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´╗┐Title: Quadrupeds, What They Are and Where Found - A Book of Zoology for Boys
Author: Reid, Mayne, 1818-1883
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Quadrupeds, What They Are and Where Found - A Book of Zoology for Boys" ***

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Quadrupeds, what they are and where found, by Captain Mayne Reid.

________________________________________________________________________
This is a fairly short book, but it certainly hits the spot, for its aim
is to inform young people about the four-legged animals of our planet,
and this it does very competently.

Of course there is no reason why young ladies should not read this book:
I am sure they would enjoy this just as much Reid's target readership,
which was boys.

There are 24 chapters, each dealing with a kind of animal.  Sometimes an
animal genus is given two chapters, for instance domestic dogs, and wild
dogs.  One grouse: the phrase "well-known" occurs over forty times.
Would the "well-known" fact be well-known to the book's intended
readership?  Probably not.

There are a score of very nice illustrations, most showing numerous
animals of that chapter's genus.

________________________________________________________________________
QUADRUPEDS, WHAT THEY ARE AND WHERE FOUND, BY CAPTAIN MAYNE REID.



PREFACE.

I have been called upon to write illustrative sketches to a series of
engravings, designed by an eminent artist.  In performing my part of the
work I have thrown the _Mammalia_ into twenty-four groups--corresponding
more or less to the picture designs--and have dwelt chiefly on the
geographical distribution of the animals.  The _Cetaceae_ and
_Vespertilionidae_ are properly omitted.

In the groups given there is no attempt made at any very scientific
arrangement.  The sketches are purely of a popular character, even the
scientific nomenclature being avoided.  It is hoped, however, that they
may prove of service to the zoological tyro, and form as it were his
first stepping-stone to a higher order of classification.

In reality, notwithstanding the prodigious _speculations_ of learned
anatomists, no truly good arrangement of the _Mammalia_ has yet been
arrived at; the deficiency arising from the fact that, as yet, no true
zoologist has had the opportunity of a sufficiently extended observation
of the natural habits of animals.

Now, however, that the great agent--steam--has as it were "brought the
ends of the earth together," the opportunity is no longer wanting; and
it is to be hoped that a better classification may soon be obtained.
Who knows but that some ardent young zoologist, who has taken his first
lessons from this little book, may be the man to supply the desideratum?
Who knows?

Such a result would be a proud triumph for the author of these
monographic sketches.

Mayne Reid.



CHAPTER ONE.

MONKEYS OF THE OLD WORLD.

The great family of the Monkeys, or the "Monkey tribe," as it is usually
called, is divided by naturalists into two large groups--the "Monkeys of
the Old World," or those that inhabit Africa, Asia, and the Asiatic
islands; and the "Monkeys of the New World," or those that belong to
America.  This classification is neither scientific nor natural, but as
it serves to simplify the study of these quadrupeds--or _quadrumana_, as
they are termed--it is here retained.  Moreover, as there is no genus of
monkey, nor even a species, common to both hemispheres, such a division
can do no harm.

The number of species of these animals, both in the Old and New Worlds,
is so great, that to give a particular description of each would fill a
large volume.  It will be only possible in this sketch to point out the
countries they inhabit, and to say a word or two of the more remarkable
kinds.

In point of precedence, the great _Ourang-outang_ contests the palm with
the _Chimpanzee_.  Both these creatures often attain the size of an
ordinary man, and individuals of both have been captured exceeding this
size; while, at the same time, in muscular strength, one of them is
supposed to equal seven or eight men.  It is remarkable how little is
known of the habits of either.  This is accounted for by the fact that
they both inhabit regions still unexplored by civilised man, dwelling in
thick impenetrable forests, where even the savage himself rarely
penetrates.

Although many exaggerated stories are told of these great satyr apes,
and many of these are only "sailors' yarns," yet it is easy to believe
that animals approaching in structure, and even in intelligence, to man
himself, must possess habits of the most singular kind.  There is little
more known of them than there was hundreds of years ago--indeed, we
might say thousands of years; for it is evident that the Carthaginians
came into contact with the chimpanzee on the western coast of Africa,
and through them the Romans became acquainted with it; and no doubt it
was this animal that gave origin to most of their stories of satyrs and
wild men of the woods.

The chimpanzee is found only in the forests of tropical Africa--more
especially along the west coast, the banks of the Gaboon, and other
rivers.  The ourang-outang is exclusively Asiatic--inhabiting Borneo,
Sumatra, the peninsula of Malacca, Cochin China, and several others of
the large Oriental islands.  Of the ourang-outang there are two
species--perhaps three--differing very little, except in point of size
and colour.

A group of large tail-less apes, usually denominated _Gibbons_, or
Long-armed Apes, come next in order.  These are neither so large nor
human-like as the ourang or the chimpanzee; nevertheless, they are
capable of walking upon their hind legs, after the manner of bipeds.
They are all long-armed apes, and generally use their fore-arms in
walking, but more to assist them in clinging to the branches of trees,
and swinging themselves from one to the other.

The gibbons are all Asiatic monkeys, and inhabit the same countries with
the ourang, viz., the tropical forests of India and the Indian
Archipelago.  There are at least a dozen species of them, nearly half of
which are found in the Island of Sumatra alone.

The _Proboscis_ monkeys follow the gibbons.  These are also long-armed
apes, but with tails and sharp proboscis-like snouts, from which their
name is derived.  Only two species are known--both belonging to the
great Island of Borneo, so rich in varieties of these human-like
mammalia.  One of the species of proboscis monkeys has also been
observed in Cochin China.  Another large tribe of Asiatic apes,
containing in all nearly twenty different species, has been constituted
into a genus called _Semnopithecus_.  These also inhabit the Indian
continent and the great islands; but they are not so exclusively
tropical in their habits, since several of the species extend their
range northward to Nepaul, and other districts among the Himalaya
Mountains.  It is a species, or more than one, of these ugly apes that
is venerated by the Hindus; and they are permitted to live without
molestation in the sacred groves and temples, though they often prove
most troublesome protegees to their fanatical benefactors.

In Africa, the representatives of this last-mentioned tribe are found in
the _Colobus_ monkeys.  Of these there are about a dozen species; and
from several of them are obtained the long-haired monkey skins of
commerce.  They are all tropical animals, and inhabit the middle zone of
Africa--their range extending from Abyssinia to the shores of the
Atlantic.

Another very large tribe, containing in all as many as thirty species,
and belonging exclusively to Africa, are the _Guenons_.  They are
closely allied to the colobus monkeys, but yet sufficiently different
from them in habits and conformation to be classed into a separate
genus.  Most of the guenons inhabit the central regions of Africa; but
they are not exclusively tropical, since several kinds belong to
Kaffraria, and that region indefinitely called the Cape of Good Hope.

The _Macaco_ apes constitute another genus, which forms the link between
the guenons and the baboons, or dog-headed monkeys.  They are neither
exclusively African nor Asiatic monkeys, since species of macacoes are
found in both these continents.  They are usually subdivided into the
macacoes with long tails, and those with short tails; and there is one
species which wants this appendage altogether.  This is the Magot--
perhaps the most noted of all the macacoes, since it was the earliest
known to European nations, and is, in fact, the only species that is
indigenous to Europe.  It is the magot that inhabits the Rock of
Gibraltar.  Much has been written as to whether this monkey is really
indigenous to Europe--some naturalists alleging that it reached
Gibraltar from Africa, where it is also common.  But it is not generally
known that, on European ground, the magot is not confined solely to the
Gibraltar Rock.  It is also found in other parts of the south of Spain;
and, it is likely enough, has existed there long enough to claim the
character of a native.

In the chain of natural affinities, the _Baboons_, or dog-headed
monkeys, stand next to the macacoes.  These are more of a quadruped form
than any yet mentioned; and, both in a moral and physical sense, they
are certainly the ugliest of animals.  The hideous Drills and Mandrills,
so well-known in our menageries, belong to this genus; as also the
Chacma, or great dog-monkey of the Cape.

There are, in all, seven or eight species of baboons, and most of them
inhabit Africa.  One of the most singular of them, the Hamadryas,
extends its range into Arabia; while another, the Black Baboon, is an
inhabitant of the Philippine Isles.

With the baboons we close our list of the Monkeys of the Old World; but,
in order to complete the account of these quadruped mammalia, it is
necessary to find a place for those strange creatures usually known as
Lemurs.  These are usually grouped by themselves, and in a
classification succeed the American monkeys--to some of which they have
a greater resemblance than to those of the Old World; but, as they are
all exclusively inhabitants of the latter, they may appropriately be
noticed here.

The _Lemurs_ are animals having very much the appearance and habits of
monkeys, but with long snouts or muzzles, resembling that of the fox.
Hence they are sometimes called fox-apes.  There are many kinds of them,
however; and, although classed in a group called lemurs, they differ
exceedingly from one another, some of them having the appearance of
foxes, others more resembling squirrels, and still others like flying
squirrels--being possessed of a similar wing-like appendage, and
capable, like them, of extended flight.  They are known under different
appellations, as Makis, Indris, Loris, Galagos, Tarsiers, Ay-ays,
etcetera, and naturalists have subdivided them into a great number of
genera.  They are found both in Africa and Asia; but by far the greater
number of them, as the Makis and Ay-ays, belong to the Island of
Madagascar.  The last are not to be confounded with an animal bearing
the same name--the ay-ay of America.  The latter is the singular
creature known as the sloth, of which there are several distinct
species, all inhabitants of the great forests of tropical America.

Of the lemurs, at least thirty different kinds are known, more than half
of which belong to the Island of Madagascar.  A few species are found on
the west coast of Africa: and the others inhabit the Oriental islands--
Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, Timor, Mindanao, and the Philippine Archipelago.



CHAPTER TWO.

MONKEYS OF THE NEW WORLD.

The Monkeys of America differ in many respects from those of the Old
World.  In general they are smaller--none of the species being quite so
large as the baboons.  Their bodies and limbs are also more slender and
spider-like; and their whole conformation seems intended to adapt them
for dwelling in the great virgin forests of the New World.  There is one
particular in which they differ most remarkably from their congeners of
the Old World; that is, in having _prehensile_ tails.  With these they
are enabled to suspend themselves from the branches of trees, or swing
their bodies from one to the other; and this prehensile power is far
greater than could be obtained by any clutch of the hand.  So great is
it, that even after the animal has died from the effect of a shot or
other wound, its tail will still remain hooped around the branch; and if
the body is not taken down by the hunter, it will hang there till
released by the decay of the tail!

