which we supposed were the remains of their holes, but which 
were at that time abandoned. We were informed that these animals 
had burrows six or seven feet deep running beneath the ground at that 
depth to the distance of more than thirty feet. The Indians speak of 
their flesh as being good ; that of the one of which we have been speak- 
ing, when the animal was killed, looked very white and fat, but we 
omitted to taste it. 

Before taking leave of this individual we may remark that the change 
of coat during winter from a hairy or furry texture to a woolly cover- 
ing, is to be observed in the Rocky-mountain sheep, {Ocis montana) 
and in other animals exposed in that season to intense cold. Thus the 
skin of Ovis montana, when obtained pending the change from winter to 
summer pelage, ^^ill have the outside hairs grown out bej-ond the ^vool 
that has retained the necessary warmth in the animal during the cold 
weather. The wool begins to drop out in early spring, leaving in its 
place a coat of hair resembling that of the elk or common deer, thus 
giving as a peculiarity of certain species, a change of pelage, quite differ- 
ent in character from the ordinary thickening of the coat or hair, common 
to all furred animals in winter, and observed by every one, — for instance, 
in the horse, the co^v, &c., which shed their winter coats in the spring. 

We had an opportunity in Charleston of observing almost daily for a 
fortnight, the habits of a Badger in a menagerie ; he was rather gentle, 
and would suffer himself to be played with and fondled with impunity 
by his keeper, but did not appear as well pleased with strangers ; he 
occasionally growled at us, and would not suffer us to examine him with- 
out the presence and aid of his keeper. 

In running, his fore-feet crossed each other, and his body nearly touch- 
ed the ground. The heel did not press on the earth like that of the bear, 
but was only slightly elevated above it. He resembled the Marjdand 
marmot in running, and progressed ■with about the same speed. We 
have never seen any animal that could exceed him in digging. He 
w^ould fall to work with his strong feet and long nails, and in a minute 
bury himself in the earth, and would verjf soon advance to the end of a 
chain ten feet in length. In digging, the hind, as well as the fore-feet, 
■were at w^ork, the latter for the purpose of excavating, and the former, 
(like paddles.) for expelling the earth out of the hole, and nothing seemed 
to delight him more than burrowing in the ground ; he seemed never to 
become weary of this kind of amusement ; when he had advanced to the 
length of his chain he would return and commence a fresh gallery near 
the mouth of the first hole, thus he would be occupied for hours, and it 
was necessary to drag him away by main force. He lived on good terms 


with the raccoon, gray fox, prairie wolf, and a dozen other species of 
animals. He was said to be active and playful at night, but he seemed 
rather dull during the day, usually lying rolled up like a ball, with his 
head under his body for hours at a time. 

This Badger did not refuse bread, but preferred meat, making two 
meals during the day, and eating about half a pound at each. 

We occasionally saw him assuming rather an interesting attitude, 
raising the fore-part of his body from the earth, drawing his feet along 
his sides, sitting up in the manner of the marmot, and turning his head 
in all directions to make observations. 

The Badger delights in taking up his residence in sandy prairies where 
he can indulge his extravagant propensity for digging. As he lives upon 
the animals he captures, he usually seeks out the burrows of the various 
species of marmots, spermophiles, ground-squirrels, &c., with which the 
prairies abound ; into these he penetrates, enlarging them to admit his 
ovm larger body, and soon overtaking and devouring the terrified in- 
mates. In this manner the prairies become so filled with innumerable 
Badger-holes that when the ground is covered with snow they prove a 
great annoyance to horsemen. 

Richardson informs us that early in the spring when they first begin 
to stir abroad they may be easily caught by pouring water into the holes, 
the ground at that time being so frozen that the water cannot escape 
through the sand, but soon fills the hole and its tenant is obliged to 
come out. 

The Badger, like the Maryland marmot, is a rather slow and timid 
animal, retreating to its burrow as soon as it finds itself pursued. When 
once in its snug retreat no dexterity in digging can unearth it. Richard- 
son states that " the strength of its fore-feet and claws is so great that 
one which had insinuated only its head and shoulders into a hole, re- 
sisted the utmost efforts of two stout young men, who endeavoured to 
drag it out by the hind-legs and tail, until one of them fired the contents 
of his fowling-piece into its body." 

