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Full text of "Wild animals of North America, intimate studies of big and little creatures of the mammal kingdom"

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LIBRARY 

OF 

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY 
OSBORN LIBRARY OF VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY 

PRESENTED May 5, 1919 



,v 



WILD ANIMALS 
OF NORTH AMERICA 

INTIMATE STUDIES OF BIG AND LITTLE CREATURES 
OF THE MAMMAL KINGDOM 




BY 



EDWARD W. NELSON 



Natural-Color Portraits from Paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes 
Track Sketches by Ernest Thompson Seton 



PUBLISHED BY THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY 

WASHINGTON, D. C. 

U. S. A. 



Willlllllllillll!llillll!llll!lllllllll!iill!llll!l|||||illll||llllllll||llllll|||||i|lilllli![|||I||^ 



^ 



Copyright, 1918 

BY THE 

National Geographic Society 



(hi5:3 



Wa.shixgton-. D. C. 
Tress uf Juuu & Detweii.er. Ixc. 



INTRODUCTION 



TN OFFERING THIS VOLUME of "Wild Animals of North America" to mem- 
-*• bers of the National Geographic Society, the Editor combines the text and 
illustrations of two entire numbers of the NATIONAL Geographic Maga- 
zine — that of November, 191 6, devoted to the Larger Mammals of North 
America, and that of May, 191 8, in which the Smaller Mammals of our 
continent were described and presented pictorially. 

Edward W. Nelson, the author of both articles. Is one of the foremost 
naturalists of our time. For forty years he has been the friend and student 
of North America's wild-folk. He has made his home in forest and desert, 
on mountain side and plain, amid the snows of Alaska and the tropic heat 
of Central American jungles — wherever Nature's creatures of infinite variety 
were to be observed, their habits noted, and their range defined. 

In the whole realm of scientists, the Geographic could not have found 
a writer more admirably equipped for the authorship of a book such as "Wild 
Animals of North America" than Mr. Nelson, for, in addition to his excep- 
tional scientific training and his standing as Chief of the unique U. S. Biolog- 
ical Survey, he possesses the rare quality of the born writer, able to visualize 
for the reader the things which he has seen and the experiences which he has 
undergone in seeing them. Each of his animal biographies, of which there 
are 119 in this volume, is a cameo brochure — concisely and entertainingly 
presented, yet never deviating from scientific accuracy. 

In jVIr. Louis Agassiz Fuertes, the National Geographic Society has 
secured for Mr. Nelson the same gifted artist collaborator which it provided 
for Henry W. Henshaw, author of "Common Birds of Town and Country," 
"The Warblers," and "American Game Birds," all of which were assem- 
bled in our "Book of Birds." In the present instance Mr. Fuertes has 
produced a natural history gallery of paintings of the Larger and Smaller 
Mammals of North America which is a notable contribution to wild-animal 
portraiture, and the reproductions of these works of art are among the most 
effective and lifelike examples of color printing ever produced in this country. 

Supplementing the work of Mr. Nelson and Mr. Fuertes is a series of 
drawings by the noted naturalist and nature-lover, Ernest Thompson Seton, 
showing the tracks of many of the most widely known mammals. 

"Wild Animals of North America" provicles In compact and permanent 
form a natural history for which the National Geographic Society expended 
$100,000 in the two issues of the Magazine in which the articles and illustra- 
tions originally appeared. 

Gilbert Grosvenor, 

Director and Editor. 



INDEX TO WILD ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



(The articles and illustrations in this volume are reproduced from the November, 1916, and May, 1918, 

National Geographic Magazine. The first page is numbered 3 85, as it originally appeared 

in the Magazine. The following pages are numbered in sequence.) 



Antelope, Prong-horn 4.")2 

Armadillo, Nine-ljanded 584 

Badger 420 

Bat, Big-eared desert (MC. 

Bat, Hoarv 598 

Bat, Mexican 599 

Bat, Ked 59C. 

Bear, Alasliun Brown (fron 

tispiece) 441 

Bear, Black 4::7 

Bear, Cinnamon, or Black . . 4:!7 

Bear, Glacier 487 

Bear, Grizzly 44(» 

Bear, rolar 43(! 

Beaver, American 441 

Beaver, Mountain 529 

Beluga, or White Wliale. . . . 4(;s 

Bison, American, or Buffalo. 401 

Blarina 59.'! 

Bobcat, or Bay Lynx 409 

Bowhead 4(19 

Buffalo, or American Bison. 4(11 

Cachalot, or Sperm Whale. . 472 

Caribou, Barren Ground. . . . 4(M) 

Caribou, I'eary 4(in 

Caribou, Woodland 4(1() 

Cat, Common 

Cat, .Jaguarundi, or I-vra... 41:! 

Cat, King-tailed 5S(; 

Chipmunk, Antelope 545 

Chipmiuiic. Easleru 549 

■Cliipmuuk, Golden 545 

■Chipmunk, (Jregon 552 

■Chipmunk, Painted 55:1 

Cony, or Little Chief Hare. 494 

Cougar, or ^Mountain Lion. . 412 

Cow, Common 

Coyote, Arizona, or Mearns. 424 

Coyote, Jlearns. or Arizona. 424 

Coyote, Plains 424 

Deer, Arizona White-tailed. . 457 

Deer, Black-tailed 45(1 

Deer, Mule 45:! 

Deer, Virginia 45(> 

Deer. White-tailed 45(1,457 

Dog 

Elk. American 4;):! 

Evni, or .Taunaruudi Cat... 41.''i 

Ferret. Black-looted 571 

Fisher, or Pekaii 444 

Footprints, wild folk 

Fox 

Fox, Alaska Ked 417 

Fox, Arctic, (jr Whiie 425 

Fox, Cross 417 

Fox, Desert 420 

Fox, (iray 417 

Fox, Pribilof Blue 425 

Fox, Ked 41(1 

Fox, Silver 417 

Fox, AVhite, o^• Arctic 425 

Goat, Bighorn 

Goat, Kocky Mountain 452 

Gopher, I'ocket 500 

Hare, Arctic 491 

Hare, Little Chief 494 

Hare. Varying 489 

Horse 

Human footprints 

.Taguar 4i:i 

Kangaroo Kat 502 

Leminiug. Banded 50:^> 

Lemming, Brown 504 

I>ion. Mountain 412 

Lynx, Bay 409 

Lynx, Canada 409 

Manati. Florida 4(15 

Marmot, American 5:i:! 

Marmot, Hoary.- or Whistler 5:!(1 

^larten. or American Sable. 57(i 

IMink, American 575 

Mole. Oregon 588 

Mole. Star-nosed 589 

Moose 461 

Mouse, Beach 524 

Mouse, Big-eared Kock 525 

Mouse Field, or Meadow . . . 505 



Color T 


r.ick 


lustra- ill 


stra- 


tion ■ t 


ou 


451 


611 


559 




419 


001 


500 




507 




500 




4:?9 


008 


4:!9 




4:^9 




442 


008 


4:^8 




44:^ 




534 




470 




40:! 




500 


595 


411 




471 




4o:; 




471 




422 


(110 


422 




459 






487 


415 
502 




5:!9 
542 


580 


542 




543 




.54:1 




511 




414 


005 




594 


423 




423 




423 


599 


458 




455 


Oil 


455 


GO 7 


458 




458 


000 


5!t0. 


.597 


454 


007 


415 




551 




440 






485 




575 


4 IN 




420 




418 




419 




419 




420 




418 




41S 






(104 


451 


004 


515 




510 




511 




507 


490 




010 




009 


4-14 




51 N 




519 




41 1 


005 


411 




411 


012 


407 




534 

5:i5 


578 


o.)>> 

555 58G 


'.587 


563 




;>63 
462 


' (';(')2 


530 




531 




522 


495 



Text 

Mouse, Grasshopper 520 

Mouse, Harvest 517 

Mouse, House 529 

Mouse, Jumping 496 

Mouse, I'ine 508 

Mouse, Ked-backed 509 

Mouse, Kufous Tree 512 

Mouse, Silky Pocket 497 

Mouse, Spiny I'ocket 498 

Mouse, White-footed 521 

Muskhog, or I'eccarv 448 

Musk-ox 404 

Muskrat 513 

Ocelots, or Tiger-cats 410 

Opossum, Vii-ginia 408 

Otter 445 

Otter, Sea 432 

Peccary, Collared 448 

I'ekan, or Fisher 444 

Pig, Common 

Pika, or Little Chief Hare. . 494 

I'olecat, or Spilogale 

Porcupine 495 

Prairie-dog 536 

Quadruped, with biped track : 

Common cat 

Raljbit, Antelope .lack 480 

Kal)bit, California Jack.... 487 

Kabbit, Cottontail 492 

Rabbit, Jack 

Rabbit, Marsh 493 

Rabbit, Saowshoe 489 

Raccoon 408 

Rat, Brown 525 

Rat, Kangaroo 502 

Sable, American, or ;\larten. 570 

Sea-elephant, Northern 432 

Sea-lion. Steller 429 

Seal, Alaska Fur 429 

Seal, Elephant. 432 

Seal, Greenland 433 

Seal, Harbor 433 

Seal, Harp, or Saddle-back. . 433 

Seal, Leopard 433 

Seal, Ribbon 430 

Seal. Saddle-back 433 

Sheep, Dall Mountain 449 

Sheep, Rocky Mountai;; . . . . 448 

Sheep, Stone Mountain 449 

Shrew, Common 591 

Shrew, Short-tailed 593 

Skunk, ("(jmmon 580 

Skunk, Hog-nosed 582 

Skunk, Little, or Polecat 

Skunk. Little Spotted 577 

Squirrel, Abert 504 

Sipiirrel, California (iround. 541 

Scpiirrel, Douglas 557 

S(iuirrel, Flying 508 

Squirrel, Fox 501 

Squirrel, Gray 500 

S(|iiirrel. Kail);ilj 504 

Squirrel. Ivcd 550 

Sipiirrel, Rusty J'"ox 501 

S(|uirrel. Striped (iround... 540 

Spilogale, or Polecat 

Stoat, or Lar.ge Weasel.... 572 

'I'iger-cats. or Ocelots 410 

Walrus, Pacific 42.S 

Wapiti, or American i:ik... 45:! 

Weasel 

Weasel, I^arge, or Stoat... 572 

Weasel, Least 57:: 

Whale. Greenland Right. . . . 409 

Wliale. Killer 40S 

Whale, Spei-m. or Cachalot. 472 

Wh.-ile. White, or Beluga... 408 

Whistler, or Hoary Marmot. 5;'>0 

Wildcat. Texan 

Wolf, Arctic White 421 

Wolf, Black 

Wolf. Grav. or Timber 421 

Wolf. Pr.iirie 424 

Wolf. Timber, or Gray 421 

Wolverine 4'.i.S 

Woodchuck. Common 5:',:', 

Woodrat 510 



Color T 


rack 


Uustra- illi 


stra- 


tion t 


cn 


527 


570 


527 




531 




514 




522 




523 




523 




515 




515 




530 


572 


447 




40G 


600 


520 


509 


415 




410 


588 


440 




434 




447 




440 






571 


511 






593 


514 




538 





510 


492 




488 


sii 




507 


490 


410 


590 


531 


574 


518 




555 




434 




431 




431 




434 




4:35 




435 




4.35 




435 




438 




435 




450 




447 




450 




500 




50(1 


595 


558 


592 


559 






593 


5.58 




550 




5:;9 




546 




551 




547 581, 


582 


547 




5.50 




546 




547 


581 


538 






593 


554 




415 




430 




4.54 






584 


554 




554 




471 




170 




470 




'*'*'* 


(112 


422 




423 




423 


(305 


423 




423 




427 


583 


534 


578 


526 





Still 
ts of 
iging 
IS of 
Ifalo, 
rong- 
•-tails 

^ame, 
food, 
ce of 
black 
, and 
■e ex- 
erous 
noun- 
it. 

nusk- 
mar- 
re so 
medi- 
Inited 
i the 
here, 
foun- 
devel- 



The Larger 
North American Mammals 



By E. W. nelson 

Chiefs U. S. Biologiccil Survey 



With Illustrations from Paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes 



AT the time of its discovery and 

/% occupation by Europeans, North 
/ ,^. America and the bordering seas 
teemed with an ahnost incredible pro- 
fusion of large mammalian life. The 
hordes of game animals which roamed 
the primeval forests and plains of this 
continent were the marvel of early ex- 
plorers and have been ecjualed in historic 
times only in Africa. 

Even beyond the limit of trees, on the 
desolate Arctic barrens, vast herds con- 
taining hundreds of thousands of caribou 
drifted from one feeding ground to an- 
other, sharing their range with number- 
less smaller companies of musk-oxen. 
Despite the dwarfed and scanty vegeta- 
tion of this bleak region, the fierce winter 
storms and long arctic nights, and the 
harrying by packs of white wolves, these 
hardy animals continued to hold their 
own until the fatal influence of civilized 
man was throw^n against them. 

Southward from the Arctic barrens, in 
the neighboring forests of spruce, tama- 
rack, birches, and aspens, were multitudes 



of woodland caribou and moose. Still 
farther south, in the superb forests of 
eastern North America, and ranging 
thence over the limitless open plains of 
the West, were untold millions of buffalo, 
elk, and white-tailed deer, with the prong- 
horned antelope replacing the white-tails 
on the western plains. 

With this profusion of large game, 
wdiich afforded a superabundance of food, 
there was a corresponding abundance of 
large carnivores, as wolves, coyotes, black 
and grizzly bears, mountain lions, and 
lynxes. Black bears were everywhere ex- 
cept on the open plains, and numerous 
species of grizzlies occupied all the moun- 
tainous western part of the continent. 

Fur-bearers, including beavers, musk- 
rats, land-otters, sea-otters, fishers, mar- 
tens, minks, foxes, and others, were so 
l)lentiful in the New World that immedi- 
ately after the colonization of the United 
States and Canada a large part of the 
world's supply of furs was obtained here. 

Trade with the Indians laid the foun- 
dations of many fortunes, and later devel- 




Photograph by Capt. F. I*;. Kleinschmidt 
TOWIXG IIKR BABY TO SAFETY 

When a mother polar bear scents danger she jumps into the water and her cub holds 
fast to her tail while she tows it to safety. But when no danger seems to threaten she wants 
it to '"paddle its own canoe," and boxes its ears or ducks its head under water if it insists 
on being too lazy to swim for itself. 



oped almost imperial orj^'anizations, like 
the Hudson's Bay Company and its rivals. 
Many adventurous white men became 
trappers and traders, and through their 
energy, and the rivalry of the trading 
companies, we owe much of the first ex- 
ploration of the northwestern and north- 
ern wilderness. The stockaded fur-trad- 
ing stations were the outposts of civiliza- 
tion across the continent to the shores of 
Oregon and north to the Arctic coast. At 
the same time the presence of the sea- 
otter brought the Russians to occupy the 
Aleutian, Islands, Sitka, and even north- 
ern California. 

The wealth of mammal life in the seas 



along the shores of North America al- 
most equaled that on the land. On the 
east coast there were many millions of 
harp and hooded seals and walruses, 
while the Creenland right and other 
whales were extremely abundant. On the 
west coast were millions of fur seals, sea- 
lions, sea-elephants, and walruses, with 
an equal abundance of whales and hun- 
dreds of thousands of sea otters. 

]\Iany of the chroniclers dealing with 
explorations and life on the frontier dur- 
ing the early period of the occui:)ation of 
America gave interesting details concern- 
ing the game animals. Allouez says that 
in 1680, between Lake Erie and Lake 



386 





Photograph by Capt. F. 1\. Klcinschmidt 

A SWIMMING POLAR BKAR 

A polar bear when swimming does not use his hind legs, a new fact brought out by the 

motion-picture camera 



387 




t 









rt 2 



388 



i ^'i^ ^?N 




:,tunc View Co. 



ROAMING "mONARCIIS OF THE PLAIN : BRITISH COLUMBIA 

A remnant of the veritable sea of wild life that surged over American soil before the dikes 
of civilization compassed it about and all but wiped it out 



Michig-an the prairies were filled with an 
incredible number of bears, wapiti, white- 
tailed deer, and turkeys, on which the 
wolves made fierce war. He adds that on 
a number of occasions this game was so 
little wild that it was necessary to fire 
shots to protect the party from it. Perrot 
states that during the winter of 1670- 
167 1, 2,400 moose were snared on the 
Great Manitoitlin Island, at the head of 
Lake Huron. Other travelers, even down 
to the last century, give similar accounts 
of the abundance of game. 

TRAINS HELD UP BY BUFFALO 

The original bufifalo herds have been 
estimated to have contained from 30,000.- 
000 to 60,000,000 animals, and in 1870 it 
was estimated that about 5,500,000 still 
survived. A number of men now living 
were privileged to see some of the great 
herds of the West before they were finally 
destroyed. Dr. George Bird Grinnell 
writes : 

"In 1870, I happened to be on a train 
that was stopped for three hours to let 
a herd of buffalo pass. We supposed 
they would soon pass by, but they kept 



coming. On a number of occasions in 
earlier days the engineers thought that 
they could run through the herds, and 
that, seeing the locomotive, the buffalo 
would stop or turn aside ; but after a few 
locomotives had been ditched by the ani- 
mals the engineers got in the way of re- 
specting the bufi'aloes' idiosyncrasies. . . . 

"Up to within a few years, in northern 
Montana and southern Alberta, old buf- 
falo trails have been very readily trace- 
able by the eye, even as one passed on a 
railroad train. These trails, fertilized by 
the buffalo and deeply cut so as to long 
hold moisture, may still be seen in sum- 
mer as green lines winding- up and down 
the hills to and from the water-courses." 

Concerning the former abundance of 
antelope, Dr. Grinnell says : "For many 
years I have held the opinion that in early 
days on the plains, as I saw them, ante- 
lope were much more abundant than buf- 
falo. Buffalo, of course, being big and 
black, were impressive if seen in masses 
and were visible a long way off. Ante- 
lope, smaller and less conspicuous in 
color, were often passed unnoticed, ex- 
cept by a person of experience, who 



389 






•r O 



'■^ J 



might recognize that distant 
white dots might be antelope 
and not biififalo bones or puff 
balls. I used to talk on this 
subject with men who were 
on the plains in the '6o's and 
'70's, and all agreed that, so 
far as their judgment went, 
there were more antelope than 
buffalo. Often the buffalo 
were bunched up into thick 
herds and gave the impression 
of vast numbers. The ante- 
lope' were scattered, and, ex- 
cept in winter, \Yhen I have 
seen herds of thousands, they 
were pretty evenly distributed 
over the prairie. 

ANTElvOPES EVI^RVWHERE 

"I have certain memories of 
travel on the plains, whenVfor- 
the whole long day one would 
pass a continual succession of 
small bands of antelope, num- 
bering from ten to 'fifty or 
sixty, those at a little distance 
paying no attention to the 
traveler, while those nearer at 
hand loped lazily and uncon- 
cernedly out of the way. In 
the year 1879, in certain val- 
leys in North Park, Colorado, 
I saw wonderful congregations 
of antelope. As far as we 
could see in any direction, all 
over the basins, there were 
antelope in small or consider- 
able groups. In one of these 
places I examined with care 
tlie trails made by them, for 
this was the only place where 
I ever saw deejily worn ante- 
lo])e trails, which suggested 
the l)uffalo trails of the 
plains." 

The wealth of animal life 
foimd by our forebears Avas 
one of the great natural re- 
sources of the New World. 
Although freely drawn upon 
from the first, the stock was 
•but little de])leted up to within 
a century. During the last one 
hundred years, however, the 
rapidly increasing occuj)ation 
of the continent and other 



390 




Photograph by Alburt Schlecliten 

A CINNAMON TRlJI^D : YELLOWSTONE: NATIONAL PARK 

Bruin for the most part is an inoffensive beast, with an impelling curiosity and such a taste 
for sweet things that he can eat pounds of honey and lick his chops for more 



391 




I'liutugraph by JC. C. Ulicrhultzer 
moose; FlJKDING UNDER DIFl' ICUU'II' S 
The moose likes the succulent water plants it Imds at the bottom of lakes and sluygish 
streams, and often when reaching for them becomes completely submerged ' 



3Q2 




Photograph by E. C. Obcrholtzcr 
COW MOOSE WITH HER YOUNG 
Notice the fold of skin at her neck resembling a bell 



causes, together with a steadily increas- 
ing commercial demand for animal prod- 
ucts, have had an appalling effect. The 
buffalo, elk, and antelope are reduced to 
a pitiful fraction of their former count- 
less numbers. 

WANTON WASTE OE WIED LIFE 

Practically all other large game has 
alarmingly decreased, and its extermina- 
tion has been partly stayed only by the 
recent enforcement of protective laws. 
It is quite true that the presence of wild 
buffalo, for instance, in any region occu- 
pied for farming and stock-raising pur- 
poses is incompatible with such use. Thus 
the extermination of the bison as a deni- 
zen of our western plains was inevitable. 
The destruction, however, of these noble 
game animals by millions for their hides 
only furnishes a notable example of the 
wanton wastefulness which has hereto- 
fore largely characterized the handling 
of our wild life. 



A like disregard for the future has 
been shown in the pursuit of the sea 
mammals. The whaling and sealing in- 
dustries are very ancient, extending back 
for a thousand years or more ; but the 
greatest and most ruthless destruction of 
the whales and seals has come within the 
last century, especially through the use 
of steamships and bomb-guns. Without 
adequate international protection, there is 
grave danger that the most valuable of 
these sea mammals will be exterminated. 
The fur seal and the sea-elephant, once 
so abundant on the coast of southern 
California, are nearly or cjuite gone, and 
the sea otter of the North Pacific is dan- 
gerously near extinction. 

The recent great abundance of large 
land mammals in North America, both in 
individuals and species, is in striking con- 
trast with their scarcity in South Amer- 
ica, the dift'erence evidently being due to 
the long isolation of the southern conti- 
nent from other land-masses, whence it 



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394 




395 




Photograpli by Cliarlt.s ]\. Inhiison 

THE moosl; is a powerful svvi.m:mer 




PART OF A 



Photograph by F. O. Soabury 

!;ki) of sixty mountain shffp 



Tliey are fed hay and salt daily at the Denver and Rio Grande Railway station at Ouray, 
Colorado. This picture was taken at a distance of about lo to 15 feet from the wild animals, 
which grow quite tame under such friendly ministrations. 



396 




From a drawing by Charles R. Knight 

A MOOSi: THAT LIVED IN NE:w JERSEY IN PLEISTOCENE: TIMES: CROVAECES 

A primitive moose-like form, a nearly perfect skeleton of which was found in southern 
Jersey some years ago. In size and general proportions the animal was like a modern 
moose, but the nose was less developed, and the horns were decidedly different in character. 



might have been restocked after the loss 
of a formerly existing fauna. 

SPECIES COME AND SPECIES GO 

The differences in the geographic dis- 
tribution of mammal life between North 
and South America and the relationships 
between our fauna and that of the Old 
World are parts of the latest chapter of 
a wonderful story running back through 
geologic ages. The former chapters are 
recorded in the fossil beds of all the con- 
tinents. While only a good beginning has 
been made in deciphering these records, 
enough has been done by the fascinating 
researches of Marsh, Cope, Osborn, 
Scott, and others to prove that in all parts 



of the earth one fauna has succeeded an- 
other in marvelous procession. 

It has been shown also that these 
changes in animal life, accompanied by 
equal changes in plant life, have been 
largelv brought about by variations in 
climate and by the uplifting and depress- 
ing of continental land-masses above or 
below the sea. The potency of climatic 
influence on animal life is so great that 
even a fauna of large mammals will be 
practically destroyed over a great area 
by a long-continued change of a com- 
paratively few degrees (probably less 
than ten degrees Fahrenheit) in the mean 
daily temperatures. 

The distribution of both recent and 



397 




Photograph by ('.us A. Swan^on 

TIIFJR LIVING LIES BENEATH THE SNOW 

All nature loves kindness and trusts the gentle hand. Contrast these sheep, ready to fly 
at the slightest noise, with those in the picture on page 396, peacefully feeding in close 
proximity" to a standing express train. Every one appreciates a good picture of a living 
animal more than the trophy of a dead one! 



fossil iiianinials shows conclusively that 
numberless species have s])read from 
their original homes across land brids^es 
to remote tmoccnpied regions, where they 
have become isolated as the bridges dis- 
appeared beneath the waves of the sea. 

VAST NATURAL MUSEUMS OF EXTINCT 
ANIMAL LIFE 

For ages Asia appears to have served 
as a vast and fecund nurscrv for new 



mammals f ri nn which Xorth Temperate 
and xVrctic America have been supplied. 
The last and com]iaratively recent land 
bridge, across which came the ancestors 
of our moose, elk, caribou, prong-horned 
antelope, mountain goats, mountain sheep, 
musk-oxen, l)cai-s, and many other mam- 
mals, was in the far Northwest, where 
I'.ering .^traits now form a shallow chan- 
nel iinl\- _'<S mik's wide separating Siberia 
from Alaska. 



398 



The fossil beds of the Great 
Plains and other parts of the 
West contain eloquent proofs of 
the richness and variety of mam- 
mal life on this continent at dif- 
ferent periods in the past. Per- 
haps the most wonderful of all 
these ancient faunas was that re- 
vealed by the bones of birds and 
mammals which had been trapped 
in the asphalt pits recently dis- 
covered in the outskirts of Los 
Angeles, California. These bones 
show that prior to the arrival of 
the present fauna the plains of 
southern California swarmed 
with an astonishing- wealth of 
strange birds and beasts (see 
page 401). 

The most notable of these are 
saber-toothed tigers, lions much 
larger than those of Africa; 
giant wolves ; several kinds of 
bears, including the huge cave 
bears, even larger than the gi- 
gantic brown bears of Alaska ; 
large wild horses ; camels ; bison 
(unlike our buffalo) ; tiny ante- 
lope, the size of a fox ; masto- 
dons, mammoths with tusks 15 
feet long ; and giant ground sloths ; in 
addition to many other species, large and 
small. 

With these amazing mammals were 
equally strange birds, including, among 
numerous birds of prey, a giant vulture- 
like species (far larger than any condor), 
peacocks, and many others. 

DID MAN I.IVE; THKN? 

The geologically recent existence of 
this now vanished fauna is evidenced by 
the presence in the asphalt pits of bones 
of the gray fox, the mountain lion, and 
close relatives of the bobcat and coyote, 
as well as the condor, which still frequent 
that region, and thus link the past with 
the present. The only traces of the an- 
cient vegetation discovered in these as- 
phalt pits are a pine and two species of 
juniper, which are members of the exist- 
ing flora. 

There is reason for believing that prim- 
itive man occupied California and other 
parts of the West during at least the lat- 
ter part of the period when the fauna of 
the asphalt pits still flourished. Dr. C. 
Hart Merriam informs me that the folk- 




Photograph by L,. Peterson 
INTRODUCING A LITTI^E; BLACK BEAR TO A LITTLE 
BROWN BEAR AT SEWARD^ ALASKA 

"Howdy-do! I ain't got a bit of use for you!" 
"What do I care ! You'd better back away, black bear !" 

lore of the locally restricted California 
Indians contains detailed descriptions of 
a beast which is unmistakably a bison, 
probably the bison of the asphalt pits. 

The discovery in these pits of the bones 
of a gigantic vulturelike bird of prey of 
far greater size than the condor is even 
more startling, since the folk-lore of the 
Eskimos and Indians of most of the tribes 
from Bering Straits to California and the 
Rocky Mountain region abound in tales 
of the "thunder-bird" — a gigantic bird of 
prey like a mighty eagle, capable of carry- 
ing away people in its talons. Two sttch 
coincidences suggest the possibility that 
the accounts of the bison and the "thun- 
der-bird" are really based on the originals 
of the asphalt beds and have been jxassed 
down in legendary history through many 
thousands of years. 

CAMELS AND HORSES ORIGINATED IN 
NORTH AMERICA 

Among Other marvels otu^ fossil beds 
reveal the fact that both camels and 
horses originated in North America. 
The remains of many widely different 
species of both animals have been found 



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in numerous localities extending from 
coast to coast in the United States. 
Camels and horses, with many species of 
antelope closely related to still existing 
forms in Africa, abounded over a large 
part of this country up to the end of the 
geological age immediately preceding the 
present era. 

Then through imperfectly understood 
changes of environment a tremendous 
mortality among the wild life took place 
and destroyed practically all of the splen- 
did large mammals, which, however, have 
left their records in the as])halt pits of 
California and other fossil beds through- 
out the country. This original fauna was 
followed by an influx of other species 
which made up the fauna when America 
was discovered. 

At the time of its discovery by Coluni- 
Ijus this continent had only one domesti- 
cated mammal — -the dog. In most in- 
stances the ancestors of the Indian dogs 
appear to have been the native coyotes 
or gray wolves, but the descriptions of 
some dogs found by early explorers indi- 
cate very difTerent and unknown ancestry. 
Unfortunately these strange dogs became 
extinct at an early period, and thus left 
unsolvable the riddle of their origin. 

Before the discovery of America the 
people of the Old \\^orld had domesti- 
cated cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, 
dogs, and cats ; but none of these do- 
mestic animals, except the dog, existed in 
America until brought from Europe by 
the invaders of the New World. 

The wonderful fauna of the asphalt 
pits had vanished long before America 
was first colonized by white men. and had 
been replaced by another mainly from 
the Old World, less varied in character, 
but enormously abundant in individuals. 
-Mthough so many North American mam- 
mals were derived from x\sia, some came 
from South America, while others, as the 
raccoons, originated here. 

I'KWKR LARGIv MAMMALS rX Till'; TROPICS 

It is notable that the fossil beds which 
]jrove the existence of an extraordinary 
abundance of large mammals in North 
America at various periods in the past, 
as well as the enormous aggregation of 
mammalian life which occupied this con- 
tinent, both on land and at sea, at the time 
of its discovery, were confined to the 
Temperate and Arctic Zones. It is popu- 



400 



■^ >■ 



^y 




From Scott's "History of the Land Mammalb ot the Westt-iu llcnubphwe": Maciuillan Coiuiiaiiy 
THIS REPRESUXTS A SCENE AT THE CALIFORNIA ASPHALT PITS, WITH A MIRED 
ELEPHANT, TWO GIANT WOLVES, AND A SABER-TOOTtlED TIGER (SEE PAGE 399) 



larly believed that the tropics possess an 
exuberance of hfe beyond that of other 
chmes, yet in no tropic lands or seas, ex- 
cept in parts of Africa and southern 
Asia, has there been developed such an 
abundance of large mammal life as these 
northern latitudes have repeatedly known. 

In temperate and arctic lands such 
numbers of large mammals could exist 
only where the vegetation not only suf- 
ficed for summer needs, but retained its 
nourishing qualities through the winter. 
In the sea the vast numbers of seals, sea- 
lions, walruses, and whales of many kinds 
could be maintained only by a limitless 
profusion of fishes and other marine life. 

From the earliest appearance of mam- 
mals on the globe to comparatively recent 
times one mammalian fauna has suc- 
ceeded another in the regular sequence of 
evolution, man apjiearing late on the 
scene and being subject to the same nat- 
ural influences as his mammalian kindred. 
During the last few centuries, however, 
through the development of agriculture, 
the invention of new methods of trans- 
portation, and of modern firearms, so- 



called civilized man has spread over and 
now dominates most parts of the earth. 
As a result, aboriginal man and the 
large mammals of continental areas have 
been, or are being, swept away and re- 
placed by civilized man and his domestic 
animals. Orderly evolution of the mar- 
velously varied mammal life in a state of 
nature is thus being brought to an abrupt 
end. Henceforth fossil beds containing 
deposits of mammals caught in sink- 
holes, and formed by river and other 
floods in subarctic, temperate, and trop- 
ical parts of the earth, will contain more 
and more exclusively the bones of man 
and his domesticated horses, cattle, and 
sheep. 

DESTROYING THE IRREST0R.\BLE 

The s])lendid mammals which possessed 
the earth until man interfered were the 
ultimate product of Nature working 
through the ages that have elapsed since 
the dawn of life. All of them show 
myriads of exquisite adaptations to their 
environment in color, form, organs, and 
habits. The wanton destruction of anv 



401 






"*** V 



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1 luiii a drawing by Charles R. Knight 
A PRIMITIVE FOUR-TUSKED ELEPHANT, STANDING ABOUT SIX FEET AT THE SHOULDER, 
THAT LIVED AGES AGO IN THE UNITED STATES (TRICOPHODON MIOCENE) 



of these species thus deprives the world 
of a marvelous organism which no hu- 
man power can ever restore. 

Fortunately, although it is too late to 
save many notable animals, the leading 
nations of the world are rapidly awaken- 
ing to a proper appreciation of the value 
and significance of wild life. As a con- 
sequence, while the superb herds of game 
on the limitless plains will vanish, sports- 
men and nature lovers, aided by those 
who appreciate the practical value of wild 
life as an asset, may work successfully to 
provide that the wild places shall not l)e 
left wholly untenanted. 

Although Americans have been notably 
wasteful of wild life, even to the extermi- 
nation of numerous species of birds and 
mammals, yet they are now leading the 
world in efforts to conserve what is left 
of the original fauna. No civilized peo- 
ple, with the exception of the South Af- 
rican Boers, have been such a nation of 
hunters as those of the United States. 
Most hunters have a keen appreciation of 
nature, and American sportsmen as a 



class have become ardent supporters of 
a nation-wnde movement for the conser- 
vation of wild life. 

SAVING OUR WILD LIFE 

Several strong national organizations 
are doing great service in forwarding the 
conservation of wild life, as the National 
Geographic Society, the National Asso- 
ciation of Audubon Societies, American 
Bison Society, Boone and Crockett Club, 
New York Zoological Society, American 
Game Protective and Propagation Asso- 
ciation, Permanent Wild Life Protective 
Fund, and others. In addition, a large 
numl)er of unofficial State organizations 
have been formed to assist in this work. 

Through the authorization by Congress, 
the Federal Government is actively en- 
gaged in efforts for the ])rotection and in- 
crease of our native birds and mammals. 
This work is done mainly through the 
lUu-eau of Biological Survey of the U. S. 
Department of Agriculture, which is in 
charge of the several Federal large-game 



402 




From a drawing by Charles R. Knight 

A gkote;sque creature that once lived in the united states (uertatherium 

EOCENE, MIDDLE Wyoming) 

It had six horns on the head and. in some species, two long- canine teeth projecting down- 
ward from the upper jaw. The feet were somewhat hke those of an elephant, but the skull 
and teeth resemble nothing on earth today. 



preserves and nearly seventy bird reser- 
vations. 

On the large-game preserves are herds 
of buffalo, elk, deer, and antelope. The 
Yellowstone National Park, under the 
Department of the Interior, is one of the 
most wonderfully stocked game preserves 
in the world. In this beautiful tract of 
forest, lakes, rivers, and mountains live 
many moose, elk, deer, antelope, moun- 
tain sheep, black and grizzly bears, 
wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and 
lynxes. 

Practically all of the States have game 
and fish commissions in one form or an- 
other, with a warden service for the pro- 
tection of game, and large numbers of 
State game preserves have been estab- 
lished. The increasing occupation of the 
cotmtry, the opening ttp of wild places. 



and the destruction of forests are rapidly 
restricting available haunts for game. 
This renders particularly opportune the 
present and increasing wide-spread inter- 
est in the welfare of the habitants of the 
wilderness. 

The national forests offer an unrivaled 
opportunity for the protection and in- 
crease of game along broad and effective 
lines. At present the title to game mam- 
juals is vested in the States, among which 
great differences in protective laws and 
their administration in many cases jeop- 
ardize the future game supply. 

If a cooperative working' arrangement 
could be effected between the States and 
the Department of Agriculture, whereby 
the Department wottld have supervision 
and control over the game on the national 
forests, so far as concerns its j^rotection 



403 




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«> 



From a 'drawing by Cliarlcs R. Knight 

THE primitive; FOUR-TOKD HORSF (EOIIIPPUS, lower eocene, WYOMING) 

The so-called four-toed horse, a little creature some 12 inches in height at the shoulder. 
having four well-defined hoofs on the front foot and three on the hind foot. The animal 
is not a true horse, hut was undoubtedly an ancestor (more or less direct) of the modern 
form. It must have been a very speedy type, which contributed greatly to the preservation 
of the species in an age when (so far as we know) the carnivores were rather slow and 
clumsv. 



and the designation ol liunling areas, 
varying the quantity of game to be taken 
from definite areas in accordance with its 
abundance from season to season, while 
the States would control open seasons for 
shooting, the issuance of hunting licenses, 
and similar local matters, the future wel- 
fare of large game in the Western States 
would be assured. 

Under such an arrangement the game 
supply would be handled on l)usiness 
])rinciples. When game becomes scarce 



in any restricted area, hunting could be 
suspended until the supply becomes re- 
newed, while increased hunting could be 
allowed in areas where there is sufficient 
game to warrant it. Tn brief, big game 
could be handled 1)_\' the common-sense 
methods now used so effectively in the 
stock industry on the open range. i\l 
present the lack of a definite general 
policy to safeguard our game supply and 
the resulting danger to our splendid na- 
tive animals are dcplorablv in evidence. 



404 








''''^t^a^^iLft 




A TRUE HORSE WHICH WAS FOUND IN THE FOSSIL BEDS OF TEXAS: PEEISTOCENE 

It is interesting to note that this country was possessed of several species of wild horses, 
but these died out long before the advent of the Indian on this continent. The present wild 
horses of our western plains are merely stragglers from the herds brought over by the 
Spaniards and other settlers. When Columbus discovered America there were no horses 
on the continent, though in North America horses and camels originated (see text, page 399). 




From drawings by Cliarles K. Knight 

THE FOREST HORSE OF NORTH AMERICA (hYPOHIPPOS MIOCENE) 

This animal is supposed to have inhabited heavy undergrowth. It was somewhat off the true 
horse ancestrv and had three rather stout toes on both the fore and hind feet. 



405 




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407 



408 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



OPOSSUM, VIRGINIA OPOSSUM (Di- 

delphis virginiana and its subspecies) 

The opossums are the American representa- 
tives of the ancient order of Marsupials — a 
wonderfully varied group of mammals now 
limited to America and Australasia. Through- 
out the order the young are born in an embry- 
onic condition and are transferred to_ teats 
located in an external pocket or pouch in the 
skin of the abdomen, where they complete their 
development. The kangaroos are among the 
most striking members of this group. 

Numerous species of opossums are known, 
all peculiar to America and distributed from 
the eastern United States to Patagonia. The 
Virginia opossum, the largest of all the spe- 
cies, is characterized by its coarse hair, pig- 
like snout, naked ears, and long, hairless, pre- 
hensile- tail. Its toes are long, slender, and so 
widely spread that its footprints on the_ muddy 
border of a stream or in a dusty trail show 
every toe distinctly, as in a bird track, and are 
unmistakably different from those of any other 
mammal. 

This is the only species of opossum occur- 
ring in the United States, where it occupies all 
the wooded eastern parts from eastern New 
York, southern Wisconsin, and eastern Ne- 
braska south to the Gulf coast and into the 
tropics. It has recently been introduced in 
central California. Although scarce in the 
northern parts of its range, it is abundant and 
well known in the warmer Southern States. 

These animals love the vicinity of water, and 
are most numerous in and about swamps or 
other wet lowlands and along bottom-lands 
bordering streams. They have their dens in 
hollow trees, in holes under the roots of trees, 
or in similar openings where they may hide 
away by day. Their food consists of almost 
everything, animal or vegetable, that is edible, 
including chickens, which they capture in noc- 
turnal raids. 

The Virginia opossums have from 5 to 14 
young, which at first are formless, naked little 
objects, so firmly attached to the teats in the 
mother's pouch that they can not be shaken 
loose. Later, when they attain a coating of 
hair, they are miniature replicas of the adults, 
but continue to occupy the pouch until the 
swarming family becomes too large for it. 
The free toes of opossums are used like hands 
for grasping, and the young cling firmly to the 
fur of their mother while being carried about 
in her wanderings. 

They are rather slow-moving, stupid animals, 
which seek safety by their retiring nocturnal 
habits and by non-resistance when overtaken 
by an enemj-. This last trait gave origin to 
the familiar term "playing possum," _ and is 
illustrated by their habit of dropping limp and 
apparently lifeless when attacked. Despite this 
apparent lack of stamina, their vitality is extra- 
ordinary, rendering them difficult to kill. 

While hunting at daybreak, I once encoun- 
tered an unusually large old male opossum on 
his way home from a night in the forest. 
When we met, he immediately stopped and 



stood with hanging head and tail and half- 
closed eyes. I walked up and, after watching 
him for several minutes without seeing the 
slightest movement, put my foot against his 
side and gave a slight push. He promptly fell 
flat and lay limp and apparently dead. I then 
raised him and tried to put him on his feet 
again, but his legs would no longer support 
him, and I failed in other tests to obtain the 
slightest sign of life. 

The opossum has always been a favorite 
game animal in the Southern States, and fig- 
ures largely in the songs and folk-lore of the 
southern negroes. In addition, its remarkable 
peculiarities have excited so much popular in- 
terest that it has become one of the most 
widely known of American animals. 

RACCOON (Procyon lotor and its sub- 
species) 

Few American wild animals are more widely 
known or excite more popular interest than 
the raccoon. It is a short, heavily built animal 
with a club-shaped tail, and with hind feet that 
rest flat on the ground, like those of a bear, 
and make tracks that have a curious resem- 
blance to those of a very small child. Its front 
toes are long and well separated, thus permit- 
ting the use of the front feet with almost the 
facility of a monkey's hands. 

Raccoons occupy most of the wooded parts 
of North America from the southern border 
of Canada to Panama, with the exception of 
the higher mountain ranges. In the United 
States they are most plentiful in the South- 
eastern and Gulf States and on the Pacific 
coast. Under the varying climatic conditions 
of their great range a number of geographic 
races have developed, all of which have a close 
general resemblance in habits and appearance. 

They everywhere seek the wooded shores of 
streams and lakes and the bordering lowland 
forests and are expert tree-climbers, com- 
monly having their dens in hollow trees, often 
in cavities high above the ground. In such re- 
treats they have annually from four to six 
young, which continue to frequent this retreat 
until well grown, thus accounting for the num- 
bers often found in the same cavity. Although 
tree-frequenting animals, the greater part of 
their activities is confined to the ground, espe- 
cially along the margins of water-courses. 
While almost wholly nocturnal in habits, they 
are' occasionally encountered abroad during the 
day. 

Their diet is extraordinarily varied, and in- 
cludes fresh-water clams, crawfish, frogs, tur- 
tles, birds and their eggs, poultry, nuts, fruits, 
and green corn. When near water tliey have 
a curious and unique habit of washing their 
food before eating it. Their fondness for 
green corn leads them into frequent danger, 
for when bottom-land cornfields tempt them 
away from their usual haunts raccoon luinting 
with dogs at night becomes an especially fa- 
vored sport. 

Raccoons are extraordinarily intelligent ani- 
nials and make interesting and amusing pets. 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



409 



During captivity their restless intelligence is 
shown by the curiosity with which they care- 
fully examine every strange object. They are 
particularly attracted by anything bright or 
shining, and a piece of tin fastened to the pan 
of a trap serves as a successful lure in trap- 
ping them. 

They patrol the border of streams and lakes 
so persistently that where they are common 
they sometimes make well-trodden little trails, 
and many opened mussel shells or other signs 
of their feasts may be found on the tops of 
fallen logs or about stones projecting above 
the water. In the northern part of their range 
they hibernate during the coldest parts of the 
winter, but in the South are active throughout 
the year. 

Raccoons began to figure in our frontier lit- 
erature at an early date. "Coon-skin" caps, 
with the ringed tails hanging like plumes, made 
the favorite headgear of many pioneer hunters, 
and "coon skins" were a recognized article of 
barter at country stores. Now that the in- 
creasing occupation of the country is crowding 
out more and more of our wild life, it is a 
pleasure to note the persistence with which 
these characteristic and interesting animals 
continue to hold their own in so much of their 
original range. 

CANADA LYNX (Lynx canadensis) 

The lynxes are long-legged, short-bodied 
cats, with tufted ears and a short "bobbed" 
tail. They are distributed from the northern 
limit of trees south into the Temperate Zone 
throughout most of the northern part of both 
Old and New Worlds. In North America 
there are two tj-pes — the smaller animal, south- 
ern in distribution, and the larger, or Canada 
lynx, limited to the north, where its range ex- 
tends from the northern limit of trees south to 
the northern border of the United States. It 
once occupied all the mountains of New Eng- 
land and south in the Alleghenies to Pennsyl- 
vania. In the West it is still a habitant of the 
Rocky Mountains as far south as Colorado, 
and of the Sierra Nevada nearly to Mount 
Whitney. 

The Canada lynx is notable for the beauty 
of its head, one of the most striking among all 
our carnivores. This species is not only much 
larger than its southern neighbor, the bay 
lynx, but may also be distinguished from it by 
its long ear tips, thick legs, broad spreading 
feet, and the complete jet-black end of the tail. 
It is about 3 feet long and weighs from 15 to 
over 30 pounds. As befits an animal of the 
great northern forests, it has a long thick coat 
of fur, which gives it a remarkably fluffy ap- 
pearance. Its feet in winter are heavily furred 
above and below and are so broad that they 
serve admirably for support in deep snow, 
through which it would otherwise have to 
wade laboriously. 

This animal does not attack people, though 
popular belief often credits it with such action. 
It feeds mainly on such small prey as varying 
hares, mice, squirrels, foxes, and the grouse 



and other birds living in its domain; but on 
occasion it even kills animals as large as moun- 
tain sheep. One such feat was actually wit- 
nessed above timberline in winter on a spur 
of Mount McKinley. The lynx sprang from a 
ledge as the sheep passed below, and, holding 
on the sheep's neck and shoulders, it reached 
forward and by repeatedly biting put out its 
victim's eyes, thus reducing it to helplessness. 

The chief food of the Canada lynx is the 
varying hare, which throughout the North 
periodically increases to the greatest abun- 
dance and holds its numbers for several years. 
During these periods the fur sales in the Lon- 
don market show that the number of lynx 
skins received increases proportionately with 
those of the hare. When an epizootic disease 
appears, as it does regularly, and almost ex- 
terminates the hares, there is an immediate 
and corresponding drop in the number of lynx 
skins sent to market. This evidences one of 
Nature's great tragedies, not only among the 
overabundant hares, but among the lynxes, for 
with the failure of their food supply over a 
vast area tens of thousands of them perish of 
starvation. 

The Canada lynx has from two to five kit- 
tens, which are marked with dusky spots and 
short bands, indicating an ancestral relation- 
ship to animals similar to the ocelot, or tiger- 
cat, of the American tropics. The young usu- 
ally keep with the miOther for nearly a year. 
Such families no doubt form the hunting par- 
ties whose rabbit drives on the Yukon Islands 
were described to me by the fur traders and 
Indians of the Yukon Valley. 

During sledge trips along the lower Yukon 
I often saw the distinctive broad, rounded 
tracks of lynxes, showing where they had wan- 
dered through the forests or crossed the wide, 
snow-covered river channel. Here and there, 
as the snow became very deep and soft, the 
tracks showed where a series of leaps had 
been made. Lynx trails commonly led from 
thicket to thicket where hares, grouse, or other 
game might occur. Canada lynxes appear to be 
rather stupid animals, for they are readily 
caught in traps, or even in snares, and, like 
most cats, make little effort to escape. 

BOBCAT, OR BAY LYNX (Lynx ruffus 

and its subspecies) 

The bay lynx, bobcat, or wildcat, as Lynx 
ruffus and its close relatives are variously 
called in different parts of the country, is one 
of the most widely distributed and best known 
of our wild animals. It is about two-thirds 
the size of the Canada lynx and characterized 
by much slenderer proportions, especially in its 
legs and feet. The ears are less conspicuously 
tufted and the tip of the tail is black only on 
its upper half. Bobcats range from Nova 
Scotia and southern British Columbia over 
practically all of the wooded and brushy parts 
of the United States except along the northern 
bordeY, and extend south to the southern end 
of the high table-land of Mexico. 

From the earliest settlement of America the 




OPOSSUM 



■»4&£»I-Sfrt« 




/^COri Oi^JyjiK 't-Ufk, 



RACCOON 



410 




CANADA LYNX 




412 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



bobcat has figured largely in hunting literature, 
and the popular estimate of its character is well 
attested by the frontier idea of the superlative 
physical prowess of a man who can "whip his 
weight in wildcats." Although our wildcat 
usually weighs less than 20 pounds, if its re- 
puted fierceness could be sustained it would be 
an awkward foe. But, so far as man is con- 
cerned, unless it is cornered and forced to de- 
fend itself, it is extremely timid and inof- 
fensive. 

Like all cats, it is very muscular and active, 
and to the rabbits, squirrels, mice, grouse, and 
other small game upon which it feeds is a per- 
sistent and remorseless enemy. Although an 
expert tree-climber, it spends most of its time 
on the ground, where it ordinarily seeks its 
prey. It is most numerous in districts where 
birds and small mammals abound, and parts of 
California seem especially favorable for it. At a 
mountain ranch in the redwood forest south of 
San Francisco one winter some boys with dogs 
killed more than eighty bobcats. 

Ordinarily the bobcat seems to be rather un- 
common, but its nocturnal habits usually pre- 
vent its real numbers being actually known. 
In districts where not much hunted it is not 
uncommonly seen abroad by day, especially in 
winter, when driven by hunger. 

The bay lynx makes its den in hollows in 
trees, in small caves, and in openings among 
rock piles wherever quiet and safety appear 
assured. Although a shy animal, it persists in 
settled regions if sufficient woodland or broken 
country remains to give it shelter. From such 
retreats it sallies forth at night, and not only 
do the chicken roosts of careless householders 
suffer, but toll is even taken among the lambs 
of sheep herds. 

As in the case of most small cats, the stealthy 
hunting habits of the bay lynx renders it ex- 
cessively destructive to ground-frequenting 
birds, especially to quail, grouse, and other 
game birds. For this reason, like many of its 
kind, it is outlawed in all settled parts of the 
country. 

MOUNTAIN LION (Fells couguar and its 

sul:)species) 

l^he mountain lion, next to the jaguar, is the 
largest of the cat tribe native to America. In 
various parts of its range it is also known as 
the panther, cougar, and puma. It is a slender- 
bodied animal with a small head and a long 
round tail, with a total length varying from 
seven to nine feet and a weight from about 
150 to 200 pounds. 

It has from two to five young, which are 
paler brown than the adult and plainly marked 
with large dusky spots on the liody and with 
dark bars on the tail. These special markings 
of the young, as in other animals, are ances- 
tral, and here appear to indicate that in the 
remote past our plain brown panther was a 
spotted cat somewhat like the leopard. 

No other American mammal has a range 
equal to that of the mountain lion. It origi- 
nally inhabited both North and South America 



from southern Quebec and Vancouver Island 
to Patagonia and from the Atlantic to the Pa- 
cific coasts. Within this enorjnous territory 
it appears to be equally at home in an extra- 
ordinary variety of conditions. Formerly it 
was rather common in the Adirondacks of 
northern New York and still lives in the high 
Rocky Mountains of the West, where it en- 
dures the rigors of the severest winter tem- 
peratures. It is generally distributed, where 
large game occurs, in the treeless ranges of the 
most arid parts of the southwestern deserts, 
and is also well known in the most humid trop- 
ical forests of Central and South America, 
whose gloomy depths are drenched by almost 
continual rain. 

A number of geographic races of the species 
have been developed by the varied character 
of its haunts. These are usually characterized 
by differences in size and by paler and grayer 
shades in the arid regions and by darker and 
browner ones in the humid areas. 

The mountain lion, while powerful enough 
to l)e dangerous to man, is in reality extremely 
timid. Owing to its being a potentially dan- 
gerous animal, the popular conception of it is 
that of a fearsome beast, whose savage exploits 
are celebrated in the folk-lore of our frontier. 
As a matter of fact, few wild animals are less 
dangerous, although there are authentic ac- 
counts of wanton attacks upon people, just as 
there are authentic instances of buck deer and 
moose becoming aggressive. It has a wild, 
screaming cry which is thrillingly impressive 
when the shades 'of evening are throwing a 
mysterious gloom over the forests. In the 
mountains of Arizona one summer a mountain 
lion repeatedly passed along a series of ledges 
high above my cabin at dusk, uttering this loud 
weird cry, popularly supposed to resemble the 
scream of a terrified woman. 

The mountain lion is usually nocturnal, but 
in regions where it is not hunted it not infre- 
quently goes abroad by day. It is a tireless 
wanderer, often traveling many miles in a sin- 
gle night, sometimes in search of game and 
again in search of new hunting groimds. I 
have repeatedly followed its tracks for long 
distances along trails, and in northern Chihua- 
hua I once tracked one for a couple of miles 
from a liare rocky hill straight across the open, 
grassy plain toward a treeless desert mountain, 
for which it was heading, some eight or ten 
miles away. 

Although inoffensive as to people, this cat 
is such a fierce and relentless enemy of large 
game and live stock that it is evervwhere an 
outlaw. Large bounties on its head have re- 
sulted in its extermination in most parts of 
the eastern United States and have diminished 
its numbers elsewhere. It is not only hunted 
with gun and dog but also with trap and poison. 

A mountain lion usually secures its prey by 
a silent, cautious stalk, taking advantage of 
every cover until within striking distance, and 
then, with one or more powerful leaps, dashing 
the victim to the ground with all the stunning 
impact of its weight. In a licautiful live-oak 
forest on the mountains of San Luis Potosi I 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



413 



once trailed one of these great cats to the spot 
where it had killed a deer a short time before, 
and could plainly read in the trail the story of 
the admirable skill with which it had moved 
from cover to cover until it reached a knoll at 
one side of the little glade where the deer was 
feeding. Then a great leap carried it to the 
deer's back and struck the victim to the ground 
with such violence that it slid lo or 12 feet 
across the sloping ground, apparently having 
been killed on the instant. 

Another trail followed in the snow on the 
high mountains of New Mexico led to the top 
of a projecting ledge from which the lion had 
leaped out and down over 20 feet, landing on 
the back of a deer and sliding with it 50 feet 
or more down the snowy slope. 

The mountain lion often kills calves, but is 
especially fond of young horses. In many 
range districts of the Western States and on 
the table-land of Mexico, owing to the depre- 
dations of this animal, it is impossible to raise 
horses. Unfortunately the predatory habits of 
this splendid cat are such that it can not con- 
tinue to occupy the same territory as civilized 
man and so is destined to disappear before 
him. 

JAGUAR (Fells hernandesi and its sub- 
species) 

The jaguar, or "el tigre," as it is generally 
known throughout Spanish America, is the 
largest and handsomest of American cats. Its 
size and deep yellow color, profusely marked 
with black spots and rosettes, give it a close 
resemblance to the African leopard. It is, 
however, a heavier and more powerful animal. 
In parts of the dense tropical forests of South 
America coal-black jaguars occur, and while 
representing merely a color phase, they are pop- 
ularly supposed to be much fiercer than the 
ordinary animal. 

Jaguars are characteristic animals of the 
tropics in both Americas, frequenting alike the 
low jungle of arid parts as well as the great 
forests of the humid regions. In addition, they 
range south into Argentina and north into the 
southwestern United States. Although less nu- 
merous within our borders than formerly, they 
still occur as rare visitants as far north as 
middle Texas, middle New Mexico, and north- 
ern Arizona. They are so strictly nocturnal 
that their presence in our territory is usually 
not suspected until, after depredations on stock 
usually attributed to mountain lions, a trap or 
poison is put out and reveals a jaguar as the 
offender. Several have been killed in this way 
within our border during the last ten years, 
including one not far from the tourist hotel at 
the Grand Canyon of Arizona. 

Although so large and powerful, the jaguar 
has none of the truculent ferocity of the Afri- 
can leopard. During the years I spent in its 
country, mainly in the open, I made careful 
inquiry without hearing of a single case where 
one had attacked human beings. So far as I 
could learn, it has practically the same shy and 
cowardly nature as the mountain lion. Despite 



this, the natives throughout its tropical home 
have a great fear of "el tigre," as I saw evi- 
denced repeatedly in Mexico. Apparently this 
fear is based wholly on its strength and poten- 
tial ability to harm man if it so desired. 

Jaguars are very destructive to the larger 
game birds and mammals of their domain and 
to horses and cattle on ranches. On many 
large tropical ranches a "tigrero," or tiger 
hunter, with a small pack of mongrel dogs, is 
maintained, whose duty it is immediately to 
take up the trail when a "tigre" makes its pres- 
ence known, usually by killing cattle. The 
hunter steadily continues the pursuit, some- 
times for many days, until the animal is either 
killed or driven out of the district. It is ordi- 
narily hunted with dogs, which noisily follow 
the trail, but its speed through the jungle often 
enables it to escape. When hard pressed it 
takes to a tree and is easily killed. 

Few predatory animals are such wanderers 
as the jaguar, which roams hundreds of miles 
from its original home, as shown by its occa- 
sional appearance far within our borders. In 
the heavy tropical forest it so commonly fol- 
lows the large wandering herds of white-lipped 
peccaries that some of the Mexicans contend 
that every large herd is trailed by a tiger to 
pick up stragglers. Along the Mexican coast 
in spring, when sea turtles crawl up the beaches 
to bury their eggs in the sand, the rising sun 
often reveals the fresh tracks of the jaguar 
where it has traveled for miles along the shore 
in search of these savory deposits. 

In one locality on the Pacific coast of Guer- 
rero I found that the hardier natives had an 
interesting method of hunting the "tigre" dur- 
ing the mating period. At such times the male 
has the habit of leaving its lair near the head 
of a small canyon in the foothills early in the 
evening and following down the canyon for 
some distance, at intervals uttering a subdued 
roar. On moonlight nights at this time the 
hunter places an expert native with a short 
wooden trumpet near the mouth of the canyon 
to imitate the "tigre's" call as soon as it is 
heard and to repeat the cry at proper intervals. 
After placing the caller, the hunter ascends the 
canyon several hundred yards and, gun in 
hand, awaits the approach of the animal. The 
natives have many amusing tales of the sudden 
exit of untried hunters when the approaching 
animal unexpectedly uttered its roar at close 
quarters. 

JAGUARUNDI CAT, OR EYRA (Felis 
cacomitli and its subspecies) 

The eyra differs greatly in general appear- 
ance from any of our other cats, although it is 
one of the most characteristic of the American 
members of this widely spread family. It is 
larger than an otter, with a small flattened 
head, long body, long tail, and short legs, thus 
having a distinctly otterlike form. It is char- 
acterized by two color phases — one a dull gray 
or dusky, and the other some shade of rusty 
rufous. Animals of these different colors were 
long supposed to represent distinct species, but 




MOUNTAIN LION 




414 




RED AND GRAY PHASES OF THE JACUARUNDl CAT, OR EYRA 




TIGER-CAT, OR OCELOT 



415 



416 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



it has been learned not only that color is the 
only difference between the two, but also that 
the two colors are everywhere found together, 
affording satisfactory evidence that they are 
merely color phases of the same species. 

The eyra is a habitant of brush-grown or 
forested country, mainly in the lowlands, from 
the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas south 
to Paraguay. In this vast territory it has de- 
veloped a number of geographic races. 

In southern Texas, where it is often asso- 
ciated with the ocelot, the eyra lives in dense 
thorny thickets of mesquites, acacias, iron- 
wrood, and other semitropical chaparral in a 
region of brilliant sunlight ; but farther south 
it also roams the magnificent forests of the 
humid tropics, in which the sun rarely pene- 
trates. It appears to be even more nocturnal 
and retiring than most of our cats, and but 
little is known of its life history. The results 
of thorough trapping in the dense thorny thick- 
ets near Brownsville, Texas, indicate that it is 
probably more common than is generally sup- 
posed. 

The natives in the lowlands of Guerrero, on 
the Pacific coast of Mexico, informed me that 
the eyra in that region is fond of the vicinity 
of streams, and that it takes to the water and 
swims freely, crossing rivers whenever it de- 
sires. Its otterlike form goes well with such 
habits, and further information may prove that 
it is commonly a water-frequenting animal. 
Its unusual form and dual coloration and our 
lack of knowledge regarding the Hfe of the 
eyra unite to make it one of the most inter- 
esting of our carnivores. 

TIGER-CATS, OR OCELOTS (Felis 
pardalis and its relatives) 

The brushy and. forested areas of America 
from southern Texas and Sonora to Paraguay 
are inhabited by spotted cats of different spe- 
cies, varying from the size of a large house 
cat to that of a Canada lynx. Only one of 
these occurs in the United States. All are 
characterized by long tails and a yellowish 
ground color, conspicuously marked by black 
spots, and on neck and back by short, longi- 
tudinal stripes — a color pattern that strongly 
suggests the leopard. 

In the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas 
the tiger-cat is rather common, with the eyra- 
cat, in areas densely overgrown with thorny 
chaparral. Like most of the cat tribe, it is 
strictly nocturnal and by day lies well hidden 
in its brushy shelter. Ry night it wanders 
along trails over a considerable territory, seek- 
ing its prey. Birds of all kinds, including do- 
mestic poultry, are captured on their roosts, 
and rabbits, wood rats, and mice of many 
kinds, as well as snakes and other reptiles, arc 
on its list of game. 

Its reptile-eating habit was revealed to me 
unexpectedly one day in the dense tropical for- 
est of Chiapas. T was riding along a steep 
trail beside a shallow brush-grown ravine when 
a tiger-cat suddenly rushed up the trunk of a 



tree close by. A lucky shot from my revolver 
brought it to the ground, and I found it lying 
in the ravine by the body of a recently killed 
boa about 6 or 7 feet long. Tt had eaten the 
boa's head and neck when my approach inter- 
rupted the feast. 

The first of these cats I trapped in Mexico 
was captured the night after my arrival, in a 
trail bordering the port of Manzanillo, on the 
Pacific coast. The rejoicing of the natives 
living close by evidenced the toll this marauder 
had been taking from their chickens. 

The tiger-cat is much more quiet and less 
fierce in disposition than most felines. It ex- 
cited my surprise and interest whenever I 
trapped one to note how nonchalantly it took 
the situation. The captive never dashed wildly 
about to escape, but when I drew near sat and 
looked quietly at me without the slightest sign 
of alarm and with little apparent interest. A 
small trap-hold, even on the end of a single 
toe, was enough to retain the victim. On one 
occasion, while a cat thus held sat looking at 
me, it quietly reached to one side and sank its 
teeth into the bark of a small tree to which 
the trap was attached, and then resumed its 
air of unconcern. 

The tiger-cat brings within our fauna an in- 
teresting touch of the tropics and its exuber- 
ance of animal life. It is found in so small a 
corner of our territory, however, that, despite 
its mainly inoffensive habits, it is certain to be 
crowded out in the near future by the increased 
occupation of its haunts. 

RED FOX (Vulpes fulva and its relatives) 

Red foxes are characterized by their rusty 
red fur, black- fronted fore legs, and white- 
tipped tail. They inhabit the forested regions 
in the temperate and subarctic parts of both 
Old and New Worlds, and, like other types of 
animal life having a wide range, they break up 
into numerous distinct species and geographic 
races. 

In America they originally ranged over near- 
ly all the forested region from the northern 
limit of trees in Alaska and Canada south, 
east of the Great Plains, to Texas; also down 
the Rocky Mountains to middle New Mexico, 
and down the Sierra Nevada to the Mount 
Whitney region of California. They are un- 
known on the treeless plains of the West, in- 
cluding the Great Basin. Originally they were 
apparently absent from the Atlantic and Gulf 
States from Maryland to Louisiana, but have 
since been introduced and become common 
south to middle Georgia and Alabama. 

Wherever red foxes occur they show great 
mental alertness and capacity to meet the re- 
([uiremcnts of their surroundings. In New 
iMigland they steadily persist, though their 
raids on poultry yards have for centuries set 
the hand of mankind against them. For a 
time conditions favored them in parts of the 
Middle Atlantic States, for the sport of hunt- 
ing to hounds was imported from England, and 
the foxes had partial protection. This exotic 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



417 



amusement has now passed and the fox must 
everywhere depend on his nimble wits for 
safety. 

Since the days of ^sop's fables tales of 
foxes and their doings have had their place in 
literature as well as in the folk-lore of the 
countryside. Many of their amazing wiles to 
outwit pursuers or to capture their prey give 
evidence of extraordinary mental powers. 

Their bill of fare includes many items, as 
mice, birds, reptiles, insects, many kinds of 
fruits, and on rare occasions a chicken. The 
bad name borne by them among farmers, due 
to occasional raids on the poultry yard, is 
largely unwarranted. They kill enormous 
numbers of mice and other small rodents each 
year, and thus well repay the loss of a chicken 
now and then. 

Red foxes apparently pair for life and oc- 
cupy dens dug by themselves in a secluded 
knoll or among rocks. These dens, which are 
sometimes occupied for years in succession, 
always have two or more entrances opening in 
opposite directions, so that an enemy entering 
on one side may be readily eluded. The young, 
numbering up to eight or nine, are tenderly 
cared for by both parents. 

Although they have been persistently hunted 
and trapped in North America since the ear- 
liest times, they still yield a royal annual trib- 
ute of furs. It is well known that the highly 
prized cross, as well as the precious black, and 
silver gray foxes are merely color phases oc- 
curring in litters of the ordinary red animal. 
Black skins are so highly prized that specially 
fine ones have sold for more than $.2,500 each 
in the London market. The reward thus of- 
fered has resulted in the development of black 
fox fur-farms, which have been very success- 
ful in parts of Canada and the United States, 
thus originating a valuable new industry. 

By the modern regulation of trapping, foxes 
and other fur-Learers are destined to survive 
wherever conditions are favorable. In addi- 
tion to the economic value of foxes, the loca- 
tion of an occasional fox den here and there 
on the borders of a woodland tract, the mean- 
dering tracks in the snow, and the occasional 
glimpse of animals cautiously making their 
rounds add a keen touch of primitive nature 
well worth preserving in any locality. 

ALASKA RED FOX (Vulpes kenaiensis) 

The red fox of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, 
and the adjacent mainland is probably the 
largest of its kind in the world, although those 
of Kodiak Island and of the Mackenzie River 
valley are nearly as large. Compared with its 
relatives of the United States, the Kenai fox 
is a giant, with heavier, duller-colored coat 
and a huge tail, more like that of a wolf than 
of a fox. The spruce and birch forests of 
Alaska and the Mackenzie Valley are appar- 
ently peculiarly adapted to red foxes, as shown 
by the development there of these animals — 
good illustrations of the relative increase in 
size and vigor of animals in a specially favor- 
able environment. 



As noted in the general account of the red 
foxes, the occurrence of the black phase is 
sporadic, and the relative number of dark in- 
dividuals varies greatly in dififerent parts of 
their range. The region about the upper Yu- 
kon and its tributaries and the Mackenzie 
River basin are noted for the number of black 
foxes produced, apparently a decidedly greater 
proportion than in any other similarly large 
area. The prices for which these black skins 
sell in the London market prove them to be of 
equal quality with those from any other area. 

Like other red foxes, the Alaskan species 
digs its burrows, with several entrances, in some 
dry secluded spot, where both male and female 
share in the care of the young. In northern 
wilds the food problem differs from that in a 
settled country. There the surrounding wild 
life is the only dependence, and varying hares, 
lemmings, and other mice are usually to be had 
by the possessor of a keen scent and an active 
body. In summer many nesting wild- fowl and 
their young are easy prey, while heathberries 
and other northern fruits are also availal^le. 

Winter brings a season of scarcity, when life 
requires the exercise of every trained faculty. 
The snow-white ptarmigan is then a prize to be 
gained only by the most skillful stalking, and 
the white hare is almost equally difficult to 
secure. At this season foxes wander many 
miles each day, their erratic tracks in the snow 
telling the tale of their industrious search for 
prey in every likely spot. It is in this season 
of insistent hunger that many of them fall vic- 
tims to the wiles of trappers or to the unscru- 
pulous hunter who scatters poisoned baits. 

Fortunately the season for trapping these 
and other fur-bearers in Alaska is now limited 
by law and the use of poisons is forbidden. 
These measures will aid in preserving one of 
the valuable natural assets of these northern 
wilds. 

GRAY FOX (Urocyon cinereoargenteus 

and its relatives) 

Gray foxes average about the size of common 
red foxes, but are longer and more slender in 
body, with longer legs and a longer, thinner tail. 
They are peculiar to America, where they have 
awide range — from New Hampshire, Wiscon- 
sin, and Oregon south through Mexico and 
Central America to Colombia. Within this area 
there are numerous geographic forms closely 
alike in color and general appearance, but vary- 
ing much in size ; the largest of all. larger than 
the red fox, occupying the New England States. 

Gray foxes inhabit wooded and brush-grown 
country and are much more numerous in the 
arid or semiarid regions of the southwestern 
United States and western Mexico than else- 
where. In parts of California they are far 
more numerous than red foxes ever become. 
They do not regularly dig a den, but occupy a 
hollow tree or cavity in the rocks, where they 
bring forth from three to five young each 
spring. As witli other foxes, the cubs are born 
blind and helpless, and are also almost blackish 
in color, entirely unlike the adults. Tlie par- 




CROSS FOX RED FOX SILVER FOX 

The precious black and silver gray foxes are merely color phases occurring in litters of the ordinary red animal (see text, page 416) 




ALASKA RED FOX 



418 



..4 




DESERT FOX 



T 








^u>s C^tnf'g ^»/^t 



419 



420 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



ents, as usual with all members of the dog 
family, are devoted to their young and care for 
them with the utmost solicitude. 

Like other members of the tribe, they are 
omnivorous and feed upon mice, squirrels, rab- 
bits, birds, and large insects, in addition to 
acorns or other nuts and fruits of all kinds. 
In Lower California they are very common 
about the date-palm orchards, which they visit 
nightly for fallen fruit. They also make noc- 
turnal visits to poultry yards. 

In some parts of the West they are called 
''tree foxes," because when pursued by dogs 
they often climb into the tops of small branch- 
ing trees. 

On one occasion in Arizona I saw a gray fox 
standing in the top of a large, leaning mesquite 
tree, about thirty feet from the ground, quietly 
gazing in various directions, as though he had 
chosen this as a lookout point. As soon as he 
saw me he came down at a run and swiftly 
disappeared. 

In the same region I found a den in the hol- 
low base of an old live-oak containing three 
young only a few days old. The mother was 
shot as she sprang from the hole on my ap- 
proach and the young taken to camp. There 
the skin of the old fox, well wrapped in paper, 
was placed on the ground at one side of the 
tent, and an open hunting bag containing the 
young placed on the opposite side, about ten 
feet away. On returning an hour later, I was 
amazed to find that all three of the young, so 
small they could crawl only with the utmost 
difficulty, and totally blind, had crossed the tent 
and managed to work their way through the 
paper to tlie skin of their mother, thus show- 
ing that the acute sense of smell in these_ foxes 
becomes of service to them at a surprisingly 
early age. 

DESERT FOX (Vulpes macrotis and its 

subspecies) 

A small fox, akin to the kit fox or swift of 
the western plains, frequents the arid cactus- 
grown desert region of the Southwest. It is 
found from the soutliern parts of New Mex- 
ico, Arizona, and California south into the ad- 
jacent parts of Mexico. The desert fox is a 
beautiful species, slender in form, and extra- 
ordinarily quick and graceful in its movements, 
but so generally nocturnal in habits as to be 
rarely seen by the desert traveler. On the rare 
occasions when one is encountered abroad by 
day, if it thinks itself unobserved by the trav- 
eler it usually flattens itself on the ground be- 
side any small object which breaks the surface, 
and thus obscured will permit a horseman to 
ride within a few rods without moving. If the 
traveler indicates by any action that he has 
seen it, the fox darts away at extraordinary 
speed, running with a smooth, floating motion 
which seems as effortless as that of a drifting 
thistledown before a breeze. 

The desert fox digs a burrow, with several 
entrances, in a small mound, or at times on an 
open flat, and there rears four or five young 
each year. Its main food consists of kangaroo 



rats, pocket mice, small ground-squirrels, and 
a variety of other small desert mammals. In 
early morning fox tracks, about the size of 
those of a house-cat, may be seen along sandy 
arroyos and similar places where these small 
carnivores have wandered in search of prey. 

Like the kit, the desert fox has little of the 
sophisticated mental ability of the red fox and 
falls an easy prey to the trapper. It is no- 
where numerous and occupies such a thinly in- 
habited region that there is little danger of its 
numbers greatly decreasing in the near future. 

BADGER (Taxidea taxus and its sub- 
species) 

The favorite home of the badger is on 
grassy, brush-grown plains, where there is an 
abundance of mice, pocket gophers, ground- 
squirrels, prairie-dogs, or other small mam- 
mals. There it wanders far and wide at night 
searching for the burrows of the small ro- 
dents, which are its chief prey. When its 
acute sense of smell announces that a burrow 
is occupied, it sets to work with sharp claws 
and powerful fore legs and digs down to the 
terrified inmate in an amazingly short time. 

The trail of a badger for a single night is 
often marked by hole after hole, each with a 
mound of fresh earth containing the tracks of 
the marauder. As a consequence, if several of 
these animals are in the neighborhood, their 
burrows, 6 or 8 inches in diameter, soon be- 
come so numerous that it is dangerous to ride 
rapidly through their haunts on horseback. 

Although a member of the weasel family, 
the badger is so slow-footed that when it is 
occasionally found abroad by day a man on 
foot can easily overtake it. When brought to 
bay, it charges man or dog and tights with 
such vicious power and desperation that noth- 
ing of its own size can overcome it. It appears 
to have a morose and savage nature, lacking 
the spice of vivacity or playfulness which ap- 
pears in many of its relatives. 

Although commonly found living by Itself 
in a den, it is often found moving about by 
day in pairs, indicating the proliability that it 
may mate permanently. In the northern part 
of its range it hibernates during winter, but 
in the south remains active throughout the 
year. Its shy and retiring character is evi- 
denced liy the little information we have con- 
cerning its family life. The badger is so de- 
structive to rodents that its services are of 
great value to the farmer. Regardless of this, 
where encountered it is almost invariably 
killed. As a consequence, the increasing occu- 
pation of its territory must result in its steady 
decrease in numliers and final extermination. 

The American badger is a close relative of 
the well-known badger occupying the British 
Isles and other northern parts of the Old 
World. It is a low, broad, short-legged, pow- 
erfully built animal of such wide distribution 
that it has developed several geographic races. 
Its range originally extended from about 58 
degrees of latitude, on the Peace River, in 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



421 



Canada, south to the plains of Puebla, on the 
southern end of the Mexican table-land, and 
from Michigan, Kansas, and Texas west to the 
Pacific coast. It has now become extinct over 
much of this area and is everywhere greatly 
reduced in numbers. 

It appears to thrive equally well on the plains 
of Alberta, in the open pine forests of the 
Sierra Nevada in California, and on the dry 
tropical lowlands at the southern end of the 
Peninsula of Lower California. 

ARCTIC WOLF (Canis tundrarum) 

In order to fit properly into a high northern 
environment, Arctic wolves have developed 
white coats, which they wear throughout the 
year. They are among the largest of their kind 
and have all the surpassing vigor needful for 
successful beasts of prey in the rigors of such 
a home. Nature is more than ordinarily hard 
on weaklings in the far North and only the 
fittest survive. 

The range of the white wolves covers the 
treeless barren grounds bordering the Arctic 
coast of Alaska and Canada and extending 
thence across the Arctic islands to the north 
coast of Greenland beyond 83 degrees of lati- 
tude. 

The short summer in the far North is the 
season of plenty, during which swarms of wild- 
fowl furnish a bountiful addition to the regu- 
lar food supply. Young wolves are reared and 
the pack feeds fat, laying up a needed reserve 
strength for the coming season of darkness. 
When winter arrives lemmings and Arctic 
hares and an occasional white fox furnish an 
uncertain food supply for such insistent hun- 
ger as that of wolves, and larger game is a 
necessity. 

In the northern part of their range they 
share with the other denizens of that land the 
months of continuous night. There, amid re- 
lentless storms and iron frosts, the trail, once 
found, must be held to the end. The chase is 
made in the gloom of continuous night and the 
white caribovi or musk-ox herd is brought to 
bay, and by the law of the pack food is pro- 
vided. 

White wolves are the one dreaded foe Na- 
ture has given the musk-ox and the caribou in 
the northern wilds. The number of the wolves, 
as with other carnivores, varies with the abun- 
dance of their chief prey, and they will disap- 
pear automatically with the caribou and musk- 
oxen. 