Not all the monkeys of America possess this prehensile power of tail.
Some are entirely without it, and approach nearer to certain kinds in
the Old World; while there are a few species that very closely resemble
the lemurs.  These differences have led to a classification of the
American monkeys; and they have been thrown into three groups, though it
may be remarked that these groups are not very natural.

They are as follow:--The _Sapajous_, whose tails are not only
prehensile, but naked underneath, and tubercled near the tips; the
_Sajoas_, who possess the prehensile power, but have hairy tails; and
the _Sajouins_, whose tails are _not_ prehensile.

For want of a better, this classification may be adopted.

The Sapajous are subdivided into three genera, of which the Howlers form
one.  They are so denominated from their habit of assembling in troops,
and uttering the most terrible howlings, so loud that the forest is
filled with their sonorous voices.  Their cries can be heard at a
half-league's distance, and produce upon a stranger unaccustomed to such
sounds a very disagreeable impression.  The unusual strength of voice is
accounted for by a peculiar drum-like construction of the _os hyoides_,
common to all the genera of Sapajous, but more developed in some than in
others; and those in whom the voice is loudest constitute the genus of
_Alouatles_, or Howlers.

Of the true howlers there are about a dozen species known to
naturalists.  Most of them are denizens of the tropical forests of
Guiana and Brazil; but some species are not so tropical in their habits,
since one or two extend the kingdom of the monkeys into Mexico on the
north, and southward to Paraguay.

Closely allied to the last, are the _Ateles_, or Spider monkeys.  These
derive their generic name from their singular spider-like appearance--
caused by their disproportionately long and slender limbs, and the great
length of their tails.  None equal them in the prehensile power of the
caudal appendage; and it is of them that that curious story is related--
the story of the Monkeys' Bridge--where it is told how they pass over a
stream: a number of the strongest joining their bodies together by means
of their long tails, and thus forming a bridge, by which the whole troop
are enabled to cross.

Of the spider monkeys there are about a dozen species; but three of
these have been taken to form one of the three genera into which, as
already stated, the Sapajous are divided.  These three differ very
little from the other spider monkeys, except in being covered with a
soft, woolly hair; and, furthermore, in being much more rare than the
others; at all events, they are more rarely seen, as they dwell only in
the thickest forests, far remote from the habitations of man.

The third and last genus of the Sapajous is that termed _Lagothrix_.
They are small monkeys, covered also with soft woolly hair; and their
habitat is along the banks of rivers.  They have a strange habit, not
observable among their congeners, of collecting in small troops, and
rolling or "clewing" themselves up together.  This they do in cold
weather, or on the approach of a storm.  They summon each other by means
of signals and cries; and selecting the convenient bifurcation of some
tree, they there form the singular group.  The jaguar and other beasts
of prey take advantage of this habit, and often make victims of the
whole _tableau vivant_!  There are three species already described, all
denizens of the Brazilian forests.

The Sajous form the second group of the American monkeys.  These have
also prehensile tails; but the power is not so highly-developed in them
as in the Sapajous, nor are their tails naked.  Moreover, the bodies of
the Sajous are more robust, and their limbs of stouter make.

The Sajous are well-tempered creatures, and easily domesticated.  Some
of the species are favourite pets--on account of their pleasing manners,
and the docility of their nature.  The old males, however, scarcely
deserve this reputation, as they will bite freely enough when provoked.

They are not subdivided; but permitted to constitute a single genus, of
which there are nearly twenty species--all of them inhabiting equatorial
America.

The Sajouins form the third group; but as the name merely signifies
those monkeys that have not the power of suspending themselves by the
tail, it can hardly be considered a natural group, since there are very
varied and numerous genera who lack this power.  The group of Sajouins
must therefore be subdivided into several lesser groups.

First of all we have the true Sajouins; and of these the _Saimiri_ or
_Titi_ is the most distinguished species.  This pretty little creature
is about equal in size to a squirrel, and possesses all the playful
disposition of the latter.  Its childlike innocence of countenance, as
well as its pleasing and graceful manners, render it a favourite pet
wherever it can be obtained.  Its rich robe of yellowish-grey, mixed
with green, adds to the attraction of its presence.  There are several
species of Sajouins, known as the Widow monkey, the Moloch, the Mitred
monkey, and the Black-handed Sajouin--all of them dwellers in the
tropical regions of America.  The Doroucouli is another small species,
that in the nocturnal forest often alarms the traveller by its singular
cry; and an allied species of Doroucouli constitutes, with the one
above-mentioned, a second genus of the Sajouins.

The _Sakis_ form of themselves another and somewhat extensive family of
the Sajouins.  There are a dozen species of them in all; and they
possess the peculiarity of being insect-eaters.  They are fond of honey,
too; and are often seen ranging the woods, in little troops of ten or
twelve, in search of the nests of the wild bees, which they plunder of
their luscious stores.

The _Ouistitis_ also constitute a genus.  These, like the Saimiris, are
beautiful little creatures--many of the species not being larger than
squirrels, and marked with the most lively colours: as bright red and
orange.  There are many different kinds of small squirrels known by this
name, or by its abbreviation--Titi--some of them belonging to the group
of Saimiris, and others to the Ouistitis, properly so called.

Last of all come the little Tamunus; some of which, in beauty of
colours, in playfulness of disposition, and other amiable qualities,
need not yield either to the Saimiris or Ouistitis.  They are equally
prized as pets; and among their Creole owners have equally applied to
them the endearing appellation of Titi-titi.

Quadrupeds, what they are and where found--by Captain Mayne Reid



CHAPTER THREE.

BEARS.

In the days of Linnaeus--that is, a century and a half ago--it was
supposed there was only one kind of Bear in existence--the common Brown
bear of Europe.  It is true that Linnaeus before his death had heard of
the great Polar bear, but he had never seen one, and was not certain of
its being a distinct species.  Not only has the Polar bear proved to be
a very different animal from his brown congener, but other species have
turned up in remote quarters of the globe: until the list of these
interesting quadrupeds has been extended to the number of at least a
dozen distinct species--differing not only in size, shape, and colour,
but also in many more essential characteristics.  Bears have been found
in North America, and others in South America; some in Asia, and still
others in the islands of the Indian Archipelago; entirely unlike the
brown bear of Europe, as they are to one another.

As the _Brown bear_ is the oldest of the family known to naturalists, I
shall give him the precedence in this little monograph.

It is a misnomer to call him the brown bear of Europe, since he is even
more common in many parts of Asia--especially throughout Asiatic Russia
and Kamtschatka.  But he is also met with in most European countries,
where there are extensive ranges of mountains.  In the mountains of
Hungary and Transylvania--as well as in those of Russia, Sweden, and
Norway--the brown bear is found.  He is also met with as far south as
the Alps--and even the Pyrenees, and Asturias, mountains of Spain; but
the bear of these last-mentioned localities differs considerably from
the real brown bear of the northern regions; and most probably is a
different species.

Again, in North America--in a very remote and sterile region lying to
the westward of Hudson's Bay, and known as the Barren Grounds--a large
brown bear has been observed by travellers and traders of the Fur
Company, supposed to be identical with the European bear.  This,
however, is a doubtful point; and in all likelihood the bear of the
Barren Grounds is a new species, only found in that desolate region.

The brown bear is of solitary habits.  During the summer season he roams
about, growing fat upon roots, fruits, seeds, and wild honey--when he
can procure it.  At the approach of winter this animal has the singular
habit of returning to his den, and there remaining dormant or torpid
throughout the season of cold.  During this prolonged slumber he takes
no sustenance of any kind; and although exceedingly fat when going to
rest, he comes forth in the spring-time as thin as a skeleton.  The den
is usually a cave or hollow tree; or, failing this, a _lair_, which the
animal constructs for himself out of branches, lining it snugly with
leaves and moss.

The brown bear is a long-lived animal.  Individuals have been known of
the age of fifty years.  The cubs when first born are not much larger
than the puppies of a mastiff.  The people of Kamtschatka hunt this
species with great assiduity, and obtain from it many of the comforts
and necessaries of life.  The skins are used for their beds and
coverlets, for their caps, gloves, and boots.  They manufacture from it
harness for their dogs.  From the intestines they make masks for their
faces, to protect them from the glare of the sun; and they also use the
latter stretched over their windows as a substitute for glass.  The
flesh and fat are among the most esteemed dainties of a Kamtschatkan
_cuisine_.  Even the shoulder-blades are used as sickles for cutting
grass.  The Laplanders, also--of whose cold country the brown bear is an
inhabitant--have a great esteem for this animal.  They regard its
prowess as something wonderful, alleging that it has the strength of ten
men, and the sense of twelve!  The name for it, in their language,
signifies the dog of God.

The _White_, or _Polar bear_, is, perhaps, the most interesting of the
whole family: not so much on account of his superior size--since the
brown and the grizzly are sometimes as large as he--but rather from his
singular habits, and the many odd stories told about him, dining the
last fifty years, by whalers and Arctic explorers.

To describe the appearance of the Polar bear would be superfluous.
Everybody has seen either a living individual in a menagerie, or a
stuffed skin of one in a museum; and the long, low, tail-less body--with
outstretched neck and sharp projecting snout--covered with a thick coat
of white hair, renders it impossible to mistake the Polar bear for any
other animal.

This quadruped is more of a _sea_ than _land_ animal.  Sometimes, it is
true, he wanders inland for fifty miles or so; but this he does in
following the course of some river or marshy inlet, where he finds fish.
His usual haunts are along the icy shores of the Arctic Ocean, and the
numerous ice-bound islands of the great Polar Sea.  There he roams about
over the frozen banks, or floats upon icebergs and drifts; or, if need
be, takes to the open water, where he can swim with almost the facility
of a fish.

A proof of his natatory powers is found in the fact that Arctic voyagers
have observed him swimming about in the open sea full twenty miles from
the nearest land!  He is equally expert as a diver; and uses this art
for the purpose of capturing various kinds of marine animals, upon which
he subsists.  In regard to food, the Polar bear differs altogether from
his congeners.  He is almost wholly carnivorous in his habits.  Indeed,
were it otherwise, he could not exist in his icy kingdom--in many parts
of which not a trace of vegetation is to be found.  Fish of many kinds,
birds, and their eggs, and four-footed beasts--when he can lay his claws
upon them--all are welcome to his palate.  Nor will he disdain to feast
upon the carcass of the great whale--when chance, or the whale
fishermen, leaves such a provender in his way.  The seal is a particular
favourite with him, and he hunts this creature with skill and assiduity.
When he perceives the seal basking upon a ledge of ice, he slips
quietly into the water, and swims to leeward of his intended victim.  He
approaches by frequent short dives--so calculating his distance, that at
the last he comes up close to the spot where the seal is lying.  Should
the victim attempt to escape, by rolling into the water, it falls into
the bear's clutches: if, on the contrary, it lies still, the bear makes
a powerful spring, seizes it on the ice, and then kills and devours it
at his leisure.