This species is believed to be more carnivorous than that of Europe, 
(Meles taxus.) Richardson states that a female which he had killed had 
a small marmot nearly entire, together with some field-mice, in its sto- 
mach, and that it had at the same time been eating some vegetables. 
As in its dentition it approaches the skunk, which is very decidedly car- 
nivorous in habit, we should suppose that its principal food in its wild 
state is meat. 

From November to April the American Badger remains in its burrow, 
scarcely ever showing itself above ground ; here it passes its time in 


a state of semi-torpidity. It cannot, however, be a very sound sleeper 
in winter, as not only the individual which we examined in Charleston, 
but even that which we kept in New York, continued tolerably active 
through the winter. During the time of their long seclusion they do not 
lose much flesh, as they are represented to be very fat on coming abroad 
in spring. As this, however, is the pairing season, the)', like other ani- 
mals of similar habits, soon become lean. 

The American Badger is said to produce from three to five young at 
a litter. 

Several European writers, and among the more recent, Griffu-th, in 
his Animal Kingdom, have respresented the Badger as leading a most 
gloomy and solitary life, but we are not to suppose from the subterra- 
nean habits of this species that it is necessarily a dull and unhappy 
creature. Its fat sides are certainly no evidence of suffering or misery, 
and its form is well adapted to the life it is destined to lead. It is, like 
nearly all our quadrupeds, nocturnal in its habits, hence it appears dull 
during the day, and cannot endure a bright light. To a being consti- 
tuted like man, it would be a melancholy lot to live by digging under 
ground, shunning the light of day and only coming forth under the 
shadow of night ; but for this life the Badger was formed, and he could 
not be happy in any other. We believe that a wise Providence has 
created no species which, from the nature of its organization, must neces- 
sarily be miserable ; and we should, under all circumstances, rather dis- 
trust our short-sighted views than doubt the wisdom and infinite benevo- 
lence of the Creator. 


The American Badger has a very extensive range. It has been traced 
as far north as the banks of Peace River, and the sources of the River 
of the Mountains, in latitude 58°. It abounds in the neighbourhood of 
of Carlton-House, and on the waters that flow into Lake Winnepeg. 

Lewis and Clarke, and Townsend, found it on the open plains of the 
Columbia, and also on the prairies east of the Rocky Mountains. 

We have not been able to trace it within a less distance from the At- 
lantic than the neighbomhood of Fort Union. To the south we have 
seen specimens which were said to have come from the eastern side of 
the Rocky Mountains, in latitude 36°. There is a specimen in the collec- 
tion of the London Zoological Society, the skull of which was described 
and figured by Wateehouse, that was stated to have been received from 
Mexico. It is probable that the Flacoyole of Fernandez, which was de- 
scribed as existing in Mexico, is the same species. There is also another 


specimen in the museum of the Zoological Society of London, that was 
brought by Douglass, which is believed to have come from California. 

It is very doubtful whether it exists on the eastern side of the Ameri- 
can continent. 

We are not aware that it has ever been found either in Upper or 
Lower Canada, and we could obtain no knowledge of it in our re- 
searches at Labrador. 


The difference between the European and American species of Badger 
is so great that it is unnecessary to institute a very particular com- 
parison. Our species may be distinguished from that of Europe by its 
muzzle being hairy above, whilst it is naked in the other ; the fore- 
limbs are stouter, and the claws stronger ; its head is also more conical 
in form. The European species has more conspicuous ears ; it has three 
broad white marks, one on the top of the head, and one on each side, and 
between them are two broad black lines, which include the eyes and 
ears ; and the whole of the throat and under-jaw are black ; whilst the 
throat and lower-jaw of the American species are white ; there is also 
a broad white patch separating the 'black colours between the sides of 
the forehead and ear. There are several other marks of difference 
which it is unnecessary to particularize, as the species are now univer- 
sally admitted to be distinct. 

Sabine supposed the American Badger to be a little the smallest. 
There is a considerable difference among different individuals of both 
species, but we have on an average found the two species nearly 
equal in size. Mr. Sabine's American specimen was a small one, 
measuring two feet two inches in body. Buffon's specimen was two 
feet four inches. One of ours ^was two feet seven. On the other hand, 
Shaw gives the length of head and body of the European species as 
about two feet. Fischer in his sjTiopsis gives it as two and one third, 
and Ctrv'iER as two and a half. We have not found any European speci- 
men measuring more than two feet six inches. 