GRAY, OR TIMBER, WOLF (Canis 
nubilus and its relatives) 

Large wolves, closely related to those of Eu- 
rope and Siberia, once infested practically all 
of Arctic and temperate North America, ex- 
cepting only the arid desert plains. This range 
extended from the remotest northern lands be- 
yond 83 degrees of latitude south to the moun- 
tains about the Valley of Mexico. 

When America was first colonized bv white 



men, wolves were numerous everywhere in pro- 
portion to the great abundance of game ani- 
mals. With the increased occupation of the 
continent and the destruction of most of its 
large game, wolves have entirely disappeared 
from large parts of their former domain. They 
still occur in varying numbers in the forest 
along our northern border from Michigan 
westward, and south along the Rocky Moun- 
tains and the Sierra Madre to Durango, Mex- 
ico, and also in all the Gulf States. 

The variations in climate and other physical 
conditions within their range has resulted in 
the development of numerous geographic races, 
and perhaps of species, of wolves, which show 
marked differences in size and color. The 
white Arctic wolf, described on pages 421 and 
424, is one of the most notable of these, but the 
gray wolf of the Rocky Mountain region and 
the eastern United States is the best known. 

Since the dawn of history Old World wolves, 
when hunger pressed, have not hesitated to at- 
tack men, and in wild districts have become a 
fearful scourge. American wolves have rarely 
shown this fearlessness toward man, probably 
owing to the abundance of game before the 
advent of white men and to the general use of 
firearms among the pioneers. That wolves are 
extremely difficult to exterminate is shown by 
their persistence to the present day in parts of 
France and elsewhere in Europe. This is due 
both to their fecundity (they have from eight 
to twelve young), and to their keen intelli- 
gence, which they so often pit successfully 
against the wiles of their chief enemy — man. 

Gray wolves appear to mate permanently, 
and in spring their young are born in natural 
dens among great rocks, or in a burrow dug 
for the purpose in a hillside. There both par- 
ents exercise the greatest vigilance for the pro- 
tection of the young. The male kills and 
brings in game and stands guard in the neigh- 
borhood, while the mother devotes most of her 
time to the pups while they are very small. At 
other times of year packs made up of one or 
more pairs and their young hunt together with 
a mutual helpfulness in pursuing and bringing 
down their prey that shows a high order of in- 
telligence. Wolves are in fact first cousins of 
the dog, whose mental alnlity is recognized by 
all. 

During the existence of the great buffalo 
herds, packs of big gray "buffalo wolves" 
roamed the western plains, taking toll wher- 
ever it pleased them. Since these vast game 
herds have disappeared only a small fraction 
of the wolves have survived. There are 
enough, however, not only to commit great 
ravages among the deer and other game in 
northern Michigan and on the coastal islands 
of Alaska, but also to destroy much live stock 
in the Rocky Mountain region. 

So serious have the losses in cattle and sheep 
on the ranges become that Congress has re- 
cently made large appropriations for the de- 
struction of wolves and other predatory ani- 
mals, and these disturbers of the peace will 
soon become much reduced in numbers. The 




THE PEARY CARIBOU 

One of the geographic forms of the Barren Ground Caribou 

(see text, page 460) 



ARCTIC VVOI.F 



422 




GRAY, OR TIMBER, WOLF 



BLACK WOLF 







;#-• 





I'LAINS 1(J1CJ|I, i)R I'RAIRIE WOLF 



ARIZONA, OK. MI:AK\S, <.(>\()IE 



423 



424 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



necessity for action of this kind is shown by 
the recent capture in Colorado of a huge old 
dog wolf with a definite record of having 
killed about $3,000 worth of stock. Interesting 
as wolves are, filling their place in the_ wilder- 
ness, their habits bar them from being tol- 
erated in civilized regions. 

PLAINS COYOTE, OR PRAIRIE WOLF 
(Canis latrans) 

Western North America is inhabited by a 
peculiar group of small wolves, known as 
coyotes, this being a Spanish corruption of the 
Aztec name coyotl. They range from north- 
ern Michigan, northern Alberta, and British 
Columbia south to Costa Rica, and from west- 
ern Iowa and Texas to the Pacific coast. As 
a group they are animals of the open plains 
and sparsely wooded districts, ranging from 
sea-level to above timber-line on the highest 
mountains. They are most at home on the 
wide brushy or grassy plains of the western 
United States and the table-lands of Mexico. 

Within their great area coyotes have devel- 
oped several distinct species and a number of 
geographic races, distinguished by differences 
in size, color, and other characteristics. Some 
attain a size almost equaling that of the gray 
wolf, while others are much smaller. 

They are less courageous and have less of 
the social instinct than gray wolves, _ and on 
the rare occasions when they hunt in packs 
they form, no doubt, a family party, including 
the young of the year. They appear to pair 
more or less permanently and commonly hunt 
in couples. The young, sometimes numbering 
as many as fourteen, are born in a burrow 
dug in a bank, or in a den among broken rocks 
and ledges. Young animals are readily tamed, 
and it is entirely probable that some of the 
dogs found by early explorers among western 
Indians may have descended from coyotes. 

Coyotes are a familiar sight to travelers in 
the wildest parts of the West. Here and there 
one is seen trotting through the sagebrush or 
other scrubby growth, or stopping to gaze 
curiously at the intruder. If suddenly alarmed, 
they race away across the plains with amazing 
speed. At night their high-pitched, wailing 
howls voice the lonely spirit of waste places. 

With the growth of settlement in the West 
and the steady decrease of large and small 
game, coyotes have become more and more de- 
structive to poultry and all kinds of live stock. 
As a result, every man's hand is against them, 
reinforced by gun, trap, and poison. Despite 
years of this persistent warfare, their acute 
intelligence, aided by their extraordinary fe- 
cimdity, has enabled them to hold their own 
over a great part of their original range. Their 
depredations upon live stock have been so great 
that many millions of dollars have been paid 
in bounties for their destruction. 

This method of control has proved so in- 
effective, however, that the Federal Govern- 
ment has engaged in the task of suppressing 
them, tagethcr with the other less numerous 



predatory animals of the West, and has placed 
about 300 hunters in the field for this purpose. 
The complete destruction of coyotes would, no 
doubt, upset the balance of nature in favor of 
rabbits, prairie-dogs, and other harmful ro- 
dents, and thus result in a very serious in- 
crease in the destruction of crops. 

The coyote supplies much interest and local 
color to many dreary landscapes and has be- 
come a prominent figure in the literature of 
the West. There it is usually symbolic of 
shifty cunning and fleetness of foot. What- 
ever his faults, the co>ote is an amusing and 
interesting beast, and it is hoped that the day 
of his complete disappearance from our wild 
life may he far in the future. 

ARIZONA, OR MEARNS, COYOTE 
(Canis mearnsi) 

The Arizona coyote is one of the smallest 
and at the same time the most handsomely col- 
ored of all its kind. Its home is limited to 
the arid deserts on both sides of the lower 
Colorado River, but mainly in southwestern 
Arizona and adjacent parts of Sonora. This 
is one of the hottest and most arid regions 
of the continent, and for coyotes successfully 
to hold their own there requires the exercise 
of all the acute intelligence for which they 
are noted. Instead of the winter blizzards 
and biting cold encountered in the home of 
the plains coyote, this southern species has 
to endure the furnacelike heat of summer, 
with occasional long periods of drought, when 
water-holes become dry, plant life becomes dor- 
mant, and a large part of the smaller mammal 
life perishes. 

The Arizona coyote, like others of its kind, 
is omnivorous. In seasons of plenty, rabbits, 
kangaroo rats, pocket gophers, and many other 
desert rodents cost only the pleasant excite- 
ment of a short stalk. With the changing sea- 
sons the flesh diet is varied by the sugary 
mesquite beans, juicy cactus fruit, and other 
products of thorny desert plants. Wherever 
sufficient water is available for irrigation, small 
communities of Indians or Mexicans are to 
be found. About such centers many coyotes 
usually establish themselves and fatten on 
poultry, green corn, melons, and other fruits 
provided by the labor of man. Many of them 
also patrol the shores of the Gulf of California 
and feast upon the eggs of turtles and other 
spoils of the sea. 

The arrival of men at a desert water-hole is 
quickly known among these alert foragers, and 
when the travelers arise at daybreak they are 
likely to see tell-tale tracks on the sand where 
one or two coyotes have walked in and out be- 
tween their sleeping places and all about camp. 
Shortly afterward the campers, if inexpcrir 
cnced, may learn that bacon and other food 
are contraband and always confiscated bv these 
dogs of the desert. These camp marauders 
often stand among the bushes only 75 or 100 
yards away in the morning and watch the in- 
truders with much curiosity until some hostile 
movement starts them off in rapid flight. 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



425 



WHITE, OR ARCTIC, FOX (Alopex 
lagopus) 

The Arctic fox, clothed in long, fluffy white 
fur, is an extremely handsome animal, about 
two-thirds the size of the common red fox. It 
is a circumpolar species, which in America 
ranges over all the barren grounds beyond the 
limit of trees, including the coastal belt of 
tundra from the Peninsula of Alaska to Ber- 
ing Straits, the Arctic islands, and the frozen 
sea to beyond 83 degrees of latitude. 

The blue fox of commerce is a color phase 
of this species, usually of sporadic occurrence, 
like the black phase of the red fox. The white 
fox makes its burrow either in a dry mound, 
under a large rock, or in the snow, where its 
young are brought forth and cared for with 
the devotion which appears to characterize all 
foxes. 

How this small and delicately formed animal 
manages to sustain life under the rigorous 
winter conditions of the far north has always 
been a mystery to me. I have seen its tracks 
on the sea ice miles from shore. It regularly 
wanders far and wide over these desolate icy 
wastes, which can offer only the most remote 
chance for food. However, it appears to thrive, 
with other animal life, even where months of 
continuous night follow the long summer day. 

The food of the Arctic fox includes nearly 
all species of the wild-fowl which each summer 
swarm into the far North to breed. There on 
the tundras congregate myriads of ducks, 
geese, and waders, while on the cliffs and 
rocky islands are countless gulls and other 
water birds. In winter they find lemmings and 
other northern mice, occasional Arctic hares, 
and ptarmigan, as well as fragments of prey 
left by Arctic wolves or polar bears. Now 
and then the carcass of a whale is stranded or 
frozen in the ice, furnishing an abundance of 
food, sornetimes for a year or more, to the 
foxes which gather about it from a great dis- 
tance. 

Perhaps owing to its limited experience with 
rnan, the northern animal is much less sus- 
picious than the southern red fox. During 
winter sledge trips in Alaska I frequently had 
two or three of them gather about my open 
camp on the coast, apparently fascinated by 
the little camp-fire of driftwood. They would 
sit about, near by in the snow, for an hour or 
two in the evening, every now and then utter- 
ing weak, husky barks like small dogs. 

The summer of i8(Si, when we landed from 
the Corzvin on Herald Island, northwest of 
Bering Straits, we found many white foxes 
living in burrows under large scattered rocks 
on the plateau summit. They had never seen 
men before and our presence excited their 
most intense interest and curiosity. One and 
sometimes two of them followed closely at my 
heels wherever I went, and when I stopped to 
make notes or look about, sat down and 
watched me with absurd gravity. Now and 
then one at a distance would mount a rock to 
get a better view of the stranger. 

On returning to the ship, I remembered that 



my notebook had been left on a large rock 
over a fox den, on the island, and at once went 
back for it. I had been gone only a short 
time, but no trace of the book could be found 
on or about the rock, and it was evident that 
the owner of the den had confiscated it. Sev- 
eral other foxes sat about viewing my search 
with interest and when I left followed me to 
the edge of the island. A nearly grown young 
one kept on the Corzviii was extraordinarily 
intelligent, inquisitive, and mischievous, and 
afforded all of us much amusement and occa- 
sional exasperation. 

PRIBILOF BLUE FOX (Alopex lagopus 
pribilofensis) 

The blue fox is a color phase of the Arctic 
white fox and may occur anywhere in the 
range of the typical animal. In fact, the blue 
phase bears the same relationship to the white 
that the black phase does to the red fox. In 
the Pribilof, or Fur Seal, Islands of Alaska, 
however, through the influence of favorable 
climatic conditions, assisted by artificial selec- 
tion in weeding out white animals, the blue 
phase has become the resident form. Isola- 
tion on these islands has developed other char- 
acters also which, with the prevailing color, 
render the Pribilof animal a distinct geo- 
graphic race of the white species. A blue fox 
is also the prevailing resident animal in Ice- 
land. 

In years when fur-seals were killed in con- 
siderable numbers on the Pribilofs their car- 
casses remained on the killing grounds as a 
never-failing store of food through the winter. 
During summer there is an abundance of nest- 
ing water-fowl, and throughout the year there 
are mice on land and the products of the sea 
along shore. As a result the foxes have thrived 
amazingly and several hundred skins have been 
produced a year. With the lessening number 
of seals now being killed on the islands and 
the resulting scarcity of winter food, the fate 
of the foxes is somewhat in doubt. The Prib- 
ilof skins are of high market value, bringing 
from $40 to $150 each in the London market. 

Stock from the Pribilofs has been intro- 
duced on a number of the Aleutians and other 
Alaskan islands for fur-farming purposes. The 
value of these fur-bearers is so great that soe- 
cial effort should be made not only to keep up 
the stock on the islands, but still further to 
improve it. 

The Pribilof foxes liavc from five to eleven 
young, which are usually born above ground 
and are later carried to the shelter of dens 
dug in the open or under the shelter of a rock. 
Foxes have become so accustomed to people 
on these islands that they have little fear and 
come about boldly to satisfy their curiosity or 
to seek for food. They often show an amus- 
ing interest in the doings of any one who in- 
vades the more remote parts of their domain. 
White animals l^orn on the islands or coming 
in by chance when the pack ice touches there 
in winter are killed, whenever possible, in order 
to hold the blue strain true. 




426 




427 



428 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



WOLVERINE (Gulo luscus) 

The wolverine, or carcajou of the Canadian 
voyageurs, is a circumpolar species belonging 
to the northern forested areas of both conti- 
nents. In North America it formerly ranged 
from the northern limit of trees south to New 
England and New York, and down the Rocky 
Mountains to Colorado, and down the Sierra 
Nevada to near Mount Whitney, California. 
It is a low, squat, heavy-bodied animal, with 
strong legs and feet armed with sharp claws, 
and is the largest and most formidable of the 
weasel family. 

The wolverine is extraordinarily powerful 
and possesses what at times appears to be a 
diabolical cunning and persistence. It fre- 
quently trails trappers along their trap lines, 
eating or destroying their catches and at times 
hiding their traps. It is a tireless wanderer, 
and the hunter or traveler in the northern 
wilds always has this marauder in mind and 
is put to the limit of his wits to provide caches 
for his provisions or other supplies which it 
can not despoil. 

What it can not eat it is likely to carry away 
and hide. A wolverine has often been known 
to expend a surprising amount of labor in 
apparently deliberate mischief, even carrying 
numerous articles away from camps and hiding 
them in different places. It sometimes trails a 
traveler for many miles through winter snow, 
always out of sight, but alert to take advantage 
of any carelessness in leaving game or other 
food unguarded. 

Mingled with these mischievous traits the 
wolverine possesses a savage ferocity com- 
bined with a muscular power which renders it 
a dreaded foe of all but the largest animals of 
its domain. When guarding her young, the 
female is no mean foe, even for a man. 

As a consequence of its mental and physical 
character, the wolverine, more than any other 
animal of the north, has impressed itself on 
the imagination of both native and white hunt- 
ers and travelers. A vast amount of folk-lore 
has grown up about it and both Indians and 
Eskimos make offerings to propitiate its ma- 
lignant spirit. The Alaskan Eskimos trim the 
hoods of their fur garments with a strip of 
wolverine fur, and Eskimo hunters wear belts 
and hunting bags made of the skin of the legs 
and head, that they may acquire some of the 
power of the animal from which these came. 

The value of the handsome brown fur of the 
wolverine, as well as the enmity the animal 
earns among hunters and trappers, has resulted 
in its being so persistently hunted that it has 
become extinct over much of its former terri- 
tory, and wherever still found it is much re- 
duced in numbers. 

PACIFIC WALRUS (Odobenus obesus) 

The walruses, or "sea horses" of the old 
navigators, are the strangest and most gro- 
tesque of all sea mammals. Their large, rugged 
heads, armed with two long ivory tusks, and 
their huge swollen bodies, covered with hair- 



less, wrinkled, and warty skin, gives them a 
formidable appearance unlike that of any other 
mammal. They are much larger than most 
seals, the old males weighing from 2,000 to 
3,000 pounds and the females about two-thirds 
as much. 

These strange beasts are confined to the 
Arctic Ocean and the adjacent coasts and 
islands and are most numerous about the bor- 
ders of the pack ice. Two species are known, 
one belonging to the Greenland seas, while the 
other, the Pacific walrus, is limited to Bering 
Sea and the Arctic basin beyond Bering Straits. 

The Pacific walruses migrate S(Hithward 
through Bering Straits with the pack ice in 
fall and spend the winter in Bering Sea and 
along the adjacent coast of eastern Asia. In 
spring they return northward through the 
straits and pass the breeding season about the 
ice pack, where they congregate in great herds. 
One night in July, 18S1, the U. S. steamer Cor- 
zvin cruised for hours along the edge of the ice 
pack off the Arctic coast of Alaska and we saw 
an almost unbroken line of walruses hauled 
out on the ice, forming an extended herd which 
must have contained tens of thousands. 

Walruses were formerly very abundant in 
Bering Sea, especially about the Fur Seal 
Islands and along the coast north of the Pen- 
insula of Alaska, but few now survive there. 
Owing to the value of their thick skins, blub- 
ber, and ivory tusks, they have been subjected 
to remorseless pursuit since the early Russian 
occupation of their territory and have, as a re- 
sult, become extinct in parts of tlieir former 
range and the species is now in serious danger 
of extermination. 

Like many of the seals, walruses have a 
strong social instinct, and although usually seen 
in herds they are not polygamous. They feed 
mainly on clams or other shellfish, which they 
gather on the bottom of the shallow sea. On 
shore or on the ice they move slowly and with 
much difificulty, but in the water they are thor- 
oughly at home and good swimmers. When 
hauled out on land or ice, they usually lie in 
groups one against the other. They are stupid 
beasts and hunters have no difficulty in killing 
them with rifles at close range. 

Walruses have a strongly developed mater- 
nal instinct and show great devotion and dis- 
regard of their own safety in defending the 
young. Tlie Eskimos at Cape Vancouver, Ber- 
ing Sea, hunt them in frail skin-covered kyaks, 
using ivory- or bone- pointed spears and seal- 
skin floats. Several hunters told me of excit- 
ing and dangerous encounters they had experi- 
enced with mother walruses. If the young are 
attacked, or even approached, the mother does 
not hesitate to charge furiously. Tiie hunters 
confess that on such occasions there is no op- 
tion but to paddle for their lives. Occasionally 
an old walrus is unusually vindictive and, after 
forcing a hunter to take refuge on the ice, will 
remain patrolling the vicinity for a long time, 
roaring and menacing the object of her anger. 

When boats approach the edge of the ice 
where walruses are hauled up, the animals 
plunge into the sea in a panic and rise all about 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



429 



the intruders, bellowing and rushing about, 
rearing their huge heads and gleaming white 
tusks high out of water in an alarming manner. 
As a rule, however, they are timid and seek 
only to escape, although occasionally, in their 
excitement, one has been known to attack a 
boat and by a single blow of its tusks to do 
serious damage and endanger the crew. 

ALASKA FUR SEAL (Callorhinus 
alascanus) 

Several species of fur seals are known, all 
of them limited to the southern oceans or the 
coasts and islands of the North Pacific. All 
are strongly gregarious and formerly sought 
their island breeding grounds in vast numbers. 
At one period, soon after the purchase of 
Alaska, it was estimated that several million 
fur seals were on the Pribilof Islands in one 
season. During the height of their abundance 
the southern fur seals were equally numerous. 

The value of their skins and the facility with 
which these animals may be slaughtered have re- 
sulted in the practical extermination of all but 
those which breed under governmental protec- 
tion on the Russian islands off the coast of 
Kamchatka and on the Pribilof Islands in 
Alaska. Owing mainly to wasteful pelagic 
sealing prior to the recent international treaty, 
the numbers on both these groups of islands 
were much reduced. 

The Alaska fur seal is a migratory species, 
wintering down the Pacific coast as far as 
northern California. The migrations of these 
seals are of remarkable interest. In spring 
they leave the northwest coast and many of 
them travel steadily across more than two 
thousand miles of the North Pacific. For days 
at a time they swim through a roaring gale- 
swept sea, under dense, low-hanging clouds, 
and with unerring certainty strike certain pas- 
sages in the Aleutian Islands, through which 
they press to their breeding grounds, more than 
100 miles beyond, on the small, fog-hidden 
Pribilof Islands. 

Fur seals are extremely polygamous and the 
old males, which weigh from 400 to 500 pounds, 
"haul up" first on the breeding beaches. Each 
bull holds a certain area, and as the females, 
only one-fifth his size, come ashore they are 
appropriated by the nearest bulls until each 
"beach master" gathers a harem, sometimes 
containing more than 100 members. 

Here the young are born, and after the mat- 
ing season the seals, which have remained 
ashore without food from four to six weeks, 
return to the water. The mothers go and 
come, and each is able to find her young with 
certainty among thousands of apparently iden- 
tical woolly black "pups." 

From the ages of one to four years fur seals 
are extremely playful. They are marvelous 
swimmers and frolic about in pursuit of one 
another, now diving deep and then, one after 
the other, suddenly leaping high above the sur- 
face in graceful curves, like porpoises. Squids 
and fish of various species are their main food. 
Their chief natural enemy is the killer whale, 



which follows their migrations and haunts the 
sea about their breeding grounds, taking heavy 
toll among them. 

Since the discovery of the Pribilof Islands 
by the Russians the fur seal herds there have 
yielded more than five million recorded skins. 
A census of the herds in I9i4gave these islands 
nearly three hundred thousand seals. Now that 
pelagic sealing has been suppressed and the 
herds are being protected, there is every reason 
to expect that the seals will increase rapidly to 
something like their former numbers. 

STELLER SEA-LION (Eumetopias 
jubata) 

Sea-lions are near relatives of the fur seals 
and have a nearly similar distribution, both in 
far southern and northern seas. The males of 
the several species are more than twice the 
size of the females and are characterized by 
an enormous development of neck and shoul- 
ders. The Steller sea-lion is the largest mem- 
ber of the group, the old bulls weighing from 
1,200 to 1,500 pounds. All are extremely gre- 
garious and polygamous. 

The Steller sea-lions belong to the North 
Pacific, whence they range in winter as far 
south as the coasts of California and Japan. 
In spring they migrate northward to their 
breeding grounds among the Aleutian, Pribilof, 
and other rocky islands of the North Pacific. 
The early histories of this region record their 
great abundance, including several hundred 
thousand which were reported to have congre- 
gated to breed each season on the Pribilof 
Islands. Although less valuable than the fur- 
seal, persistent hunting has gradually reduced 
their numbers on these islands until in 1914 
only a few hundred remained. 

In summer range they are less limited than 
the fur seals, occurring in herds about ihe 
shores of many rocky islands along the main- 
land coast of the North Pacific and the Aleu- 
tian chain. 

Since the primitive days before the arrival 
of civilized men in their haunts, sea-lions were 
of the greatest economic importance to the 
Aleutian Islanders and other coast natives. 
Food and fuel were obtained from their flesh 
and blubber; coverings for boats were made of 
their skins; water-proof overshirts of their in- 
testines ; boot soles from the tanned skin of 
their flippers; trimmings of fancy garments 
from their tanned gullets and bristles, and 
thread from their sinews. 

They are preeminently animals of the most 
rugged of shorelines and the stormiest of seas, 
being superbly powerful beasts with extraordi- 
nary vitality. The ease with which they pass 
tln-ough a smother of pounding seas to mount 
their rugged resting places is an admirable ex- 
hibition of skill and strength. The males have 
a bellowing roar, which rises continually from 
the herds on the rocks in savage uni.son with 
the booming of the sea against the base of 
their refuge. 

The harems of tlie bulls on Pribilof Islands 
rarclv exceed a dozen members, which are 




430 




ALASKA FUR SEAL 




STELLER SEA LION 



431 



432 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



under less strict discipline than the harems of 
the fur seals. The old bulls, especially during 
the mating season, are aggressive and savage 
fighters, inflicting severe wounds on one an- 
other. At all times they are more courageous 
and belligerent than fur seals, and hunters 
driving parties of them back from the beach 
on the Pribilofs approach them with extreme 
caution, to avoid the dangerous charges of 
angry bulls. It is reported that an umbrella 
opened and closed suddenly in the faces of the 
old sea-lions appears to terrify them more than 
any other weapon and is used successfully in 
drives. At sea they have only a single known 
enemy to fear — the fierce killer whale. 

SEA OTTER (Latax lutris and its sub- 
species) 

Sea otters, distant relatives of land otters, are 
heavy-bodied animals, about 4 feet long, with 
broad webbed hind feet. When in the water 
they have a general resemblance to seals, whose 
mode of life is similar to theirs. Their fur is 
extremely dense and on the skins of adult 
males is almost black, closely sprinkled with 
long white-tipped hairs. The fur of prime 
skins has a silky luster, equaled in beauty by 
only the finest silver-tipped fox skins. For 
centuries sea-otter fur has been highly prized 
and single skins have brought more than $1,000 
in the London market. 

Otters are limited to the coasts of the North 
Pacific, where formerly they were incredibly 
abundant all the way from the shores and is- 
lands of Lower California to the Aleutians, 
and thence along the Asiatic coast to the 
Kuriles. Through excessive hunting, they are 
now extinct along most of this extended coast- 
line. 

In the days of the Russian occupation of 
Alaska the discovery of the abundance of sea 
otters led to intense activity in their pursuit. 
Otter-hunting expeditions were organized by 
the Russians along the storm-swept coast from 
Unalaska to Sitka, sailing vessels being used 
as convoys for hundreds of Aleut hunters in 
their skin-covered boats. The loss of -life 
among the hunters under their brutal task- 
masters was appalling and resulted in seriously 
and permanently reducing the native population 
of the Aleutian Islands. At the same time 
enormous numbers of sea-otter skins were 
taken. Afterward both English and .A.merican 
ships engaged in the pursuit of otters farther 
down the coast. 

The first year after the discovery of the 
Pribilof Islands the records show that 5,000 
sea otters were taken there. Many expeditions 
in other directions secured from one to several 
thousand skins. When sea otters were most 
abundant they were found all down the coast, 
even in San Francisco Ray, and one American 
trading vessel obtained 7,000 skins in a few 
weeks from the natives of the northern coast 
of Lower California. 

The otters formerly frequented the shores 
of rocky islands and outlying reefs, but con- 
stant persecution has driven the few survivors 



to remain almost constantly at sea, where they 
seek resting places among kelp beds. They are 
now excessively shy and, aided by keen eyes 
and an acute sense of smell, are difficult to 
approach. When anything excites their curi- 
osity they commonly raise the body upright, 
the head high above water, and gaze steadily 
at the object. If alarmed, they dive and re- 
appear at a long distance. 

Otter hunters report the animals very play- 
ful in pleasant weather, and sometimes floating 
on their backs and playing with pieces of kelp. 
The mother is devoted to her young and is 
said to play with it in the water for hours at 
a time. 

All efforts to rear the young in captivity 
have failed. The food of the sea otter is 
mainly of shellfish of various kinds, secured by 
them from the bottom of the sea. 

Practically the only sea otters left among the 
hordes which once frequented the American 
shores of the North Pacific are now scattered 
along the Aleutian Islands. Government regu- 
lations prohibit their being hunted and it is 
hoped that enough still remain to restock the 
wild and stormy sea where they have their 
home. 

NORTHERN SEA-ELEPHANT, OR 

ELEPHANT SEAL (Mirounga 

augustirostris) 

Sea-elephants are the largest and among the 
most remarkable of the seals. Two species 
are known — one from islands on the borders 
of the Antarctic Ocean and the other from the 
Pacific coast of Upper and Lower California. 
The northern species formerly existed in vast 
numbers along the coast and among outlying 
islands from Point Reyes, north of San Fran- 
cisco, south to Cedros Island, but is now re- 
duced to a single small herd living about 
Guadalupe Island, off Lower California. 

The old males attain a length of 22 feet or 
more and are huge, ungainly beasts, moving 
with difficulty on land, but with ease and grace 
in the water. The name sea-elephant is ob- 
viously derived from the broad flexible snout 
of the males, which, when relaxed, hangs 6 or 
8 inches below the muzzle. This curious pro- 
boscis can be moved about and raised verti- 
cally, giving the animal a strange appearance. 
The males have a loud roar like the bellowing 
of an ox. 

The breeding season extends from February 
to June, and during this period these seals are 
far more numerous on shore than at any other 
time. They are gregarious in haliits and for- 
merly hauled up in herds on the islands or on 
remote and inaccessi1)le beaches of the main- 
land. On shore they are sluggish, having none 
of the alertness shown bv many other seals. 
They lie supine on the sand and permit a man 
to walk quietly up and touch them without 
showing signs of fcir. When attacked by 
sealers or otherwise alarmed, however, they 
become panic-stricken and make ungainly ef- 
forts to escape, but quicklv become exhausted 
by the exertion necessary to move their great 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



433 



bodies. Their only natural enemy appears to 
be the killer whale. 

Between 1855 and 1870 the great numbers 
of northern sea-elephants, combined with their 
helplessness on shore and the value of their 
oil, attracted numerous sealing and whaling 
ships to the coast of Lower California. The 
resulting slaughter reduced these animals from 
swarming abundance to a few scattered herds. 
Since then their numbers have steadily de- 
creased, and there is a serious probability that 
these strange and interesting habitants of the 
sea will soon disappear forever. 

The small remaining herd on Guadalupe Is- 
land is without protection and hes at the mercy 
of wanton hunters. The people of the coastal 
towns of California should exert themselves 
to discourage hunters from killing these seals, 
since the only hope for the preservation of this 
noteworthy species lies in an awakened public 
sentiment in its favor. Even within recent 
years they have occasionally visited the Santa 
Barbara Islands, California, and if the existing 
survivors can be saved they may again become 
resident there. 

HARBOR SEAL. OR LEOPARD SEAL 
(Phoca vitulina) 

The harbor seal, one of the smallest of the 
hair seals, attaining a length of only 5 or 6 
feet, is one of the most widely distributed and 
best known of its kind. It is a circumpolar 
species, formerly ranging well south on the 
European coast and to the Carolinas on the 
American side of the Atlantic, though now 
more restricted in its southern extension. On 
the North Pacific it ranges south to the coast 
of Japan on the Asiatic side and to Lower 
California on the American side. 

Throughout its range the harbor seal haunts 
the coast-line, frequenting rocky points, islets, 
bays, harbors, and the lower courses of rivers. 
It commonly frequents the sandy bars exposed 
at low tide about the mouths of rivers, and has 
been known to ascend the St. Lawrence to Lake 
Champlain and Lake Ontario, and the Yukon 
to several hundred miles above its mouth. It 
is still a common and well-known animal on 
the coast of Maine and eastern Canada and 
about many harbors on the Pacific coast. Jt 
appears to be a non-migratory species and in 
northern waters frequents the pack ice along 
shore in winter. Where the pack is unbroken, 
the seal makes breathing holes through the ice, 
which it visits at intervals, and where it is 
hunted by the Eskimos. 

It is not polygamous and is not so strongly 
gregarious as some of the other seals. That 
it has some social instinct is evident, however, 
since it commonly gathers in small herds on 
the same sand spits, rocky points, and islets. 
The young are born in early spring and at first 
are entirely covered with a woolly white coat. 
The mother is devoted to the "pup" and shows 
the deepest anxiety if danger threatens. 

The flesh and blubber of this seal are highly 
prized by the Eskimos as the most palatable of 



all the seals, and th^skin is valued for cloth- 
ing and for making strong rawhide lines used 
for nets and other purposes. On the Alaskan 
coast of Bering Sea in fall the Eskimos cap- 
ture many seals in nets set- off rocky points, 
just as gill nets are set in the same places in 
spring for salmon. 

Owing to the presence of this seal along so 
many inhabited coasts, much has been written 
concerning its habits, especially as observed 
about the shores of the British Isles. Where 
not disturbed it shows little fear and will swim 
about boats or ships, raising its head high out 
of water and gazing steadily with large in- 
telligent eyes at the object of its curiosity; but 
when hunted it becomes exceedingly shy and 
wary. All who have held the harbor seal in 
captivity agree in praising its intelligence. It 
becomes very docile, often learning a variety 
of amusing tricks, and develops great affection 
for its keeper. 

The small size of this seal and its limited 
numbers are elements which save it from ex- 
tensive commercial hunting and may preserve 
it far into the future to add life and interest 
to many a rocky coast. 

HARP SEAL, SADDLE-BACK, OR 

GREENLAND SEAL (Phoca 

groenlandica) 

The black head, gray body, and large dorsal 
ring of the male harp seal are strongly dis- 
tinctive markings in a group generally char- 
acterized by plain dull colors. The harp seal 
is a large species, the old males weighing from 
600 to 800 pounds. 

It is nearly circumpolar in distribution, but 
its area of greatest abundance extends from 
the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Greenland, and 
thence eastward in that part of the Arctic 
Ocean lying north of Europe and western Si- 
beria. Its reported presence in the Arctic basin 
north of Bering Straits or along the coasts to 
the southward is yet to be confirmed. It is an 
offshore species, migrating southward with the 
ice pack in fall to the coast of Newfoundland 
and returning northward with the pack after 
the breeding season in spring. For a day or 
two during the fall migration, when these seals 
are passing certain points on the coast of Lab- 
rador, the sea is said to be thickly dotted with 
their heads as far as the eye can reach, all 
moving steadily southward. 

The harp seal is extremely gregarious and 
gathers on the pack ice well offshore during 
March and April to breed. The main breeding 
grounds are off Newfoundland and off Jan 
Mayen Land in the Arctic. During the breed- 
ing season, in the days of their abundance, they 
gathered in enormous closely packed herds, 
sometimes containing several hundred thou- 
sand animals and covering the ice for miles. 

From all accounts it is evident that originally 
there were millions of these animals in the 
North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Their gre- 
garious habits made them an easy prey, and 
the value of their skins and blubber formed 




S.HA (.) 1 1 hK 




-LI. I. I'll A\ I , 1 I,; 1 I.l.I'll.W r SI- AI. 



434 




435 



436 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



the basis for a great industry. Hundreds of 
vessels were sent out from north European 
and American ports and nearly 1,000,000 harp 
seals were killed during each breeding season. 
This tremendous slaughter and its attendant 
waste has resulted in the disappearance of 
these seals from many of their former haunts 
and has alarmingly reduced their numbers 
everywhere. Some are still killed off the coast 
of Newfoundland, but the seaUng industry, 
now insignificant as compared with its former 
estate, is practically dead. 

The hunting of harp and other seals on the 
pack ice is an occupation calling for such 
splendid qualities of virile hardihood in the 
face of constant danger to life that its brutality 
has been little considered. In this perilous 
work great numbers of hunters have been cast 
away and frozen miserably on the drifting ice 
and many a sealing ship has been lost with all 
hands. 

Off Newfoundland the young harp seal is 
born early in March, wearing a woolly white 
coat. At first it is tenderly cared for by its 
mother, but before the end of April it has 
learned to swim and is left to care for itself. 
The young do not enter the water until they 
are nearly two weeks old and require several 
days of practice before they learn to swim 
well. The adults are notable for their swift- 
ness in the water. In the tremendous herds of 
these seals the continual cries uttered by old 
and young is said to produce a steady roar 
which may be heard for several miles. Their 
food is mainly fish. Man is their worst enemy, 
but they are also preyed upon by sharks and 
killer whales. 

RIBBON SEAL (Phoca fasciata) (see polar 
bear group, page 438) 

The broad-banded markings of the male rib- 
bon seal render it the handsomest and most 
strongly characterized of the group of hair 
seals to which it belongs. Its size is about that 
of the harbor seal. Its range extends from 
the Aleutian Islands, on the coast of Alaska, 
and from the Kuriles, on the Asiatic shore of 
the Pacific, north to Bering Straits. 

This seal is so scarce and its home is in 
such remote and little-frequented waters that 
its habits are almost unknown. Apparently it 
is even less gregarious than the harbor seal 
and usually occurs singly, although a few may 
be seen together, where individuals chance to 
meet. There are records of its capture at vari- 
ous places along the Asiatic coast, especially 
about Kamchatka and the shores of Okhotsk 
Sea. In Alaska it is a scarce visitant to the 
Aleutian Islands and appears to be most com- 
mon on the coast south of the Yukon Delta 
and from Cape Nome to Bering Straits. 

The few individuals taken by the Alaskan 
Eskimos are captured while they are hunting 
other seals on the pack ice in winter, and while 
at sea in kyaks in spring and fall. Owing to 
its attractive markings, the skin of the male 
ribbon seal is greatly prized by the Eskimos, 



as it was formerly by the fur traders, for use 
as clothes-bags. The skin is removed entire 
and then tanned, the only opening left being a 
long slit in the abdomen, which is provided 
with eyelet holes and a lacing string, thus mak- 
ing a convenient water-proof bag to use in 
boat or dog-sledge trips. 

The scarcity of the ribbon seal and its soli- 
tary habits will serve to safeguard it from the 
destructive pursuit which endangers the exist- 
ence of some of its relatives. 

POLAR BEAR (Thalarctos maritimus) 

Both summer and winter the great ice bear 
of the frozen north is appropriately clothed in 
white. It is also distinguished from all other 
bears by its long neck, slender pointed head, 
and the quantity of fur on the soles of its feet. 
It is a circumpolar species, the limits of whose 
range nearly everywhere coincide with the 
southern border of the pack ice. The great 
majority live permanently on the ice, often 
hundreds of miles from the nearest land. 

During summer the polar bear rarely visits 
shore, but in winter commonly extends its 
wanderings to the Arctic islands and the bor- 
dering mainland coasts. In winter it ranges 
southward with the extension of the ice pack. 
In spring, by an unexpectedly sudden retreat 
of the ice, individual bears are often left south 
of their usual summer haunts, sometimes being 
found swimming in the open sea far off the 
coast of Labrador. Occasionally some of those 
which migrate southward with the ice through 
Bering Straits fail to turn north early enough 
and are stranded on islands in Bering Sea. 

That a carnivore requiring so much food as 
the polar bear can maintain itself on the fro- 
zen polar sea is one of the marvels of adapta- 
tion to environment. The activity of these 
bears through the long black night of the far 
north is proved by records of Arctic ex- 
plorers, whose caches have been destroyed and 
ships visited by them during that season. In 
this period of privation they range far over 
land and ice in search of food, and when in 
desperate need do not hesitate to attack men. 
I have seen several Eskimos who had been 
seriously injured in such encounters, and 
learned of other instances along the Arctic 
coast of Alaska in which hunters had been 
killed on the sea ice in winter. During the 
summer season of plenty, polar bears are mild 
and inoffensive, so far as men are concerned. 
At that time they wander over the nack ice, 
swimming in open leads, and, when hungry, 
killing a seal or young walrus. 

When spring opens, many polar bears are 
near the Arctic coast. At that time the na- 
tives along the northeast coast of Siberia kill 
many of them on the ice with dogs and short- 
haftcd, long-bladed lances. The dogs bring 
the bear to bay, and the hunter, watching his 
opportunity, runs in and thrusts the lance 
through its heart. 

During the cruise of the Cnrzvin we saw 
many of these bears on the broken ice off Her- 
ald and Wrangel Islands. One large old male 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



437 



climbed to the top of an uptilted ice-pan and, 
after looking about, lay down on one side and, 
giving a push with one hind foot, slid down 
head foremost 30 or 40 feet, striking the water 
with a great splash. He then climbed out and 
walked sedately away. 

Another bear saw a seal basking on the ice 
by a large patch of open water and, swimming 
across, suddenly raised himself half out of the 
water to the edge of the ice, and by a blow of 
his paw crushed the seal's skull. He then 
climbed out and made a feast within 500 yards 
of where the Comnii was anchored to the ice 
pack. 

Once while we were anchored in a dense fog 
several miles off the pack a bear came swim- 
ming out to us, stopping every now and then 
to raise its head high out of water to sniff the 
attractive odors from the ship. Although 
strong and tireless swimmers, these bears lack 
the necessary speed to capture their prey in 
the water. 

The female retires in winter to a snug den 
among the hummocks on the sea ice, where 
one or two naked cubs are born, which by the 
time the ice begins to break up are ready to 
follow the mother. Until the cubs are well 
grown the mother cares for and defends them 
with the most reckless disregard for her own 
safety. On one occasion I saw a wounded 
mother bear shield her cub, twice the size of a 
Newfoundland dog, when bullets began to 
strike the water about them, by swimming 
straight away with the cub safely sheltered be- 
tween her forelegs. 

The inaccessible character of so large a part 
of the home of the polar bear will long pre- 
serve it from the extermination that is over- 
taking some of the land bears. 

BLACK BEAR (Ursus americanus and its 

subspecies) 

Numerous species of black bears varying in 
size occur in North and South America and in 
Asia. In North America a black bear, remark- 
ably uniform in general appearance, but repre- 
senting various geographic races and possibly 
species, is generally distributed throughout the 
forested areas from the borders of the Arctic 
barrens, at the northern limit of trees, south 
throughout the United States and down the 
wooded Sierra Madre to Jalisco, Mexico, and 
from Newfoundland on the east to Queen 
Charlotte Island on the west. 

These bears are usually entirely black except 
for a brown patch covering the muzzle and an 
occasional white spot on the breast. Their 
weight is variable, the largest ones exceeding 
500 pounds, but they average much less. 

The cinnamon bear, so common in the West 
and Northwest, long supposed to be a distinct 
species, has proved to be merely a color phase 
of the black bear— cinnamon cubs being born 
in the same litters with black ones. 

Since the days of primitive man and the 
great cave bear, the ways of bears have had a 
fearsome interest to mankind. Childhood rev- 
els in the delicious thrills of bear stories and 



dwells with wonder on the habit bears have of 
standing upright like droll caricatures of man, 
on the manlike tracks of their hind feet, and 
on their fondness for sweets and other pala- 
table food. 

From the landing of the tirst colonists on 
(,ur shores, hunters and settlers have encoun- 
tered black bears so frequently that these are 
among the best-known large forest animals of 
the continent. During winter they hibernate 
for months, seeking a hollow tree, a low cave, 
the half shelter of fallen tree trunks and brush, 
or else digging a den for themselves. The 
female chooses a specially snug den, where in 
midwinter from one to four cubs are born. 
At birth the young, only 8 or 9 inches long, are 
practically naked and have their eyes closed. 
They are so undeveloped at this time that it 
is more than a month before their eyes open 
and more than two months before they can 
follow their mother. 

Although powerful beasts, black bears are so 
shy and timid that to approach them requires 
the greatest skill on the part of a still hunter. 
They only attack people when wounded or so 
cornered that they must defend themselves or 
their young. To safeguard themselves from 
danger they rely mainly on a fme sense of 
hearing and an exquisite delicacy of smell. 
They have poor eyesight, and where a sus- 
picious object is seen, but no sound or scent 
can be noted, they sometimes rise on their 
hind feet and look long and carefully before 
retreating. 

To bears in the forest everything is game. 
They often spend the entire day turning over 
stones to lick up the ants and other insects 
sheltered there, and at night may visit settlers' 
cabins and carry off pigs. They raid the set- 
tlers' cornfields for green corn and are pas- 
sionately fond of honey, robbing bee trees 
whenever possible. In season they delight in 
wild cherries, blueberries, and other fruits, as 
well as beechnuts, acorns, and pinyon nuts. 
They are mainly nocturnal, but in districts 
where not much disturbed wander widely by 
day. 

The success of black bears in caring for 
themselves is well demonstrated by the num- 
bers which still survive in the woods of Maine, 
New York, and other long-settled States. 
Their harmlessness and their exceeding interest 
to all render them worthy of careful protec- 
tion. They should be classed as game and 
thoroughly protected as such except for cer- 
tain open seasons. If this is done throughout 
the country, as is now the case in certain 
States, the survival of one of our most char- 
acteristic large wild animals will be assured. 

GLACIER BEAR (Ursus emmonsi) 

When first discovered the glacier bear was 
supposed to be a distinct and well-marked 
species. Recently cubs representing the glacier 
bear and the typical black bear have been 
found in the same litter, thus proving it to be 
merely a color phase of the black l)ear. Its 
color varies exceedingly, from a light smoky, 




438 




439 



440 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



almost bluish, gray to a dark iron gray, becom- 
ing almost black. Some individuals are ex- 
traordinary appearing beasts, quite unlike any 
other bear. The interest in this curious color 
development is increased by its restricted dis- 
tribution. 

The glacier bear is an Alaskan animal, which 
occupies the seaward front of the Mount St. 
Elias Range, about Yakutat Bay, and thence 
southeast to Glacier Bay and a short distance 
beyond toward the interior. The popular narne 
of this bear was well chosen, as its home is in 
the midst of innumerable stupendous glaciers. 
Here, where the contours of gigantic mountain 
ranges are being steadily remade by glaciers, 
Nature appears to have begun the evolution of 
a new kind of bear. That the task is in prog- 
ress is evidenced by the excessive variation in 
color, scarcely two individuals being the same. 

The food of this bear consists largely of 
mice, ground squirrels, and marmots, which it 
digs from their burrows on the high mountain 
slopes. Its food is varied by salmon during 
the spawning season and by various herbs and 
berries during the summer. The winters in the 
home of the glacier bear are less severe than 
across the range in the interior, but are so 
long and stormy that the bear must spend 
more than six months each year in hibernation. 

Owing to the remote and little-frequented 
region occupied by this bear, little is known of 
its life history. For this reason it is irnpor- 
tant that all sportsmen visiting its country 
bring back careful and detailed records of their 
observations. Up to the present time so few 
white men have killed glacier bears that a skin 
of one taken by fair stalking is a highly prized 
trophy. As the glacier bear country becomes 
more accessible, more stringent protection will 
be needed to prevent the extermination of these 
unique animals. 

GRIZZLY BEAR (Ursus horribilis and its 

relatives) 

Recent research has shown that the popular 
terms grizzly or silver-tip cover a group con- 
taining numerous species of large bears pecu- 
liar to North America, some of which, espe- 
cially in California, have become extinct within 
the last 25 years. These bears vary much in 
size, some about equaling the black bear and 
others attaining a weight of more than 1,000 
pounds. They vary in color from pale dull 
buffv to nearly black, usually with lighter tips 
to the hairs, which produce the characteristic 
grizzled or silver - tipped appearance upon 
which the common names are based. 

The strongest and most distinctive external 
character of the grizzlies is the long, propor- 
tionately slender, and slightly curved claws on 
the front feet, sometimes more than 3 inches 

long. r .1 

Grizzly bears have a wule range — trom the 
Arctic coast of Alaska southward, _ in a belt 
extending from the Rocky Mountains to the 
Pacific, through western Canada and the 
United States, and thence along the Sierra 



Madre of Mexico to southern Durango. They 
also occupy the barren grounds of northern 
Canada, and vague reports of a large brown 
bear in the interior of the Peninsula of Labra- 
dor indicate the possibility of the existence 
there of an unknown species of grizzly. 

From the days of the earliest explorers of 
the Rocky Mountain region grizzly bears have 
borne the undisputed title of America's fiercest 
and most dangerous big game. In early days, 
having little fear of the primitive weapons of 
the Indians, they were bold and indifferent to 
the presence of man, and no higher badge of 
supreme courage and prowess could be gained 
by a warrior than a necklace of grizzly claws. 
Since the advent of white men with guns, 
conditions have changed so adversely to the 
grizzlies that they have become extremely shy, 
and the slightest unusual noise or other alarm 
causes them to dash away at a lumbering, but 
surprisingly rapid, gallop. The deadly modern 
gun has produced this instinctive reaction for 
self-preservation. It does not mean, however, 
that grizzlies have lost their claim to the re- 
spect of even the best of hunters. They are 
still considered dangerous, and even in recent 
years experienced hunters have been killed or 
severely mauled by them. They are much 
more intelligent than the black bear, and thus, 
when wounded, are a more dangerous foe. 

Like the black bear, the grizzlies are com- 
monly nocturnal, but in remote districts often 
wander about in search of food by day. They 
roll over stones and tear open rotten wood in 
search of grubs and insects. They also dig out 
ground squirrels and other rodents and eat a 
variety of acorns and other wild nuts and 
fruits. As an offset to this lowly diet, many 
powerful old grizzHes, from the Rocky Moun- 
tains to California, have become notorious 
cattle-killers. They stalk cattle at night, and, 
seizing their prey by the head, usually break 
its neck, but sometimes hold and kill it by 
biting. These cattle-killing grizzlies still occur 
on the Western ranges. One or more wily 
marauders of this kind have run for years 
with a bounty of $1,000 on their heads. 

Like other bears, grizzlies hibernate in win- 
ter, seeking small caves, or other shelter, and 
sometimes digging a den in the ground. The 
young, from one to four in number, are born 
in midwinter and are very small, naked, and 
but partly developed at birth. They go about 
with the mother tliroughout the summer and 
commonly den up with her the following win- 
ter. Although full-grown grizzlies are ordi- 
narily solitary in habits, parties of from four 
to eight are sometimes seen. The object of 
these curious but probably brief companion- 
ships is not known. 

Grizzlies are disappearing so rapidly that it 
is very desirable that they be placed on the list 
of game protected during part of the year, ex- 
cept in the case of the few individuals which 
become stock-killers. They are among the 
finest of native animals and their absence from 
the rugged slopes of the western mountains 
would leave a serious gap in our wild life. 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN AJAMAIALS 



441 



ALASKAN BROWN BEAR (Ursus gyas 

and its relatives) 

(See frontispiece of this Mayaziiic for the 
illustration of this rcniarkahlc animal ) 

The Alaskan brown bears form a group of 
gigantic animals peculiar to North America 
and limited to the coast and islands of Alaska, 
from the head of Norton Sound to the Sitka 
Islands. The group includes a number of spe- 
cies, individuals of two of which, Ursus gyas, 
of the Alaska Peninsula, and Ursus midden- 
dorffi, of Kodiak Island, sometimes attain a 
weight of 1,500 pounds or more, and are not 
only the largest existing bears, but are the 
largest living carnivores in the world. They 
can be likened only to the great cave bears, 
which were the haunting terror of primitive 
mankind during the "Old Stone Age" in Eu- 
rope. Brown bears stir, exist in Europe and 
Asia, but they form a distinct group of much 
smaller animals than the American species. 

The Alaskan brown bears vary much in color, 
from a dull golden yellowish to a dusky brown, 
becoming almost black in some species. In 
color some of the darker species are indistin- 
guishable from the great grizzlies, with which 
in places they share their range ; but the rela- 
tively shorter, thicker, and more strongly 
curved claws on the front feet of the brown 
bears are distinctive. 

As a rule they are inoffensive giants and 
take flight at the first sign of man. The taint 
left by a man's recent track or the faintest 
odor on the passing breeze, indicating the 
proximity of their dreaded enemy, is enough 
to start the largest of them in instant flight. 
Instances are reported- of their having attacked 
people wantonly, but' such cases are extremely 
rare. When wounded or suddenly surprised 
at close quarters, the instinct of self-defense 
not infrequently incites them to attack their 
enemy with furious energy. Many Indian and 
white hunters have been killed or terribly 
mauled by them in such encounters. At close 
quarters their great size, strength, and activ- 
ity — astonishing for such apparently clumsy 
beasts — render them terrific antagonists. 

Some of the species occupy open, rolling, or 
hilly tundras, and others live on the ste est 
and most rugged mountain slopes amid gla- 
ciers, rock slides, and perpetual snow-banks. 
On the approach of winter all retreat to dry 
locations, usually in the hills, where they dig 
dens in the earth or seek other cover to which 
they retire to hibernate, and here the young, 
usually two or three in number, are born. 
They usually emerge from hibernation in April 
or early May and wander about over the snow- 
covered hills and mountains. At this time their 
dark forms and their great tracks in the snow 
are so conspicuous that hunters have little 
difficulty in finding them. 

Despite their size, brown bears devote much 
of their time to hunting such game as mice, 
ground squirrels, and marmots, which they dig 
from their burrows with extraordinary ra- 
pidity. During the salmon season, when the 



streams swarm with fish, bears frequent the 
lowlands and make trails along the water- 
courses, where they feed fat on this easy prey. 
During the summer and fall these great car- 
nivores have the strange habit of grazing like 
cattle on the heavy grasslike growth of sedge 
in the lowland flats and benches, and also of 
eating many other plants. 

Although Alaska was long occupied by the 
Russians and has been a part of our territory 
since 1867, not until 1898 was there any defi- 
nite public knowledge concerning the existence 
of these bears, notwithstanding their size and 
abundance. Since that time they have become 
well known to sportsmen and others as one of 
the wonders of the remarkable region they 
occupy. Their comparatively limited and easily 
accessible territory renders their future pre- 
carious unless proper measures for their rea- 
sonable protection are continued. They are 
certain to be exterminated near sett'ements; 
but there are ample wild and inhospitable areas 
where they may range in all their original free- 
dom for centuries to corne, provided man per- 
mits. 

AMERICAN BEAVER (Castor canadensis 

and its subspecies) 

When North America was first colonized, 
beavers existed in great numbers from coast 
to coast, in almost every locality where trees 
and bushes bordered streams and lakes, from 
near the Yukon Delta, in Alaska, and the Mac- 
kenzie Delta, on the Arctic coast, south to the 
mouths of the Colorado and the Rio Grande. 
Although now exterminated from mrst of 
their former range in the eastern United States, 
they still occur in diminished numbers over 
nearly all the remainder of their original ter- 
ritory, even in the lower Rio Grande and the 
delta of the Colorado. Their vertical distri- 
bution extends from sea-level to above an alti- 
tude of 9,coo feet. 

Beavers are heavily built, round-bodied ani- 
mals, with powerful chisel-shaped front teeth, 
short legs, fully webbed hind feet, and a flat, 
scaly tail. They are covered with long, coarse 
hairs overlying the short, dense, and silky 
underfur to which beaver skins owe their value. 
Their range covers the northern forested parts 
of both Old and New Worlds. The American 
species closely resembles in general appearance 
its Old World relative, but is distinctly larger, 
averaging 30 to 40 pounds in weight, but some- 
times attaining a weight of more than 60 
pounds. Owing to the different physical con- 
ditions in its wide range, the American animal 
has developed a number of geographic races. 

Beavers mate permanently and have from 
two to five young each year. Their abundance 
and the high value of their fur exercised an 
unparalleled influence on the early exploration 
and development of North America. Beaver 
skins were the one ready product of the New 
World which the merchants of Europe were 
eager to purchase. As a consequence compe- 
tition in the trade for these skins was the 
source of strong and bitter antagonisms be- 




fJRIZZLY BEAK 



442 








^. 



.JiSl 



AMERICAN BEAVER 



443 



444 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



tween individuals and companies, and even 
caused jealous rivalries among the Dutch, Eng- 
lish, and French colonies. 

Disputes over the right to trade in certain 
districts often led to bloodshed, and even to 
long wars, over great areas, where powerful 
rival companies fought for the control of a 
new empire. This eager competition among 
daring adventurers resulted in the constant ex- 
tension of trading posts through the North and 
West, until the vanguard of civilization reached 
the far borders of the continent on the shores 
of the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. 

Among the fur traders the beaver skin be- 
came the unit of value by which barter was 
conducted for all sorts of commodities. This 
usage extended even throughout northern 
Alaska, where it was current among the Amer- 
ican fur traders until the discovery of gold 
there upset old standards. 

Beavers belong to the rodent family — a group 
of animals notable for their weak mental pow- 
ers. The beaver is the striking exception to 
the rule, and its extraordinary intelligence, in- 
dustry, and skill have long excited admiration. 
It is scarcely entitled to the almost superhu- 
man intelligence many endow it with, yet it 
certainly possesses surprising ability along cer- 
tain lines. Furthermore, it can alter its habits 
promptly when a change in environment ren- 
ders this advantageous. 

In wild places, where rarely disturbed, beavers 
are unsuspicious, but where they are much 
trapped they become amazingly alert and can 
be taken only by the most skillful trapping. 
They are very proficient in building narrow 
dams of sticks, mr.d, and small stones across 
small streams for the purpose of backing up 
water and making "beaver ponds." In the border 
of these ponds a conical lodge is usually con- 
structed of sticks and mud. It is several feet 
high and about 8 or lo feet across at the base. 
The entrance is usually under water, and a 
passageway leads to an interior chamber large 
enough to accommodate the pair and their 
well-grown ycung. From the ponds the ani- 
mals sometimes dig narrow canals several hun- 
dred feet long back through the flats among 
the trees. Having short legs and heavy bodies, 
and consequently being awkward on land, 
heavers save themselves much labor by con- 
structing canals for transporting the sticks and 
branches needed for food and for repairing 
their houses and dams. 

Along the Colorado, lower Rio Grande, and 
other streams with high banks and variable 
water level, beavers usually dig tunnels lead- 
ing from an entrance well under water to a 
snug chamber in the bank above water level. 
Under the varying conditions in different areas 
they make homes showing every degree of in- 
lergradation between the two types described. 
Beavers live almost entirely on twigs and 
bark, and their gnawing powers are surpris- 
ing. Where small trees less than a foot in 
diameter abound they are usually chosen, but 
the animals do not hesitate to attack large 
trees. On the headwaters of the San Francisco 
River, in western New Mexico, I saw a cotton- 



wood nearly ^^o inches in diameter that had 
been felled so skillfully that it had fallen with 
the top in the middle of a small beaver pond, 
thus assuring an abundance of food for the 
animals at their very door. 

In the cold northern parts of their range, 
where streams and ponds remain frozen for 
months at a time, beavers gather freshly cut 
green twigs, sticks, and poles, which they 
weight down with mud and stones on the bot- 
toms of ponds or streams near their houses, to 
be used for food during the shut-in period. 

The mud used by beavers in building dams 
and houses is scooped up and carried against 
the breast, the front feet being used like hands. 
The flat tail serves as a rudder when the ani- 
mal is swimming or diving, and to strike the 
surface of the water a resounding slap as a 
danger signal. 

Beavers ar^. usually nocturnal, but in dis- 
tricts wherenOt disturbed they sometimes come 
out to work by,day, especially late in the after- 
noon. Among the myriads of small streams 
and lakes in the great forested area north of 
Quebec they are very plentiful; their dams and 
houses are everywhere, sometimes four or five 
houses about one small lake. Their well-worn 
trails lead through the woods near the lake 
shores and frequently cross portages between 
lakes several' hundred yards apart. 

Where beavers continue to occupy streams in 
settled districts, they often make regular trails 
from a slide on the river bank back to neighbor- 
ing cornfields, where they feast on the succulent 
stalks and green ears. They also injure or- 
chards planted near their haunts, by girdling or 
felling the trees. Within recent years laws for 
their protection have been passed in many 
States, and beavers have been reintroduced in 
a number of localities. They should not be 
colonized in streams flowing through lands 
used for orchards or cornfields, n'Or where the 
available trees are too few tO' afford a con- 
tinuous food supply. 

FISHER, OR PEKAN (Mustela pennanti) 

The fisher is one of the largest and hand- 
somest members of the weasel family. Like 
others of this group, it is a long-bodied, short- 
legged animal. It attains an extreme length of 
from 3 to 3^ feet and a weigjit of 18 or 20 
pounds, but the average is decidedly lower than 
these figures. In general, it is like a gigantic 
marten, and from its size and dark color is 
sometimes known locally as the "black cat" or 
"black fox." 

It lives in the forested parts of Canada and 
the United States, where it originally occurred 
from the southern shores of Hudson Bay and 
Great Slave Lake south throughout most of 
eastern Canada and New England and along 
the Alleghanies to Tennessee; also in the Great 
Lakes region, south to the southern end of 
Lake Michigan; along the Rocky Mountains to 
Wyoming, down the Cascades to northern Cal- 
ifornia, and from the Atlantic coast of Nova 
Scotia and Maine to the Pacific coast of south- 
eastern Alaska and British Columbia. Tliey 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAAJAIALS 



445 



still occur regularly in the Adirondacks of New 
York and the Green Mountains of Vermont 
and in Maine, but are gone from most of the 
southern border of their former range. 

Fishers are powerful and agile animals, 
probably for their size by far the swiftest and 
most deadly of all our forest carnivores. So 
swift and dextrous are they in the tree-tops 
that they not only capture ■ sqtiirrels without 
difficulty, but are able to overtake and kill the 
marten, almost an incredible feat. When in 
pursuit of their prey or wdien alarmed, they 
make astonishing leaps from tree to tree. 
While not so speedy on the ground as some 
other animals, they have the tireless persist- 
ence of their kind and capture snovvshoe hares 
in fair chase. 

Among the habitants of the forest the fisher 
is a fearless and savage marauder, which feeds 
on frogs, fish, and nearly every bird and mam- 
mal its domain afTords, except species so large 
that their size protects them. Porcupines are 
among its favorite victims and are killed by 
being turned over and attacked on their under- 
parts. As a consequence of such captures, the 
fisher often has many quills imbedded in its 
head and the foreparts of its body. 

The fisher, like many other predatory ani- 
mals, has more or less regular "beats" along 
which they make their rounds over the terri- 
tory each occupies. These rounds commonly 
require several days to accomplish. In winter 
they keep mainly along wooded ridges, where 
they are trapped. 

It follows trap lines like the wolverine am! 
eats the bait or the captured animal, but, un- 
like the wolverine, appears to have no pro- 
pensity for further mischief. When overtaken 
by dogs or when at war with any of its forest 
rivals, it is so active and ferocious that it is 
worthy all due respect from antagonists several 
times its size. 

Although essentially a tree animal, much of 
the fisher's time is spent on the ground. In 
summer it appears to be fond of heavy forests 
in low-lying situations and the vicinity of 
water. Its dens are usually located in a hollow 
high up in a large tree, but sometimes in the 
shelter of fallen tree trunks or crevices in the 
rocks, where, the last of April or early in May, 
the young are born. These may number from 
one to five, but are usually two or three. The 
young begin to follow the mother in her wan- 
derings when quite small and do not leave her 
guardianship until nearly grown. 

The fisher is not a common animal and onl>- 
about 8,000 of its skins are marketed each year. 
Owing to its size, it is conspicuous, and its 
very fearlessness tends to jeopardize its exist- 
ence. It is gone from most of the southern 
part of its former range and will no doubt 
continue steadily to lose ground with the in- 
creasing occupation of its haunts. 

OTTER (Lutra canadensis and its relatives) 

Land otters arc common throughout a large 
part of the Old World, and when America was 



explored the animals were found generally 
distributed, and sometimes common, from the 
northern limit of trees in North America to 
southern South America. Within this great 
area a considerable number of species and geo- 
graphic races of otters occur, all having a close 
general resemblance in appearance and habits. 

The Canadian otter is the well-known type 
throughout the United States, Canada, and 
Alaska. It is a slender, dusky brown animal. 
from 4 to 5 feet in length, frequenting streams 
and lakes which contain a good supply of fish. 
Otters are too short-legged to move easily on 
land, but are remarkable for their admirable 
grace, agility, and swiftness in the water. Al- 
though so poorly adapted to land travel, they 
are restless animals, constantly moving up and 
down the streams in which they live and often 
crossing from one stream to another. In the 
far north in midwinter they travel surprising 
distances across snow-clad country, following 
the banks of streams or passing between them 
searching for an entrance to water, wh.ether 
through the ice or in open rapids. 

In Alaska I saw many otter trails in the 
snow crossing the Yukon and through the ad- 
jacent forest. In such journeys it was evident 
that the animals progressed by a series of long 
bounds, each leaving a well-marked, full-length 
impression in the snow, so characteristic that 
it could not be mistaken. These trails, often 
leading for miles across country, always ex- 
cited my deepest interest and wonder as to 
how these animals could succeed in finding 
holes through the ice in this vast snow-bound 
waste. Nevertheless they seemed to know full 
well, for the trails always appeared to be lead- 
ing straight away for some known objective. 

Although never very abundant, otters are so 
shy and solitary in their habits that they have 
managed to retain almost all of their original 
range. They occur now and then in the Po- 
tomac, near Washington, and in other rivers 
throughout the country, where their tracks may 
occasionally be detected on sand-bars and in 
the muddy shallows along the banks. A s'ght 
of the animals tlicmselves is rare. Their dens 
are usually in the banks of streams or lakes 
above or below the surface of the water, under 
the roots of large trees, or beneath rocky 
ledees. 

Otters are extremely playful and amuse 
themselves liy sliding down steep banks into 
the water, repeatedly using the same place 
until a smooth chute or "slide" is defined. 
They usuilly have two to five yoimg, which 
remain with the mother until nearly grown. 

While close relatives of the weasel, they arc 
much more intellisent, have a gentler disposi- 
tion, and make playful and most interesting 
pets. Their fur is highly prized and always 
brings a good price in the market. As a re- 
sult, they have been persistently hunted and 
trapped since our pioneer days. That the spe- 
cies should continue to exist, though in much 
diminished numliers. throughout most of its 
original range 's a strikin.g evidence of its re- 
tiring haliits and mental acuteness. 







FISHER. OR PEKAN 




''*^ ."^M^,'- ' **' ' ** 



rtfTm ^3^^ 



;,.. , ^i'>:^t. 



446 




ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP 




COLLARED PECCARY, OR MUSRHOG 



447 



448 



THE NATIONAL (;ROr;RAPHIC MACxAZINE 



COLLARED PECCARY, OR MUSKHOG 
(Pecari angulatus) 

The numerous and extraordinarily varied 
species of wild pigs of the Old World are rep- 
resented in America by the peccaries, a special- 
ized group containing two species of small pigs 
peculiar to North and -South America. One of 
the many differences between them and their 
Old World relatives is their having but two 
young. The name muskhog, applied to them, is 
based on their possession of a large gland, lo- 
cated high up on the middle of the rump, which 
emits a powerful odor. The musky odor from 
this quickly permeates the flesh of a peccary, 
unless it is cut out as soon as the animal is 
killed. 

The collared peccary is the smaller of the 
two species, usually weighing less than 75 
pounds. It ranges from the southwestern 
United States south to Patagonia. Within this 
range numerous geographic races have devel- 
oped, varying from light grizzled gray to nearly 
black. It formerly occurred within our bor- 
der north to the Red River of Arkansas, but is 
now limited to the southern half of Texas and 
the southern parts of New Mexico and Ari- 
zona. 

In tropical America collared peccaries arc 
found in dense forests or in low jungles, but in 
northern Mexico and the southwestern United 
States they are equally at home among scat- 
tered t'.iickets of cactus and other thorny plants 
on p'ains and in the foothills. They are strictly 
gref^arious and live in bands of from a few 
individuals up to thirty or more, usuaUv led by 
the oldest and rrost powerful boar. They are 
omnivorous, feeding on everything edible, from 
roots, fruits, nuts, and ether vegetable prod- 
ucts to reptiles and any other available animals. 
They are specially numerous in many tropical 
forests where wild figs, nut palms, and other 
fruit-bearing trees provide abundant food. In 
the arid ncrthern part of their range dense 
thickets of cactus ard mesquite afford both 
food and slielter. Their presence in a locality 
is often indicated by the rooted-up soil where 
they have been feeding. 

Young peccaries become very tame and make 
most intelligent and amusing pets. One moon- 
light night m the coast of Guerrero two of 
us, after a bath in the sea by a small Indian 
village, strolled along the hard white sand to 
enjoy the cool breeze. Suddenly a little pec- 
cary, not weighing over eight or ten pounds, 
came running to meet us and, after stopping at 
our feet to have its head scratched, suddcnlv 
circled about us, away and back again in whirl- 
ing zigzags, with all the joyous frenzy of a 
playful puppy. Continuing this performance, 
it accompanied us for several hundred yards, 
until we returned to the village. 

Tales of the ferocity of bands of the collared 
peccaries and of their treeing hunters who have 
disturbed them read well to the novice, but 
have little foundation in fact. In reality the 
animals are shy and retiring and fight only 
when forced to do so for self-protection. When 
brought to bay by dogs or other animals, they 



fight viciously, and with their sharp, knife- 
edged tusks can inflict serious wounds. Their 
natural enemies are mainly the jaguar in the 
south and bobcats and coyotes, which prey 
upon their young, in the north. 

The increasing occupation of our Southwest 
has already resulted in the extermination of 
peccaries from most of their former range 
within our border, and unless active steps are 
taken to protect the survivors their days will 
be few in the land. They are such unique and 
harmless animals that it is hoped interest in 
their behalf may be awakened in time to retain 
them as a part of our wild life. 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP (Ovis 

canadensis and its relatives) 

Wild sheep inhabit mountain ranges in both 
Old and New Worlds. Northern Africa and 
southern Europe have representative species, 
but Asia appears to be the true home of the 
group. There the greatest variety of species 
is found, including such giants as Ovis poH. 

In the New World they occur only in North 
America, where there are two or three species, 
with numerous sfeographic races. Among these 
the sheep inhabiting the main Rocky Mountain 
region is best known. It is a heavier animal 
than its northern relatives of the Stikine coun- 
try and Alaska, with larger and more mas- 
sively proportioned horns. It occupies the 
main range from south of Peace River and 
Lake Babine, in British Columbia, to Colorado, 
and possibly northern New Mexico. Closely 
related geographic races occur elsewhere in the 
mountains of the western United States and 
northern Mexico. 

The usual conception of wild sheep as hab- 
itants of the cold, clear upper world at tim- 
berline and above is justified in the case of 
the Rocky Mountain sheep. In early spring its 
one or two young are born amid these rugged 
elevations, where it remains until the heavy 
winter snows drive it down, sometimes through 
the open timber to the foothills. Thnt wild 
sheep thrive equally well under very different 
conditions, however, is shown by their abun- 
dance on the treeless mountains of our south- 
western deserts, among cactuses, yuccas, and 
other thorny vegetation, where water is ex- 
tremely scarce and summer temperatures rise 
high above 100° Fahrenheit in the shade. 

The Rocky Mountain sheep, like other spe- 
cies, appears to feed on nearly every plant 
growing within its domain. In spring many 
lambs are killed by bald and golden eagles, and 
in winter, when driven down to lower levels by 
snow, it becomes easy prey for mountain lions, 
wolves, and coyotes. Owing to continuous 
hunting, this sheep has disappeared from many 
of its former haunts and is decreasing in most 
of its ran,ge. When effective protection is un- 
dertaken in time, however, as in Colorado, the 
range is readily restocked. 

The sure-footedness with which a band of 
these sheep will dash in full flight up or down 
seemingly impossible slopes, where a misstep 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



449 



would mean death, is amazing. Even the old 
rams, with massive sets of horns, bound from 
point to point up a steep rock slope with mar- 
velous grace and agility. Mountain sheep liv- 
ing among the rugged summits of high ranges 
possess the courage and prowess of skillful 
mountaineers, so admired by all, and the mere 
sight of one of these animals in its native 
haunts is an adventure achieved by few. 

No other big-game animal carries with it the 
romantic glamour which surrounds this habit- 
ant of the cold, clear upper world. Big-game 
hunters prize above all others their mountain- 
sheep trophies, which form vivid reminders of 
glorious days amid the most inspiring sur- 
roundings and evidence their supreme prowess 
in the chase. 

STONE MOUNTAIN SHEEP (Ovis 
stonei) 

Owing to its dark, iron gray color, Ovis 
stonei is often called the '"black" mountain 
sheep. Despite its dark color, the Stone sheep 
is probably a geographic race of the pure white 
Dall sheep of Alaska. It has the same slender, 
gracefully coiled horns, frequently amber col- 
ored and extended in a widely spread spiral. 

Its range lies in northern British Columbia, 
. especially about the upper Stikine River and 
its tributaries ; thence it extends easterly to 
Laurier Pass in the Rocky Mountains, north 
of Peace River, and south perhaps to Babine 
Lake. Unfortunately it appea:rs to have be- 
come extinct in the southern border of its 
range, so that its real relationship with the 
Rocky Mountain sheep farther south may never 
be determined. 

The sheep occupying the mountains between 
the home of typical stonei and that of dalli in 
northwestern British Columbia and southeast- 
ern Yukon Territory are characterized by hav- 
ing white heads, with bodies of a varying shade 
of iron gray, thus showing evident intergrada- 
tion on a great scale between the white north- 
ern sheep and the "black" sheep of the Stikine. 
These intermediate animals have been called 
the Fannin, or saddle-backed, sheep {Ovis fan- 
nini). Hunters report a considerable mingling 
of entirely white animals among flocks of these 
intergrading animals, and occasionally white 
individuals are seen even in flocks of the typi- 
cal dark sheep of the Stikine country. 

Like the white Alaskan sheep, the Stone 
sheep exists in great abundance in many parts 
of its range, especially east of Dease Lake. It 
usually ranges in flocks, those made up of 
ewes and young rams often containing a con- 
siderable number. The old bucks, except in 
fall, keep by themselves in smaller bands in 
separate parts of the range. The Stone sheep 
lives in one oi the most notable big-game fields 
of the continent. Its home above timberline 
is shared with the mountain goat and in the 
lower open slopes with the caribou, while within 
the adjacent forests wander the moose and two 
or more species of bear. 

Owing to its frequenting remote and sparsely 



inhabited country, it continues to exist in large 
numbers; but if its range becomes more ac- 
cessible, only the most stringent protection can 
save this splendid animal from the extermina- 
tion already accomplished on the southern bor- 
der of its range. 

DALL MOUNTAIN SHEEP (Ovis dalli) 

The only variation in the pure white coat of 
the Dall sheep is a mixture of a few black 
hairs on the rump, sometimes becoming plen- 
tiful enough to form a blackish spot on the 
tail and a light brownish stain over the entire 
body, due to the slight discoloration at the 
tips of the hairs from contact with the earth 
in their bedding-down places. Their horns are 
usually dull amber yellow and are notable for 
their slender proportions and the grace of their 
sweeping coils, which sometimes curve close to 
the head and again spread in a wide, open 
spiral. 

As their white coats indicate, the Dall slieep 
are the northernmost of their kind in America. 
Their home lies mainly in Alaska, where they 
were formerly abundant in many mountain 
ranges, from those bordering the Arctic coast 
south through the interior to the cliffs on Ke- 
nai Peninsula, but are now scarce or gone 
from some mountains. To the eastward they 
are numerous across the border in much of 
Yukon territory, nearly to the Mackenzie 
River. Their haunts lie amid a wilderness of 
peaks and ridges, marked in summer with scat- 
tered glaciers and banks of perpetual snow and 
in winter exposed to all the rigors of a severe 
Arctic climate. They are extraordinarily nu- 
merous in some districts, as among the outly- 
ing ranges about the base of Mount McKinley. 

In their high, bleak homes these sheep have 
little to fear from natural enemies, although 
the great Canada lynx, the wolf, the wolverine, 
and the golden eagle, as overlords of the 
range, take occasional toll from their numbers. 
Their one devastating enemy is man, with his 
modern high-power rifle. Even so long ago as 
the summer of 1881, I saw hundreds of their 
skins among the Eskimos at Point Bnrrow, 
taken that spring with the use of Winchester 
rifles among the mountains lying inlai'd from 
the Arctic coast. Of late years the advent of 
miners and the establishment of mining camps 
and towns have greatly increased the demand 
for meat, and this has resulted in the kil'ing 
of thousands of these sheep. Large numbers 
of these splendid animals have also been killed 
to serve as winter dog food. 

The advent of thousands of men engaged in 
the construction of the government rai'road 
which, when completed, will pass through the 
Mount McKinley region, makes innninent the 
danger of extermination that threatens the 
mountain sheep, as well as the moose and cari- 
bou, in a great area of the finest big-game 
country left under our control. 

Properly conserved, the game animals of 
Alaska will continue indefinitely as one of its 
richest resources, but heedless wastefulness 
may destroy them forever. All sportsmen and 




;T0NE S, FANNIN S, AND DAI.I.'S MOUNTAIN SHEEP 

450 







7 



.w^"^; 



PRONG-HORN ANTELOl'E 




ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT 



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THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



other lovers of wild life should interest them- 
selves in an effort to safeguard the future of 
Alaskan game animals before it is too late; 
for, under the severe climatic conditions pre- 
vailing, the restocking of exhausted game fields 
in that region will be extremely difficult, if not 
practically mipossibie. 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT (Oreamnos 
monianus and its subspecies) 

The numerous wild goats of the Himalayas 
and other mountains of Asia are represented 
in America solely by the Rocky Mountain goat. 
This is one of the most characteristic, but least 
graceful in form and action, of our big-game 
animals. It is distinguished by a long ungainly 
head, ornamented with small black horns ; a 
heavy body, humped at the shoulders like a 
buffalo, and a coat of long shaggy white hair. 