In swimming, the Polar bear not only moves rapidly through the water,
but is also capable of darting forward in such a way as to seize a fish
before it can escape beyond reach.  On the land, also, he can move with
rapidity--his slouching trot being almost as fast as the gallop of a
horse.

Individuals have been shot that weighed as much as 1600 pounds!

Polar bears are found along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, both in Asia
and America.  They do not go to sleep in winter--that is, the males do
not.  The females with young, however, bury themselves in the snow--
having formed a lair--and there remain until they bring forth their
young.  The cubs are often captured in these snow caves, which the
Esquimaux discover by means of dogs trained for this peculiar purpose.

The _Grizzly bear_ next merits attention.  This formidable animal was,
for a long time, supposed to be a variety either of the brown bear of
Europe or the black bear of America; but his greater ferocity, so often
and fatally experienced by travellers, drew the attention of naturalists
upon him, when it was discovered that he was altogether distinct from
either of the two.  His name is usually coupled with that of the Rocky
Mountains of America--for it is chiefly in the defiles and valleys of
this stupendous chain that he makes his home.  He wanders, however, far
eastward over the prairies, and also to the Californian Mountains on the
west; and in a latitudinal direction from the borders of Texas on the
south, northward as far, it is supposed, as the shores of the Arctic
Sea.  At all events, a bear somewhat like him, if not identically the
same, has been seen on the banks of the great Mackenzie River, near its
mouth.  Perhaps it may be the brown bear of the Barren Grounds, already
noticed; and which last is, in many respects--in size and colour
especially--very similar to the grizzly.

The grizzly bear is certainly the most ferocious of his tribe--even
exceeding, in this unamiable quality, his white cousin of the icy north;
and many a melancholy tale of trapper and Indian hunter attests his
dangerous prowess.  He is both carnivorous and frugivorous--will dig for
roots and eat fruits when within his reach; but not being a
tree-climber, he has to content himself with such berries as grow upon
the humbler bushes.  Indeed, it is a fortunate circumstance that the
fierce animal is unable to ascend a tree.  Many a traveller and hunter
have found a neighbouring tree the readiest means of saving their lives,
when pursued by this ferocious assailant.  Another circumstance is also
in favour of those pursued by the grizzly bear.  In the region where he
dwells, but few persons ever go afoot; and although the bear can
overtake a pedestrian, his speed is no match for that of the friendly
horse.

It is almost hopeless to think of killing a grizzly bear by a single
bullet.  There the deadly rifle is no longer deadly--unless when the
shot is given in a mortal part; and to take sure aim from the saddle,
with a horse dancing in affright, is a feat which even the most skilful
marksman cannot always accomplish.  As many as a dozen bullets have been
fired into the body of a grizzly bear, without killing him outright.

The strength of this animal equals his ferocity.  He pulls the huge
buffalo, a thousand pounds in weight, to the ground; and then drags its
carcass to some cave or crevice among the rocks, or to a hole which he
has dug to receive it.  To this place he repairs from time to time, till
the exhausted store compels him to go in search of a new victim.  Many
an incident can be related--and on the best authority too--where man has
been the victim of the grizzly bear; and the Indians esteem the killing
of one of these animals a feat equal to that of taking the scalp of a
human enemy.  One of the proudest ornaments of a savage chief is a
necklace of bears' claws: only to be worn by those who have themselves
killed the animals from which they have been taken.

The _Black_, or _American bear_, is one of the best known of the family;
and on account of his clean smooth head, tapering muzzle, and rich black
fur, he is also one of the best looking of bears.  He is found
throughout the whole of the United States territory--from the Canadas to
the Gulf of Mexico--and westward to the shores of the Pacific.  He is
sometimes met with in the same neighbourhood with the grizzly, but not
often: since their haunts are essentially unlike--the black bear being a
denizen of the heavy-timbered forest, while the other frequents the
grassy hills or coppice-openings of the prairies and mountain valleys.

The black bear is a tree-climber; and ascends the loftiest trees in
search of the honey of the wild bees, or to make his lair in some
cavernous hollow of the trunks.  His food is usually fruits and roots,
but he is also fond of young corn, and often commits serious
depredations on the maize plantation.  In the backwood settlements,
where clearings are apart from each other, the black bear is still
occasionally met with; and the chase of this animal is one of the most
favourite pastimes of the backwoods' hunter, whether amateur or
professional.  Generally there is little peril in the pursuit--unless
when the bear is wounded and enraged, and the hunter chooses to risk
himself at close quarters.

There are varieties in colour.  Some with white throats, and some of a
cinnamon brown, have been observed; but the colour of the species is
usually jet black; and on this account the skins are much prized for
military and other purposes.

The _Spectacled bear_ is a native of South America, and frequents the
forests upon the declivities of the Andes.  This was long supposed to be
a variety of the black bear, but later observations prove it to be a
different species.  Its habits are very similar to the last, to which it
is also similar in shape.  In colour it differs essentially.  It is
black, but with a buff snout, and buff rings round the eyes, which give
it that appearance whence it derives its trivial name.  Its throat and
breast are whitish.

There is at least one other species of black bear indigenous to South
America, inhabiting the tropical forests; but very little is known of
it--further than that it is one of the smallest of the tribe.

We now reach the Asiatic bears, properly so called; and we have only
space to say a word about each.

The _Siberian bear_ is thought to be only a variety of the brown bear of
Europe, differing slightly in colour.  In the former there is a broad
band, or collar, of white passing over the neck and meeting upon the
breast.  It is, as its name implies, an inhabitant of Siberia.

The _Thibet bear_ is a dweller among the Himalayas--in Sylhet and
Nepaul.  Its general colour is black, with a white mark, shaped like the
letter Y; so placed that the shank of the letter is upon its breast, and
the forks running up the front of its shoulders.  It is not carnivorous,
and, generally, its disposition is harmless and playful.  It is easily
tamed.

The _Sloth bear_ is another Indian species having this peculiar marking
on the breast and shoulders.  This animal is one of the oddest of
creatures.  Its short limbs and depressed head, with the long shaggy
hair surmounting its back like a bullock, give it the appearance of
being deformed.  On this account it was the favourite of the Indian
jugglers, who, depending on its ugliness as a source of attraction,
trained it to a variety of tricks.  It is therefore sometimes known as
the jugglers' bear (_Ours jongleur_).  It has also a peculiar prehensile
power in its lips; and this, with its general shaggy mien, led to the
belief of its being a species of sloth--hence its common name.

The _Malayan bear_ is another black species, with a marking on the
breast.  This mark is of a semi-lunar shape, and whitish; but the colour
of the muzzle is buff-yellow.  This is a very handsome species,
subsisting on vegetable diet; and very injurious to the plantations of
young cocoa trees, of the shoots of which it is very fond.  It is also a
honey eater; and roams about in quest of the hives of the indigenous
bees.  It is a native of Malacca, Sumatra, and others of the East Indian
islands.

The _Isabella bear_ is so called from its colour--being of that fulvous
white known as Isabella colour.  It is another of the species belonging
to the great range of the Himalayas, and is found in the mountains of
Nepaul.  Sometimes it is observed of nearly a white colour; which led to
the mistaken belief that Polar bears existed in the Himalayas.

The _Syrian bear_ is a species found in the mountainous parts of Asia
Minor.  It is of a fulvous-brown colour, sometimes approaching to
yellowish white.  It is partly carnivorous, but feeds also on fruits;
and is most remarkable as being the species first mentioned in books--
that is, it is the bear of the Bible.

The _Bornean bear_ is the last to be mentioned, though it is certainly
one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, of the genus.
This beauty arises from its peculiar markings, especially from the large
patch of rich orange colour upon the breast.  It is a native of the
great Island of Borneo, and little is known of its habits; but it is
supposed to resemble the Malayan bear in these, as it does in many other
respects.

In Africa there are no bears.



CHAPTER FOUR.

BADGERS.

The Badger is a silent, solitary, carnivorous creature, having his
representative, in some form or other, in almost every part of the
world; though nowhere either numerous in species or plentiful in
individuals.  In Europe he appears in two forms, the _Glutton and common
Badger_; in North America in three, viz., _Wolverene, American_, and
_Mexican Badgers_; and, indeed, we might say a fourth belongs to that
continent, for the _Racoon_ is as near being a badger, both in
appearance and habits, as he is to being anything else.  For
convenience, therefore, let us class him in this group: he will
certainly be more at home in it than among the _bears_--where most of
the naturalists have placed him.

In South America we find another form of badger in the _Coati mondi_, of
which there are several varieties; and there, too, the racoon appears of
a species distinct from those of the north.  Some writers class the
coati with the civets, but the creature has far more of the habits and
appearance of a badger than of a civet cat; and therefore, whatever the
anatomists may say, we shall consider the coati a badger.

But a truer form of the badger than either of the above, exists in South
America--extending over nearly the whole of that continent.  This is the
_Grison_, which, in appearance and habits, somewhat resembles the
wolverene.  It also is found in two or three varieties--according to the
part of the country it inhabits.  The _Taira_ is another South American
species of badger-like animal, though usually referred to the weasels.

In Africa, the badger appears in the _Ratel_, or honey badger, common
from Senegal to the Cape.  In Asia, in its northern zone, we have the
_European badger and Glutton_; and in the south, the _Indian badger_;
while in the Himalaya chain dwells another animal, closely allied to the
badgers, called the _Wha_ or _Panda_.  In Java, we find still another
species, the _Nientek_; and in the other large Asiatic islands there are
several kinds of animals that approach very near to badgers in their
forms and habits, but which are usually classed either with the weasels
or civets.

We shall now give some details respecting the different animals of this
family; among which the Glutton, in point of size, as well as for other
reasons, deserves precedence.

The _Glutton_ is the Rosomak of the Russians, in whose country he is
chiefly found--along high northern latitudes, both in Europe and Asia.
He is supposed to be identical with the wolverene of North America; and
if this be so, his range extends all round the Arctic zone of the globe:
since the wolverene is found throughout the whole extent of the Hudson's
Bay territory.  There are good reasons to believe, however, that the two
species differ considerably from each other--just as the European badger
does from his American cousins.  It was the writer Olaus Magnus who gave
such celebrity to this animal, by telling a very great "story" about the
creature--which, at a time when people were little studied in natural
history, was readily believed.  Olaus's report was, that whenever the
glutton killed an animal, he was in the habit of feeding on the carcass
till his belly became swelled out and tight as a drum; that then he
would pass between two trees growing close together--to press the
swelling inwards and ease himself--after which he would return to the
carcass, again fill himself, and then back again to the trees, and so
on, till he had eaten every morsel of the dead animal, whatever might
have been its size!  All this, of course, was mere fable; but it is not
without some foundation in fact: for the Rosomak is, in reality, one of
the greatest _gluttons_ among carnivorous animals.  So, too, is his
cousin, the wolverene of America; as the fur trappers have had sad
reasons to know--whenever the creature has come upon a store of their
provisions.  The name of Glutton, therefore, though based upon Olaus
Magnus's exaggeration, is not so inappropriate.