It was for a long time supposed, and was so stated, by Buffon, that 
there was no true species of Badger in America ; that author, however, 
afterwards received a specimen that was said to have come from Labra- 
dor, which was named by Gmelin after the country where it was sup- 
posed to be common. The name " Labrador ia" will be very inappro- 
priate should our conjectures prove correct, that it is unknown in that 
country. Buffon's specimen had lost one of its toes ; hence he described 


it as four toed. Gmelin who gave it a scientific name, made " Palmis 
tetradactylis" one of its specific characters. 

ScHREBER first Considered the American, as a distinct species from the 
European, Badger ; Cuvier seems to have arrived at a ditTerent conclu- 
sion ; Shaw gave tolerably good figures of both species on the same 
plate, pointing out their specific difierences ; and Sabine entered into a 
minute comparison. Richardson (F. B. A.,) added considerably to our 
knowledge of the history and habits of the American Badger ; and our 
esteemed friend, G. R. Waterhodse, Esq., has given descriptions and 
excellent figures of the skull and teeth, in which the distinctive marks 
in the dentition of the two species are so clearly pointed out, that 
nothing farther remains to be added in that department. 

We have compared specimens of the Blaireux of Lewis and Clarke, 
found on the plains of Missouri, with those obtained by Townsend near 
the Columbia, and also with specimens from the plains of the Sas- 
katchewan in the Zoological museum, and found them all belonging to 
the same species. 




Douglass' SauiKBEL. 
PLATE XLVni.— Male and Female. Natural size. 

S. Hudsonio quarta parte major ; cauda corpore curtiore ; supra sub- 
niger, infra flavus. 


About one-fourth larger than the chickaree (S. Hudsonius) ; tail, shorter 
than the body ; colour, dark-brown above, and bright-buff beneath. 


SciUHua DocGLASSii, Gray, Proceedings Zool. Society, London, 1836, p. 88, named, but 

apparently not described. 
" " Bachman, monograph of the Genus Sciurus, Proceedings Zool. Soc, 

London, 1838. 


Incisors, a little smaller than those of Sciurus Hudsonius; in the 
upper jaw the anterior molar, which is the smallest, has a single rounded 
eminence on the inner side ; on the outer edge of the tooth there are two 
acute points, and there is one in front ; the next two grinders, which are 
of equal size, have each a similar eminence on the inner side, with a 
pair of points externally ; the posterior grinder, although larger, is not 
unlike the anterior one. In the lower jaw the boimding ridge of enamel 
in each tooth forms an anterior and posterior pair of points. The molars 
increase gradually in size from the first, which is the smallest, to the pos- 
terior one, which is the largest. 

This species, in the form of its body, is not very unlike Sciurus Hud- 
sonius ; its ears and tail, however, are much shorter in proportion, and in 
other respects, as well as in size, it differs widely from Hudsonius. 

Head, considerably broader ; and nose, less elongated and blunter than 
in the latter; body, long and slender; ears, rather small, nearly rounded, 
slightly tufted posteriorly. As usual in this genus, the third inner toe is 
the longest, and not the second, as in the spermophiles. 



The whiskers, which are longer than the head, are black ; hair, from 
the roots to near the points, plumbeous, tipped with brownish-gray, a 
few lighter coloured hairs interspersed, giving it a dark-brown appear- 
ance. When closely examined it has the appearance of being thickly 
sprinkled with minute points of rust colour on a black ground. The tail, 
which is distichous but not broad, is for three-fourths of its length the 
colour of the back ; in the middle the fur is plumbeous at the roots, 
then irregularly marked with brow^n and black, and is tipped with dull 
white, giving it a hoary appearance ; on the extremity of the tail the 
hairs are black from the roots, and are tipped with light brovni ; the 
belly, the inner sides of the extremities and the outer surfaces of the feet, 
together with the throat and mouth and a line above and under the 
eyes, are bright-buff. The colours on the upper and under parts are 
separated by a line of black, commencing at the shoulders, and running 
along the flanks to the thighs ; this line is broadest in the middle of the 
body and is there about three lines wide, narrowing from thence to a 
point. The hairs, which project beyond the outer margins of the ears 
and form a slight tuft, are dark-brown, and in some specimens black. 


Length from point of nose to insertion of tail 

Tail (vertebrae) 

Tail, including fur . 

Height of ear posteriorly . 