The range of these habitants of the cliffs ex- 
tends from the head of Cook Inlet, Alaska, 
easterly and southerly through the mountains 
to Montana and Washington. Unlike moun- 
tain sheep, the goats do not appear to dislike 
the fogs and saline winds from the sea, and 
at various points along the coast of British 
Columbia and Alaska they range down pre- 
cipitous slopes nearly to the shore. 

They are much more closely confined to 
rugged slopes and rocky ledges than the moun- 
tain sheep, which in winter commonly descend 
through the foothills to the border of the 
plains. Through summer and winter, goats 
find sufficient food in the scanty vegetation 
growing among the rocks, and their heavy coats 
of hair protect them from the fiercest winter 
storms. 

Owing to their small horns and unpalatable 
flesh they are less sought after by hunters 
than mountain sheep, and thus continue to ex- 
ist in many accessible places where otherwise 
they would long since have become extermi- 
nated. They are frequently visible on the high 
ledges of a mountain across the bay from the 
city of Vancouver and are not difficult to find 
in many other coastal localities. 

Although marvelously surefooted and fear- 
less in traversing the faces of high precipitous 
slopes, goats lack the springy grace and vivac- 
ity of mountain sheep and move with compara- 
tive deliberation. They are reputed to show at 
times a stupid obstinacy when encountered on 
a narrow ledge, even to the point of disputing 
the right of way with the hunter. 

Their presence lends interest to many other- 
wise grim and forbidding ranges where, amid 
a wilderness of glacier-carved escarpments, 
thev endure the winter gales which for days at 
a time roar about their cliffs and send snow 
banners streaming from the jagged summits 
overhead. 

Owing to tlie character of their haunts, 
mountain goats have few natural enemies. 
The golden and bald eagles now and then take 
toll among their kids, but the lynx and moun- 
tain lion, their four-footed foes, are not known 
to prey upon them to any considerable extent. 



Through overhunting they have vanished from 
some of their former haunts, but still hold 
their own in many places, and with effective 
protection will long continue to occupy their 
peculiar place in our fauna. 

PRONG-HORN ANTELOPE (Antilocapra 
americana and its geographic races) 

Unique among the antelope of the world, 
among which it has no near relatives, the 
prong-horn, because of its beauty of colora- 
tion, its grace, and fleetness, claims the atten- 
tion of sportsmen and nature lovers alike. It 
is a smaller and slenderer animal than the 
larger forms of the Virginia deer. Its hair is 
coarse and brittle, and the spongy skin lacks 
the tough fiber needed to make good buckskin. 
Both sexes have horns, those of the doe being 
smaller and slenderer. One of the extraordi- 
nary peculiarities of this antelope is its habit 
of shedding the horns every fall and the de- 
veloping new horns over the remaining bony 
core. 

The rump patch of the prong-horn is formed 
of long pure white hairs, which in moments of 
excitement or alarm are raised on end to form 
two great chrysanthemum-like white rosettes 
that produce an astonishingly conspicuous di- 
rective color mark. The power to raise these 
hairs is exercised by the fawns when only a 
few days old. Even when the hairs are not 
erected the rump patch is conspicuous as a 
flashing white signal to a distance of from 
one to two miles as the antelope gallops away. 
When the animal whose rump signal has been 
plainly visible at a distance suddenly halts and 
faces about to look back, as is a common cus- 
tom, its general color blends with that of the 
background and it vanishes from sight as by 
magic. 

Early explorers discovered antelope in great 
abundance over a vast territory extending from 
near the present location of Edmonton, Al- 
berta, south to near the Valley of Mexico, and 
from central Towa west to the Pacific coast in 
California. They were specially numerous on 
the limitless plains of the "Great American 
Desert," where our pioneers found them in 
great bands, containing thousands, among the 
vast herds of buffalo. So abundant were they 
that it has been estimated that on the Great 
Plains they equaled the buffalo in numbers. 
Now reduced to a pitiful remnant of their for- 
mer numbers, they exist only in widely scat- 
tered areas, where they are constantly decreas- 
ing. Fortunately they are strictly protected by 
law in most of their remaining territory. 

The great herds containing thousands of 
antelope were usually formed late in fall and 
remained together throughout the winter, sep- 
arating into numerous smaller parties during 
the summer. For years following the comple- 
tion of the transcontinental railroads they were 
commonlv seen from the car windows as trains 
crossed the Great Plains. At such times their 
bright colors and graceful evolutions, as they 
swept here and there in erratic flight or 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



453 



wheeled in curiosity to gaze at the passing 
train, never failed to excite the deepest interest. 

In early days prong-horns were noted for 
their curiosity and were frequently lured within 
gun-shot by waving a red flag or by other de- 
vices. I have repeatedly seen them circle or 
race a team, or a horseman, crossing their 
range. In racing a horseman traveling along 
an open road or trail they gradually draw 
nearer until finally every member of the band 
dashes madly by only a few yards in front and 
then straight away across the plains in full 
flight. 

The prong-horns appear to possess a highly 
nervous temperament, which requires for their 
welfare the wide free sweep of the open plains. 
They do not thrive and increase in inclosures. 
even in large game preserves, as do deer, elk, 
and buff'alo. For this reason, it will require 
the greatest care to protect and foster these 
attractive members of our fauna to save them 
from soon being numbered among the many 
wild species whicli have been destroyed by the 
coming of civilized man. 

WAPITI, OR AMERICAN ELK (Cervus 
canadensis and its relatives) 

By a curious transposition of names the 
early settlers applied to the American wapiti 
the term elk, wiiich belongs to the European 
representative of our moose. Our elk is a 
close relative of the European stag. It is the 
handsomest and, next to liie moose, the largest 
member of the deer family in America. The 
old bulls, weighing more than 800 pounds, bear 
superb widely branched antlers, which give 
them a picturesque and noble mien. This is 
the only American deer which has a well- 
marked light rump-patch. Tiie young, num- 
bering from one to three, are white spotted, 
like the fawns of other deer. 

Originally the elk was the most wide ranging 
of our hoofed game animals. It occupied all 
the continent from nortli of Peace River, Can- 
ada, south to southern New Mexico, and from 
central Massachusetts and North Carolina to 
the Pacific coast of California. Like the buf- 
falo, it appeared to be equally at home in the 
forested region east of the Mississippi River 
and on the open plains flanking the Rocky 
Mountains. Its range also extended from sea- 
level to above timberline on lofty mountain 
ranges. 

Exterminated throughout most of their orig- 
inal range, elk still occupy some of their early 
haunts in western Canada, Montana, Wyo- 
ming, Colorado, and the Pacific Coast States. 
The last elk was killed in Pennsylvania about 
60 years ago, and in Michigan and Minnesota 
some 20 years later. The main body of the 
survivors are now in the Yellowstone Park 
region. Tlieir size and the readiness with 
which they thrive in captivity has led to serious 
consideration of elk farming as an industry. 

In the West, before the settlement of their 
range crowded the elk back, large numbers 
lived throughout the year on the plains and 
among the foothills. They have now become 
mountain animals, spending the spring and 



summer largely in the timberline forests and 
alpine meadows, where many bands linger until 
the heavy snows of early winter force them 
down to the foothills and valleys. During the 
last days of^ their abundance in the Rocky 
Mountains winter herds numbering thousands 
gathered in Estes Park and other foothill 
valleys. 

Elk are the most polygamous of all our deer, 
each bull gathering a small herd of cows dur- 
ing the fall. At the beginning of the mating 
season the bulls wander widely through the 
high forest glades, their musical bugling pierc- 
ing the silence with some of the most stirring 
notes of the wilderness. Amid the w-ild gran- 
deur of these remote mountain fastnesses the 
appearance of a full-antlered buck on the sky- 
line of some bare ridge presents a noble pic- 
ture of wild life. 

There are probably over 40,000 elk still left 
in the United States, and of these more than 
30,000 are located in Wyoming, mainly in and 
about Yellowstone National Park. 

During the last few years great interest has 
been shown in the reintroduction of elk in 
parts of their former range, where they had 
been exterminated and where conditions are 
still suitable for their perpetuation. Such ef- 
forts are meeting with much success. Not 
only do tiie animals thrive and increase rapidly, 
but local sentiment is almost unanimous in 
their favor. This is well shown by the active 
interest taken by both cattle and sheep owners 
in northern Arizona in regard to a band of elk 
introduced a few years ago on their mountain 
stock ranges. The stockmen exercise a virtual 
wardenship over these animals that insures 
them against molestation, and the herd is rap- 
idly increasing. 

As against this, we have the despicable work 
of poachers, who are shooting elk for their 
two canine teeth and leaving the body to the 
coyotes. Information has been received that 
more than 500 elk were ruthlessly slaughtered 
for this purpose about the border of Yellow- 
stone National Park during the winter of 
1915-1916. 

MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus and 

its subspecies) 

Mule deer are larger than the common white- 
tails, with a heavier, stockier form. Their 
strongest characteristics lie in the large doubly 
branching antlers, large broad ears, and 
rounded whitish tail with a brusblike black 
tip. Their common name in this country and 
the name "venado burro" in ]\Iexico are de- 
rived from the great, donkeylike ears. Their 
antlers vary much in size, but in some exam- 
ples are almost intermediate between those of 
the white-tail and of the elk. Antlers of the 
mule deer and of the black-tail agree in hav- 
ing the tines all pronged, in contrast with the 
single spikes of the white-tails. In summer 
these deer have a rich, rusty red coat which is 
exchanged in winter for one of grayish brown. 

The range of mule deer extends from north- 
ern Alberta, Manitoba, and western Iowa to 
the State of San Luis Potosi, on the Mexican 




WAPITI, OR AMERICAN KI.K 

454 




MUI.E DEEK 




BLACK-TAII.EI) DEER 



455 



456 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



table-land, and west to Lower California and 
the coast of California. Within these limits 
they inhabit different types of country, from 
the deciduous forests along streams on the 
eastern border of the Great Plains to the open 
pine forests of the high western mountains, the 
chaparral-covered hillsides of southern Cali- 
fornia, and the thickets of mesquites, acacias, 
and cactuses on the hot and arid plains of 
Sonora. Several geographic races of this deer 
have resulted from these varied conditions. 

In spring in the Rocky Mountains the does 
leave the bands with which they have passed 
the winter and seek undisturbed retreats among 
forest glades or along scantily wooded slopes 
of canyons, where they have two or three hand- 
somely spotted fawns with which they remain 
apnrt throughout the summer. 

The bucks usually keep by themselves during 
the summer, in parties rarely exceeding ten. As 
their horns lose the velvet and the mating sea- 
son draws near, the old bucks gather in bands 
of from six to ten. 

At this time they are in perfect physical con- 
diticn, and a br^nd of them in the open forest, 
their ant'.ers held proudly aloft and their glossy 
coats sl-ining in the srn, presents a superb pic- 
ture. They have little of the protective cau- 
tion so characteristic of the white-tails, and 
when a shot is fired at a bard they often begin 
a series of extraordinary 'buck jumps," bound- 
ing high in the air, facing this way and that, 
sometimes nr.t taking fight until after several 
additional shots have been fired. These high, 
bounding leaps are characteristic of rnule deer 
and are commonly made when the animals are 
suddenly alarmed ard often when they are in 
full flight throurh brushy thickets. 

After the mating season, bucks and does join 
in bands, sometimes of fifteen or twenty, and 
descend to the foothills and sometimes even to 
the adjacent plains. Their preference, how- 
ever, is for rough and broken country, such as 
that cf cnnyon-cut mountains or the deeply 
scored badlands of the upper Missouri River. 
These deer are not good runners in the open. 
On several occasions, on level country in Ari- 
zona, I have ridden after and readily_ overtaken 
parties of them within a mile, their heaving 
flanks and open mouths showing their distress. 
The moment rough country was reached, how- 
ever, with amazing celerity a series of mighty 
leaps carried them away from me over decliv- 
ities impossible for a horse. 

The sight of a party cf these splendid deer 
bounding away through the aisles of a moun- 
tain forest always quickens one's pulse and 
gives the finishing touch of wildness to the 
scene. Mule deer are characteristic animals of 
the beautiful open forests and forest parks of 
the Rocky Mountains and the high Sierras, 
where they may be perpetuated if given rea- 
sonable protection. 

BLACK-TAILED DEER (Odpcoileus 
columbianus and its subspecies) 

In general appearance the black-tails have a 
close resemblance to the mule deer, but average 



smaller. They have the same large ears, 
forked tines to the antlers, and rather "stocky" 
body; but the brushy all-black tail distinguishes 
them from any other American deer. In color 
they have much the same shade of brown as 
the Virginia deer. They have the usual cycle 
of annual changes common to most American 
deer — assuming a dull coat in fall and losing 
their horns in winter, followed by the resump- 
tion of a brighter coat in spring and the re- 
newal of their horns in summer. 

The black-tails have one of the most re- 
stricted ranges among our deer. They are 
limited to the humid heavily forested belt along 
the Pacific coast from Juneau, Alaska, south- 
ward to the Coast range in central California. 
This coastal belt is characterized by superb 
growths of cedars, spruces, and firs in the 
north and by redwoods and firs in the south, 
uniting to make one of the most magnificent 
forest areas in the world. Here the deer live 
in the midst of rank undergrowths of gigantic 
ferns and other vegetation, as luxuriant in 
many places as that of the humid tropics. 

Their home on the abruptly rising slopes of 
the islands in the Alaskan Archipelago is so 
restricted that both in summer and winter they 
fall an easy prey to native and white hunters. 
It has been reported that there has been much 
wasteful killing of the deer on these islands 
for commercial purposes. When the heavy 
snows of winter on the islands force the deer 
down to the shore, great numbers of them are 
also killed by wolves. 

Black-tails commonly have two or three 
young, and this fecundity, combined with the 
effective protection given by the dense forest 
where many of them live, will aid in their per- 
petuation. At the same time they have not 
developed the mental alertness of the Virginia 
deer, and there is imminent need for prompt 
and effective action in safeguarding the deer 
in the Alaskan part of their range if their 
extermination on some of the islands is to be 
prevented. In this northern region the black- 
tnils share their range with strange tribes of 
coastal Indians, whose huge sea-going canoes, 
totem poles, and artistic carvings are unique 
among native Americans. 

VIRGINIA, OR WHITE-TAILED, DEER 

(Odocoileus virginianus and its sub- 
species) 

The aptness of the name "white-tail" for the 
Virginia deer is obvious to any one who has 
startled one in the forest and seen it dash away 
with the tail upright and flashing vivid white 
signals at every leap. The ad\ilts have two 
strongly contrasted coats each year: brownish 
gray in winter and rusty red in summer. The 
fawns, usuallv two in number, are dull rusty 
brown, marked with a series of large white 
spots, which remain until the gray winter coat 
is assumed in the fall. Large bucks sometimes 
attain a weight of more than 300 pounds. 

The white-tad is the well-knnwn deer of all 
the forest areas in eastern North America. 
With its close relatives, it ranges from north- 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



457 



ern Ontario to Florida and from the Atlantic 
coast to the Great Plains; also in the Rocky 
Mountains south to New Mexico, and in the 
Cascades and Sierra Nevada to northern Cali- 
fornia. 

The supreme importance of this deer to the 
early settlers of the Eastern States is made 
plain in all the literature covering the occupa- 
tion of that region. Its flesh was one of the 
most reliable staples in the food supply, and 
not infrequently was the only resource against 
starvation. In addition, the tanned skins served 
for clothing and the sinews for thread. Many 
of the most striking and romantic characters 
in our early history appear clad in buckskin, 
from fringed hunting shirt to beaded mocca- 
sins. 

As no other American game animal equaled 
the white-tail in economic value to the settlers, 
so even to-day it remains the greatest game 
asset in many of the Eastern States. Partly 
through protective laws and partly through its 
acute intelligence and adaptability, the Virginia 
deer continues to hold its own in suitable 
woodland areas throughout most of its former 
range, and in recent years has pushed hundreds 
of miles northward into new territory in On- 
tario and Quebec. 

Even in the oldest and most densely popu- 
lated States, as New York and Massachusetts, 
white-tails still exist in surprising numbers. 
Over 7,000 were killed during the hunting sea- 
son of 1915 in Maine, and an average of about 
2,800 are killed yearly in Vermont. The great 
recreational value of the white-tail to a host of 
sportsmen is obvious. To the growing multi- 
tude of nature lovers the knowledge that a 
forest is inhabited by deer immediately endows 
it with a delightful and mysterious charm. 

In summer wliite-tails are usually solitary or 
wander through the forest in parties of two 
or three. In winter, where the snowfall is 
heavy, they gather in parties, sometimes of 
considerable size, in dense deciduous growth, 
where food is plentiful. There they remain 
throughout the season, forming a "yard" by 
keeping a network of hard-beaten paths open 
through the snow in order to reach the browse 
afforded by the bushes and trees. 

Ordinarily Virginia deer are shy and elusive 
habitants of dense forests, where they evade 
the unpracticed intruder like noiseless shadows. 
Where they are strictly protected for a period 
of years under State laws, they become sur- 
prisingly confident and often damage young 
orchards and crops on farms near their haunts. 
Several States pay for the damage thus done. 
Happily this attractive species thrives so well 
under protective laws that its continued future 
in our forests appears to be assured. 

ARIZONA WHITE-TAILED DEER 
(Odocoileus couesi) 

The Arizona white-tails are slight and grace- 
ful animals, like pigmy Virginia deer, so small 
that hunters often ride into camp with a full- 
grown buck tied back of the saddle. They have 



two seasonal pelages — gray in winter and more 
rusty brown in summer. The antlers, very 
small, but in form similar to those of the Vir- 
ginia deer, are shed in winter and renewed be- 
fore the end of summer. 

These handsome little deer, the smallest of 
our white-tails, are common in many of the 
wooded mountains of middle and southern 
Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas, 
and in the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua and 
Sonora, Mexico. By a curious coincidence this 
area was the ancient home of the Apache In- 
dians and has had one of the most tragic his- 
tories of our western frontier. 

During summer and early fall in the higher 
ranges small bands of Arizona white-tails oc- 
cupy the lower parts of the yellow-pine forests, 
between 6,000 and 9,000 feet altitude, where 
they frequent thickets of small deciduous 
growth about the heads of canyons and 
gulches. As winter approaches and heavy 
snowstorms begin, they descend to warm can- 
yon slopes to pass the season among an abun- 
dant growth of pinyons, junipers, oaks, and a 
variety of brushwood. 

In the White Mountains of Arizona, between 
the years 18S3 ^nd i8go, when wild hfe was 
more abundant than at present, I often saw, 
on their wintering grounds, large herds of 
these graceful deer, numbering from 20 to 
more than lOO individuals. Such gatherings 
presented the most interesting and exciting 
sight, whether the animals were feeding in un- 
conscious security or streaming in full flight 
along the numberless little trails that lined the 
steep slopes. Where these deer live on the 
more barren and brush-grown tops of some of 
the desert mountains in southwestern Arizona 
and Sonora, the snowfall is so li'rht that their 
summer and winter range is practically the 
same. 

Although far more gregarious than our other 
white-tails, the herds of Arizona deer break 
up in early spring. At this time one or two 
fawns are born, amid early flowers in the 
charming vistas of the open forest. Very 
young fawns are hidden in rank vegetation 
and sometimes left temporarily by their moth- 
ers. If a horseman chances by the fawns may 
rise and follow innocently at the horse's heels. 
On such occasions I have had difficulty in driv- 
ing them back to prevent their becoming lost. 

In the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua one sum- 
mer I found these little white-tails occupying 
"forms," like rabbits, located in the sheltering 
matted tops of fallen pine trees which had been 
overthrown by spring storms. In these shel- 
ters they rested during the middle of the day, 
secure from the wolves and mountain lions 
which prowled about the canyon slopes in 
search of prey. 

With the growing occupation of their terri- 
tory by cattle and sheep and the increase in the 
number of hmiters, these once abundant deer 
are rapidly diminishino-. It is high time more 
careful measures he taken for their conserva- 
tion, else extermination awaits them through- 
out most of their original haunts. 




VIRGINIA. OR VVHITE-TAIl-ED, DEER 




ARIZONA \\ HriK lAlLED UEER 



458 




W ()(i|>l W I 



459 



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THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



WOODLAND CARIBOU (Rangifer cari- 
bou and its subspecies) 

The caribou lacks the symmetry and grace 
of the true deer. Its large head topped with 
irregular antlers, heavy body, and thick, sturdy 
legs, ending in large, broad-spreading hoofs, 
produce a distmctly ungainly animal. It is the 
only member of the deer family in which both 
sexes have antlers, those of the female being 
smaller and slenderer than those of the male. 
It varies in size in different parts of its range, 
hut large old bulls usually weigh from 300 to 
400 pounds. A single calf is the rule, but oc- 
casionally there are two. 

The woodland caribou, the southern repre- 
sentative of the barren ground caribou, in- 
habits almost the same northern forest of 
spruce, tamarack, birch, and alder as those 
sheltering the moose. It ranges from the 
northern border of the forests in Alaska and 
Canr.da south to Maine, northern Minnesota, 
northern Idaho, and British Columbia. It is 
far less gregarious than the barren ground 
caribou, during summer only small parties of 
cows, calves, and partly grown young keeping 
together, while the bulls are solitary or in still 
srnaller separate parties. In winter all unite in 
larrer herds. 

The curiotisly ungraceful appearance of the 
caribou, so different from other deer, gives it 
a strong individuality, which seems to belong 
with its remote haunts in the wilderness. This 
great animal has an added appeal to our in- 
terest, owing to its close relationship to that 
other woodland caribou which was such an im- 
portant resource to the cave-men of France 
and other parts of Europe, as shown by bone 
and horn implements, carvings, and other rec- 
ords discovered in their homes. 

During summer and fall in eastern Canada, 
where this caribou is distributed through mucli 
f)f the wilder forests, it has a habit of coming 
out of the woods to sun itself and bathe on 
the borders of shallow lakes. Here the old 
bulls wallow in the water, and on rising shake 
themselves like a dog, filling the air wifh a 
Irilo of sparkling water drons. In such places 
the bulls frequently stand basking in the sun 
for hours. To a canoeman gliding silently 
around a jutting point, this rugged habitant of 
the wilds, discovered across the shining waters, 
standing outlined against the dark green for- 
est, represents a wonderfully picturesque sight. 
When alarmed at such times the caribou dashes 
shoreward through the water amid clouds of 
flying spray struck up by its broad feet and 
vanishes in the sheltering forest, accompanied 
by a loud crashing of dry branches. 

The woodland cnribou is neither so swift nor 
so astute in avoiding dano-er as the Virginia 
deer or the moose. It falls an easy prey to 
hunters and to wolves, and when not pronerly 
safeguarded is readily exterminated. This is 
shown bv its complete d'sannearance from the 
Adirondacks. in northern New York, and by 
its threa^^ened disappearance from the forests 
of Maine, Minnesota, and Idaho; in fnct, the 
woodland caribou is in more imminent dangc" 



of complete and early extermination within the 
United States than any other game animal and 
can be sa\'ed onh- by stringent laws and care- 
ful guardianship. 

BARREN GROUND CARIBOU (Rangifer 

arcticus and its subspecies) (see 
illustration, page 422) 

The typical barren ground caribou is smaller 
and paler colored than the woodland species. 
Several geographic races have been distin- 
guished, among which the most notable is the 
Peary caribou, the palest of all and the subject 
of the accompanying drawing. Like other 
members of the group, this species is a heavily 
built animal, with thick legs and large feet. 

The barren grotind caribou is characteristic 
of the desolate Arctic barrens and tundras be- 
yond the limit of trees, ranging to the north- 
ernmost limit of land beyond 83 degrees of 
latitude. When explorers first visited these 
northern wilds, including the treeless coastal 
belt from the Peninsula of Alaska to Bering 
Straits, they found these animals almost every- 
where in extraordinary abundance. Over great 
areas of this territory straggling herds of cari- 
bou, sometimes numbering hundreds of thou- 
sands, drifted with the season from one feed- 
ing ground to another. 

The advent of white men with guns has re- 
sulted in their rapid decrease everywhere and 
in their extermination over great areas. In 
many of their old haunts the only trace of 
their former abundance is in well-marked trails 
winding by easy grades to the bare tops of the 
low mountains. They are still ntimerous on 
the Peninsula of Alaska and in much greater 
numbers in parts of the barren grounds of 
Canada. There, on the shores of Artillery 
Lake, during the summer of 1907 a small mi- 
grating herd of about 2,000 was seen. 

When alarmed these caribou often break into 
a clumsy gallop, which soon changes to a 
steady shambling trot, their characteristic gait, 
carrying them rapidly across country. In win- 
ter their tracks in the snow show that their 
feet, instead of being raised high at each step, 
like those of a Virginia or mule deer, drag 
through the snow like those of domestic cattle. 
Their large, broad-spreading hoofs, with sharp, 
cup-shaped edges, are admirably adapted to 
secure a firm footing in the yielding and hum- 
mocky surface of their haunts in summer and 
on the snow and ice in winter. 

The barren ground caribou, living under se- 
vere climatic conditions, has developed an ex- 
traordinary method of storing up fat to carry 
it through winter stresses. Early in fall a layer 
of pure tallow, called "backfat," is formed over 
the entire top of the ba'-k from between the 
shoulders to the rump. This is a solid slab of 
tallow lying between the superficial ninsHes 
and the skin. It is almost as thin as a knife- 
blade at the shoulders, but thickens gradually 
to a denth of from 4 to 6 inches at the rump. 
This slab nf tallow is gradually absorbed dur- 
ing the winter and has totallv d'sapneared by 
spring. In early winter the "backfat" is easily 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



461 



removed and transported in its original form. 
It is highly prized for food and as an article 
of trade among the Eskimo and Indian hun- 
ters, and figures as one of the chief delicacies 
at their winter feasts. 

The Peary caribou lives in Ellesmere, Grin- 
nell, and other of the northernmost Arctic 
lands to beyond 83 degrees of north latitude, 
where in places it is common. It appears to 
thrive on moss, lichens, and other dwarf and 
scanty Arctic vegetation, and holds its own 
against the depredations of packs of the white 
Arctic wolves. In these northern wilds, amid 
the most intense cold, the caribou passes from 
three to five months of continuous night, its 
wanderings lighted only by the moon, stars, 
and the marvelous displays of weaving northern 
lights. 

Tame reindeer, which are kept by the people 
of the Arctic border of the Old World from 
Lapland to Bering Straits, are domesticated 
descendants of the barren ground caribou of 
that region. They are used by their owners to 
pack burdens and haul sledges as well as to 
supply them with food and clotliing. These 
animals have been successfully introduced in 
Alaska, and both natives and white men are 
developing this new and promising stock in- 
dustry. The herds of tame reindeer are ex- 
tremely gentle and easily handled. Their pro- 
genitors were like other wild caribou — of a dull 
and nearly tmiform color — but domestication 
has resulted, as with cattle, in producing end- 
less color variations, from white to black, with 
every imaginable piebald variation. 

The changed conditions of life in Alaska, 
due to the recent development of that terri- 
tory, have seriously affected the welfare of the 
natives. Fortunately the introduction of rein- 
deer herds appears to open a promising future 
for both Eskimos and Indians. 

MOOSE (Alces americanus and its sub- 
species) 

The American moose is a large cousin of the 
elk of the northern forests of Europe and Si- 
beria. The Old World animal is characterized 
not only bv its smaller size, but also by smaller 
antlers. The moose is a large, grotesquely 
formed animal, with the most impressive in- 
dividuality of any of our large game. Its great 
head, with oddly formed nose, huge palmated 
antlers, pendulous bell under the neck, short 
body, and disproportionately long legs unite to 
lend the impression that it may be a strange 
survivor from some remote geologic period. 

The moose inhabits our northern forests, 
where it wanders among thickets of spruce, 
tamarack, birch, aspen, and alder, from the 
mouth of the Yukon and the lower Mackenzie 
southward to Maine, northern Minnesota, and 
down the Rocky Mountains to Wyoming. It 
varies in size in different parts of its range. 
The bulls of the Kenai Peninsula and adjacent 
region in Alaska are the largest of their kind 
in the world, sometimes weighing more than 
1,400 pounds. The enormous antlers of these 
great northern beasts attain a spread of more 



than six feet and make the most impressive 
trophy the big-game hunter can secure in 
America. 

Although taller than an ordinary horse, 
weighing more than half a ton, and adorned 
with wide-spreading antlers, the bull moose 
stalks with ghostly silence through thickset 
forests, where man can scarcely move without 
being betrayed by the loud crackling of dry 
twigs. Ir summer it loves low-lying, swampy 
forests interspersed with shallow lakes and 
sluggish streams. In such places it often wades 
up to its neck in a lake to feed on succulent 
water plants, and when reaching to the bottom 
becomes entirely submerged. These visits to 
the water are sometimes by day, but usually be- 
night, especially during the season when the 
calves are young and the horns of the bulls 
are but partly grown. 

Late in the fall, with full-grown antlers, the 
bulls wander through the forest looking for 
their mates, at times uttering far-reaching calls 
of defiance to all rivals, and occasionally clash- 
ing their horns against the saplings in exuber- 
ance of masterful vigor. Other bulls at times 
accept the challenge and hasten . to meet the 
rival for a battle royal. At this season the 
call of the cow moose also brings the nearest 
bulls quickly to her side. Hunters take advan- 
tage of this, and by imitating the call through 
a birch-bark trumpet bring the most aggressive 
bulls to their doom. 

Ordinarily moose are extremely shy, but dur- 
ing the mating season the males become so bold 
that when encountered at close range they have 
been known furiously to charge a hunter. They 
strike vicious blows with their front feet, as 
well as with their heavy antlers, and make dan- 
gerous foes for man or beast. 

Moose have disappeared from the Adiron- 
dacks and have become scarce in many districts 
where once plentiful. Through wise protec- 
tion they are still numerous abort the head of 
Yellowstone Lake, and are still among the 
available game animals of Maine and the east- 
ern provinces of Canada. Indeed, during the 
last few years they have steadily extended 
their range in northern Ontario and British 
Columbia. They occupy great areas of little- 
visited wilderness, which are becoming more 
and more accessible; as a result the future ex- 
istence of these superb animals depends upon 
their receiving proper protection. 

AMERICAN BISON (Bison bison and its 
subspecies) 

The American bison, or buffalo, is a close 
relative of the larger bison which once inhab- 
ited Europe and survives in limited numbers in 
certain game preserves of Poland and the Cau- 
casus. The size, dark shaggy coat, great head, 
and high arched shoulders of our bison give 
them a unique individuality among American 
big game. They once roamed in vast numbers 
over a broad territory, extending from Great 
Slave Lake, Canada, south to southern New 
Mexico, and from Pennsylvania and eastern 
Georgia to Arizona and northern Nevada. It 




462 




m 



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AMERICAN BISON, OR BUFFALO 



463 



464 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



is thus evident that they were at home in the 
forested country east of the Mississippi River, 
as well as on the treeless plains of the West. 
In the northern part of their range they are 
larger and darker than elsewhere and form a 
local geographic race called the wood buffalo. 
Originally buffalo were enormously abundant 
in America, and it has been variously estimated 
that when the continent was first discovered 
their numbers were from 30,000,000 to 60,000,- 
000. With the settlement of eastern America, 
they gradually retreated across the Mississippi 
River, but continued to exist in great but rap- 
idly diminishing numbers on the Great Plains 
up to within the last fifty years. 

The crossing of their range by the first trans- 
continental railroad quickly brought the re- 
maining herds to an end. In 1870 there were 
still about 5,500,000 head on the plains, but 
these were so wastefully slaughtered for their 
hides that in 1895 only about 800 remained. 
The depletion of the herds was so startling 
that sportsmen and nature lovers awoke to the 
danger of the immediate extermination of 
these splendid animals; the American Bison 
Society was organized and the surviving buf- 
falo were saved. 

Although the bison usually has but a single 
calf a year, these are so hardy and do so well 
in fenced preserves, and even in the closer con- 
finement of small parks, that their number has 
now increased to approximately 4,000, about 
equally divided between the United States and 
Canada. In the district south of Artillery 
Lake, northern Canada, a few hundred indi- 
viduals, remnants of the wild stock of that re- 
gion, survive and are increasing under the wise 
protection of the Canadian Government. The 
only other herd still existing on its original 
ground is that in Yellowstone National Park. 
Experiments have been made in crossing 
buffalo with certain breeds of domestic cattle 
for the purpose of establishing a new and 
hardier variety of stock for the Western 
ranges. These have not proved successful, 
largely owing to the lack of fertility in the hy- 
brid, which has been called the "cattalo." 

Under primitive conditions, buffalo herds 
numbering millions of animals regularly mi- 
grated in spring and fall from one feeding 
ground to another, often traveling hundreds of 
miles for this purpose. The herds followed 
the same routes year after year and made last- 
ing trails, often from two to three feet in 
depth. Investigation has shown that many of 
our highways, and even some of our main rail- 
way lines, seeking the most convenient grades, 
follow trails laid down by these early path- 
finders. When a great migrating herd was 
stampeded, the thunder of its countless hoofs 
shook the earth, and in its flight it rushed like 
a huge black torrent over the landscape. 

The buffalo was the most important game 
animal to the Indians over a great area. Sev- 
eral tribes were mainly denendent upon these 
animals for food and clothing and the entire 
tribal economy was built about them. The 
mode of life, customs, and folk-lore of the In- 
dians all centered about these animals. Their 



clothing and tepee covers were made of the 
skins. The tanned skins also served as indi- 
vidual and tribal records of the warrior-hunt- 
ers, the chronicles being drawn in picture- 
writing on the smooth surfaces. The passing 
of the buffalo on the free sweep of the west- 
ern plains ended forever one of the most pic- 
turesque phases of aboriginal life in America. 

MUSK-OX (Ovibos moschatus and its sub- 
species) 

The musk-ox is one of the unique and most 
interesting of American game animals. In 
general appearance it suggests a small, odd 
kind of buffalo, and is, in fact, related to both 
cattle and sheep. It is a heavily built, round- 
bodied animal, with short, strong legs and long 
fringelike hair which hangs so low on the 
sides that it sometimes trails on the snow. The 
horns — broad, flat, and massive at the base — 
curve down and out to a sharp point on each 
side of the head and form very effective weap- 
ons for defense. 

Fossil remains prove that musk-oxen lived 
in northern Europe and Asia during Pleisto- 
cene times, but they have long been confined 
to Arctic America. Up to within a century 
they have occupied nearly all of the cheerless 
wilds north of the limit of trees, from the coast 
of northern Alaska to that of east Greenland. 
They appear to have become extinct in nortli- 
ern Alaska within the last 75 years, and then- 
present range east of the Mackenzie River is 
becoming more and more restricted. 

They are now limited to that part of the 
barren grounds of Canada lying north and 
northwest of Hudson Bay and from the Arctic 
islands northward and eastward to the north- 
ern coast of Greenland. Their range extends to 
beyond 83 degrees of latitude and covers some 
of the bleakest and most inhospitable lands of 
the globe. There a short summer, with weeks of 
continuous sunshine, permits the growth of a 
dwarfed and scanty Arctic vegetation; but win- 
ter brings a long period of night, continuous, in 
the northernmost parts, through several months. 

Under such rigorous conditions musk-oxen 
thrive unless hunted by civilized man. _ They 
are strongly gregarious, usually traveling in 
herds of from six to twenty, but herds con- 
taining about 100 have been recorded. Their 
eyesight is not strong, but their sense of smell 
is good, and when danger is suspected they 
dash away with great celerity for such heavily 
formed animals. If rocky ground is near, they 
seek refuge in it and ascend steep, broken 
slopes with astonishing agility. 

Wiien brought to bay, the herd forms a circle 
about the calves and, with heads out, presents 
to the enemy an unbroken front of sharp horns. 
vSo long as the circle remains unbroken such a 
defense is extremely effective against _ both 
dogs and wolves. The only natural enemies of 
musk-oxen are wolves, and against these and 
the primitive weapons of the Eskimos they hold 
their own very well. 

When the Greelv Expedition landed at Lady 
Franklin Bav in i88r, musk-oxen were encoun- 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



465 



tered and killed practically on the site where 
winter quarters were established. Since then 
several exploring and hunting parties have 
taken heavy toll from the herds of that region. 
Some accounts of the wholesale killings do not 
make pleasant reading for one who desires the 
perpetuation of our native species. Fortu- 
nately for the musk-oxen, the adventurers of 
these northern quests are few and far between, 
so that on departing they leave the game ani- 
mals in their vast solitudes to recuperate from 
these onslaughts. 

Musk-oxen have but a single young, so that 
between depredations of wolves and overkill- 
ing by white and native hunters these animals 
face the very real danger of extermination 
threatening so many other game animals in the 
far North. For this reason, it is hoped that 
sportsmen who visit these remote game fields 
will restrain a desire for making large bags. 

FLORIDA MANATI (Trichechus 
latirostris) 

The manatis, or manatees, are strange aquatic 
mammals, with seal-like heads and whalelike 
bodies. Compared with whales, their flippers 
are more flexible at the joints, and thus can be 
used much more freely. They have very small 
eyes and a heavy upper lip, deeply cleft in the 
middle and forming a thick lobe on each side. 
The skin is hairless and covered with fine 
wrinkles. 

These animals inhabit the rivers entering the 
sea and shallow coastal lagoons on both sides 
of the Atlantic, in tropical parts of West Af- 
rica and of eastern North and South America. 
The South American species ascends the Ama- 
zon and its tributaries well up toward their 
headwaters. 

The Florida manati regularly frequents the 
coast from eastern Florida to Mexico, Central 
America, and the West Indies; in summer it 
sometimes strays as far north as the coast of 
Virginia. 

This species attains an extreme length of 
more than 15 feet and a weight of more than 
1,500 pounds, but the average size is much less. 
A large specimen exhibited alive at New Or- 
leans the winter of 1912 weighed 1,310 pounds 
and is reported to have eaten daily from 60 to 
100 pounds of grass. One captured near Point 
Isabel, Texas, measured a few inches more 
than 15 feet in length. 

Manatis were formerly plentiful in the In- 
dian River and elsewhere along the Florida 
coast, but were shot and netted to the verge of 
extermination. They were killed not only for 
amusement by thoughtless sportsmen, but many 
were killed by residents for their flesh, which 
was salted down like beef for future use. The 
flesh is said to be well flavored and not unlike 
l)eef. 

The imminent danger of the extermination 
of these curious animals and their evident 
value for the interest thev lend the coastal 
waters of the State led to the passage of pro- 
tective laws with a penalty of $500. As a re- 
sult of this, manatis have increased rapidly. A 



correspondent, writing on June 20, 1916, from 
Ponce Park, on Indian River, says that at this 
season scarcely an hour in the day passes but 
that from one to half a dozen may be seen in 
front of his house. He adds that one with a 
"calf" about 3 feet long keeps about his dock 
all the time. In this vicinity manatis appear to 
be migratory, leaving about the first of Decem- 
ber and returning in early spring, the first one 
noted in 1916 appearing on March 26. They 
are extremely susceptible to cold, as was dem- 
onstrated by the number which perished in 
Indian River near Micco, February 12, 1895, 
when the temperature fell to 20° Fahrenheit. 
They are known to winter in Biscayne Bay and 
elsewhere in southern Florida. 

Within a few weeks after the manatis return 
to the vicinity of Ponce Park the young are 
born. Just before this the females are said to 
seek the protection of a dock, crib, or bridge, 
possibly in order that the new-born young may 
be safe from the sharks and sawfish which 
abound in these waters. Usually there is only 
one calf, which is about 30 inches long, but 
sometimes the mother is seen accompanied by 
two. During this season the females are scat- 
tered and, with their young, keep in compara- 
tively shoal water near the shore, and not in- 
freciuently lie in shallow pools with half their 
Iiodies exposed. Later in the season they 
gather in herds and often 15 to 20 may be seen 
close together. At such times they roll about 
and make a great turmoil in the water. The 
Mexicans on the coast of southern Vera Cruz 
described to me similar summer gatherings of 
manatis in small lagoons and claimed they 
were there for the purpose of mating. 

In fall, near Ponce Park, the larger animals, 
probably the old males, separate from the herds 
and roam about singly. At this time they often 
make a peculiar noise like a loud snort, which 
may be heard for half a mile or more. 

The Florida manatis are extremely mild and 
inoffensive animals, seeming never to fight one 
another, nor to show aggressiveness of any 
kind. When not molested they are very gentle 
and will feed close about a boat or dock regard- 
less of the presence of people, but they become 
alarmed by any sudden noise. In captivity 
they soon learn to eat from their captor's 
hands. 

Manatis are sluggish, stupid animals, without 
other defense than their size. They are not 
rapid swimmers and are among the extremely 
few herbivorous aquatic mammals. Unlike 
seals, whales, and their allies, which feed upon 
some form of animal life, manatis feed on the 
lush grasses and other vegetation springing 
from the oozy bottom of the waters they fre- 
quent. When feeding on the bottom they use 
their flippers to help rnove slowly about. In 
places along the Indian River they are reported 
to approach the shore and, with head and 
shoulders out of water, to feed on heavy grass- 
like plants hanging from the banks. 

While they are feedinsr the heavv bi-lobed 
upper lips work freelv and are sufficiently pre- 
hensile to seize the grass, or other plant food, 
between the lobes and thrust it back into the 




466 



f 



"**v^" -te^?: 



u*. 




A?0\Af*ff^r <^t,^i 




FLORIDA MANATI 



467 



468 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



mouth. The ends of the flippers are sometimes 
used to help convey food to the mouth, Hke 
huge hands in thumbless mittens. 

When suckHng her young the manati rises 
to the surface, her head and shoulders out of 
the water, and with her flippers holds the 
nursling partly clasped to her breast. This 
semi-human attitude, together with the rounded 
head and fishlike tail, may have furnished the 
basis on which the ancients built their legends 
of the mermaids. 

KILLER WHALE (Orcinus orca) 

The killer whale is a habitant of all oceans 
from the border of the Arctic ice fields to the 
stormy glacial margin of the Antarctic conti- 
nent. So far as definitely known, there appears 
to be but a single species. It attains an ex- 
treme length of approximately 30 feet and is 
mainly black with well-defined white areas on 
the sides and underparts of the body. Its 
most striking and picturesque characteristic is 
the large black fin, several feet long, standing- 
upright on the middle of the back. 

The killer usually travels and hunts in 
"schools" or packs of from three to a dozen 
or more individuals. Unlike most whales, the 
members of these schools do not travel in a 
straggling party, but swim side by side, their 
movements as regularly timed as those of sol- 
diers. A regularly spaced row of advancing 
long black fins swiftly cutting the undulating 
surface of the sea produces a singularly sinister 
effect. The evil impression is well justified, 
since killers are the most savage and remorse- 
less of whales. The jaws are armed with 
rows of effective teeth, with which the animals 
attack and devour seals and porpoises, and 
even destroy some of the larger whales. 

Killers are like giant wolves of the sea, and 
their ferocity strikes terror to the other warm- 
blooded inhabitants of the deep. The Eskimos 
of the Alaskan coast of Bering Sea consider 
killers as actual wolves in sea form. They be- 
lieve that in the early days, when the world 
was young and men and animals could change 
their forms at will, land wolves often went to 
the edge of the shore ice and changed to killer 
whales, and the killers returned to the edge of 
the ice and climbed out as wolves, to go raven- 
ing over the land. Some of the natives assured 
me that even today certain wolves and killers 
are still endowed with this power and, on ac- 
count of their malignant character, are much 
feared by hunters. 

Killers are known to swallow small seals and 
porpoises entire and attack large whales by 
tearing away their fleshy lips and tongues. 
When attacking large prey they work in packs, 
with all the unity and fierceness of so many 
wolves. The natives of the Aleutian Islands 
told me that large skin boats are sometimes 
lost in the passes between the islands by sea- 
lions leaping upon them in their frenzied ef- 
forts to escape the pursuit of killer whales. 

The killers are specially detrimental to the 
fur-seal industry, owing to their habit of prey- 



ing upon seals during their migrations in the 
North Pacific and during the summer in Bering- 
Sea. They also haunt the waters about the 
Fur Seal Islands to continue their depredations 
during the summer. It would be a wise con- 
servation measure for the Federal Government 
to have these destructive beasts persistently 
hunted and destroyed each spring and summer 
when they congregate on the north side of the 
Aleutian passes. Their destruction would not 
cinly save large numbers of fur seals, but would 
undoubtedly protect the few sea otters still re- 
maining in those waters. 

WHITE WHALE, OR BELUGA 
(Delphinapterus leucas) 

The white whale, or beluga of the Russians, 
is a circumpolar species, limited to the ex- 
treme northern coasts of the Old and the 
New Worlds. The adult is entirely of a milk- 
white color, is very conspicuous, and as it 
comes up to "blow" presents an interesting 
sight. The young beluga is dark slate color, 
becoming gradually paler for several years 
until it attains its growth. The beluga usually 
lives in the shallow waters along shore, and 
not only frequents sheltered bays and tidal 
streams, but ascends rivers for considerable 
distances. Plentiful along the coast of Alaska. 
esnecially in Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean, 
this whale also ascends the Yukon for a long 
distance. It also comes down the Atlantic 
coast and enters the lower St. Lawrence River. 

The white whale is said at times to attain a 
length of 20 feet, but its ordinary length is 
nearer to or 12 feet. It travels in irregular 
"schools" of from three to ten or fifteen indi- 
viduals and usually rolls high out of water 
when it comes up to breathe. It enters shel- 
tered bays and the lower courses of streams, 
mainly at night, in pursuit of fish, which_ fur- 
nish its main food supply. During the twilight 
hours of the Arctic sumn-ier night,_ glowing 
with beautiful colors, the ghostly white forms 
of these whales breaking the smooth blue-black 
surface of a far northern bay add the crown- 
ing efifect of strange unworldly mystery to the 
scene. 

When on hunting trips in early autumn, I 
camped many times on the banks of narrow 
tide channels leading throu.gh the coastal tun- 
dra, and for hours during the darkness of 
night, as the tide was rising, heard the deep- 
sighing sound of their blowing, as schools of 
belugas fished up and down the current, often 
only 15 or 20 feet from where I lay. 

'The oil and flesh of the white whale is highly 
prized by the Eskimos, and they not only pur- 
sue it in kyaks with harpoon and float, but set 
large-meshed nets of strong seal-skin cords 
off projecting points near entrances to bays. 
Young or medium-sized animals are often 
caught in this manner, but powerful adults 
often tear the nets to fragments. 

The beluga frequents broken pack ice along 
shore, and one trapped alive by the closing ice 
north of the Yukon early one winter was re- 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 



469 



ported by the Eskimos to have uttered curious 
squeaking noises when they attacked and killed 
it — an interesting fact, as the beluga is said to 
be the only member of the whale family to 
make vocal sounds of any kind. 

When a school has its curiosity aroused by 
the approach of a boat or for any other cause, 
the members often raise their heads well out 
of water, one after the other, and take a de- 
liberate look, then dive and swim to a safe 
distance before coming up again. 

The small size of the beluga has long saved 
it from organized pursuit. Recently it has been 
announced that its skin has become valuable 
for commercial purposes, and that many are 
being killed. If this continues, these harmless 
and interesting animals are likely soon to dis- 
appear from most of their present haunts, 
unless proper measures can be taken to protect 
them from undue killing. 

GREENLAND RIGHT WHALE, OR 
BOWHEAD (Balasna mysticetus) 

The Greenland right whale is one of the 
largest of sea mammals, reaching a length of 
from 50 to 60 feet, and has a marvelously 
specialized development. Its enormous head 
comprises about one-third of the total length, 
with a gigantic mouth provided with about 400 
long, narrow plates of baleen, or whalebone, 
attached at one end and hanging in overlapping 
series from the roof of the mouth. These thin 
plates of baleen rarely exceed a foot in width 
and are from 2 to over 10 feet long. One edge 
and the free end of each plate is bordered with 
a stiff hairlike fringe. 

The northern seas frequented by these whales 
swarm with small, almost microscopic, crus- 
taceans and other minute pelagic life, which is 
commonly so abundant that great areas of the 
ocean are tinged by them to a deep brown. 
These gatherings of small animal life are called 
"brit" by the whalers and furnish the food 
supply of the bowhead. The whale swims 
slowly through the sea with its mouth open, 
straining the water through the fringed whale- 
bone plates on each side of its mouth, thus re- 
taining on its enormous fleshy tongue a mass 
of "brit," which is swallowed through a gullet 
extraordinarily small in comparison with the 
size of the mouth. Among all the animal life 
on the earth there is not a more perfectly de- 
veloped apparatus provided for feeding on 
highly specialized food than that possessed by 
the right whale — one of the hugest of beasts 
and feeding on some of the smallest of ani- 
mals, untold numbers of which are required 
for a single mouthful. 

The bowhead is a circumpolar species, which 
in summer frequents the Arctic ice pack and 
its borders, 'and on the approach of winter mi- 
grates to a more southerly latitude. For cen- 
turies this huge mammal lias formed the main 
basis for the whaling industry in far northern 
waters, first in the Greenland sens and later 
through Bering Straits into the Arctic basin 
north of the shores of Siberia and Alaska. 



Each large whale is a prize worth wuming, 
since it may yield as much as 200 barrels of oil 
and several thousand pounds of whalebone. 
All know of the rise and fall of the whaling 
Inisiness, on which many fortunes were built 
and on which depended the prosperity of sev- 
eral New England towns. 

Whaling served to train a hardy and cour- 
ageous generation of sailors the like of which 
can nowhere be found today. They braved the 
perils of icy seas in scurvy-ridden ships, and 
when fortune favored brought to port full car- 
goes of "bone" and oil, which well repaid the 
hardships endured in their capture. Many a 
ship and crew sailed into the North in pursuit 
of these habitants of the icy sea never to re- 
turn. 

Interest in the brave and romantic life of the 
whalers still exists, though the most pictur- 
esque quality of their calling passed with the 
advent of steam whalers and the "bomb gun," 
which shoots an explosive charge into the 
whale and kills it without the exciting struggle 
which once attended such a capture by open 
boats. 

It has been well said that no people ever ad- 
vanced in the scale of civilization without the 
use of some artificial illuminant at night. The 
world owes a great debt to the right whale and 
its relatives for their contribution to the "mid- 
night oil," which encouraged learning through 
the centuries preceding the discovery of mm- 
eral oil. It also furnished the whalebone which 
built up the "stays" so dear to the hearts of 
our great-grandmothers. 

The female right whale has a single young, 
which she suckles and keeps with her for about 
a year. She shows much maternal affection, 
and a number of cases are recorded in which 
the mother persisted in trying to release her 
young after it had been harpooned and killed. 

Every year, as the pack ice breaks up for the 
season, the bowheads move north through 
Bering Straits. As late as 1881 Eskimos along 
the Arctic coast of Alaska put to sea in walrus- 
hide umiaks, armed with primitive bone-pointed 
spears, seal-skin floats, and flint-pointed lances 
for the capture of these huge beasts. These 
fearless sea hunters, with their equipment 
handed down from the Stone Age, were suffi- 
ciently successful in their chase to cause trad- 
ing schooners to make a practice of visiting the 
villages along the coast to buy their wliale- 
bone. 

From one of the whaling ships encountered 
north of Bering Straits the summer of 1881 
we secured a harpoon, taken from a bowhead 
in those waters, bearing a private mark which 
proved that it came from a whaling ship on 
the Greenland coast, thus showing conclusively 
that these whales in their wanderings make the 
"Northwest Passage." 

Persistent hunting through the centuries has 
vastly decreased whales of all valued species, 
and the modern steam whaler is hastening their 
end. Their- only hope of survival lies in wise 
international action, and it is urgent that this 
be secured in time. 




kili.hr whale 




WHITE WHALE, OR BELUGA 

470 




GREENLAND RIGHT WHALE. OR BOWHEAD 




/ 



SPERM WHALE, OR CACHALOT 

471 






472 



THE NATIONAL OKOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



SPERM WHALE, OR CACHALOT 
(Physeter macrocephalus) 

The cachalot is from 40 to 60 feet long, about 
equaling the Greenland bowhead whale in size. 
It has a huge blunt head, which comprises 
about one-third of the entire animal. The 
mouth is large and the under jaw is provided 
with a row of heavy teeth, consisting of ivory 
liner in gram than that from an elephant's tusk. 

The great whaling industry of the last two 
centuries was based mainly on the sperm and 
the bowhead whales. The largest of the bow- 
heads is limited to the cold northern waters, 
but the sperm whale frequents the tropic and 
subtropic seas around the globe. The mnin 
hunting area for them lies in the South Pacific, 
but they frequently visit more temperate coasts, 
especially when seeking sheltered bays, where 
their young may be born. The young are 
suckled and guarded carefully until old enough 
to be left to their own devices. Sperm whales 
sometimes occur off both coasts of the United 
States, especially off southern California. 

The feeding grounds of these whales are 
mainly in the deepest parts of the ocean, 
where they cruise about in irregular schools 
containing a number of individuals. Their 
food consists almost entirely of large octopuses 



and giapt squids, which are swallowed in large 
sections. 

As befits a gigantic mammal possessing hvige 
jaws armed with rows of fighting teeth, the 
sperm whale is a much more pugnacious ani 
mal than the bowhead. There are many rec- 
ords of whale-boats being smashed by them, 
and several well-authenticated cases of enraged 
bull cachalots having charged and crushed in 
the sides of whaling ships, causing them speed- 
ily to founder. 

The sperm whale yields oil of a better quality 
than the bowhead. Its huge head always con- 
tains a considerable nunil)er of barrels of spe- 
cially fine-grade oil, which produces the sper- 
maceti of commerce. Ambergris, having an 
excessively high value for use in the manufac- 
ture of certain perfumes, is a product occa- 
sionally formed in the digestive tract of the 
sperm whale. 

The name cachalot is one to conjure with. 
It brings up visions of three-year voyages to 
the famed South Seas, pahn-bedecked coral 
islands, and idyllic days with dusky islanders. 
As in the case of the Greenland bowhead, how- 
ever, this animal has been hunted until only a 
small fraction of its former numbers survives 
and the romantic days of its pursuit are gone, 
never to return. 



THE LARGER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMALS 

INDF.X TO TEXT AND ILLUSTRATION PAGES 



Ilhis- 
'I'ext t ration 
Ijago. pase. 

-ViUi'loije, ri-onj;-lii)rii 452 451 

IJadger 420 419 

I'.ear, Alaskan Urowii — i Froiitiniiicic) 441 

Bear, Klack 437 439 

r.tai-, ("iiniainoii oi- P.Iack 437 439 

lU-ar, (ilacier 437 439 

Wear, (Jrizzly 440 442 

W^i; I'olar 436 438 

Iteaver, Araerienn 441 443 

lU-luya or While Wliaio 46S 470 

I'.ison, Aiiicrif'an, or Buffalo 461 463 

r.()l)ca( or Bay Lyn.\: 409 411 

Bowhrad or Greenland Kight Whale.. 469 471 

Buffalo or American Bison 461 463 

Cachalot, or Sperm Whale 4.72 471 

('aril)Oii, Barren (! round 460 422 

('aril)oii, Woodland 460 459 

Caribou, I'eary. or Barren Croiuid. 460 422 

Cat, .Ia^:narLindi, or I^yra 413 415 

Coyote, Arizona or Moarns 424 423 

Coyote. Mearns or Arizona 424 423 

Coyote, I'lains. or I'rairie Wolf 424 423 

Deer, Arizona While-tailed 457 458 

Deer, Black-tailed 456 4,55 

1 )wr. Mule 453 4.55 

Deer, Virsrinia or While-tailed 456 458 

Deer, White-tailed 456, 457 458 

lOlk, American 453 454 

lOyra or Jaguannidi Cat 413 415 

IMshor or I'ekan 444 446 

Kox. Alaska Ued 417 418 

Kox, Arctic or White 425 426 

Fox, (^ros.s 417 418 

I'^ox, Desert 420 419 

Kox, (!rav 417 419 

Wax, I'rihilof Blue 4.''5 426 

Kox, Ued - 416 418 

I'"ox, Silver ..•.....-. 417 418 

Fox. While or Arctic 425 426 

Coat, IJockv Monnlain 452 451 

.lagnar 413 414 



lllus- 
Text t ration 
page. page. 

Lion, Jlountain 412 414 

Lynx, Bay 409 411 

Lynx. Canada 409 411 

Manati. I<'l(>rid;i 465 467 

.^loosi' 461 462 

^Lisliho'.;- or Feccary 443 447 

:\[usk-(>x 464 466 

Ocelots or Tiger-cats 416 415 

Opossum, Virginia 408 410 

Otter 445 446 

Otter. Sea 432 434 

Focc'ary, Collared, or .Miiskhog 448 447 

Fekan or Fisher 444 446 

Kaccoon 40S 410 

Sea-elephant. Xorlhcrn. or 101(>|iluint 

Seal 432 434 

Sea-lion. Stellei- 429 431 

Seal, Alaska Fur 429 431 

Seal, lOlephant, or Sea-elephant 432 434 

Seal, Creenland, or llai-p Seal 433 435 

Seal, Ilarhor 433 435 

Seal, Harp, Saddle-back, or Creenhiiid 433 435 

Seal. I-eopard, or Harbor Seal 433 4.35 

Seal, Bibbon 436 438 

Seal, Saddle-back, or Harp Seal 433 435 

Slieei). Dall :\I()nnl;un 449 450 

Sheei), Uockv .Mounlaiii 448 447 

Sheei). Stone Mountain 449 450 

Tis;er-cats or Ocelots 416 415 

Walrus. Facific 428 430 

Wapiti or American Elk 453 454 

Whale, <;reenland lUght or Bowhead. 469 471 

Whale, Killer <16S 470 

Whale, Sperm, or Cachalot 472 471 

Whale. White or Beluga 468 470 

Wolf. Arctic White 421 422 

Wolf, B.lack 423 

Wolf, (irav or Timber 421 423 

Wolf, I'rairie, or Flains Cdvole 424 423 

Wolf. Timber or Crav 421 423 

Wolverine 428 427 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 

By Edward W. Nelson 

Chief, U. S. Biological Survey 

With illustrations in color from paintings by Louis Agassia Fiicrtcs 



IN THAT part of North America 
lying north of Mexico more than 
1,300 species and geographic races 
of mammals are known to exist. Of 
these by far the greater number, both of 
species and individuals, fall into the class 
of smaller mammals. 

Some of the most characteristic types 
which appear to have originated in North 
America are the mountain - beavers, 
pocket-gophers, kangaroo-rats, pocket- 
mice, wood - rats, white - footed mice, 
muskrats, skunks, and ring-tailed cats. 

In Siberia and Europe live close coun- 
terparts of our northern weasels, minks, 
martens, field - mice, lemmings, north- 
ern hares, conies, marmots, moles, and 
others ; and on our southern border the 
armadillo and the hog-nosed skunk intro- 
duce a faint tinge of a strange fauna 
from South America. 

FURRY FRIENDS AND CNFMIFS 

The muskrats, minks, martens, and 
skunks for many years have yielded an 
enormous annual return from their furs ; 
the squirrels and rabbits afiford sport and 
a large supply of excellent flesh for food ; 
the prairie-dogs and some of the ground- 
squirrels existing in enormous numbers 
have been excessively destructive to 
crops ; and others, like the porcupine and 
the armadillo, have attracted particular 
attention because of their strange char- 
acteristics. 

ANIMALS THAT LEARNED TO "dIG IN" 

The smaller mammals live everywhere, 
from the tropical end of Florida to the 
uttermost lands of the frozen North, and 
from the seashore to the limit of vegeta- 
tion on the high mountains. The heav- 
iest forests, open meadows, rugged moun- 
tain slopes, arctic barrens, and sun- 
scorched desert plains all have their small 
four-footed habitants. INTany modifica- 
tions of parts and organs of the various 
species have been necessary to adapt the 
small mammals to specialized modes of 
life. 



This is strikingly illustrated in the case 
of those true rodents, the pocket-gophers, 
which apparently found competition on 
the surface of the ground so acute that 
they took the unoccupied territory below 
the surface, where they live as miners 
and tunnel from place to place in search 
of edible roots, with an occasional stealthv 
excursion above ground to seize some of 
the food available there. 

Another excellent illustration is fur- 
nished by the moles, which, leaving the 
numerous closely related species — the 
shrews — to feed upon insects above 
ground, have descended and, like the 
pocket-gophers, live in tunnels which they 
make in the pursuit of earthworms and 
insects below the surface ; like the go- 
phers, they, too, make occasional excur- 
sions above ground in search of food. 

The mink and the muskrat, represent- 
ing the carnivores and rodents, have 
rivals for their food supply on land and 
have become amphibious, being as much 
at home in the water as on shore, one 
feeding on fish and flesh and the other on 
aquatic vegetation. Certain forms of the 
squirrel tribe are heavy-bodied and live 
in underground burrows, while other 
more slender and graceful species make 
their homes in the tree-tops. 

A DEPARTURE FOR EVERY NEED 

Another member of this group, the fly- 
ing-squirrel, has developed an extension 
of the skin uniting the front and hind 
legs, so it may glide freely from tree to 
tree. The bats have gone still further, 
and the skin uniting their lengthened 
front and hind limbs and long finger 
bones forms broad wings which lend 
them powers of flight scarcely equaled by 
those of l)irds. 

The gophers, pocket-mice, chipmunks, 
and others are provided with little cheek 
pouches in the skin on each side of the 
mouth, in which they may carry food 
home to their store-rooius and otlier hid- 
ing places. 



473 




TIEREDITARV KN'KMIKS: A CAT WATCHING 
A GRAY SQUIRRRL 

At one time the gray squirrel was so abund- 
ant as to make ruinous inroads on the corn 
and wheat crops of our pioneers. Tn Ohio, a 
hundred years ago, there was a law requiring 
each free white man to deliver lOO squirrel 
scalps every year or pay a penalty of $3. To- 
day the gray squirrel needs legal protection to 
Jirevent its extermination. 



The hares have developed long legs for 
running on open plains, and the weasels 
have long, slender bodies and an exceed- 
ing quickness which enables them to fol- 
low and capture their elusive prey in its 
burrows and among crevices in the rocks. 

The hairy coat of the mole is short and 
equal to the finest velvet, while that of 
the porcupine stands out in strong, sharp 
spines ; the skin of the armadillo is prac- 
tically hairless, but forms a bony armor 
covering its upper parts. 

The front feet of squirrels and most 
other rodents are slender and used with 
deftness as hands in manipulating food, 
while those of the badger and skunk are 
heavily clawed and strongly muscled for 
the purpose of digging up their prey. 

The tails of many species are varied 
in form to serve special purposes. The 
long-haired tails of tree-squirrels have a 
plttme-like character, which adds much to 
the beauty of these attractive animals. 
The long tails of the kangaroo-rats and 
the jumping-mice serve as balances for 
their bodies during long leaps. The ver- 
tically flattened tail of the muskrat and 
the broad horizontally flattened tail of 
the beaver are useful as rudders. Per- 
haps the oddest of all is the naked pre- 
hensile tail of the opossum, which coils 
about branches or other support and thus 
is a safeguard against a possible fall, and 
even permits the animal to hang sus- 
pended by it alone. 

STRANGE ADAPTATIONS TO MEET CONDI- 
TIONS OE ENVIRONMENT AND 
COMPETiTlON 

In such ways, by thousands of adapta- 
tions and modifications of the typical 
four-footed mammal, are they fitted to 
their varied modes of life, each so far as 
possible in some special place of its own. 

The efi:'ect of the pressure of environ- 
ment and competition upon the various 
species of mammals in any region could 
not be better shown than by the kanga- 
roos of Australia. That continent is oc- 
cupied by many species of these peculiar 
mammals, some of which inhabit the 
open plains like our jack-rabbits in the 
West; others have learned to climb and 
live arboreal lives in the tree-tops ; and 
still other members of this group have 
become burrowers and live in dens under- 
ground like some of our native rats and 
mice. 

From the instances mentioned above 
it is evident that the mammalian organ- 
ism is very plastic and has been molded 



474 




^) I'. j. II. 



CADES IN THE WOOD 



The American black bear, of which the brown bear is a color phase, is not aggressive 
and will attack man only when wounded or in defense of its young. The hungry twins were 
born m mid-winter and came into the world entirely devoid of fur overcoats. ' Their coats 
soon developed, however; in a month their eyes were open, and in two months they were fol- 
lowing their mother about the great forests of the Yellowstone. 



475 



476 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



by the environment to which it has been 
subjected during the ages. The larger 
effects evidenced by profound modifica- 
tions in the anatomy are the result of 
continued pressure extending far back in 
time. The far more nmnerous, modern, 
and superficial changes known to natu- 
ralists as geographic variations are every- 
where in evidence. 

By the collection of great series of 
specimens in North America and else- 
where in the world it has been proved 
that it is common for a single species of 
mammal to occupy a great area, includ- 
ing such diverse climatic conditions as 
humid forested districts near the sea- 
level, sections of arid desert plains in 
the interior, and high rugged mountain 
slopes. In each area of differing condi- 
tions it is ordinarily found that represen- 
tatives of a species, under certain con- 
ditions, vary from those in other areas 
mainly in shades of color and in propor- 
tions. 

GEOGRAPHY AND COLOR 

In arid areas the colors are usually dis- 
tinctly paler and grayer, in the humid 
districts they are darker and browner. 
Other conditions also effect these changes 
among members of the same species, as 
is showai in some of the most arid and 
desert plains of the southwestern United 
States, where mammals living among 
dark-colored lava beds are darker than 
those found, sometimes within a few 
rods, on paler adjoining soil. Complete 
isolation under the same climatic and 
other conditions sometimes produces 
marked changes, as is well illustrated by 
the difference between the Abert and 
Kaibab squirrels on the two sides of the 
Grand Canyon in Arizona (see page 448) . 

The different forms of a species oc- 
cupying areas under varying conditions 
are commonly termed geographic races. 
They grade imperceptibly into one an- 
other along the border between their 
ranges, step by step with the gradations 
of the climatic and other conditions which 
have produced their differences. 

AXIMAL CIIKMISTS CITAXGl; STARCH IXTO 
WATKR 

One of the most striking modifications 
of mammalian economy by environment 



is that shown in many small mammals of 
our southwestern desert region and ad- 
jacent parts of Mexico, in which such 
species as the kangaroo-rats, pocket-mice, 
prairie-dogs, and others are able to exist 
under the most arid conditions without 
drinking. The liquid necessary for sup- 
plying their bodily needs is obtained 
through chemical action in their digestive 
tracts, whereby some of the starchy parts 
of their food are changed into water. 

Over considerable areas in the water- 
less deserts on the peninsula of Lower 
California periods of from three to five 
years sometimes pass Avithout a drop of 
rain falling. In these areas the small 
desert mammals named above, as well as 
wood-rats, white-footed mice, cotton- 
tails, and jack-rabbits, are numerous and 
successfully pass these dry periods with- 
out inconvenience. The absolute inde- 
pendence of water of these animals has 
been demonstrated in southern California 
in the case of pocket-mice kept for 
months in captivity in a box and fed 
solely upon thoroughly dried seeds with- 
out their showing the slightest sign of 
discomfort. 

Our small mammals may be roughh- 
classified by their food habits into three 
main groups : Rodents, or gnawing ani- 
mals ; carnivores, or flesh eaters, and in- 
sectivores, or insect eaters. 

GXAWCRS MOST XUMCROUS OF MAMMALS 

The rodents vastly outnumber all other 
mammals and are typified by the squir- 
rels, rats, and mice ; their food is mainly 
vegetable matter, but many of them eat 
insects and meat whenever available. 
The carnivores, including such species as 
the weasel, mink, and marten, are mainly 
flesh eaters, preying largely upon rodents, 
but they also eat insects and fruits of 
many kinds. The insectivores include 
the moles and shrews, which, with all the 
bats found within our limits, are almost 
exclusively eaters of w^orms and insects. 

While rodents primarily feed on vege- 
table matter, it is surprising to note the 
large number of species among them 
which commonly feed on insects and have 
strong carnivorous propensities. This is 
not so much the case with such larger 
rodents as the beaver, porcupine, and 
woodchuck, but most of the smaller kinds. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



477 




i-'hotoyraph by Howard Tayli.n" 3,Iiddlcton 

a millenniaiv scene: a rabbit-iiound and a young rabbit enjoying each 

other's society 

Here the camera records a friendship almost as remarkal)le as that whicli is to mark the 
association of the Hon and the lamb in the tinal days of the world's history 



from squirrels to mice, have been fotind 
to be confirmed flesh eaters. 

The destruction of the eggs and yotmg 
of birds, both on the ground and in the 
trees, by these animals must have a far- 
reaching effect in reducing the number 
of insectivoroits and other small birds. 
Some small rodents, as the grasshopper- 
mice, subsist mainly upon insects and 
flesh. 

The naturalist who sets traps for small 
rodents in field or forest is constantly 
annoyed by finding trapped animals partly 
devottred by their fellows. When mice 
or rats are confined together in cages and 
provided with an abundance of vegetable 
food, it is a common experience to find 
that the stronger kill and eat the weaker 
ones, until in a short time only a single 
survivor remains. These cannibalistic 
traits are strongly developed in the com- 
mon house rat, which is notorious for 
its savagery toward others of its kind. 



CASES OE CONCENTRATED EEROCITY 

To a certain extent the ferocity of 
mammals appears to increase in propor- 
tion to a decrease in their size. The 
smaller members of the weasel family — • 
the weasels — are relatively far more ac- 
tive and bloodthirsty than the minks, mar- 
tens, and other larger members of the 
group. 

If the common weasel should be in- 
creased to the Ijulk of a mountain-lion 
and retain ks nature and physical prow- 
ess, it wottld be many times more danger- 
ous than any existing carnivore and the 
devastations it wottld commit would be 
appalling. Even the tiny insect-eating 
shrews are endowed with a fierce and ag- 
gressive spirit scarcely equaled among 
larger animals. 

Rodents and insectivorous mammals 
are without effective weapons of offense 
or defense against the birds and beasts 



478 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 




Pliotograpli by Iloward Taylor Middleton 

A WEASEL AT BAY ON A TREE-TRUNK 

Wolves, coyotes, and foxes are the natural enemies of this fe- 
rocious little creature. In spite of its diminutive size, it is a foe to 
be respected, for its attack is always aimed at a vital point— com- 
monly the l)rain, the back of the neck, or the jugular vein of its ad- 
versarv. 



of prey whicli beset them. Many, how- 
ever, are surprisingly courageous when 
brought to bay, and, using their front 
teeth, will fight to the death with vigor 
and spirit. This is especially notable of 
the muskrats and their cousins, the field- 
mice. Carnivores, both great and small, 
have teeth and claws with which to de- 
fend themselves against attack. 

WHY THE SKUNK NEVER HURRIES 

In addition, skunks have an even more 
potent weapon in the secretion of a vile- 



smelling liquid which 
is sprayed on a dan- 
gerous enemy. S o 
confident are skunks 
in the efficacy of this 
weapon that they are 
extremely calm and 
unhurried in their 
manners and take 
little trouble to avoid 
an encounter with 
man or beast. Their 
odorous weapon is not 
used among them- 
selves and appears to 
be held for service 
against more danger- 
ous enemies. 

Scent glands are 
common among r o - 
dents, carnivores, and 
insectivores, but are 
ordinarily used for 
purposes of communi- 
cation with others of 
their kind, sometimes 
to attract the opposite 
sex and sometimes 
merely to give notice 
of their presence in a 
locality. 

The hard school of 
experience holding 
through the ages has 
taught many of our 
rodents the necessity 
of lying up stores of 
food to meet periods 
of scarcity. M a n y 
species store food in 
a desultory way when- 
ever a surplus is avail- 
able, but when harvest 
time comes, at the close of summer, the 
work is taken up as a serious occupation 
during many busy hours each day or 
night by the species living where the se- 
vere northern winters make the stores a 
necessity. 

The storage instinct is possessed as well 
by many of the southern desert species, 
where climatic conditions permit activity 
throughout the year. In such regions the 
su]^]ilies serve during storms and m 
])eriods of drought, when the yield of 
plant food is limited. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



479 




li;i liy I[r)\vai-(i Tayi.^r ^.H^MIlIuh 

ARMED NDUTRAI^ITY : A DOG AND A SKUNK PREPARE FOR COMBAT 

Once in a lifetime the photographer of wild Hfe gets an opportunity such as is recorded 
here. Luck was with the camera man, but not with the terrier, as a moment after this picture 
was made the dog was a very nauseated and embarrassed animal, the skunk having employed 
its natural weapon with overpowering odoriferous effect. 



GOOD HOUSEKEEPING IN RODENT LAND 

One can but marvel at the wise pre- 
science with which northern rodents 
gather their winter stores and hide them 
away safe from the weather in secret 
places in hollow trees, old logs, crevices 
among the rocks, or in neat storage cham- 
bers dug for the purpose adjoining under- 
ground burrows. The size of the stores 
and the tireless industry of these little 
husbandmen in gathering them might 
well serve as examples worthy of emula- 
tion by some of their human neighbors. 
The seeds gathered are freed from chaff, 
the grasses and herbs are dried as "hay," 
and roots are carefully cleaned before 
being stored. 

The storing habit appears to be nearly 
alwa3^s for purely individual benefit. The 
food is usually stored in bulk, but squir- 
rels and chipmunks often bury liere and 
there single nuts, which they are able to 
recover long afterward through their ex- 
traordinary powers of smell. 

Stores are laid by for a single season, 
and a single faihire of a nut or seed crop 
will cause the starvation of many small 
animals, and the failure of the crops for 



two or more seasons is so disastrous that 
the rodents may nearly or quite all die of 
famine over great areas. The reverse of 
this occurs during successive years of 
bountiful nut and seed crops. 

An abundant food supply appears to 
be a powerful stimulant to the fecundity 
of mammals, and the number of young 
at a birth, as well as the number of litters 
born during a season, are greatly in- 
creased by it, until their haiuits fairly 
swarm with them. 

THE EBB AND ELOW OF ANTAGONISTIC 
SPECIES 

With this stimulated increase of rodent 
life goes a related increase in the number 
of birds and mammals which prey upon 
them. The close relationship between 
the numbers of rodents and of the car- 
nivores which prey upon them is shown 
by the records of the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany, in which with the increase or de- 
crease in the abvmdance of varying-hare 
skins secured by the fur traders goes a 
corresponding increase or decrease in the 
number of lynx skins taken. 

After rodents become cnorniouslv 



480 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 





Photograph by Howard Taylor Middleton 

IT IS NOT VANITY WHICH PROMPTS THIS MOUSE) TO TAKD ITS OWN PICTURE) 

The bait is a grain of corn attached to one end of a thread ; the other end operates the 
camera shutter; but the pose is almost "studied" 



abundant, if food becomes scarce they 
sometimes make extended migrations, 
during which vast numbers swarm across 
the country, Hke the lemmings of the 
North or tlie gray squirrels during their 
historic migrations of early days in the 
eastern United States. At such times vast 
numljers of the wandering hordes perish; 
epidemic disease also plays its part in re- 
ducing their numbers. Nature thus is 
self-limiting in restraining the permanent 
increase of any species beyond the num- 
bers needed to preserve its balance. 

The advent of man in new regions with 
his clearing of forests, cultivation of the 
soil, and destruction of animal life for 
food or other purposes, quickly upsets 
the balance of nature, and some species 
are much reduced in iiumbers or disap- 
pear, while others, especially among the 
smaller kinds of mammals, may greatly 
])enetit through added food supplies, and 
then increase until they become a pest, to 



be destroyed by the farmer as a measure 
of self-protection. 

ANIMALS THAT SI'K K SAPDTY IN DARKNESS 

For some reason, perhaps owing to 
their small size and defenselessness 
against birds and beasts of prey, the great 
majority of small mammals, incltiding 
hundreds of species and untold millions 
of individuals, are nocturnal or live such 
obscure and hidden lives they are un- 
known except to the comparatively few 
people who go much afield, with all their 
IK)wers of observation alert by day and by 
night. Many of the mainly noctttrnal spe- 
cies pursue minor activities by day, where 
shelter of one kind or another gives them 
a reasonable feeling of security. 

Under tlie revealing light of day most 
small mammals, especially the rodents, 
are extremely watchful and timid, lead- 
ing lives filled with alarms which com- 
monly end in tragic deaths. By night 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



481 




Phntoiji-nph by Howard Taylor Middleton 

A NEST OF YOUNG WIIITR-FOOTKn MICE 

One form of this small animal has been found living at an elevation of from 15,000 to 16,000 
feet on Mt. Orizaba, Mexico, the highest record of any North American mammal 



they appear to have far greater confi- 
dence ; yet this also is a time of imminent 
danger from the owls and many beasts 
of prey then prowling about. 