The glutton and wolverene are, in fact, very like the common badger in
their habits; except that being much larger and stronger animals, they
prey upon larger game.  The reindeer, and other large quadrupeds, are
often the victims of both; and it is even said that they can overcome
the great elk; but this is not confirmed by the observations of any
trustworthy traveller.  The young of the elk, or a disabled old one, may
occasionally succumb to them, but not an elk in full vigour, nor yet a
reindeer, except when they can surprise the latter asleep.  Their game
is usually the smaller quadrupeds; and in the fur countries no animal is
a greater pest to the trapper than the wolverene or glutton.  A single
individual will in one night visit a whole line of traps, and rob them
of the captured animals--whether they be polar hares, white or blue
foxes, martens, or ermine weasels.

It is this creature that is usually represented lying in wait upon the
limb of a tree, and springing upon deer as they pass underneath: but
this story of its habits wants confirmation.

The fur of the wolverene is one of the _staple_ articles of trade of the
Hudson's Bay Company; though it is more prized among the Russians than
with us--who esteem it in value as next to the ermine.

The _Common_, or _European badger_, need not be here described, since it
is familiar to all.  The same may be said of the two American badgers,
and also that of India, all three of which are very similar in habits
and appearance to the common kind.

But the _African badger_, or _Ratel_, merits a word or two.  It is about
the size of the true badger, and ordinarily lives on small game, as
badgers do; but, in addition to this, it is fond of varying its diet
with a little honey.  This it procures from the nests of wild bees,
common throughout the whole of Africa.  The account given of the mode in
which it finds these nests would be incredible, were it not that we have
the testimony of reverend missionaries to confirm it.  It is as
follows:--In Africa there is a bird--a species of cuckoo--known as the
Indicator bird, or honey guide.  This little creature hops from tree to
tree, itself apparently in search of the bees' nests.  While doing so,
it utters a shrill cry; and these cries are repeated until the honey
hive is found.  The ratel lies in wait for this bird; and, on hearing
the cry, makes towards it, and keeps following its flights till the
bees' nest is found.  Should this prove to be in a tree and out of
reach--for the ratel is not a climber--the animal vents his chagrin by
tearing at the trunk with his teeth, as if he had hopes of felling the
tree.  The scratches thus made on the bark serve as a guide to certain
other creatures, who are also fond of honey, viz., the Kaffir hunters
and Bushmen.

Should the bees' nest prove to be on the ground, or under it, the ratel
soon unearths the treasure with his strong claws, and takes possession
of it, regardless of the stings of the bees, against which his thick
skin defends him.

The _Orison_ inhabits the forests of South America, from Guiana to
Paraguay.  It is quite as ferocious as any of the tribe; but its smaller
size hinders it from attacking large animals, and its victims are birds,
agoutis, and other small rodents--against all of which it wages a war of
extermination.  When surprised by the hunters and their dogs, it will
battle furiously till life is extinct: all the while emitting a strong
disagreeable smell, after the manner of the weasels and polecats.  The
_Racoon_, which we have grouped with the badgers, is both a North and
South American animal; dwelling in dense forests, and making its lair in
the hollow of a tree.  This animal is a good tree-climber, and usually
takes refuge among the higher branches when pursued.  It is nocturnal in
its habits, but in deep shady woods it may be seen prowling about in the
daylight, in search of birds and their eggs, small rodents, fish, or
frogs, all of which it eats indifferently.  There are several distinct
species.

The _Coati_ is exclusively South American.  This, unlike the racoon,
sleeps at night, and prowls during the day.  It is also an expert
tree-climber, and has a peculiarity in this respect; viz., it descends a
tree _head foremost_, which no other animal of its order can do.  It is
equally as fierce and carnivorous as any of the badgers; and its prey,
as with the _racoon_, consists of birds, their eggs, and small
quadrupeds.  It feeds also upon insects; and will turn over the earth
with its long proboscis-like snout.  When drinking it laps like the dog.
In eating, it uses its fore-paws to carry the food to its mouth, though
not as squirrels and monkeys do.  On the contrary, it first divides the
flesh, or whatever it may be, into small morsels, and then raises these
to its mouth by impaling them on its claws as on a fork!

It is not a solitary animal, but prefers the society of its companions,
and usually goes about in troops or gangs.  Its lair, like the racoon,
is the hollow of a tree.

The _Panda_ of the East Indies is an animal of very similar habits.  It
is found chiefly along the banks of streams that descend from the
mountains; and subsists upon small quadrupeds and birds--which it is
able to follow to the tops of the tallest trees.  Its name of Qua, or
Oua, or Wha, is derived from the cry which it utters, and repeats very
often; and which is well represented by any of the syllables above
written.



CHAPTER FIVE.

WEASELS, OTTERS AND CIVETS.

Fortunate it is that the quadrupeds composing this group are all animals
of small dimensions.  Were they equal in size to lions and tigers, the
human race would be in danger of total extirpation: for it is well-known
that weasels are the most ferocious and bloodthirsty creatures upon the
earth.  None of them, however, much exceed the size of the ordinary cat:
unless we include the gluttons and wolverenes among the weasels, as
naturalists sometimes do, notwithstanding that these animals differ
altogether from them.

The _civets_, it is true, are not usually classed with the weasels, but
form a group of themselves; however, they are much more nearly related
to weasels than the gluttons; and where, as in the present case, it is
desirable to divide the mammalia into large groups, they will stand very
well together.  In truth, the civets are much nearer in resemblance to
weasels than the otters are; and these two last are generally classed
together--the otters being neither more nor less than water weasels.

We shall first consider the true _Weasels_: that is, the Weasels,
Stoats, Ferrets, Polecats, and Martens.

The habits of most of the species are well-known; and all resemble each
other in the exceeding ferocity of their disposition.  It will only be
necessary to say a word about their geographical distribution, and to
speak of a few of the more noted kinds.

In Great Britain, five species are natives: the Pine and Beech Martens,
the Stoat, the Common Weasel (which is the type of the family), and the
Polecat.  The Ferret is not indigenous to the country, but has been
introduced from Africa, and is trained, as is well-known, for the
pursuit of the rabbit--which it can follow into the very innermost
recesses of its burrow.  The English species of weasels are also common
to other countries of Europe and Asia.

In the high northern latitudes of the Old World, we find a very
celebrated species--celebrated for a long time on account of its
valuable fur--the Sable.  The sable is a true marten: a tree-climber,
and one of the most sanguinary of weasels.  An account of its habits,
and of the mode of hunting it, forms one of the most interesting
chapters in natural history.

An allied species inhabits the Hudson's Bay territory, known as the
American sable, and another, belonging to the Japanese islands, is
called the Japan sable.

The Ermine is a species equally famous; and for a like reason--the value
of its beautiful white fur, so long an article of commerce.  The ermine
is neither more nor less than a stoat in winter dress; but there are
several varieties of it--some that turn to brown in summer, while
another kind retains its snow-white covering throughout all the year.
The ermine is common to Europe, Asia, and North America.

The Pekan is a larger species, belonging to North America, and
semi-aquatic in its habits; while the Vison, or Mink, is a large black
weasel that inhabits the borders of rivers in Canada and the United
States, where it preys upon fish and aquatic reptiles.

In North America there is also a very large Pine marten, so called from
its habit of dwelling in the pine forests--where it climbs the trees in
pursuit of birds and squirrels.  This is among the largest of the weasel
tribe.  In California, a new species has been described under the name
of the Yellow-cheeked weasel, and in Mexico another, the Black--faced;
so that North America has its full complement of these sanguinary
quadrupeds.  Nor is the southern division of that continent without its
weasels, as there is one species or more in New Granada, one in Guiana,
and two or three in Chili and Peru.

In India, there is the White-cheeked weasel, Hodgson's and Horsefield's
weasels; and in Nepaul, the Nepaul weasel, and the Cathia.  Further
north in Asia, there is, in Siberia, the Vomela, the Chorok, and the
Altai weasel of the Altai Mountains; and no doubt need exist that
animals of the weasel tribe are to be found everywhere.  Indeed, if we
regard as weasels the various carnivorous quadrupeds of the glutton and
badger family, which have been described elsewhere in these sketches--
including the strange Teledu or Stinkard of Java, the Helietis of India
and China, the Taira and Grison of Brazil, the Ratel or honey badger of
Africa, the Zorille of the Cape, the Zorilla or Maikel of Patagonia, the
Sand bear of India, and the numerous varieties of the celebrated
Polecat, or Skunk, of North and South America--we may well say that
there are weasels, or their representatives, in every hole and corner of
the earth.

With regard to the Polecats of America, they form a sort of link between
the weasels and civets; and although there was long supposed to be but
one kind--as in the case of the opossum--it is now ascertained that
there are several distinct species, with an endless list of varieties.

The _Water Weasels_, or _Otters_, are not so numerous either in species
or individuals--though there are at least a dozen of them in all, and
they are widely distributed over the world.

In Britain, there is but one--the Common or European otter; and in North
America, a very similar species was supposed, until recently, to be the
only one inhabiting that continent.  The rivers of California, however,
have presented us with a second, known as the Californian otter; and the
singular Sea otter, whose beautiful fur is so prized under the name of
Sea otter, is also an animal inhabiting the coasts of California--as it
does most part of the western seaboard of the American continent.

The Grey otter is a South African animal, and in India we have the
Wargul; while in the rivers of Nepaul--a country so rich in mammalia--
there is the Golden brown otter.  China, in common with other
Indo-Chinese countries, possesses the Chinese otter; and South America
has the Brazilian Contra, and in all probability several other species.

With regard to the _Civet-Weasels_--or Civet Cats, as they are commonly
called--there is a still greater variety, both in genera and species: so
many, indeed, that, as already stated, they have been arranged in a
family by themselves.  They may be regarded, however, as large weasels,
distinguished from the others by their having a sort of pouch or gland
under the tail, in which is secreted an unctuous and highly odorous
substance.  This, in some species, as in the true civets, is relished as
a perfume or scent, while in others it is an extremely disagreeable
odour.  The true civet is a native of North Africa; where it is kept in
a tame state, for the purpose of obtaining from it the well-known
perfume of commerce.  An allied species, the Rasse, belongs to Java--and
is there also kept in cages for the same purpose--while in Asia--from
Arabia to Malabar, and among the Malays and Arabs of Borneo, Macassar,
and other islands of the Indian Archipelago--still another species of
civet affords a similar perfumed substance.