Palm to end of middle fore-claw 

Heel and middle hind-claw 














Our specimens of Douglass' Squirrel were procured by Mr. Townsend. 
He remarks in his notes : — " This is a very plentiful species, inhabits the 
pine trees along the shores of the Columbia River, and like our common 
Carolina squirrel lays in a great quantity of food for consumption during 
the winter months. This food consists of the cones of the pine, with a 
few acorns. Late in autumn it may be seen very busy in the tops of the 
trees, throwing down its winter-stock ; after which, assisted by its mate, 
it gathers in and stows away its store, in readiness for its long incarcer. 



Douglass obtained his specimens of this Squirrel on the Rocky Moun- 
tains, and TowNSEND found it on the Columbia River. 


This species was found by Douglass and by Townsend about the same 
time. These gentlemen, if we have been rightly informed, met together 
in the Far West. We drew^ up a description from specimens sent us by 
Mr. Townsend, and used the grateful privilege of a describer, in naming 
it {S. Totvnsendii) after the individual who we supposed had been the 
first discoverer. Under this name we sent our description to the Acad. 
of Nat. Sciences of Philadelphia, which was read Aug. 7th, 1838. After 
arriving in England, however, the same year, we saw a similar specimen 
in the Museum of the Zool. Society, and heard that it had been named 
by Gray, on the 11th October, 1836, who had called it after Douglass, 
(S. Douglassii.) He had not, as far as we have been able to ascertain, 
published any description of it. All that we can find in reference to this 
species is the following : " Mr. Gray gave a description of two foxes, a 
squirrel (Scivrus Douglassii), and three hares." The foxes and hares 
were described by him in the Magazine of Nat. Hist., (new series,) Nov., 
1837, vol. i., p. 578, but for some reason he appears never to have pub- 
lished a description of this species. 

We, however, supposing that he had described it, immediately changed 
our name to that proposed by Gray, and in our monograph of the genus 
assigned to him the credit of having been the first describer, although he 
had, it appears, only named the animal. 


SPERMOPHILUS D O U G L A S S 1 1.— Richardson. 

Douglass' Spermophile. 

PLATE XLIX. Natural size. 

Auribus insignibus ; versus humeros canescens ; corpore dilute fusco, 
striis multis indistinctis transversis fuscis et albis, linea nigra inter hume- 
ros ; Cauda, longa, cylindrica, pilis albo nigroque annulatis. 


Ears, conspicuous ; hoary on the shoulders, with a black stripe between 
them ; general colour of the body, pale-brown, with many indistinct trans- 
verse marks of dark-brown and white. Tail, long and cylindrical, hairs 
annulated with white and black. 


Abctomts (Spehmophilus ?) DouGLASSii, Richardson, F. B. A., p. 172. 
Abctomys (SpERMOPHiLus) Beecheyi, RichardsoD, F. B. A., p. 170. ? 


In the general form of the body Douglass' Spermophile bears a strong 
resemblance to several species of squirrel. Its rather slender shape, its 
long ears and tail, together with its large eyes and the form of its head, 
assimilate it to the Northern gray squirrel, {S. migratorius.) Its coarser 
fur, however, its cheek-pouches, rounder tail, and the shape of its claws, 
clearly designate the genus to which it belongs. 

Head, rather short, broad and depressed ; nose, obtuse ; ears, long, 
semi-oval, covered on both surfaces with short hairs, which in winter 
specimens extend a line beyond the margins at their extremities ; cheek- 
pouches of moderate size. 

The longer hairs of the body are rather coarse, they are slender at 
their roots, gradually enlarge as they ascend, and suddenly taper off to 
a point at the tips. The fur beneath is on the back and sides soft and 
dense ; on the under surface, however, the longer hairs predominate, and 
the animal is in those parts but thinly clothed. 

There are on the four-feet four toes with a blunt nail in place of a 
thumb. The second toe is longest ; the nails are of moderate size, and 



slightly hooked. The feet are covered with short adpressed hairs, to the 
roots of the nails ; the tail is long and cylindrical, the longest hairs two 
inches in length. Mammae ten, four pectoral and six abdominal. 