That the small rodents have good cause 
for their timorous ways is plain when we 
consider the array of enemies which en- 
compass them, including owls, herons, 
gulls, bears, foxes, bobcats, weasels and 
their cousins, with snakes, and on occa- 
sion fishes, which take endless toll from 
their numbers. Fortimately for them, 
these small folk live wholly in the present 
and quickly forget the shadow of death 
cast by the passage of a hawk or the 
skulking form of a four-footed enemy. 

COUNTLESS BEASTS THAT ROAM THE 
NIGHT 

By day the squirrels, chipmunks, wood- 
chucks, and spermoi)hiles are abroad and 
unite with the birds to lend an air of 
pleasant animation to forest and plain. 
With the falling shades of night, near 
the abodes of mankind as well as in the 
remote wilderness, everywhere a count- 



less multitude of small beasts come forth 
and form a little, bright - eyed furry 
world, clad in delicate shades of gra\- 
and brown and characterized by remark- 
able grace and agility. 

These small folk of the night swarm 
out from sntig nests hidden in burrows in 
the earth, in crevices among the rocks, in 
hollow trees, under logs or other cover, 
and even from the shelter afforded by 
buildings. In number and variety of 
forms they far exceed anything seen by 
day. The air is filled with the flitting 
forms of bats, while among the trees or 
on the ground, varying with the locality, 
are multitudes of rabbits, flying-squirrels, 
rats and mice of many kinds, lemmings, 
pocket-mice, kangaroo-rats, pocket-go- 
phers, shrews, and even moles. 

This abundance of night life brings 
forth the prowling powers of darkness in 
the form of velvet-winged owls, weasels, 
skunks, minks, martens, and other car- 
nivores, which by scent and by keen vision 
find abundant harvest. The small car- 
nivores, in turn, are subject to the pred;i- 



482 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



t 






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.^ ^' 









|!«^'3^.? 



Pliotograpli by George Shiras. 3rJ 

A MINK TAKING ITS OWIM IMCTURE CY I'LASHIJGIIT 

This is one of many remarkable nature studies which have been made possible by Dr. 
George Shiras 3rd's invention and development of animal flashlight photography, with the 
animals themselves as the photographers. The naturalist may have to spend hours, some- 
times days, waiting in swamp or desert to study his quarry, but by means of flashlight photo- 
graphs the inhabitants of the wild are revealed in their native haunts to all who read a story 
told in pictures. Dr. Shiras's notable contributions to this magazine have always won hearty 
appreciation from members of the National Geographic Society. 



tory law of might and are at times hunted 
by the larger carnivores, as the great- 
horned owls, the wolves, foxes, fishers, 
bobcats, and mountain-lions. 

To most people the majority of small 
rodents are classed as "rats" or "mice" 
and are viewed with the prejudice born 
of long familiarity with those omnipres- 
ent pests, the house rats and mice. The 
small beasts of field and forest are com- 
monly of remotest kinship to these re- 
pulsive household parasites and are of 
entirely difTerent lineage, having nothing 
in common but their size. 

ANI^tAL IXTlCLLlGKXCIv AKIN TO MAN'S 

When viewed with unbiased attention, 
these little animals of the \vilds are cer- 
tain to charm the observer either by their 
beauty and grace or by their varied and 
interesting habits. No one can long study 



mammals, large or small, without observ- 
ing many traits of intelligence so akin to 
his own that they awaken feelings of 
friendly fellowship. 

The modes of life of small mammals 
are much more varied than those of the 
larger species. At times radical differ- 
ences in habits may be noted among dif- 
ferent individuals of the same species, as 
instanced by the wood-rats of Santa Mar- 
garita Island, some of which live in bur- 
rows dug by themselves in the ground 
and others in nests built of sticks in the 
tops of mangroves rising amid the waters 
of a lagoon. 

An even mcjre extraordinary variation 
is shown among the heavy - bodied 
meadow-mice of the genus Phcnacomys, 
most of whicli live in underground bur- 
rows ; but one member of the group in 
Oregon builds its nests in the tops of tall 



SMALLER AlAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



483 



conifers, sometimes at an altitude of So 
feet, and rarely or never descends to the 
ground. 

PEEPS INTO FUR-FOLK HOMES 

The hom-es of small mammals vary 
greatly. The species living in under- 
ground burrows usually excavate an oval 
chamber which is filled with fine vege- 
table material to form a snug retreat. 
The muskrat places a conical lodge on 
the border of a marshy stream or lake. 
The wood-rat lives in an underground 
burrow, in a nest of sticks and trash 
heaped above the ground or in a stick 
nest placed among the branches of low 
trees. Harvest mice build a little hollow 
ball of grass blades, lined with finer ma- 
terial, among the branches of bushes sev- 
eral feet above the ground. White-footed 
mice may lodge in a knot-hole 50 feet or 
more above ground in the trunk of a tree. 

As a rule, small mammals are of incon- 
spicuous colors which harmonize so well 
with their surroundings that when not in 
motion, especially if lying close to the 
ground, they are difficult to distinguish. 
Exceptions to this rule are obvious in the 
case of jack-rabbits when standing on 
bare plains, or other mammals which are 
apart from the usual partly concealing 
growth of vegetation or other surround- 
ings. 

In contrast to the protective coloration 
are certain markings, like the cottony 
white underside of the tail of the cotton- 
tail rabbit, which renders the flight of 
this animal conspicuous in the gloomiest 
shades of the forest, or even on the ap- 
proach of night, when it is impossible to 
distinguish the animal itself. The white 
underside of the tail of the antelope chip- 
munk is another well-defined instance of 
this kind. 

NEW COATS FOR BOREAS' COURT 

The most marked of all examples of 
"directive" coloration among the small 
mammals appears to be that of certain 
white-sided jack-rabbits, in which the 
white areas on the sides and rump are 
drawn up and down as the animal runs 
across the plains, giving a flashing efifect, 
which attracts attention to them exactly 
as does the white rump-patch of the 
antelope. 



In the northern part of the continent, 
where snow lies for many months, several 
species of hares are dusky or buffy gray 
in summer and change to a pure white 
coat in winter. This change is of enor- 
mous protective value to these animals. 
In Greenland, where the summer is short 
and snow exists throughout the year, the 
highest northern representative of the 
hares remains permanently white, while 
near the southern border of snow in the 
United States the varying hares and 
white-tailed jack-rabbits, which become 
pure white in the northern parts of their 
range, make only a partial change. 

Weasels are the only carnivores which 
change from the brown of summer to a 
white winter coat. Owing to their small 
size and the need for activity in the 
snowy northern regions, where they would 
be peculiarly susceptible to danger from 
birds of prey and larger predatory ani- 
mals, their protective white coats serve 
them well. 

It was formerly considered that the 
change of mammals from the brown of 
summer to the white winter coat in the 
fall, and from the white to the brown in 
spring, was due to a change in the color 
of the hairs, but it is now known that it 
is entirely due to molt. The time of 
these changes depends on the season, and 
this varies several weeks, according to 
whether the fall or spring is early or late. 

The general shades of mammals are of 
delicate tints, and the spots, stripes, and 
other markings, as in the case of chip- 
munks and the little spotted skunk, are 
often of great beauty. 

ANIMALS THAT HAVE TO SING 

Small mammals vary greatly in their 
vocal powers, but the changes in intona- 
tion and character of the notes and calls 
indicate plainly that they are used to con- 
vey a variety of meanings. 

Some are practically voiceless, as in 
the case of rabbits and hares, except 
when in an extremity of fear they utter 
loud shrieks of terror. Squirrels, prairie- 
dogs, and some other small mammals 
bark and chatter, while mice and bats 
have a variety of curious squeaking notes. 
Marmots and ground-scjuirrels have chat- 
tering notes and sharp, whistling calls. 

In addition, some of the squirrels and 



484 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



many mice are known to have continuous 
series of notes which are as evidently 
songs as the utterances of birds. Some 
of these notes, as in the case of singing 
mice, have a remarkably musical char- 
acter, similar to the warblings of cana- 
ries. Various unrelated species of mice 
have been observed singing, and a closer 
study of the life habits of these small 
animals may develop the fact that all are 
songsters to some degree. 

House rats and mice have, undoubtedly, 
been parasitic about the haunts of man 
from early times. From Asia they have 
accompanied him through his advance in 
civilization. With the growth of com- 
merce they have traveled around the 
world, becoming transplanted to all lands 
and thriving in all climates. In various 
parts of America they have not only be- 
come pests about human habitations, but 
where climatic conditions were favorable 
have reverted to the wild state and are 
competing with the native species in the 
fields. 

Of all the small mammals none have 
become modified to such an extent as the 
bats. As a group these mammals are of 
world-wide distribution except in the in- 
hospitable polar regions. They are true 
mammals and present an extraordinary 
variation in - size, from tiny little crea- 
tures, almost as small and fragile as 
butterflies, to the huge fruit-bats, with a 
spread of wings like that of a wild goose. 

BATS WITH BULLDOG FACES 

The heads of bats are strangely sculp- 
tured, some being smoothly contoured 
and shaped like those of little foxes ; 
others appear like miniature bulldogs ; 
and still others have curious cartilaginous 
nose-leaves upright on the muzzle. Some 
have the entire face molded into a hide- 
ous mask repulsive to look upon. 

Their habits are equally varied to meet 
special conditions: Some are eaters of 
fruit alone ; others feed solely upon in- 
sects, while others bite other mammals, 
including man, for the purpose of drink- 
ing the oozing blood, upon which they 
subsist. All are nocturnal, but some ap- 
pear late in the afternoon, before the sun 
sets ; most species, however, wait until 
the shades of night have covered the 
earth. 



Throughout the world the majority of 
the species of bats feed upon insects, but 
there are many fruit-eaters. The teem- 
ing insects and plant life of the tropics 
afford a never-failing food supply, and 
the center of abundance of these animals 
IS found there. In some localities be- 
tween twenty and thirty kinds of bats 
exist, with such vast numbers of indi- 
viduals that the bat population far out- 
numbers all other kinds of mammals com- 
bined. 

ANIMALS THAT PUT THEMSELVES IN COLD 
STORAGE 

In the northern parts of the Old and 
New Worlds many mammals, including 
bears, marmots, prairie-dogs, ground- 
squirrels, and jumping mice, pass a large 
part of the winter months in a lethargic 
sleep called hibernation. While hibernat- 
ing these animals have extremely slow 
and slight heart action and their bodily 
temperature falls far below the normal 
of their active periods. During the most 
profound hibernation an animal may be 
awakened if brought into a warm tem- 
perature, but when again put into the cold 
at once returns to sleep. 

Preparatory to this sleep, during the 
summer and in the autumn, the hibernat- 
ing mammals become exceedingly fat. 

It has long been generally accepted that 
the fat thus accumulated was for the 
purpose of being gradually absorbed to 
nourish the animals during their long 
fast. As a matter of fact, during this 
period the bodily functions appear to be 
practically suspended and the animals 
may be said to be in cold storage. This 
is evident from the fact that observations 
have been made of ground-squirrels, and 
even bears, emerging in spring, after 
their long winter sleep, practically as fat 
as when they retired in fall. Hibernat- 
ing animals become extremely active as 
soon as they come out in spring and 
quickly lose the fat which should be of 
special service to them, owing to the tem- 
porary shortage of food they experience 
at this season. 

Most hibernating species do not retire 
for the winter until cold weather is at 
hand, in September or October, at times 
remaining out until after the first snow 
has fallen. The animals which retire 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



485 



latest, like chipmunks and prairie-dogs, 
sometimes appear temporarily during cer- 
tain warm periods in winter. 

Recent observations have established 
the fact that the adults of both sexes of 
the Richardson ground-squirrel living in 
the Northwestern States and adjacent 
parts of Canada become excessively fat 
by the first of July, and before the first 
of August practically disappear for the 
season, not appearing again until they 
emerge the following March or April. 
The retirement of these squirrels for a 
part of the summer is a case of imperfect 
estivation, as it is termed, followed by 
complete hibernation. The young of the 
year enter hibernation at a considerably 
later date. 

defe;nsiv]5 and offensive animal 

AIvIvIANCES 

A great number of both large and small 
mammals live solitary lives except for 
brief periods during the mating season 
or the association of the young with the 
mother. Some species, however, like the 
wolves and coyotes, may mate perma- 
nently and show great mutual affection 
and constancy. Many species have well- 
developed social instincts, which appear 
in some cases to combine two purposes, 
self-defense and the desire for compan- 
ionship. 

Herds of large herbivorous mammals, 
such as musk-oxen and buffalo, fre- 
quently present a solid array of bristling 
horns to the attacking wolves, and thus 
protect the weaker members of the herd 
and give an example of the usefulness 
to them of the social instinct. Wolves 
and some other predatory animals hunt 
in couples or in packs and succeed in 
pulling down prey which singly they 
could not successfully attack. 

Prairie-dogs living in colonies have the 
advantage of community intercourse as 
well as added safety through the chance 
that some member of the colony will espy 
an approaching enemy and by its warn- 
ing cry allow a safe retreat. In other 
cases, such as the flying-squirrels, which 
gather in considerable numbers in hollow 
trees or other shelter, and the bats, which 
gather in caves, the congregation appears 
to be purely from a desire for close com- 
panionship. 



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b 



FOOTPRINTS OF NATURE'S WILD FOLK 
BY ERNEST THOMPSON SETON 

In the drawings accompanying Mr. Nelson's 
article I usually give the track of a normal 
adult animal in about one inch of snow, that 
being ideal for tracking. Some of the smaller 
kinds are shown in fine dust. The trail goes 
up or across the page at the ordinary gait of 
the animal. The scale is indicated, but when 
possible the topmost set is given of life size. 
While there are endless variants in each kind, 
I aim to give the reader at least one typical 
set of each. 

In all animals which bound, the hind feet 
track ahead of the front ones. This is very 
plainly seen in the rabbits. There are two ar- 
rangements of the fore feet when bounding : 
That of the rabbit (b), in which the fore feet 
are usually one behind the other, and that of 
the tree-squirrel (a), in which the fore feet are 
side by side. The latter arrangement is associ- 
ated with power to climb a tree. The former 
means that the animal is purely terrestrial. 
These, however, are true only as generaliza- 
tions. There are exceptions in all species. The 
ground-squirrels conform to the rabbit type. 
The tracks are, of course, ideal, giving far 
more detail than is usually to be seen. 



486 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



THE ANTELOPE JACK RABBIT (Lepus 

alleni and its relatives) 

(For illustration, sec page 506) 

The antelope, or Allen, jack rabbit is one of 
the most picturesque of American mammals. 
It is larger than the common western jack 
rabbit and is strongly characterized by enor- 
mous ears, long, slender legs, short tail, and 
contrasting colors. It is a member of the 
white-sided group of jack rabbits, which are 
distinguished by the extension of the white of 
the underparts well up on the sides of the body. 

This group is represented in limited areas on 
our southern border by two species. One of 
these, the Gailliard jack rabbit (Lcpiis gail- 
liardi), occurs on the grassy plains of extreme 
southwestern New Mexico and is succeeded 
by other white-sided species southward across 
the Mexican tableland and through interior 
Oaxaca to the Pacific coast, on the Isthmus of 
Tehuantepec. The other species, the antelope 
jack rabbit, occupies a considerable area in 
southwestern Arizona, and with its geographic 
races ranges southward through the coastal 
plains of Sonora and Sinaloa to northern 
Tepic. 

All jack rabbits are more or less closely re- 
lated to the Old World hares, the term "rabbit" 
having been so generally misapplied to them by 
the early settlers in the western United States 
that the name is now fixed by current usage. 
In Mexico and among the Mexicans of our 
southwestern border the proper distinction is 
made and the jack rabbit is termed licbrc, or 
hare, and cottontail is called concjo, or rabbit. 

The white-sided species are more widely dif- 
ferentiated from their Old World relatives 
than the other jack rabbits and are the soutli- 
ernmost representatives of the true hares in 
America, reaching their limit in the tropics a 
little beyond the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. 

The extension of the white on the sides of 
these species assists in producing one of the 
most extraordinary examples of directive col- 
oration known among mammals. I had the 
pleasure of discovering this one day in May, 
1895, when hunting on horseback over tlie 
grassy plain bordering the Pacific coast of the 
Isthmus of Tehuantepec. As I rode slowly 
along, a big jack rabbit hopped deliberately 
from its form in the grass a few yards away, 
and by the contraction of a special set of mus- 
cles along tlie back drew the dark-colored dor- 
sal area forward and together so that it formed 
only a narrow band on the middle of the back, 
with a corresponding extension of the white 
area on the rump and sides until, as the animal 
moved diagonally away, it looked almost en- 
tirely white. 

At a distance of fifty or sixty yards it came 
to a stop, and expanded and contracted the 
dark dorsal area, thus producing a "flashing" 
effect with the changing area of white on the 
sides and rump. This solved the riddle of the 
mirror-like white flashes I liad often seen as 
jack rabbits on the tableland had dashed away 



in the brilliant sunshine. The same habit of 
"flashing" the white was afterwards observed 
in the species of southwestern New ^Mexico and 
southwestern Arizona, demonstrating the ap- 
propriateness of the name, "antelope jack rab- 
bit," given them by the ranchmen. 

Formerly the antelope jack rabbit of Arizona 
was common on the plains about Tucson, 
where inany were shot for rifle practice. They 
are now comparatively scarce in that district, 
and are never so excessively abundant as the 
common species of the West now and then 
becomes. They have an extraordinary appear- 
ance as, with their great ears erect, they stand 
poised on their long, thin legs. When alarmed, 
they leap away with amazing celerity in long, 
high bounds. They are usually much more 
shy and alert than the common jack rabbits 
and at times are far more difficult to stalk than 
antelope. A peculiarly appropriate setting to 
this remarkable species is found in the strange 
and wonderful growth of giant cactuses, yuccas, 
creosote bushes, fouquerias, palo verde, and 
other desert vegetation of the plains in Arizona 
and Sonora. 

Like other hares, the antelope jack rabbits 
occupy forms vmder bushes or in the shelter of 
little patches of coarse vegetation. The only 
exception to this rule I have seen was west of 
the city of Guadalajara, on the Mexican table- 
land. There one summer day, in the midst of 
a lovely open valley covered with short, velvety 
green grass and dotted with scattered acacia 
bushes, a caracara eagle suddenly swooped 
down upon a young white-sided jack rabbit. In 
mortal terror the little beast dashed away at 
great speed, the caracara casting at it repeat- 
edly from a height of fifteen or twenty feet 
and each time striking the ground just behind. 
The young animal ran not less than five him- 
drcd yards, straight for a little bush on a small 
bank, where it vanished as by magic. 

The caracara was close behind and, alight- 
ing, ran round and round the trunk of 
the bush, craning its neck and apparently as 
surprised as myself at this sudden disappear- 
ance. Riding over to investigate, I found, 
partly concealed by coarse grass, the entrance 
of a burrow large enough to admit an adult 
jack rabbit. It extended almost horizontally 
into the bank for about eighteen inches, and 
then, turning abruptly to the left, ended in. a 
rounded chamber some fifteen inches in diam- 
eter, in which the young jack rabbit lay snugly 
ensconced. It appeared altogether probable 
that this burrow had been made by the old 
jack rabbit as a shelter for her young, one of 
which in its extreme need had again souglit 
asylum there. 

White-sided jack rabbits are frequently 
found in pairs, occupying forms in close prox- 
imity to one another. More rarely several 
may be found in a small area. When driven 
from the forms, they often run in a wide circle, 
and in the course of half an hour or more 
may be detected returning slyly and watchfully 
from a direction nearly opposite to that in 
whicli they departed. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



487 



THE CALIFORNIA 
JACK RABBIT 

(Lepus californicus 

and its subspecies) 

(For illustration, see 
page 30") 



rt fore 






The common hares,_ or 
gray-sided "jack rabbits" 
of the Western States, 
are among our best 
known and most in- 
teresting mammals. They 
are characterized by long, 
thin necks, long ears 
tipped with black, long- 
legs, grayish sides differ- 
ing but little from the 
color of the back, and a 
rather long tail, black on 
its upper side and dingy 
gray below. 

They are alnmdant and 
generally distributed over 
a vast and mainly tree- 
less area in middle Nortli 
America extending from 
western Missouri and 
eastern Texas to the Pa- 
cific coast, and from the 
border of South Dakota 

and the Columbia River X'alley of Washington 
south over the tableland of Mexico and through- 
out the peninsula of Lower California. Within 
this region tliey range from sea level up to an 
altitude of over 9,000 feet. Li the North they 
experience severe winters witli much snow, but 
never show any winter whitening of their furry 
coat, as do more northern hares. 

The gray-sided hares over all this extended 
range belong to a single species, typified by the 
California jack rabbit. The area thus occupied 
includes ijiany different climatic and other 
physical conditions, from the sweeping grassy 
plains of Kansas to the juniper and pine dotted 
plateaus of the Rocky Mountain region, the 
foggy coast of California, the hot cactus- 
grown deserts of the Southwest, and the cool 
elevations of the Mexican tableland. 

This varying environment has worked on the 
plastic organization of the species and modified 
it into a considerable number of well-marked 
geographic races which together make up the 
gray-sided group of jack rabbits, in contrast 
with the white-sided group already described. 
Some of the races are very dissimilar in color, 
but each merges imperceptibly into its neigh- 
boring races, and the group thus forms an im- 
broken chain of subspecies. 

Like other hares, the jack rabbits are both 
diurnal and nocturnal in habits. They do not 
burrow, but make forms among dense growths 
of grass or weeds, or under bushes, where they 
lie hidden. It is a question whether they have 
more than one litter a season, although it is 
known that in some parts of their range young 
are born at all times throughout the spring 




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A OU.XDRUPED WITH BIPED TRACK: THE COMMON CAT 

The cat does not show its claws in the track. In walking, the 
hind foot is set exactly in the track of the front foot; this perfect 
register offers many advantages and makes for a silent tread. The 
track of the cat will probably be noticed more than that of any other 
.-.iiimal, owing to the large numbers of them in every locality. 

and summer. From one to six are produced 
at a time, fully clothed in fur and with their 
eyes open. Within a few days they leave the 
"form" and run about like little furry balls. 
Even at this early period they are amazingly 
alert and skillful in evading capture by quickly 
doubling and zigzagging when pursued. 

Througliout its range the gray-sided jack 
rabbit is preyed upon by a host of enemies, in- 
cluding wolves, coyotes, wildcats, eagles, and 
several species of hawks and owls. As a result 
it has become extremely cunning and watchful. 
It is a beautiful sight to observe the cautious 
grace with wdiich one that suspects danger but 
thinks itself unobserved will quietly move out 
of its form, pause like a statue for a few sec- 
onds, then raise its body into a sitting posture 
and look keenly about, its great upstanding ears 
turning sensitively to one side and the other, 
delicately testing the air for sound waves, 
which may spell approaching peril. 

If not alarmed it may then move slowly 
along by a series of easy little hops, occasion- 
ally varied by the single-footed gait of most 
other mammals. At such times the ears are 
often raised and lowered as though worked 
by some mechanism. If the rabbit becomes 
alarmed, however, it leaps away in quick, 
springy and graceful bounds, now and then 
making a high soaring leap as if to command 
a better view. 

These occasional high leaps mark the first 
stages of alarm. In greater stress, when pur- 
sued by a coyote or other swift-footed enemy, 
the jack rabbit indulges in no such showy per- 
formances, but gets down to serious work, and 



488 



THE NATIONAL GI'OGRAPHIC AIAGAZINE 



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■JIII-; 'IRACKS OF THE JACK RABBIT 

Tlic tracks of the western jack rabbit re- 
seml)le those of the cottontail (se': r^ge 49- )> 
but tlie feet are seldom paired; a typical set 
is seen in the lower left-hand corner. The 
bounds cover lo, I2, or even 15 feet each. 
The tail is held down, so that it leaves a mark 
in the snow between each bound. Sometimes 
the animal makes a spy-hop — that is, hops up 
high to look around. This is seen in the track. 



developing marvelous action in a continuous 
series of rapid, low stretching leaps, with ears 
lying flat along the shoulders, it skims over the 
ground almost as swiftly as a bird. Coursing 
jack rabbits with greyhounds was for many 
years a favorite sport in different parts of the 
West. No other dog has much chance for suc- 
cess in the open pursuit of these animals. 

Ordinarily jack rabbits are mute, but when 
wounded and caught thev not infrequently 
utter a series of long-drawn wailing shrieks 
which are movingly expressive of terror and 
pain. 

Since the settlement of the Western States 
numberless predatory animals have been killed 
and at the same time the cultivation of the soil 
has produced a dependable increase in the food 
supply. These changes have resulted in the 
sporadic increase of jack rabbits in many parts 
of their range, from Texas to Oregon, until at 
times they have become a serious menace to 
agriculture. 

During such periods of abundance they in- 
vade fields and devastate grain, forage crops, 
vineyards, and young orchards. In places they 
sometimes actually destroy entire crops and 
force settlers to abandon their locations. In 
winter they swarm about haystacks and de- 
stroy many tons of hay. Depredations of this 
character were committed by them on a con- 
siderable scale during 1916 in parts of Oregon, 
Idaho, and Utah. 

During the early development of the San 
Joaquin Valley, California, jack rabbits became 
such an intolerable pest that great community 
drives were organized. Large woven wire cor- 
rals with wing fences leading away several 
miles from the entrance were built on the 
open plains. Tlie occasions of the drives were 
made public holidays through all the surround- 
ing region, and people gathered sometimes to 
the number of from 5,000 to 8,000. A great 
line of beaters was formed, miles in length, 
and the jack rabbits were driven between wing 
fences into corrals. Four such drives in 
Fresno County In the spring of 1892 resulted in 
the destruction of 40,000 jack rabbits, one drive 
netting more than 20,000 animals. 

At this time the level floor of the San Joa- 
quin Valley was crossed l)y numberless well- 
worn rabbit trails six or eight inches broad and 
one or two inches deep, extending in long 
straight lines sometimes for miles. On ap- 
proaching a patch of large weeds one often 
saw twenty or thirtv jack rabbits dash out and, 
after hopping away a short distance, sit with 
upstanding ears to look curiously at the in- 
truder. 

It is a general rule that when any species of 
animal becomes extremely numerous it loses 
its ordinary wariness and, conversely, when its 
numbers are materially reduced its wariness is 
greatly increased. The periods of abundance 
01 jack rabbits usually extend through several 
years until, at the height of their increase, a 
contagious malady suddenly sweeps them away 
almost to the point of extinction, as in the case 
of the varying liare. A period of years fol- 
lows during which their nunilocrs are slowly 
recovered. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



489 



Jack rabbits are specially adapted for life on 
great plains, where speed and the ability to 
subsist on almost any form of vegetation are 
prime qualities. They are as grotesquely char- 
acteristic of the Western States as the kan- 
garoos were of Australia, and have _ entered 
largely into the literature of the region they 
occupy. 



THE VARYING HARES (Lepus ameri- 
canus and its relatives) 

{For Ulustration, sec page ^o^) 

The varying hares, white rabbits, or snow- 
shoe rabbits, as they are known, form a small 
group of closely related species and geographic 
races of hares peculiar to northern North 
America. They sometimes attain a weight of 
five pounds and are about half the size of the 
arctic hares, which they resemble in form, ex- 
cept that they are more heavily built and have 
proportionately shorter legs and larger hind 
feet. 

With a single exception they become white 
in winter and change to dusk}^ or brownish in 
summer. The molt from the brown summer 
coat to the white winter one occurs with the 
arrival of winter snows, the exact time varying 
according to the season, the reverse change in 
spring being governed in a similar way by the 
disappearance of the snow. In the southern 
part of their range the change to the white 
winter coat is less complete than in the North. 
There has been much controversy over the 
manner of this change in color, some maintain- 
ing that on the approach of winter the hairs 
turn white with the first snow. It has been 
definitely proved, however, that both seasonal 
changes are due to molt. 

The Washington hare (Lepus washingtoni) , 
which remains brown throughout the year, is 
the exception to the rule of white winter coats 
in this group of hares. It lives in the cool, 
dense forests of the humid coast belt of Wash- 
ington and adjacent part of British Columbia, 
where the snowfall does not affect its pelage. 

In winter the large hind feet of the varying 
hares and their long, spreading toes are en- 
tirely covered with a heavy coat of hair, form- 
ing broad snowshoe-like pads, which enable 
their possessors to move about freely over the 
soft snow, a peculiarity that has given rise to 
one of the names in common use. 

In cool, forested regions varying hares range 
from A-Iaine and extreme eastern Canada, in- 
cluding Newfoundland, to the Pacific coast, 
and from _ the stunted bushes bordering the 
northern limit of trees south to the northern 
border of the_ United States and beyond, fol- 
lowing the higher Alleghenies to West Vir- 
ginia, the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico, 
and well down the Sierra Nevada in Cali- 
fornia. 

As in the case of other species, these hares 
make "forms" in which they lie by day, for 
they are mainly nocturnal in habits. The mat- 
ing season occurs in early spring, when the 



males become very restless, several sometime? 
congregating in the same vicinity and occa- 
sionally fighting and chasing one another about. 
At this time, as well as at other seasons, snow- 
shoe rabbits have a habit of thumping rapidly 
on the ground, making a dull sound audible for 
some distance. This is probably done with the 
hind feet, as is known to be the case with the 
European rabbit. 

The thumping is apparently a signal and 
may be a part of the mating display, but is 
also used for warning purposes. Hunters in 
northern Canada call these rabbits by making 
a harsh squeaking noise with their lips. Some- 
times they become so eager and excited on 
hearing this call that with odd little grunting' 
sounds they come bounding close up to the 
hunter. 

The young, varying from two to seven, are 
born in nests made of dry leaves, grasses, and 
other suitable vegetation, warmly lined with 
hair from the mother's body, and usually hid- 
den under brush or in dense vegetation. The 
young, which have their eyes open and are 
fully furred at birth, within a few days leave 
the nest and move freely about. Altliough the 
mother snowshoe rabbit will defend her young 
at first even at the risk of her life, when they 
are half grown she leaves them to shift for 
themselves. Young hares of various ages 
when caught often utter slirill squealing cries 
of fright and the older animals when wounded 
and caught sometimes do the same. 

Periiaps through living so constantly in low 
ground, among swamps and along streams, 
varying hares become less averse to entering 
water than most of their kind. In the delta of 
the Yukon River I saw many places where they 
had crossed small streams in spring, their wet 
tracks entering and leaving the water, thus 
furnisliing unmistakable evidence. Curiously 
enough, when caught by a flood they will take 
refuge on stumps or other support and often 
remain to starve rather than swim ashore. 

In summer, owing to tlieir nocturnal habits 
and the dense thickets they inhabit, varying 
hares are rarely seen unless they are unusually 
plentiful. In winter their presence is known 
by their conspicuous tracks, leading in every 
direction through their haunts. A single ani- 
mal will in one night so thoroughly track the 
snow in a patch of woods it gives the impres- 
sion that several must have been there. 

In river bottoms, among densely wooded 
swamps, these rabbits frequently make definite 
beaten runways in the snow ; runways are also 
made tlirough thickets in their summer haunts. 
This habit renders it easy to snare them, and 
enormous numbers are thus captured every 
winter. 

They feed on a variety of small herbage in 
summer and in winter depend on buds, twigs, 
and the bark of slirubs and small trees. They 
are specially fond of willows, and their winter 
distribution in many districts is governed by 
the abundance of willow thickets. 

Varying hares are one of the most important 
mammals of the northern fur country. They 
are generallv distributed and exist in such num- 



490 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 








f-^ 



%^ 




SvoWshoe^ 
rabbit fjs. 




to 
o 

CO 



-ItoZft 



4P*. 



f^- 



4 



to 

/oft 



■,i^-' 



FOOTPRINTS O!" 'inK VARYING HARK, OR SNOWSllOK RARl'.TT 

The great size of the feet from wliicli the creature is named is a strong- feature of the track, 
distinguishing it from tiiat of the cottontail and others (see pages 4S9 and 507) 



bers that the}' are an important source of food 
supply both to the Indians and to such preda- 
tory birds and mammals as the great horned 
and snowy owls, the goshawk, gyrfalcon, lynx, 
fox, ermine, fisher, and others. The skins are 
also used by the Indians for robes. 

Under favorable conditions they steadily in- 
crease until they become enormously plentiful 



over great areas. After this swarming abun- 
dance continues for several seasons it reaches 
a maximum, and then, as in the case of many 
other mannnals when similarly overabundant, 
a mysterious malady suddenly attacks and 
sweejis them off, until within a year or two they 
iiecome rare o\cr the entire area. Tlie people 
of the fur c;:unlry believe these changes in 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



491 



numbers run in cycles of about seven years 
each. 

As the hares increase in numbers some of 
the birds and mammals which prey upon them 
increase proportionately. This is specially 
marked with the big northern lynxes. The 
skins of varying hares are gathered and sent 
to the London fur market with other furs, in- 
cluding those of lynxes. In the records of 
sales of the Hudson's Bay Company there are 
direct increases of the numbers of Canada 
lynx skins sold corresponding with the in- 
creases in the sales of varying hare skins. As 
the number of hare skins abruptly decreases 
following the outbreak of epidemics among 
them, there are correspondingly abrupt de- 
creases in the numbers of lynx skins sold. 

This correlation is shown in the records ex- 
tending back many years and illustrates the 
interdependence in nature between the vari- 
ous forms of animal life. The far-reaching 
tragic effect of the sudden disappearance of 
the snowshoe rabbits is not confined to the 
wild habitants of the forest, as it has not_ in- 
frequently brought starvation and death into 
many lonely Indian lodges in the great north- 
ern wilderness. 

THE ARCTIC HARE (Lepus arcticus and 

its relatives) 

{Por illustration, see page $io) 

Many parts of the northernmost circumpolar 
lands are occupied by large hares, which attain 
a weight of more than ten pounds. They are 
about the size of large jack rabbits, but are 
more heavily proportioned, with much shorter 
ears and shorter, stronger legs. There are sev- 
eral species and geographic races of these ani- 
mals, all of which are snowy white in winter 
except for a small black tip on each ear. In 
summer the southern arctic hares change to 
a nearly uniform dull iron gray or grayish 
brown. The northernmost animals of Elles- 
mere Land and north Greenland, where the 
summer is brief and severe arctic conditions 
prevail, retain their white coat throughout the 
year. 

In keeping with the cold climate of their ter- 
ritory, the furry coat of the arctic hares is 
long and thick, especially in winter, when the 
ears, legs, and even the soles of *^he feet, as 
well as the body, are heavily furred. The 
coats of the hares of north Greenland and ad- 
jacent region are so heavy and fleecelike that 
during the spring molt they come off in felted 
patches as the new coat is assumed, giving the 
hares a curiously ragged appearance. 

In the region between the areas in which the 
summer coat remains wholly white and where 
it is completely changed to grayish, there is a 
gradual transition, with the lessening severity 
of the climate, through every intermediate de- 
gree between the two. As in the case of the 
snowshoe rabbit, the large hind feet and long 
spreading toes of its big northern relative are 
so heavily covered with hair that they form 
broad fluffy pads, which enable the hares to 
travel lightly over the arctic snowfields. 



The distribution of arctic hares is confined 
to the barrens or tundras beyond the limit of 
trees. They range practically to the land's end 
of northern Greenland and Ellesmere Land. 
To the southward in North America they range 
down the coast of Labrador and across to 
Newfoundland, where they are limited to the 
open barrens. They also occur along the 
shores of Hudson Bay and follow the tundras 
bordering Bering Sea to the peninsula of 
Alaska. 

In Ellesmere Land they are reported to be 
extraordinarily numerous at times in certain 
little valleys, and tlie fur traders on the coast 
south of the Yukon Delta informed me of 
similar gatherings in spring on gently sloping 
hillsides in that region. Photographs taken in 
Ellesmere Land show many of these hares 
scattered over a small area, each crouched in 
a compact form and all heading in the same 
direction to face the wind. Such gatherings, 
at least those in Alaska, occur during the 
mating period, after which the animals scatter 
over the area they occupy. 

An account of the big northern hares would 
be incomplete without reference to the wliite- 
tailed jack rabbit, the largest of all American 
hares and a near relative of the arctic species. 
It attains a weight of twelve pounds or more 
and appears like a giant of its kind. It has 
longer legs than the arctic hare and a longer 
tail. In summer it is grayish or buffy, with a 
conspicuous pure white tail. Throughout most 
of its range in winter it becomes pure white 
except the black tips to the ears, but near the 
southern border the change to white is not so 
complete as in the North. The distribution of 
the white-tailed jack rabbit extends from Min- 
nesota to the Cascade Mountains and from the 
Saskatchewan River, in Alberta, south to south- 
ern Colorado. 

Arctic hares have from one to seven young 
in a litter each spring. Owing to the climatic 
conditions under which they exist, it is doubt- 
ful if more than a single litter is born each 
year. 

The manner in which animal life adapts it- 
self to its environment is beautifully illustrated 
by the arctic hares of north Greenland and 
Ellesmere Land. There the conditions are rig- 
orously arctic and continuous winter night ex- 
tends through a period of several months. In 
all this region the scanty and dwarfed vegeta- 
tion is covered with snow and ice the larger 
part of the year. The hares living there are, 
with little question, a geographic race of those 
living farther south, but have developed into 
larger and stronger animals, with heavier fur, 
to meet the sterner conditions of life. 

Their claws are nnich larger and heavier, so 
tliat they may dig tlie snow from tlie hidden 
herbage. Most marvelous of all, the anterior 
ends of both jaws are lengthened and the in- 
cisors set so that they project and meet at an 
acute angle, thus serving, tweezerlike, more 
readily to pick out the lowly vegetation im- 
bedded in the snow. 

In most parts of their range arctic hares are 
scarce and rarely encountered. Each winter 
during my residence on the coast of Bering 



492 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



. f 



-c^ 






to^ 



^ 



O 



o -CI. 
s9 



i f 



olton.t2LiL 






THE COTTONTAII. KAlJlilT S IKACK 

The large set of four tracks at the top gives 
the maximum possible of detail, which is very 
rarely seen. The lower figure at the right- 
hand corner is a typical track (tt). At the 
set marked "sitting" the tail mark is seen, and 
in this only are the fore-feet tracks ahead of 
the hind tracks. The cottontail has five toes on 
the front feet, but only four ever show in the 
track (see page 510). 



Sea the Eskimos killed only a few individuals. 
They were siiy and watchful and the himters 
sometimes followed one on snowshoes all day 
over the tundra without securing it. In the 
Iiigh North they appear to be more numerous 
in places, judging from the number killed for 
food by members of polar expeditions. Their 
flesh is excellent, but a little dry. Their natu- 
ral enemies include wolves, foxes, weasels, gyr- 
falcons, and snowy owls, all of which share 
their desolate haunts and join in destroying 
them. 

The winter skins of arctic hares have a beau- 
tiful snowy white pelage, which make warm 
garments and sleeping robes for the North, but 
are too delicate to withstand nnich service. 



THE COTTONTAIL RABBITS (Sylvi- 
lagus floridanus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, sec page 510) 

North America has several species of hares, 
but no typical representative of the European 
rabbit. The American cottontails and their 
near relatives, the brush rabbits and others, 
combine characteristics of both the hares and 
ralibits, but are most like the rabbits, of which 
they appear to form aberrant groups. 

The cottontails are distinctly smaller than 
most of the American hares and average from 
two to three pounds in weight. They are 
otherwise contrasted with the hares by their 
short ears, proportionately shorter and smaller 
legs and feet, and by the fluffy snow-white 
underside of the tail, which shows so conspic- 
uously as they run that it lias given them 
their distinctive name. 

The American mammals to which the term 
■'rabbit" may be properly applied include not 
only the cottontails, but numerous otiier species 
closely similar in form and general appear- 
ance, but lacking the cottony white tail. As a 
group, these rabbits have a far greater distri- 
inition in America than the hares. They range 
from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific and from 
the southern border of Canada south througii 
Central and South America to Argentina. 
Their vertical distribution extends from sea 
level to above timberline, attaining an altitude 
of more than 14,000 feet on Mount Orizaba, 
Mexico. 

In the United States cottontails are so nu- 
merous and generally distributed that tlicy are 
well known to nearly every one. They inhabit 
all kinds of country, from the deciduous for- 
ests of the Eastern States to the grassy or 
brush-grown plains and pine-clad mountain 
slopes of the West and the sun-scorched des- 
erts of the Southwest. As a result of this 
extended distribution and the variety of con- 
ditions in the areas occupied, these rabbits in- 
clude numerous species and geographic races, 
which in some instances difi^er greatly in ap- 
pearance. 

Cottontails are especially conunon about the 
brushy borders of cultivated lands throughout 
the country, and in fertile brush-grown areas 
of foothills, valleys, and river bottoms of the 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



493 



West. They are mainly nocturnal, and in areas 
where there is an abundance of natural cover 
in the way of brushy thickets and dense grass 
commonly make concealed "forms" in which 
they lie safely hidden. 

In areas where shelter is represented by scat- 
tered bushes and a comparatively thin growth 
of other vegetation they generally occupy bur- 
rows in the ground. These may be holes de- 
serted by badgers or prairie-dogs or dug by 
themselves under a rock or other object. Hol- 
low logs or natural cavities and crevices among 
the rocks are also frequented. When pursued 
by dogs, hares as a rule rely solely on their 
speed for safety, while the cottontails take ref- 
uge in the first hole they can reach. 

Everywhere in their territory, as the shades 
of night approach, the cottontails come forth 
from their hiding places and skip merrily about 
in open ground on the borders of thickets and 
similar shelter, where they search for the ten- 
der green vegetation on which they love to 
feed. After it becomes too dark to distinguish 
their forms, the white tail may be seen twink- 
ling about in the dusk. During the night they 
are often revealed in country roads by the head 
lights of automobiles. 

Several litters of from two to six young 
usually appear during the spring and summer. 
These are born blind and practically naked, 
their unclad helplessness strongly contrasting 
with the open-eyed, fully furred, and alert 
young of the hares at the same age. This is a 
conclusive indication of the close relationship 
between cottontails and European rabbits, the 
young of the latter being similarly, but even 
more, undeveloped at birth. 

The young of the cottontails are born in 
nests made of dead grasses warmly lined with 
fur from the mother's body. If above ground 
the nest is placed in a little depression and so 
artfully concealed by a covering of dead 
grasses that it can be discovered only by acci- 
dent. When caught, young cottontails utter 
little cries of alarm ; the wounded adults some- 
times shriek in terror. 

From the early settlement of the United 
States to the present day cottontails have been 
so abundant that they have served as a valuable 
source of our game food supply. They are 
hunted with guns and with dogs, as well as 
being snared and trapped. Enormous num- 
bers, running into the millions, are killed in 
this country yearly, but they are so prolific that 
they hold their own in a surprising degree. 

Their abundance in many places, however, 
has made them a serious pest to agriculture. 
They eat growing alfalfa and other forage 
plants, many kinds of cultivated vegetables, 
young grape vines, and nursery stock and even 
kill orchard trees by gnawing the bark from 
the base of the trunks. As a result those who 
suffer from their depredations consider them 
pests to be destroyed, while others look upon 
them as desirable game animals to be protected 
by law. 

As game animals the cottontails furnish 
some of the most delightful and interesting 
sport available to American hunters. The 



scurrymg zigzag rush of a cottontail for the 
nearest shelter is so full of energetic motion 
that it always excites a pleasurable thrill in the 
observer, and even the keenest sportsman has 
so friendly a feeling for these Httle animals 
that the escape of one of them from an unsuc- 
cessful shot nearly always leaves a feeling of 
humorous amusement. t 

The cottontails have a secure place in Amer- 
ican literature and folklore. Who has not read 
the \vonder stories of the adventures of "Brer 
Rabbit" and ever after had a warmer feeling 
of fellowship for his kind? The presence of 
cottontails is a source of pleasure to children 
of all ages, and their disappearance from the 
wild life of a locality creates a more deeply 
felt blank than would the passing of many a 
nobler animal. 

THE MARSH RABBIT (Sylvilagus palus- 
tris and its relatives) 

{For illustration, sec page ^ii) 

The marsh rabbit, or "pontoon," as it is 
known in Georgia, is a distinctively American 
species alhed to the cottontails, but distin- 
guished from them by its more heavily propor- 
tioned body, smaller ears, shorter and slenderer 
legs and feet, and shorter, nearly unicolored 
tail. Its only close relative in the United 
States is the swamp rabbit, known in Alabama 
as the "cane-cutter." 

These two species appear to be members of a 
Tropical American group of which other mem- 
bers are the wood rabbits of Mexico, Central 
and South America. The distribution of the 
group was probably at one time continuous, but 
a change to arid conditions in northeastern 
Mexico and Texas isolated the two species re- 
maining in this country. 

The distribution of the marsh rabbit is lim- 
ited to the soutlieastern coastal States from 
Dismal Swamp, Virginia, to Mobile Bay, Ala- 
bama. It is common in suitable places in Flor- 
ida. Its larger relative, the swamp rabbit, 
ranges west from this area to Texas and up 
the Mississippi Valley to Illinois and. southeast- 
ern Kansas. Swamp rabbits are numerous in 
the low, wooded coastal region of Louisiana. 
They are larger and longer-legged than marsh 
rabbits and fleeter of foot. 

Among all the rabbits of the world the marsh 
and swamp rabbits are the only species which 
have aquatic habits. Both live mainly in 
marshes, wooded swamps, and along the low 
wooded courses of streams. Other rabbits and 
liares are occasionally known to cross water 
by swimming, but the marsh and swamp rab- 
bits live about the water and take to it with 
all the freedom of a muskrat or mink. The 
marsh rabbit appears to be the more aquatic of 
the two, as the swamp rabbit sometimes lives 
in the forest, farther back from the water. 

The Tropical wood rabbits are habitants of 
the dense forests, where they are well hidden 
under the rank undergrowth. They are not 
known to enter the water, but, like their north- 
ern relatives, make runways through the dense 



494 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



vegetation they frequent. The marsh rabbits 
live in cypress or other fresh-water swamps, 
heavily wooded bottoms, and fresh water, as 
well as brackish marshes. They feed on a va- 
riety of vegetation growing in such places and 
dig up such edible roots as the wild potato and 
amaryllis. 

Both marsh and swamp rabbits have several 
litters of from two to six young each season, 
laeginning in April. The young are born in 
large, well-made covered nests, which are built 
of rushes, grasses, and leaves and lined with 
hair from the parents. The nests, which have 
an entrance on one side, are usually located in 
the midst of dense growths of vegetation or on 
tussocks, in low, swampy places, and are some- 
times surrounded by water. In the most fre- 
quented parts of marsh and swamp these rab- 
bits make well-trodden trails through the dense 
vegetation. 

When alarmed, marsh rabbits run for tlie 
nearest water, into which they plunge and swim 
quickly to the shelter of aquatic plants or other 
cover. When cut off from escape by water 
they try to avoid capture by doubling and turn- 
ing, but are so short-legged that they are read- 
ily overtaken by a dog. The tracks of these 
rabbits in the mud differ from those of the 
cottontails in showing imprints of the spread- 
ing toes. 

In South Carolina Bachman once found nu- 
merous marsh rabbits in the thickets about re- 
cently flooded rice fields and swamps.^ When 
he beat the bushes the rabbits plunged into the 
water and swam away so rapidly that some 
escaped from a Newfoundland dog which ac- 
companied him. Several, apparently thinking 
themselves unnoticed, stopped and remained 
motionless about fifteen yards from the shore, 
with only their eyes and noses showing above 
water. Thus concealed in the muddy water, 
with ears laid flat on their necks, they were 
difficult to see. When touched with a stick 
they appeared unwilling to move until they saw 
that they were discovered, when they quickly 
swam away. 

Later, when the water subsided to its regular 
channels, where it was about eight feet deep, 
many of the rabbits were seen swimming 
about, meeting and pursuing one another as if 
in sport. One which Bachman had in captivity 
during warm weather would lie for hours in a 
trough partly filled with water, with which the 
cage was furnished. 

THE PIKA, OR CONY (Ochotona prin- 
ceps and its relatives) 

(For illustration, sec page ^ii) 

The pika, little chief hare, or cony, as it is 
variously named, is among the most attractive 
and interesting of our mountain animals. It 
is about the size and shape of a small guinea- 
pig, with a short, blunt head, broad, rounded 
ears, short legs, practically no tail, and a long, 
fluffy coat of fur. While most nearly related 
to the hares and rabbits, it has very different 
habits. 



The pikas form a group comprising many 
species, much alike in general appearance and 
distributed among the high mountains, frorn 
the Urals of Russia through Asia and north- 
ern North America. In Asia they occur mainly 
in the mountains through the middle of the 
continent south to the Himalayas. In Pleisto- 
cene time they ranged across Europe to Eng- 
land. In North America they are limited to 
the western side of the continent, from the 
Mount McKinley region of Alaska down the 
Rocky Mountains to New Mexico and along 
the Cascades and Sierra Nevada to the Mount 
Whitney region, in California. 

Giving to these North American animals the 
appellation "cony" is one of many instances in 
which the name of an Old World animal is 
brought to America to designate a totally un- 
related species. Once fixed in current use, the 
misapplied term is certain to persist. 

Pikas are among the few mammals which 
live permanently along the high crests of the 
mountains, mainly above timberline, but they 
also descend in rock slides among the upper 
spruces, firs, and pines. The altitude of their 
haunts varies with the latitude, being between 
8,000 and 13,500 feet in the United States, but 
in Alaska much lower. 

In these cool, alpine regions the little ani- 
mals live wholly within the shelter of rock 
slides and among the crevices of shattered rock 
masses. Their distribution is unaccountably 
broken, and although abundant in many places, 
they are absent from many others equally suit- 
able. Their homes are in the midst of the 
flower-bedecked glacial valleys and basins, the 
haunts of the big marmots and mountain sheep. 

They are mainly diurnal in habits, and 
throughout the day may be heard their odd 
little barking, or bleating note, like the sylla- 
bles "eh-eh" repeated at intervals in a nasal 
tone, resembling the sound made by squeez- 
ing a toy dog. Occasionally they may be heard 
barking at night, perhaps when disturbed by 
some prowling enemy. Their notes have a cu- 
riously ventriloquial quality, which renders it 
difficult to locate the animals uttering them. 

Owing to their dull gray or brownish colors, 
the pikas blend with their background so com- 
pletely that when quietly sitting on a rock they 
are extremely difficult to see. Even when run- 
ning about at a little distance they are not 
easily noted. Their movements are quick and 
they scamper over the rough surface of a rock 
slide with surprising agility. 

Little is known of their more intimate life 
history. Their young, three or four in num- 
ber, are born usually during the first half of 
summer and are out foraging when less than 
half-grown. 

Small, bright eyes and big, rounded cars give 
pikas an odd and attractive' appearance, unlike 
that of any other mountain animal. They are 
extremely watchful and at the first alarm dis- 
appear in the shelter of their rocky fortresses. 
Their little bark, however, continues to come 
up from their hiding places vvitii constant itera- 
tion. If the observer will sit quietly at some 
good vantage point his patience will eventually 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



495 



be rewarded by the appearance of the pika on 
the top of a stone near the mouth of its retreat. 

After a time, if everything is quiet, it re- 
sumes its scampering about over the rocks or 
may come to the border of the shde and make 
little excursions across the open ground after 
some of its forage plants. Skipping nimbly 
from the border of the slides to neighboring 
patches of vegetation, sometimes fifty or more 
feet awa3^ the pika nips off the stems of short 
grasses or other plants and taking them up, 
like small bundles, crosswise in its mouth, runs 
back to add them to its "stacks." These sallies 
rre quick little runs, made as though in fear of 
being long away from the safety of the rocks. 
Caution is needful, how-ever, in a world where 
lurk such enemies as coyotes, lynxes, foxes, 
weasels, hawks, and owls. 

During late summer the pikas have the extra- 
ordinary habit of gathering stores of small 
herbage in piles containing sometimes a bushel 
each, usually well sheltered in dry places under 
the rocks where they live. Pikas are active all 
winter, and these little stacks of well-cured hay, 
containing a great variety of small plants, 
serve them as food during the severe cold sea- 
son, when at these high altitudes they are 
buried under many feet of snow. 

In pleasant weather, near the end of summer, 
visitors to the mountains of Colorado, Glacier 
National Park, the high slopes of Mount 
Shasta, or of the Sierra Nevada may have the 
pleasure of watching the pikas hard at work 
doing their "haying." One of their "stacks" 
in the mountains of New Mexico contained 
thirty-four kinds of plants, including many 
flowers. No one who once becomes acquainted 
with these unique and gentle little animals will 
ever cease to remember them with friendly in- 
terest. 

THE PORCUPINE (Erethizon dorsatum 

and its relatives) 

(For illustration, sec page ^14) 

The porcupine is one of the most grotesque 
of the smaller North American mammals. 
With a weight of from fifteen to twenty 
pounds, its heavy body is supported on short 
legs, the feet resting flat on the ground like 
those of the raccoon, instead of on the toes, as 
in most small animals. 

Its strongest peculiarity is the specialized 
development of most of the fur into rigid, 
sharp-pointed spines or "quills" from half an 
inch to over three inches in length. That the 
spines represent the underfur of ordinary 
mammals is evident from the fact that they 
are overlaid by long, coarse guard hairs, some- 
times several times their length. 

The spiny armament usually lies flat on 
the body, but when the animal is excited or 
alarmed it may be raised, by special muscles 
on the imderside of the skin, into a bristling 
array of barbed points. The spines are so 
slightly attached that when their points enter 
the skin of an enemy they at once become free 
at the base. The points firmly set in the skin 



« 



1 ; V t h. 



^ 






cr- 



•C_. 



&.S 






THE TI^\IL OF A FIELD OR MEADOW MOUSE 

When compared with that of the deermouse, 
one notes the absence of the tail mark and the 
rarit}' of the fore feet being paired (see pages 
505 and 522). 

of another animal, the spines can be withdrav.ii 
only with considerable effort, and if left will 
gradually work deeper and may traverse a 
considerable part of the victim's body before 
finally becoming encysted. 

When assailed the porcupine turns down its 
head, arches its back, and, on firmly planted 
feet with all its spines erected into a bristling 
cover, awaits the enemy. The instant its body 
is touched the club-shaped tail, armed witii 
a multitude of spines, is swung vigorously 
around and the animal so incautious as to re- 
ceive the blow is pierced by a host of stinging 
darts which, freed from tlie porcupine, remain 
to torment the aggressor. Tliis swift and ef- 
fective sweep of the tail has probably given 
rise to the idea that the porcupine can "shoot" 
its quills when defending itself. 

Despite its defensive powers, however, the 
I)orcupine is, on occasion, successfully attacked 
by various enemies, including the mountain 
lion, bobcat, fisher, and even the eagle and 
great horned owl. The fisher is said habitually 
to kill and feed upon them, and the encysted 
quills are commonly found under its skin. 

The frightful eft'ect of an ill-judged attack 
on a porcupine is shown by inexperienced dogs 



496 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



after their first encounter with this strange 
beast. That such an attack is a dangerous 
venture, even by the craftiest and most power- 
ful of its enemies, is well demonstrated by 
occasional fatahties among large carnivores 
which result from the great mass of spines im- 
bedded in their heads and bodies. 

The North American porcupine is a north- 
ern animal belonging mainly to coniferous for- 
ests, and ranges from sea level to timberline. 
It originally occupied nearly all the forested 
parts of the continent south to West Virginia, 
southern Illinois, the Davis Mountains of west- 
ern Texas, and the southern end of the Sierra 
Nevada in California, but was absent from the 
Southeastern States and the lower Mississippi 
Valley. 

While characteristically a woodland animal, 
at times it wanders from forest shelters and 
has been found prowling about above timber- 
line on high mountains, and among alder thick- 
ets beyond the limit of trees in the far North. 
They "are usually silent, but at times utter a 
curious squealing cry, and in addition have a 
variety of snuffing, growling, and chattering 
noises. 

In the forests of tropical America, from 
Mexico to Brazil, other and shorter-quilled 
porcupines occur, characterized by smaller size 
and slenderer bodies with a long tail, the ter- 
minal half of which is naked and prehensile 
like that of an opossum. These animals in- 
habit forests where no conifers grow, and are 
much more arboreal in habits than their north- 
ern relatives. Still other and even more strik- 
ingly different porcupines occur in Europe, 
Asia, and Africa, some of the African animals 
having heavy spines more than twelve inches 
long. 

All porcupines are true rodents, and the 
name hedgehog is erroneously used when ap- 
plied to any of them. Hedgehogs are small OM 
World insect-eatmg mammals, which have their 
backs covered with porcupine-like spines, but 
are in no way related to the porcupines. 

The American porcupines are mainly noc- 
turnal, although they sometimes wander about 
by day. While largely arboreal in habits, they 
pass much of their time on the ground and 
commonly have their dens in caves at the bases 
of cliffs, under the shelter of large rocks, logs, 
piles of brush, or in hollows at the bases of 
trees. They are sluggish, stupid animals, with 
poor sight, and are unable to move rapidly, 
cither in a tree or on the ground. 

Although on the ground they are extremely 
deliberate, in the treetops they are even more 
sluggish and can be compared only with the 
sloth. In consequence they are practically 
helpless in the presence of an enemy except 
for the defense afforded by their spiny armor. 
That in most cases this is effective is evidenced 
by their continued presence throughout a large 
part of their original range where forests still 
exist. 

Porcupines are solitary animals, totally de- 
void of any qualities of good fellowship with 
their kind, but the attraction of woodland 
camps often brings a number together. They 



are exceedingly fond of salt and persistently 
return to camps to gnaw logs, boards, or any 
other object having a salty flavor. 

They appear to be practically omnivorous so 
far as vegetable matter is concerned and feed 
upon the bark and twigs of spruces, hemlocks, 
several species of pines, cottonwoods, alders, 
and other trees and bushes. In orchards and 
gardens near their haunts they eat apples, tur- 
nips, and other fruits and vegetables and visit 
the shores of ponds for waterlily pads and 
other aquatic plants growing within reach. 

Ordinarily they eat patches of bark from the 
tree trunks, but sometimes girdle the tree or at 
times denude the entire trunk. They often re- 
main for weeks in the top of a single tree, even 
in the severest winter weather. I had a practi- 
cal illustration of this on one occasion when 
stormbound in a fur trader's cabin at the head 
of Norton Bay, on the north coast of Bering 
Sea, where a belt of spruces reached down 
from the interior. We were short of meat, and 
when one of the Eskimos reported that some 
time before he had seen a porcupine in a spruce 
tree he was sent to look for it. A few hours 
later he returned bringing the game, having 
found it in the very same tree where he had 
seen it many days before, although we had just 
experienced a period of severe weather, with 
temperatures well under 40 degrees Fahrenheit 
below zero. It was on this occasion that I first 
learned the palatable qualities of porcupine 
flesh. 

Little is known definitely concerning the 
family life of these animals. The young, from 
one to four in number, are amazingly large at 
birth and appear fully armed with spines. 
Even before they are half grown they adopt 
the solitary habit, of the adults and wander 
forth to care for themselves. 

Porcupine's have an intimate connection with 
the romantic side of early Indian life in eastern 
America. Their white quills were colored in 
bright hues by vegetable- dyes known to the 
Indians and served to make beautiful embroid- 
ery on belts, moccasins, and other articles of 
aboriginal clothing until primitive art gave way 
to the more tawdry effects of trade goods. 

THE JUMPING MOUSE (Zapus hudsonius 

and its rehitives) 

{For iUiistration, sec page §14) 

In several ways the jumping mouse is imique 
unong American mammals. Its strongest char- 
acteristics arc a dull, rusty yellowish color, a 
slender body about three inches long, a remark- 
ably slender tail about five inches in length, and 
long hind legs and feet, which arc specially 
developed for jumping, like those of a little 
kangaroo. In addition it is provided with 
cheek pouches, one on each side of the mouth, 
in which it gathers food to be carried to its 
hidden stores. 

Tlic long tail serves as a balance during its 
extraordinary leaps, some of which in a single 
bound cover a distance of about ten feet. If 
bv accident one of these animals loses its tail, 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



497 



whenever it jumps it is thrown into a series of 
somersauks, turning helplessly over and over 
in the air. 

The jumping mice form a small group of 
species and geographic races closely similar in 
general appearance. They are the sole repre- 
sentatives in North America of the Old World 
jerboas and are themselves represented else- 
where by a single species occurring in the inte- 
rior of China. The jerboa family contains in 
addition many larger and curiously diverse spe- 
cies distributed over a large part of Asia, 
Africa, and southern Europe. Many Old 
World jerboas are desert animals, some of 
them exact reproductions in shape and color of 
the kangaroo rats of arid regions in the West- 
ern and Southwestern States and Mexico, al- 
though they are in no way related to those 
animals. 

Jumping mice are distributed over most of 
the northern parts of North America from the 
Atlantic coast of Labrador to the Bering Sea 
coast of Alaska, and southward to North Caro- 
lina, Illinois, New Mexico, and California. 
They are nocturnal in habits and live in or near 
the borders of forests, in thickets of weeds or 
brushwood, and in meadows adjoining wood- 
land areas or. forest lakes. In prairie country 
they occupy belts of woody growth bordering 
streams. In congenial locations they range 
from sea level up to an altitude of 8,000 feet 
or more. 

For winter homes they dig burrows two or 
three feet deep, in the lower parts of wliich 
they excavate oval chambers and fill them with 
fine grass and other soft material to make a 
warm nest. Other chambers opening from 
these burrows serve as store-rooms for berries, 
seeds, and nuts of various kinds, among which 
beechnuts are a favorite. 

The nests occupied as summer homes are 
placed in shallow burrows a few inches below 
the surface of the ground, or they may be in 
a hollow tree, under a piece of bark, in a dense 
tussock of grass, or in other makeshift shelter. 
In these nests the young, varying from two to 
eight in number, are born at varying times be- 
tween May and September, indicating the prob- 
ability that more than one litter is produced 
eacli season. 

When suddenly startled from her nest the 
female often flees with several of the young 
clinging to her teats. She runs swiftly through 
the grass, and if hard pressed will take a long 
leap, still carrying the pendant young. It is 
surprising that such delicately formed animals 
can make long leaps in thickly grown places 
and apparently land safely, especially when 
carrying their young. In the flights of the 
mother some of the young must be jarred 
loose, but when the alarm is over no doubt 
she returns to find and rescue any that may 
be missing. 

In the northeastern States jumping mice are 
common habitants of meadows. They are 
equally at home in the rocky meadows of New 
England, on the flower-spangled borders of 
rushing trout streams in the Sierra Nevada of 
California, and the boggv glades of subarctic 
Alaska. 



My first acquaintance with them was made 
many years ago, during haying time, in north- 
ern New York. Hidden under a haycock, as 
the last forkful was raised one of them was 
often revealed, and its startling leaps always 
resulted in an exciting chase, which usually 
ended in the escape of the strange little beast. 

Unlike most of their small fellows of 
meadow and thicket, jumping mice regularly 
hibernate, occupying the nests near the bot- 
toms of the winter burrows. They usually be- 
come fat on the abundance of food at the end 
of summer, and in September or October, with 
the approach of cool weather, enter their win- 
ter quarters and sink into the long, hibernat- 
ing lethargy. Sometimes two of them arc 
found hibernating in the same nest. 

During hibernation they are coiled up in 
little furry balls, the nose resting on the abdo- 
men, the hind feet on each side of the head, 
and the tail wound around the body. The 
winter sleep usually lasts until spring, but may 
be broken at any time by mild weather. 

When hibernating the mice appear cold and 
lifeless, but if one is carried into a warm 
house or even held a long time in the captor's 
hands it will slowly awaken and may become 
as lively as in summer. When returned to a 
low temperature, however, it soon resumes its 
mysterious seasonal sleep. 

THE SILKY POCKET MICE (Perog- 

nathus flavus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 575) 

Soft, shining fur, delicate coloring, and 
graceful form distinguish the silky pocket mice 
from others of their kind. The family of 
which they are members consists of rodents 
peculiar to America and includes many other 
species of pocket mice and kangaroo rats. All 
are provided with little pouches on each side 
of the mouth for gathering and carrying food, 
have proportionately long tails, and hind legs 
and feet more or less developed for jumping. 
Only in the most remote way. however, are 
they related to the jumping mice of the jerboa 
family. 

The silky pocket mice vary in size from the 
tiny yellow species pictured on the accompany- 
ing plate, which weighs much less than an 
ounce, to forms considerably larger than the 
common house mouse. The little yellow pocket 
mouse is one of the smallest mammals in the 
world, and in addition is one of the most beau- 
tiful of our small species. Its bright eyes and 
the delicacy of its form and color, combined 
with the readiness with which, in most in- 
stances, it appears to lose all fear when caught 
and gently handled, render it extremely at- 
tractive. 

As with the majority of other pocket mice, 
the silky-haired species are limited to the more 
arid parts of North America, and range from 
the Great Plains west of the Mississippi Val- 
ley to the eastern base of the Cascades, to the 
Sierra Nevada, and farther southward to the 
Pacific coast, and from the Canadian border 
to the Vallev of Mexico. Vertically, the range 



498 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



of these mice extends from sea level to an 
altitude of more than 7,000 feet. 

As with the majority of our wild mammals, 
little accurate information is available concern- 
ing their life history. They are habitants 
mainly of desert regions, where they prefer the 
areas of sandy loam, which produce an abun- 
dance of scattered desert vegetation. They are 
nocturnal and by day are seen only when 
driven from their nests. Their rather shallow 
burrows are made in soft soil, the situation 
varying a little with the species. Some species 
burrow only under the shelter of bushes or 
other vegetation; others out in the bare ground. 

Each burrow commonly has grouped in a 
small area several entrance holes, which lead 
through tunnels to the central passageway, the 
nest, and the storage chambers. Usually there 
is a little pile of loose dirt thrown out on one 
side of a hole, or a group of holes may be in a 
little mound of earth. The entrances are usu- 
ally stopped from within by loose earth, and if 
a person quietly thrusts in a short stick so as 
to remove the earthy plug and let in the light 
he may see the dirt suddenly returned to its 
place in little jets, as the occupant promptly 
kicks the door closed again. 

The young, varying from two to six in a 
litter, are born in these little dens in warm 
nests of dried grasses. They have been found 
at all times between April and September, thus 
making it apparent that several litters are pro- 
duced each season. 

The silky, as well as the other kinds of des- 
ert pocket mice, do not drink water, and, as 
has been shown by experiments, they may be 
kept for months in thoroughly dry sand and 
fed on dried seeds without any resulting dis- 
comfort. Through the long pressure of desert 
environment they have developed the power to 
produce sufficient water for their physiological 
processes by chemical changes in the starch in 
their food, which are effected in the digestive 
tract. 

Representatives of this group of mice are al- 
most everywhere in the arid parts of their 
range, and in many sandy localities are ex- 
tremely numerous and active at night, as shown 
by the multitude of little tracks in the dust at 
sunrise each morning. Their presence in the 
desert is indicated also by the many little coni- 
cal pits half an inch or an inch deep, where 
they have located small seeds and dug them up. 

They lie close in their burrows during cold 
or stormy weather, depending on their stores 
for food, but are not known to hibernate, al- 
though in the northern part of their range they 
are confined to their burrows for long periods. 

At one of my camps in the desert of Lower 
California I found the silky and other pocket 
mice excessively numerous and so short of 
food that they swarmed about us at night with 
amazing lack of fear. My experiences with 
them are given in the accompanying account of 
the spiny pocket mice. 

The silky and other pocket mice have many 
enemies, among the worst of which are the 
handsome little desert fox and the coyote. 
Others which continually prey upon them are 



the badger, skunk, and bobcat, as well as many 
owls. 

THE SPINY POCKET MICE (Perog- 
nathus hispidus and its relatives) 

(For illustration, see page 575) 

Pocket mice are divided into several natural 
groups of species, all having certain characters 
in common, as a pointed head, lengthened hind 
feet and legs, and external cheek pouches for 
carrying food. The spiny group contains nu- 
merous species, the smallest of which is about 
the size of a house mouse and the largest 
nearly twice that size. 

They are more slenderly built than the silky 
species and have longer tails, with the hairs 
lengthened along the terminal half, thus giving 
a slightly brushy or tufted appearance. Their 
most striking character is the distinctly coarser 
hair with long scattered guard hairs, like small 
bristles, which conspicuously overlie the fur on 
the hinder parts of the body and from which 
the common name is derived. 

The distribution of the spiny forms, although 
nearly the same as that of the silky ones, is a 
little more restricted. All belong to the arid 
or desert parts of the West and Southwest, 
from South Dakota and middle California 
southward to Michoacan, near the southern 
end of the Mexican tableland, and throughout 
Lower California. 

Some species inhabit the scattered growth of 
plants in sandy areas, but they are more gener- 
ally characteristic of harder and more rock- 
strewn soil, rocky mesas, and foothill slopes. 
There a few species make burrows in open 
ground, sometimes with a single hole, but most 
of them make their nests under rocks, in crev- 
ices, or in burrows sheltered by such desert 
bushes as Covillea, Bursera, Olneya, Cercidium, 
, and mesquites. 

In these shelters pocket mice make little 
mounds a few inches high and ten or fifteen 
inches across. The mounds have several en- 
trances on different sides, one of which gen- 
erally shows signs of recent use, although by 
day it is kept closed from within by loose earth. 
Each of the many-entranced dens is occupied 
by a single animal. Early in the morning, be- 
fore the wind fills them with dust, tiny trails 
are to be seen leading from these doorways 
toward the nearest feeding grounds and all 
about their haunts. 

The spiny and the silky pocket mice, sharing 
much the same arid region, have the same food 
plants and are preyed upon by the same ene- 
mies. Tlie food of these mice consists mainly 
of small seeds, including the wild morning 
glory, wild sunflowers, wild parsnips, and a 
multitude of otiiers characteristic of the vari- 
ous areas tliey occupy. 

Pocket mice are strictly nocturnal or crepus- 
cular in habits and appear by day only when 
disturbed. If the plugged entrance to a bur- 
row is opened, however, it will probably be 
quickly stopped up again from within by the 
annoved householder. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



499 



The young, in litters of from two to eight, 
are born at irregular times according to the 
latitude and general weather conditions. In 
the south at least several litters appear to be 
born each year, the young being noted almost 
every month. 

When camping alone for a few days in the 
desert near San Ignacio, in the middle of the 
peninsula of Lower California, I had a unique 
opportunity to learn something of the peculiari- 
ties of the various pocket mice. Three species 
were abundantly represented, including both 
the silky and the spiny kinds. They quickly 
learned that good hunting could be found in 
and about the tents for the rice grains and 
other scattered food and promptly took advan- 
tage of it. 

As soon as approaching darkness began to 
render objects indistinct, from their burrows 
among the surrounding bushes they swarmed 
into camp and were busy throughout the night 
minutely searching the ground under the shel- 
ter tent for every particle of food. In order 
to see these interesting visitors to better advan- 
tage I placed a candle on a small box in the 
middle of the tent. 

Five or six individuals, representing three 
species, often came within the circle of light at 
the same time. At first all were shy and when 
I made any sudden movement would leap in 
every direction, like grasshoppers, and quickly 
vanish. The smallest of the species, a member 
of the silky group, was the shyest of all and 
remained timid and reserved. 

The two larger species, representing both the 
spiny and the silky groups, were much more 
bold and quickly became confiding and delight- 
fully friendly. Their attention was promptly 
attracted to rolled oats which I scattered on 
the ground in a spot well lighted by the candle. 

Sitting quietly close by the bait where the 
visitors congregated I soon had evidence that 
among themselves these little beasts are ex- 
tremely pugnacious. The first to reach the 
food would fiercely charge the next comer and 
always try to leap upon its back, at the same 
time delivering a vicious downward kick with 
its strong hind feet. Occasionally the new- 
comer would charge the one already at the 
food. 

When five or six were trying to secure sole 
possession of the small food pile there was 
lively skirmishing about the premises, as they 
alternately attacked and pursued one another 
over the sand and among the boxes and other 
camp gear scattered about. Amazingly quick 
in movements, they would leap now forward, 
now sidewise, now straight up a foot or more 
in the air, with almost equal celerity; and the 
direction of their movements when attacked 
was often imexpected. When running about 
on the level sand they had a steady, swiftly 
gliding motion, which their tracks showed was 
the result of a series of little jumps. 

Both the spiny and the silky pocket mice be- 
came so confiding the first night that when I 
put my hand on the ground palm up with a 
little rolled oats in it the nearest pocket mouse 
would run to it, stop for an instant to smell 



the finger-tips, and then mount and sit quietly 
on the palm and fill its cheek pouches. 

At such times the mice showed no uneasi- 
ness, even when raised in my hand to within 
a few inches of my eyes in order that I might 
observe their movements more closely. The 
motions of their front feet when putting food 
into the pouches were so rapid that it was im- 
possible to follow them. The nose was held 
just over the food pile, and the cheek pouches 
would slowly but visibly swell as they were 
filled until they stood out like little bladders 
on each sile of the head. 

As soon as they were full the mice became 
uneasy to get away and would run from one 
side of my hand to the other peering down 
the abysmal depth of three feet to the ground 
without daring to leap. As soon as my hand 
was lowered to the ground the mouse darted 
away to carry the food to its store in the 
bushes twenty to thirty yards away, quickly to 
return with empty pouches. 

The mice soon became so tame that while 
they were on my hand or on the ground I 
could with one finger of the other hand stroke 
gently the tops of their heads and backs and 
even pick them up by their tails and suspend 
them head down. When thus held they re- 
mained motionless, their tiny front feet like 
little closed hands held against their breasts. 
When lowered and released they would imme- 
diately resume the filling of their pouches as 
though nothing had happened. Several indi- 
viduals of the dozen or more which made free 
of the tent had lost part of their tails, so that 
they could be readily distinguished. 

One of these little bobtails was so gentle and 
confiding that I became much attached to it. 
It would permit all manner of familiar treat- 
ment, such as being picked up by one foot or 
by the tail, or being turned on its back. With 
this confidence came a sense of proprietorship 
in the good things here so suddenly and myste- 
riously plentiful, as was shown by his attitude 
toward his fellows. 

Again and again when he was filling his 
pouches from a pile of rolled oats in my hand 
I lowered it in a gently sloping position within 
ten or fifteen inches of another mouse gather- 
ing food on the ground. Thereupon the little 
bobtail in my hand would invariably leave the 
task of filling his pouches and without hesita- 
tion leap down on the back of the one on the 
ground. The surprised animal thus assailed 
from an unexpected quarter always fled in 
terror. 

After a short pursuit the bobtailed one would 
come running back and instead of going to the 
equally inviting pile of food on the ground 
would come straight to my hand and complete 
his task. The industry of the little animals 
appeared to be tireless, as working swiftly they 
made trip after trip with pouchloads of food 
to their stores and quickly returned. One night 
I watched this strenuous work for two hours 
until I retired. 

The abundance and boldness of pocket mice 
and kangaroo rats at this place led me to be- 
lieve that there had been a former abundance 



500 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 




Photograph by Howard Taylor JMiddlcton 

YOUNG RED SQUIRRELS AND TIIEIR NEST 

These cute little chaps were found cozily at rest in their nest in 
a pine. They were routed out, however, long enough to have their 
portraits taken. An effort was made to include the mother, but 
without success (see page SS6). 



of their food here, resulting in a large increase 
in the rodent population, but that it was then 
becoming scarce through a failure of rain to 
renew the seed harvest. The invariable out- 
come in such cases is for the small rodents de- 
pendent on seeds and fruits to be reduced by 
famine until they become rare, where previ- 
ously they existed in great numl)crs. This is 
one of Nature's processes whereby the danger 
of the overwhelming increase of any species is 
automatically prevented. 

THE POCKET GOPHERS (Geomys bur- 
sarius and its relatives) 

{Por illustration, see page 515) 

With the exception of the moles no other ex- 
tensive group of .\merican land mammals is so 



highly specialized for a 
peculiarly restricted mode 
of life as the pocket go- 
phers. They form a 
strongly marked family, 
the Geomyidse, which in- 
cludes various genera and 
many species, all very 
similar in external form, 
but varying from the 
size of a large mouse to 
a massively formed ani- 
mal equalling a large 
house rat in weight. 

Without exception they 
are powerfully built for 
their size, the head and 
front half of the body 
being extraordinarily 
muscled to meet the de- 
mands of their mode of 
life. The broad blunt 
head is joined almost di- 
rectly on the body. The 
eyes are small and have 
the restricted vision to 
be expected from animals 
living underground. The 
ears are reduced to little 
fleshy rims about the 
openings, and the short 
naked tail is provided 
with nerves, which ren- 
der it useful as an organ 
(if touch. 