The Aard Wolf (earth wolf) of South Africa is usually classed among the
civets, but with very slight reason.  It is far more like the hyena; and
is certainly nothing else than a hyena.

The Delundung of Java is a creature that bears a resemblance to the
civets; and may be regarded as forming a link between these and the true
cats.

The Genets constitute a division of the civet-weasel tribe; and one of
which there are numerous species.  They are usually pretty spotted
creatures, with immensely long tails; and but for their cruel and
sanguinary habits would, no doubt, be favourites.  They exist in South
Europe; and, under different forms and appellations, extend over all
Africa to Madagascar and the Cape--as well as through the countries of
Southern Asia and the Asiatic islands.

The Ichneumons claim our attention next.  These are celebrated animals,
on account of the strange and fabulous tales related of the species
known as the Egyptian ichneumon, which, among the people of Egypt, is
domesticated, and was once held as a sacred animal.  Besides the
Egyptian ichneumon, there are several other species in Africa--one
belonging to Abyssinia, and no less than six to the countries near the
Cape.  The Garangan of Java is an ichneumon; and so also are the Mongoos
and Nyula of Nepaul; while in the Malay peninsula is a species known as
the Malacca ichneumon.  The Paradoxure is usually classed with the
civets, though it wants the perfumed pouch; and the Suricate or
Meer-cat, of the Cape colonists, takes its station in this group.  A
badger-like animal of Madagascar, the Mangu, is also regarded as a
civet: so, too, are the Coatis of the New World, though these last are
evidently of much nearer kin to the badgers.

Perhaps the curious creature known as the Potto, or Kinkajou, has more
pretensions to a place among the civets: at all events, it deserves one
in the general group of the weasels.



CHAPTER SIX.

TAME DOGS.

Perhaps of all other animals the dog has been the earliest and most
constant companion of man.  His swiftness and strength, but more
especially his highly-developed power of smelling, have made him a
powerful ally against the other animals; and these qualities must have
attracted the attention of man at an early period--particularly in those
times when the chase was, perhaps, the only pursuit of mankind.

No animal is more widely distributed over the earth.  He has followed
man everywhere; and wherever human society exists, there this constant
and faithful attendant may be found--devoted to his master, adopting his
manners, distinguishing and defending his property, and remaining
attached to him even after death.

It is a question among naturalists as to what was the parent stock of
the dog.  Some allege that he has sprung from the wolf; others that he
is a descendant of the jackal; while not a few believe that there were
true wild dogs, from which the present domesticated race had their
origin.  These ideas are mere speculations, and not very reasonable ones
either.  It would not be difficult to show, that different kinds of dogs
have sprung from different kinds of animals--that is, animals of the
same great family--from wolves, foxes, jackals, zerdas, and even hyenas.
This can be proved from the fact, that domesticated breeds among savage
tribes, both in Asia and America, are undoubtedly the descendants of
wolves and jackals: such, for instance, as the Esquimaux dog of the
Arctic regions, the Dingo of Australia, the Indian dogs of North
America--of which there are several varieties--and also one or two kinds
existing in Mexico and South America.

Naturalists deny that there are any true dogs living in a wild state.
This is simply an unreasonable assertion.  Wild dogs of several species
are to be met with in Asia and America; and if it be asserted that these
originally came from a domesticated stock, the same cannot be said of
the hunting dog of Southern Africa--which is neither more nor less than
a _wild hound_.

Perhaps none of the animals that have submitted to the conquest of man
have branched off into a greater number of varieties than this one.
There are more kinds than either of horses or oxen.  We shall not,
therefore, attempt a description of each; but limit ourselves to speak
of those breeds that are the most remarkable--or rather those with which
the reader is supposed to be least familiar.  To describe such varieties
as the spaniel, the greyhound, the mastiff, or the terrier, would not
add much to the knowledge which the English reader already possesses.

One of the most remarkable of dogs is the huge mastiff of Tibet.  He is
long-haired, and usually of a jet black colour.  He is quite a match in
size for either the Newfoundland or San Bernard breeds, and not unlike
one or the other--for it may be remarked, that these in many points
resemble each other.

The Tibet dog, as his name implies, is the property of the Tibetians:
especially the Bhootees--the same people who own that curious species of
cattle, the _Yak_, or grunting ox, and who reside on the northern slopes
of the Himalaya mountains.  It may be inferred, therefore, that the
Tibet dog affects a cold climate; and such is in reality the case.  He
cannot bear heat; and does not thrive, even in the kingdom of Nepaul.
Attempts to introduce the breed into England have resulted in failure:
the animals brought hither having died shortly after their arrival.

The masters of these dogs--the Bhootees, or Bhoteas, are a singular
race, of a ruddy copper colour, rather short in stature, but of
excellent disposition.  Their clothing consists of furs and woollen
cloths, adapted to the cold climate which they inhabit.  The men till
the ground, and keep yaks and sheep, and sometimes come down into the
warm plains to trade--penetrating even to Calcutta.  The women remain at
home, their only protectors being these great dogs, who watch faithfully
over their villages and encampments, and fly fiercely at any stranger
who may approach them.  It is said that they are especially hostile to
people who have a _white_ face; but this disposition is also
characteristic of the dogs belonging to the American Indians--and
perhaps those possessed by all savages with a coloured skin.

The Dingo, or dog of Australia, is an animal domesticated among the
aborigines of that country.  He is a dog of wolf-like shape, who does
not bark, but utters only a mournful howling.  He is used by the
wretched natives both for the chase and as an article of food; and is a
fierce and voracious creature--not hesitating to launch himself on the
larger kinds of animals.  He is especially employed in hunting the
kangaroo; and sometimes terrible combats occur between the dingo and the
larger species of kangaroos--resulting always in the death of the
latter.

The San Bernard dog, supposed to be a cross between the mastiff and
shepherd's dog, is too celebrated to require a description here.  His
sagacity in discovering travellers amid the Alpine snows, and guiding
them upon their path, is the quality upon which the fame of this dog has
been founded; but it may be remarked that many of the feats attributed
to him have their origin in the fertile fancies of Parisian writers.

The Esquimaux dog is another celebrated variety.  He is an animal with a
fox-like face and thick coat of whitish hair, generally tinged with
yellow.  He is to the Esquimaux a most valuable companion: trained to
draw their sledges over the surface of the snow, and enabling them to
make long and rapid journeys--without which these singular people would
be ofttimes in danger of perishing amid the inhospitable regions they
inhabit.

The Indians of North America possess two or three varieties of
domesticated dogs, evidently derived from the wolves of that region.
Indeed, the common Indian dogs, found among the Sioux and other northern
tribes, bear so close a resemblance to the large American wolf, that
they are often taken for this animal, and in consequence shot, or
otherwise killed by mistake.  The Indians use them for carrying burdens:
their tents and tent poles being transported by these animals on long
journeys across the prairies.  Their flesh is a favourite article of the
savage _cuisine_; but it is too costly to be used as an every-day food;
and is only served up on grand festive occasions.  Like the dogs of
Tibet, these Indian wolf dogs have the greatest antipathy to a white
skin; so much so, that even a friend in that guise can rarely obtain
either their confidence or friendship.

A smaller kind than the common one is found among certain tribes, and
appears to have derived its origin from the prairie wolf--the jackal of
America--while the Hare Indians of the Rocky Mountains possess a third
variety; and it is known that still another exists among the tribes of
Russian America.  This last is short-haired and smooth-coated: therefore
differing altogether from the Indian dogs of the prairies.

In Mexico, there are two or three native dogs: found there on the
arrival of Europeans.  One is the _Alco_--a dog remarkable for a curious
hunch or protuberance upon the back and shoulders, a thick short neck,
and small pointed muzzle.  He is thinly covered with long hair, of a
yellowish colour.

Another singular variety is the dog of Chihuahua and this is, perhaps,
the smallest of all canine creatures.  Full-grown specimens have been
seen, whose dimensions did not exceed those of the common rat; and a
singular fact, well authenticated, is, that this dog, when transported
from Chihuahua to any other place--even to the city of Mexico itself--
invariably becomes larger, or degenerates, as the Mexicans have it!
There is also in Mexico a hairless dog.  It is, no doubt, the same as
that known by the name of Turkish dog; since this variety came
originally from Spanish America.

In South America, there are several species of native dogs, found among
the savages of the Orinoco and Amazon.  They are small animals, usually
of a whitish colour: but their owners follow the curious practice of
dyeing them with annatto, indigo, and other brilliant dyes, for the
purpose of rendering them more ornamental!

We can only find space to say that there are many other varieties of
domesticated dogs, almost unknown beyond the countries in which they are
found.  Such are the _Quao_ of Rhamgur, the Sumatran dog, the _Poull_ of
New Ireland, the dogs of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego--those of the
South Sea Islands; and the _Waht_ that inhabits some of the ranges of
the Himalayas.

It is reasonable to suppose that there is not a nation upon earth,
hardly a tribe--civilised or savage--that does not possess some variety
of the canine race differing from all the others.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

WILD DOGS.

By _Wild Dogs_, we mean not only several sorts of true dogs, that in
different parts of the world are found living in a wild state; but also
Wolves, Foxes, Jackals, Hyenas, and Fennecs--for all these are but dogs
in a state of nature.

First, we shall speak of the true dogs living in a wild state--that is,
apart from the society of man.

It is not necessary here to go into the often-debated question, as to
whether dogs were originally wolves, or what species of wolf the dog is
descended from.  This is all mere speculation, and answers no purpose.
It is just as likely that wolves sprang from dogs, as that dogs came
from wolves; and every one may perceive that two breeds of the dog
species are often far more unlike each other--both in appearance and
habits--than a dog is to a wolf itself.  Again, foxes differ only from
wolves in point of size; and a small wolf is in reality a fox, while a
large fox may be equally regarded as a wolf.  Furthermore, the jackal is
nothing else than another form of the same animal--the wolf or dog,
whichever you choose to term it; and the hyenas but a still _uglier_
shape of the same carnivorous creature.

With regard to the true wild dogs--which are not regarded as wolves--we
find them existing in various parts of the world.  They usually live in
communities, and have the habit of hounds--that is, they hunt in packs.
Whether they were originally dogs in a domesticated state, and have
since seceded from the society of man, is a question which naturalists
are unable to agree upon.