Incisors, dark orange ; moustaches, black ; on the nose and forehead, 
a tinge of reddish-brown ; around the eyes, white ; inner surface of ear, 
dull yellowish-brown ; outer surface, dark-brown becoming nearly 
black at the tips ; sides of the face, yellowish white. The sides of the 
neck and shoulders have a hoary appearance. There is a broad, dark- 
brown stripe commencing on the neck, widening in its descent, and con- 
tinuing along the centre of the back for about half the length of the 
body, when it gradually blends with the colours on the sides and hips, 
which are irregularly speckled with white and black on a yellowish- 
brown ground. Nails, black ; inner surface of legs, and whole un- 
der surface of body, dull yellowish-white. All the feet are grayish- 

The under-fur on every part of the back is dark-brown ; the longer 
hairs are brown at their roots, then yellowish ; those on the dorsal line 
are broadly tipped with black, whilst on the shoulders the tips are 
white. The spots on the back and hips are formed by some of the hairs 
being tipped with white, others with black. The hairs on the tail are at 
their roots white, then three times annulated with black and white, 
and are tipped with white ; thus when distichously arranged (which, 
however, does not seem natural to the animal,) the tail presents three 
narrow longitudinal black stripes, and four white ones. Under-surface 
of tail, dull yellowish-gray. 

There are some variations in the colour of different specimens. An 
old female that was suckling her young at the time she was caught had 
the dark dorsal line on the shoulders very indistinctly visible, and her 
feet were much lighter coloured than in younger specimens. 


An old female. 

Length of head and body 

Tail (vertebrae) 

Tail, to end of fur . 

Height of ear . 

From heel to longest nail 

From eye to point of nose 















An old male. 

Length of head and body 

Tail (vertebrae) 

Tail, to end of fur . 

Height of ear . 

Prom heel to point of nail 


Length of head and body 

Tail (vertebras) 

Tail, to end of fur . 

Height of ear 

Tarsus .... 

13| inches. 

8 do. 
9i do. 
J do. 
2i do. 

9 do. 
5i do. 
6J do. 
i do. 
2 do. 

We regret to state, that with the habits of this species we are wholly 
unacquainted. Mr. Townsend, who kindly loaned us four specimens, 
from which we made our drawing and prepared our description, did not 
furnish us with any account of them. 

Of Spermophilus Beecheyi, which we have supposed might be found 
identical with this species. Dr. Richardson states that, " Mr. Collie, sur- 
geon of his majesty's ship Blossom, informs me that this kind of Spermo- 
phile burrows in great numbers in the sandy declivities and dry plains in 
the neighbourhood of San Francisco and Monterey, in California, close to 
the houses. They frequently stand upon their hind-legs when looking 
round about them. In running they carry the tail generally straight out, 
but when passing over any little inequality, it is raised as if to prevent 
its being soiled. In rainy weather, and when the fields are w^et and 
dirty, they come but little above ground. They take the alarm when 
any one passes within twenty or thirty yards of them, and run off at full 
speed till they can reach the mouth of their hole, where they stop a little 
and then enter it ; they soon come out again, but with caution, and if not 
molested, will proceed to their usual occupation of playing or feeding. 
Artemesias and other vegetable matters were foimd in their stomachs." 


One of the specimens obtained by Mr. Townsend is marked " Falls of 
the Columbia River," another " Walla- walla ; " the specimen procured 
by Douglass was obtained on the banks of the Columbia River, and if 
our conjectures are correct, that S. Beecheyi is the same as the present 
species, it exists also in considerable numbers in California. 



The first description of this species ■was given by Dr. Richardson, who 
received from Douglass a hunter's skin, which, containing no skull, he 
was prevented from deciding on the genus. We have ascertained that 
in its dentition it is a true spermophile, and in all other respects possesses 
the characteristics of that genus. 

In the valuable collection of the London Zoological Society we ex- 
amined a specimen of S. Beecheyi, brought by Mr. Collie, which so 
strikingly resembles this species, that we are greatly inclined to think 
they will yet be found identical ; we have, therefore, quoted it for the 
present as a synonyme, but marked it with a doubt, as an examination 
of a greater number of specimens might probably change our views. 



Richardson's Spebmophiie. 
PLATE L.— Natural size. 

Sciuro Hudsonio aliquantulum major ; dorso fulvescente, pilis nigris 
mixtis ; ventre fusco-rufescens ; cauda mediocri, ad extremum nigra, 
apice fulva ; auriculis brevissimis, 


A little larger than the Hudson's Bay squirrel; hack, yellowish-gray, 
interspersed with black hair ; belly, pale grayish-orange ; tail, rather short, 
black at the extremity, tipped with fawn colour ; ears, very short. 


Arctomts Richardsonii, Sabine, Linn. Trans., vol. xiii., p. 589, t. 28. 

" " Idem, Franklin's Jour., p. 662. 