The front teeth are 
broad, cutting chisels, 
and on each side of the 
mouth is a large pocket 
in the skin used for gath- 
ering and carrying food. 
On the front feet are 
long claws, which, when 
not lieing used to dig or 
handle earth, are doubled 
under, against the soles 
of the feet, so that the 
gopher walks on the back 
of them much as the ant- 
eater walks on its folded 
claws. 
Peculiar to North America, pocket gophers 
occupy a great area extending from Illinois, 
Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific 
coast, and from the plains of the Saskatchewan, 
in Canada, southward to Panama. Their ver- 
tical range within these limits extends from sea 
level to timber-line, at above 13,000 feet on 
some of tiie higli volcanoes of Mexico. The 
family attains its greatest development in that 
wonderful region of plains and volcanoes lying 
about the southern end of the Mexican table- 
land. 

In the United States these animals are best 
known as "gophers," but in the range they 
occupy in the Southeastern States they_ are 
called "salamanders" and in Mexico are widely 
known as "tuzas." As a rule they frequent 
treeless areas, but are found also in many 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



501 



types of forests from among the palms and 
other trees of the tropical lowlands to the 
oaks, pines, and firs on the mountain sides. 

All members of the family live wholly un- 
derground, in many-branched horizontal tun- 
nels, which they are continually extending in 
winding and erratic courses about their haunts. 
The tunnels are from two to about five 
inches in diameter, according to the size of the 
animal, and while usually less than six inches 
below the surface, the approaches to the nest 
and storage chambers sometinies drop abruptly 
two or three feet below the regular working 
tunnels to the level of the living quarters. At 
intervals along the tunnels short side branches 
are used as sanitary conveniences, thus ena- 
bling the occupant to keep the main passage- 
ways in a habitable condition. 

The courses of the underground workings 
are roughly indicated on the surface by series 
of piles of loose earth brought up through 
short side passages as the tunnels are ex- 
tended. These little miners' dumps of earth 
vary with the size of the animal, sometimes 
containing more than two bushels. The out- 
lets of the passages leading to the surface are 
kept plugged with loose earth. When these 
animals are numerous the ground is thickly 
dotted in all directions with earth piles, and 
the caving caused by the network of timnels 
just below the surface renders walking difii- 
cult. The perpetual industry of these rodent 
miners outclasses that of the proverbial beaver. 

Gophers are both diurnal and nocturnal, the 
gloom of their tunnels scarcely varying except 
when one of the outlets is temporarily opened. 
They are averse to light, and if the plug to a 
freshly made opening is removed the observer 
may soon catch a glimpse of the owner as he 
suddenly thrusts his head into view for a mo- 
ment before again plugging the door with earth. 

Gophers dig their tunnels by using their teeth 
and the strong claws on the front feet. The 
loose earth is pushed along the tunnel by the 
head, the palms of the front feet, and the 
breast in little jerky movements until it is 
ejected on the surface dump. 

Owing to their poor sight, heavy bodies, and 
short legs, gophers are clumsy and deliberate 
in their movements and peculiarly helpless in 
the open. Apparently appreciating this, they 
rarely venture from their underground shelter 
by day except when in grain fields or similar 
sheltering vegetation. Here they sometimes 
run out two or three feet to cut down a succu- 
lent stalk and drag it hastily within the entrance 
of the tunnel, wlierc it is cut into short sections 
and placed in the cheek pouches if to be used 
as food or left on the dump if the object of 
the cutting is finally to secure the seeds or 
head of ripening grain. 

During the mating season in spring pocket 
gophers run about clumsily from one burrow 
to another and may often be seen on the sur- 
face by the light of the rising sun. Most of 
their short trips above ground are made at 
night, when they sometimes swarm out and 
wander over a limited territory. Their night 
wanderings are proved in California by the 
many bodies which the morning light often re- 



veals in the sticky crude oil on newly oiled 
roads which the gophers have tried to cross. 

From one to seven young are born in a litter, 
but whether there is more than one litter in a 
season or not is unknown. The young when 
about half grown migrate to unoccupied ground 
sometimes one or two hundred yards from the 
home location and make tunnels of their own. 

The food of pocket gophers consists mainly 
of tubers, bulbs, and other roots, including 
many of a more woody fiber. Whole rows of 
potatoes or other root crops are cleaned up by 
the extension of tunnels along them. Some- 
times the animals follow a row of fruit trees, 
cutting the roots and killing tree after tree. In 
graip and alfalfa fields they are great pests, and 
in irrigated country their burrows in ditch 
banks often cause disastrous breaks. 

The big tropical species sometimes exist in 
such numbers as to render successful agricul- 
ture very difficult. Sugar-cane planters in 
many parts of Mexico and Central America are 
compelled to wage unremitting war on them to 
avoid ruin. I know of an instance on a plan- 
tation in Vera Cruz in which thousands were 
killed during a single season without stopping 
the damage from these pests, which swarmed in 
from the adjacent area. 

The large external cheek pouches of pocket 
gophers are used solely for gathering such food 
supplies as seeds, small bulbs, and sections of 
edible roots or plant stems and transporting 
them to storage chambers located along the 
sides of the tunnels. Food is placed in the 
pouches by deft sidewise movements of the 
front feet used like hands, and so quick are 
they that the motions of the feet can scarcely 
be detected. The pockets are emptied by plac- 
ing the front feet on the back ends of the 
pouches and pushing forward, thus forcing out 
the contents. In their tunnels gophers run 
backward and forward with almost equal facil- 
ity, the sensitive naked tail serving to guide 
their backward movements. 

Pocket gophers are stupid solitary little 
beasts, with surly dispositions, and figlit vi- 
ciously when captured or brought to bay. This 
attitude toward the world is justified by the 
host of enemies ever ready to destroy them. 
Among their more active foes are snakes and 
weasels, which pursue them into their tunnels; 
and badgers, which dig them out of their run- 
ways. 

They are also persistently hunted day and 
night by foxes and coyotes. Moreover, by day 
va^-ious kinds of hawks w^atch for them to ap- 
pear at the entrances of their dens, and by 
night the owls, ever alert, capture many. 

When one gopher intrudes into the tunnel of 
another the owner at once fiercely attacks it. 
In some places I have seen Mexicans take ad- 
vantage of this characteristic pugnacity by fast- 
ening the end of a long string about the body 
of a captured goplier and then turning it into 
an occupied tunnel, through a recently made 
opening. Tlie owner, scenting the intruder, 
would immediately attack him, the combatants 
locking their great incisors in a bulldog grip. 

The movements of the string would give no- 
tice of the encounter, and by pulling it out 



502 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



steadily both animals could be drawn forth and 
the enraged owner of the burrow dispatched. 
In this manner I have known an Indian to 
catch more than a dozen gophers in a few 
hours. 

Pocket gophers are active throughout the 
winter even in the coldest parts of their range, 
but in many places must rely largely on food 
accumulated in their storage chambers. 

Alelting snow in the mountains and in the 
North reveals the remains of many tunnels 
made through it along the surface of^ the 
ground. These snow tunnels are often filled 
for long distances with loose earth brought up 
from underground, and after tlie snow disap- 
pears in spring the curious branching earth 
forms left, winding snakelike through the 
meadows, are a great puzzle to those who do 
not know their origin. 

In a state of nature pocket gophers are con- 
stantly bringing the subsoil to the surface and 
burying humus. Over an enormous area they 
exist in such countless thousands that their 
work, like that of angleworms, is often of the 
most beneficial character. On bare slopes, 
however, their work is highly injurious, as it 
greatly increases erosion of the fertile surface 
soil and thus has its direct influence in chang- 
ing world contours 

When civilized man arrives in their haunts 
and upsets natural conditions with cultivated 
crops the new food supply stimulates an in- 
crease in the gopher population and their ac- 
tivities immediately become excessively de- 
structive and necessitate unremitting warfare 
against them. 

THE KANGAROO RATS (Dipodomys 
spectabilis and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 518) 

The desert regions of western North Amer- 
ica have developed several peculiar types of 
mammals, and among them are none hand- 
somer or more interesting than the kangaroo 
rats. These rodents, despite their name, are 
neither kangaroos nor rats, but are near rela- 
tives of the pocket mice, which share their 
desert haunts. 

All are characterized by a kangaroo - like 
form, including small fore legs and feet, long 
hind legs and feet for jumping, and a tail 
longer than the body to serve as a balance. 
In addition, they have large, prominent eyes and 
are provided with skin pouches on each side 
of the mouth for use in holding food to be 
carried to their store chambers. 

The color pattern, like the form, of the kan- 
garoo rats is practically uniform throughout 
the group. Both are well shown in the accom- 
panying plate of Dipodomys spectabilis, the 
largest and most strongly marked species. Its 
total length is from 12 to 14 inches; most of 
the other species are much smaller. 

Kangaroo rats of many species are distrib- 
uted over most of the arid and semiarid re- 
gions of the United States and Mexico, from 
Nebraska, Oklahoma, and the Gulf Coast of 



Texas west to the Pacific coast, and from Mon- 
tana and Washington southward to the Valley 
of Mexico and throughout Lower California. 
They are especially numerous in the southwest- 
ern deserts, where they are the oddest and most 
picturesque of animals. 

Although they have no near relatives in the 
Old World, some of the African and Asiatic 
jerboas are externally almost perfect replicas 
of the kangaroo rats in every detail of form, 
color, and color pattern, even to the tail mark- 
ings. This extraordinary likeness in appear- 
ance of two widely separated and unrelated 
animals is made doubly significant by the fact 
that both live in deserts and have similar 
habits. 

Peculiarly desert animals, kangaroo rats live 
like the pocket mice, without drinking, but ob- 
tain the necessary water through their digestive 
processes. They are most numerous in sandy 
areas, and there the earth is sometimes so rid- 
dled by their burrows as to render horseback 
riding difficult. 

Kangaroo rats are nocturnal and always live 
in burrows dug by themselves. As a rule they 
prefer soft or sandy ground, but some species 
occupy areas where the earth is hard and rocky. 
The burrows of some species have only one or 
two entrances with a small amount of earth 
thrown out, but others make little mounds with 
several openings, entering usually nearly on a 
level or at a slight incline. These openings 
are nearly always conspicuous, and while fre- 
quently near bushes, no effort appears ever to 
be made to conceal them, and a little trail often 
leads away through the soft earth. 

The large Dipodomys spectabilis, which lives 
mainly in New Mexico and Arizona, constructs 
the most notable of all the dwelling places of 
these animals. From its underground workings 
it throws up large mounds of earth, which 
gradually increase in size with the length of 
time they are occupied until they are some- 
times more than 3 feet high and 15 feet or 
more in diameter. From three to a dozen bur- 
ows enter these mounds, usually at the surface 
level of the ground, but some are on the slopes 
of the mound. The mounds, usually located in 
open ground, with their round entrance holes 
from four to five inches in diameter, are ex- 
tremely conspicuous. 

Although generally scattered at varying dis- 
ances from one another, the mounds are some- 
times grouped in colonies. Well-worn trails 
three or four inches broad lead awa}' from the 
entrances, some to other mounds showing 
neighborly intercourse and others far away to 
the feeding grounds, sometimes 200 or 300 
yards distant. One of the openings at the side 
of the mound is usually the main entrance, and 
by, day this is ordinarily kept stopped with 
fresh earth. Within the mound and farther 
under ground are dug a series of ramifying 
passages, among which are located roomy nest 
chambers and store-rooms for food. 

Kangaroo rats are not known to hibernate 
in any part of their range. They lay up food 
for temporary purposes at least and do not go 
abroad in stormv or cold weather. The u'lrth- 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



503 



ern species and those on the colder mountain 
slopes must make large store against the win- 
ter needs. Their food consists mainly of seeds, 
leaves of several plants, and of little plants just 
appearing above ground. Tiny cactus plants 
and the saline fleshy leaves of Sarcobatiis are 
often among the kinds gathered for food. 

The big Dipodomys spectabUis appears to be 
more social than most of its kind, as several 
may be caught in a single mound, and, as al- 
ready said, well-worn trails lead from mound 
to mound. A little noise made just outside one 
of these mounds usually brings a reply or chal- 
lenge in the form of a low drumming or thud- 
ding noise, no doubt made by the animal rap- 
idly striking the ground with its hind feet like 
a rabbit or wood rat. 

When caught they at first struggle to escape, 
but, like a rabbit, do not offer to bite, and soon 
become quiet. They have from two to six 
young, which may be born at any season. 
Nothing appears to be known concerning the 
number of litters in a year. 

When in camp at San Ignacio, in the middle 
of the desert peninsula of Lower California, I 
had an unusual opportunity to learn something 
of the habits of one of the smaller species of 
kangaroo rat abundant there. The moon was 
at its full, and in the clear desert air its radi- 
ance rendered objects near at hand almost as 
distinct as by day. Scattered grains of rice 
and fragments of food on the ground about 
the cook tent attracted many kangaroo rats and 
pocket mice. 

During several nights I passed hours watch- 
ing at close range the habits of these curious 
animals. As I sat quietly on a mess box in 
their midst both the kangaroo rats and the 
mice would forage all about with swift gliding 
movements, repeatedly running across my bare 
feet. Any sudden movement startled them and 
all would dart away for a moment, but quickly 
return. 

Although the kangaroo rats did not become 
so fearless and friendly as the pocket mice, 
they were so intent on the food that at times 
I had no difficulty in reaching slowly down and 
closing my hand over their backs. I did this 
dozens of times, and after a slight struggle 
they always became quiet until again placed on 
the ground, when they at once renewed their 
search for food as though no interruption had 
occurred. 

One night, to observe them better, I spilled 
a small heap of rice on the sand between my 
feet. Within two or three minutes half a dozen 
kangaroo rats had discovered it and were bus- 
ily at work filling their cheek pouches with the 
grains and carrying them away to their store 
chambers. 

While occupied in this rivalry for food they 
became surprisingly pugnacious. If one was 
working at the rice pile and another rat or a 
pocket mouse approached, it immediately dart- 
ed at the intruder and drove it away. The 
mode of attack was to rush at an intruder and, 
leaping upon its back, give a vigorous down- 
ward kick with its strong hind feet. Once I 
saw a pocket mouse kicked in this way. It 
was knocked over and for a minute or more 



afterwards ran about in an erratic course. 
squeaking loudly as though in much pain. 

Sometimes the pursuit of one kangaroo rat 
by another continued for twenty yards or more. 
By the time the pursuer returned another 
would be at the rice pile and it would imme- 
diately dash at the victor of the former fray 
and drive him away. In this way there was a 
constant succession of amusing skirmishes. 

Sometimes an intruder, bolder than the oth- 
ers, would run only two or three yards and 
then suddenly turn and face the pursuer, sit- 
ting up on its hind feet like a little kangaroo. 
The pursuer at once assumed the same nearly 
upright position, with its fore feet close to its 
breast. Both would then begin to hop about 
watching for an opening. Suddenly one would 
leap at the other, striking with its hind feet 
exactly like a game cock. When the kick 
landed fairly on the opponent there was a dis- 
tinct little thump and the victim rolled over on 
the ground. After receiving two or three 
kicks the weaker of the combatants would run 
away. 

The thump made by the kick when they were 
fighting solved the mystery which had covered 
this sound heard repeatedly during my nights 
at this camp. _ The morning light revealed a 
multitude of little paired tracks made by the 
combatants in these battles. Such tracks in 
the sand have been referred to as the "fairy 
dances" of these beautiful little animals, but 
the truth revealed proves them to be really 
"war dances." 

THE BANDED LEMMING (Dicrostonyx 

nelsoni and its relatives) 

{For illusf ration, see page 579) 

Banded lemmings are unique among the 
mouse tribe in their change from the rufous 
brown, or gray summer coat to pure white in 
winter. With the assumption of the white 
winter fur a thick, horny, padlike growth de- 
velops on the underside of the two middle 
claws of the front feet, which is molted in 
spring when the winter coat is lost. For an 
animal living in the far North the usefulness 
of a white coat in winter is evident, but no good 
reason is apparent for these curious claw-pads. 

The summer coat varies remarkably in color 
and color pattern, and many of the lemmings 
in their beautiful shades of chestnut, browns, 
or grays are very handsome. They are more 
heavily proportioned than field mice and the 
very long fluffy fur, which completely conceals 
the rudimentary ears and tail, tends to exag- 
gerate their size. 

The banded lemmings form a strongly 
marked group, containing a number of species 
inhabiting circumpolar regions. In North 
America they occur nearly everywhere in the 
arctic and subarctic parts, including Greenland, 
most of northern Canada, including the Arctic 
islands, and a large part of Alaska, including 
some of the Aleutian Islands. 

They range as far northward as vegetation 
affords them a proper food supply and have 
been well known to many of the explorers of 



504 



THE NATIONAI. GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



those stern northern wilds. To the southward 
they extend into the subarctic northern for- 
ests, where they usually keep to the open bar- 
ren areas. 

Not much is known of their life histories on 
this continent. They are mainly nocturnal and 
live in burrows from two to three feet long, 
ending with a nest chamber four or five inches 
in diameter, warmly lined with grass and moss. 
Near the nest there is usually a branch burrow 
a foot or more long which is used for sanitary 
purposes and as a place of refuge when the 
main burrow is invaded. 

In the nests during early summer litters gen- 
erally containing about three young are brought 
forth. Ordinarily the burrows open in unshel- 
tered places, but in wooded regions may be 
under a log or beneath a bush or the roots of 
a tree. No runways lead out from the bur- 
rows as is customary with many of their rela- 
tives. They are active throughout the winter, 
making many tunnels along the surface of the 
ground under the snow, which are revealed 
when it melts in spring. 

These surface tunnels are their foraging 
roads, safe from most of the fierce storms 
which rage overhead. At times, however, the 
snowy shelter is blown away or some other 
cause brings the lemmings to the surface, where 
they blunder aimlessly about, soon to be cap- 
tured by some enemy or to perish from the 
cold. As their infrequent appearance on top 
of the snow is usually during storms, the 
Alaskan Eskimos have a legend that these 
white lemmings live in the land above the stars 
and descend in a spiral course to the earth 
during snowstorms. 

Although banded lemmings never become so 
extraordinarily numerous over great areas as 
the brown species, they become very abundant 
at times in the barren grounds of Canada and 
the Arctic islands and migrate from one part 
of their range to another. The best observa- 
tion in regard to this was made by Rae in June 
at the mouth of the Coppermine River. On 
the west bank of the river north of the Arctic 
Circle he encountered thousands of them speed- 
ing northward. 

The ice on some of the smaller streams had 
broken up and he was amused to see the little 
animals running back and forth along the banks 
looking for a smooth place in the stream, indi- 
cating a slow current, where they could swim 
across. Having found such a place, tlicy at 
once jumped in and swam quickly to the oppo- 
site side, where they climbed out and, after 
shaking themselves like dogs, continued their 
journey as though nothing had happened. 

During the years I lived in northern Alaska 
the advent of winter was marked by invasion 
of the storehouses by many brown lemmings 
and other mice, but banded lemmings rarely 
appeared. When occasionally captured alive, 
the old ones fought viciously, but the young 
were gentle and quickly became tame and in- 
teresting pets. Their skins were highly prized 
by the little Eskimo girls to make garments 
and robes for ihcir walrus ivorv dolls. 



THE BROWN LEMMING (Lemmus 
alascensis and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page ^ig) 

Eew small mammals are so well known in 
far northern lands as the brown lemmings. 
They form a small group of species having a 
close general resemblance to some of the field 
mice, from which, however, they may at once 
be distinguished by their much heavier propor- 
tions, extremely short tails, and the remarkable 
length of the hair on their backs and rumps. 

They inhabit most of the arctic and subarctic 
lands of both Old and New Worlds. In North 
America they are known from the northern- 
most lands, beyond 83° north latitude, to the 
southern end of Hudson Bay, and throughout 
most of northern Canada and all of Alaska, 
including the islands of Bering Sea. 

The extraordinary migrations of these lem- 
mings have attracted attention far back in the 
early history of northern Europe. At inter- 
vals, through favorable conditions, they become 
superabundant over a large area, and then a 
sudden resistless desire to migrate in a certain 
direction appears to seize the entire lemming 
population. The little beasts start in a swarm- 
ing horde, sometimes containing millions, and 
traverse the country. 

In their travels they appear indifferent to all 
obstacles and with dogged and unwavering per- 
sistence swim the streams and lakes encoun- 
tered on their way. Similar migrations have 
been observed at various points in Arctic 
America, several of them in Alaska, where the 
lemmings abound on the open tundras. 

These migrations sometimes continue for 
more than one season, the animals meanwhile 
being killed in countless numbers by disease, 
by accident in field and flood, and, in addition, 
through the heavy toll taken from their num- 
bers by their winged and four-footed foes, 
which always gather in numbers to accompany 
them. 

The migrations sometimes wear out through 
the diminution in numbers, and sometimes 
when they reach the sea, as in Norway, they 
are said to enter the water and swim offshore 
until they perish. When one of these swarms 
of rodents passes through a farming district it 
cleans up the crops and other surface vegeta- 
tion like a visitation of locusts. 

These lemmings do not hibernate, but, active 
throughout the severest winters, are abroad 
almost equally by day and by night. Their 
burrows consist of winding tunnels, often 
many-branched and with more than one open- 
ing. A dry bed of peat or a dense growtli of 
moss is often pierced by a network of them. 
Well-defined runways often lead away from 
the burrows or from the entrance of one bur- 
row to that of another. 

Their tunnels run everywhere under the 
snow, with occasional passages leading to the 
surface. When fierce gales blow away the 
snow or a winter rain melts it, many lemmings 
lose touch with their burrows and wander 
about until they perish from cold or are caught 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



505 



by some enemy. They are sometimes found 
several miles from shore, where they have 
strayed out on the sea ice. 

In winter in the fur countries, in company 
with held mice, they invade storehouses and 
habitations in search of food. Among their 
enemies are ravens and all northern hawks and 
owls, as well as foxes, weasels, lynxes, bears, 
and other beasts of prey of all degree. 

Within their underground tunnels and often 
in dense vegetation on the surface lemmings 
make warmly lined nests of grass and moss in 
which their young, from two to eight in num- 
ber, are born. The young appear at varying 
times, thus indicating several litters each year. 

When taken alive, the old ones are fierce and 
courageous, growling and fighting savagely ; but 
several half-grown young brought me during 
my residence in Alaska proved to be most 
amusing and inoffensive little creatures. From 
the first they permitted me to handle them 
without offering to bite and showed no signs 
of fear. 

They were kept in a deep tin box, from 
which they made continual efforts to escape. 
When I extended one finger near the bottom 
of the box they would stand erect on their 
hind feet and reach up toward it, using their 
forepaws like little hands. If my finger was 
lowered sufficiently they would climb up into 
my hand and thence to my shoulder, showing 
no sign of haste, but much curiosity, continu- 
ally sniffing with their noses and peering at 
everything with their bright beadlike eyes. 

They were curiously expert in walking on 
their hind feet, holding the body in an upright 
position and taking short steps. If anything 
was held just out of reach above their heads, 
as the point of my finger, they would continue 
in an erect position for a considerable time. 
At such times they would reach up with their 
front paws and often spring up on their hind 
feet for half an inch above the floor trying to 
touch it. When eating they sat upright on 
their haunches, like little marmots, and held 
the food in their front paws. 

THE COMMON FIELD MOUSE, OR 

MEADOW MOUSE (Microtus penn- 

sylvanicus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 522) 

The Pennsylvania meadow mouse is a small 
species about as long in body as the house 
mouse, but much more heavily proportioned. 
Its head is rounded, the eyes small and bead- 
like, the legs and tail are short, and the com- 
paratively coarse fur is so long that it almost 
conceals the short, rounded ears. 

It is a typical representative of a group of 
smajl mammals commonly known as field mice, 
or "bear mice," which includes a great num- 
ber of species closely similar in general appear- 
ance, but varying much in size. In England 
they are termed voles, and large species living 
about the water in England and northern 
Europe are known as "water rats." 

Field mice are circumpolar in distribution 



and abound from the Arctic barrens, beyond 
the limit of trees, to southern Europe and the 
Himalayas, in the Old World, and to the south- 
ern United States and along high mountains 
through Mexico and Guatemala, in Central 
America. They occur in most parts of the 
United States except in some of the hotter and 
more arid sections. 

As a rule field mice prefer low-lying fertile 
land, as grassy meadows, but the banks of 
streams, the rank growths of swamps and 
marshes, the borders of damp woodlands, the 
grassy places on Arctic tundras, or the dwarfed 
vegetation of glacial slopes and valleys above 
timber-line on high mountains furnish homes 
for one species or another. 

Two, and even three, species of field mice are 
sometimes found in the same locality, but each 
kind usually occupies a situation differing in 
some way from that chosen by the others. 
Some occupy comparatively dry ground and 
others, like the European water rat, live in 
marshes and are almost as aquatic as the musk- 
rat. Most species living about the water are 
expert in diving and in swimming, even under 
water. In streams inhabited by large trout 
they are often caught and eaten by the fish. 

The presence of field mice is nearly always 
indicated by smoothly worn little roads or run- 
ways about an inch, in width, which form a 
network among the vegetation in their haunts. 
These runways lead away from the entrances 
of their burrows and wind through the vegeta- 
tion to their feeding grounds. They are kept 
clean and free from straws and other small 
obstructions, so that the owners when alarmed 
may run swiftly to tlie shelter of their burrows. 
Fully conscious of their helplessness, meadow 
mice are as cautious as the necessities of exist- 
ence will permit. 

Their burrows are often in the midst of 
grassy meadows, as well as under the shelter 
of logs, rocks, tussocks of grass, or roots of 
trees, and lead to underground chambers filled 
with large nests of dry grass, which shelter the 
owner in winter and often in summer. The 
summer nests in many places, especially in 
damp meadows or marshes, are made in little 
hollows in the surface or in tussocks of grass. 
In these nests several litters containing from 
four to eleven young are born each year. 

It is rarely that an observer is located where 
he can study the every-day lives of little ani- 
mals like the meadow mice and at the same 
time go on with his regular occupation. At 
one of my mountain camps in Mexico I for- 
tunately pitched my tent on a patch of lawn- 
like grass in front of the ruins of an abandoned 
hut. Runways of field mice formed a network 
everywhere in the surrounding growth of grass 
and weeds. 

For hours at a time as I worked quietly in 
the tent the many mice, unconscious of my 
presence, came silently along their little roads 
through the tall vegetation to the border of the 
short grass. Just within the shelter of the tall 
growth they would each time stop and remain 
watchfully immovable for a half minute, and 
then, if everything was quiet, make a swift run 




''^i^i^^'f^^^::::. 





'if ? 

1 



s f 






'**«J3 



A^*-**- 



^SS^'^'S^, 



ANTELOPE JACK RABBIT 

LepHS alleni 







306 




CALIFORNIA JACK RABBIT 

Lepus californicus 




VARYING HARE, or SNOWSHOE RABBIT 
Lepus amer'icanus 



507 



508 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



two or three feet into the open, hite off a tender 
httle grass blade and dash back to the sheltered 
road. There they would sit up squirrel-Hke, 
holding the grass blades in their forepaws and 
eating them rapidly, or would sometimes carry 
the food back to the burrows. 

Occasionally as the mice darted into the open 
I made a slight squeaking noise and perhaps 
two or three in sight at the time would in- 
stantly turn and dash back into the sheltered 
road, sometimes not reappearing for a long 
time. «\gain and again I saw them come into 
the open for food, and before securing it sud- 
denly scamper back in a panic without apparent 
cause for alarm 

Eternal vigilance is the only defense such 
animals have, and despite their watchfulness 
myriads of them are devoured daily by a large 
number of rapacious birds and mammals, in- 
cluding even such huge beasts as the great 
Alaskan brown and grizzly bears, which dig 
them from their burrows on grassy northern 
mountain sides. 

Despite their numerous natural enemies field 
mice are so prolific they continue among the 
most destructive of agricultural pests. They 
are so obscure and the damage by a single 
mouse appears so insignificant, that it requires 
a knowledge of their habits, their wide distri- 
bution, and their enormous numbers to appre- 
ciate what a serious drain they are on the 
farmer's income, even when in their normal 
numbers. 

In summer they feed on growing grass, 
clover, alfalfa, and grain, seeds, bulbs, root 
crops, and garden vegetables. In fall they con- 
gregate under shocks to feed on the grain, and 
in winter often do enormous injury to young 
or even well-grown fruit and other trees by 
gnawing off the bark on the base of the trunk 
and roots, sometimes in this way destroying 
entire orchards and nurseries. 

One species in California destroys large 
quantities of raisins drying in the field by car- 
rying them off to some shelter, where they cut 
out the seeds and leave the rest of the fruit. I 
have seen half a pound of raisins under a piece 
of board, the result of the night's work of a 
single mouse. 

Wliile field mice are always destructive, at 
intervals they have sudde.i and mysterious ac- 
celerations of increase and become so exces- 
sively abundant that they are a veritable plague. 
Many instances of tliis are on record in the Old 
World, where they have become so numerous 
as to call forth governmental intervention. 

The most notable recent outbreak of this 
kind in the United States took place in the 
Huml)()ldt Valley, Nevada, where, during the 
winters from 1906 to 1908, they swarmed over 
the cultivated parts of the valley and completely 
destroyed 18,000 acres of alfalfa, even devour- 
ing the roots of tlie plants. During thjs out- 
break the mice in the alfalfa fields were esti- 
mated to number as high as 12,000 to the acre. 

Whenever field mice become over-abundant 
notice appears to go out among their natural 
enemies, and in extraordinary numbers hawks, 
owls, crows, ravens, sea gulls, coyotes, foxes, 



bobcats, weasels, and other animals appear to 
■prey upon them. 

At no season of the year are they free from 
their foes, for they remain active throughout 
the winter, and most species apparently lay up 
no winter store of food. They travel to winter 
feeding places through series of tunnels under 
the snow, and it is mainly at this season Uiat 
they do the most serious damage to orchards 
and shrubbery. 

In the far North at the beginning of winter 
they gather in large numbers about the fur- 
trading stations and other habitations, where 
they persistently invade the food supplies. 

Some of the northern mice, however, gather 
stores of food for winter. A species living 
along the coast of the Bering Sea and else- 
where on the Arctic tundra of Alaska accumu- 
lates a quart or more of little bulbous grass 
roots, which are delicious when boiled. They 
are hidden in nests of grass and moss among 
the surface vegetation, and before the first 
snowfall I have seen the Eskimo women 
searching for them by prodding likely places 
with a long stick. The roots thus taken from 
the mice are kept to be served as a delicacy 
to guests during winter festivals. 

THE PINE MOUSE (Pitymys pinetorum 

and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 522) 

The pine mice form a small group of species 
peculiar to North America and closely related 
to the field mice. They are similar in forna to 
the common field mice of the Eastern States, 
but are usually smaller, with much shorter tails 
and shorter, finer, and more glossy fur. 

Most of the pine mice are limited to the 
wooded region of the States between the At- 
lantic coast and the eastern border of the Great 
Plains, and from the Hudson River valley and 
the border of the Great Lakes south to the 
Gulf coast. Strangely cnou^i', one species lives 
in a restricted belt covered w^ith tropical forest 
along the middle eastern slope of the Cordil- 
lera, which forms the eastern wall of the Mex- 
ican tableland, on the border between the 
States of Vera Cruz and Puebla. 

Pine mice occupy the borders of thin forests 
and brushy areas, from which they work out 
into the open l)orderlands, especially in or- 
cliards or other places wlicre there are scat- 
tered trees amid a rank growth of weeds. In- 
stead of making their runways among growing 
vegetation on the surface of the ground like 
field mice, they live in little underground tiih- 
ncls or burrows which extend in all direc- 
tions through their haunts. These tunnels are 
closely like those of the common mole except 
that they are smaller and have frequent open- 
ings to the surface, through which the owners 
make short excursions for food. They often 
utilize the tunnels of moles when conveniently 
located for their purposes. 

The tunnels are often so near the surface 
that the ground is slightly uplifted or broken 
as by a mole, or they are made under the fallen 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



509 



leaves and other small decaying vegetable mat- 
ter covering tlie ground under the trees. Occa- 
sionally, when the surface soil becomes dry 
and hard, the burrows are deeper, so that no 
surface indications can be discovered. On ac- 
count of the similarity of their burrows the 
depredations of pine mice are commonly attrib- 
uted to moles. 

Several inches below the surface pine mice 
excavate oval chambers to be used for nests or 
for storage purposes. The nest chambers have 
several entrances from ramifying tunnels and 
are tilled with short fme pieces of grass, mak- 
ing a warm nest-ball. Here the several litters 
of young are born each year. Pine mice are 
less prolific than field mice, however, and the 
litters contain only from one to four young. 

The food chambers are larger than the nest 
chambers, and when full of stores are kept 
closed with earth. In these are stored short 
sections of green or dry grasses, bulbous grass 
roots, and short sections of other edible roots. 
One such store contained about three quarts of 
the fleshy roots of a morning glory cut into 
short sections. 

Pine mice obtain much of their food from 
the bark about the bases and roots of trees, in- 
cluding both coniferous and deciduous species. 
They kill many small trees and shrubs by gird- 
ling, or by cutting the roots below the surface, 
and in this way frequently inflict severe dam- 
age in orchards and nurseries. Owing to their 
underground habits they are much more dan- 
gerous to orchards than field mice. They also 
do much damage by burrowing along rows of 
potatoes and other root crops, upon which they 
feed. 

Both pine mice and field mice are serious 
pests to agriculture and only by vigilant care 
can they be prevented from steadily reducing 
the returns from farm and orchard. A mouse 
appears so insignificant an enemy that the gen- 
eral inclination among farmers is to ignore it, 
but both field and pine mice exist in such enor- 
mous numbers and are so generally distributed 
that the aggregate annual losses from them are 
great. 

Clean cultivation in orchards, especially for 
some distance immediately about the trees, is 
an excellent protective measure against both of 
these mice. The shrubbery and fruit trees of 
orchards, lawns, and gardens may be protected 
by the use of poisoned baits and traps as soon 
as signs of pine mice or field mice are observed. 

THE RED-BACKED MOUSE (Evotomys 
gapperi aiul its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page ji'j) 

With the exception of the banded lemmings 
the red-backed mice are the most brightly col- 
ored of the smaller northern rodents. They 
are close relatives of the common field mice, 
which they about equal in size, but from whicli 
they are distinguished externally by rufous col- 
oration, finer and more glossy pelage, larger 
ears, and proportionately longer tails. 

The red-backed mice form a group contain- 



ing a considerable number of species distrib- 
uted throughout the northern circumpolar 
lands, except on the barren islands of the Arctic 
Sea. In North America tliey occur from the 
Arctic tundras north of the limit of trees 
southward throughout Alaska and Canada to 
the northern United States. With other north- 
ern species of mammals, birds, and plants they 
follow the high mountain ranges still farther 
southward to North Carolina, New Mexico, 
and middle California. 

It is true that in the far North they are nu- 
merous on the moss-grown tundras, and in the 
South range above timber-line on high moun- 
tains. As a general rule, however, they are 
woodland animals, whether among the spruces, 
birches, and aspens of the North or farther 
south in ihe United States in the cool fir and 
aspen-clad slopes of mountains. They also fre- 
quent old, half-cleared fields, brush-grown or 
rocky areas, and similar places where cover is 
abundant. 

Although so closely related to the field mice, 
the red-backed species are not known to be- 
come excessively abundant nor seriously to in- 
jure crops. One reason for their harmlessness 
in this respect may be their strong preference 
for forest haunts. 

I once found them numerous in the grass- 
grown streets and yards of an abandoned min- 
ing camp in the forest at the head of Owens 
River, in the Sierra Nevada, of California. The 
mice were making free use of the congenial 
shelter afforded by the old log cabins, and their 
runways and entrances to burrows were all 
about under scattered boards and similar cover. 

Tliey are abroad equally by day and by night, 
and for this reason are better known to woods- 
men than most of the small woodland animals. 
When foraging by day among the fallen leaves 
and deep green vegetation they present a most 
graceful and attractive sight, now moving about 
with quick and pretty ways, now pausing to sit 
up squirrel-like to eat some tid-bit held in the 
front paws and then on the alert to detect a 
suspected danger and poised in quivering readi- 
ness for instant flight. 

Red-backed mice usually live in underground 
burrows similar to those of field mice, but gen- 
erally located with more care in dry situations, 
the entrances sheltered by a stump, old log, 
root of a tree, rock, or other object. Ordina- 
rily they do not make such well-defined run- 
ways as do many field mice, and sometimes no 
trace of a trail can be found leading away from 
their burrows. But where they travel about 
through small dense vegetation, under logs and 
about stumps and rocks they often make well- 
marked trails. 

Their nests are bulky and formed of a mass 
of fine dry grass, moss, and otlicr soft mate- 
rial, which is sometimes located in an under- 
ground chamber opening off the burrow and 
sometimesjn hollow stumps and logs or under 
otiier surface shelters. But little is known 
about the home life of these mice except that 
they are prolific, and between April and Octo- 
ber have several litters containing from three 
to eight young" in eacli. 




-i<i^ 



I .''■■ 



m' 




.- 'Hv 




ARCTIC HARE 

Leptis arcticus 




COTTONTAIL RABBIT 
Sylvilagus floridanus 



510 




MARSH RABBIT 

Syl'vilagus pa/ustris 




PIKA, LITTLE CHIEF HARE, or CONY 

Ochotona princips 



511 



512 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



They feed upon a great variety of seeds, 
fruits, roots, and succulent vegetable matter 
and lay up stores for winter in underground 
chambers or in hollow logs and similar places 
above ground. 

With the coming of winter they gather about 
cabins and other habitations in their territory 
and become as persistent as house mice in 
searching out and raiding food supplies of all 
kinds. When the more appreciated kinds of 
food fail they resort to gnawing the bark from 
roots and bases of trunks of small deciduous 
trees of various kinds. 

During my sledge journeys in the region 
about Bering Strait I found the skins of many 
red-backed mice among the Eskimo children. 
The small boys kept them with lemming skins 
as evidences of their prowess with miniature 
dead-fall traps and blunt-pointed arrows, and 
the little girls kept them as prized robes for the 
dolls carved by their fathers from wood or wal- 
rus ivory. 

THE RUFOUS TREE MOUSE (Phena- 
comys longicaudus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 523) 

The genus Phenacomys, to which the rufous 
tree mouse belongs, includes a number of spe- 
cies closely similar in size and external appear- 
ance to some of the well-known field mice. 
The structure of their teeth, however, shows 
that they form a distinct group of animals. 

So far as known, the living members of the 
genus are confined to the Boreal parts of North 
America, where they range from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific in Canada, and southward along 
the mountains to New Hampshire, New Mex- 
ico, and northern California. The discovery 
of fossil representatives of the genus in Hun- 
gary and England indicates that it was for- 
merly circumpolar in distribution. 

All but one species of the genus live on the 
ground, inhabit burrows, make runways through 
the small vegetation, and feed on grasses and 
other herbage— all in close conformity with the 
habits of the meadow mice. 

The tree mouse, however, is a strongly aber- 
rant member of the group. It differs from all 
the others, and from all field mice, not only in 
its rufous color and longer tail, but in its re- 
markable mode of life. It is restricted to the 
humid region of magnificent forests in western 
Oregon and northwestern California, where it 
often spends its life in the tops of such noble 
trees as the Sitka spruce, the Douglas fir, and 
the coast redwood. Such an amazing depar- 
ture from the habits of its kind lends unusual 
interest to this little animal. 

Its nests are generally located high up in the 
trees, sometimes 100 feet from the ground,_ in 
forests where the branches of neighboring 
trees interlace so that it can pass from one to 
another and inhabit a world of its own, free 
from the ordinary four-footed enemies which 
prowl below. 

The nests vary in size, structure, and loca- 
tion. In Oregon they have been found only in 



large trees at elevations varying from 30 to 100 
feet. On the seashore near Eureka, California, 
they are placed on the branches of small sec- 
ond-growth myrtle and redwood trees Far- 
ther inland in the same region many are in 
small trees, within a few yards of the ground, 
on the border of heavy redwood forests. 

The higher nests of the tree mice are often 
the deserted and remodeled homes of the big 
gray tree squirrel of that region {Sciurus 
griseus) and contain a foundation of coarser 
sticks than in the nests wholly built by the 
mice. The larger proportion of the nests are 
built by the mice and are usually composed of 
small twigs, fragments of a netlike lichen, skel- 
etons of fir, spruce, or other coniferous leaves, 
and the droppings of the mice themselves. 
They vary from small oval structures a few 
inches in diameter, located well out on the 
branches, to great masses close against and 
sometimes entirely surrounding the tree trunks, 
supported on several branches, and measuring 
three feet long and two or three feet high. 

The interior of these large structures is 
pierced with numerous passageways and some- 
times as many as five separate nest chambers 
are scattered through one. Tunnels run out 
along each of the limbs on which the mass 
rests, and if it extends all the way round one 
main tunnel encircles the trunk from which 
these hallways branch. 

Such great nests have evidently been used 
for a long period and have grown with the 
steady accumulation of material. This has 
gradually decayed and become a solid mass of 
earthy humus. The large nests are usually the 
abodes of a single female, the homes of the 
males having been found to be small and more 
often located away from the trunk of the tree. 
The food of the red tree mouse, so far as 
known, consists entirely of the fleshy parts of 
fir and spruce needles and the bark from conif- 
erous twigs. 

Tree mice appear to breed throughout most 
of the year and have from one to four young 
in a litter. They are mainly nocturnal, and 
when driven from their nests by day appear 
rather slow and uncertain in their movements. 
Those living in highly placed nests usually es- 
cape by running out on the limbs, and pass 
from one tree to another if necessary. Those 
in small trees usually drop quickly from limb 
to limb until they reach the ground, when they 
run to the nearest shelter. 

That these mice sometimes descend to the 
ground of their own volition is prol^able. but 
the fact that the stomach of every individual 
so far examined has contained only the fleshy 
parts of coniferous leaves indicate that their 
food habits have become so fixed as to make 
arboreal life a necessity. 

The modification of the habits of a member 
of a group of ground - frequenting animals, 
with a structure adapted to such an existence, 
to those of a strictly arboreal animal is so 
strange as to make the question of cause a 
puzzling one. 

In the Hawaiian Islands the introduction of 
the mongoose has made the common house rat 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



513 



arboreal in habits, and possibly in the remote 
past the pressure of some ground-frequenting 
enemy thus affected the hves of the red tree 
mouse. An animal rarely makes an abrupt 
change in its habits without direct pressure 
from some source, and then only as a matter 
of self-preservation. 

THE MUSKRAT (Fiber zibethicus and its 

relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 326) 

The muskrat, or "musquash," as it is widely 
known in the northern fur country, is three or 
four times the size of the common house rat, 
to which it bears a superhcial resemblance. It 
has a compactly formed body, short legs, and 
strong hind feet partly webbed and otherwise 
modified for swimming. The long, nearly 
naked, and scaly tail is strongly flattened ver- 
tically and in the water serves well as a rudder. 
The fur is nearly as tine and dense as that of 
the beaver and, as in that .animal, protects its 
owner from the cold water in which so much 
of its life is spent. 

Muskrats are peculiar to North America, 
where they exist in great numbers. Aquatic in 
habits, they have a wide distribution along 
streams of all sizes and among marshes, ponds, 
and lakes from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and 
from a little beyond the limit of trees on the 
Arctic barrens south throughout most of the 
United States. They reach our southern bor- 
der at the delta of the Mississippi and the delta 
of the Colorado, at the head of the Gulf of 
California. 

Within this vast area they have been modi- 
fied by their environment into several species 
and geographic races, none of which difi^er 
much in appearance from the well-known ani- 
mal of the Eastern States. 

The nearest kin of the muskrats are the 
short-tailed field mice, so numerous in our 
damp meadows. Like the latter, the muskrat 
has several litters of young each season. The 
young are born blind, naked, and helpless, and 
number from three to thirteen to a litter. This 
great fecundity has enabled the muskrats to 
hold their own through years of persistent 
trapping. 

They still occupy practically all their original 
range and yield a steady toll of valuable fur 
each season. In 1914 more than 10,000,000 of 
their skins were sold in London, and other 
millions were handled in America. The aggre- 
gate returns on muskrat skins are so great as 
to constitute it our most valuable fur-bearer. 
The furriers make its skins up in its natural 
color or dress and dye it and give it the trade 
names of "Hudson seal," "river mink," or 
"ondatra mink." 

In suitable marshes, as on the eastern shore 
of Maryland, muskrats become extremely abun- 
dant and render such areas valuable as natural 
"fur farms." One Maryland marsh containing 
1,300 acres has yielded from $2,000 to $7,000 
worth of skins a year. Not only are the skins 
of value, but the flesh is palatable, and is sold 



readily under the trade name of "marsh rabl^it" 
in the markets of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and 
elsewhere. 

There is little doubt that owners of favor- 
ably situated marshes could derive from them 
a steady revenue by keeping them stocked with 
proper food plants and protecting the muskrats 
from their enemies. The value of these fur- 
bearers is becoming more and more appreci- 
ated and many States have laws restricting the 
trapping season to a period in fall and winter 
when the fur is prime. 

In marshes about shallow lakes or bordering 
sluggish rivers muskrats build roughly conical 
lodges or "houses," three to four feet high, 
with bases, usually in shallow water, several 
feet broader. These houses are made of roots 
and stems of plants with a mixture of mud. 
An oval chamber is left in the interior, well 
above the water level, to which entrance is 
gained by one or more passageways opening 
under water. These shelters are mainly for 
winter use, but the young are sometimes born 
in them as well as in large grass nests among 
dense marsh vegetation. 

The curious conical lodges are familiar ob- 
jects about marshes in the Eastern and Norlh- 
ern States, and I remember seeing, a few years 
ago, a specially well - formed muskrat house 
close to the historic bridge at Concord, and 
others along the Concord River. Within ten 
years muskrat houses were common in marshy 
ponds in Potomac Park, Washington, where 
the Lincoln Memorial Building now stands. 

Where the banks of streams or lakes rise 
abruptly, the muskrats make their home in dry 
chambers in the banks above water level at the 
end of a tunnel opening either under water or 
close to the water level. Worn trails lead up 
the banks about such places and well-marked 
runways are made through the heavy rerds 
and marsh grasses in their haunts. 

Muskrats are mainly nocturnal animals, but 
often move about during the day. I have seen 
them repeatedly swimming close to the bank of 
the Potomac a short distance above Washing- 
ton. They like to carry their food to slightly 
elevated points where they can overlook the 
water along shore, such as the top of a project- 
ing log, large stone, or earthen bank, from 
which they plunge headlong at the first alarm. 
Many a solitary canoeman gliding silently along 
the shore of stream or pond at night has been 
startled by the disproportionately loud splash 
made by a muskrat diving from its resting 
place. 

Their food consists mainly of the roots and 
stems of succulent plants varied with fresh- 
water clams, an occasional fish, and even by 
cultivated vegetables grown in places readily 
accessible from their haunts. They store up 
roots and other vegetable matter for w'nter 
use and remain active throughout that season. 
The roots of which their "houses" are built are 
frequently those used for food and sometimes 
serve as winter supplies. 

As a rule, muskrats keep near their homes in 
winter, making excursions here and there be- 
neath the ice. Sometimes the water rises and 




PORCUPINE 

Erethizon dorsatuin 




JUMPING MOUSE 

Zapus hiidsonius 



514 




SILKY POCKET MOUSE 
Perognathus fta--vus 



SPINY POCKET MOUSE 

Perognathus h'lsplJiis 









• il^fm^ K. ,?. 



POCKET. GOPHER 

Geomvs bur sarins 



515 



516 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



forces them out and they wander widely in 
search of new locations. When encountered at 
such times they show extraordinary cour..ge 
and fiercely attack man or beast. The lirst 
muskrat I ever saw was one which a farmer 
met in midwinter in a snowy road in northern 
New York. As soon as the man drew near, 
the animal rushed at him with bared teeth and 
fought savagely until killed. 

Muskrats are usually harmless animals and 
their presence in marshes and along water- 
courses lends a pleasant touch of primitive 
wildness to the most commonplace situations. 
They appear to have so adapted their habits to 
the presence of men that they go on with their 
affairs with curious indifference to their human 
neighbors. In irrigated country or elsewhere 
where banked ditches are built their habits ren- 
der them serious pests, as their burrows and 
tunnels drain ponds or cause destructive wash- 
outs. 

An interesting chapter in the history of these 
animals began in 1905, when four Canadian 
muskrats were introduced on a nobleman's es- 
tate in Bohemia. Since then they have in- 
creased rapidly and spread over a large area 
in Bohemia and beyond its borders. The 
streams in the region they occupy are con- 
trolled by grassy banks, and dams are built to 
form ponds for tish culture, which is a large 
industry there. The muskrats persistently tun- 
nel into the banks and dams, causing them to 
give way, thus causing heavy losses to the 
owners. 

They also work havoc among river crabs and 
mussels, which have great economic value, and 
interfere with the tish and their spawning beds. 
To cap the climax of their misdeeds, they are 
reported to feed on grain and vegetables and 
to destroy the eggs of domestic poultry and of 
wild-fowl. It is reported also that these ex- 
patriates in their foreign environment have be- 
come larger animals than their ancestors, and 
that their fur has greatly deteriorated in qual- 
ity. The measures prescribed by the Agricul- 
iural Council of the Kingdom of Bohemia for 
their control are apparently without much suc- 
cess. This instance is a good illustration of 
the danger attending the introduction of an 
animal from its native habitat into a new 
region. 

THE WOODRAT (Neotoma albigula and 

its relatives) 

(For illustration, see page 526) 

In the East known as woodrats, in the West, 
where much more numerous and better known, 
these animals are called "mountain rats" or 
''trade rats." Despite a certain superficial re- 
semblance in size and appearance, woodrats are 
not related to those exotic parasites, the house 
rats, with coarse hair and bare tails, but are 
far more attractive and handsome animals, 
clothed in fine soft fur, delicately colored above 
in soft shades of gray, buffy, or ferruginous, 
while below they are usually snowy white or 
buffy. The tail is fully haired and in some 



species almost as broad and bushy as that of a 
squirrel. Their prominent black eyes and large 
ears give them an air of vivacious intelligence 
which their habits appear to confirm. 

Woodrats are peculiar to North America, 
where they occur from Pennsylvania and Illi- 
nois to the Gulf coast, spreading thence to the 
Pacific and as far north as the headwaters of 
the Yukon, and south through Mexico and 
Central America to Nicaragua. They are not 
plentiful in the southern M'lssissippi Valley and 
eastward, where they live aUiong cliffs and 
broken ledges of rock in the deciduous forests, 
and well deserve their common name. In this 
region their presence is rarely suspected except 
b\' hunters or others familiar with woodland 
li'fe. 

Far more numerous and widely known in 
the Western States and throughout most of 
Mexico, they have adapted themselves to life 
under every climatic condition, from the most 
sun-scorched deserts of the southwest and the 
splendid redwood forests of the humid coastal 
region in northern California to the tropical 
lowlands farther south. 

They live nearly everywhere on the moun- 
tain slopes, even to timber-line at 13.800 feet 
on Mount Orizaba. They thrive in an extraor- 
dinary variety of situations, not only where 
they may find shelter among rocks, but also 
where they must seek safety in nests made on 
tlie surface of the ground or in burrows dug 
by themselves. They are prolific animals and 
each year have several litters containing from 
two to five young. 

The presence of woodrats is generally indi- 
cated by accumulations of odds and ends filling 
the crevices of the rocks about their retreats 
or piled about the entrances of their burrows, 
such accumulations including small sticks, 
pieces of bark, leaves, cactus burrs, bones, 
stones, and any other small objects which may 
be found in the vicinity. 

Sometimes these piles of. fragments seem to 
be made merely for amusement or to work off 
surplus energy, as they form useless gatherings, 
sucii as heaps of small stones, frequently con- 
taining a bushel or more, piled on the rounded 
tops of small protruding boulders in open des- 
ert areas, or small heaps of sticks and other 
material scattered aimlessly about their haunts. 
In the desert where cactuses of many kinds 
aliMund woodrats' nests are often made at the 
b:ises of these or other thorny plants and are 
covered with such a protective coating of cac- 
tus burrs as to deter the most insistent enemy. 
In the heavy forests of northern California 
woodrats build huge conical nests of sticks 
several feet in diameter on the ground, rising 
to a height of five feet or more. 

In southern California and elsewhere some 
species make great nests of sticks eight to 
twenty feet from the ground in live oaks and 
other trees. The stick-pile nests on the ground 
usually have several entrances, with trails lead- 
ing from them, and the underground burrows 
usually have two or more openings. 

As may lie surmised from their habits, wood- 
rats are skillful climbers, both in trees and on 



SMALLER ALVMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



517 



the rough rock walls of the cliffs they inhabit. 
Their only notes appear to be shrill squeaks 
and squeals when quarreling among themselves 
at night. They also express annoyance or 
alarm by a rapid drumming on the ground 
with their hind feet, just as is done by some 
of the hares and rabbits. 

On Santa Margarita Island, in Lower Cali- 
fornia, I found the most curiously located 
habitations of these animals I have seen, the 
bulky stick nests being placed well back in the 
midst of a mangrove thicket growing in a tidal 
lagoon. At high tide the mangroves were iso- 
lated from shore by several rods of water, so 
that only at low tide were the rats able to go 
ashore. In going back and forth they followed 
certain lines of nearly horizontal mangrove 
stems, the discoloration on the bark plainly in- 
dicating the routes which finally led to dry 
land by little trampled roads across the muddy 
ground bordering the shore. 

Back a little way from shore others of the 
same species were living in burrows guarded 
by orthodox stick and trash-pile nests among 
the cactuses. 

Woodrats, especially in northern localities, 
gather stores of pinyon or other nuts, potatoes, 
corn, and any other non-perishable food avail- 
able to meet the season of storms and scarcity, 
concealing these supplies in cavities in the nests 
either above or below the ground. They eat 
many kinds of fruits, seeds, leaves, and other 
parts of plants, sometimes including bark of 
shrubs or small trees and even cactus pads. 

As a rule each nest is occupied by a single 
rat, but sometimes several may be found in 
one, and the well-worn trails that so often con- 
nect the entrances of neighboring nests bear, 
evidence that woodrats have a social disposi- 
tion. In most localities woodrats are distrib- 
uted sparingly, but occasionally become so 
abundant in favorable places on brushy plains 
that colonies containing hundreds of nests may 
be found in limited areas. They sometimes be- 
come so plentiful about ranches as to make 
serious inroads on grain and other crops. They 
also give the Forest Service much trouble by 
digging up the pine seeds planted in their great 
reforesting nurseries. 

Woodrats are mainly nocturnal in habits and 
appear to be extremely active throughout the 
night. Each morning in the vicinity of their 
nests the light soil shows a multitude of tracks, 
and in places 1 have seen little roads in the 
sand several hundred yards long which they had 
made by repeated trips to a feeding ground. 

No sooner is a cabin built in the mountains 
than they move in and establish themselves 
under the floor, or locate a nest near by and 
use the house as their nocturnal resort. 
Throughout the night the patter of their busy 
feet may be heard as they race about on the 
floor or rustle» about the roof, and often over 
tjie sleeping forms of their unwilling hosts. 

Their activities are sources of mingled amuse- 
ment and vexation. Small, loose articles, in- 
cluding table knives, forks, and spoons, vanish 
and all manner of trash, including horse drop- 
pings, are brought in, thus establishing their 



title to the cognomen of "trade rats." If the 
owner of a cabin leaves it for a few days, he 
may find on his return that the rats have taken 
possession and during his absence have tried 
to fill it with trash of all kinds, in order to 
make a comfortable home for themselves. 

At one cabin in the mountains of New Mex- 
ico where I lived one summer several moun- 
tain rats made free of the place and at night 
persistently tried to add our shoes to their nest 
under the floor. An hour or so after retiring 
we would hear our shoes scrape slowly across 
the floor, and in the morning they would be 
found stuck toe down in the broad crack where 
the floor ended near the wall. In the woodrat 
country when small articles are missed from 
camp it is always worth the trouble to investi- 
gate the nearest rats' nests. 

Woodrats are plentiful on the Mexican table- 
land, making their nests under cactuses or 
thorny agaves, where they are persistently 
hunted as game by the natives, who prize them 
as a special delicacy. I saw them regularly 
sold in the markets of the cities of San Luis 
Potosi and Aguas Calientes, where the method 
of marketing them was tinique. As soon as 
they were dug from their nests, their lower 
incisors were broken off close to the jaw to 
render them powerless to bite, and then the 
rats were placed alive in a strong sack and 
carried to town. 

The vendor would sit on a curb at the mar- 
ket and either kill and dress them there or 
shout his wares by telling every one who passed 
that he had "country rats; very delicious; live 
ones; fat ones; very delicious; very cheap." 
The natives all praised their delicate flavor and 
one I had served me as a special courtesy was 
really good, tasting like young rabbit. 

THE HARVEST MOUSE (Reithrodonto- 

mys megalotis and its relatives) 

{Por illustration, see page ^27) 

In size, proportions, and color the harvest 
mice, of all our American species, most closely 
resembles the common house mouse. Many 
of them are decidedly smaller than that animal 
and they rarely, if ever, exceed it in size. They 
may be distinguished from the house mouse by 
their browner colors, more hairy tail and espe- 
cially by a little groove which extends down 
the front of each upper incisor. 

The mice of this group include many species 
and have a wide distribution ranging from Vir- 
ginia, in the eastern United States, to the Pa- 
cific, and from North Dakota, Montana, and 
Washington southward through Mexico and 
Central America to northern South America. 

They reach their greatest development in 
number and diversity of species in the region 
about the southern end of the Mexican table- 
land, where I have caught them from the trop- 
ical lowlands, near sea level, up to an altitude 
of 13,500 feet, at timber-line, on Mount Iztac- 
cihuatl. 

These delicately proportioned and graceful 
little beasts are habitants of grassy, weed- 




KANGAROO RAT 

Dipodomys spectabilis 



518 




BANDED LEMMING (Dicrostnuyx nelsoni) 
Summer 



Winter 




BROWN LEMMING 

Lemmus alascensis 



519 



520 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



grown, and brushy locations, mainly in the open 
country. They are equally at home, however, 
in the beautiful grassy open forests of oak, 
pine, and firs which clothe the slopes of the 
great continental mountain system of Mexico 
and Central America. 

In general they prefer comparatively dry sit- 
uations, if there is sufficient moisture to pro- 
duce the needed vegetation, but some species in- 
habit swamps and even salt and fresh water 
marshes. Although as a rule not very numer- 
ous, at times they are very abundant and make 
well-worn trails through the small vegetation in 
their haunts. They are active throughout the 
year, and in the North, like some other mice, 
burrow through the winter snows along the 
surface of the ground in search of food. 

So far as man is concerned, most of the 
harvest mice are among the least offensive of 
mammals. There are exceptions, however, 
and, although they rarely approach habitations 
and as a rule take but slight toll from grain 
fields and meadows, yet in some areas they be- 
come so numerous as to do considerable dam- 

Their fnnd includes a great variety of seeds, 
small fruits and succulent matter mainly from 
wild plants of no economic value. They lay 
up' stores of seeds in their nests and in little 
special storage places for severe or inclement 
weather. 

Some of the species dig burrows in the 
ground where their nests are hidden. Most 
of them, however, build globular nests of grass 
and other vegetable matter several inches in 
diameter in dense grass close to the ground, 
or up in the midst of rank growths of weeds, 
or even as high as eight or ten feet from the 
ground in bushes and low trees. 

Sometimes they take possession of conve- 
nient sites already provided, such as old wood- 
pecker holes, cavities in fence posts, knot 
holes, and deserted birds' nests, including the 
nests of the cactus wren and orchard oriole, 
which they remodel to suit themselves. Their 
nests are lined with fine downy material such 
as the pappus of the milkweed or the cattail 
flag, and have from one to three small open- 
ings usually located on the underside. In 
these neat homes they have several litters of 
from one to seven young each year. 

Some of their bush nests three or four feet 
from the gronnd were found when I was hunt- 
ing on El Mirador coffee plantation in Vera 
Cruz. Often on approaching them, the single 
occupant would dive headlong into the grassy 
cover below and disappear. But sometimes 
when disturbed they would come out and run 
about through the tops of the bushes, leaping 
from branch to branch with all the agility ancl 
graceful abandon of pigmy squirrels. Several 
times they were seen to stop and sit crosswise 
on the branches with their tails hanging 
straight down. When they move about among 
the branches they sometimes coil the tail 
around the twig as an opossum might, to give 
them a more certain hold. 

While harvest mice may be seen at their 
nests by day, they are mainly crepuscular and 



nocturnal, and so retiring in habits that their 
presence may be entirely overlooked unless 
special search is made to locate them. Where 
found their pretty ways well repay the observer 
who has the patience to spend a little time with 
them. 

THE GRASSHOPPER MOUSE (Ony- 
chomys leucogaster and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page ^2y) 

The grasshopper mice are notable for the 
delicate coloring and velvety quality of their 
fur. While closely resembling some of the 
white-footed mice, they may readily be distin- 
guished from them by more robust form, 
short, thick tail, and the character of the fur. 

Only two species, each with numerous geo- 
graphic races, are known and both are peculiar 
to North America. Characteristic animals of 
the arid and semi-arid treeless plains, plateaus, 
and foothills of the West, their known range 
extends from Minnesota and Kansas west to 
the Cascades and to the Pacific coast of south- 
ern California, and in the North, from the 
plains of the vSaskatchewan southward to San 
Luis Potosi, on the tableland of Mexico. 

Some races live on the grassy plains west 
of the Mississippi, but the majority prefer the 
looser soil and sandy areas of the more arid 
Great Basin and the even more desert South- 
west, where the vegetation is characterized by 
a scattered growth of woody plants, including 
many species of cactuses, yuccas, agaves, sage- 
brush, grcasewood, mesquites, acacias, and 
other picturesque types. 

Like other small mammals of the open 
plains, the grasshopper mice live in burrows. 
When opportunity offers they evade the labor 
of digging these for themselves by occupying 
the deserted holes of mice, kangaroo rats, 
ground squirrels, prairie clogs, badgers, and 
other animals. In these retreats they have 
nests of soft vegetable matter and each season 
bring forth several litters containing from two 
to six young. 

They are active throughout the year, but 
nothing appears to be known as to the kind 
and amount of stores they lay up for winter 
use. As many live far enough north to expe- 
rience a long period of cold, witli snow cover- 
ing the earth, there is little doubt that they 
exercise the same provision in ])roviding stores 
to meet the need as do many other small mam- 
mals. 

Many, species of mice eat insects or meat 
and even on occasion devour one of their own 
kind. The grasshopper mice go far beyond 
this and are often not only as fierce flesh eat- 
ers as real carnivores, but make their diet, at 
least during the summer season, mainly of in- 
sects and other small invertebrates. Their bill 
of fare includes a miscellaneous assortment of 
several species of mice, including their own 
kind caught in traps, small dead birds, lizards, 
frogs, cutworms, scorpions, mole crickets, ordi- 
nary crickets, grasslioppers, moths, flies, and 
beetles, including tlic "potato bug." 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



521 



In addition they eat many kinds of seeds, 
fruit, and otlier vegetable matter. Where ob- 
tainable, grasshoppers are one of their favorite 
foods, and from this they receive their com- 
mon name. In Colorado, from their fondness 
for scorpions, they are sometimes called "scor- 
pion mice." 

Vernon Bailey's observations of a grasshop- 
per mcuse he had in captivity are illuminating 
as to their habits, and indicate that their pres- 
ence in numbers about cultivated land must be 
of distinct economic value. When undisturbed 
and well fed the captive was entirely nocturnal, 
sleeping all day and becoming very active at 
night. While usually quiet, sometimes jumping 
with all his force he tried furiously to escape 
from his small prison box. His favorite food 
consisted of crickets, grasshoppers ranking 
next. Among other things he ate were a black 
beetle, ladybirds, a potato beetle, spiders, bugs, 
and dragon flies. 

In feeding he sat upright on his haunches 
and^ held the insects in his front paws, eating 
them head fi'-st. Large grasshoppers, their tails 
resting on the ground, were held head up by a 
paw on each shoulder. A grasshopper would 
sometimes kick so vigorously as to tip the 
mouse off its balance, but was never relin- 
quished until decapitated. 

The mouse promptly killed and ate a small 
frog placed in his box and was expert at catch- 
ing flies. He ate many kinds of insects, in- 
cluding a live wasp, but appeared terror- 
stricken if a few ants were put in with him. 
When a dozen or more crickets and grasshop- 
pers were put into his box at the same time he 
at once proceeded to bite off all their heads 
before beginning to feast upon them. 

A dead white- footed mouse was dropped in 
and "he pounced upon it like a cat, caught it 
by the side of the head near the ear, and be- 
gan ^biting it with all the ferocity of a coon 
dog." The bones could be heard cracking and 
after the little beast appeared satisfied that his 
prey was really dead he ceased worrying it and 
an examination showed that he had bitten 
through its skull deep into the brain. After- 
ward he tore off and ate fragments of flesh 
from its head, neck, and shoulders. The fero- 
cious certainty with which he seized the white- 
footed mouse by the head and bit through its 
skull indicated "that in relation to small mam- 
mals he, probably like all his kind, had the 
predatory instincts and habits of the carnivores. 

One morning he ate 12 crickets and a spider 
in seven minutes and during a single day de- 
voured 53 insects — 2 beetles, 8 grasshoppers, 28 
crickets, and 15 flies— and appeared ready to 
take more. 

Oddly enough, this grasshopper mouse, so 
fierce toward small game, never offered to bite 
when captured or when handled freely, but con- 
tinued throughout his captivity to have the 
same friendly confidence in his captor. Others 
caught in various parts of their range 'have 
shown the same characteristics. 

At night, especially early in the evening, 
grasshopper mice utter a fine shrill whistling 
call note. This habit appears peculiar to them 



among all the mice and may be likened to that 
of many of the large beasts of prey in utter- 
ing their hunting call as they sally' forth for 
tlie night's foray. 

THE WHITE-FOOTED MOUSE (Pero- 
myscus leucopus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 330) 

Few of our smaller wild mammals are so 
generally known as the white-footed mice. 
Usually a little larger and proportionately 
shorter bodied than the house mice, they may 
at once be distinguished from them by the con- 
trast between the delicate shades of fawn color, 
brown, or gray of the upper parts of the body, 
and the snowy white feet and under parts. 
Like other members of the genus, they have 
cheek pouches inside the mouth for gathering 
and carrying food to their stores. 

Their exceedingly quick and graceful move- 
ments and their beauty of form and color 
would make them generally attractive were it 
not for the prejudice against all their kind re- 
sulting from the oft'ensive ways of the house 
mouse. 

Mice of the genus Peromyscus, to which the 
v.hite- footed mice belong, are peculiar to North 
and South America and include more species 
and geographic races than any other American 
genus of mammals. The white-footed mice are 
limited to North America. Readily respon- 
sive to the influences of environment, they have 
developed numerous species and a large num- 
ber of geographic races. 

These are spread over most of the continent 
from the northern limit of trees tp the tropi- 
cal shores of Yucatan. One form has the 
distinction of living up to an altitude of from 
15,000 to 16,000 feet on Mount Orizaba, ]\Iex- 
ico, where I found its tracks in the volcanic 
ashes at the extreme limit of vegetation. This 
is the highest record for any North American 
mammal. 

White-footed mice are active throughout the 
year and thrive in every variety of situation. 
In winter from the Northern States to the 
Arctic circle the snowshoer traversing the for- 
est will note their lace-work patterns of tiny 
tracks leading across the snow from log to log 
or tree to tree. At sunrise on the southwest- 
ern deserts their tracks made during the night 
rften form _ a fine network in the dust, but 
disappear with the first breath of the morning 
breeze. 

They not only live everywhere in tlie wilder- 
ness, but are prompt to swarm about camps 
and other habitations, where they make free 
with the food supplies. Few frequenters of 
forest camps in the Northern States and Can- 
ada have failed to see the bright eyes of these 
pretty little animals peering at them from 
some crevice, or the mice scurrying along the 
log wall like little squirrels. 

They are industrious workers and once in a 
cabin quickly locate some cozy nook in a box 
or other secluded place to construct a warm 
nest of any soft fibrous vegetable material 




FIELD, or MEADOW, MOUSE 

Mtcrotus pennsyl'uanicus 






PINK M<n;M, 

Pity/iiys pinetorum 



522 




RED-BACKED MOUSE 

E--oototnys gapperi 




RUFOUS TREE MOUSE 
Phenacomys longicaudus 



523 



524 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



available. This completed, they set busily at 
work nights to raid the food supply of the 
owner and hide it in suitable storage places, 
such as a crevice among boxes, an old shoe or 
a pocket in a garment hung on the wall. Their 
depredations usually cause so much exaspera- 
tion that the camper overlooks the grace and 
beauty of his visitors and makes every effort 
to destroy them. If the occupants of such 
camps would keep their supplies in mouse-proof 
containers and would then feed their wood- 
land friends, they would find them quickly re- 
sponsive and most attractive guests. 

In their native haunts these mice have habits 
varying with varying conditions. On brushy 
plains they burrow in the ground, while in the 
woods they sometimes burrow under rocks, 
stumps, and logs, or live in hollows in stumps 
and trees. As nimble in climbing as squirrels, 
many live in hollow trees sometimes more than 
fifty feet above the ground. 

That our inability to see at night prevents 
more than an occasional glimpse at the doings 
of the small animals which often swarm all 
about us was impressed on me at one of my 
camps in the desert of Lower California. My 
blankets were spread under a small leafless tree 
growing near the base of a rocky ledge, in the 
crevices of which many relatives of the white- 
footed mice were living. The first morning in 
camp I awoke as the sky began to pale and 
color with the approach of day. The dry 
branches of the tree a few feet overhead be- 
came sharply silhouetted against the sky, reveal- 
ing several of the mice running up and down 
them and leaping from twig to twig with all 
the active grace of tiny squirrels. 

The mice appeared to be racing about in pure 
playful enjoyment of the exercise, and when 
the light had increased sufficiently to render 
objects on the ground distinct they suddenly 
ran down the tree trunk and vanished in a 
crevice in the rocks. This game was repeated 
on several succeeding mornings and is no doubt 
commonly indulged in where conditions are 
favorable. 

White-footed mice feed mainly on many 
kinds of seeds and nuts and vary this diet with 
snails, insects, and sometimes with the flesh of 
dead birds or other mice. As they do not hi- 
bernate they lay up al)undant stores of grain 
and seeds of many kinds in addition to a vari 
ety of nuts, as acorns, beech nuts, pine nuts, 
maple seeds, and others, according to the local- 
ity. The stores are hidden in hollows in logs, 
stumps, trees, or in the ground. When in cap- 
tivity they have shown themselves expert in 
catching flies, sometimes capturing them with 
their teeth and again with their front paws used 
with all the dexterity of little hands. 

Several litters of young containing from 
three to seven each are born, the first usually 
appearing in spring and the last in fall. The 
young are blind and helpless at birth, and in 
tliis condition cling so tenaciously to the moth- 
er's teats that' when she is frightened from the 
nest they are often carried off attached to her. 

Some individuals at least of the white-footed 
mice, like others of the genus Peromyscus, are 



known to have a prolonged and musical song. 
It is a fine warbling ditty, a little like the song 
of a canary. A number of good observers 
have recorded these performances, but they 
appear to be so infrequent that most people 
with woodland experience have never heard 
them. 

The lives of these mice are passed in con- 
stant fear of a host of enemies. Hawks and 
owls, bluejays, and shrikes in the bird world 
are ever on the alert to capture them, while 
skunks, weasels, minks, foxes, and snakes per- 
sistently seek them in their retreats. 

THE BEACH MOUSE (Peromyscus polio- 
notus niveiventris and its relatives) 

{Por illustration, see page 330) 

The beach mouse is a beautiful, velvety- 
furred little creature about the size of a house 
mouse and one of the smallest species of the 
genus Peromyscus. Its back is colored with 
delicate shades of pale vinaceous-buffy and its 
underparts, including the feet, are snowy white. 

The species Peromyscus polionotiis, of which 
the beach mouse is one of several geographic 
races, or subspecies, occupies a comparatively 
restricted range in the lowland region of Ala- 
bama and Georgia and thence through a large 
part of Florida. 

It presents an unusually convincing illustra- 
tion of the influence of changing environment 
upon the physical characters of animals. 
Among the cotton fields of Alabama and 
Georgia Peromyscus polionotiis is rather dark 
grayish brown, but on the lighter-colored soil 
of Florida the color responds and becomes 
paler in perfect correspondence with the change 
in soil until the white sand-dunes and beaches 
of the coast are reached. There, in strong con- 
trast with the color of the northern members 
of the species, it is so modified that the pale 
representatives of this area are recognized 
under the name niveiventris, as a geographic 
race, or subspecies. 

Changes in environment affect both great and 
small mammals in a variety of ways, sometimes 
in shades of color, sometimes in relative size, 
and sometimes in proportions. Exceptions to 
the rule are to be found, however, and some 
species of mammals have a wide range under 
a great variety of conditions, with scarcely an 
appreciable sign of variation. 

The beach mouse is abundant on the sand- 
dunes and beaches of peninsular Florida, espe- 
cially from Palm Beach to Mosquito Inlet, 
wherever there is a growth of sea oats ( Uniola), 
which appears to be its principal food plant. 
It is a nocturnal animal and its nightly activi- 
ties may be read, early in the morning, from 
the multitude of tiny tracks which lead in all 
directions and often form a network on the 
sand. A single track sometimes extends for a 
hundred yards or more from a burrow, and 
with all its windings may aggregate several 
hundred yards of travel, showing the activity 
of this small worker during many hours. 

Tra'M<s are most plentiful immediately about 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



525 



growths of sea oats, patches of saw palmetto, 
or scrubby bushes. The homes of these mice 
are usually in short burrows sheltered by 
growing vegetation or under fallen palm 
fronds. 

As in the case of many of our mammals, we 
have scanty information concerning the life of 
these attractive little animals, and it is sug- 
gested that here lies a pleasant subject for in- 
vestigation by some nature lover wintering in 
Florida. 

THE BIG-EARED ROCK MOUSE (Pero- 
myscus truei and its relatixes) 

{For illustration, see page ^31) 

The numerous species of mice of the genus 
Peromyscus in North America include a great 
variet}' of little beasts, many of which are dis- 
tinguished by beauty of form and color. One 
of the most striking and picturesque individ- 
ualities among these is found in the big-eared 
rock mouse, which is characterized by its great 
ears, a thick, soft coat of huffy brown fur, and 
a long, well-haired tail. In size it exceeds the 
common house mouse and even the white- 
footed mice which share its haunts. 

This rock mouse is indigenous to the moun- 
tainous regions of the West, from Colorado 
and New Mexico to the Pacific and south to 
the Cape Region of Lower California, and 
down the Sierra Madre of Mexico to Oaxaca. 
Within this area it divides into several not very 
strongly marked geographic races. 

As implied by its common name, it is a char- 
acteristic dweller among cliffs and ledges along 
the mountain slopes or rocky canyon walls, 
where it occupies the many crevices and little 
caves. In California it ranges from near sea- 
level up on the mountains to above 10,000 feet 
altitude. Although showing a distinct prefer- 
ence for rocky places, when available, some 
races of this mouse adapt themselves to other 
conditions and may be found on brush-grown 
flats, where they live in brush heaps, old wood- 
rat nests, and similar shelter. 

That they make their homes in places other 
than cliffs in New Mexico was evidenced by a 
thick, soft nest made almost entirely of wool, 
found in a hollow juniper. They have several 
litters of from two to six young each year, the 
breeding period extending from spring to fall. 

In Arizona and New Mexico I found the 
rock mouse most numerous in the belt of 
junipers and pinyons and in the adjacent yel- 
low-pine forest. The crevices of cliffs about 
the Moki and Zuni Indian pueblos and in all 
the rocky wilderness of that region, including 
the Grand Canyon, are abundantly populated 
with them. 

They search every nook about their haunts 
and often visit cabins or temporary camps for 
food, but do not usually take up their abode 
in them as do the white-footed mice. When 
foraging their movements are quick, and when 
startled they make surprisingly long leaps. 
Like others of their kind, they eat a great va- 
riety of seeds and small nuts, quantities of 



which they lay up m winter stores. Pinyon 
nuts, and especially juniper seeds, are their 
favorite food. 

While of nocturnal habits, rock mice at times 
wander forth in sheltered spots by day, and on 
the few occasions I have seen them I have 
been delighted with their grace and beauty, 
their great ears and prominent shming black 
eyes lending them an attractive air of alert in- 
telligence. 