In India there are two or three kinds of wild dogs living thus.  One in
the Deccan--called Kolsun by the Mahratta people--is a reddish-coloured
animal, nearly as large as the common European wolf.  It dwells in the
forests, far remote from the villages--and of course lives by preying
upon other animals--just as wolves and foxes do.  Again, in the forests
of the Himalaya mountains there is another species of wild dog,
different from that of the Deccan.  It is usually known as the wild dog
of Nepaul, from its being found in many parts of that kingdom.  A large
community of these animals is often met with in the mountain forests--
living in caves, or at the bottoms of cliffs, where there are deep
crevices among the boulders of loose rocks, that afford them a secure
asylum when pursued by their enemies.  In these places the dogs sleep,
and bring forth their young; and the puppies are taught to be
exceedingly wary, and not stray far from their dens during the absence
of the mothers.  Indeed, so cunning do they become when only a few days
old, that it is difficult to capture one of them outside its
impenetrable lodging-place.

During many hours the old ones are abroad, in pursuit of the animals
upon whose flesh they subsist; and, as already stated, these dogs follow
their game not singly, but in bands or packs.  In this way, instinct
teaches them that they will have a better chance of success; since they
are more able to head the pursued animal, turn it in different
directions, and at length run it to the ground.  A curious fact is
related of the cunning of these wild dogs.  It is stated that when in
pursuit of the larger animals--such as stags and large antelopes that
inhabit the same district--instead of running them down at once, the
dogs manoeuvre so as to guide the game to their breeding place, before
giving the final _coup_ to the chase!  The object of this is to bring
the carcass within reach of their young; which, were it killed at a
great distance off, would be obviously impossible.  Such a habit as this
would prove them possessed of something more than instinct; but for all
that, it may be true.  A fact seems to confirm it: the fact that a large
quantity of bones is always observed in the immediate neighbourhood of
the breeding places--some of these being of such a size as to preclude
the belief that they could have been carried thither by the dogs
themselves.

In Ramghur there is a wild dog called Quao, or Quaw, which lives in
communities, just as those of Nepaul; and still another kind inhabits
the forests of the Island of Sumatra.

None of these kinds are to be confounded with the half-wild dogs of
India, called pariah dogs; since the latter, although not owned by
individuals, dwell in the villages, and of course associate with man.
Besides, the pariahs are of no particular breed--there being several
sorts of pariah dogs.  They are merely _outcast curs_, without owners,
that pick up a living as they best can.

Passing from India to the tropical countries of America, we find another
sort of wild dog in the forests of Guiana, known as the Koupara, or
Crab-dog.  It is not certain whether these dogs are indigenous to
Guiana, or the progeny of some domestic variety introduced by the
colonists.  They dwell in small troops or families, of six or seven
individuals each, and their food is furnished by the _pacas, agoutis_,
and other small rodent animals of tropical America.  They also find
sustenance in several kinds of crabs, which they adroitly capture upon
the banks of the rivers; and it is from their habit of feeding upon
these they have derived the name of crab-dogs.  They are easily tamed;
and when crossed with other breeds, a variety is produced which is
esteemed by the natives as the very best kind for the hunting of the
agoutis, cavies, and capibaras.

The wild dogs of the Cape country, called _Wilde Hunden_ (wild hounds)
by the Dutch, are usually regarded as near akin to the _hyenas_.  But
they are more like real wild hounds than hyenas; and their colour--which
is a mixture of black, white, and tan--almost points to them as the
progenitors of that variety of dog known as the hound.  Their habits,
too, would seem to confirm this hypothesis: for it is well-known that
these animals pursue their prey just after the manner of a pack of real
hounds--doubling upon it, and using every artifice to run it down.  The
numerous species of ruminant animals--the antelope in particular--are
the especial objects of their pursuit, and upon these they subsist.
Like the Indian wild dogs, they live in communities--using the burrows
of the wild hog and ant-eater, as also the hollow ant-hills, for their
lairs and breeding places.  Travellers passing across the plains of
South Africa have often witnessed the splendid spectacle of a pack of
these beautiful wild hounds in pursuit of a large antelope, and almost
fancied themselves looking at a stag hunt, with a kennel of real hounds
going at full view!

The true wild dog of all is that creature so well-known and celebrated
in all our tales of childhood--the _Wolf_.

To describe the wolf, or even to give an account of his habits, would be
superfluous.  Almost every one is acquainted with the gaunt form, the
shaggy hide, and tierce aspect of this formidable creature; and every
one has heard of his fierce and savage disposition: for who is ignorant
of the story of "Little Red Riding Hood?"

The presence of this much-disliked animal is almost universal: by which
I mean, that in some form or other he is represented in almost every
corner of the globe.  You may say there are no wolves in Africa; but
this is not true: for the hyenas are nothing more nor less than wolves,
and wolves of the very ugliest kind.

Fortunately wolves are no longer found in Britain, though they were once
plentiful enough in these islands; but all over the continent of Europe
there are still numerous wolves in the forests and mountains.

The Common Wolf, that is, the wolf of Europe, is the type of the family;
but this type offers many varieties--according to the different
localities in which it is found.  I shall here notice these varieties.

French wolves are generally browner and smaller than those of Germany;
and the wolves of Russia, Sweden, and Norway are still stronger animals,
and of a more sinister appearance.  These differ very much in colour,
which in winter is almost white.  Again, the Alpine wolves are smaller
than the French, and of a brownish-grey colour; while those of Italy and
Turkey have a yellowish tinge.  Black wolves are not uncommon,
especially in the Pyrenees of Spain; but whether these, as well as the
others, are all mere varieties of the common wolf, or whether there are
two or three distinct species of European wolf, are questions to be left
to the disputation of systematic naturalists.

Over all the continent of America, from the Arctic shores in the north
to Tierra del Fuego in the south, wolves are found; and here again there
are varieties in size, colour, and even habits, that may fairly entitle
the different kinds to rank as separate species.  Most certainly there
are distinct species, for that known as the Prairie Wolf, and also the
Coyote of Mexico, are two kinds that more resemble jackals than real
wolves.

Besides, other wolves of the American continent, as the Brown Wolf of
Mexico, the great Dusky Wolf of the Upper Missouri, the Aguara Dog of
South America, the Wild Dog of the Falkland Islands, the Fox Wolves of
Patagonia and Terra del Fuego, the Guazu of Paraguay and Chili, and the
North American Common Wolf--are all animals of such different appearance
and habits, that it is absurd to term them varieties of the same
species.  In Asia we have just the same series of varieties--that is, in
every part of the great continent is found some representative of the
tribe, which in reality is no variety, but an original and indigenous
animal of the wolf kind--such as the Sandgah, or Indian wolf of the
Himalayas; the Beriah, another Indian wolf; and the Derboom, a black
species that inhabits the mountains of Arabia and Syria.

In Africa the wolf is represented by the hyenas, of which there are at
least four species--one of them, the common hyena, belonging to the
northern half of the African continent, and extending its range into
several countries of Asia.  At the Cape, and northward into Central
Africa, three large species of hyena, and one small one (the Aard wolf),
represent the lupine family.  The Jackal, too--of which there are
several distinct kinds in Asia and Africa--is only a wolf of diminutive
size and gregarious habit.

This creature is fairly represented in America by the Coyote of Mexico,
and the Barking Wolf of the prairies; and in Asia, upon the steppes of
Tartary, by the Corsac.

Even in Australia, where new mammalia have turned up in such odd and
fantastic forms, the wolf has his congener in that curious creature
known as the Tasmanian wolf.

With regard to foxes, they, like the wolves, are distributed almost
universally over the globe; and exhibit a like variety of forms and
colours, according to the different localities which they inhabit.
Their name is legion.

As the smallest representatives of the wild dogs, we find in Africa the
curious little creatures known as the Fennecs.  Of these there are also
varieties; for, although very much alike in habits, the Fennecs of
Abyssinia and those of the Cape are evidently distinct species.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

CATS.

The Lion is the _king of cats_; though there are some who think that the
Tiger has a better claim to the _throne_.  In point of size and
strength, there is not much difference between these two animals.  The
lion _appears_ larger, on account of his shaggy mane; but specimens of
the tiger have been taken whose measurement was equal to that of the
largest lion.  Otherwise, the tiger is decidedly superior in courage, in
address, and in beauty; in fact, the royal tiger is one of the most
beautiful of animals; while the lion, notwithstanding the great fame he
enjoys, is among the very ugliest of brutes.

These two powerful creatures often meet in the jungles of India, and try
their strength in single combat.  It is not decided which is superior in
prowess, since victory is sometimes on one side and sometimes on the
other.  No doubt this depends on the individuals who may engage, for
lions are not all alike, nor tigers neither.  Both differ in strength
and courage, just as men do; and this difference is caused by a variety
of circumstances--such as age, size, season of the year, nature of the
country and climate, and many like contingencies.

Remember that the lion is found both in Asia and Africa, and nowhere
else.  He inhabits the whole of Africa, from the Cape to the shores of
the Mediterranean, and there are three well-marked varieties on that
continent.  In Asia he is only found in its southern part--that is, in
the tropical and sub-tropical regions; and there are also two or three
varieties of the Asiatic lion.

With regard to the tiger, he is altogether an Asiatic.  There are no
tigers in Europe, Africa, and America--of course we mean in their wild
state; and the stories of tiger-hunts in Africa and America, frequently
to be met with in books and newspapers, are the narratives of mere
ignorant travellers, who confound the royal tiger with several species
of spotted cats--of which we shall presently speak.  We may add that the
tiger, although exclusively Asiatic, is not exclusively tropical in his
haunts.  Tigers are more abundant in the hot jungles of India and some
of the larger islands of the Indian Ocean than elsewhere; but they have
also been observed far to the north of the Himalayan chain on the great
_steppes_ that extend almost to the confines of Siberia.

To continue the monarchical analogy; there are four cats that may be
called the princes of the family.  These are the _Jaguar_, the
_Leopard_, the _Panther_, and the _Hunting-leopard_ or _Cheetah_.  The
first of these is exclusively American; the other three, African and
Asiatic.  They are all four what are termed spotted cats; that is,
having black markings on a buff or yellowish ground.  I need not add
that they are all beautiful creatures.  A superficial observer would
easily mistake the one for the other; and in common phrase, they are
indifferently termed leopards, panthers, and even tigers; but the
naturalist, and even the _furrier_ knows that they are four distinct
species.