" " Griffith's An. Kingd., vol. v., p. 246. 

Tawney American Marmot, Godm., Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. HI. 
Arctomys (SpERMOPHims) Richardsonii, Rich., F. B. A., p. 164, pi. 11. 


Body, rather short and thick ; forehead, arched ; nose, blunt, covered 
with short hairs ; margins of the nostrils, and septum, naked ; vi^hiskers, 
few, and shorter than the head ; eyes, large ; ears, small, rounded, 
clothed with short hairs on both surfaces ; cheek-pouches, of moderate 
size. The fur on the whole body is short and fine. 

Legs, rather short ; nails, long, weak, compressed, and slightly arched. 
On the fore-feet there are four toes and a minute thumb ; the toes are 
covered on the upper surface with short hairs which reach the root of 
the nails. Palms, naked, containing five callosities. The thumb has a 
very short joint and is covered by a convex nail. Middle toe longest ; 
the first and third are of equal length, and the outer one is shortest and 
-arthest back. 

On the hind-feet there are five toes. The three middle ones are nearly 
o/ equal length, the other two are smaller, and are situated farther back ; 




the claws are shorter than those of the i'ore-i'eet ; the soles are nakeJ, 
but the heel is covered with hairs along the edges which curve over it. 
The tail is not very bushy and is about the size of that of the chipping- 
squirrel, (Tainias Lysteri.) 

Teeth, light orange ; whiskers, black ; nails, dark-brown ; the back is 
yellowish-brown, intermixed with a few blackish hairs ; on the sides, 
this colour is a shade lighter ; on the nose, there is a slight tinge of 
chesnut-brown. The cheeks, throat, and inside of the thighs, are dull 
white ; belly, brov\Tiish-gray. The tail is of the colour of the back ; the 
hairs on the margins, near the end, are dark-brown tipped with yellowish- 


Adult female- 

From point of nose to root of tail 


Tail (vertebrae) .... 
Tail, to end of hair 
From heel to end of middle claw 
Height of ear .... 













We possess no personal knowledge of this species, never having met 
with it in a living state. The specimens from which our figures and 
descriptions were made, were obtained by Mr. Townsend, and we are 
indebted to the excellent work of Richardson for the following account 
of its habits : " This animal inhabits sandy prairies, and is not found in 
thickly wooded parts. It is one of the animals known to the residents of 
the fur countries by the name of Ground-squirrel, and to Canadian voy- 
agers by that of SifHeur. It has considerable resemblance to the squirrels, 
but is less active, and has less sprightliness and elegance in its attitudes. 

" It can scarcely be said to live in villages, though there are sometimes 
three and four of its burrows on a sandy hummock or other favourable 
spot. The burrows generally fork or branch off near the surface, and 
descend obliquely downwards to a considerable depth ; some few of 
them have more than one entrance. The earth scraped out, in forming 
them, is thrown up in a small mound at the mouth of the hole, and on 
it the animal seats itself on its hind-legs, to overlook the short grass, 


and reconnoitre before it ventures to make an excursion. In the spring, 
there are seldom more than two, and most frequently only one indi- 
vidual seen at a time at the mouth of a hole ; and, although I have 
captured many of them at that season, by pouring water into their 
burrows, and compelling them to come out, I have never obtained more 
than one from the same hole, unless when a stranger has been chased 
into a burrow already occupied by another. There are many little well- 
woru pathways diverging from, each burrow, and some of these roads 
are observed, in the spring, to lead directly to the neighbouring holes, 
being most probably formed by the males going in quest of a mate. 
They place no sentinels, and there appeai-s to be no concert between 
the Tawny Marmots residing in the neighbourhood, every individual look- 
ing out for himself. They never quit their holes in the winter ; and I 
believe they pass the greater part of that season in a torpid state. The 
ground not being thawed when I was at Carlton House, I had not an op- 
portunity ef ascertaining how their sleeping apartments were constructed, 
nor whether they lay up stores of food or not. About the end of the first 
week of April, or as soon as a considerable portion of the ground is 
bare of snow, they come forth, and when caught on their little excur- 
sions, their cheek-pouches generally contain the tender buds of the 
Anemone Nuttalliana, which is very abundant, and the earliest plant on 
the plains. They are fat when they first appear, and their fur is in good 
condition ; but the males immediately go in quest of the females, and in 
the course of a fortnight they become lean and the hair begins to fall 
off. They run pretty quick, but clumsily, and their tails at the same 
time move up and down with a jerking motion. They dive into their 
burrows on the approach of danger, but soon ventiu-e out again if they 
hear no noise, and may be easily shot with bow and arrow, or even 
knocked down with a stick, by any one who will take the trouble to 
lie quietly on the grass near their burrow for a few miimtes. Their 
curiosity is so great that they are sure to come out to look around. 