Throughout their lives they are in deadly 
peril from predatory foes. Hawks and owls 
glide shadowlike along the faces of their rocky 
homes ready to pick them up whenever they 
venture into open view, while bobcats, skunks, 
and weasels prowl about by night hunting their 
furry victims. 

THE BROWN RAT (Rattus norvegicus 

and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 531) 

It is safe to assume that few readers need 
an introduction to that world-wide pest vari- 
ously known as the brown rat, house rat, wharf 
rat, or Norway rat. Two European relatives, 
the black rat and the roof rat, preceded the 
brown rat to the New World and became 
widely distributed. They resemble the brown 
rat, but are much smaller and are soon killed, 
driven away, or reduced to a secondary status 
by their larger and fiercer cousin, which aver- 
ages about sixteen inches in length, although 
large individuals attain a length of more than 
twenty inches and a weight of jnore than two 
pounds. The black rat has nearly disappeared 
from most of its former haunts in the United 
States and the roof rat is mainly restricted to 
southern localities with a mild climate. 

Neither the brown, black, nor roof rat has 
any near relatives among native rats of Amer- 
ica, and all may be distinguished from our 
native animals by their coarser hair and long, 
naked tails. 

The brown rat is believed to have first in- 
vaded Europe from Asia in 1727, when hordes 
of them swam the Volga River, and about the 
same year it arrived in England on ships from 
the Orient. Since then, traveling by ships and 
by inland commercial routes, it has spread to 
nearly all parts of the globe. In America it 
is now established in human abodes through- 
out the length and breadth of the continents 
from Greenland to Patagonia. 

Wherever it goes the fierce and aggressive 
spirit with which it is endowed qualifies the 
lirown rat more than to hold its own against 
all rivals, while its mental adroitness and its 
fecundity have largely nullified the constant 
warfare being waged against it by all mankind. 
Not content with infesting ships, dwellings, 
stores, warehouses, and even the refrigerating 
rooms of cold-storage plants in many areas, it 
has established itself as an extremely destruc- 
tive pest in the open fields. 

In towns it hides among stored merchandise, 
in the hollow walls of buildings, in sewers and 
other underground passages, or, as in the fields, 




MUSKRAT 
Fiber zibethiciis 




WOOD RAT 

Neototna albigula 



526 




HARVEST MOUSE 
Reithrodontomys megalotis 




^IW 



rc" 






\ 



/fi^'ur^ i^f.-arfc /n^ftt. 



GRASSHOPPER MOUSE 
Onychomys leucogastcr 



527 



>28 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



in burrows which it digs iil the ground. Its 
nests are soft, warm masses of fibrous mate- 
rial which is secured by raids on any available 
supply of cotton, wool, or fabrics, which they 
cut into shreds for the purpose. 

In these retreats it has several litters a year, 
averaging about ten young, but exceptional 
cases of more than twenty young have been 
recorded. The young begin to breed when less 
than six months old. The size and number of 
litters increase with the food supply, and under 
favorable conditions rats soon become intoler- 
able pests. 

In Jamaica and the Hawaiian Islands rats 
became so numerous that sugar-cane and other 
plantations were at one time threatened with 
complete destruction. To save the crops tlje 
mongoose was introduced, but after checking 
the rats in Jamaica these curious little mam- 
mals in turn became a pest which it appears 
hopeless to control. 

In the Hawaiian Islands the mongoose re- 
duced the number of rats, but the survivors 
promptly took up their abodes in the tree tops, 
where they now live as completely arboreal 
lives as squirrels, safe from their ground-in- 
habiting enemy. 

During a two weeks' campaign against rats 
in the sewers of Paris 600,000 were killed, and 
on a rice plantation of about 1,200 acres in 
Georgia 30,000 were destroyed in one season. 
In Illinois 3,435 were killed on a farm in one 
month. 

One of the most curious chapters in the life 
of this hardy beast is now developing in the 
far island of South Georgia, on the border of 
the Antarctic, east of Cape Horn. On this 
island, which has a cold and stormy summer 
and nine months of rigorous winter, several 
whaling stations have been established. For 
years great numbers of whale carcasses have 
drifted ashore each season and, half rotting, 
half refrigerated, have furnished a never-fail- 
ing food supply for brown rats that have land- 
ed from the ships. With such abimdant food 
they are reported to have increased until they 
now exist there literally in millions. They 
make their nesls in the tussocks of grass and 
peat and swarm along well-marked trails they 
liave made on the mountain sides. 

In the trenches along the battle front in 
France they have become extremely abundant 
and troublesome, and in England have multi- 
plied until the Board of Agriculture is recom- 
mending efforts to destroy them as a menace 
to the public welfare through their waste of 
food supi)lies. 

On farms, in addition to destroying growing 
and stored crops, they kill great numbers of 
young chickens, turkeys, and other poultry, and 
create havoc with such ground - frequenting 
game as pheasants. At all times brown rats 
are more or less carnivorous, and when sev- 
eral are confined in a cage the stronger will 
soon kill and devour the weaker. 

In city department stores and large hotels 
they often cause thousands of dollars damage 
3'early in single establishments. An Knglish 
organization for their destruction estimated in 



igo8 that, outside the towns and shipping, in 
Great Britain and Ireland they caused annual 
losses of about $73,000,000. 

When there is a sudden diminution in the 
food supply, an abundance of which has caused 
a great increase in the rat population, the rats 
migrate into other districts, sometimes in enor- 
mous numbers. These migrations usually oc- 
cur at night, and many are matters of history 
in Europe and in the United States. 
.. A witness of one of these .migrations in Illi- 
nois in 1903 reported that one moonlight night 
as he was passing along the roads he heard a 
rustling in a field near by and soon saw cross- 
ing the road in front of him a multitude of 
rats extending as far as he could see. The 
following year the invaders became a plague 
in that district. At times of food scarcity rats 
become extremely bold and aggressive. With- 
out hesitation they swim streams encountered 
in their wanderings and at times will even at- 
tack man. 

Owing to their great numbers, universal dis- 
tribution, and destructiveness, brown rats are 
the worst mammal pest known to mankind. 
Through their habit of living in sewers, among 
the offal of slaughter-houses, and -in garbage, 
heaps, from which they invade dwellings and 
storehouses, they pollute and spoil even more 
foodstuffs than they eat. 

In addition, they are known carriers of some 
of the worst and most dreaded diseases, as 
bubonic plague, trichinosis, and septic pneu- 
monia ; while there is little doubt that they 
spread scarlet fever, typhoid, diphtheria, and 
other contagious maladies. Bubonic plague is 
mainly dependent upon rats for its dissemina- 
tion and lias been carried by them to more than 
fifty countries, including the United States. In 
India more than two million people have died 
in one year from this rat-conveyed disease. 

Although rats are abhorred by man, yet they 
have been for ages so closely associated with 
most of his activities that they have long had 
their place in Old World literature. Among 
other instances, many readers will recall Victor 
Hugo's gruesome account of Jean Val jean's 
fight with the rats in the sewers of Paris. In 
England and on the continent rat catching has 
been a regular trade and dogs have been spe- 
cially bred for use in their pursuit. 

Kats are loathsome vermin which civilized 
man should eliminate with the other evils of 
his semi-barbaric days which he is leaving be- 
hind. One might still wish that in many places 
a modern "Pied Piper of Hamelin" would ap- 
pear and rid the people of these pests. This 
is not necessary, however, if the public will 
cease to take their presence as a matter of 
course. Their exclusion from buildings and 
destruction are merely matters of good house- 
keeping, both personal and communal. 

Rats can be banished by removing or de- 
stroying trash heaps and similar harboring 
places and by the simi)le expedient of rat- 
proofing buildings, especially dwellings, gran- 
aries, warehouses, and other places where food 
sutmlies are stored. 

These precautionary measures should be sup- 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



529 



plemented by trapping !ie:^!!5j)oisoning in open 
places. Campaigns of tlaisl Idnd can be fully 
successful only when engaged'^'in by the com- 
munity at large. The rettir.ns from the invest- 
ment for such a purpose will be large, not 
only in the vast money values of property 
saved, but in the reduction of the death rate and 
in the great improvement of the public health. 

THE HOUSE MOUSE (Mus musculus) 

{For illustration, see page 531) 

The familiar house mouse is of Old World 
origin and may: be distinguished from most of 
our native mice by its proportionately slen- 
derer body, long hairless tail, and the nearly 
uniform color on the upper and under parts 
of the body. Like the house rat, wandering 
an alien from its original home in Asia, and 
transported by ship and by inland commerce, 
it has gained permanent foothold and thrives 
in lands of the most diverse climatic condi- 
tions, except those of the frigid polar regions. 

For centuries the house mouse has been par- 
asitic about the habitations of man, and in 
many places in America has spread into the 
surrounding country, where it holds its own in 
the struggle for existence with many of our 
' native species. It is probable that its ability 
to live in houses also infested by the fierce 
brown rat is due wholly to its agility, and to 
the small size, which enables it to retreat 
through crevices too small for the rat. 

In buildings it hides its warm nests in ob- 
scure nooks and crannies, making them of 
scraps of wool, cotton, or other soft fibrous 
material, often cut from fabrics. Out in the 
fields, like any other hardy vagabond, it adapts 
itself to whatever cover may be available on 
the -surface or in crevices and the deserted 
burrows of other mammals. 

It has several litters of from four to nine 
young each year. The young are born blind, 
naked, and helpless, but are soon able to run 
about, often following the mother on her for- 
aging expeditions. When a little more than 
half grown they usually scatter from the home 
nest and seek locations of their own. 

Throughout most of its world-wide range 
the house mouse has the same general appear- 
ance, but in some localities the efTect of 
changed environment is developing appreciable 
difTerences, which appear destined to result in 
marked geographic races. The representatives 
of these mice I caught in weedy fields on the 
coast of Chiapas, near the border of Guate- 
mala, have an appreciable rusty shade on the 
back in place of the ordinary dull gray. 

The success of both the house mouse and 
the house rat in establishing themselves so suc- 
cessfully in all parts of the world, in the face 
of the antagonism of mankind, afifords marvel- 
ous examples of physical and mental adapta- 
bility not equaled elsewhere among mammals. 

From early days the domestic mouse has 
been a familiar member of the household with 
people of all degree, and the housewife has had 
to match her wits against the cunning persist- 



ence of this small marauder in order to. Sjaie- 
guard the family supplies of food and clothing. 

Despite the antagonism excited by its de- 
structive habits the mouse is so small and often 
so amusing in its ways that it has commonly 
been regarded with a half hostile, half friendly, 
interest. This is apparent by frequent refer- 
ences to it in proverbs, nursery rhymes, fables, 
and folklore, as well as in more serious litera- 
ture. 

Many cases of singing house mice have been 
recorded, their notes being a series of continu- 
ous musical chirps, trills, and warblings, rising 
and falling about an octave and slightly resem- 
bhng the song of a canary. It has been claimed 
that this singing is due to an affection of the 
songster's breathing organs, but this can 
scarcely account for its being uttered at definite 
times and places and ceasing at the voHtion of 
the performer. 

In one instance th song had been heard in a 
china closet and an observer sat by the open 
door to locate the singer. After patient wait- 
ing "a mouse peered out from behind the 
plates, climbed up a little way on the brackets, 
and after looking around several times, began 
to sing." This mouse continued to sing in the 
same place at intervals for several weeks and 
became accustomed to the presence of people 
during its performances ; then it suddenly dis- 
appeared, probably a victim to one of the dan- 
gers which constantly beset its kind. 

THE MOUNTAIN-BEAVER (Aplodontia 
rufa phaea and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 534) 

The first adventurous fur traders who pene- 
trated the Oregon wilds found the Chinook 
Indians provided with robes made of skins of 
the mountain-beaver. From that time until re- 
cently but little accurate information has been 
available concerning the habits of this curi- 
ous animal. Locally it is known by several 
other names, including "Sewellel," "mountain 
boomer," "boomer," and, in the Olympic moun- 
tains, "chehalis." 

The genus of mountain-beavers contains only 
a single species with several subspecies, all hav- 
ing a close superficial likeness in size and fortn 
to a tailless muskrat, except for their coarse, 
harsh fur. It is an exclusively North Amer- 
ican type and, aside from a remote relationship 
to the squirrel family, has no kin among liv- 
ing mammals. It appears to be a sole survivor 
from some former age. As with the pocket 
gophers, its mode of life has developed power- 
ful muscles about the head, front legs, and 
forepart of the body. 

The distribution of the mountain-beaver in 
Tertiary times extended through the Great 
Basin to North Dakota, but at present is 
closely restricted to the humid region between 
the crests of the Cascades and the Sierra 
Nevada and the Pacific coast, and from the 
lower Fraser River, British Columbia, south to 
the latitude of San Francisco Bay, California. 

Within this superbly forested region tliis ani- 




WHITE-FOOTED MOUSE (Adult and Young) 
Peromyscus leucopus 




^i"^ 







I 




-^0' .^^ 



" tiliiilh-iijiiL 



./ 



4^e.,>ri<^>"""''"-'^''-'. 



BEACH MOUSE 
Peromyscus polionotus niojei'uentris 



530 




BIG-EARED ROCK MOUSE 

Peromyscus true! 




BROWN RAT 
Raitus nor<vegicus 



HOUSE MOUSE 
Mus musculus 



531 



532 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



mal delights in locations that are cool and 
oozing with water, where, under the dense 
shade of an almost tropical undergrowth of 
shrubs, ferns, and other herbage, it constructs 
numberless tunnels and trails. These are some- 
times in flats, but much more often along can- 
yons and mountain slopes, among willow, alder, 
aspen, or other thickets, or even in the heavy 
coniferous forest. 

Veritable colonies inhabit certain areas and 
the ground is honeycombed with burrows six 
to eight inches in diameter and covered with 
a network of surface trails. The irregular 
branching tunnels are sometimes two or three 
hundred feet in length and have at frequent in- 
tervals side passages through which the earth 
mined in extending the burrow may be ejected 
in small dumps. The tunnels appear in a large 
measure built for the safety of the owner in 
traveling, since they repeatedly come to the 
surface at the end of a log, where an open, 
neatly kept trail extends under its shelter the 
entire length, the tunnel being resumed at the 
far end of the log. 

All surface runways connecting tvmnel en- 
trances or leading through the thick surface 
vegetation are well kept and free of all ob- 
structions. The ground in these haunts is 
commonly sO' saturated with water that the 
lunnels form drainage channels down which 
run little streams. 

Nest chambers discovered by T. H. Schef- 
fer in the Olympic Mountains were located in 
tunnels two feet underground. They were oval 
in form and one measured eighteen inches in 
horizontal diameter and seventeen in height. 
Here three storage chambers opened directly 
from the nest chamber, one of which con- 
tained two quarts or more of sections of fern 
roots, which had been kept so long they were 
spoiled, and another was partly filled with 
freshly cut leaves of nettles and twigs of cedar 
and fir. At the far end an opening dropped 
six inches into a small drainage basin partly 
filled with water, out of which led two pas- 
sages. The roofs of the chambers were lined 
with a thin layer of clay, which appeared to 
have been packed in place by the owner. 

In the upper and drier part of the nest, 
which was made of dried fronds of ferns, 
grasses, and small twigs, were found three 
young less than a week old, with coats of fine 
fur, but with eyes still closed. Like burrow- 
ing animals generally, the mountain-beaver is 
cleanly in its housekeeping, and offal, loose dirt, 
and debris of all kinds are pushed out by the 
forefeet and head to the dumps at the less-used 
openings. 

In winter much of the mountain-beaver 
country is buried under several feet of snow, 
but this does not stop the activities of this 
hardy animal. Between the entrances to its 
burrows and out along the surface of the 
ground it tunnels through tlie snow in various 
directions in search of forage. 

At this time it cuts twigs from bushes and 
gnaws the bark from the trunks and roots of 
the smaller trees, sometimes completely gird- 
ling and killing trees more than two feet in 



diameter. Its underground tunnels are also 
extended at this season, the soils being pushed 
up in dumps under the snow and parts of the 
snow tunnels are packed full of it for some 
distance, so that when the snow disappears the 
curious earth-forms remain like those of the 
pocket gopher. 

The mountain-beaver lives a monotonous ex- 
istence and correspondingly lacks the mental 
vivacity of many other species which have a 
greater freedom of movement. When one is 
caught it shows little fear, but struggles to 
escape, growling, clattering its teeth, and biting 
viciously at anything within reach. Its desire 
for food, however, appears to control its emo- 
tions, and very soon after being captured it 
will eat any green vegetation offered, as uncon- 
cernedly as though free. 

That the mountain-beaver possesses social in- 
stincts is evident, as a pair is often found 
occupying one set of tunnels, and in many fa- 
vorable places a number will have their bur- 
rows closely grouped and connected with a 
network of communicating surface trails. 

Although mainly nocturnal, the animals are 
active early in the morning and late in the 
afternoon, as well as throughout dark days. 
Those kept in captivity would show periods of 
restless activity at night and have alternating 
periods of sleep and wakefulness during the 
day. Sometimes they would sleep coiled with 
the head turned under the body and again flat 
on their backs. During these periods their 
sleep is often so profound that they may be 
handled without being awakened. 

One captive animal is reported to have ut- 
tered a curious quavering note resembling that 
of a screech-owl. They have a strong musky 
odor, which is very evident when they are first 
caught, and which is frequently apparent about 
the burrows. 

Careful and repeated efforts to keep these 
animals in captivity under as near normal con- 
ditions as possible in regard to food and sur- 
roundings in the vicinity of where they were 
captured have, up to the present time, resulted 
in failure. In every case the animals failed to 
thrive and soon died. 

The mating occurs about the middle of 
March, and a month later litters of two or three 
young are born. The young grow slowly, not 
attaining full size for a year or more, and do 
not breed until the second year, but they leave 
the shelter of the home nest and scatter to 
occupy burrows of their own at the end of 
the first two or three months. 

The mountain-beaver feeds upon nearly all 
small vegetation growing in its haunts, includ- 
ing, in addition to small herbage, shrubs, the 
bark of trees and bushes, ferns, and fern roots. 
More than thirty species of native plants have 
been found among its "hay" piles at the mouths 
of burrows. Since its country has become in- 
creasingly occupied by farmers, it has de- 
veloped a fondness for cultivated crops that, 
in many places, is rendering it a pest. It ap- 
pears to have a special taste for cabbage, po- 
tato, and onion tops, and other garden produce. 

When gatiiering its food it sits up squirrel- 



SMALLER AL\MMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 






like and grasps the plant stem with ane hand, 
a long projeeting tubercle on the "heel" of the 
hand opposing the hngers like a , thumb and 
guing a good grasp, so that it can pull plants 
down to be bitten off with the sharp front 
teeth. Sometimes it climbs up a few feet into 
a bush or small branching tree after succulent 
shoots. 

The mountain-beaver has the interesting 
habit of gathering stores of green plant food 
much like that of the cony on the mountain 
tops, but appears to be more methodical in its 
ways, gathering the stems of such plants as 
grasses, ferns, and lupins, as well as twigs of 
various bushes and carrying them in bundles 
as large as can be held in the mouth, the butts 
of the stems neatly laid together. These little 
bundles of "hay" are placed side by side about 
the entrances of the burrows, with the butts 
all parallel on sticks or other support to keep 
them as clear as possible from the ground. 
They are left thus for a day or more to cure 
before being carried into the subterranean 
store-rooms. 

Chief among the four-footed enemies of the 
mountain-beaver are the fisher and bobcat, and 
an eagle has been seen keeping close watch at 
the entrance of their burrows. 

THE COMMON WOODCHUCK, OR 

AMERICAN MARMOT (Marmota 

monax and its relatives) 

(Por illustration, see page 534) 

The woodchuck or "groundhog" is a typical 
marmot, with coarse hair, heavy body, short 
neck, short, bushy tail, powerful legs, and feet 
armed with strong claws for digging. When 
fully grown it averages about ten pounds in 
weight. Its usual color is a grizzled brown, 
but in some districts black, or melanistic, indi- 
viduals are not uncommon. 

Marmots are common to Europe, Asia, and 
North America. The group contains many 
species and geographic races varying in size 
and color. The Alpine marmot of Europe is 
probably the most familiar of the Old World 
species and the woodchuck the best known in 
America. 

North America contains several species of 
marmots, their joint territory extending from 
. coast to coast over the northern parts of the 
continent and from southern Labrador, the 
southern shores of Hudson Bay and Great 
Slave Lake, and central Alaska southward to 
northern Alabama, and along the high moun- 
tains to New Mexico and the southern Sierra 
Nevada of California. The common wood- 
chuck is well known to every dweller in the 
countryside of the Eastern States and Canada, 
where it occurs from sea-level to near the tops 
of the highest rnountains, at altitudes of over 
4,000 feet. 

It is a familiar habitant of fields and grassy 
hillsides, especially where bordering woodland 
offers safe retreat. In such places it digs bur- 
rows under stone walls, rocks, ledges, old 
stumps, or even out in the open grass-grown 



fields. It commonly lives in the midst of the 
forest, where its dens are located in a variety 
of situations. The burrows are marked by lit- 
tle mounds of earth at the entrances and or- 
dinarily contain from twenty to forty feet of 
branching galleries, one or more of which end 
in a rounded chamber about a foot in diam- 
eter, well lined with dry grass and leaves. 

Within these warm nests the females bring 
. forth from three to nine bhnd and helpless 
young about the last of April or early in May. 
A few weeks later the young appear about the 
entrance of the burrows sunning themselves 
and playing with one another, but usually 
ready to disappear at the first alarm. At times, 
however, they are surprisingly stupid and may 
be captured with ease. Woodchucks have prac- 
tically '-no fl^Hbmic value. Their flesh, while 
occasionally eaten, is little esteemed, and their 
coarsely haired pelts are worthless as fur. 

The woodchuck is a sluggish and stupid ani- 
mal, which does not ordinarily go far from its 
burrow, but at certain seasons, especially in 
spring, wanders widely, as though looking over 
its territory before locating for the summer. 
It has much curiosity and often sits upright 
on its hind feet to look about, remaining for 
a long time as motionless as a statue. When 
one is driven into its burrow, if a person ap- 
proaches quietly and whistles, it will often 
raise its head in the entrance and look about 
to satisfy its curiosity. 

Its only note is a short shrill whistle, which 
it utters explosively at frequent intervals when 
much alarmed. At such times it also chatters 
its teeth with a rattling sound as owls some- 
limes clatter their beaks. 

Owing to their mainly diurnal habits and 
persistence in living in and about the borders 
of fields, woodchucks are among the most 
widely known of our smaller mammals, and 
have long been the favorite game of the coun- 
try boy and his dog. When cornered" tliey will 
fight savagely and with their strong incisors 
inflict severe wounds. 

They feed on grasses, clover, and other suc- 
culent plants, including various cultivated crops, 
especially vegetables in field and garden, where 
they sometimes do much damage. The holes 
and earth mounds they make in fields, in addi- 
tion to feeding on and trampling down grasses 
or grain, excite a strong feeling against them, 
and farmers everywhere look upon them as a 
nuisance. In New Hampshire so great was the 
prejudice against thern that in 1883 a law was 
passed placing a bounty of ten cents each on 
them : "Provided, That no bounty shall be paid 
for any woodchuck killed on Sunday." 

Unlike many rodents, the woodchucks do not 
lay up stores of food for winter. As summer 
draws to an end they feed heavily and become 
excessively fat. On the approach of cold 
weather they become more and more sluggish, 
appearing above ground with decreasing fre- 
quency imtil from the end of September to the 
first of November, according to locality, they 
retire to their burrows and begin the long 
hibernating sleep which continues until the ap- 
proach of spring. 




MOUNTAIN-BEAVER 

Aplodontia rufa fhaea 




7lou4fc!ffon'*'^ti^i 



COMMON WOODCUUCK, .,r AMERICAN MAKMux 
Martnota monax 



534 




HOARY MARMOT, or WHISTLER 

Marmota caligata 



535 



)36 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



Some time between February and April, ac- 
cording to latitude, they come forth to resume 
their seasonal activities. In the northern parts 
of their range they usually come out several 
weeks before the snow disappears and may be 
tracked in it as they wander about searching 
for food or a new location. 

The prominence of the groundhog as a pop- 
ular figure in the country lore of the Eastern 
States is shown by his having been given a 
place with the Saints on the calendar, February 
2 being widely known as "Groundhog Day." 
It is claimed that on this date the groundhog 
wakes from his long winter sleep and appears 
at the mouth of his burrow to look about and 
survey the weather. If the sun shines so that 
he can see his shadow, bad weather is indicated 
and he retires to resume his sleep for another 
six weeks. Otherwise, the winter is broken 
and mild weather is predicted. Even on the 
outskirts of Washington some of the country- 
men still appraise the character of the coming 
spring by the weather on "Groundhog Day." 

THE HOARY MARMOT, OR WHIS- 
TLER (Marmota caligata and its 

relatives ) 

(For illustratiuii. see page S35) 

The whistler is the largest and handsomest 
of the American marmots. It is similar in 
proportions to the common woodchuck, but 
averages nearly twice its weight. Its fur, far 
thicker and of a better quality, might have a 
value in the fur trade if enough of the skins 
were available. As it is. the skins are used 
only for robes and sometimes for clothing by 
the Indians. 

The distribution of this characteristic animal 
of the northern Rocky Mountains and outlying 
ranges 'extends from the Endicott Mountains. 
fronting the Arctic coast of Alaska, and the 
peninsula of Alaska, southeasterly to the Bit- 
terroot Mountains of Idaho, Mount Rainier, 
the Olympics of Washington, and Vancouver 
Island. In the North its range extends from 
above timber-line down over bare slopes and 
through glacial valleys to the sea-level along 
the southern coast of Alaska. To the south- 
ward it. is limited wholly to the higher eleva- 
tions, usually above timber-line. 

• Owing to variations in climatic conditinns 
and to isolation in different parts of its range, 
several geographic races of the whistler have 
been developed. In the mountains to the south- 
ward of its range other marmots occur as far 
as 'New Mexico and California. 

When the French-Canadian voyageurs on 
their fur-trading expeditions first visited the 
Rocky Mountains they encountered the hoary 
marmots and applied to them the name "sif- 
fleur," or whistler, which they had already 
given the common woodchuck of eastern Can- 
ada. The shrill note of the hoary marmot, un- 
der favorable circumstances, may be heard 
more than a mile and justifies the restriction 
of the name whistler to it. 

The whistler lives in such remote and unfre- 



quented districts that little is known of its life 
history. It is diurnal in habits and loves the 
free open spaces of the high mountain ridges. 
There its loud, oft-repeated call note, striking 
colors, together with its habit of running about 
on the snowbanks, render it unusually con- 
spicuous. 

High in the mountains it usually inhabits 
rock slides, the tumbled rock masses of glacial 
moraines, or rocky points, but sometimes takes 
up its abode on open earth slopes or in the bot- 
toms of little glacial valleys. Ordinarily the 
dens are hidden in the rock slides and broken- 
down ledges, or burrows are dug under the 
shelter of large boulders and even in open 
ground away from any rocky shelter. 

During the sunny days of summer the whis- 
tler regularly frequents the top of some con- 
spicuous boulder or projecting rocky point, 
from which it commands a sweeping view of 
all its surroundings. Its sight and hearing are 
extraordinarily keen, and when perched on its 
lookout it is difficult to stalk. When one has 
its burrow located in an open place it often sits 
upright on its haunches to look watchfully 
about, and at the first alarm disappears into its 
den. This watchfulness is necessary, for even 
in the remote alpine highlands it occupies, the 
whistler is beset by enemies. The most for- 
midable of these are the great brown and 
grizzly bears of the North, which dig it from 
its burrow. In addition prowling wolves, Can- 
ada lynxes, wolverines, and eagles take occa- 
sional toll from its numbers. 

Toward the end of summer, when the high 
alpine slopes are thickly grown with small 
flowering herbage, the whistler feeds heavily 
oil many of the plants and, like the woodchuck 
at this season, becomes excessively fat. Before 
the arrival of winter it retires to the shelter of 
its den and begins the long hibernating sleep 
which may last six months or more. In spring, 
before the snowy mantle is gone from the 
mountains, it is out, ready to welcome the ap- 
proaching summer. A few weeks later the 
three or four young are born. They remain 
with the mother throughout the season and 
during their first winter may hibernate in the 
home den. 

The unspoiled wilderness of remote north- 
ern mountain slopes and ridges where the whis- 
tler lives is also the home of the mountain 
sheep, caribou, and huge northern bears. As 
the hardy sportsmen roam these inspiring 
heights in search of game their attention is 
constantly attracted to the marmots, whose 
presence and shrill call notes lend a pleasing 
touch of life to many an otherwise harsh and 
forbidding scene. 

THE PRAIRIE-DOG (Cynomys 
ludovicianus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page ssS) 

Prairie-dogs are not "dogs," but typical ro- 
dents, first cousins to the ground squirrels, or 
spermophiles. As a rule, they_ may be dis- 
tinguished from the ground squirrels by their 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



537 



larger size, proportionately shorter and heavier 
bodies, and shorter tails. In length they vary 
from fourteen to over seventeen inches, and in 
weight from one and one-half to more than 
three pounds. 

These rodents are limited to the interior of 
North America and form a small group of five 
species and several geographic races. Although 
closely alike in general form and habits, the 
species are divided into two sets : one, the 
most widely distributed and best known, hav- 
ing the tails tipped with black, and the other 
having the tails tipped with white. 

On the treeless western plains and valleys 
from North Dakota and Montana to Texas 
and thence west across the Rocky Mountains 
to Utah and Arizona, they are one of the most 
numerous and characteristic animals. South- 
ward they range into northwestern Chihuahua 
and one species occupies an isolated area on 
the Mexican table-land in southern Coahuila 
and northern San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Their 
vertical range varies from about 2,000 feet on 
the plains to above 10,000 feet in the moun- 
tainous parts of Colorado and Arizona. 

Owing to their diurnal habits, their exceed- 
ing abundance over vast areas, and their in- 
teresting mode of living in colonies, prairie-dogs 
have always attracted the attention of travelers 
and have become one of the most widely known 
of our smaller mammals. All who have lived 
in the West, or who have merely traversed the 
Great Plains on the transcontinental railroads, 
have had their interest excited by these plump 
little animals sitting bolt upright by the mounds 
which mark the entrances to their burrows, or 
scampering panicstricken for shelter as the 
train roars through their "towns." 

So strong is the gregarious instinct in prairie- 
dogs that they customarily make their burrows 
within short distances of each other, varying 
from a few yards to a few rods apart. The 
inhabitants of these communities, or "towns," 
as they have often been termed, vary in num- 
ber from a few individuals to millions. In 
western Texas one continuous colony is about 
250 miles long and 100 miles wide. In the 
entire State of Texas 90,000 square miles are 
•occupied by prairie-dogs, and the number of 
these animals within this area runs into the 
hundreds of millions. The extent to which 
they occupy parts of their territory is well il- 
lustrated by one situation in a mountain valley, 
containing about a square mile, in eastern 
Arizona, which by actual count contained 7,200 
•of their burrows. 

The burrows, from four to five inches in 
■diameter, are usually located on flat or gently 
sloping ground. They descend abruptly from 
eight to sixteen feet, then turn at a sharp 
angle and extend ten to twenty-five feet in a 
horizontal or slightly upward course. The 
tunnel at the end of the steep descending 
shaft is always more or less irregular in 
•course, and branches in various directions, the 
branches often ending in a rounded nest or 
storage chamber, but sometimes forming a loop 
back to the main passageway. Not infre- 



quently two entrances some distance apart lead 
to these deep workings. A little niche is in- 
geniously dug on one side of the steep entrance 
shaft, four to six feet below the surface, to 
which on the approach of danger the owner 
retires to listen and determine whether it may 
or may not be necessary to seek safety in the 
depth of the den. It is from these vantage 
points that the resentful voices of the habitants 
come to an intruder in a prairie-dog "town" 
as he passes. 

The black-tailed prairie-dog, which is so 
numerous on the Great Plains, surrounds the 
entrance to its burrow with a crater-shaped 
pyramid of soil varying from a few inches to 
nearly two feet in height and serving perfectly 
as a dike to keep out the water. The owners 
keep the funnel-shaped inner slopes of the 
rims about the entrances in good condition by 
setting briskly to work to reshape them at the 
end of a rain-storm, digging and pushing the 
earth in place with their feet and molding it 
into a more compact mass by pressing it in with 
their blunt noses. 

The white-tailed prairie-dogs pile the dirt 
from their excavations out on one side of the 
entrance, as in the case of most other burrow- 
ing animals. Sometimes the dirt in these piles 
amounts to from ten to twenty bushels, thus 
indicating extended underground workings. 

The vivacity and hearty enjoyment of life by 
the occupants of a prairie-dog "town" is most 
entertaining to an observer. With the first 
peep of the sun above the horizon they are 
out on the mounds at the entrances of their 
burrows, first sitting erect on their hind feet 
and looking sharply about for any prowling 
enemy. If all is well they begin to run about 
from one hole to another, as though to pass the 
compliments of the day, and scatter through 
the adjacent grassy feeding ground. 

The favorite food of prairie-dogs consists of 
the stems and roots of gramma grass and 
other richly nutritious forage plants. In addi- 
tion they eat any native fruits, such as that 
of the pear-leaved cactus (Opttntia) and are 
extremely destructive to grain, alfalfa, and 
other cultivated crops. In addition to ordinary 
vegetation, they eat grasshoppers and are fond 
of flesh, sometimes being caught far from their 
homes in traps set for carnivores. They keep 
the grass and other vegetation cut down or 
entirely dug out over much of the "town" and 
especially in a circle about each entrance 
mound, apparently for the purpose of obtain- 
ing a clear view as a safeguard against the ap- 
proach of any of their many four-footed ene- 
mies. This habit is exceedingly injurious to 
the cattle ranges and often results in much 
erosion of the fertile surface soil. 

The vast numbers of prairie-dogs over so 
large a part of the grazing areas of the West 
take a heavy toll from the forage and other 
crops. As a consequence a campaign of de- 
struction is being waged against them as the 
country becomes more and more settled, and 
they will eventually disappear from much of 
their present range. However detrimental they 




PRAIRIE-DOG 

Cynomys ludo'vicianus 




STRIPED GROUND SQUIRREL 
Citellus tridecemlineatui 



538 




CALIFORNIA GROUND SQUIRREL 

C it el his beech eyi 



V 






ml^ 














ANTELOPE CHIPMUNK 

Ammospermophilus leucurus 



539 



540 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



may be from an economic point of view, they are 
among our most interesting species, and when 
taken young their playful disposition and intel- 
ligence render them most entertaining captives. 

Owing to the constant danger to which they 
are subject from coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bad- 
gers, and black- footed ferrets, in addition to 
eagles and other birds of prey, prairie-dogs 
are constantly on the alert. At any suspicious 
occurrence the first to observe it runs to his 
entrance mound, if the danger is not pressing, 
but otherwise to the nearest mound, where he 
sits up at his full height, "barking" and vibrat- 
ing his tail, ready, if necessary, to disappear 
instantly. At the same time the "town" is alive 
with scurrying figures of the habitants rushing 
panic-stricken for their homes, and the air is 
filled with a chorus of their little barking cries. 
When all have been frightened to cover bark- 
ing continues in the burrows, but an hour or 
more may pass before a "dog" will reappear. 

I once stalked a solitary antelope by creep- 
ing flat on the ground through a prairie-dog 
"town." As I drew near the first burrows, 
the "dogs" all rushed to their mounds, sitting 
there and barking at the queer and unknown 
animal thus invading their precincts. The 
strange sight excited as much curiosity among 
them as alarm. As I approached one mound 
after another the owners would become almost 
hysterical in their excitement and would sit 
first on all fours and then stand up at full 
height on their hind feet, the tail all the time 
vibrating as though worked by some mechan- 
ism, while the barking continued at the intruder 
as rapidly and explosively as possible. When 
I came within six or ei"-ht feet the "dog" would 
dive down his hole, sputtering barks from the 
depths as he went, but often would pop up 
again to take another look before finally dis- 
appearing. In this way I passed ten or a dozen 
mounds while the dozens of "dogs" off my 
line of progress worked themselves into a 
frenzy of curiosity and protest. When the 
stalk was finished I passed back through the 
"town" and my upright figure was promptly 
recognized by the habitants as that of an enemy 
and every one disappeared before I was within 
fifty yards of the first mound. 

The common note of the black-tailed prairie- 
dogs is a squeaking "bark," much like that 
produced by squeezing a toy dog; in addition, 
there is a rapid chattering note, often given 
as the "dogs" vanish down the hole. The 
white-tailed species have a shriller, more chirp- 
ing note. In both species the odd vibrating 
motion of the tail, held stiffly close to the back, 
is characteristic. 

Prairie-dogs hibernate in severe weather, 
those living in high, snow-covered mountains 
or in the far north sometimes sleeping through 
five or six months. In many places their hiber- 
nation is irregular, and near the southern 
border of their range is limited to a few in- 
clement days now and then. In Wyoming they 
come out the last of March or early in April, 
sometimes when there is a foot or two of snow 
on the ground and the temperature ranges far 
below zero. Under such conditions they run 



about over the snow during the middle of the 
day, feeding on projecting tips of vegetation 
or digging to the ground. 

Beginning near the southern border of their 
range and proceeding north, the single litter of 
the season, containing from four to six young, 
are born in March, April, or May, and a 
month later, when scarcely larger than chip- 
munks, may be seen playing about the entrance 
mound. When danger appears the mother 
sends the young helter-skelter for the refuge 
of the burrow, and should any be slow about 
going in she rushes at them, driving them to 
cover with shrill barks of alarm. When about 
half-grown the young scatter and prepare bur- 
rows of their own. Sometimes aS many as six 
to nine of these animals may be found in a 
single burrow, in which, no doubt, they have 
taken refuge, or it may be a reunion of the 
season's family. 

On warm sunny days, especially at a time 
when nights are frosty, these fat little animals 
will often lie flat on the bare ground about 
their mounds, with legs outstretched, basking in 
the grateful rays. As their colonies expand by 
the rapid increase of their numbers, many in- 
dividuals wander far in search of new loca- 
tions. On the mountain plateaus of northern 
Arizona I know of instances where they have 
traversed several miles of pine and fir forest 
to locate in an isolated mountain park, and new 
colonies were established as far as six miles 
from their nearest neighbors. 

The flesh of prairie-dogs is not unpalatable, 
and Navajo and Pueblo Indians are extremely 
fond of it. The Indians take advantage of 
heavy rains and turn the temporary rush of 
water down the holes to drown out the "dogs," 
and thus capture many of them. 

It is inevitable that many popular miscon- 
ceptions should grow up about such numerous 
and interesting animals as the prairie-dogs. In 
the West many people believe that the burrows 
go down to water. In reality, like many other 
rodents, these animals have acquired the ability 
by chemical action in the stomach to trans- 
form the starchy food into water. I have seen 
dog towns located on a few feet of soil resting 
on a waterless lava bed miles in extent and 
more than too feet thick, as shown by canyons 
cut through it, thus proving the impossibility 
of the prairie-dog-well legend. 

Another popular belief is that the rattle- 
snakes and burrowing owls living in prairie- 
dog towns unite as a kind of happy family in 
the burrows of the dogs. The truth is that the 
owls live and breed in deserted dog holes, while 
the rattlesnakes visit the occupied liolcs to feed 
on the unfortunate occupants. 

THE STRIPED GROUND SQUIRREL 
(Citellus tridecemlineatus and its 

subspecies) 

{Por illustralioii, see page 5j5) 

Small size and a series of thirteen narrow, 
well-defined stripes, or lines, marking the up- 
perparts of the striped ground squirrel serve 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



541 



to distinguish it from all its relatives. Its total 
length is about eleven inches and its form is 
nearly as slender as that of the weasel. Its 
brightly colored markings blend so well with 
the brown earth and plant stems in its haunts 
that when quiet it is difficult to distinguish. 
This protective coloration is of vital service to 
a small animal sought by all the diurnal birds 
of prey, as well as by coyotes, foxes, bobcats, 
badgers, skunks, weasels, and snakes. 

The striped ground squirrel, also known as 
the "gopher" or "striped gopher," is restricted 
to middle North America, where it is dis- 
tributed from southern ]\Iichigan and northern 
Indiana west to Utah, and from about latitude 
55 degrees in northern Alberta south nearly to 
the Gulf coast of Texas. It ranges from near 
sea level in Texas up nearly to 10,000 feet in 
Colorado. Within these limits the varying 
climatic conditions have modified it into several 
geographic races, all having a close general 
resemblance. 

Like most members of the squirrel family, 
the striped ground squirrels are diurnal in 
habits and well known wherever they occur. I 
"first learned the ways of these odd little mam- 
mals as a boy on the prairies outside the city 
of Chicago, and later observed them in a high 
mountain valley in Arizona. In both regions 
they had the same habits. By preference they 
occupy grassy prairies, old fields, and similar 
situations. In many areas they are serious 
pests, owing to their abundance and their de- 
structiveness to grain crops, but where the 
land is generally cultivated, the sheltering vege- 
tation and their shallow burrows are destroyed 
by the plow, thus causing a decrease in their 
numbers. 

The lives of the striped ground squirrels are 
so beset with peril that they always move 
abroad with watchful hesitation, pausing to 
listen, retreating toward their burrows at the 
slightest suspicious sound or movement, or ris- 
ing bolt upright on their hind feet and remain- 
ing motionless as a small statue until satisfied 
that there is nothing to fear. They call to one 
another with a chirping note as well as with a 
shrill trilling whistle, and when alarmed by the 
presence of some enemy their warning call 
notes are heard on all sides as the alarm is 
passed, and all are on the alert to disappear 
down their burrows at the slightest suspicious 
movement. 

When they have vanished their trilling notes 
are often heard from the depths of their bur- 
rows; but curiosity is one of their strongest 
traits, and if no disturbance follows one will 
almost immediately pop up its head to see the 
cause of the alarm. Boys, taking advantage of 
this habit, place an open slipping noose at the 
end of a long string around the entrance of the 
burrow, and, waiting developments, lie quietly 
a few yards to one side. The ensuing silence 
is too much for the ground squirrel to endure 
and soon its head appears above ground, the 
boy pulls the string, and the victim is dragged 
forth with the noose about its neck. 
The entrance to the burrow of these ground 



squirrels is about two inches in diameter. It 
is usually located in the midst of grass or 
weedy growths, and has little or no fresh earth 
about it. The burrow descends for several 
inches almost vertically and then turns almost 
horizontally in a sinuous and erratic course, 
with numerous branches and side passages lead- 
ing up to the surface. Most of these side 
entrances are kept plugged with soft earth. 
Opening off the main tunnel is a large nest 
chamber filled with fine dry grasses and other 
soft vegetable matter, and also one or more 
large storage chambers in which the owner lays 
up his garnered supplies of grain or other seeds 
for use during inclement weather. 

These squirrels hibernate throughout their 
range, entering their long sleep in an exces- 
sively fat condition the last of September or 
in October. In the North they remain in a 
torpid state for six months or more. 

Soon after they appear in spring they mate 
and the single litter of the year, containing 
from five to thirteen young, is born the last of 
May or early in June. The young are in an 
extremely undeveloped state at birth, being 
blind, hairless, and with the ears scarcely show- 
ing. They develop slowly and remain with the 
mother until toward fall, when, nearly grown, 
they scatter to care for themselves. 

The striped ground squirrels are among the 
most carnivorous of rodents. Although they 
devote much time to gathering grain, seeds of 
various kinds, and even acorns and other nuts, 
which may be eaten on the spot or carried in 
their cheek pouches to their underground stor- 
age rooms, in addition they are known to eat 
insects and flesh whenever occasion offers. In 
fact, during seasons when such insect food as 
grasshoppers, caterpillars, and grubs is plenti- 
ful, these ground squirrels frequently feed 
mainly upon it. They are known to kill and 
devour mice and young birds, and when con- 
fined in a cage will sometimes kill and partly 
devour their own kind. When caught they 
fight fiercely, biting and struggling to escape. 
In captivity they show little of the gentleness 
and intelligence which are such pleasing char- 
acteristics of chipmunks and true squirrels. 



THE CALIFORNIA GROUND SQUIR- 
REL (Citellus beecheyi and its relatives) 

{For iUnstrat'wii, sec page 5^9) 

Owing to its habits, the California ground 
squirrel is known locally as the digger-, rock-, 
or ground-squirrel. Its prominent ears, bushy 
tail, color, and form give it the general appear- 
ance of a heavy-bodied gray tree squirrel, but 
in reality it is a true spermophile and close 
kin to the marmots. 

Spermophiles are nearly circumpolar in dis- 
tribution, ranging through northern lands from 
central Europe across Bering Strait to the 
Great Lakes in North America. Many species 
exist in Nortii America, varying greatly in 
form, size, and color. They occur mainlv in 




GOLDEN CHIPMUNK 
Callospermophllus lateralis chrysodeirus 




EASTERN CHIPMUNK 

Tamias striatus 



542 




OREGON CHIPMUNK 

Eutamias tonvnsendi 




PAINTED CHIPMUNK 

Eutamias minimus pictus 



543 



544 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



tlie western part of the continent from the 
Arctic coast of Alaska to the southern end of 
the Mexican table-land. Some species are rep- 
resented by enormous numbers and do great 
injury to cultivated crops. Among the larger 
and best known of the injurious species, the 
California ground squirrel, with its several geo- 
graphic races, occupies most of the Pacific 
coast region from Oregon to Lower California. 
It has a broad vertical distribution, extending 
from the seashore to about ro.ooo feet altitude 
on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in 
California, and thrives under contrasting cli- 
matic conditions, as the humid northwest coast 
region and the most arid deserts of Lower 
California. 

In California, where they are generally dis- 
tributed and extremely numerous over great 
areas, these ground squirrels are most at home 
among the wild oats and scattered live oaks on 
the open slopes of the rocky foothills and 
thence up through the dense chaparral, scrub 
oaks, pinon pines, and junipers. Above this 
they populate many beautiful little valleys in 
colonies, as well as parts of the splendid open 
forests of pine and fir. Below they spread out 
from the foothills among the ranches in the 
great valleys. Wherever they occur they take 
heavy toll from the native forage plants, and 
in cultivated areas their devastations of crops 
place these spermophiles among the most seri- 
ous of mammal pests. 

They are omnivorous, eating insects and flesh 
on occasion, but feeding mainly on seeds, fruits, 
and many kinds of plants. The native vegeta- 
tion in their haunts contains a wonderful 
variety of food plants, from humble weeds in 
the valleys to the lordly pines of the Sierra, 
but most attractive to these rodents are the 
rich food-bearers brought by the cultivators of 
the soil. The squirrels gather in great num- 
bers about farms, and in feeding upon alfalfa, 
wheat, and other grains, grapes, peaches, apri- 
cots, almonds, prunes, pomegranates, and a 
variety of other crops, cause an annual loss to 
the farmers of California probably exceeding 
$20,000,000. So serious are their depredations 
that great sums have been spent in attempts 
to destroy them with poison. The Kern County 
Land Company, with vast holdings in the 
southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, in 
igil spent more than $40,000 for this purpose. 
This company estimated that the ground squir- 
rels destroyed 20 per cent of the grain crop in 
great areas, and that twenty of them would 
destroy enough forage to support a cow 
through the year. 

Ground squirrels by choice locate their bur- 
rows among slide rock, in crevices among 
cliffs, under boulders and roots of trees, in 
ditch or dry creek banks, or under stone walls, 
fences, or building, but in the parks of the 
high Sierra, as in the foothills and lowland 
valleys, they dig holes out in the open with 
conspicuous mounds at the entrances much like 
those of prairie-dogs. 

Well-worn trails lead from one of their 
burrows to another and away to a distance 



through the wild oats in the foothills, or in 
the grain and forage crops of the valleys, and 
along these the animals travel when foraging 
or paying social visits. Whenever a large rock, 
stump, or other prominent object is convenient, 
they spend hours on the top sunning themselves- 
and keeping a sharp lookout over their sur- 
roundings. From these lookout points when 
they suspect danger they utter a short, shrill, 
whistling note which may be heard at a long 
distance and which sends all their neighbors 
scurrying for shelter. They also have a lower 
chattering note, uttered about the burrow when 
resenting an intrusion or when otherwise dis- 
pleased. 

Ground squirrels are agile climbers on cliffs 
and among rocks as well as in fruit trees, live 
oaks, and other low trees, but I have never 
seen them far from the ground in large trees. 
When on the ground they run in a series of 
bounds like tree squirrels. The long, bushy tail 
is carried almost straight out behind when they 
scamper off in alarm, but at other times is 
curved and undulating, much as in the tree 
squirrels. They gather and manipulate food 
with their front paws, sitting upright on their 
haunches to eat or look about. On one occa- 
sion wdien I came to a foot-bridge over a 
broad irrigating ditch across which a number 
of ground squirrels were raiding an orchard, 
they did not hesitate to dash at full speed into 
the swiftly running water and swam quickly 
across to seek refuge in their holes on the far 
side. 

Like other spermophiles, the California 
ground squirrels hibernate for months in the 
cold, snow-covered parts of their winter range, 
but remain active throughout the year in the 
warmer areas, where no snow falls. Through- 
out their range they gather stores of seeds, 
grain, and acorns and other nuts, carrying them 
in their cheek pouches to underground store- 
rooms for use in bad weather. In the valleys 
of California they lie hidden in their burrows 
for days at a time during cold winter rains, but 
are out as soon as the sun reappears. One or 
more litters, each containing from six to twelve 
young, are born from March to late in summer, 
according to the locality. The young leave 
the nest and care for themselves when about 
half grown. 

The swarming abundance of the California 
ground squirrel on foothill slopes and in fertile 
valley bottoms equals the congregations of 
prairie-dogs in their most populous districts. 
This abundance of small animal life supports 
a great variety of predatory species, as coyotes, 
foxes, bobcats, several kinds of hawks, and the 
golden eagle. Owing to its predilection for 
ground squirrels, the golden eagle is protected 
by law in California, where many of them build 
their nests in low live oaks only a few yards 
from the ground. 

When house rats brought the bubonic plague 
to San Francisco a few years ago they also 
carried it across the bay and passed it on to 
the ground squirrels living in the foothills back 
of Oakland. Thence the disease spread among 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



545 



these animals through parts of several sur- 
rounding counties. The United States Public 
Health Service and the local authorities in a 
vigorous campaign stopped the spread of this 
malady, but not until the potential ability of 
these rodents as plague-carriers had been well 
established. This fact and the wide distribu- 
tion of the California and other ground squir- 
rels over a large part of the continent should 
not be overlooked in connection with possible 
future outbreaks of the plague. Fortunately, 
investigation and field experiments on a large 
scale have shown that these spermophiles may 
be destroyed by poison over great areas at a 
relatively small cost. 

THE ANTELOPE CHIPMUNK (Ammo- 
spermophilus leucurus and its relatives) 

{for illustration, see page S39) 

Commonly known as the antelope, or white- 
tailed, chipmunk, this handsome little mammal 
is in reality a species of spermophile, or ground 
squirrel. The misnomer is due, no doubt, to 
its small size, striped back, and sprightly ways. 
From the true chipmunks it may be distin- 
guished by its heavier proportions, and from 
both chipmunks and all other spermophiles by 
its odd, upturned tail, carried closely recurved 
along the top of the rump. This character 
renders the species unmistakable at a glance 
and gives it an amusing air of jaunty self-con- 
fidence. 

The antelope chipmunk is characteristic of 
the arid plains and lower mountain slopes of 
the Southwest from western Colorado through 
Utah, northern Arizona, Nevada, the southern 
half of California, and all of Lower California, 
and down the Rio Grande Valley through New 
Mexico to western Texas. 

Within this area it occupies a wide variety 
of situations. It inhabits the intensely hot 
desert plains near sea level in Lower Cali- 
fornia, where the temperature rises to more 
than 125 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade and 
the vegetation is characterized by such pic- 
turesque forms of plant life as cactuses of 
many species, yuccas, fouquerias, palo verdes, 
ironwood, and creosote bushes ; it is found also 
above 7,000 feet altitude on the cool plateaus 
and mountain slopes of Arizona and Colorado, 
among sage brush, greasewood, junipers, and 
pihon pines. It appears equally at home skip- 
ping nimbly over rocky slopes or among slide 
rock in arid canyons and scurrying through the 
brushy growth on broad sandy plains devoid 
of rocks. 

The antelope chipmunk has the most vivacious 
and pleasing personality of all the numerous 
ground sejuirrels within our borders. During 
the many months I have camped and traveled 
on horseback in their haunts I have never lost 
interest in them. They were forever skirmish- 
ing among the bushes or dashing away down 
trails or over the rocks of canyon slopes, their 
white tails curled impudently over their backs 
like flags of derision at my cumbersome ad- 
vance. 



Their burrows are dug in a variety of places. 
In the open flats they enter the ground almost 
vertically, and often several entrances are 
grouped within a few yards. In some places a 
little mound of loose dirt is heaped up at one 
side of the entrance and at others there is no 
trace of it. Frequently, when the ground is 
soft, little trails lead in different directions 
from the entrances, and often between holes 
100 yards or more apart, as though they made 
many social visits. The deserted burrows of 
other mammals are sometimes utilized to save 
the trouble of digging. The burrows are often 
under the shelter of cactuses, bushes, and great 
boulders or may be among crevices in the rocks. 
_ Antelope chipmunks are extraordinarily ac- 
tive and continually wander far from home in 
search of food or in a spirit of restless in- 
quiry. As the traveler on horseback rides 
slowly along he will see them racing away in 
front of him, sometimes climbing to the top of 
a bush 100 or 200 yards in advance for a better 
look at the wayfarer and then scuttling down 
and racing on again. In this way I have seen 
them keep ahead of me sometimes for several 
hundred yards instead of hiding in some hole 
or shelter, as they might easily do. At other 
times they were so unsuspicious they would 
permit me to pass within a few yards with 
slight signs of alarm. They have a chirping 
call, often uttered when watching from the 
top of a bush, and also a prolonged twittering 
or trilling note, diminishing toward the end. 

In the higher and colder parts of their range, 
where snow lies long on the ground, these 
spermophiles hibernate for several months, but 
in the warmer areas they are active throughout 
the year. Wherever they occur they gather 
food and carry it to their underground store- 
rooms in their cheek pouches. Like most 
ground squirrels, they eat many kinds of seeds 
and fruits as well as flesh and insects when 
occasion offers. About cultivated lands they 
are sometimes abundant and destructive, dig- 
ging up corn or other grain as soon as it is 
planted and also taking toll of the ripening 
grain until they become a pest. In the desert 
they often gather about camps to pick up the 
grain scattered about when the horses are fed. 

It is well for them that they are prolific, 
having one or more litters during spring and 
summer, with from four to twelve in each, as 
they have many enemies. Snakes and weasels 
pursue them into their burrows, while foxes, 
coyotes, l)adgers, bobcats, and many kinds of 
hawks, constantly reduce their numbers. | 

THE GOLDEN CHIPMUNK (Callosper- 
mophilus lateralis chrysodeirus and its 

* relatives) 

(For illustration, see page 542) 

The golden chipmunk, or calico squirrel, as it 
is named in Oregon, is the most richly colored 
of the several geographic races of a widely 
known species, C alios perm ophiliis lateralis, 
abundant among the open forests of yellow 
pines and firs of the western ranges, including 




RED SQUIRREL 

Sciurus hudsonicus 




DOUGLAS SQUIRREL 
Sciurus douf^laii 



546 




GRAY SQUIRREL (and black phase) 
Sciurus carolinensis 




RUSTY FOX SQUIRREL 
Sciurus niger rufi-uenter 



FOX SQUIRREL 

Sciurus niger 



547 



548 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



the Rocky Mountains, Cascades, and Sierra 
Nevada. Although commonly known as a chip- 
munk, this handsome animal is a ground squir- 
rel, or spermophile, distinguished from all its 
kind by heavy stripes, resembling those of a 
chipmunk, along the sides of its back. From 
the chipmunks it may be distinguished at a 
glance by its thick-set and often almost obese 
proportions, which render its movements much 
slower and less graceful than they are with 
those nimble sprites. It occurs from north- 
eastern British Columbia to New Mexico, 
southern California, and even in an area in the 
high Sierra Madre of southern Chihuahua, 
where an isolated representative occupies a 
limited range. 

Their vertical distribution extends from a 
moderate elevation above the sea in Oregon to 
above 11,000 feet in southern California. They 
are common in the Yellowstone and other 
national parks, where their size, bright mark- 
ings, and activities render them conspicuous. 

Everywhere their habits resemble those oi 
the' various species of true chipmunks with 
which they associate. They live in burrows, 
which they dig under the shelter of logs, rocks, 
stumps, roots of trees, or even in open ground, 
as well as m the ready-made shelter of rock 
slides, with conies, at timberline. Their burrows 
at times have several entrances within a small 
area. Often they occupy the burrows of other 
animals, including pocket gophers. They ex- 
cavate burrows under cabins or barns in clear- 
ings, and abandoned mining camps or old saw- 
mill sites frequently abound with them. Nests 
and storage chambers are excavated off the 
passageways. The nests are usually made of 
leaves and other soft vegetable material, but 
in the sheep country wool, which they find in 
scattered tufts, is often used. 

A camping party in their haunts is certain 
to attract them, and, as about barns, it is neces- 
sary to keep a watchful eye on them to prevent 
their robbing grain sacks or other supplies. 
When they once locate an accessible supply of 
grain their industry is remarkable. I have 
seen a dozen or more working throughout the 
day, making continuous hurried trips, with 
loaded cheek pouches, to their dens, sometimes 
two hundred yards away. On approach of 
autumn they become continually active, gather- 
ing their winter supplies. 

The length of their hibernation varies with 
the severity of the climate, but is rarely under 
five months. It is said to run through seven 
months on the higher mountains of southern 
California. They usually go into winter 
quarters in September or early in October, but 
occasionally one may be seen out as late as 
December. At this time they have become so 
fat that their movements are very sluggish. 
One kept as a pet for eleven years at Klamath 
Falls, Oregon, is reported to have hibernated 
regularly each winter. In Montana they retire 
to their dens in September and come out in 
IMarch. They mate soon after they appear in 
spring and the young, four to seven in number, 
are half grown the last of May. 



Like true chipmunks, these spermophiles are 
fond of weedy clearings or other openings in 
the forest, where stumps, logs, rocks, and old 
fences offer plentiful shelter and many elevated 
vantage points where they may sit by the hour 
watching the doings of their small world. 
They have a sharp whistling or chirping call 
note, usually uttered as a warning cry, but 
sometimes as a social call. They do not like 
gloomy or stormy weather and generally lie 
hidden at such times, but on sunny days are 
so actively engaged in foraging, running along 
the tops of logs, or perching on the tops of 
stumps and large rocks that they add greatly 
to the pleasant animation of the forests where 
they live. When running they usually carry 
the tail elevated like a chipmunk. 

They sun themselves for hours on elevated 
points, sometimes lying quiescent and again 
sitting bolt upright, but always watchful and 
ready to disappear at the slightest alarm. This 
watchfulness is necessary, for their enemies are 
abroad at all hours. They are the prey of 
bobcats, foxes, coyotes, weasels, snakes, and 
hawks. 

The golden chipmunk and its related sub- 
species are omnivorous feeders. They show a 
strong predilection for bacon when looting 
camp stores and eat any kind of meat with 
avidity. Young birds and birds' eggs are de- 
voured whenever found, as are also grasshop- 
pers, beetles, flies, larvse, and many other in- 
sects. The number of kinds of seeds eaten is 
almost endless and includes chinquapin and pine 
nuts, rhus, alfileria, violet, lupine, ceanothus, 
and others. They also eat roses and other 
flowers, green leaves, wild currants, goose- 
berries and other fruit, and small tuberous 
roots. They often climb bushes and low trees, 
at least 30 feet from the ground, after nuts 
and berries. The capacity of their cheek 
pouches is shown by one instance, when one 
animal was loaded with 750 serviceberry seeds. 
The pouches of another contained 360 grains 
of barley, another 357 of oats. Bold and per- 
sistent camp robbers, their depredations cover 
all articles of food, including bread and cake, 
and they sometimes do considerable injury to 
small mountain grain fields. 

I had the pleasure of living in the mountains 
of New Mexico and Arizona for several years 
where these attractive ground squirrels were 
numerous, and vividly remember them as 
among the most interesting of the woodland 
folk. Their friendliness about forest cabins is 
notable and with a little encouragement they 
become extremely confiding and amusing vis- 
itors. 

The young are playful, pursuing one another 
in apparent games of "tag" over rocks, stumps, 
and logs. When partly grown they have all 
the heedlessness of youth and on one occasion 
an observer saw the mother repeatedly push 
the young back into crevices in a rock slide 
with' her front feet, as they persisted in trying 
to come out to look at the strange intruder 
in their haunts. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



549 



THE EASTERN CHIPMUNK (Tamias 
striatus and its relatives) 

{Por illustration, see page 542) 

The chipmunks are close relatives of the tree 
squirrels, but live mainly on the ground, are 
provided with cheek pouches for carrying food 
to their hidden stores, and have many ways 
similar to those of the spermophiles, or ground 
squirrels. They are nearly circumpolar in dis- 
tribution, ranging through eastern Europe and 
northern Asia as well as from the Atlantic to 
the Pacific in North America. On this con- 
tinent they are far more numerous in species 
and individuals than in the Old World, and 
their center of abundance appears to lie in the 
mountainous western half of the United States. 
Their extreme range extends from near the 
Arctic Circle in Canada to Durango and Middle 
Lower California, Mexico. 

As a group the chipmunks are widely known 
for their grace, beauty of coloration, and 
sprightly waj^s. Among the handsomest and 
most familiar is the common chipmunk of 
Canada and the United States east of the Great 
Plains. Within this area it is divided into ' 
several geographic races, of which the best 
known is the brightly colored animal occupy- 
ing all the wooded region from the Great 
Lakes to Nova Scotia and New England, which 
is the subject of the accompanying illustration. 
Its vertical distribution extends from sea level 
to the summit of Mount Washington, where 
it may be seen on pleasant summer days. 

The eastern chipmunks, like most of their 
kind, belong to the forest and its immediate 
environment. Favorite haunts are rocky ledges 
covered with vines and brush, half-cleared land, 
the brushy borders of old pasture fences, stone 
walls, and similar situations. In early days 
they were so plentiful in places that they made 
serious inroads on the scanty crops of the 
settlers, and bounties were offered for their 
destruction. 

No one who visits the woods of the eastern 
States or Canada can fail to observe with 
pleasure the alert, attractive ways of these little 
squirrel-like animals. They are everywhere, 
including the vicinity of summer camps in the 
forest, and, if encouraged, prove most attractive 
and friendly neighbors. To such small beasts 
the world is peopled with enemies against which 
the only safeguard is eternal watchfulness. 
This accoimts for the hesitating advances and 
retreats so characteristic of these chipmunks, 
which at the first sudden movement of any 
suspicious object, or loud noise, disappear like 
a flash. They soon learn to recognize a friend 
and in many places come regularly into camp 
buildings to receive food. I doubt, however, if 
they ever become quite so friendly as some 
squirrels under similar conditions. 

Like most of the squirrel tribe, they are en- 
dowed with much curiosity, and at the appear- 
ance of anything unusual, but not too alarming, 
they seek some safe vantage point from which 
to peer at it with every sign of interest. They 



are extremely timid and wary, however, and 
if doubtful move by Httle cautious runs, stop- 
ping to sit up and look about, often mounting 
a stump, log, or a side of a tree trunk for the 
purpose, the tail all the time moving with slow 
undulations. If alarmed they dash away to 
the nearest shelter, the tail held nearly or 
quite erect and sometimes quivering excitedly. 
When running to shelter they often utter chat- 
tering cries of alarm. Their principal enemies 
are cats, weasels, martens, foxes, snakes, birds 
of prey, and the untamed small boy with his 
dog. Weasels, the supreme terror of their ex- 
istence, follow them to the depths of their 
burrows and kill them ruthlessly. 

These chipmunks are sociable and playful, 
often pursuing one another, first one and then 
the other being the pursuer, as though in a 
game. They race along fence tops and old 
logs and up stumps and even the lower parts 
of tree trunks. Lovers of bright, sunny weather, 
they usually remain hidden in their burrows 
during stormy days. If they venture out at 
such times they are quiet and show none of 
the mercurial liveliness which characterizes 
them when the weather is pleasant. 

Their food includes a great variety of culti- 
vated and wild plants, as wheat, buckwheat, 
corn, grass seed, ragweed seed, hazelnuts, 
acorns, beechnuts, strawberries, blueberries, 
wintergreen berries, mushrooms, and many 
others. In addition they eat May beetles and 
other insects and insect larvae, snails, occa- 
sional frogs, salamanders, small snakes, and 
many young birds and eggs. 

At all seasons they fill their cheek pouches 
with food to be carried away to their dens, but 
toward the end of summer or early fall they 
work industriously laying up stores of seeds 
and nuts. Sometimes these stores, hidden in 
chambers excavated for the purpose or in 
hollow logs and similar places, contain several 
quarts of beechnuts or other nuts or seeds. 
Small quantites of such food are hidden here 
and there under the leaves or in shallow pits 
in the ground. Stpre-rooms in one burrow con- 
tained a peck of chestnuts, cherry pits, and dog- 
wood berries, and another had a half bushel 
of hickory nuts. 

While at a summer camp I once saw one of 
these chipmunks give an exhibition of the ex- 
quisitely keen power of scent which must be 
necessary to recover scattered stores. The 
chipmunk had been coming repeatedly down a 
wooded slope in full view for twenty-five yards 
or more to the floor of the porch for food 
supplied by the campers. While it was absent 
carrying food to its burrow I placed a few nut 
meats on the flat top of a stump about fifteen 
feet to one side of the porch and farther away 
than the point where the chipmunk was being 
fed bread crumbs. On its return several 
minutes later, instead of going as usual to the 
porch, it ran directly to the stump, climbed 
up it, and promptly made off with the nuts, 
which it had evidently located from afar. They 
sometimes climb beeches and other trees to 
gather nuts even to a height of fifty or sixty 




ABERT SQUIRREL 

Sciurus aberti 



KAIBAB SQUIRREL 

Sciurus kaihabettsis 



550 




FLYING SQUIRREL 

Glaucomys <volani 




BLACK-FOOTED FERRET 

Mustela nigripes 



551 



552 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



feet, and are commonly seen on low limbs and 
in bushes. 

The entrances to the burrows are usually 
under logs, roots, or rocks, or the den may be 
in a hollow log, stump or base of a tree, or 
even under a cabin in the woods. The burrows 
in the ground are commonly a series of tunnels 
some yards in length, with an oval nest and 
storage chamber two or three feet under- 
ground, and with branches from the main 
passageway. The nest chamber, a foot or 
more in diameter, is filled with fragments of 
dry leaves and other soft vegetable material. 
One chamber is usually used for sanitary pur- 
poses. The used entrance hole is commonly 
without a sign of dug earth about it, the loose 
soil from the burrow and its chambers ap- 
parently having been thrown out at another 
opening, which appears to be used for this 
purpose only and is kept plugged with earth. 

Throughout most of the northern half of its 
range these chipmunks usually hibernate from 
some time in October until March. Their 
hibernation is far less profound than that of 
the woodchuck and they not infrequently ap- 
pear above ground during periods of mild 
weather, even in midwinter. The hibernating 
period is shorter in the southern part of the 
range. 

They vary much in numbers from year to 
year and at times appear to increase suddenly 
in localities where food is plentiful, indicating 
a probable food migration. The young, num- 
bering from four to six in a litter, are born at 
varying times between the last of April and 
late summer, indicating the possibility of more 
than one litter a season. 

The most characteristic note of this chip- 
munk is a throaty chuck, chuck, which is or- 
dinarily used as a call note, but which in spring 
is uttered many times in rapid succession to 
express the seasonal feeling of joy and well 
l)eing, thus taking on the character of a song. 
vSuch joyful notes may be heard on every 
hand in places where the little songsters are 
numerous. In addition, they have a high-pitched, 
chirping note and a small churring whistle 
when much alarmed. 

THE OREGON CHIPMUNK (Eutamias 
townsendi and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 543) 

The resident species of birds and mammals 
in the humid coastal region of Oregon, Wash- 
ington, and southern British Columbia are 
strikingly characterized by their darker and 
browner cpjors in comparison with closely re- 
lated species in more arid districts. 

The Oregon chipmunk is one of the common 
species showing marked response to these local 
climatic conditions and is the darkest of all 
the many species of chipmunks in the Western 
States.' This chipnuuik is one of several geo- 
graphic races into which the species is divided 
by changing environment. The species, as a 
whole, ranges along the west coast from British 



Columbia to Lower California, and the races at 
the extremes of the line differ much in color. 

As befits a habitant of the humid forested 
region, the Oregon chipmunk is robustly built 
and distinctly larger than the other chipmunks 
of the Western States. It is common and gen- 
erally distributed throughout this region, occur- 
ring from among the drift logs along the ocean 
beach to above timberline on the Cascade 
Mountains. Within these limits it frequents 
almost every variety of situation. It occurs in 
the midst of gloomy forests of giant spruces, 
cedars, and firs, but is particularly fond of old 
fences and brush patches on the borders of 
farm clearings in the valleys as well as the 
vicinity of rocky ledges, brush piles, and fallen 
timber, where the low thickets offer a variety 
of food-bearing plants and ready shelter. 

On the mountains it is most numerous about 
rock slides and "burns" or other openings in the 
forest. Several pairs usually haunt the vicinity 
of old sawmills and of mountain cabins. Like 
others of their kind, they are alert and viva- 
cious, varying in mood from day to day, but 
always interesting. At times they are exces- 
sively shy and retiring, and a person might 
spend a day in their haunts without seeing 
or hearing one, although it is safe to say that 
the intruder had been seen and every foot of 
his progress noted by the chipmunks. On an- 
other day, perhaps because the sun shines more 
brightly and nature is in a happier mood, the 
animals appear on all sides. Their slowly re- 
peated sociable chuck, chuck, is heard from the 
depths of the brushy covert as well as from the 
tops of stumps, logs, rocks, or other lookout 
points where they sit to view their surround- 
ings. If alarmed they utter a sharp, birdlike 
chirping note as they vanish in the nearest 
shelter. As one moves about in their haunts 
he may now and then see one appear for a 
moment above the undergrowth in a tall bush, 
on top of a stump, and sometimes even mount- 
ing a few yards up a tree trunk to observe the 
cause of the disturbance, only to vanish quickly. 

They are always skirmishing for food, and 
carrying it in their cheek pouches to hidden 
stores. On the approach of winter this activity 
becomes very marked. A surprising variety of 
fruits and seeds are eaten and stored, among 
them the salmonberry, red elderberry, black- 
capped raspberry, thimble berry, blackberry, 
blueberry, gooseberry, thistle seed, dogwood 
seed, hazelnuts, acorns, and others. They have 
favorite feeding places, such as the top of a 
stone or stump or the shelter of a log where 
they carry nuts or other seeds. These places 
are always marked by little pilcs-of empty shells 
or chaff from seeds. About ranches they raid 
grain fields and other crops, sometimes in num- 
bers sufficient to do considerable damage. 

In sheltered spots they make underground 
burrows with nest chamber and store-rooms ex- 
cavated along the passages. They usually re- 
tire to these dens to hibernate during the last 
of September or first of October, and appear 
again about March or April, often long before 
the snow disappears. During fall and early 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



553 



winter they are sometimes seen running about 
over newly fallen snow. One which was dug 
from its winter quarters in British Columbia 
the last of November would move about slowly 
and sleepily if teased, but when left undis- 
turbed would curl up and go to sleep again. 
This indicates the difference between the light 
and often broken hibernation of chipmunks and 
the deep lethargy which possesses ground 
squirrels in the North at this time. Toward 
the southern end of their ranges neither chip- 
munk nor ground squirrel hibernates. They 
mate soon after they awake from their winter 
sleep, and the young, two to five or six in 
number, are born from April to June. Whether 
more than one litter is born during a season, 
is, like many other details concerning the lives 
of these attractive animals, still to be learned. 

THE PAINTED CHIPMUNK (Eutamias 
minimus pictus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, sec page ^43) 

The preceding sketch tells how the Oregon 
chipmunk, living under a cool, humid climate, 
in a region of great forests, has responded to 
its environment by developing dark colors and 
a robust physique. The painted chipmunk of 
the Great Basin has given an equally perfect 
response to entirely different conditions. It is 
one of the geographic races of a species pecu- 
liar to the sagebrush-covered plains and hills 
from the Dakotas across the Rocky Mountains 
and the Great Basin region to the east slope 
of the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada. Its 
home is on treeless plains, in a climate char- 
acterized by brilliant sunshine and clear, dry 
air. In this environment the painted chipmunk 
has developed a smaller and slenderer body 
than the Oregon species, and strikingly paler 
colors. 

These differences in physique are accom- 
panied by equal differences in mental and 
physical expression. These little animals are 
exceedingly alert and agile, darting through 
dense growths of bushes with all the easy grace 
of weasels. When running they hold the tail 
stiffly erect. When alarmed they utter a shrill 
chippering cry, especially when darting into 
shelter. They also have a chucking call, uttered 
at intervals, which may be used merely as a 
note of sociability or to put their neighbors on 
the alert. 

Although one of the most distinctive animals 
of the sagebrush plains, this chipmunk also 
ranges into the borders of open forests on the 
mountain sides. It is most numerous on flats 
and foothill slopes among heavy growths of 
sage and rabbit brush. When its territory is 
invaded by settlers it does not hesitate to gather 
about the borders of fields and even to raid 
barns in search of grain and other food. Its 
burrows are dug under large sagebrush and 
other bushes and under rocks and similar 
shelter. 

As with others of their kind, painted chip- 
munks habitually gather seeds of many plants 



and carry tliem in their cheek pouches to their 
underground dens. In addition to seeds and 
green vegetation, they eat any fruits growing in 
their haunts, and also many insects, especially 
grasshoppers and larvae. In one locality in 
Nevada during June and July more than half 
their food consisted of a web worm and its 
chrysalids with which the sage bushes swarmed. 
The chipmunks climbed into the bushes and 
pulled the larvae from the webs. As half the 
bushes were infested, the work of the many 
chipmunks had a material effect in reducing 
the numbers of this pest. The vegetable food 
eaten includes the seeds of Ribes, Kuntzia, 
Sarcobatus, pigweed, and many other weeds, 
serviceberry, various grasses, oats, wheat, and 
the seeds of small cactuses. They regularly 
climb into the tops of large sage and other 
Ijushes for their seeds and the ground beneath 
is often covered with the small sections of 
twigs cut by them. They climb readily and 
often travel from bush to bush through tall 
thickets like squirrels in tree-tops. On warm 
mornings after frosty nights they may be seen 
in the tops of the bushes basking in the sun. 

Throughout most of their range they begin 
hibernation in September or October, and re- 
appear early in spring. The young appear a 
month or more later, and litters containing 
from two to six may be born throughout the 
summer, indicating the possibility that several 
litters may be born to the same pair in a sea- 
son. 

So alert and shy are they that even a person 
in their haunts day after day will see but few 
of them. Their hearing is extremely acute, and 
even at a great distance the footsteps of an in- 
truder sets them all on the alert. On every 
side they run swiftly to cover before the ob- 
server has opportunity to see them. In such 
places a large setting of baited traps will re- 
veal their presence in surprising numbers. In 
one locality, during a brief visit, traps set 
among the brush for other small mammals 
yielded more than forty chipmunks. 

On stormy and cloudy days, especially if the 
weather is cool, painted chipmunks remain in 
their dens, but on mild sunny days they frisk 
about with amazingly quick darting movements. 
A horseman riding along a road leading 
through a sagebrush flat will frequently see 
them racing across the road often several hun- 
dred yards away, the sound of the horse's foot- 
falls having alarmed the chipmunks over a 
wide area. Here and there one may be seen 
climbing hastily to the top of a tall bush to 
take a look at the cause of alarm before finally 
.=eeking concealment. When pursued among 
the bushes they often run considerable distances 
before taking refuge in a burrow. When hard 
pressed they will enter the first opening en- 
countered, but if it is not its own home the 
fugitive soon comes out and scampers away, 
apparently fearful of the return of the owner 
or perhaps owing to his presence. 

Apparently, as in the case of many other 
desert mammals, the painted chipmunk, with its 
related races, is able to subsist without drink- 




Winter 



Suiniiier 



LEAST WEASEL 
Muitrla rtxosa 




LARGE WEASEL, or STOAT (Winter and Summer) 
Muitela arcticus 



554 




MARTEN, or AMERICAN SABLE 
Martes americana 




AMERICAN MINK 

Must el a 'vison 



555 



556 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AIAGAZINE 



ing, since it is often seen far out on arid plains 
many miles from the nearest water. 