I shall endeavour to point out as briefly as possible some marks that
will enable _you_ to distinguish them.  In the spots we find a tolerably
good criterion of the species.  Those upon the body of the jaguar are
not spots, but rather what may be termed rosettes.  So, too, the black
markings of the leopard and panther are rosettes; that is, irregular
black rings enclosing an open space of the yellow ground.  On the
contrary, the spots upon the hunting-leopard are real spots, of a
uniform black; and, consequently, this animal is easily distinguished
from the other three.  He differs from them also in shape.  He is longer
in the legs, stands more upright upon them, and can run more swiftly
than any of the cat tribe.  In fact, he has a tendency towards the
nature and habits of the dog, and might be appropriately termed the
cat-dog, or the dog-cat, whichever you please.  It is on account of his
canine qualities that he is sometimes trained to the chase: hence his
specific name of the hunting-leopard.  He inhabits both Asia and Africa.

But how are the jaguar, leopard, and panther to be distinguished from
one another?  The jaguar easily enough from the other two.  His rosettes
have a black point in the centre, which is wanting in the rings of the
panther and leopard.  Besides, the jaguar is a larger and more powerful
animal.  Humboldt and others have observed specimens of the jaguar
nearly equal in dimensions to those of the royal tiger himself; and his
feats of fierce prowess, in the forests of Spanish America, are scarce
eclipsed by those of his congener in the jungles of India.  Human beings
are frequently his victims, and settlements have been abandoned on
account of the dangerous proximity of the jaguars.  His range in America
is pretty nearly co-terminal with the Spanish territories--including, of
course, Brazil and Guiana, and excluding the country of Patagonia, where
a smaller species takes his place.  In all these countries he is
misnamed tiger (_tigre_)--hence the anomalous stories to which we have
alluded.  We may add that there is a _black_ jaguar in tropical America,
just as there is a _black_ panther in Asia.  In neither case is it a
different species: only a variety as regards colour.  In all other
respects the black and yellow kinds are alike.  Even on the black ones
the spots are observable in a certain light, being of a deeper hue than
the general ground colour of the skin.

Thus, then, it is easy to distinguish a cheetah from a jaguar, or either
from a leopard or panther; but with regard to these last two, the
distinction is more difficult.  In fact, so much are they alike, that
the two species are confounded even by naturalists; and it is yet an
undecided point which is the leopard, and which the panther!  That there
are two distinct species is certain.  The London furrier knows that
there are two kinds of skins, which he distinguishes mainly by the feel;
but the learned zoologist, Temminck, has pointed out a difference in the
anatomical structure.  Both animals are natives of Africa, and both were
supposed to exist in Asia; but it is doubtful whether that known as the
leopard extends beyond the limits of the African continent.  The panther
is that one which is a little heavier in the body, more cat-like in
shape, and of a deeper yellow in the ground colour; but, perhaps, the
truest distinction is found in the tail, which is longer in the panther
than in the leopard, and consists of a greater number of vertebrae.

The panther is a well-known animal in India and the Asiatic islands;
and, as already stated, there is a dark-skinned variety, commonly known
as the Black Panther of Java.

Taking the cat family according to size, the next that deserves mention
is the Couguar, or Puma.  This is the panther of the Anglo-Americans,
and the lion (_leon_) of the Mexicans and South Americans.  His colour
is a uniform tawny red, or calf colour; and he is inferior to the jaguar
in size, strength, and courage.  Notwithstanding, he is a formidable
animal, and has been known to attack and destroy the larger mammalia.
When wounded, or at bay, he will also defend himself against a human
enemy; and there have been instances of hunters, both white and Indian,
having succumbed to his strength.  His range extends over nearly the
whole continent of America; but he more particularly affects the deep
shadow of the forests; and, like the jaguar, he is a tree-climber.  He
has no claim to the title of lion, except from some resemblance in
colour; and no doubt it was this that led to his misnomer among the
early settlers of Spanish America.

The Ounce comes next.  Of all the large cats this is the least known,
either to naturalists or hunters.  We only know that such a species
exists; that it is a native of Western Asia (Persia, and perhaps
Arabia); that it is an animal nearly as large as the leopard or panther,
but of stouter build and clumsier shape; that it is covered with long
woolly hair of a pale-yellow colour, and spotted, not so distinctly as
the true leopards, from which it is easily distinguished, both by its
form and colour.  The name Ounce is from Buffon; but this specific
appellation is also applied to the jaguar of America, the Jaguarundi, or
lesser jaguar of Paraguay, and even to the Ocelot.

The _Rimau-dahan_ is one of the most beautiful species of cats.  It is
of a yellowish ground colour, not spotted like the leopard, but marked
with broad black bands and patches; in other words, clouded.  It is not
so large as either of the species described.  It is a tree-climber, and
lies in wait for its prey in the forks of the lower limbs, where it also
goes to sleep.  From this habit it derives its name, _Dalian_; which, in
the Sumatran language, signifies the fork of a tree.

Not unlike the _Rimau-dahan_, both in size and markings, is the Nepaul
cat: a species, as its name imports, found in Nepaul, in the mountain
forests.

The Serval is a spotted cat--black upon a pale-yellowish ground--and
considerably larger than the domestic species.  It is a native of South
Africa; and its skin is prized among the Kaffirs, for making their fur
cloaks or _karosses_.

The Ocelot is about equal in size to the last-named, and equally prized
for its beautiful skin, which is clouded with an admixture of spots and
stripes upon a ground of yellowish-grey.  It belongs to Spanish
America--more especially Mexico: and it is said to have been this animal
that is represented on the hieroglyphical paintings of the ancient
Aztecs.  More probably its nobler congener, the jaguar, which is also
found in Mexico, is the animal that held this distinction in the land of
Anahuac.

In Central and South America there are a great many species of striped
and spotted cats, known generally as tiger cats.  The Ocelot is one of
these; but there are also the Pampas cats, the Chati, the Jaguarundi,
the Margay, the False Margay, and many others.

Numerous species, too, exist in the forests of India; as also in the
great tropical islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and the Philippines.

There is yet a section of the cat family to be described.  These are the
lynxes, or cats with short tails and long ears--the latter erect, and at
the tips pointing inward, or towards each other.

Of the _Lynxes_ three species are found in North America.  The largest
of these is the Canada lynx, which in point of size approaches the
smaller species of leopards.  The colour of this animal is of a reddish
grey, with spots very indistinctly marked.  Its fur is long, and its
skins form one of the principal articles of the Hudson's Bay trade.

The Canada lynx is not found so far south as the United States; but its
place is there occupied by the Bay lynx--a smaller species, and one very
similarly marked, except that the rufous tint on the back and sides of
the latter is deeper, and the spots more pronounced.

Still further south is a third species, only made known to naturalists
within the last few years.  It inhabits Texas, and is hence called the
Texan lynx.  It is of a darker red than either of the preceding; but in
other respects--size, shape, and habits--it is almost identical with the
Bay lynx.  Both range to the Pacific.

Of the lynxes of the Old World, there is the common or European lynx,
which is still found in several European countries; the Caracal, a
native of Africa and part of Asia; the Booted lynx, also indigenous to
both continents; the Chaus, belonging to the country of the Mahrattas;
the Kattlo, a large species, of Northern Europe; the Nubian lynx, of
North Africa; and the Southern lynx, a native of Spain.

It may be added that there is scarce one of these species of which there
are not two or more varieties, known only to those who have made a study
of the Kingdom of Nature.



CHAPTER NINE.

RATS AND OTHER RODENTS.

In this group we include not only Rats, but a great many other small
rodents, or gnawers, such as Mice, Marmots, Lemmings, Hamsters,
Mole-Rats, Jerboas, and Jumping Mice.  The Shrew-Mice and Moles may also
be classed here--although naturalists separate them from rodents,
because their food is not herbivorous, but consists of worms and
insects.  For all that, there is a certain general resemblance, both as
to appearance and habits, among all these small quadrupeds; which, for
purposes of classification, is, perhaps, of more value than mere
difference of food, or tubercles upon the teeth; especially, as it can
be proved, that the sort of food an animal eats, is often dependent on
the circumstances in which it may be placed.

Of the _Rats_, properly so called, there are numerous species, as well
as varieties.  Their size is, in general, about the same as the Black
and Norway rats--both of which belong to England, and have been
introduced, by means of ships, into every country upon the habitable
globe.  They are said to have come originally from Asia.  There is one
species of rat, however, that is much larger than either of these--the
Gigantic rat, found in Indian countries, and which in size quite equals
a rabbit!

The habits of the rats are too well-known to require description.
Some--as the Wood Rat and Florida Rat of America--dwell apart from the
habitations of man, in the woods; where, instead of living in burrows,
they construct large nests, by collecting together heaps of sticks,
leaves, and grass.

_Mice_ may be regarded as only a smaller kind of rats; and of these
there are many distinct species--both in the Old and New Worlds.

The _Marmots_ are, perhaps, the most interesting of the small rodents.
They stand in a sort of connection with the squirrels, more especially
the ground squirrels: on the other hand, they resemble rabbits; and they
have still many points of identity with rats.  They belong to the
northern zones of Europe, Asia, and America.  There are three or four
species belonging to the Old World; and a great many to North America.
Moreover there is a considerable difference in the habits of these
species, which has led zoologists to separate them into several genera.
One genus, called the Seed-eaters, is a very curious kind.  The marmots
of this genus have a pair of pockets or pouches--one on the outside of
each cheek--in which they actually carry seeds and other articles of
food to their burrows.  These pouches, when filled, impart to the little
creatures a most ludicrous appearance.

The marmots usually live in large communities--in burrows, as rabbits
do.  These burrows are sometimes very extensive--especially so, in the
case of the prairie marmot of America--better known as the Prairie Dog--
whose _villages_ sometimes cover an extent of many square miles; and
whose odd social habits have been repeatedly and accurately described by
late travellers who have crossed the American continent.

The _Mole-rats_ are a sort of combination between moles and rats: hence
their common name.  One species is found in Eastern Russia; where it
burrows much after the fashion of the mole--living principally upon
roots.  Two other kinds belong to South Africa.  Both these are of large
size, nearly as big as rabbits.  On the plains, they make extensive
excavations, which often prove dangerous to the horse and his rider--
causing the former to stumble.  The Dutch of the Cape know them by the
name of Sand Moles.

The _Hamsters_ differ considerably from the marmots in their mode of
burrowing.  They make their underground dwellings very extensive--having
a great many chambers and galleries.  In these they collect vast stores
of food--consisting of grain, peas, and seeds of various kinds.
Sometimes two or three bushels of provision will be found in the
storehouse of a single family.  The hamsters do not confine themselves
exclusively to a vegetable diet: since it is known that they will kill
and eat birds, or even small quadrupeds.  In this respect they resemble
the common rats; and, therefore, it is idle to talk of mere
_herbivorous_ genera of animals.  The hamsters are very fierce little
creatures: constantly fighting with other quadrupeds, and even among
themselves; but the polecat is their master and tyrant, and carries on a
war of extermination against them--following them through the intricate
ways of their burrows, and destroying them even in their dens!