" As far as I could ascertain, they feed entirely on vegetable matter, 
eating in the spring the young buds and tender sprouts of herbaceous 
plants, and in the autmnn the seeds of grasses and leguminous plants. 

" Their cry when in danger, or when angry, so nearly resembles that 
of Arctomys Parriji. that I am unable to express the difference in letters. 

" Several species of falcon that frequent the plains of the Saskatche- 
wan, prey much on these Marmots ; but their principal enemy is the 
American badger, which, by enlarging their burrows, pursues them to 
their inmost retreats. Considerable parties of Indians have also been 
known to subsist for a time on them when large game is scarce, and 
their flesh is palatable when they are fat."' 



This species has not been observed further north than latitude 55°. In 
the appendix to Franklin's Journey, it was said to inhabit the shores 
of the Arctic Sea, but it appears that another species had been mis- 
taken for it. It is found in the grassy plains that lie between the north 
and south branches of the Saskatchewan River. It is very common in 
the neighbourhood of Carlton House, its burrows being scattered at 
short distances over the vv^hole plain. Townsend obtained his specimens 
in the Rocky Mountains, (about latitude 45°,) and we have traced it as 
far south as latitude 38°. 


" The Tawny Marmot Squirrel is most readily distinguished from the 
true squirrels by the smallness of its ears, the shape of its incisors, which 
are larger but not so strong and much less compressed ; the second and 
not the third toe being the largest, and its comparatively long claws and 
less bushy tail. It seems to be the American representative of A. concolor 
at the Jevraska of Siberia." — (Richardson.) The males of this species 
are represented as very pugnacious in their habits, and we have repre- 
sented one in our plate that has lost the end of its tail, the figure being 
taken from one of the specimens sent to us. 


American Badger, . . 


Cross Fox, . 

White-footed Mouse, 

Arctomys, Genus, 


Arvicola, Genus, 

Pennsylvanica, . 

Badger, American, 

Bay Lynx 

Beaver, .... 
Black Rat 

Squirrel, . . . 

Canada Lynx, . 


- Pouched-Rat, , 
Carolina Gray Squirrel, 
Castor, Genus, . 

Fiber (var. Americanus), 

Cat Squirrel, . , , 
Chickaree, .... 
Chipping Squirrel, 

Collared Peccary, 
Common American Skunk, , 

Shrew Mole, 

Wild Cat, 

■ Flying Squinel, 

Cotton Rat, 
Cross Fox, . 

Douglass' Spermophile, 

Page Page 

. 360 Douglass' Squirrel, .... 370 

. 347 Downy Squirrel, 199 

. 45 Dycotyles, Genus, .... 233 

. 300 Torquatus, . . . . ib. 

. 16 

. ib. Fiber, Genus, 107 

. 340 Zibethicus, . . . .108 

. 341 Fisher, 307 

Florida Rat 32 

. 360 Flying Squirrel, Common, . . . 216 

2 Oregon, . . .132 

. 347 Fox, American Cross, . . . .45 

. 189 Gray, 162 

. 261 Four-striped Ground Squirrel, . . 195 

, 136 Genus Arctomys, . . . .16 

. 277 Arvicola, 340 

. 332 Castor, 347 

. 55 Dycotyles 233 

. 347 Fiber, 107 

. ib. Gulo 202 

. 145 Hystrix, 277 

. 125 Lepus, 25 

. 65 Lynx, 1 

, 233 Meles, 360 

. 317 Mephitis, . . . .316 

. 81 Mus, 189 

. 2 Mustela, 307 

. 216 Neotoma, . . . .31 

. 228 Pseudostoma, '. . . . 332 

. 45 Pteromys, .... 132 

Putorius, . . . ■ . 250 

. 373 Scalops 81 





Genus Sciurus, . 

. 38 

Migratory Gray Squirrel, 

. 265 


. 227 


. 250 

. 76 

ATnip llnmmnn Snrpw 

. 81 

Tamias, . 