As with all its kind, the world of the painted 
chipmunk is filled with imminent peril of sud- 
den death. Overhead, gliding on silent pmions, 
are hawks of several species, while on the 
ground snakes, weasels, badgers, bobcats, foxes, 
and coyotes are .ever searching for them as prey. 

THE RED SQUIRREL (Sciurus hudsonicus 

and its relatives) 

{For illustration, sec page 546) 

Every one who has visited the forests of 
Canada and northeastern United States knows 
the vivacious, rollicking, and frequently im- 
pudent red squirrel. This entertaining little 
beast, known also as the pine squirrel and 
chickaree, has little of that woodland shyness 
so characteristic of most forest animals. It 
often searches out the human visitor to its 
haunts and from a low branch or tree trunk 
sputters, barks, and scolds the intruder, work- 
ing itself into a frenzy of excitement. This 
habit, combined with the rusty red color and 
small size of the animal, about half that of 
the gray squirrel, renders its identity unmis- 
takable. It has distinct winter and summer 
coats, but in both the rusty red prevails. The 
winter dress is distinguished, however, by small 
tufts on the ears. 

The red squirrel, with its related small species, 
occupying most of the wooded parts of North 
America north of Mexico, forms a strongly 
characterized group, with no near kin among 
the squirrels of the Old World. In its geo- 
graphic races it ranges through the forests of 
all Alaska and Canada and south to Idaho, 
Wyoming, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, northern 
Indiana, all the Northeastern States to the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, and along the Alleghenies 
to South Carolina. Owing to its small size, 
this animal, like the chipmunk, is considered 
too small for game, although occasionally 
hunted for sport. As a consequence its in- 
crease or decrease is usually governed by the 
available food supply, although man interferes 
locally when it becomes too destructive. 

This squirrel shows a strong preference for 
coniferous forests, whether of hemlock, spruce, 
fir, or pine, but may be common in woods 
where conifers arc few and widely scattered. 
Although usually diurnal and busily occupied 
from sunrise until sunset, it sometimes con- 
tinues its activities during moonlight nights, 
especially when nuts are ripe and it is time to 
gather winter stores. During warm, pleasant 
days in spring and fall, when the nights are 
cool, it often lies at full length along the tops 
of large branches during the middle of the day, 
basking in the grateful warmth of the sun. 

The nests, which are located in a variety 
of situations, are made of twigs, leaves, or 
moss, and lined with fibrous bark and other 
soft material. Some are in knot-holes or other 
hollows in trees, others may be built outside 
on limbs near the trunk, and still others are 



in burrows made in the ground under roots, 
stumps, logs, brush heaps, or other cover offer- 
ing secure refuge. Apparently several litters, 
of young, containing from four to six, are 
born each season, as they have been found 
from April to September. 

They do not hibernate, but are active through- 
out the year, except during some of the coldest 
and most inclement weather. To provide 
against the season of scarcity, they accumulate 
at the base of a tree, under the shelter of a 
log, or other cover, great stores of pine, spruce, 
or other cones, sometimes in heaps containing 
from six to ten bushels. They also hide scat- 
tered cones here and there and place stores of 
beechnuts, corn, and other seeds in hollows or 
underground store-rooms. They are fond of 
edible mushrooms and sometimes lay up half 
a bushel of them among the branches of trees 
or bushes to dry for winter use. In the west- 
ern mountains their great stores of pine cones 
are often robbed by seed-gatherers for forestry 
nurseries. In winter they tunnel through the 
snow to their hidden stores and sometimes 
continue the tunnels from one store to an- 
other. 

Each squirrel makes its home for a long 
period in or about a certain tree. There he 
carries his cones to extract the seeds, and on 
the ground beneath it the accumulation of 
fallen scales and centers of cones sometimes 
amounts to fifteen or twenty bushels. In ad- 
dition to the seeds of the various conifers, red 
squirrels eat many kinds of fruits and seeds ; 
they also raid cornfields and orchards and even 
make nests in barns and woodsheds to be near 
the food supply which some farmer's industry 
has collected. 

Red squirrels have the interesting habit of 
voluntarily swimming streams and lakes, in- 
cluding such bodies of water as Lake George 
and even the broadest parts of Lake Cham- 
plain. When they thus cross the water and 
make their migrations, there is little doubt that 
they are usually in search of a better feeding 
ground. 

The red squirrels and related species have the 
greatest variety of notes possessed by any of 
the American members of the squirrel family. 
In addition to the barking, scolding, chattering 
notes already mentioned, they have a real song, 
which is one of the most attractive of wood- 
land notes. It is a long-drawn series of musical 
rolling or churring notes, varied at times by 
cadences and having a ventriloquial quality 
rendering it difficult to locate. These notes 
never fail to awaken pleasurable emotions and 
to recall to me my early boyhood in the Adi- 
rondacks, where the spring songs of the chick- 
arees were among the first calls which awak- 
ened me to the marvelous beauties of nature. 

The worst trait of the red squirrel and one 
which largely overbalances all his many at- 
tractive qualities is his thoroughly proved habit 
of eating the eggs and young of small birds. 
During the breeding season he spends a large 
part of his time in predatory nest hunting, and 
the number of useful and beautiful birds he 



SMALLER MAMA/EALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



557 



thus destroys must be almost incalculable. The 
number of red squirrels is very great over a 
continental area, and one close observer be- 
lieves each squirrel destroys 200 birds a sea- 
son. Practically all species of northern warb- 
lers, vireos, thrushes, chickadees, nuthp.tches, 
and others are numbered among their victims. 
The notable scarcity of birds in northern for- 
ests may be largely due to these handsome but 
vicious marauders. 

In the fur country these squirrels are much 
disliked by the trappers for their constant in- 
terference with meat-baited traps. Many fall 
victims to their carnivorous desires, but their 
places are soon taken by others. 

The energy and unfailing variety in the per- 
formances of red squirrels always keep the 
attention of their human neighbors. Among 
other interesting activities, their pursuit of one 
another up and down and around the trunks 
of trees, over the ground, along logs, back and 
forth in the most reckless abandon, is most 
entertaining to watch. These pursuits among 
the young are playful and harmless, but among 
the males in spring are of the most deadly 
character. I have seen the victim go up and 
down tree after tree, shrieking in fear and 
agony and leaving a trail of blood on the snow 
as he tried to escape his truculent pursuer. 

Such scenes as this, combined with our knowl- 
edge of its bird-killing habits, appear belied by 
the exquisite grace and beauty of this squirrel 
as it sits on a branch and sends its musical 
cadences trilling through the primeval forest. 
So confirmed are red squirrels in the destruc- 
tion of bird life, however, they should not be 
permitted to become very numerous anywhere 
and it may eventually become necessary to 
outlaw them wherever found. 

THE DOUGLAS SQUIRREL (Sciurus 
douglasi and its relatives) 

{Por illustration, see page ^46) 

In all Retails of size, form, notes, and habits 
the Douglas squirrel gives testimony to its de- 
scent from the same ancestral stock as the com- 
mon red squirrel (Sciurus hudsonicus). The 
typical Douglas squirrel, represented in the ac- 
companying illustration, is one of several geo- 
graphic races of a species which ranges from 
the Cascades and Sierra Nevada to the Pacific, 
and from British Columbia south to the San 
Pedro Martir Mountains of Lower California. 
The home of the Douglas squirrel is amid the 
wonderful coniferous forests of western Ore- 
gon, Washington, and southern British Co- 
lumbia. As in other mammals of this extremely 
humid region, the colors of its upperparts are 
dark brown, in strong contrast to the much 
paler and grayer colors of the closely related 
subspecies living in the clearer and more arid 
climate of the Sierra Nevada in California. 
These squirrels are known locally by a variety 
of common names, including pine squirrel, red- 
wood snuirrel, and "drummer." 

Although usually not quite so noisy and self- 



assertive as the irrepressible little red blusterer 
of eastern forests, the Douglas squirrel is also 
notable for its rollicking, chattering character 
and sometimes cannot be outdone in its amus- 
ing displays of aggressive impudence. When 
the animals are numerous the air at times re- 
sounds with their call notes or songs, one 
answering the other, now near and now far, 
until the somber depths of the mighty forest 
seems peopled with a multitude of these joyous 
furry sprites. Their song, resembling that of 
the red squirrel, is a rapid trilling or bubbling 
series of notes, long drawn out and some- 
times varied by cadences. It is so musical that 
it seems more like the song of some strange 
bird than of a mammal. When these squirrels 
are not common they are much less given to 
song and seem subdued and shy, as though im- 
pressed by the vast loneliness of their deep 
forest haunts. 

At mating time, early in spring, they are 
especially noisy, and again in summer when the 
first litter of young are out trying their youth- 
ful pipes in expression of their cheerful well 
being. They frequently come down on a low 
branch or on the trunk of a tree and chatter, 
bark, and scold at man, dog, or other intruder, 
now rushing up and down, or making little 
dashes around the tree trunk, their necks out- 
stretched and tails flirting with a great show 
of anger and contempt highly entertaining to 
see. They are restlessly active at all seasons 
of the year and habitually chase one another 
through the forest with an appearance of rol- 
licking fun which may many times be in more 
deadly earnest than aopears to the casual ob- 
server. 

In winter their tracks in the snow lead from 
tree to tree, along the tops of logs and fences, 
and in all directions to hidden stores of food, 
which they appear to be able to locate with 
unerring certainty under the snow. An ad- 
venturous spirit leads them to race away from 
the forest, along fence-tops, to pay visits to 
ranch buildings and even to villages and small 
towns. Like their eastern relative, the Douglas 
squirrels are omnivorous, feeding on the seeds 
of all the conifers in their range, including 
spruces, firs, pines, and redwoods, and also 
upon acorns, and a great variety of other seeds, 
fruits, and mushrooms, insects, birds' eggs, 
young birds, and any other meat they can find. 
Owing to their habit of interfering with meat- 
baited traps, they are a nuisance to trappers. 
They frequently visit orchards and carry off 
apples and pears, from which they extract the 
seeds. They have been seen also to visit the 
wounds made on a willow trunk by sapsuckers 
to drink the flowing sap. Their feet and the 
fur about their mouths are often much gummed 
with pitch from working on pine cones. 

In many places the soft, moist earth in the 
woods is riddled with little pits dug by these 
squirrels apparently when they are after larvre 
or perhaps edible roots. Throughout the sum- 
mer, but especially during the last half of the 
season, and in autumn Douglas squirrels work 
with persistent energy to amass great stores 




LITTLE SPOTTED SKUNK 
Spilogale putorius 




COMMON SKUNK 
Mephitis mephitis 



558 




HOG-NOSED SKUNK 

Conepatus mesoleucus 




NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO 
Dasypus noijemcincta 



559 



560 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



of seed-bearing cones, which they heap, some- 
times bushels of them, about the bases of trees, 
stumps, and the upturned roots of fallen trees 
or under other shelter. Cones are also buried 
here and there in the loose leaves and humus. 
In winter many holes in the snow with piles 
of cone scales at the entrances show where the 
owners have dug down to their stores. 

Some of their nests are constructed in hol- 
low trees, many others on branches near their 
junction with the trunks, and still others in 
underground dens under roots, logs, or stumps. 
In winter when alarmed these squirrels some- 
times race down the tree trunks and take 
refuge in holes leading through the snow to 
their food caches and underground burrows. 
The nests built in tree-tops are usually rather 
bulky, measuring a foot or more in diameter, 
and are made of small twigs, dry leaves, moss, 
grass, and fibrous bark. They are commonly 
lined with such soft material as feathers and 
fur. The young, numbering three to seven at 
a litter, are born at any time between April 
and October. 

The extraordinary intelligence and sense of 
prevision possessed b}' squirrels of this group 
is well illustrated by certain local food migra- 
tions. These have been observed in eastern 
Oregon in years when the cone crop has failed 
and nothing was available to lay up for winter. 
Under such conditions to remain in the moun- 
tain forests would mean death by starvation 
before winter had fairly begun. In 1910 and 
1913 failure of the cone crop occurred in east- 
ern Oregon and these squirrels promptly left 
the mountain forests in September and de- 
scended along creek courses to the open sage- 
brush plains as much as seven or more miles 
from the border of their ordinary haunts. In 
this open country they wintered successfully, 
raiding the farmers' grain bins, root cellars, 
and other stores, and otherwise showing their 
supreme fitness to survive in the struggle for 
existence. With the coming again of summer 
they promptly returned to their abandoned 
homes in the pines. It appears to be one of 
the marvels of animal intelligence that under 
such circumstances as those named above the 
entire body of the squirrels on the mountains 
should have known what to do, especially as 
a great percentage of their number could never 
have had any previous experience as a guide. 

THE GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus caro- 

linensis and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 5^7) 

The gray squirrel is so well known to everyone 
in the Eastern States that it scarcely needs an 
introduction. Many who have not seen it in its 
native haunts arc familiar with it as a graceful 
and charming resident of parks in many cities. 
It is about twice as large as the red squirrel 
and intermediate in size between that species 
and the fox squirrel. Although sharing some 
of the range of both the species named, the 
color of the gray squirrel at once distinguishes it. 



The gray squirrel is a North American 
species with no near relative in the Old World; 
on the Pacific coast, in the mountains of the 
Southwest, and in Mexico are other squirrels 
having much the same gray-colored body, but 
with no close relationship to it. Its range 
covers the deciduous forests of the Eastern 
States and southern Canada from Nova Scotia 
to Florida, and westward to the border of the 
treeless Great Plains. Wherever they occur 
these squirrels are an attractive element in the 
woodland life, their barking and chattering, 
their graceful forms, and their activity adding 
greatly to the cheerful animation of the forest. 
They are far less vociferous than red squirrels, 
but their notes are varied and serve to express 
a variet}' of meanings. 

During the early settlement of the country 
west of the States bordering the coast, gray 
squirrels existed in great numbers and often 
made ruinous inroads on the pioneer corn and 
wheat fields. In 1749 they invaded Pennsyl- 
vania in such hosts that a bounty of three pence 
each was put on their scalps. Eight thousand 
pounds sterling was paid on this account, which 
involved the killing of 640,000 squirrels. In 
1808 a law in force in Ohio required that each 
free white male deliver 100 squirrel scalps a 
year or pay $3 in cash. Records of the ravages 
of these squirrels in corn fields are extant also 
from Kentucky, ]\Iissouri, and other States. 

Enormous migrations of gray squirrels from 
one part of the country to another occurred in 
those days, caused apparently by the failure of 
food supplies in the deserted areas. Some im- 
pulse to move in one general direction at the 
same time appeared to affect the squirrels and 
they swarmed across country in amazing num- 
bers, carrying devastation to any farms crossed 
on the way. When engaged in such move- 
ments they appeared indifferent to obstacles 
and without hesitation swam lakes and streams 
even as large as the Hudson and the Ohio. 
Amusing legends grew up concerning these 
migrations, one of which avers that when the 
squirrels arrived on a river bank each dragged 
a large chip or piece of bark into the water 
and mounting it raised its bushy tail in the 
breeze and was wafted safely to the other 
shore ! As a fact, many were drowned in cross- 
ing large streams and others arrived exhausted 
from their exertions. 

The gray and fox squirrels were favorite 
targets for pioneer marksmen. The early 
chronicles tell of the ability of Daniel Boone 
and other riflemen to "bark" a squirrel, which 
meant so to cut the bark of the branch on which 
the squirrel sat as to bring it to the ground 
stunned without hitting the animal. With the 
clearing away of the forests, the general oc- 
cupation of the country, and the decrease of 
larger animals, gray squirrels have been de- 
prived of most of their haunts and have be- 
come such desirable game that they have de- 
creased to a point requiring stringent legal 
protection to save them from extermination. 

Gray squirrels are more thoroughly arboreal 
than red squirrels and make their nests either 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



561 



in hollow trunks or build them in the tops of 
trees. These outside nests are common and 
much like a crow's nest in appearance except 
that they are generally more bulky and show 
more dead leaves. They are built on a founda- 
tion of small sticks with a rounded top of 
leaves, and are lined with shreds of bark, moss, 
and similar soft material. In the extreme 
northern part of their range they live mainly 
in hollow trees, but farther south many winter 
in outside nests. During severe cold and in 
stormy weather they remain hidden, sometimes 
for days at a time. 

They have two litters of four to six young 
a year, the first usually being born in March 
or April. The old squirrel is a devoted mother 
and if the nest is disturbed she will at once 
carry the young to some safer retreat. 

In many parts of their range black, or melan- 
istic, individuals are born in litters otherwise 
of the ordinary gray color. In some districts 
the number of the black squirrels equals or 
exceeds the gray ones. 

Gray squirrels range through such a variety 
of climatic conditions that their food varies 
greatly. They eat practically all available nuts, 
including acorns, chestnuts, beechnuts, hickory- 
nuts, and pecans, besides numberless seeds, 
many small fruits, and mushrooms. They raid 
fields for corn and wheat, and steal apples, pears, 
and quinces from orchards to eat the seeds. 
Like most other small rodents, they are fond of 
larvae and insects and also destroy many birds' 
eggs and young birds. They are far less seri- 
ous offenders, however, in destroying birds 
than the red squirrel. 

On the approach of winter they lay up stores 
of seeds and nuts in holes in trees and in little 
hiding places on the ground. Many nuts are 
hidden away singly. In the public parks of 
Washington, where many gray squirrels exist, 
I have repeatedly seen them dig a little pit 
two or three inches deep, then push a nut well 
down it cover it with earth, which they press 
firmly in place with the front feet, and then 
pull loose grass over the spot. One squirrel 
will have many such hidden nuts, and with 
nothing to mark the location it appears im- 
possible that they could be recovered. That 
the squirrels knew what they were doing I 
have had repeated evidence in winter, even with 
several inches of snow on the ground, when 
they have been seen sniffing along the top of 
the snow, suddenly stop, dig down and un- 
earth a nut with a precision that demonstrates 
the marvelous delicacy of their sense of smell. 
Although mainly diurnal, they are sometimes 
abroad on moonlight nights, especially when 
gathering stores of food for winter. 

Wherever they are, these squirrels are ex- 
tremely graceful, moving along the ground by 
curving bounds, the long flufify tail undulating 
as they go, or running through the tree-tops, 
leaping from branch to branch with an ease 
and certainty beautiful to see. When pressed 
they make amazing leaps from tree to tree or 
even from a high tree-top to the ground with- 
out injury. They are extremely cunning at 



concealing themselves by lying fiat on top of 
branches or by gliding around tree trunks, keep- 
ing them interposed between themselves and 
the pursuer. 

Gray squirrels are so responsive to protec- 
tion that they may continue to grace our re- 
maining forests if we properly guard them. In 
addition to their beauty, they are interesting 
game animals which should continue to afford 
a moderate amount of sport — sufficient to pre- 
vent them from becoming overabundant and 
destructive. Now introduced in many city 
parks throughout the United States and in 
parts of England, including London, their ready 
acceptance of people as friends renders them 
charming animals in such places ; but natural 
food is so scarce under these artificial condi- 
tions that care must be taken to feed them at 
all seasons, especially in winter. 

THE FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger 

and its relatives) 

{Por illustration, see page ^,4/) 

THE RUSTY FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus 
niger rufiventer) 

(For illustration, see page 547) 

Three species of tree squirrels inhabit the 
varied forests of eastern North America, each 
having its marked individuality expressed in 
color, size, and habits. All occupy a wide terri- 
tory with varying climatic conditions, to which 
each species has responded by becoming modi- 
fied into a series of geographic races, or sub- 
species. The red and the gray squirrels have 
already been described and it remains to give 
an account of the largest and in some respects 
the most remarkable of the three, the fox 
squirrel. 

No other species of North American mam- 
mal can show such an extraordinary contrast 
in color among its subspecies as that between 
the rusty yellowish animal of the Ohio and 
upper Mississippi Valleys, and the handsome 
blackish one of the Southeastern States, both 
of which are pictured in the accompanying 
illustration. 

The distribution of the fox squirrel is limited 
to the forested parts of the Eastern States. 
There it ranges from the Atlantic coast to the 
border of the Great Plains, and from southern 
New York and the upper Mississippi Valley 
southward to Florida, the Gulf coast, and across 
the lower Rio Grande into extreme northeast- 
ern Mexico. 

Variations in the character of the haunts of 
the different subspecies of this squirrel almost 
equal their differences in color. In the upper 
Mississippi and Ohio Valleys the rusty-colored 
race frequents the upland woods, where the 
nut-bearing hickory trees characterize the for- 
ests. In the South the dark-colored squirrels 
have more varied homes, either amid the live 
oaks draped in long Spanish moss, in the mys- 
terious cypress forests of the swamps, or out 
in the uplands among the southern pines. 




RING-TAILED CAT 

Bassariscus astutus 

562 




OREGON MOLE 

Scapanus ton.vnsendi 




Si AR-NOSED MOLE 
Condylura cristata 



563 



364 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ^lAGAZINE 



In early days fox squirrels were plentiful, 
but never equaled the numbers of the gray 
squirrel. They appear always to have been 
more closely attached to their own district, for 
we have no records of the great migrations so 
notable in the other species. 

Fox squirrels are not only distinguished from 
gray squirrels by their color, but are also nearly 
twice their size, commonly attaining a weight 
of two and sometimes nearly three pounds. 
They are the strongest and most heavily pro- 
portioned of all American squirrels. A de- 
liberation of movement going with heaviness 
of body is in marked contrast to the graceful 
agility of most other tree squirrels. On the 
ground they walk with a curiously awkward, 
waddling gait, and even when hard pressed 
climb trees with none of the dashing quickness 
-shown by other species. They often move 
about on the ground by a series of bounds, and 
at such times, with broad, feathery tails undulat- 
ing in the air, present a most graceful and at- 
tractive sight. 

Fox and gray squirrels occupy the same dis- 
tricts throughout most of their ranges, but 
often become so segregated locally that the 
gravs may be found almost exclusively along 
bottom-lands and the fox squirrels on the higher 
ridges, but there is no hard and fast separation 
of haunts and the two forms usually share the 
same woodlands. 

Much time is spent by fox squirrels on the 
ground searching for food. When danger ap- 
proaches, in place of promptly taking refuge in 
a tree, as is a common habit with most tree 
squirrels, they retreat along the ground, mount- 
ing a stump or log now and then, to look back 
at a suspected intruder, whose footsteps they 
can hear at a long distance. If the hunter is 
without a dog they may run away and be lost. 
A dog soon forces them up a tree and if a 
knot-hole or other hollow is available they at 
once take refuge in it. Otherwise they hide 
skillfully in bunches of leaves high in the top 
or lie flat on a limb or against the trunk, slyly 
moving to keep on the opposite side as the 
hunter draws near. In the Mississippi Valley 
during the crisp days when the hickory nuts 
are falling and the trees are decked in all the 
glories of autumn foliage, few sports afield 
yield more pleasurable sensations than fox- 
squirrel hunting. 

The fox squirrels become fatter than most of 
their kind and their flesh is not so dry, al- 
though all furnish appetizing meat. Owing to 
their size and the (juality of their flesh, they 
have been such desiral)le game animals that with 
the constantly growing number of hunters and 
the destruction of forests they have already 
disappeared from large areas where formerly 
abundant and are in real danger of extermina- 
tion in the not-distant future. They are among 
the most notable and attractive of the forest 
animals in the Eastern States, and before it is 
too late every effort should be made to protect 
them from overshooting. With reasonable con- 
servation they will continue to thrive and keep 
some of the old-time primitive spirit in our 



woods. Formerly they had the same predilec- 
tion as the gray squirrel for the farmers' corn 
fields and were under the ban, but their num- 
bers are now so reduced that they give little 
trouble in this way. In some city parks where 
they have been introduced, they soon become 
tame and do well, except that in losing their 
fear of- man they become subject to many ac- 
cidents. 

Fox squirrels, like many others of their kind, 
have homes both in knot-holes or other hollows 
in tree trunks, and in bulky nests of sticks and 
leaves high up among the branches. Both kinds 
of nesting places are often located in the same 
tree, the owner living in the outside nest in 
warm weather and retiring to the shelter of 
the hollow trunk in severe weather or to escape 
an enemy. The young, two to four in number, 
are usually born in March or April, and it is 
not definitely known whether there is a second 
litter. These squirrels have a barking call as 
well as several other rather deep-toned chuck- 
ing notes. 

They are as omnivorous as any of their kind, 
eating many kinds of nuts, seeds, fruits, mush- 
rooms, insects, birds, Ijirds' eggs, and other 
flesh food when available. The principal nuts 
in their haunts are hickory-nuts, beechnuts, 
walnuts, pecan nuts, and the seeds of pines 
and cypresses. Toward the end of summer and 
in fall they work busily gathering and storing 
food for winter in hollow trees, in old logs, 
about the roots of trees, and in any other snug 
' place where it may be kept safely until needed. 
Many single nuts are buried here and there in 
little pits three or four inches deep dug in the 
soft surface of the earth under the trees. These 
scattered stores are located when needed by 
the acute sense of smell which the owners 
possess. 

THE ABERT SQUIRREL (Sciurus aberti 

and its subspecies) 

{For iUiistrafinji. sec page 550) 

THE KAIBAB SQUIRREL (Sciurus 
kaibabensis) 

{For illiistratioit. sec page ^jo) 

Among the many kinds of s(|uirrels which 
lend animation and charm to the forests of 
North and South America, none equal in beauty 
the subjects of this sketch — the Abert and the 
Kaibab squirrels. These are the only American 
squirrels endowed with conspicuous ear tufts, 
which character they share with the squirrels 
occupying the forests in the northern parts of 
the Old World from F.ngland to Japan. In 
weight they about equal a large gray squirrel, 
but are shorter and distinctly more heavily pro- 
portioned, with broader and more feathery tails. 

Their range covers the pine-forested region 
of the southern Rocky Mountains in the United 
States and the Sierra Madre of western Mex- 
ico. The Abert squirrel and its several sub- 
species is the more widely distributed, being 
found from northern Colorado, south through 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



565 



New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua, and Du- 
rango. The Kaibab squirrel, which is even 
more beautiful than its relative, shows marked 
differences in appearance and yet is evidently 
derived from the same species. 

The typical Abert squirrel lives in the pine 
forests along the southern rim of the Grand 
Canyon in northern Arizona, and the Kaibab 
squirrel lives in the pines visible on the north- 
ern rim of the canyon less than 15 miles away. 
It is confined to an islandlike area of pine 
forest above 70 miles long by 35 miles wide, on 
the north side of the canyon, on the Kaibab 
and Powell plateaus, directly across from the 
end of the railroad at the Grand Canyon Hotel. 
The two species live under practically identical 
conditions as to vegetation and climate. 

In these sketches of our mammal life I have 
repeatedly noted the effect of changing environ- 
ment in modifying the animals subject to it. 
In the present case the change in the squirrels 
on the north side of the Grand Canyon has 
evidently been brought about by that powerful 
factor in evolution known as isolation. Cut off 
from their fellows by the deepening canyon of 
the Colorado, Kaibab squirrels have occupied 
a forest island ever since, with the resulting 
change in characters we now have in evidence. 

The home of both the Abert and the Kaibab 
squirrels is almost entirely between 6,000 and 
9,500 feet altitude, on the mountain slopes and 
high plateaus overgrown with a splendid open 
forest of yellow pine mixed in many places 
with firs and aspens. Occasionally, as "food be- 
comes scarce in their ordinary haunts, they 
range up into the firs or down into the oaks 
and pinon pines. In winter their haunts are 
buried in snow, but in summer on every hand 
present lovely vistas among the massive tree 
trunks, varied here and there by gemlike parks. 
Everywhere the ground is covered with grasses 
and multitudes of flowering plants. In the 
wilder parts of this fascinating wilderness 
roam bears, mountain lions, wolves, deer, and 
wild turkeys, and only a few decades ago still 
wilder men, belonging to some of our most 
dreaded Indian tribes. 

Although these squirrels commonly make use 
of large knot-holes or other hollows in trees, 
they regularly build high up in the branches 
bulky nests of leaves, pine needles, and twigs 
and line them with soft grass and shredded 
bark. Sometimes several full-grown squirrels 
may be found occupying one of these outside 
nests, probably members of one family. They 
are active throughout the year, but remain in 
their nests during storms and severe winter 
weather. In northern Arizona I have known 
them to stay under cover for a week or two at 
a time in midwinter. 

The young appear to be born at varying 
times between April and September. Although 
not definitely known, it seems probable that they 
have two litters of from three to four young 
each season. 

The seeds and the tender bark from the 
terminal twigs of the yellow pine ( Finns pon- 
der osa ) furnish their principal food supply. Dur- 



ing periods when pine seeds are not available 
the squirrels cut the ends of pine twigs, letting 
the terminal part bearing the leaves fall to the 
ground, while the stem, several inches in length, 
is stripped of bark. Often at times of food 
scarcity the bark will be eaten for a consider- 
able distance along the outer branches, almost 
like the work of porcupines. The ground under 
the pines where the squirrels are at work is 
sometimes almost covered with the freshly 
dropped tips of branches. 

The Abert squirrels also eat the seeds of 
Douglas spruce, of the pinon pine, acorns, many 
seeds, roots, green vegetation, mushrooms, 
birds' eggs, and young birds. Now and then 
they rob cornfields planted in clearings, but 
they do little damage to crops. Some years 
they are extremely numerous and are in evi- 
dence everywhere; again they become scarce 
and so wary that it is difiicult to see one, even 
where its fresh workings are in evidence. 

Both these squirrels have a deep churring 
or chucking call, sometimes becoming a barking 
note resembling that of the fox squirrel. They 
also have a variety of chattering and scolding 
notes when excited or angry. At times they 
become almost as aggressive as the red squirrel 
and come down the tree trunk or to a lower 
branch, whence they scold and berate the object 
of their disapproval. 

When much alarmed they are expert at hid- 
ing among tufts of leaves near the ends of 
branches, on tops of large limbs, or behind 
trunks. They will remain hidden in this way 
for an hour or more, patiently waiting for the 
danger to disappear, but one is often betrayed 
by the wind blowing the feathery tip of its tail 
into view. 

On the ground the tail is usually carried up- 
raised in graceful curves. Here these squirrels 
spend much time among fallen cones and in 
digging for roots and other food. When they 
walk they have an awkward waddling gait, but 
when they are alarmed, or desire to move more 
rapidly for any cause, they progress in a series 
of extremely graceful bounds, which show the 
plumelike tail to good advantage. When the 
Kaibab squirrel is moving about on the ground 
its great white tail is extraordinarily conspicu- 
ous in the sunshine. This repeatedly drew my 
attention to these squirrels, even at such long 
distances that they would otherwise have been 
overlooked. 

Although so heavily built, these squirrels are 
adept in leaping from branch to branch and 
from tree to tree. On one occasion a branch 
on which an Abert squirrel was standing near 
the top of a pine tree was struck by a rifle ball ; 
the squirrel promptly ran to the end of a large 
branch about fifty feet from the ground, and 
although no tree was anywhere near on that 
side, leaped straight out into the air, with its 
legs outspread just as in a flying squirrel. It 
came down in a horizontal position and struck 
the ground flat on its under side and the re- 
bound raised it several inches. Without an in- 
stant's delay it was running at full speed across 
a little open park and disappeared in the forest 




SHORT-TAILED SHREW 
Blarina brcvicauJa 




>*^ 



COMMON SHREW 

Sorex personatus 



\ 




HOARY BAT 

Nycteris cinereus 



RED BAT 

Nycteris borealis 



566 




BIG-EARED DESERT BAT 

Antrozouj palltdus 




MEXICAN liAT 
Nyctinomus mexicanus 



567 



568 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



on the other side. I was standing only a few 
yards to one side of the falling squirrel and the 
widely spread feet and legs were perfectly out- 
lined against the sky. It was evident that this 
squirrel and probably all of its kind appreciate 
that such an attitude will help break the force 
of the descent. This suggested the possibility 
of a similar habit having influenced the origin 
of the flying squirrel's membranes. 

One summer day in the Sierra Madre of 
western Durango I sat on a mountain slope 
watching for game. Below me stood the hol- 
low-topped stub of an oak, the top being on a 
level with my eyes and about twenty yards 
away. Soon after I arrived the heads of four 
half-grown squirrels of the Abert family ap- 
peared in a row at the upper border of the 
opening, their bright eyes turning on all sides. 
Suddenly a hawk glided by, one of its wing tips 
almost brushing the noses of the squirrels. In- 
stantly they vanished from sight and a noise of 
scratching and frightened chattering continued 
for several minutes, as though they were bury- 
ing themselves under the nest. About twenty 
minutes later the boldest of the family showed 
the tip of his nose at an opening in a hollow 
branch near the top of the stub, but it required 
another ten minutes for him to venture forth 
his head. Finally, becoming confident that no 
danger threatened, he came out on the limb 
and deliberately stretched himself, yawning as 
widely as his little mouth would permit, after 
which he flirted his tail and frisked over to the 
trunk of the stub, where he began frolicking 
about with all the abandon of a kitten at play. 
When I departed his more timorous companions 
were still peering fearfully out of the hole, an- 
ticipating the return of the dreaded hawk. 

THE FLYING SQUIRREL (Glaucomys 

volans and its rehitives) 

{For illustration, see page 557) 

No one can see one of our small flying squir- 
rels in Hfe without being charmed by its deli- 
cate grace of form and velvety fur, nor fail to 
note the large black eyes which give it a pleas- 
ing air of lively intelligence. Flying squirrels 
are distinguished from all other members of 
the squirrel family by extensions of the skin 
along the sides, which unite the front and hind 
legs, so that when the animal leaps from some 
elevated point with legs outspread the mem- 
brane and the underside of the body present a 
broad, flat surface to the air. This enables it 
to glide swiftly down in a diagonal course 
toward a tree trunk or other vertical surface 
on which it desires to alight. It is able to con- 
trol its movements and to turn with ease to one 
side or the other, or upward before alighting. 
When gliding down a wooded hillside or through 
thick growths of timber, it is thus able to avoid 
obstacles and alight on the desired place. 

Flying squirrels are circumpolar in distribu- 
tion. In the Old World they occupy forested 
areas in eastern Europe, and nearly all of Asia. 
In the New World they are peculiar to North 



America, where they frequent nearly all the 
wooded parts from the Arctic Circle to the 
Mexican border, and in forests in Mexico along 
the eastern border of the highlands as well as 
through Chiapas and Guatemala. In Asia, the 
center of development of these interesting ro- 
dents, many extraordinary forms occur. Some 
are giants of their kind, measuring nearly four 
feet in total length. In America there are two 
groups of species, the smaller and better known 
of which, the subject of this sketch, occupies 
the eastern United States and southward. The 
northern and western animals are larger, some 
of them more than twice the weight of the 
eastern species. 

In many parts of the United States flying 
squirrels are common and even abundant, but 
their habits are so strictly nocturnal that they 
are infrequently seen. They make their homes 
in woodpecker holes, knot-holes, and hollows in 
limbs, and trunks of trees and stubs. In ad- 
dition they take possession of many odjl places 
for residence, among which may be mentioned 
bird-boxes, dove-cotes, attics, cupboards, boxes, 
and other nooks in occupied or unoccupied 
houses that are located within or at the borders 
of woods. 

They also make nests of leaves, lining them 
with fine fibrous bark, grass, moss, fur, or other 
soft material placed securely in the branches 
or in forks in trees. They often remodel old 
liird or squirrel nests into snug homes for 
themselves. The size and construction of these 
outside nests vary according to the locality and 
the material available. 

As a rule, the nests are small and accommo- 
date only a single pair with their young, and 
sometimes hold only a single individual, but nu- 
merous exceptions to this have been oliserved. 
In southern Illinois fifty flying squirrels were 
discovered in one nest in a tree; in Indiana 
fifteen were found in a hollow stump ; and 
near Pliiladelphia thirty were evicted from a 
martin box they had usurped. 

In the southern part of their range flying 
squirrels are active throughout the year, but in 
the North they become more or less sluggish 
if they do not actually reach the stage of real 
hibernation during the severest weather. 

Their food is extremely varied and includes 
wJiatever nuts grow in their haunts, as beech- 
nuts, pecans, acorns, and others, with many kinds 
of seeds, including corn gathered in the field, 
and buds, and fruits of many kinds. They also 
eat many insects, larv.-e, birds and their eggs, 
and meat. Taking advantage of their known 
liking for bird flesh, they may frequently be 
caught by concealing a trap on top of a log in 
the woods and scattering bird feathers over 
and about it. Trappers for marten and other 
forest fur-bearers are much annoyed in winter 
by the persistence with which the flying squir- 
rels search out their trai)s and become caught 
in them, thus forestalling a more valued cap- 
ture. Trappers in Montana who run long lines 
of traps for marten through the mountain for- 
ests capture hundreds of these squirrels in a 
single season. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



569 



Flying squirrels have 
several notes, one of 
which is an ordinary 
chuck, chuck, much like 
that of other squirrels. 
They also utter sharp 
squeaks and squeals when 
angry or much alarmed, 
and a clear musical chirp- 
ing note, birdlike in char- 
acter, which is frequently 
repeated for several min- 
utes in succession and is 
undoubtedly a song. 

These beautiful little 
animals become the most 
delightful of pets, as they 
are notable for extraor- 
dinary playfulness and a 
readiness to accept man 
as a friend. Many in- 
teresting accounts have 
been published concern- 
ing the affectionate at- 
tachment they form for 
their human hosts and 
the amusing and tireless 
activity they show at 
night. By day they re- 
main sound asleep, rolled 
up in a furry ball in 
some dark corner. 

They are known to have 
a litter of from two to 
six young in April, and 
young are born at vari- 
ous times throughout the 
summer, but it is still un- 
settled whether there is 
more than one litter a 
year. The mother is de- 
voted to the young, and 
if driven from them will 
keep close by at the risk 
of her life, showing much 
anxiety and readiness to 
do what she can to pro- 
tect them. One instance 
well illustrates this ma- 
ternal care. From a nest 
in a hollow stub the help- 
less young were taken 
and placed on the ground 
at its base, while the de- 
spoiler of the home stood 
by to observe the result. 
The mother soon re- 
turned and not finding 
her family in the nest 
promptly located them on 
the ground. Quickly de- 
scending, she took one 
in her mouth, carried it 
to the top of the stub 
and, launching into the 
air, sailed to a tree thirty 
feet away, up which she 
carried her baby and 









e.y.s. 



TTir; TRAIL OP THU MUSKRAT 

The usual gait of tlie muskrat on land is a slow walk. The tail 
mark is always very strongly shown (see pages 513 and 526). 



570 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



\.f 




Q 



\ f . 



r 






;i% 









THE TRACKS OF A GRASSIIOPI'KR MOUSE 

The anatomy of tlie foot is fairly well shown in the track— the 
insignificant thumb and the tubercles on the soles. The placin.i;- of 
the fore feet, one Ijehind the other, indicates that the creature can- 
not climb a tree. The tail seldom or never shows. The original of 
this was in fine dust. The small tracks to the right show the style 
usually seen. There are many species of grasshopper mouse, but the 
tracks are not distinguishable from each other. The exact species 
is determined by locality, size, etc. (see pages 520 and 527). 



placed it safely in a 
knot-hole. The trip was 
quickly repeated until the 
family was reunited in 
its new location. 

At night the curiosity 
of flying squirrels about 
strange things and their 
mischievous activities are 
often most entertaining, 
and sometimes exasperat- 
ing. Whatever is ac- 
cessible within their ter- 
ritory is certain to be 
thoroughly explored. A 
large apartment building, 
seven stories high, in 
Washington stands on 
the border of the woods 
of the Zoological Park. 
During one summer night 
a friend occupying an 
apartment on the seventh 
floor of this building, 
fronting the park, ob- 
served some movement 
on one of his window 
sills and by later obser- 
vation and by inquiry 
among the other resi- 
dents learned that flying 
squirrels were habitually 
climbing all about the 
high walls to the top of 
this building, using it 
and some of the rooms 
as a nightly playground. 
Several occupants of 
apartments in different 
parts of the building 
regularly placed nuts of 
various kinds on the 
window ledges for them, 
and now and then were 
amused to find that dur- 
ing the night the squir- 
rels had carried away 
some of their nuts, but 
had replaced them with 
other kinds, sometimes 
brought from a window 
at a considerable dis- 
tance on another side of 
the building. The pres- 
ence of these squirrels 
was warmly welcomed 
and furnished much in- 
terest to their hosts. 

The constant activity 
of these little animals at 
night enables owls and 
cats to capture many, but 
their small size and the 
shelter of their homes 
by day will prevent their 
serious decrease in num- 
bers so long as suitable 
forests remain to supply 
their needs. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



571 



THE BLACK-FOOTED FERRET 

(Mustela nigripes and its relatives) 

(For iUiistration, see page 331) 

Of all the varied forms of mammalian life 
in America, the black-footed ferret has always 
impressed me as one of the strangest and most 
like a stranded exotic. It is about the size of 
a mink, but, as the illustration shows, is entirely 
different in appearance and has the general 
form of a giant weasel. It has no close rela- 
tive in America, but bears an extraordinarily 
close resemblance in size, form, and color to 
the Siberian ferret (Mustela eversinanni). 

The black-footed ferret occurs only in the 
interior of the United States, closely restricted 
to the area inhabited by prairie-dogs, from the 
Rocky Mountains eastward and from Montana 
and the Dakotas to western Texas. It is 
known also west of the mountains in Colorado. 
Like others of the weasel tribe, it must have 
a wandering disposition, since one was captured 
at 9,800 feet altitude, and another was found 
drowned at 10,250 feet in Lake Moraine, Colo- 
rado. 

These ferrets exist as parasites in the prairie- 
dog colonies, making their homes in deserted 
burrows and feeding on the hapless colonists. 
In Kansas their presence in certain localities 
appears to have been effective in exterminating 
prairie-dogs, and similar activities may account 
for the deserted "dog towns" which are not 
infrequently observed on the plains with no ap- 
parent reason for the absence of the habitants. 

They do not appear to be numerous in any 
part of their range and little is known con- 
cerning their habits. Now and then they are 
seen moving about prairie-dog "towns," passing 
in and out of the burrows at all hours of the 
day, but it is probable that they are mainly 
nocturnal. This probability is strengthened by 
the extreme restlessness shown at night by cap- 
tive animals. With the occupation of the coun- 
try and the inevitable extinction of the prairie- 
dog over nearly or quite all of its range, the 
black- footed ferret is practically certain to dis- 
appear with its host species. 

It has the same bold, inquisitive character 
shown by the weasel, and when its interest is 
excited will stand up on its hind legs and 
stretch its long neck to one side and another 
in an effort to satisfy its curiosity. When 
surprised in a "dog town" it commonly retreats 
to a burrow, but promptly turns and raises its 
head high out of the hole to observe the visitor. 
As a result ferrets are readily killed by hunters. 
When one is captured it will at first hiss and 
spit like a cat and fight viciously, but is not 
difficult to tame. 

Although mainly dependent upon prairie-dogs 
for food, there is little doubt that ferrets, after 
the manner of their kind, also kill rabbits and 
other rodents in addition to taking whatever 
birds and birds' eggs may be secured. In one 
instance a black-footed ferret lived for several 
days under a wooden sidewalk in the borrler 
town of Hays, Kansas, where it killed the rats 
harboring there. 




O^^'^'U 






^ere «Ti -^/T^c^ jr^*^ 











TRACK OF A COMMON PIG 

Pig and deer tracks are often found in the 
same places and to a casual glance may l)c mis- 
taken for each other, but the bluntness of the 
pig track distinguishes it and the clouts or 
hind hoofs do not show on level gro'und, but 
do in one or two inches of snow or mud. 



572 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



1 mc/t- 




itit'm<^' 



U-»^ 




\fr 



tfV HJ^/^ 



r. 7. s. 



FOOTPRINTS OF A WIIITK-l'OOTl-.D MOUSK 

When reduced to scale, the large tracks on 
the left side are life size, showing the animal 
making the ordinary bounds of about 3 inches 
between each set of tracks. In speeding, the 
space may increase to 12 inches. The tail usu- 
ally shows in the deermouse track, and this, 
with the pairing of the fore paws, is a strong 
characteristic (see pages 521 and 530). 



THE LARGE WEASELS, OR STOATS 
(Mustela arcticus and its relatives) 

(For iUustratioii, see page 554) 

The weasel family includes not only the true 
weasels, but numerous other carnivores, as the 
sable or marten, mink, ferret, skunk, and land 
and sea otters, all of which rank among our 
highly valued fur-bearers. The large weasel 
may be distinguished from others of its family 
by the small size and the snakclike propor- 
tions of the flattened and pointed head, com- 
bined with a long, extremely slender neck and 
body and a comparatively long tail. The best 
known of these animals are the stoat of the 
northern parts of the Old World {Mustela 
erminea) and its close relative in northern 
North America {Mustela arcticus), the winter 
skins of which furnish the famed ermine, once 
sacred to the trappings of royalty. 

The northern weasels are strongly marked by 
their habit of changing their brown coat to 
one of snowy wdiite at the beginning of winter. 
To the south the change becomes less com- 
plete as the winter snows decrease, and south 
of the limit of snow the brown coat is retained 
throughout the year. The time of change de- 
pends on the coming of the snow and varies 
with the year, and the time of resumption of 
the brown coat in spring depends in the same 
way on the season. The white winter coat of 
the larger and medium-sized species is accom- 
panied by a strongly contrasting jet black tip 
to the tail. 

Weasels are circumpolar in distribution and 
occupy nearly all parts of Europe, Asia, and 
North and South America, the greatest number 
and variety of species occurring in North 
America. Surprisingly enough, the largest of 
these eminently northern animals is found in 
the forests of the American tropics. The Arctic 
weasel ranges to the northernmost polar lands 
of North America, where its presence has been 
recorded many times by ice-bound explorers. 
Other species are more or less generally dis- 
tributed over the remainder of the continent. 
In ^lexico I have found them from sea level 
to al)ove timljerline, at more that 13,000 feet 
altitude on the high volcanoes. 

The strong personality of the weasels as a 
group is based mainly on their extraordinary 
celerity of movement, their courage, and their 
insatiable desire to kill. They are not satis- 
fied with supplying the call for food, but when- 
ever opportunity arises kill from sheer lust of 
slaughter. 

Their slender forms enable them to follow 
their prey to the remotest depths of their re- 
treats, and that all rodents have an abiding 
liorror of them is shown by the effect of a 
weasel's appearance. Rabbits, although many 
times tlicir size, become easy victims, and in 
one instance when a large rat, which had 
fought its human captor viciously, was put in 
a cage with a weasel, it at once lost all its 
courage and permitted itself to be killed with- 
out an effort at defense. 

Weasels are wonderfully endowed for their 
predatory work and are undoubtedly the most 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



57J 



perfectly organized machines for killing that 
have been developed among mammals. Their 
keen eyes are constantly alert to observe every- 
thing about them, their ears are attuned to 
catch the faintest squeak of a mouse or cry of 
any other small animal, and their powers of 
scent are very great. When hunting they dart 
in and out of the holes of rodents, among 
crevices in the rocks, or through brush piles, 
pausing now and then to stand upright on their 
hind feet, the head swaying to and fro as they 
peer about. The squeak of a mouse starts 
them instantly in search of it, and like a dog 
they trail rabbits and other rodents by scent. 

As a rule, weasels are terrestrial, but in 
wooded country they chmb trees and leap from 
branch to branch with all the ease of squirrels. 
In most localities they are not common, but 
now and then, where conditions are peculiarly 
favorable, they become numerous. At one 
naturalist's camp in the upper Yukon they were 
surprisingly abundant, so much so that more 
than forty were caught in a few days in traps 
set among broken rocks. There th;y were ex- 
tremely bold, hunting for their prey among the 
rocks within a few feet of the trappers. 

The prey of weasels includes almost every 
kind of small rodent and bird living within 
their territory. They feed especially upon 
northern hares, cottontails, conies, ground 
squirrels, chipmunks, tree squirrels, wood rats, 
mice, lemmings, quail, ptarmigan, spruce and 
ruffed grouse, ducks, and numberless other 
small species. They are also very destructive 
to domestic fowl, often killing thirty or forty 
in a night. They unhesitatingly attack rodents 
many times their own weight. 

Once when hunting on the open plain near the 
southern end of the Mexican table-land, I saw 
at some distance what appeared to be a brown 
ball rolling about on the ground. This was 
soon determined to be a weasel fastened to one 
of the large and powerful pocket gophers of 
that region. The weasel had its teeth set in the 
back of the neck of the gopher, while the latter 
was blindly trying to tear itself loose. I fired 
an ineffectual shot at the weasel and it vanished 
like a flash in the open tunnel of the gopher. 
As I drew near, the gopher, still in fighting 
mood, faced me with bared teeth. Later, when 
I removed its skin, I found that the weasel had 
torn loose the attachment of the heavy neck 
muscles to the back of the skull until only a 
thin layer remained to protect the spinal 
column. This had been accomplished w'ithout 
breaking the thin, but extremely tough, skin of 
the gopher. 

When a weasel is attacking an animal which 
resists, like a large ground squirrel, it raises 
its head and sways its long neck back and 
forth, its eyes glittering with excitement as it 
watches for an opening to spring forward and 
seize its prey. Its attack is always aimed at 
a vital point, commonly tlie brain, the back of 
the neck, or the jugular vein on the side. 

Weasels dig their own burrows under the 
shelter of slide rock, ledges, stone walls, stumps, 
and outbuildings, or they occupy hollow trees 



and the deserted burrows of other animals. In 
nests thus safely located they have one litter 
containing an average of from four to six, but 
sometimes numbering up to twelve, young a 
year. They are born at any time from April 
to June, according to the latitude. The number 
of young in a litter is enough to render weasels 
very abundant, but this is rarely the case, and 
raises the question as to the influence which 
holds their number in check. 

They are both nocturnal and diurnal, ap- 
parently in almost equal degree, since they are 
frequently observed hunting in the middle of 
the day, while their nocturnal raids on poultry 
houses testify to their activities at night. When 
hunting they appear like sinister shadows ..and 
are persistent in pursuit. The young commoinly 
remain with the female until nearly or /fjuite 
grown and follow her closely on hunting trips. 
It is interesting to see a pack of these deadly 
carnivores working, the mother leading and the 
young skirmishing on all sides, now spreading 
out, now closing in. like a pack of miniature 
hounds. On these family hunting parties, how- 
ever, they usually keep close to the rocks, logs, 
brush, or other cover. 

Themselves subject to the law of fang and 
claw, weasels are killed and eaten by wolves, 
coyotes, foxes, and various birds of prey. Their 
very lack of fear perhaps in many cases leads 
to their destruction. 

These representatives of the primitive wood- 
land life continue to occupy practically all of 
their original range. They visit farms in all 
parts of the country and I have seen them near 
the outskirts of Washington. 

It is well that weasels are not abundant, for 
beasts with such innate ferocity and love of 
killing would otherwise be a menace to the 
existence of many useful species of birds and 
mammals, especially the game birds. In many 
places they live almost entirely on mice, and 
there they should be left unmolested ;_ but 
whenever they locate in the vicinity of a chicken 
yard the owner will do well to take proper 
measures for protection. 

THE LEAST WEASEL (Mustela rixosus 

and its relatives) 

{Por illustyation, see page 554) 

In addition to the larger members of the 
tribe briefly described in the foregoing sketch, 
the true weasels include another group of 
species, so small they may appropriately be 
termed the dwarfs of their kind. They vary 
from a half to less than a fourth the size of 
the larger weasels, but have the same char- 
acteristic form and proportions, except that the 
tail is very short and never tipped with black. 
Like the larger species, they change their brown 
summer coat for white at the beginning of 
winter and back again in spring. 

The least weasels are also circumpolar m 
distribution, but are limited to the northern 
parts of Europe. Asia, and North America 
In England and other parts of the Old World 



)74 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



ft) 

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the; common brown rat 

The large series shows the ordinary forag- 
ing gait; the smaller one, to the right, shows 
the travel at low speed. In all, the tail mark 
is a strong feature (see pages 525 and 531). 



the group is represented by the well-known 
species Mtistela vulgaris. In North America 
several species are known which, between them, 
share all the continent from the Arctic coast 
south to Nebraska and Pennsylvania. On the 
desolate islands extending from the mainland 
far toward the Pole their place seems to be 
taken by the ermine. 

The dwarf weasels appear to be less numer- 
ous and, as a consequence, less known in most 
parts of America than in England and north- 
ern Europe. Our most northern species, 
iJiistela rixosa, sometimes called the "mouse 
weasel," occupies Alaska and northern Canada 
and has the distinction of being the smallest 
known species of carnivore in the world. In 
this connection it is interesting to note that 
in Alaska we have associated on the same 
ground the least weasel and the great brown 
bear, the smallest and the largest living car- 
nivores. 

Least weasels are characterized by the same 
swift alertness and boldness so marked in the 
larger species. In fact they are, if possible, 
even quicker in their movements. Once when 
camping in spring among scattered snowbanks 
on the coast of Bering vSea, I had an excellent 
opportunity to witness their almost incredible 
quickness. Early in the morning one suddenly 
appeared on the margin of a snowbank within 
a few feet, and after craning its neck one way 
and the other, as though to get a better view 
of me, it vanished, and then appeared so 
abruptly on a snowbank three or four yards 
away that it was almost impossible to follow 
it with the eye. It was beginning to take on 
its summer coat of brown and was extremely 
difficult to locate amid the scattered patches 
of snow and bare moss of the tundra. Cer- 
tainly no other mammal can have such flash- 
like powers of movement. 

They feed mainly on mice, lemmings, shrews, 
small birds, their eggs and young, and insects. 
Mice furnish a large proportion of their prey 
and weasels have often been seen following the 
runways of field mice. Their small size enables 
them to pursue mice into their underground 
workings as readily as a ferret enters a rabbit 
burrow. They also climb trees and bushes with 
great agility, although nearly always seeking 
their victims on the ground. The mice upon 
which they prey are often so much larger than 
the weasels that they cannot be dragged into 
the dens. The weasels continue in full activity 
throughout the winter and constantly burrow 
into the snow in search of their prey. In the 
snow or in the ground the holes of this animal 
are about the diameter of one's finger. 

In the Old World the small weasels are re- 
ported to have several litters in a season, each 
containing five or six young. At Point P)arrow, 
Alaska, a female captured on June 12 still con- 
tained twelve embryos. This indicates that 
only one litter a year would be born tliere, and 
that Mustela rixosa is more prolific than its 
European representative. 

In the more soutliern latitude least weasels 
live in forests and about farms, sheltering 
themselves under logs, brush piles, stone walls, 
and similar cover. They are always restless 
and filled with curiosity regarding anything of 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



575 



unusual appearance. 
When one encounters a 
man it shows no fear, 
but slyly moving from 
one shelter to another, 
now advancing and now 
retreating, examines the 
stranger carefully before 
going on its way. As 
they devote practically 
their entire lives to the 
destruction of field mice, 
they are valuable friends 
of the farmer and should 
have his good will and 
protection. Unfortunately 
for these weasels, no dis- 
crimination is shown be- 
tween them and their 
larger relatives of more 
injurious habits. 

Among the natives of 
Alaska all weasels are 
looked upon with great 
respect on account of 
their prowess as hunters. 
I found this feeling pe- 
culiarly strong among the 
Eskimos, whose existence 
for ages has depended so 
largely on the products 
of the chase. Among 
them the capture of a 
weasel meant good luck 
to the hunter, and to take 
the rarer least weasel 
was considered a happy 
omen. The head and en- 
tire skin of the least 
weasel was highly prized 
for wearing as an amulet 
or fetich. Young men 
eagerly purchased them, 
paying the full value of 
a prime marten skin in 
order to wear them as a 
personal adornment, that 

they might thus become endowed with the hunt- 
ing prowess of this fierce little carnivore. 
Fathers often bought them to attach to the 
belts of their small sons, so that the youthful 
hunters might become imbued with the spirit 
of this "little chief" among mammals. 

THE AMERICAN MINK (Mustela vison 

and its relatives) 

(For illustration, sec page ^55) 

In the American mink we have one of the 
most widely known and valuable fur-bearers of 
the weasel family. It is a long-bodied animal, 
but more heavily proportioned than the weasel, 
and attains a weight of from one and one-half 
to more than two pounds. It has short legs 
and walks slowly and rather clumsily with the 
back arched. When desiring to travel rapidly 
it moves in a series of rapid easy bounds which 
it appears able to continue tirelessly. 




m 


h&to lie. 


.m-l 


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trot 

Fo X 




f.7.S 


K 



the; track of a i^ox 

The size, the small pads, and the set of all feet nearly in one line are 
strong features, as also is the tail touch 

The minks form a small group of species 
circumpolar in distribution, and well known in 
Europe, northern Asia, and in North America. 
The European animal is closely similar to the 
North American species and all have the same 
amphibious habits. The American minks include 
several different geographic races, which are 
distributed over all the northern part of the 
continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific and 
from the mouths of the Yukon and Mackenzie 
Rivers to the Gulf coast in tlie United States. 
They are absent from the arid Southwestern 
States. 

Few species are more perfectly adapted to a 
double mode of life than the mink. It is equally 
at home slyly searching thickets and bottom- 
land forests for prey or seeking it with otter- 
like prowess beneath the water. It is a restless 
animal, active both by day and by night, al- 
though mainly nocturnal. 

While usually having definite dens to which 
tliey return, minks wander widely and for so 



576 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



small an animal hunt over a large territory 
and pass from one body of water to another. 
Their wanderings are most pronounced in fall 
and again during the mating in spring. They 
are solitary, their companionship with one an- 
other not outhvmg the mating period. 

Mink dens are located wherever a safe and 
convenient shelter is available, and may be a 
hole in a bank, made by a muskrat or other 
animal, a cavity under the roots of a tree, a 
hollow log, a hollow stump, or other place. 
The nest is made of grass and leaves lined 
with feathers, hair, and other soft material. A 
single litter of from four to twelve small and 
naked young is born during April or ]\Iay. 

The young remain with the mother through- 
out the summer, and do not leave her to estab- 
lish themselves until fall, when they are nearly 
grown. When captured at an early age they 
are playful and become attached to the person 
who cares for them. When cauglit in a trap 
they become fiercely aggressive, often uttering 
squalling shrieks, baring their teeth, and front- 
ing their captor with a truculent air of savage 
rage. The adults have scent sacs located under 
the tail like those of a skunk. When angry or 
much excited they can emit from these an ex- 
ceedingly acrid and offensive odor, but have 
no power to eject it forcibly at an enemy. 

Minks are bold and courageous in their at- 
titude toward other animals, and attack and kill 
for food species heavier than themselves, like 
the varying hare and the muskrat. On land 
they are persistent hunters, trailing their prey 
skillfully by scent. They eat mice, rats, chip- 
munks, squirrels, and birds and birds' eggs of 
many kinds, including waterfowl, oven-birds, 
and other ground-frequenting species. About 
the waterside they vary this diet by capturing 
fish of many kinds, wliich they pursue in the 
water, snakes, frogs, salamanders, insects, crus- 
taceans, and mussels. 

Their prowess is shown by their raids on 
chicken-houses, where they often kill many 
grown fowls in a night, and sometimes drag 
birds heavier than themselves long distances to 
their dens. A remarkable indication of the 
varied menu of the mink was exliibited in a 
nest found by Dr. C. H. Merriam, where the 
owner had gathered the bodies of a muskrat, 
a red squirrel, and a downy woodpecker. 

The value of the mink's furry coat has led 
to its steady pursuit by trappers in all climes, 
from the coast of Florida to tiie borders of 
sluggish streams on Arctic tundras. Millions 
of them have fallen victims to this warfare 
and their skins have gone to adorn mankind. 
In spite of this the mink today occupies all its 
original territory, and each year yields a fresh 
harvest of furs. 

The mink by preference is a forest animal, 
living along the wooded bottom-lands of rivers 
or the tliicket-grown borders of small streams, 
where the rich vegetation gives abundance of 
shelter and at the same time attracts a wealth 
of small mammals and birds on which it may 
prey. From these secure coverts it wanders 
through the surrounding country at night, visit- 



ing many cliicken-houses on farms and leaving 
devastation behind. It is persistent and bold 
in such forays and in locations near its haunts 
great care must be exercised to guard against 
it. Minks have repeatedly raided the enclosures 
of the National Zoological Park in Washington. 

Now and then, on the banks of some wild 
stream, one will try to appropriate the catch 
lying at the very feet of a lone fisherman. A 
naturalist fishing on a stream in northern 
Canada, seeing a mink making free with his 
catch, set a small steel trap on the bare ground, 
and holding the attached chain in one hand 
raised and slowly drew toward him the fish 
upon which tlie mink was feeding. The mink, 
without hesitation, followed the fish and was 
caught in the trap. 

An abundance of food may modify the pref- 
erence of the mink for wooded or partly wood- 
ed country. The marshy and treeless tundra 
lying near sea-level in the triangle between tiie 
coast of Bering Sea, and the lower parts of 
the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers offers such 
an attractive situation differing from their 
usual haunts. The sluggish streams and num- 
berless ponds abound with small fish four 
to five inches long. Minks swarm in this area 
to such an extent that the Eskimos who in- 
habit the district are known among the natives 
of the surrounding region as the "mink people." 
Steel traps are used there, but a primitive 
method is even more successful. A wicker 
fence is built across a narrow stream and a 
small fyke fish-trap placed in it. In swimming 
along the stream minks pass into the trap like 
fish, and I knew of from lO to 15 being thus 
taken in one day. 

During my residence in that region from 
10,000 to 15,000 mink skins were caught in 
this tundra district annually, and the supply 
appeared to be inexhaustible. With the grow- 
ing occupation of the continent and the increas- 
ing demand for furs, however, the numbers of 
the mink must surely decrease. To forestall 
the shortage of furs that seems imminent, ef- 
forts are now being made to establish fur farm- 
ing to replace tlie declining supply of wild ftn"s 
with those grown under domestication. The 
nfink appears to be well adapted to successful 
l)reeding in captivity. The main question to 
solve is the relation of the cost of caring for 
the animals to the value of its pelt in the 
market. 

THE MARTEN, OR AMERICAN SABLE 
(Martes americana and its relatives) 

{for ilhtstratioii, sec page 355) 

Wild animals possess an endless variety of 
mental traits whicli endow them in many in- 
stances with marked individualities. Few are 
more strongly characterized in this respect than 
the marten. One of the most graceful and 
lieautiful of our forest animals, it frequents the 
more inaccessible parts of tlie wilderness and 
retires shyly before the inroads of the settler's 
ax. Its ricii l)ro\vn coat, so highly prized tliat 



SMALLER MAAIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



577 



the pursuit of it goes on winter after winter in 
all the remote forests of the North, is a source 
of clanger threatening the existence of the 
species. The full-grown animal w-eighs five or 
six pounds and measures nearly three feet in 
lengtli. 

The martens are circumpolar in distribution, 
and the several species occupy northern lands 
from England, Europe, and northern Asia to 
North America. Of the Old World species, the 
Siberian sable is best known on account of the 
beauty of its fine, rich fur, which renders it 
the most valued of all in the fur markets of 
the world. 

The North American marten is a close rela- 
tive of the Siberian species, and occupies all 
the wooded parts of North America from the 
northern limit of trees southward in the for- 
ested mountains to Pennsylvania, New Mexico, 
and the southern part of the Sierra Nevada in 
California. 

Like other members of the weasel tribe, the 
marten is a fierce and merciless creature of ra- 
pine, but unlike the mink and weasel, it avoids 
the abodes of man and loves the remotest 
depths of the wilderness. ■ 

Martens are endowed with an exceedingly 
nervous and excitable temperament, combined 
with all the flashing quickness of weasels. They 
are more restless than any other among the 
larger species of their notably restless tribe, 
and couple with this extraordinary and tire- 
less vigor. This is admirably shown in cap- 
tivity, when by the hour they dart back and 
forth, up and down and around their cages 
with almost incredible speed. 

In the forest they climb trees and jump from 
branch to branch with all the agility of a 
squirrel — in fact, they pursue and capture red 
squirrels in fair chase, and have been seen in 
pursuit of the big California gray squirrel 
(Sciurus grisens). On the ground they move 
about quickly, hunting weasel-like, under brush 
piles and other cover. 

Practically every living thing within their 
power falls victim to their rapacity. They eat 
minks, weasels, squirrels, chipmunks, wood rats, 
mice of many kinds, conies, snowshoe hares, 
ruffed and spruce grouse, and smaller birds of 
all kinds and their eggs, as well as frogs, fish, 
beetles, crickets, beechnuts, and a variety of 
small wild fruits. Unlike minks and weasels, 
they are not known to kill wantonly more than 
they need for food. 

They make nests of grass, moss, and leaves 
in hollow trees, under logs, among rocks, and 
in holes in the ground. Sometimes they have 
been found in possession of a red squirrel's 
nest, probably after having slain and devoured 
the owner. 

The young, varying from one to eight in 
number, are born in April or May. At first 
they are naked and helpless, but when large 
enough accompany the mother on her search 
for food. This period of schooling lasts until 
they are forced to take up their separate lives 
with the approach of winter. Thenceforth they 
are among the most solitary of animals, show- 



ing fierce antagonism toward one another 
whenever they meet, and associating only dur- 
ing a brief period in the mating season m 
February or March. Martens show a cold- 
blooded ferocity toward one another that often 
renders it dangerous to put two or more in 
the same cage. When placed in a cage to- 
gether the male very commonly kills the female 
by biting her through the skull. At times they 
utter a loud, shrill squall or shriek, and in 
traps hiss, growl, and sometimes bark. 

Among the dense forests of spruce and lodge- 
pole pine high up in the mountains of Colorado, 
martens are sometimes hunted on skis in mid- 
winter, an exciting and often, on these rugged 
slopes, a dangerous sport. They are not wary 
about traps and are readily caught by dead- 
falls and other rude contrivances as well as 
by steel traps. In Colorado and Montana hun- 
dreds of their skins are taken by trappers every 
winter. 

In Siberia the sable has been exterminated 
by hunting in many districts, and before the 
present w^ar began had become so scarce in 
others that the Russian Government closed the 
season for them for a period of years over 
nearly all of their range. The same reduction 
in the numbers of our marten has occurred in 
most parts of Alaska and elsewhere in its range, 
and its only hope against extermination lies in 
stringent protection. Protective regulations are 
already in force in Alaska. 

During the early fur-trading days in north- 
ern Canada the number of martens varied be- 
tween comparative abundance and rarity. These 
variations were said to occur about every ten 
years. Some claimed the decrease was due to 
a migration which the martens were believed 
to make from one region to another, just as 
was believed of the lynx. The lack of a corre- 
sponding increase in surrounding districts, 
where trading posts were located, effectually 
disproved the migration theory. There is little 
doubt that the increase of martens was due to 
a reproductive response to a plentiful food 
supply during years when mice or snowshoe 
hares were abundant and their decrease was 
due to a lessening of the numbers of these food 
animals. 

Efforts are being made to domesticate mar- 
tens and raise them for their skins on fur 
farms. The main difficulty so far encountered 
lies in the fiendish manner in which the old 
males kill the females and the younger males. 
Although always nervous, they are not difficult 
to tame, and will be most entertaining and at- 
tractive animals to rear if their savage natures 
can be sufficiently overcome. 

THE LITTLE SPOTTED SKUNK 
(Spiiogale putorius and its relatives) 

(For iHustratiou, sec page 558) 

The skunks form a distinct section of the 
weasel family, limited to North and South 
.America. The group is divided into three well- 
marked sections. One of these, the little spot- 



578 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 




the: common woodcituck, or amf.rican 
MARMOT (see pages 533-534) 

Its track shows this animal's kinship with 
the squirrels. The small series, to the left, 
show the ordinary ambling pace. Wlien speed- 
ing, it sets its feet mucli like the little, or east- 
ern, chipmunk (see page 580). 

ted skunks, is distinguished from all other 
mammals by the curious and pleasing sym- 
metry of the black and white markings of the 
animals. Few more beautiful fur garments arc 
made than those from the skins of these ani- 
mals in their natural colors. These skunks are 
smaller than any members of the other groups. 



varying from a little larger than a large chip- 
munk to the size of a fox squirrel. 

Little spotted skvmks include several species 
and geographic races. All are limited to North 
America and are rather irregularly distributed 
from the Atlantic coast to the Pacihc and from 
Virginia, Minnesota, Wyoming, and southern 
British Columbia southward to the Gulf coast, 
to the end of Lower California, and through 
Mexico and Central America to Costa Rica. 
They inhabit a variety of climatic conditions, 
from the rocky ledges high up on the slopes 
of the western mountains to the hot desert 
plains of the Southwest, and to partly forested 
regions in both temperate and tropical lands. 
In different parts of the United States they 
have several other names, including "civet," 
"civet cat," and "hydrophobia skunk." 

The spotted skunks make their homes in 
whatever shelter is most convenient, whether 
it be clefts in rocky ledges, slide rock, hollows 
in logs or stumps, holes dug by themselves in 
banks or under the shelter of cactuses or other 
thorny vegetation, the deserted holes of bur- 
rowing owls in Florida, or the old dens of 
various kinds of mammals elsewhere. Thickets, 
open woods, ocean beaches, and the vicinity of 
deserted or even occupied buildings on ranches 
are equally welcome haunts. On the plains of 
Arizona they have been known to live inside 
the mummified carcass of a cow, the sun-dried 
hide of which made an impregnable cover. They 
have a single litter of from two to six young 
each year. 

Their diet is fully as varied as that of others 
of the weasel kind, but is made up mainly of 
insects and other forms injurious to agricul- 
ture, including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, 
and larvae of many kinds. They feed also on 
flesh whenever possible and prey on wood rats, 
rnice of many kinds, small ground squirrels, 
small birds and their eggs, young chickens, 
lizards, salamanders, and crawfish. This car- 
nivorous diet is further varied with mushrooms, 
peanuts, persimmons, cactus fruit, and other 
small fruits. Sometimes the animals locate 
about occupied habitations in primitive com- 
munities, where they give good service by kill- 
ing the house rats, mice, and cockroaches on 
the premises. On one occasion a spotted skunk 
was detected cunningly removing the downy 
chicks from under a brooding hen without dis- 
turliing her. 

In comparison with the other skunks these 
little animals are extremely agile. They are 
strictly nocturnal and when pursued at night 
by dogs will climb to safety in a tree like a 
squirrel. When caught in a trap they struggle 
and fight far more vigorously than their big 
relatives. They usually carry the tail in a 
somewhat elevated position, but when danger 
threatens hold it upright like a warning signal. 
If the enemy fails to take heed they shoot two 
little spraylike jets of liquid bearing the usual 
offensive skunk odor, and the victim retires 
without honor. 

In writing of these skunks about the Valley 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



579 



of Mexico, in 1628, Dr. Hernandez tells us 
that "the powerful arm which they use when 
in peril is the insupportable gas they throw out 
behind which condenses the surrounding at- 
mosphere so that, as one grave missionary 
says, it appears as though one could feel it." 

That the little spotted skunk is subject to 
rabies and has communicated it to many men 
in the West is unquestionable. It usually bites 
men who are sleeping on the ground in its 
haunts, as they commonly do on the western 
stock ranges. 

I have personally known of several instances 
in northern Arizona of men being bitten by 
them. The head, face, and hands, being un- 
covered, are the points attacked. One man in 
the mountains south of Winslow, Arizona, was 
bitten on the top of his head in April, 1910, 
but paid no attention to the slight wound until 
two months later when he began to have 
spasms. He then hurried to town and died in 
great agony the next day. The year following 
a man in the same district was bitten in the 
face, and seizing the animal threw it from him 
in such a manner that it fell on his brother 
and bit him before he awakened. Both men 
were given the Pasteur treatment and had no 
further trouble. 

On New Year's night of 1906, while I was at 
the village of Cape San Lucas, at the extreme 
southern end of the Peninsula of Lower Cali- 
fornia, a large-sized old male spotted skunk 
entered the open door of a neighboring house 
and bit through the upper lip of a little girl 
sleeping on the floor. Her screams brought 
her father to the rescue, and with a well-aimed 
blow he killed the otYender. The next morning 
the skunk was brought to me and added to my 
collection. As I left a few days later I never 
learned the result of this bite, but while there 
was informed that a man had died the previous 
year from a similar bite. The occasional in- 
stances of this kind are remembered and ap- 
pear more numerous than they are in fact. For 
years many men have slept in the open where 
these animals abound, without being molested. 
It is interesting to find that when the voyager 
Duhaut-Cilly visited the Cape in 1826, the na- 
tives feared these skunks because they entered 
housese at night, biting people and infecting 
them with hydrophobia. 

The little spotted skunks have extremely ani- 
mated, playful natures, as I have had several 
occasions to observe. Two instances serve to 
illustrate this. Once at the mouth of a canyon 
at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, 
California, I camped several days at a deserted 
ranch. At night I spread my blankets on the 
bare floor of the house, from which the doors 
were gone. Under it led several burrows of 
some animal which I at first supposed to be a 
ground squirrel. Each night while there I was 
awakened by the sound of little footfalls pad- 
ding rapidly about over the floor on which I 
was sleeping, and in the dim light from the 
moon could see two or three little spotted skunks 
pursuing one another around me like playful 



kittens. At the slightest movement on my part 
they dashed out the door and into their dens 
under the house. As there was no food of any 
kind in this room, it was evident that the little 
fellows were there for a frolic on the smooth 
board floor. 

On another occasion in the mountains of 
San Luis Potosi, on the Mexican table-land, I 
found a spring to which bears were coming 
for water at night. As the bears here appeared 
to be strictly nocturnal. I ensconced myself in 
the evening with a dark lantern, amid some 
small bushes, against a large pine dog which 
sloped downward to the bottom of the gulch 
near the spring, with the plan to welcome any 
bears which might come in. An hour or more 
after dark the clinking rattle of small stones 
on the far side of the gulch indicated the pres- 
ence of some animal. The light from the 
lantern was flashed on the spot and the rifle 
lowered with exasperation as, running back and 
forth, turning over stones in search of insects, 
a spotted skunk was revealed. The movements 
of this unwelcome visitor were extremely light 
and graceful, and in my interest in watching 
them, for a time I forgot the bear. Two or 
three hours passed and the skunk tired of the 
hillside and came down to the spring, where 
he found the offal from a deer which I had 
placed there for bait. This gave him more to 
do, and after I had listened to him worry the 
meat for awhile, I turned on the light and was 
entertained by the sight thus revealed. The 
skunk appeared to have a persistent desire to 
drag away the offal many times his weight. Me 
would seize the edge of one of the lungs and 
after a hard struggle would get it up on one 
edge, when the burden would turn over with 
a flap, whirling the skunk flat on his back each 
time. Immediately scrambling to his feet, he 
would give the meat a fierce shake of resent- 
ment and repeat the performance. 

After a long time the moon arose and the 
skunk could be plainly seen running back and 
forth playfully, now biting at the meat and now 
turning over stones apparently in sheer exuber- 
ance of spirit. Then he suddenly mounted the 
lower end of the log and came galloping up it 
until he was close to my shoulder. There he 
stopped and, coming as near as possible, ex- 
tended his nose within a few inches of my 
face, and for minute or more stood trying to 
satisfy himself about this strange object. Satis- 
fied at last, he turned and galloped back down 
the log and resumed his antics in the gulch, 
finally working close to the bank three or four 
yards below me. There he found many small 
stones and had a fine time rattling them about 
until I decided that with this disturbing pres- 
ence I should have little chance for other game. 
Finding a convenient stone, and locating the 
skunk as well as possible from the sounds, I 
tossed it over to try and frighten him away. 
My aim was too true, for the characteristic 
skunk retort filled the air v/ith suffocating 
fumes and I immediately lost interest in further 
bear hunting. 



580 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



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TIFF, TRAIL OF TlIIv TvASTlCRN CHIPMUNK 

The track is much like that of the fox squir- 
rel, but usually the fore feet are a little, or 
quite, one behind the other and, of course, 
mucli smaller. No tail mark is ever seen (see 
pages 542 and 549). 

THE COMMON SKUNK (Mephitis 

mephitis and its relatives) 
(for illustration, see page 33S) 
Probably no American mammal is more Rcn- 
erally known and less popular than the skunk. 



This current odium is due wholly to its posses- 
sion of a scent sac of malodorous fluid, which 
it distributes with prompt accuracy when an- 
noyed. The possession of this method of de- 
fense is common to all skunks. The term "pole- 
cat," sometimes given to all kinds of skunks, is 
the misuse of a name given Old World martens 
of several species and to the Cape pole-cat, a 
South African animal which in form and mark- 
ings, including the plumelike tail, is remark- 
ably like some of our smaller skunks. 

In the preceding article an account was given 
of the spotted skvuiks, smallest of the three 
groups into which these animals are divided. 
The common skunk and its relatives form an- 
other group, which contains some of the larger 
species of their kind, some of them weighing 
up to ten pounds or more. These are the typi- 
cal skunks, so familiar in most parts of the 
United States, and distinguished by the dis- 
proportionately large size of the posterior half 
of the body and the long, plumelike tail. 

The common skunk, witli its closely related 
species, is generally distributed in all varieties 
of country, except in deep forests and on water- 
less desert plains. It ranges from the Atlantic 
coast to the Pacific and from Hudson Bay and 
Great Slave Lake southward to the highlands 
of Guatemala. The vertical range extends from 
sea-level up to above timberline in Mexico, 
where I found one living in a burrow it had 
dug under a rock at 13,800 feet altitude on the 
Cofre de Perotc, Vera Cruz. 

Skunks are most common in areas of mixed 
woodland and fields, in valley bottoms, and 
along the brushy borders of creeks and rocky 
canyons. One of their marked characteristics 
is a fondness for the vicinity of man. They 
frequently visit his premises, taking up quarters 
beneath outbuildings or even under the house 
itself. 

Any convenient shelter appears to satisfy 
them for a home, and they will occupy the de- 
serted burrows of other animals, small cavities 
among the rocks, a hollow log, or a hole dug 
by themselves. A warm nest of grass and 
leaves is made at the end of the den, where the 
single litter of young, containing from four to 
ten, is born in April or May. As soon as the 
young are old enough they follow the mother, 
keeping close behind her, often in a long single 
file along a trail. They are mainly nocturnal, 
but in summer the mother frequently starts out 
on an excursion with her young an hour or 
two before sunset and they may remain abroad 
all night. 

The young family remains united through the 
following winter, which accounts for finding at 
times from eight to a dozen in a den. In all 
the northern parts of their range they hibernate 
during the two to four months of severest cold 
weather, coming out sometimes during mild 
periods. When the season of hibernation ends 
the family scatters and mating begins. One 
solitary skunk was found in Canada hibernating 
in the same burrow, but in a separate chamber, 
with a woodchuck, evidently an unbidden guest. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



581 









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THE TRACKS OF A RUSTY iPOX SQUIRRElv AND FOX SQUIRRKE 

The exaggerated pads of the squirrel foot are a strong feature of this track. It is typ- 
ical in the pairing of the fore feet, much more so than that of the gray squirrel. There is 
never a tail mark in this track (see pages 547 and 561). 



As in the case of tlieir relatives, the common 
skunks are omnivorous, but feed mainly upon 
insects and rodents injurious to agriculture. 
They are known to eat great quantities of 
grasshoppers, besides crickets, cicadas, May 
beetles, wasps, and larvse of many kinds. One 
killed in New Mexico had its stomach crammed 
with honey bees. Wherever possible they prey 
upon small rodents, as mice, wood rats, and 
small spermophiles. To these may be added 
ground-nesting birds and their eggs, lizards, 
turtle eggs, snakes, frogs, salamanders, fish, 
crustaceans, and numerous small fruits. Now 
and then they visit the farmers' chicken yards 
with such disastrous consequences that in many 
country districts the animals are killed at sight. 

It is pleasing to record that a more intelligent 
view of their real value to farmers, through 



their destruction of farm pests, is rapidly gain- 
ing ground, and they are now being protected 
in many States. One of their worst traits is 
their destructivencss to breeding game birds, 
both upland species, and especially the water- 
fowl. 

Skunks walk on the soles of their feet in- 
stead of on their toes, as do so many mammals. 
The common skunks are wholly terrestrial and 
move with the deliberation of one without fear 
of personal violence or of having his dignity 
assailed. Long experience has taught them that 
the right of way is theirs. As they amble 
slowly along, the tail is carried slightly elevated, 
and when the owner is suspicious of attack, it 
is raised and the hairs hang drooping like a 
great plume, conspicuous and unmistakable. If 
the disturber still refuses to take the hint, a 



582 



THE NATIONAI^ GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



X inck. 




^,%-^', ' 



5itti 



IT 



'i 




A FULL SIZE RENDERING OF A FOX SQUIRREL TRACK 

Illustrations of the arrangement of this track when the animal is foraging and traveling 

shown on page 581 



rear view is promptly presented and a dis- 
charge made that puts most enemies to flight. 
Some have thought that the odorous liquid is 
scattered by the long hairs of the tail, but in 
fact it is ejected in fine jets from two little 
tubes connected with the scent sacs on each 
side of the vent. 

When mildly annoyed the big skunks stamp 
their front feet on the ground and utter little 
growls of displeasure. By some effort they can 
be urged into a retreat which may take the 
form of a clumsy gallop. They are known oc- 
casionally to swim streams voluntarily, and even 
to cross rivers, probably urged by the instinct 
that so often forces animals of all kinds to 
move to new feeding grounds. 

Although usually safe from annoyance 
through the protective armament, many skunks, 
especially the young, each year fall victim to 
natural enemies, including wolves, coyotes, 
foxes, badgers, and great horned owls. 

The flesh of the skunk is a favorite food 
among certain tribes of Canadian Indians, and 
many white men have pronounced it exceed- 
ingly palatable, even claiming its superiority 
over the flesh of domestic fowls. In the narra- 
tive of his expedition through the Canadian 
wilderness many years ago, the naturalist 
Drummond recorded that when the party was 
about a day's journey from Carlcton House it 
had the good fortune to kill a skunk, "which 
afforded us a comfortable meal." In the Valley 
of Mexico I found the natives prize the flesh 
of these animals as a cure for a certain loath- 
some disease. 



It is well known that large skunks are often 
extremely fat. The oil produced from them is 
clear and is said to have unusually penetrating 
qualities. For many years there was a demand 
for this oil for various medicinal purposes. 

During recent years the fur of skunks has 
come into great demand, and good prices are 
paid for prime skins. The animals are so 
numerous and the catch is so large that they 
now rank among the most valuable of our fur- 
bearers. They are gentle animals which readily 
become domesticated and breed freely in con- 
finement, and many efforts are being made to 
establish skunk farms. Success in such farm- 
ing depends wholly on the outlay for upkeep. 
Skunk farming will probably pay better as a 
side line, like chickens on the ordinary farm, 
than to establish regular fur farms. The scent 
sac may be removed by a slight surgical opera- 
tion, so there need be no trouble from that 
source. Common skunks when taken young 
make affectionate and entertaining pets. They 
l^ecome as tame and playful as kittens, and are 
vastly more intelligent and interesting. 

THE HOG-NOSED SKUNK (Conepatus 
mesoleucus and its relatives) 

(For ilhistration, see page 359) 

The third and last group of skvmks contains 
a number of species showing well-marked dif- 
ferences from the two groups already described. 
The species vary in size, but among them is 
included the largest of all skunks. All are 
characterized by comparatively short hair, es- 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



583 




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WOLVERINE 



Its weasel kinship is seen in the wolverine track. Occasionally, not always, its fifth toe 
shows. The track is not plantigrade, and a single track is easily mistaken for that of a wolf. 



pecially on the tail, and this appendage lacks 
the plumelike appearance observed in other 
skunks. The nose is prolonged into a distinct 
"snout," naked on the top and sides and evi- 
dently used for rooting in the earth after the 
manner of a pig. In addition, the front feet 
are armed with long, heavy claws, and the front 
legs and shoulders are provided with a strong 
muscular development for digging, as in a bad- 
ger. This likeness has led to the use in some 
places of the appropriate name "badger skunk" 
for these animals. The single white stripe along 
the back, and including the tail, is a common 
pattern with these skunks, but this marking is 
considerably varied, as in the common species. 
The hog-nosed skunks are the only repre- 
sentatives of the skunk tribe in South America, 
where various species occupy a large part of 
the continent. They appear to form a South 
American group of mammals which has ex- 
tended its range northward through Central 



America. Mexico, and across the border of the 
United States to central Texas, New Mexico, 
and Arizona. In Mexico they range from sea- 
level to above lo.ooo feet altitude on the moun- 
tains of the interior. 

The hair on these skunks is coarse and harsh, 
lacking the qualities which render the coats of 
their northern relatives so valuable. Where 
their range coincides with that of the common 
skunks, the local distribution of the two is 
practically the same. They live along the bot- 
tom-lands of watercourses, where vegetation is 
abundant and the supply of food most plentiful, 
or in canyons and on rocky mountain slopes. 

For shelter they dig their own burrows, usually 
in a bank, or under a rock, or the roots of a 
tree, but do not hesitate to take possession of 
the deserted burrows of other animals, or of 
natural cavities among the_ rocks. Owing to 
their strictly nocturnal habits, they are much 
less frequently seen than the common skunks. 



584 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



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the; 'j'rack of thk wivasdi. 

The unusual space between the fore and 
hind feet in the middle of the left scries is 
often seen. Sometimes the tail mark is there 
and sometimes not. Sometimes the trail is 
like that of a small mink. The toes seldom 
show (see pages 554 and 572). 



even in localities where they are numerous. In 
fact it is only within the last few years that 
their presence in many parts of the southwest- 
ern border has become known. 

Although both the little spotted and common 
skunks live mainly on insects, the hog-nosed 
skunks are even more insectivorous in their 
feeding habits. The bare snout appears to be 
used constantly for the purpose of rooting out 
beetles, grubs, and larvce of various kinds from 
the ground. 

On the highlands of Mexico I have many 
times camped in localities where patches of 
ground were rooted up nightly by these skunks 
to a depth of two or three inches as thoroughly 
as might have been done by small pigs. In 
such places I repeatedly failed to capture them 
by traps baited with meat, the insects and grubs 
they were finding apparently being more at- 
tractive food. I have had similar failures in 
trapping for coyotes with meat bait in localities 
where they were feeding fat on swarms of 
large beetles and crickets. The persistence with 
which the hog-nosed skunks hunt insects ren- 
ders them a valuable aid to farmers. 

In addition to grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, 
flies, grubs, and other larvae, and many other 
insects, they are known to eat wood rats, mice, 
and the small fruit of cactuses and other plants. 
The stomach of one of these skunks examined 
in Texas contained about 400 beetles. 

One Texas naturalist writes that he has lost 
a number of young kids which had their noses 
bitten off, and in one instance caught one of 
these skunks mutilating a kid in this manner. 
He also states that they pull down and eat corn 
when it is in the "roasting-car" stage. 

Far less is known concerning the habits of 
hog-nosed skunks than of the other species of 
these animals. The number of young appears 
to be small, judging from the record of a single 
embr}-© found in one animal and in another 
instance of two young found in a nest located 
in a hollow stump. They have a curiously 
stupid, sluggish manner and have even less 
vivacity than the somewhat sedate common 
skunk. No use is made of their skins in this 
country or in Mexico, but the gigantic natives 
of Patagonia make robes of them which are 
worn like great cloaks. 



THE NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO 
(Dasypus novemcincta and its relatives) 

{Por illustration, sec page ^^q) 

Armadillos arc distinguished from other 
mammals by having tiie nearly, or quite, hair- 
less skin developed into a bony armor cover- 
ing the upperparts of the head and body and 
all of the tail. They lack teeth in the front of 
both upper and lower jaws, and are members 
of the group of toothless animals which in- 
cludes the ant-eaters. The insects they feed on 
are licked up by the sticky surface of their 
extensile tongues. 

In the remote past many species of arma- 
dillos, some of gigantic size, roamed the plains 
of South America, and a number of small 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



585 



species still exist there. These animals are 
peculiar to America and have their center of 
abundance in the southern continent. 

The nine-banded species ranges over an 
enormous territory and is subdivided into a 
number of geographic races, living from south- 
ern Texas through Mexico and Central Amer- 
ica to Argentina. In Mexico its vertical dis- 
tribution extends from sea-level up to an alti- 
tude of about 10,000 feet on the mountains of 
the interior. Like the hog-nosed skunk, it no 
doubt originated as a member of the South 
American fauna and has spread northward to 
its present limits. It is one of the larger of 
the living representatives of this curious group 
of animals and reaches a weight of from twelve 
to fifteen pounds. 

As might be surmised from its appearance, 
the armadillo is a stupid animal, living a mo- 
notonous life of restricted activities. Its sight 
and hearing are poor, and the armored skin 
gives it a stii¥-legged gait and immobile body. 
From these characteristics, combined with the 
small head hung low on a short neck, it has in 
life an odd resemblance in both form and 
motion to a small pig; it jogs along in its trails 
or from one feeding place to another with the 
same little stiff trotting gait and self-centered 
air. If alarmed it will break into a clumsy 
gallop, but moves so slowly that it may be 
overtaken by a man on foot. So poor is its 
eyesight that a person may approach openly 
within about thirty yards before being noticed. 

When alarmed the armadillo immediately runs 
to the shelter of its burrow, but may easily be 
caught in one's hands, especially if intercepted 
on the way to its den. When caught it will 
struggle to escape, and while it may coil up 
in a ball in the presence of a dog or other 
mammal foe, I never saw one try to protect 
itself in this way. While presumably serving 
for protective purposes, the armor is flexible 
on the sides of the body, and I have found the 
remains of many armadillos where they had 
been killed and eaten by coyotes or other preda- 
tory beasts. The armor would no doubt be suf- 
ficient protection to enable them to escape to 
cover from the attack of birds of prey. They 
are mainly nocturnal animals, but are fre- 
quently seen abroad by day and in some places 
appear to be out equally by day or night. 

This armadillo lives by preference amid the 
cover afforded by forests, brushy jungle, tall 
grass, or other vegetation. In the midst of 
such shelter it usually digs its own burrow a 
few yards deep in a bank or hill slope, beneath 
a stump, under the roots of a tree, or a rock, 
or even on level ground. It will also occupy 
small caves in limestone rock. At times it 
shows a piglike fondness for a mud bath, and 
the prints of its armor may be found where it 
has wallowed in miry spots. 

Well-beaten and conspicuous trails lead from 
the burrows often for half a mile or more, fre- 
quently branching through the thickets in vari- 
ous directions. Armadillo burrows sometimes 
accommodate strange neighbors, as was shown 
by one in Texas which was dug out, and in 



addition to containing the owner in his den at 
the end, was found to be occupied by a four- 
foot rattlesnake and a half-grown cottontail 
rabbit, each in a side chamber of its own. 

The food of the armadillo consists almost 
entirely of many species of insects, among 
which ants appear to predominate. When 
searching for food the animals become so in- 
tent that they may be cautiously approached 
and closely observed or captured by hand. They 
root about among fallen leaves and other loose 
vegetation and soft earth, now and then digging 
up some hidden grub or beetle. At night they 
visit newly plowed fields in their haunts, root- 
ing in the mellow earth. They are accused of 
digging up plants in gardens during their noc- 
turnal wanderings, and in Texas have been 
charged with robbing hens' nests of eggs, and 
of reducing the supply of wild turkeys and 
quail by breaking up the nests, all of which 
needs confirmation. Their method of feeding 
appears to vary considerably, as they have been 
seen rising on their hind legs to secure small 
caterpillars infesting large weeds. 

The insect food eaten by the nine-banded 
armadillo in Texas, as known from examina- 
tion of stomach contents, covers a wide range 
of insect and other small life, including many 
species of grasshoppers, crickets, roaches, cater- 
pillars, beetles, ants, spiders, centipedes, and 
earthworms. As the list includes also wire- 
worms and other noxious species, these inoffen- 
sive animals deserve thorough protection as a 
most useful aid to the farmer. 

Some time from February to April each year, 
litters of from four to eight young are born. 
They have their eyes open at birth, and the 
armor is soft and flexible like fine leather. The 
hardening of the skin into a bony armor is 
progressive, continuing until after the animal 
fully completes its growth. As soon as the 
young are able to travel they trot along with 
the old one during her foraging trips. 

Early one afternoon, when riding along a 
trail in the heavy forest of southern Oaxaca, 
accompanied by an Indian boy and a pack of 
dogs, I suddenly came upon an old armadillo 
and eight young about two-thirds grown. 
They had heard our approach and stood mo- 
tionless in a compact little group half hidden 
in the grass. I had barely time to stop my 
horse when the dogs spied them and made a 
rush. The armadillos darted into the under- 
growth in every direction like a litter of pigs, 
and with the exception of two caught by the 
dogs gained safe refuge in their burrow. This 
we found dug in the level ground about fifty 
yards from where we encountered them. 

The Maya Indians of the Peninsula of Yuca- 
tan have a legend that the black-headed vul- 
ture (Catharista at rata) in old age changes 
into an armadillo. The tale runs, that when 
a vulture becomes very, very old it notifies its 
companions that the time has come and alights 
before a hole in the ground that resembles the 
den of an armadillo. The other vultures bring 
food and the old one remains there for a long- 
time. Its wings disappear, the feathers are 



586 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 






^f- 



u 



H 






-<l o 



■if. 



l^ink 



AMERICAN MINK TRACKS, SHOWING VARIOUS ARRANGE- 
MENTS AND TAIL MARKS 

The typical track of a mink is as in tlic Iwttom set at the 
left, which also illustrates the tail mark. Twelve to twenty- 
four inches are usually cleared at each bound. This illustra- 
tion is greatly reduced from natural size (see opposite page 
and pages 555 and 575). 



lost, and when the change is complete the newly 
created armadillo enters the hole and begins 
its new life. If skepticism is expressed as to 
this metamorphosis, the Indians point out as 
proof of the legend the similarity between the 
appearance of the bald pate of the vulture and 
that of the armadillo. 

THE RING-TAILED CAT (Bassariscus 

astutus and its relatives) 

(For illustration, see page 563) 

The mild climate and the proximity of the 
Southwestern States to Mexico and the tropics 
brings within our borders numerous strange 



types of wild life. Of these the 
ring-tailed cat is one of the 
most strikingly marked and in- 
teresting. In the United States 
it is known by several other 
names, including "civet cat," 
"coon cat," and "band-tailed 
cat." In Mexico it still bears 
the old Aztec name cacomixtle, 
except in Lower California, 
where it is the "babisuri." It 
is about the size of a large cat 
but with proportionately longer 
and slenderer body, shorter 
legs, and longer tail. The al- 
ternating bands of black and 
white on the tail proclaim its 
relationship, not to the cat, to 
which it has no kinship, but 
to the raccoon, which has a tail 
similarly marked. Few mam- 
mals possess such a beautifully 
formed head and face, and its 
large, mild eyes give it a vivid 
expression of intelligence. 

The ring-tailed cat occupies 
areas under such differing cli- 
mates as to produce geographic 
races, but none of them vary 
strikingly from the typical ani- 
mal here illustrated. They 
range from Oregon, Nevada, 
southern Utah, Colorado, and 
Texas south to Costa Rica. In 
Mexico they occur from near 
sealcvel up to an altitude of 
about 10,000 feet. While chiefly 
rock-inhabiting species, they 
sometimes live in the forests 
and as a rule make their dens 
in caves and deep crevices, but 
sometimes in hollow trees or 
about houses. Their young, 
from three to four in number, 
are born in May or June. 

In the Southwest they fre- 
quent some of the ruined cliff 
dwellings, and I have found 
them haunting many of the 
ancient ruins of Mexico. Their 
presence in little caves and other 
sheltered spots along cliffs and 
rock walls bordering canyons 
or on mountain slopes may usually be known 
by an examination of the fine dust which accu- 
mulates in sheltered places. Whenever present 
their delicate cat-like tracks will be found 
where they have been hunting mice or otiier 
small game. 

Strictly nocturnal, they do not_ sally forth 
from their dens until darkness is complete. 
During the night they are restless and fre- • 
fluently wander far and wide in search of food, 
and apparently at times merely to satisfy a 
spirit of inquiry. Their inquisitive nature fre- 
rpiently leads them to explore the streets of 
towns and cities on the Mexican table-land, 
filled though these places are with dogs. At day- 



^.7. S. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



587 



{ 



C/) 

o 



break, tracks left in the 
dusty streets tell the story 
of their wanderings, as 
they often do also in the 
case of opossums. 

One morning in Febru- 
ary, 1893, soon after sun- 
rise, I chanced to pass 
through a little wooded 
square in the City of 
Mexico and saw a lot of 
boys pursue and capture 
one of these animals 
which, having overstayed 
his time, had been sur- 
prised by daybreak. This 
wanderer might have had 
its den in some house in 
the neighborhood, since 
one of its known habits 
is to take up its abode 
about houses, even in the 
midst of towns. A friend 
living in the City of 
Mexico informed me that 
after having been an- 
noyed for some time by 
noises on the roof at 
night, he investigated and 
discovered a female caco- 
mixtle with partly grown 
young snugly located in 
a nest placed in a narrow- 
space between the tile 
roof and the ceiling. In 
southern Texas the ani- 
mals live on the brush- 
grown plains under con- 
ditions very different 
from those usually 
chosen. 

Like its relative the 
raccoon, the cacomixtle, 
with a taste for a varied 
fare, takes whatever edi- 
bles come its way. It 
stalks wood rats, mice, 
and even bats amid their 
rocky haunts and birds 
in bushes and low trees. 
About the southern end of the Mexican table- 
land it is much disliked for its robberies of 
chicken roosts, especially when these are lo- 
cated in trees. Insects of many kinds, larvse, 
and centipedes are eaten, as well as a great 
variety of fruits, including that of the pear- 
leaved cactus, and dates, figs, and green corn. 
Ring-tailed cats regularly locate among rocky 
ledges, neighboring orchards, or other culti- 
vated areas where they may gather some of 
- the bounty provided by man. I found them 
more plentiful among the broken lava cliffs 
bordering date palm orchards in Lower Cali- 
fornia than in any other place. When the 
dates were ripening they prowled about under 
the palms after dark with gray foxes and 
spotted skunks to pick up the _ fallen fruit. 
They sometimes uttered a complaining cry and 




\^iuk 



/ 



/ 



6.7. S. 

AMERICAN MINK TRACK NEARLY NATURAL SIZE 

Although this animal has five toes on each foot, only four appear 
in each track. This illustration, which is practically natural size, 
shows the usual arrangement of the track. The hind feet are, of 
course, in advance. Variations of arrangement are shown on the 
opposite page (see also pages 555 and 575). 



when caught in a trap would bark almost like 
a little dog, or occasionally utter a vicious 
scream of mixed fear and rage. 

Being an intelligent animal, the cacomixtle is 
readily tamed and makes a most interesting pet. 
During the early years of gold mining in 
California, when many men were living in rude 
cabins in the mountains, the prevalence of mice 
often attracted these "cats" to take up their resi- 
dence there. Often the owner of the premises 
and the mouser struck up a friendly relation- 
ship and the cacomixtle, becoming as free and 
friendly about the place as a real cat, kept it 
entirely clear from mice. I have had first-hand 
accounts of these tame individuals from miners 
who had harbored them in this way for months. 
These accounts always gave the impression that 
the animal was somewhat playful and mis- 



588 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 







2. ivchts 



OSSUITL 



i^#\ 




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y 



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NVi 





\{^lK\^^6 ^-^5- 



TRACK OF THE OPOSSUM 

The liand-like paws are unmistakable. The tail mark appears. The absence of claw on the 
thumb of the hind foot is usually seen. 



chievous and most attractive to have about the 
premises. All agreed that it was extremely 
fond of sugar. 

THE OREGON MOLE (Scapanus town- 
sendi and its relatives) 

(For illiistratioii, see page 36^) 

The effect on mammals of a narrowly special- 
ized mode of life is well illustrated in the 
mole. It is an expertly constructed living mech- 
anism for tunneling through the earth. The 
pointed nose, short neck, compactly and power- 
fully built cylindrical body, with ribs strongly 
braced to withstand pressure, and the short, 
paddlelike hands armed with strong claws for 
digging are all fitted for a single purpose. Eyes 
and ears are of little service in an luidcrground 
life, so they have become practically obsolete; 
the fur has been modified to a compact velvety 
coat which will lie either front or back with 
equal facility and thus relieve any friction from 
the walls of the tunneled roads, no matter 
which way the animal travels. 

Moles are circumpolar in distribution, being 
found from England to Japan in the Old 



World and on both the Atlantic and Pacific 
coasts of the New World, where they occur 
only in North America. On this continent they 
are limited mainly to the United States and 
southern Canada, extending across the Mexi- 
can border only in two limited areas at the 
extreme east and west. Their distribution is 
not continuous across the continent, but is 
broken by a broad unoccupied belt formed by 
the arid interior, including the Great Basin. 
The home of the Oregon mole lies in the humid 
area west of the Cascade Mountains in Wash- 
ington, Oregon, and extreme northwestern 
California. Closely related forms range from 
eastern Oregon southward through California 
to the San Pedro Martir Mountains in Lower 
California, and others north into ]>ritish Co- 
lumbia. 

The Oregon mole is the largest and hand- 
somest member of the group in America and 
perhaps in the world. Its skin, a velvety coat 
of nearly black fur, often with a purplish sheen, 
now brings a higher price in the market than 
that of any other species. Its size and the 
beauty of its dark coat distinguish it from any 
other mole. 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



589 



Where the soil is loose the mole practically 
swims through it, urged forward by powerful 
impulses of its "hands" and feet. This is the 
common mode of travel near the top of the 
ground, where the course is marked by the 
lightly upheaved and broken surface. When 
working at a greater depth and in more com- 
pact soil the mole must dig its way and dis- 
pose of the loose earth by pushing it along the 
tunnel to an outlet at the surface through which 
it is thrust to 'form a mound similar to the 
"dumps" of that other great miner, the pocket 
gopher. 

On account of this similarity in mode of life, 
moles and pocket gophers are sometimes con- 
fused by persons not familiar with the two 
animals. The resemblance ends in this ap- 
parent likeness, for the pocket gophers belong 
to the great order Rodentia, or gnawing ani- 
mals, while the moles are of the Insectivora, 
or insect-eaters. 

The superbly forested region inhabited by 
Oregon moles is so well watered that few 
places, even on high mountain slopes, are too 
dry for them to occupy. These animals are 
generally distributed, and their hills may be 
seen in the midst of the great coniferous forests 
as well as in the open valleys. 

They are most abundant in open grassy areas, 
especially in meadows and in the bottoms of 
canyons and similar places, where the damp 
rich soil affords a plentiful supply of earth- 
worms, grubs, and insects on which to feed. 
Like other moles, they lead lives of great activity 
and almost constant hard labor. During damp 
weather they work near the surface, but in 
dry periods as the upper soil hardens they 
follow their prey to lower levels. A hard 
shower, however, always brings an outburst of 
activit}' as they reoccupy the upper soil and 
throw up a multitude of new mounds. They 
have the habit of regularly coming to the sur- 
face to hunt food during the night. This is 
no doubt coincident with the swarming up to 
the surface of earthworms on which the moles 
feed. At such times many are captured by 
owls, cats, and other beasts of prey. 

The runways of moles close along the sur- 
face, shown by well-marked ridges, are for 
hunting purposes, and the lower tunnels, from 
which the earth in the mounds is brought, are 
for traveling and lead to the nest chamber. 
The deep tunnels of the Oregon mole sometimes 
extend considerable distances along fences, or 
other surface cover, which afford more or less 
protection. Such tunnels are a kind of high- 
way often used by several moles and also by 
shrews and field mice. The system of tunnels 
of the moles over a considerable area often in- 
tersect and are used more or less in common. 
As a result more than twenty moles have been 
trapped at a single point in one of these under- 
ground roads. 

They make an intricate system of many- 
branched tunnels, the courses of which are 
usually marked by series of mounds varying 
from four to ten inches high and five to twenty 
inches wide and often scattered over meadows 
or other fields from two to six feet apart. 



Owing to the persistence with which the moles 
raise their mounds everywhere in the occupied 
parts of their territory, they have become a 
serious and costly pest. In meadows the knives 
of mowing machines are dulled by them, and 
in towns lawns are disfigured by their unde^ 
sirable activities. As a consequence they have 
now fallen under the ban and are classed with 
other mammals which have shown their lack 
of ability to fit in satisfactorily with the changed 
conditions brought to their ancient territory by 
civilized man. Under natural conditions their 
activities were vmdoubtedly entirely beneficial. 

They appear to have but a single litter of 
young, numbering from one to four, each year. 
These are born in March and grow so rapidly 
that by the last of May they are working in 
the tunnels and are scarcely distinguishable 
from the adults. 

The recent discovery that the Oregon mole- 
skin is valuable for its fur will give such an 
incentive to trapping that there is little doubt 
the boys of the State within a few years will 
reduce the numbers of the animal and thus 
control its injury to agriculture. The market 
for the skins appears practically unlimited, 
judging by trade reports, one dealer in Brook- 
lyn stating that he dressed 4,000,000 imported 
European moleskins in igi6. 

THE STAR-NOSED MOLE (Condylura 
cristata) 

{For iUiistratiou, see page 563) 

The star-nosed mole, known in parts of 
Maine as the "gopher," is peculiar among the 
moles in having a fringe around the end of its 
nose formed by twenty-two short fleshy ten- 
tacles. A less-marked character is in the pro- 
portionately long tail, which becomes greatly 
enlarged in fall and remains in this condition 
during the winter months. Otherwise the ex- 
ternal appearance of this species is much like 
that of the common moles of America and the 
Old World. 

The star-nosed mole is found from southern 
Labrador, the southern end of Hudson Bay, 
and southeastern Manitoba south along the 
Atlantic coast to Georgia and in the interior 
down the Alleghenies to North Carolina and 
to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Min- 
nesota. Throughout this area it ranges irreg- 
ularly and much yet remains to be learned 
about the details of its distribution and habits. 

Ordinarily solitary, these moles at times are 
so numerous in limited areas that they appear 
to form colonies. Such gatlierings probably 
mean an unusually rich feeding ground, which 
makes it unnecessary for the young to disperse 
to outlying locations, as is the habit of molea 
and most other mammals. 

The star-nosed mole has a strong preference 
for damp and even marshy or swampy loca- 
tions. It frequents low-lying meadows, the 
borders of streams, and grassy swamps, where 
its underground burrows alternate with open 
surface runways among grass roots and other 
matted vegetation. It spends far more time 




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A RACCOON S TRACK 



The track of the raccoon is very distinctive and usually easy to find, because it frequents 
the mud by the water side. Sometimes, to a casual glance, the track of a small coon is taken 
for that of a large muskrat, but their differences are very oljvinus. 



590 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



591 



above ground than the other moles, and not 
infrequently swims among flooded cat-tails and 
other vegetation and in winter has been seen 
swimming under the ice. 

Like others of its kind, this mole is amaz- 
ingly powerful in proportion to its size. It per- 
sistently adds to its surface ridges, and in con- 
stantly extending its deeper tunnels must dig 
loose earth and dispose of it by forcing it up 
through an outlet to form the mounds which 
mark the course of its travels. Where the soil 
is loose it readily forces it aside with its com- 
pact body and paddle-shaped hands. In push- 
ing up the little piles of earth and in the ridges 
raised when burrowing close to the surface it 
sometimes injures meadows and other culti- 
vated land. Occasionally it wanders away from 
the fields and invades lawns and gardens, where 
the only injury it docs is in the disturbance of 
the soil. 

Its nests are compact little balls of fine grass, 
weeds, or leaves in dry underground chambers 
excavated in its burrows. The nests are a foot 
or two underground, but above the level of the 
water, sometimes under a stump and again in 
a knoll or bank. One nest containing five young 
was found in Maryland in an old woodshed 
under several inches of chips. This location 
and its choice of a site for its nest under a 
stuilip in a field or in a dry knoll are clear in- 
dications of a kind of intelligence which even 
the lowliest animals appear to have in caring 
for their young. 

The star-nosed mole is full of the restless 
energy so necessary in a mammal which must 
come across its food by more or less haphazard 
tunneling through the soil. It is active both 
summer and winter. In dry weather as the 
moisture near the surface decreases the soil 
hardens and earthworms and other subter- 
ranean life seek deeper levels. The mole fol- 
lows them, only to return with them nearer the 
surface with a renewal of the moisture. In 
winter it sometimes comes out and travels 
slowly about on top of the snow, ready to bur- 
row out of sight at once, however, at the sound 
of approaching footsteps. 

The food of the star-nose, like that of most 
other moles, is made up mainly of earthworms, 
white grubs, cutworms, wireworms, and other 
underground insects. In captivity, before eat- 
ing a worm or other flesh food offered, it first 
feels of it with the little raylike organs of 
touch on its nose. It is difficult to surmise the 
real value of these "feelers," for it would seem 
that the acute sense of smell so common to 
mammals should do better service. 

Aside from its disturbance of the surface soil 
by its ridges and mounds, the star-nosed mole 
does no direct injury, and its life is largely 
passed in the useful task of searching out and 
destroying insects. Indirectly it causes some 
injury to root crops, plants of various kinds, 
and fruit trees, by providing tunnels along 
which meadow and pine mice travel to commit 
the ravages which on circumstantial evidence 
are charged to the mole. 



THE COMMON SHREW (Sorex per- 
sonatus and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 5(5(5) 

Many interesting small mammals are noc- 
turnal or lead such obscure and hidden lives 
that they are rarely observed except by natural- 
ists. Of these are the numerous species of 
shrews, which include the smallest mammals in 
the world. These tiny beasts all live among the 
vegetation and debris on the surface of the 
ground or in little burrows below. With the 
moles they are members of the order Insec- 
tivora and depend mainly on insects and meat 
for food. Despite their minute size, they are 
possessed of an indomitable courage and ferocity, 
which leads them without hesitation to attack 
and kill mice many times their own weight. 

The genus Sorex, of which the common shrew 
is a member, is circumpolar in distribution, the 
various species ranging through England, the 
European mainland, Asia, and North America 
as far south as Guatemala. 

The common shrew is a purely North Amer- 
ican animal, occupying all the northern part of 
the continent from the Arctic shores of Alaska 
and Canada south to northern Nevada, South 
Dakota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, and along 
the Allegheny and high Rocky Mountains to 
North Carolina and New Mexico. Its vertical 
range extends from the seacoast up to timber- 
line in the Rocky Mountains. 

The common shrew is the smallest of the 
mammals in all the northern parts of this con- 
tinent, and one marvels at the possibility of 
such a tiny morsel of flesh and blood with- 
standing the rigors of the arctic winters. It 
measures about four inches in total length and 
weighs about forty-five grains ; the body and 
tail are slender, the nose long and sharp, and 
the rim of the ears shows a little above the 
dense velvety fur. By these characters it may 
be distinguished from the larger, more heavily 
proportioned (and darker-colored) short-tailed 
shrews which abound with it in certain parts 
of its range. Its smaller size and grayish 
brown color are the main superficial differences 
between it and other American members of the 
same genus. The climatic differences in its 
wide range have developed several geographic 
races, none of which, however, show strongly 
marked characters. 

This shrew appears to have a most catholic 
taste, so far as its surroundings are concerned, 
for it appears to frequent every type of situa- 
tion where shelter and food can be found. It 
abounds among the peat beds and sphagnum 
mosses of the desolate barrens bordering on 
the Arctic coast, as well as amid the rotten 
stumps, old logs, fallen leaves, and other vege- 
table debris on the floor of the forests farther 
south. It will be found also in the rank matted 
vegetation about marshes, in old fields and oc- 
casional sphagnum swamps in the southern 
parts of its range. 

The little tunneled runways of these shrews 
form a network in the beds of moss in a sphag- 



592 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AlAGAZINE 




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THE TRAIL OF Tlir; COMMON SKUNK 

The hind foot of the skunk rarely shows the claws 
in the track. The diagonal set during the gallop is char- 
acteristic (see pages 558 and 580). 



num swamp near Washington. In 
the forest the animals always seek 
the cover afforded by fallen logs, slabs 
of bark, or anything else that will 
give protection. On the coast of New 
Jersey they live so near the sea that 
an extra high tide forces them to 
mount the drift logs on the salt 
meadows for safety. They often make 
little burrows in the soft earth under 
the roots of a tree, a stump, or a log. 

Their nests are small balls of dry 
leaves, grasses, or other soft vegeta- 
ble material placed snugly under a log 
or in a hollow stump, burrow, or 
other good retreat, where they appear 
to have two or more litters of from 
six to ten young during the summer 
and fall. 

As in the other shrews, the food 
of the common species consists mainly 
of insects, larvae, worms, and obtain- 
able flesh; but in winter and possibly 
at other seasons many kinds of food 
are eaten, including insects, meat, fat, 
flour, and seeds. During the years I 
passed at St. Michael, on the coast of 
Bering Sea, the beginning of winter 
always brought into the storehouses 
and dwellings a swarm of field mice, 
lemmings, and these shrews. The 
food requirements of all appeared to 
l)e the same, and all fed freely on the 
flour and other accessible stores. 
Dozen of the shrews were killed in 
the houses every winter. 

Occasionally I caught and kept one 
captive for a time to observe its 
habits. It would be extremely rest- 
less and equally active by day or night. 
The small eyes appeared of little serv- 
ice, but the long, flexible snout was 
used constantly and served as the 
main reliance of the little beast for 
information as to the outside world. 

Wherever they travel these shrews 
utilize the runways of the field mice 
or other small animals and make little 
runs of their own only where neces- 
sary. Aside from a faint squeak, I 
have never heard them utter a sound, 
but other observers credit them with 
series of fine twittering notes ap- 
parently uttered as a song. 

The common shrew is a solitary 
animal of so morose a disposition 
that if two are placed in a cage to- 
gether they almost immediately fall 
upon one another with tooth and 
nail, and the victor devours the body 
of its companion at a single meal. 
The digestion of shrews is so rapid 
and the call for food so incessant 
that it requires constant activity to 
keep the demand satisfied. 

After the winter snow arrived in 
the North I found many tunnels of 
these shrews running just under its 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



593 



surface and raising it a little in a 
slight but distinctly rounded ridge. 
Such tunnels wandered widely and 
on the ice of the Yukon River I 
traced one of them more than a mile 
and repeatedly saw them crossing the 
river from bank to bank. It was sur- 
prising to note the ability of the little 
travelers under the surface to keep 
in so nearly a direct line for long dis- 
tances. 

At times these little adventurers 
make similar tunnels in the snow far 
out on the sea ice. The mythology 
of the Eskimos contains accounts of 
many supernatural animals which a 
lone hunter may meet and which 
have the power to do him deadly 
harm. Among these the "sea shrew" 
is one of the most malignant. Its 
appearance is described as exactly 
like that of the common land shrew, 
but it is said to live on the ice at sea, 
and if it sees a hunter to dart at him 
through the air, pierce the skin, and, 
after running all through the body 
with incredible rapidity, to enter the 
man's heart and kill him. In con- 
sequence of this belief the Eskimo 
hunters were in mortal terror if they 
chanced to encounter a stray shrew 
on the sea ice. I knew one hunter 
who suddenly meeting one on the ice 
stood motionless for hours until the 
shrew wandered out of sight. He 
then hastened home and all the other 
hunters agreed he had had a lucky 
escape. 

THE SHORT-TAILED SHREW 
(Blarina brevicauda and its 

relatives) 

{for illustration, sec page 566) 

Several groups of species or genera 
of the little mouselike animals known 
as shrews are peculiar to North 
America. Of these one of the most 
numerous and best known is the short- 
tailed shrew. It is a dark-colored 
animal much more heavily propor- 
tioned, larger, and with a shorter tail 
than the common shrew. Its fur is 
so thick and velvety that it is con- 
fused by many people with the mole, 
despite its smaller size. 

The short-tailed shrews, sometimes 
called mole shrews, of the genus Bla- 
rina belong to a single species with 
several geographic races occupying 
eastern Canada and the United States, 
from Nova Scotia, southern Quebec, Ontario, 
Minnesota, and North Dakota southward to 
Florida and the Gulf coast as far as eastern 
Texas. Vertically they range from sea-level 
up to the tops of the Alleghenies. Another 
group of American shrews, containing numer- 
ous species belonging to the genus Cryptotis, 




LITTLE SKUNK, POLECAT, OR SPILOGALK 

This trail combines the characteristics of the skunk 
with those of a squirrel. At first it looks like the track 
of a stubby-toed squirrel, but the five-inch toe on the 
front foot is plainly seen. The frequent pairing of the 
fore paws is important. There is no tail mark (see 
pages 558 and 576). 



occupies the mountains of the Western States, 
and ranges south to northern South America. 
In external form it is indistinguishable from 
the short-tailed species. 

Probaljly no mammal is more numerous in 
the eastern United States than the short-tailed 
shrew. It occurs everywhere — in forests, in 



594 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 





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brushy areas, in old fields, 
and along grassy banks. 
Within the city of Wash- 
ington it is common in 
Rock Creek Park, where 
it lives in covered runs 
which it makes among the 
grass and fallen leaves. 
These shrews drink fre- 
quently, and this may in 
part account for their 
abundance near streams 
or other water, although 
it may be the desirable 
moist soil conditions 
which draw them to such 
situations. 

The runways of these 
shrews are scarcely half 
an inch wide, usually 
partly sunken in the mold 
or rotting surface vegeta- 
tion. These are not made 
by digging, but by push- 
ing aside the loose mold, 
and they cross and re- 
cross in an irregular net- 
work. They lead to the en- 
trances to burrows which 
generally drop nearly 
straight down. The bur- 
rows are sometimes amid 
the leaves, but usually 
under the shelter of a 
root, stump, old log, or 
other cover. In addition 
to their own runways, the 
shrews make free use of 
the runs of meadow mice 
and even traverse the 
tunnels of the pine mice 
and moles in their rest- 
less search for prey. 

Small rounded cham- 
l)ers opening off their 
underground runways are 
filled with tine grass, 
pieces of leaves, and 
other soft matter for a 
nest. One nest examined 
was made entirely from 
the hair of meadow mice, 
probably the spoils of 
war from the bodies of 
victims. As a rule, shrews 
are extremely unsocial, 
but a pair of this species 
is sometimes found oc- 
cupying the same nest, no 
doubt a temjiorary ar- 
rangement. Several lit- 
ters, containing from four 
to six each, appear to be 
born through the summer 
and fall, usually begin- 
ning in June. 

While equally active by 
day, and by night, the eyes 
of these shrews seem to 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



595 



/ 



be of little use except to 
distinguish between light 
and dark, but their senses 
of hearing and smell are 
highly developed, as is 
also the sense of touch 
in their long hairs, or 
"whiskers," about the 
nose. In captivity an ex- 
treme sensitiveness is ex- 
hibited to sudden sounds, 
especially such as those 
of a bird's wings, indicat- 
ing an instinctive fear 
born of age-long perse- 
cution by birds of prey. 
Food is located by smell, 
and as the flexible end 
of the snout is moved 
continually from side to 
side, odors are caught 
which may register con- 
ceptions as definite in the 
minds of these small ani- 
mals as sight does in 
more favored beasts. All 
shrews are provided with 
musk glands and on ac- 
count of these are ap- 
parently nauseous to most 
other animals, as they 
are rarely eaten by beasts 
of prey. These musky 
secretions must be of 
great service to facilitate 
them in locating one an- 
other. 

Like other shrews and 
the moles, their digestion 
appears to be very rapid 
and they will eat -two or 
three times their own 
weight in a day. This 
necessitates great activity 
on their part during much 
of the time in order to 
find the required food. 
They prefer insects and 
meat, but are practically 
omnivorous, feeding not 
only upon many kinds of 
insects, but on earth- 
worms, slow-worms, sow- 
bugs, snails, slugs, mice, 
shrews, and the young of 

ground-nesting birds, as well as such vegetable 
food as beechnuts, seeds, bread, and oatmeal. 

The instinct of prevision against the season 
of winter scarcity appears to be developed in 
them, as one in captivity buried beechnuts in 
the earth, and they are known to store living 
snails ip small piles and to gather disabled 
beetles in store-rooms in their tunnels. 

Jhe courage and blind ferocity of the short- 
tailed shrews when they are placed near cap- 
tive mice far larger than themselves, is amaz- 
ing to all who witness their encounters. They 
attack instantly, spreading their front feet to 



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Tilt SHORT-TAILED SHREW, OR BLARINA 

The curious grooved track in the snow with the tail mark is seen 
on the left (see pages 566 and 593) 

gain a firmer footing and moving forward in 
little rushes. Mice larger and much more 
powerful than the shrew are persistently at- 
tacked and, finally giving out, are pounced upon 
and the flesh torn from their heads and necks 
with ravening eagerness. One day a passing 
observer heard a loud squealing on a railroad 
bank where an examination revealed a short- 
tailed shrew dragging away a nearly dead pine 
mouse, though the mouse was much the heavier. 
The notes of shrews are a fine tremulous squeak 
which becomes a longer, harsher, and more 
twittering or chattering cry when they are angry. 



596 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 






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No cessation of their activity occurs in win- 
ter. When the cold weather begins many gather 
about barns and houses located near woods or 
old fields, and thus with the field mice take 
advantage of the garnered food supplies and 



shelter. Others remain in their regular haunts, 
where they frequently burrow long distances in 
the snow, making networks of tunnels and 
traveling long distances just below the surface, 
leaving little raised ridges like the track of a 
mole on the ground. Their journeys upon and 
under the surface of the snow appear to be 
in search of food, as they burrow clown to old 
logs and stumps which make good feeding 
grounds. Their movements are very active, as 
they go about either at a walk or quick trot. 

These fierce and truculent little hunters are 
wholly beneficial in their habits and should be 
encouraged in place of being killed on sight 
indiscriminatelv, as one of the ordinary mouse 
tribe. 



THE RED BAT (Nycteris borealis) 

{For illustration, see page 366) 

Bats reach their greatest development in the 
tropics, where a marvelous variety of these 
curious mammals exist. To the northward the 
number of species gradually decreases, until 
eventually, in northern Canada and Alaska, a 
single species represents the group. The United 
States, occupying the middle latitudes, has a 
considerable number of different kinds. Some 
of these remain throughout the year, hibernat- 
ing in caves during the period of cold, when 
insects are not to be had; others wing their 
way southward like birds on the approach of 
winter and return in spring. 

All bats are nocturnal, although individuals 
of some species occasionally fly about for a 
time by day and many come out just before or 
soon after sunset. In this country practically 
all species arc insectivorous, but in Mexico and 
the West Indies many are fruit-eaters and a 
few true vampires or blood-suckers. 

As a rule, bats are clothed in dull colors, but 
richly tinted coats give a few a more attractive 
appearance. Of these none has a more strik- 
ing adornment than that presented by the soft 
covering of glossy orange-red fur of the red 
bat. Its large size, about four inches in total 
length, with a spread of wings amounting to 
twelve inches, combined with its color, suffices 
to distinguish it at once from any other north- 
ern species. 

The range of the red bat extends from the 
Atlantic coast to the Pacific and from Ontario 
and Alberta in southern Canada south through- 
out most of the United States to the Gulf coast 
and southern California; also beyond our limits 
to Lower California and Costa Rica. The 
genus to which this bat belongs ranges more 
widely in other parts of North America; also 
to South America and across the eastern Pacific 
to the Galapagos and Hawaiian Islands. 

The red bat rarely or never seeks shelter in 
gloomy caves and crevices, but hangs to the 
small twigs or leaf stems on trees and bushes 
in the full light of the sun. One observer in 
Texas on July 4 found four of them hanging 
in a cluster from a twig on a peach tree, with 
the sun shining full on them, although the tern- 





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BIG DOG TROTTING 

This track of a big dog trotting in about two 
and a half inches of snow is singular in the 
perfect register it shows. The hind foot drops 
each time into the track of the front foot. 
This correct style is more usual with wild than 
with tame animals. Compare with track of 
dog galloping, page 596. 



A COMMON DOG 

The hind feet are, as usual, narrower, though 
nearly as long as the front. The dog is a loose 
walker. Sometimes the hind foot is on the 
track of the front, sometimes ahead, and often 
behind. The claws show. The dragging of 
the front feet is another slovenly habit, an evi- 
dence of overdomestication. 



597 



598 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



perature in the shade was 82 degrees Fahren- 
heit. I have found them in northern IlHnois 
in the glaring sunliglit of May, hanging from 
leaves in the tops of oak trees. This unusual 
tolerance of light in a member of the bat tribe 
is further shown by its habit of beginning to 
hunt through the air for insects earlier in the 
afternoon than other species in its range. 

Long, narrow wings and swift, powerful flight 
characterize the red bats in the air. They have 
marvelous control in darting and turning here 
and there, and no birds, except possibly the 
chimney swifts, can equal them in their extra- 
ordinary gyrations. 

Red bats are known to migrate from the 
northern part of their range in September or 
October and to return in May. They have been 
seen going south at Cape Cod the last of 
August and in September; and late in October 
Dr. E. A. Mearns has recorded great flights of 
them down the Hudson Valley, lasting through- 
out the day. That they share the vicissitudes 
of migrating birds is indicated by observation 
on the New Jersey coast of stray individuals 
coming in from the sea exhausted early on 
September mornings. 

They are among the most solitary of their 
kind, usually being found hanging singly on a 
tree or bush, sometimes within a few feet of 
the ground. On occasion they gather in clust- 
ers as mentioned above, and in one instance in 
Maryland more than a dozen were hanging in 
a compact ball, which suddenly exploded into 
its winged parts when disturbed. 

One of the most unusual characteristics of 
the red bat is found in the number of young 
it bears. Usually other species, except the 
hoary bat, have one or two young, but at vary- 
ing dates between May and July each year the 
red bat produces from two to four, the average 
being three or four. The young when very 
small are carried clinging to the body of the 
mother in her flights. She continues to take 
them from place to place in this manner until 
their combined weight exceeds her own. The 
strength of the maternal feeling in this species 
is well illustrated by an instance in Philadelphia 
where a boy caught a half -grown red bat in a 
city square and carried it home. In the even- 
ing, three hours later, he crossed the same 
square, carrying the young bat in his hand, 
when the old one came circling about him and 
finally in her deep anxiety alighted on his 
breast. Both were brought in, the young one 
clinging to its mother's teat. The devoted 
mother received injuries when she was cap- 
tured, from which she died two days later. 

In the contact between mankind and bats, 
man, the invariable aggressor, finds the bats 
baring their teeth, biting viciously, squeaking, 
and behaving altogether like little fiends. A 
gentler side is sometimes exhibited, however, 
and one observer who caught a partly grown 
red bat found that it became tame, shovyed in- 
telligence, and developed a friendly feeling for 
its captor. 



THE HOARY BAT (Nycteris cinereus) 

The hoary bat is a close relative of the red 
bat described above, but is larger, about five 
inches long, and, as its name implies, is of a 
different color. It is widely distributed over a 
large part of North America, where it is known 
to breed from Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and the 
southern shore of Great Slave Lake south prac- 
tically throughout the United States. It is 
one of our larger species and is remarkable for 
its power and skill on the wing. The wings 
are long and narrow and carry their owner 
through the air in a bewildering series of 
swoops, curves, and zigzag turns remarkable 
even in a group of animals so notable for their 
powers of flight. 

With the approach of cold weather the hoary 
bat migrates from the northern parts of its 
range to the milder southern districts. It is a 
late migrant, not leaving its northern home 
until the last of September or October and re- 
turning in May. Some individuals appear to 
remain in the North all winter, as one has been 
taken in Connecticut in December. In its south- 
ern flight it wanders as far as Jalisco, near the 
southern end of the Mexican table-land, to 
Lower California, and to the Bermuda Islands. 
To reach the Bermudas it is evident the bat 
must make a continuous flight from the nearest 
point on our shores of at least 580 miles — a 
good tribute to its wing power. 

Like the red bat, it lives in the open, hanging 
from twigs and leaves in the tops of trees or 
bushes in the broad light of day rather than in 
the dark, stifling crevices where so many of its 
kind pass their lives. It appears to hang up 
indifferently on any convenient tree or bush, 
including conifers, aspens, or willows. During 
the day it has a curious lack of alertness, and 
as it is not rarely attached to low branches or 
bushes within a few feet of the ground it may 
be readily approached and taken in the hand. 
I once captured a fine specimen the middle of 
May, in southern California, hanging on a bush 
about four feet from the ground. It appeared 
to be sound asleep until taken by the skin on 
the back of the neck, when it became very much 
alive and, struggling in a fury, uttered grating 
shrieks of rage, baring its sharp, white teeth 
and trying desperatcl}' to bite. 

Its food is made up entirely of insects, which 
it appears to hunt higher up than most bats, 
sweeping over the tops of the forest and in and 
out about the trees. It appears to be of even 
more solitary habits than the red bat and is 
nowhere so common. Another reason for our 
lack of information concerning it is found in 
its strictly nocturnal habits, for it rarely ap- 
pears until shortly before the approaching 
night hides it from view. 

The hoary bat shares with the red species 
the distinction of bearing from two to four 
young each year. The young are born in June 
and are carried attached to the underside of 
the mother's body until they become too heavy 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



599 







i 




CoNote. rt.fort 







iff' -'^St- " 



THE TRACK OF A COYOTE 

This track cannot be distinguished with certainty from that of a small dog (see pages 596 
and 597). The greater size of the side toes in the hind track I have often noticed, but there 
is no corresponding disproportion in the animal's foot. 



a burden. They hang to the teats with the 
greatest tenacity and apparently rely mainly on 
this hold to prevent being dropped as they are 
carried on the wild aerial hunting excursions. 
With the unusual fecundity indicated by the 
number of young, it is difficult to account for 
the scarcity of these bats unless their habit of 
hanging in the open, exposed to the elements 
and to other dangers, may cause a heavy mor- 
tality among them. 

Note. — The attention of the reader is called 
to an error on page 566, where the Little Brown 
Bat, Myotis bicifugiis, on the tree trunk, a 
common species throughout most of North 
America, is labeled "Hoary Bat, Nycteris cine- 
reiis," which is a much larger and very differ- 
ent animal. 

THE MEXICAN BAT (Nyctinomus 

mexicanus and its subspecies) 

{For illustration, see page 56J) 

Reference has been made in several preced- 
ing sketches of this series to the mammals of 
tropical origin which have invaded our south- 
ern border. The Mexican bat is a notable 



member of this class. It differs in many curi- 
ous ways from the bats with which it associates 
in temperate regions. It is smaller than any of 
the other three bats treated here and is strongly 
characterized by a flattening of the head and 
body which enables it to creep into a surpris- 
ingly narrow crevice in the rocks or elsewhere. 
The ears are broad and flaring and extend for- 
ward over the eyes like the visor of a cap, and 
the end of the tail is not confined within the 
membrane extending between the hind legs, but 
projects from it. Another pronounced char- 
acteristic of this bat and one highly disagree- 
able is the rank musky odor which it gives ovit. 
This pollutes the air about its harboring places, 
rendering it a most imwelcome guest. 

Whoever has visited the Southern and South- 
western States or Mexico must have noted 
the offensive odor in many places about the 
verandas of houses and especially about old 
churches and other public buildings. This is 
the sign of occupancy placed on the premises 
by the Mexican bats, which, to the number of 
a few dozens or actually by thousands, as con- 
ditions permit, may lie snugly hidden in cracks 
and dark openings' of all kinds about the roof 



600 



THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 



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and walls. No other bat in 
Mexico or the United States 
is provided with so strong an 
odor. 

The Mexican bat is extremely 
abundant, probably exceeding 
in numbers any other species 
within its territory. It ranges 
throughout the tropical and 
lower temperate parts of Guate- 
mala, Mexico, and across our 
border, throughout most of 
Texas, and east as far as 
Florida and South Carolina ; in 
the West it also abounds both 
in town and country in the 
warmer parts of New Mexico, 
Arizona, and California. 

Closely allied relatives of the 
Mexican bat abound through- 
out the warmer parts of Cen- 
tral and South America to be- 
yond Brazil. The genus to 
which this species belongs is 
represented in the warmer parts 
of both hemispheres. It ex- 
tends north in the Old World 
to southern Europe and also 
is found in the Philippines. 

The abundance of the Mexi- 
can bat in some favorable 
places is almost incredible. At 
Tucson, Arizona, I once saw 
them, a short time before dark, 
issuing from a small window in 
the gable of a church in such 
numbers that in the half light 
they gave the appearance of 
smoke pouring out of the open- 
ing. At times they occupy 
houses in such numbers that 
their presence and accompany- 
ing offensive odor render the 
places uninhabitable. At the 
town of Patzcuaro, near the 
southern end of the Mexican 
table-land, I saw two rooms in 
an old adobe house occupied 
by as many of them as could 
possibly hang from the rough 
ceiling. The owner considered 
their presence a valuable asset, 
as he collected and sold the 
guano for more than the rooms 
would have brought in rent. 
The bats congregate in even 
greater numl)crs in large caves. 
So numerous are they in cer- 
tain caves in Texas that the 
owner reports an annual in- 
come of about $7,ooo from the 
guano. 

They are very plentiful by 
day in the thin crevices about 
the roof and walls of caves in 
the celebrated Ixtapalapa, or 
"Hill of the Star," beyond the 
floating gardens at the City of 
Mexico, and I also found them 



SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



601 




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ninci 



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BADGER 

The huge fore claws are a strong feature. The hind claws rarely show in the track. The 
broad spread of the tracks hi the lower trail corresponds with the low, thick form of thi. 
animal. 



living in many of the marvelous ruins of 
Mexico, including Chichen-Itza, in Yucatan. 
Wherever they occur in numbers they may be 
heard frequently by day shuffling uneasily 
about and squeaking shrilly at one another. 

When they first come out after sunset they 
usually fly away in a great stream, nearly all 
in the same direction, as though migrating. 
This course will probably be found leading to 
water, where they scoop up a drink from the 
surface before beginning their wonderfully 
erratic zigzags through the air in pursuit of 
insects. 

From the colder northern parts of their range 
thev migrate southward to milder climatic con- 



ditions or descend to lower altitudes. In Mex- 
ico, where they live up to above 8,000 feet alti- 
tude, they move down from one to two thousand 
feet. Their young, one at a birth, are born 
from April to May. 

It has been claimed that the Mexican bat 
brings bedbugs to infest houses. This is un- 
true of this or any other bat. These animals 
have certain small parasites, some of which, re- 
sembling small bedbugs, have probably given 
rise to the belief mentioned. These parasites 
live only on the bats. 

Within a few years considerable publicity has 
lieen given to the supposed possibility of utilizing 
bats to destroy mosquitoes and thus eliminate 




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SMALLER MAMMALS OF NORTH AMERICA 



60^ 



malaria from infested areas. One or more bat 
houses have been built at San Antonio, Texas, 
for the purpose of assembling bats in large 
numbers, and many untenable claims have been 
put forth concerning the benefit to be derived 
from their services. The Mexican bat is the 
species which abounds above all others at San 
Antonio and is the principal species which has 
occupied the bat houses near town. It is def- 
initely known that bats often fly miles from 
their roosts wdien feeding and do not concen- 
trate on any one kind of insect. Examination 
of the contents of the stomachs of Mexican bats 
shows that they feed on beetles and numerous 
other insects, but rarely upon mosquitoes. I 
have visited many Mexican towns and villages 
in which every house was haunted by numbers 
of these bats and where malaria was perennial. 
The evidence against these animals serving any 
useful purpose in checking malaria is con- 
clusive. 

It may be repeated here, however, that all 
of our bats are of high utility as insect-destroy- 
ers and should be protected. Among the many 
species of varying habits which exist in the 
United States, a few make their homes about 
houses in annoying numbers. In place of killing 
them to abate the nuisance, it would be better 
to exclude them from buildings by closing the 
entrance ways promptly after all have left in 
the evening, and thus by quiet eviction cause 
tliem to find abiding places elsewhere. The 
destruction of forests, and the consequent ab- 
sence of the hollow trees where they formerly 
lived, is mainly responsible for bats and chim- 
ney swifts coming- to houses for harbor. 

THE BIG-EARED DESERT BAT (An- 

trozous pallidas and its relatives) 

{For illustration, see page 567) 

The marvelous variations in structure of the 
ears and other organs about the heads of insect- 
eating bats serve probably as microphones by 
which the flight of their prey may be detected 
and its direction located with instantaneous 
certainty. The beautiful accuracy with which 
this hearing mechanism works must be evident 
to any one who will take a position where he 
may have the evening glow of the western sky 
as a background for flights of bats. It is cer- 
tain that the small and ineffective eyes these 
animals possess could never locate their minute 
flying game and enable them to secure it in 
the whirling, zigzag courses they pursue, often 
at a speed and under a control which few, if 
any, birds could rival. 

The great ears of the big-eared desert bats 
illustrate one form of a highly developed hear- 
ing apparatus and give these animals a hand- 
some and strikingly picturesque appearance. 
This character at once distinguishes them from 
others of their kind in the United States. 

The distribution of this species lies mainly in 
the arid parts of the Southwestern States and 
Afexico. It extends from western Texas, south- 
ern Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon, south to 



Queretaro, on the Mexican table-land, and to 
the southern end of the peninsula of Lower 
California. The vertical distribution extends 
from sea-level up to at least 5,000 feet altitude. 
By day these desert bats live in crevices and 
caves in cliffs, in old mining tunnels, hollows 
in trees, and in sheltered places about the roofs 
and walls of houses, barns, or other buildings. 
Their presence in dark hiding places may some- 
times be detected by occasional grating squeaks. 
They appear to lack any musky odor which 
characterizes so many bats. About the ist of 
June each year either one or two young are 
born, and for a time these cling to the mother's 
breast and are carried during her swift flights 
in pursuit of insect prey. 

Often when camping at desert waterholes, I 
have seen them come in just before dark to 
drink, scooping up water from the surface 
while in flight, and then circling back and forth 
over the damp ground at an elevation of a few 
yards for the capture of some of the insects 
common in such places. At such times, with 
the distant hills mantled with a deepening 
purple haze and the pulsating heat of the day 
replaced by the milder temperature of approach- 
ing night, these bats could often be seen sharply 
outlined against the rich orange afterglow of 
the departed sun. Here and there in the still 
air flickered and zigzagged multitudes of tiny 
bats, like black butterflies, and among them the 
occasional big-eared bats on broad wings ap- 
peared huge in contrast. Their wing strokes 
were slower and shorter than those of the 
smaller species and impelled them forward in 
a swift, gliding movement which gave their 
evolutions a sweeping grace beautiful to see. 
In August several years ago, during a visit 
to the Indian School at Tuba, in the Painted 
Desert of northern Arizona, I found these bats 
living in considerable numbers about the build- 
ings. Just before dark they swarmed out and 
hunted about the surrounding orchards and 
small fields. One evening my collector shot 
at one as it circled over a potato field in a small 
orchard. It continued its flight, circling low 
among tlie apple trees as though unhurt, when 
suddenly it dropped to the ground. Supposing 
the bat to be wounded, it was cautiously ap- 
proached and covered with a hat, when, with- 
out a struggle, it permitted itself to be picked 
up by the nape. It then became evident that 
the bat was imhurt from the shot. The reason 
for its sudden descent was revealed in the per- 
son of a large, fat mole cricket (Stciwpahnatiis 
fuscus) which it was holding firmly in its jaws, 
and so ferociously intent was it in biting and 
worrying its luscious prey that it paid not the 
slightest attention to its captor. Finally it was. 
killed by having its chest compressed and died' 
with its bull-dog grip on its prey unbroken. 

These bats, like the other members of the- 
tribe in the United States, are fully as bene- 
ficial to the farmer as the best of our insect- 
eating birds and deserve equal protection in 
place of the general persecution from which 
they now suffer. 






-RocRyiMtCoaJr 




ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT 

Kinship with sheep and antelope is reflected 
in the track of the goat. Its heel-pads are so 
large and rublier-like that the track is rarely 
so sharp as here shown. "Although marvel- 
ously surefooted and fearless in traversing the 
faces of high precipitous slopes, goats lack the 
springy grace and vivacity of mountain sheep 
and move with comparative deliberation." 



BIGHORN 

The general style of a bighorn track is like 
that of deer, but the toes are finished off 
more squarely and the hollow in the outer 
edge of each hoof is a strong characteristic. 
Sometimes the tracks are in correct register. 
The clouts rarely show. The dung pellets are 
like those of the deer, but rounder. The track 
is that of a ewe; the ram's is similar, jnit larger. 



604 







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fit. li) ion- 



MOUNTAIN I,ION, OR COUGAR 

The track of a mountain lion is much like 
that of a house cat, differing only in_ size. 
Sometimes, as in the cat, the hind foot is set 
exactly on the track of the front foot. 






Wolf 




GRAY WOLT^ 

The track is that of a large wolf. There is 
no certain way of distinguishing it from that 
of a dog (see page 597)- Size and proba- 
bilities must be considered. 



605 








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Tr?2:'!s^K«r.''"Sfcista,a --. .*a**'«««p4^ 



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V/littt-Ullcd Buck V/^ ;te-k((ea I>^e . 



WHITE-TAILED DEER 
WALKING 

The track of the white-tail is 
ideal — a starting point to study 
all the tracks. Sometimes the 
hind foot fits on the front 
track, but sometimes not. 



WHITE-TAILED DEER 
BOUNDING 

In these the clouts are clearly 
shown. Note the resemblance 
to the tracks of the moose 
(see page 602), which differ 
chiefly in their greater size. 



wiirn;-T.\Ti.ED doe 

WALKING 

This track differs from that 
of the buck in being smaller, 
slimmer, and in having the toes 
pointing forward or inward — 
rarely outward. 



606 



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BvLl ELK QYW2,ttiti 



This shows the track of a large male walk- 
ing. Each hoof-mark is about 4^ inches long. 
Had it been five inches it would have meant 
a very large bull. The track is strictly deer- 
like in type, but has a little of the roundness 
of point that is so marked in the domestic 
cow. At the upper end of the drawing is 
snow one inch deep. Here no clouts show ; 
at the lower end it is three inches deep, so the 
clout-marks are clear. Size is essential in dis- 
tinguishing the track. The dung pellets, about 
H X% inch, are also important. 




MUL15 DKER 

The mule deer tread cannot be distinguished 
with certainty from that of white-tailed or 
coast deer; yet it averages larger than either 
of these, and the curious close set together of 
all four feet while it does its peculiar bovinding 
is quite unlike wdiat we see in the white-tail 
track. "These deer are not good runners in 
the open. On level country in Arizona I have 
ridden after and readily overtaken parties of 
I hem within a mile. The moment rough coun- 
try was reached, however, with amazing celerity 
a series of mighty leaps carries them away" 
(see page 456). 



607 








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fttVidl 




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Bear 




r f r- 







GRIZZLY ]!Iv\R 

The great size and the immense claws arc 
the chief characteristics of the grizzly's track. 
All five toes usually show in each track. "The 
strongest and most distinctive characteristic of 
the grizzlies is the long, proportionately slender 
and slightly curved claws of the front feet, 
sometimes more than three inches long" (sec 
pages 440 and 442) 



r.LACK r.iCAR 

The plantigrade foot is clearly shown in the 
hear track. That of a black bear differs from 
that of a grizzly, first in size, second in the 
shortness of the claws. Usually no claws 
show, and the fifth toe, which is well devel- 
oped on both front and hind paws, leaves little 
sign and often none at all. Frequently the 
hind foot is set on the track of the front foot 
in correct register. 



608 



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A. Tr^cj< of 5iouy. Ind f'^Tl 
•B. TracK of Whtte ^^-^J^.,: 



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V>,jSiu7dy Bofs foct^toofUf 
C jShndeT- 7T7a7i 
JD .Very robust m^n 



THU HUMAN I^OOTPRINTS 

The footprints of the human animal are included in this series of sketches for the pur- 
pose of comparison. Especially interesting is the similarity to be noted between the tracks 
made by man and those of the grizzly and the black bear (see page 608). The tracks shown 
on the left half of this page present the moccasin-shod footprints of a Sioux Indian compared 
with the shoe tracks of a white man. On the right are shown: (A) a woman's foot which 
has been much pinched by tight shoes; (B) a sturdy boy's foot, somewhat too flat to be nor- 
mal; (C) the footprint of a slender man, and (D) the imprint of a robust man's foot. 



609 



Kiy'id' » 




'Withoijt shots 






i^jn 






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in-- * 
ftre 



1 



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ns. 



THE IIORSH 



A hunter needs to know horse tracks as 
much as those of wild game. The greater 
size and roundness of horse tracks distinguish 
them from those of mules and asses. When 
shod the toe calks are a strong feature; when 
without shoes the unbroken front edge is dis- 
tinctive. Some horses walk in correct register ; 
some do not. Mules arc more exact than 
horses. When trotting the arrangement is 
much as in walking, but the spaces are longer 
and the hind- feet track farther ahead of the 
front feet. In galloping the arrangement is 
much as in the white-tailed deer. 



J0f f ■ 






4 i^ 




%, / 










^ ^ 



BARRliN GROUND CARIBOU 

The caribou track is distinguished by its; 
great spread and the fact that the clouts or 
iiind hoofs touch the ground, even on a hard 
surface. I know of no difference but size be- 
tween the tracks of the various caribou and 
reindeer. The probabilities of time and lo- 
cality help in determining the species, but it 
need never be mistaken for that of any other 
type of deer. In winter the caribou's tracks 
in the snow show that its feet, instead of be- 
ing raised high at each step, like those of a 
Virginia or mule deer, drag through the snow 
like those of domestic cattle. 



6io 



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2.«I1:' 



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Jk 






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CO 






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KmoL 



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Anteloj^e 
k 



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COAST BLACK-TAILED DOp; 

I know of nothing but probabilities to dis- 
tinguish tire walking tracks of the coast deer 
from those of nearly related species. This 
track of a bounding female shows a peculiar 
grouping that corresponds fairly with the 
bounding action characteristic of the species. 



ANTKLOrit 

The different styles of front and back feet 
is a marked character of the antelope's track 
and is best seen in the walk. In galloping all 
of these animals leave the hind tracks ahead of 
the fore tracks, but disturb the ground, so that 
almost no characteristic marks are to be seen. 



6ii 



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CANADA LVXX 

This track I sketched on the Athabasca 
River. In summer the track of a lynx shows 
the toe-pads faintly; in winter all are muffled 
in hair and the track is much larger. "The feet 
in winter are so broad that they serve admira- 
bly for support in deep snow" (see page 409). 



TKXAN WILDCAT 

This track, while akin to that of a cat (see 
page 487), has some very well-marked charac- 
teristics. The complicated outline of the heel- 
pads is striking. This, with its large size, will 
distinguish it "from the track of a house cat. 
The claws do not show. 



61: 



[Reprinted from Sci-ENCE, N. S., Vol. XL VIII., No. 
1S48, Pages 547-549, November S9, 1918] 



Wild Animals of North America: Intimate 
Studies of Big and Little Creatures of the 
Mammal Kingdom. By Edward W. InTelsgn. 
Natural-Color Portraits from Paintings by 
Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Track Sketches by 
Ernest Thompson Seton. Published by the 
National Geographic Society, Washington, 
D. C, U. S. A.; 8vo, pp. + 385-612, folded 
frontispiece, 108 colored illustrations on text 
paper (not plates), 85 halftone illustrations. 
[This' is essentially a reprint of two articles 
which appeared in the National Geo- 
graphic Magazine, for November, 1916, and 
May, 1918. The changes comprise repaging 
beyond page 472, the readjustment of the 
■ matter on pages 473-475, the replacement of 
a half-tone on page 475, the rectification of 
page references to illustrations to accord 
with the new paging where needed, and read- 
justment of the matter from page 571 on, 
so as to admit 32 new illustrations of foot- 
prints and the captions to these.] 
This is a work which meets to a gratifying 
degree the need for an essentially non-tech- 
nical treatise upon the natural history of the 
mammals of North America. No living person 
is better equipped to carry to a successful con- 
elusion such an midertaking than is its author. 
Nelson has contributed in the fiield of verte- 
brate zoology now for over forty years, to be 
explicit, beginning in July, 1876 (Bulletin 
Nuttall Ornithological Club, Vol. 1, p. 39). 
With a background of long experience in the 
field, and with further years of official con- 
nection with the United States Biological Sur- 
vey and its unique resources in mammalogy, 
he has made available a brochure of pleasing 
amplitude and satisfying authoritativeness. 
Between the colored pictures and the written 



sketches the public can gain from this con- 
tribution a better idea of our principal mam- 
mals than from any other available publica- 
tion. It should awaken a generally greater 
interest in our native manunals, and this will 
help build up a desire for the conservation of 
the harmless and useful species such as has 
resulted from the public education in relation 
to our bird life. On the other hand it is im- 
portant to be able to distinguish those mam- 
mals, chiefly of the order Rodentia, which are 
thoroughly inimical to human interests. Peo- 
ple at large must laiow how to cope with these 
enemies. It would seem that a full knowl- 
edge of the natural history of such animals is 
essential to determining the most successful 
means of controlling them and to applying 
these means properly to the varying conditions 
throughout the country. Nelson's accounts of 
our injurious mammals are full of stimulative 
suggestions along these lines, and while the 
work as a whole can not be considered as an 
" economic " publication, its influence will go 
far to secure adequate popular consideration 
of these matters. 

The species are taken up in groups, in so 
far as this can be done safely. Each biog- 
raphy, of which there are 119, is, as a rule, a 
composite applying to a number of near-re- 
lated forms, thus simplifying matters of pre- 
sentation, and avoiding repetition. A marked 
feature of the book is the degree of concen- 
tration attained ; there is no trace of padding, 
and no room for baseless speculation, senti- 
mentalizing or humanizing, such as character- 
ize many current " nature " books. At the 
same time the style is animated and thor- 
oughly entertaining, a gift of composition 
which Nelson has exercised in many preceding 
contributions. Here is an instance, unfortu- 
nately a rare one, in which a man who really 
knows the field has put out a popular book on 
a natural history subject. 



Many are the portrayals which are evidently 
based on Nelson's own personal field knowl- 
edge, some of them involving facts here for 
the first time -made known to science. His ac- 
count of the behavior of kangaroo rats in 
Lower California is particularly apt in illus- 
tration of the above statement. 

During several nights I passed hours watching 
at close range the habits of these curious animals. 
As I sat quietly on a mess box in their midst . . . 
[they] would forage all about with swift gliding 
movements, repeatedly running across my bare 
feet. Any sudden movement startled them and all 
would dart away for a moment, but quickly re- 
turn. . . . They were so intent on the food [grains 
of rice put out for them] that at times I had no 
difficulty in reaching slowly down and closing my 
hand over their backs. I did this dozens of times, 
and after a slight struggle they always became 
quiet until again placed on the ground, when they 
at once renewed their search for food as though 
no interruption had occurred. . . . While occupied 
in this rivalry for food they became surprisingly 
pugnacious. If one -was working at the rice pile 
and another rat or a pocket mouse approached, it 
immediately darted at the intruder and drove it 
away. The mode of attack was to rush at an in- 
truder and, leaping upon its back, give a vigorous 
downward kick with its strong hind ' feet. . . . 
Sometimes an intruder, bolder than the others, 
would run only two or three yards and then sud- 
denly turn and face the pursuer, sitting up on its 
hind feet like a little kangaroo. The pursuer at 
once assumed the same nearly upright position, 
with its fore feet close to its breast. Both would 
then begin to hop about watching for an opening. 
Suddenly one would leap at the other, striking with 
its hind feet, . . . [producing] a distinct little 
thump and the victim rolled over on the ground. 
After receiving two or three kicks the weaker of 
the combatants would run away. The thump made 
by the kick when they were fighting solved the 
mystery which had covered this sound heard re- 
peatedly during my nights at this camp. 

The brilliantly coated paper used tlxroughout 
this book although hard on sensitive eyes, is 



necessary to the handling of the halftone illus- 
trations. ^The printing of both the colored 
and nncolored pictures in all the copies we 
have seen has been done with pronounced suc- 
cess. The color drawings by Fuertes are ad- 
mirable and we are astonished at the success 
with which this noted bird artist was able to 
turn to mammals, the drawings of which in 
this contribution mark as far as we know his 
first efforts in the new field. 

A critical reviewer might succeed in finding 
a nimiber of small points to elaborate upon 
and of which to complain. For instance: It 
is trite to say that an Alaska brown bear is no 
more an animal than is a house fly. Yet here we 
have the title, " Wild Animals of North Amer- 
ica," though there is an evident effort made in 
the subtitle to remedy the matter by using the 
expression, " mammal kingdom." But here a 
taxonomic blunder is tumbled into! We can 
hardly believe that Nelson himself had any- 
thing final to say with regard to the title page 
of this book, but that the editor of the Na- 
tional Geographic Magazine got in his work 
here in the belief so characteristic of editors 
of popular magazines that their public must 
be talked down to. 

But to , pin the attention of the reader of 
this review upon such really minute defects 
would do violence to the facts in the case, 
which are that, according to the convictions 
of the reviewer, Nelson's " Wild Animals of 
North America " is more uniformly accurate 
and at the same time replete with information 
along many lines than any preceding book on 
American mammals. And even more, it may 
be declared with confidence that this book is 
by far the most important contribution of a 
non-systematic nature that has appeared in its 
field in America. 

Joseph Grinnell 

Museum of Vertebkate Zoology, 
University of Califohnia 



^~^.^ ' ORI 




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