. 64 

Mouse, American White-footed, 

. 300 

Vulpes, . 




. 202 

Mus, Genus, 

. 189 

Gray Fox, . 

. 162 

Leucopus, . 

. 300 


. 173 


. 189 

. 52 

Musk-Rat, .... 

. 108 

)r Northern, 265 

Musquash, .... 

. ib. 


. 16 

Mustela, Genus, . 

. 307 

Gulo, Genus, 

. 202 

Canadensis, . 

. ib. 

. ib. 

Neotoma, Genus, 

. 31 


. 65 


. 223 

Hare, Marsh, 

. 151 

Floridana, . 

. 32 

Northern, . 

. 93 

Northern Gray Squirrel, 

. 265 


. 242 

Hare, . 

. 93 

. 287 

Townsend's Rocky 

Mountain, . 25 

Oregon Flying Squirrel, 

. 132 

Hare Squirrel, 

. 329 

Hudson's Bay Squirrel, 

. 125 

Parry's Marmot-Squirrel, . 

. 77 

HystrLS, Genus, . 

. 277 

Spermophile, . 

. ib. 

. ib. 

Peccary, Collared, 

. 233 

Pennant's Marten, 

. 307 

Lepus, Genus, . 

. 25 

Polar Hare, 

. 242 

. 93 

Porcupine, Canada, . 

. 277 


. 287 

Pouched Rat, Canada, 

. 332 


. 242 

Pseudostoma, Genus, . 

. 332 


. 151 

. ib. 


. 173 

Pteromys, Genus, 

. 132 

. 25 

. ib. 

Leopard Spermophile, . 

. 294 

Volucella, . 

. 216 

Lynx, Genus, 


Putorius, Genus, 

. 250 

Canada, . 

. 136 

Vison, . 

. ib. 


. ib. 

. 2 

Rabbit, Gray, . 

. 173 

Rat, Black, .... 

. 189 

Marmot-Squirrel, Parry's, 

. 77 

Canada Pouched, 

. 332 

Maryland Marmot, 

. 16 


. 228 


. 131 


. 32 

Marten, Pennant's, 

. 307 

Red-bellied Squirrel, . 

. 292 

Meles, Genus, . 

. 360 


. 125 

. ib. 

Richardson's Columbian Squirrel 

. 41 

Mephitis, Genus, 

. 316 

Spermophile, . 

. 377 

• 1 Chinga, 

. 317 

Rocky Mountain Neotoma, . 

. 225 



Scalops, Genus, . 


Sciurus, Genus, . 



— — ^ Douglassii, . 


^— ^— Hudsonius, . 




Migratorius, . 

Mollipilosus, . 

Niger, . 

Richardsonii, . 

Shrew Alole, Common American 
Sigmodon, Genus, 

Hispidum, . 

Skunk, Common American, 
Soft-haired Squirrel, . 
Squirrel, Black, . 

Carolina Gray, 

Cat, . 

Chickaree, . 


- Common Flying, 

Douglass', . 


Migratory Gray, 

Northern Gray, 

—^— Oregon Flying, 

. 81 
. ib. 
. 38 
. 55 
. 145 
. 370 
. 292 
. 125 
. 214 
. 199 
. 329 
. 265 
. 157 
. 261 
. 41 
. 81 
. 227 
. 228 
. 317 
. 157 
. 261 
. 55 
. 145 
. 125 
. 65 
. 216 
. 370 
. 199 
. 265 
. ib. 
. 132 

Squirrel, Red-bellied, . 


Spermophilus, Genus, 



• Richardsonii, 

Tridecem lineatus, 

Spermophile, Douglass', 

Parry's, . 

— ^— ^— Richardson's, 

Swamp Hare, 

Tamias, Genus, . 



Townsendii, . 

Townsend's Ground Squirrel, 
Rocky Mountain Hare, 

Vulpes, Genus, .... 

Fulvus (var. Decussatus), 

Virginianus, . 

Wild-Cat, Common American, 
White-footed Mouse, . 
Wilson's Meadow Mouse, 
Wood-Chuck, . 
Woolly Squirrel, 

. 292 
. 41 

. 76 
. 373 
. 77 
. 377 
. 294 
. 273 
. 294 
. 77 
. 277 
. 287 

. 64 
. 65 
. 195 
. 159 
. 159 
. 25 

. 44 
. 45 
. 162 

. 2 
. 300 
. 341 
. 202 
. 16 
. 214 


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