There are several species of hamsters in Europe and Asia, and also in
North America: for the animal known as the Canada Pouched Rat is of this
kind, and so also is the Tucan of Mexico.  So also is that very singular
and beautiful creature, the Chinchilla of South America--so celebrated
for its soft and valuable fur.

The _Lemmings_ are another form of small rodent animals, celebrated for
their extraordinary migratory habit; which resembles that of the grey
squirrels of North America.  There are several species of lemmings
belonging to the northern section of the Old Continent--in Eastern
Russia and Asia.  One or two are found in North America--in that part of
it known as the Hudson's Bay Territory.

The _Spinous Rats_ are little animals much resembling ordinary rats; but
with the peculiarity of having stiff spines growing among their hair,
after the manner of porcupine quills.  There are several species of
them: all natives of tropical America.

The _Jerboas_ are, perhaps, the most singular of all the rodents.  They
are noted for having the hind legs much longer than the fore ones--in
fact, being shaped very much like the kangaroos--of which they might be
termed Lilliputian varieties, were it not that they lack the pouch,
which distinguishes these curious creatures.  Like the kangaroos, they
use their fore-feet only to rest upon.  When in motion, or desirous of
passing quickly over the ground, they make use of their hind-feet only:
proceeding by long leaps or jumps, and sometimes springing to the
distance of twelve or fifteen feet.  Their tails being long and slender,
were supposed _not_ to assist them in this operation; but an experiment
made by a cruel Frenchman--that of cutting off these appendages--proved
that a considerable portion of the jumping power is derived from the
tail.

Africa and Asia are the head-quarters of these quadrupeds--the most
noted species being the Jerboas of Egypt, and the Leaping Hare of the
Cape.  They dwell in sandy deserts--burrowing in communities like the
marmots.  In America there are no true jerboas: they are there
represented by the Jumping Mice of Labrador and the Hudson's Bay
Territory; which resemble the jerboas in almost everything except size,
the jumping mice being much smaller animals.

_Field Mice_ and _Dormice_ are other kinds of small rodents, differing
from the common kind of mouse; but the habits and appearance of these
little quadrupeds are well-known.

The _Beaver_ and _Musk-rat_, or _Musquash_ of America, are usually
classed among the rat tribe; but these animals, for many reasons,
deserve to stand apart and form a group of themselves.  With regard to
the shrew-mice and moles, there is less reason for separating them from
other mice; and we shall speak of them in this connection.

The _Moles_ are known to be the best burrowers in the world: since they
can pass under the surface of the ground as fast as a man can dig after
them, or even faster.  In England, the common mole is well-known--too
well, in fact--for it is the very pest of the farmer; and the damage
done by it to the herbage is very considerable indeed--of greater amount
than that occasioned by any other wild animal.

In America, where there are several species of moles, their habits are
similar; and the common American mole is very like its European congener
in every respect.  But there are two or three species found in North
American countries very different from either; and the most singular of
all is that known as the Star-nosed Mole.  This creature has the
cartilage of the snout extended into five or six branches, that radiate
from each other, like spokes of a wheel, or the points of a star--hence
the name of star-nosed mole.  The use of this singular appendage is not
clearly understood; and, indeed, it would appear to be an obstruction to
the natural requirements of the animal.  No doubt, however, it has its
purpose--though that purpose be unknown to us.

The _Shrew-Mice_ are still another kind of small ratlike quadrupeds.
They are distinguished by having upon each flank, under the ordinary
skin, a little band of stiff and close hairs, from which an odoriferous
humour is distilled.  They dig holes in the earth, which they seldom
come out of until towards evening; and their food consists of insects
and worms.  A species that inhabits the Pyrenees, and also the mountains
of Russia, are called Desmans, and differ somewhat from the ordinary
shrew-mice.  They are aquatic in their habits; and their burrows always
enter the ground below the level of the water.  The Russian species are
usually termed Musk-rats; but these are not to be confounded with the
musk-rats of America--which last should undoubtedly be classed with the
beavers.

In India, the shrew-mice attain to the size of ordinary rats, and are
there also called musk-rats, from the fact that a strong odour of musk
is exhaled by them--so strong as to make the place through which the
animal passes exceedingly disagreeable.  The same is true of the Russian
musk-rats, but for all that their skins are employed in chests
containing clothing: since the musky smell is a good preservative
against the moths.

In addition to the numerous rat animals above-mentioned, there are still
other kinds in different parts of the world--the names of which would
alone fill many pages.  Hence it is that the study of this section of
the mammalia is, perhaps, the most difficult of all; and a true
classification of these small quadrupeds has hitherto proved a puzzle to
the most expert zoologists.



CHAPTER TEN.

BEAVERS.

Of true Beavers there is only one species--unless the beaver of the Old
World be different from the well-known animal of the American continent.
This is a question which has been much debated among naturalists; and
certainly the difference which is known to exist between the habits of
the two animals would seem to prove them distinct.  The European beaver
is generally supposed to lead a solitary life--burrowing in the banks of
rivers as otters do; but this supposition is evidently erroneous: or,
rather, we should say, its solitary habit is not its normal or original
condition, but has been produced by circumstances.  It is probable that
if European beavers were left to themselves, in a situation remote from
the presence of man, they would build dams, and dwell together in
colonies, just as the American beavers do.  In fact, such colonies have
actually existed in some parts of Europe and Asia; and no doubt exist at
the present hour.  One has even been found on the small river Nutha, in
a lonely canton of the Magdeburg district, near the Elbe.  Moreover, it
is well-known that the American beavers, when much hunted and persecuted
(as they are certain to be whenever the settlements approach their
territory) forsake their gregarious habit; and betake themselves to the
"solitary system;" just as their European cousins have done.  Did this
constitute the only difference between the beavers of the Old and New
Worlds, we might regard them as one and the same; but there are other
and still more important points of distinction--reaching even to their
anatomical structure--which seem to prove them distinct species.  The
probability is in favour of this view: since there is perhaps no
indigenous quadruped of the one continent exactly identical with its
synonymous species of the other; excepting the polar bears, and a few
other kinds--whose arctic range leads them, as it were, all round the
earth.  The written natural history of the beaver is usually that of the
American species; not that this differs materially from his European
congener, but simply because it has been more extensively and accurately
observed.  Its valuable fur has long rendered it an object of the chase;
and for fifty years it has been hunted _a l'outrance_, and, in fact,
exterminated from a wide domain of more than a million of square miles.
Formerly, its range extended from the Gulf of Mexico almost to the
shores of the Arctic Sea, and latitudinally from ocean to ocean.  At
present, it is not found in the territory of the United States proper,
except in remote and solitary situations, among the mountains, or in
some tracts still unsettled.  Even where found in these places, its mode
of life approximates more to that of the European species; that is, it
burrows instead of builds.  The beaver has been long reputed as the most
sagacious of quadrupeds.  True it is, that the capacity of cutting down
trees--often a foot or more in diameter--floating or rafting these trees
down a stream, and constructing a dam with them, and afterwards building
its singular houses or lodges in the water, would seem to indicate the
presence of a rational power.  But there are many other creatures--
birds, insects, and quadrupeds--that exhibit instincts quite as
surprising.

Nevertheless the habits of the beaver are curious in the extreme, and
deserve to be given in detail.  The best account of them is that of the
old and truthful traveller Hearne: upon whose homely but accurate
observations scores of fireside naturalists have established a measure
of their fame.  We shall leave _him_ to tell the story of these singular
animals.

"The beavers," he says, "being so plentiful, the attention of my
companions was chiefly engaged on them, as they not only furnished
delicious food, but their skins proved a valuable acquisition,--being a
principal article of trade, as well as a serviceable one for clothing.
The situation of the beaver-houses are various.  Where the beavers are
numerous, they are found to inhabit lakes, ponds, and rivers, as well as
those narrow creeks which connect the numerous lakes with which this
country abounds; but the two latter are generally chosen by them when
the depth of water and other circumstances are suitable, as they have
then the advantage of a current to convey wood and other necessaries to
their habitations; and because, in general, they are more difficult to
be taken than those that build in standing water.  They always choose
those parts that have such a depth of water as will resist the frost in
winter, and prevent it from freezing to the bottom.  The beavers that
build their houses in small rivers or creeks, in which water is liable
to be drained off when the back supplies are dried up by the frost, are
wonderfully taught by instinct to provide against that evil by making a
dam quite across the river, at a convenient distance from their houses.
The beaver-dams differ in shape, according to the nature of the place in
which they are built.  If the water in the river or creek have but
little motion, the dam is almost straight; but when the current is more
rapid, it is always made with a considerable curve, convex towards the
stream.  The materials made use of are drift-wood, green willows, birch,
and poplars if they can be got; also mud and stones, intermixed in such
a manner as must evidently contribute to the strength of the dam; but
there is no other order or method observed in the dams, except that of
the work being carried on with a regular sweep, and all the parts being
made of equal strength.  In places which have been long frequented by
beavers undisturbed, their dams, by frequent repairing, become a solid
bank, capable of resisting a great force both of water and ice; and as
the willow, poplar, and birch generally take root and shoot up, they by
degrees form a regular planted hedge, which I have seen in some places
so tall, that birds have built their nests among the branches.

"The beaver-houses are built of the same materials as their dams, and
are always proportioned in size to the number of inhabitants, which
seldom exceeds four old and six to eight young ones; though, by chance,
I have seen above double the number.  Instead of order or regulation
being observed in rearing their houses, they are of a much ruder
structure than their dams; for, notwithstanding the sagacity of these
animals, it has never been observed that they aim at any other
convenience in their houses than to have a dry place to lie on; and
there they usually eat their victuals, which they occasionally take out
of the water.  It frequently happens that some of the large houses are
found to have one or more partitions (if they deserve that appellation),
but it is no more than a part of the main building left by the sagacity
of the beaver to support the roof.  On such occasions it is common for
these different apartments, as some are pleased to call them, to have no
communication with each other but by water; so that, in fact, they may
be called double or treble houses, rather than different apartments of
the same house.  I have seen a large beaver-house built in a small
island that had near a dozen apartments under one roof; and, two or
three of these only excepted, none of them had any communication with
each other but by water.  As there were beavers enough to inhabit each
apartment, it is more than probable that each family knew their own, and
always entered at their own door, without any further connection with
their neighbours than a friendly intercourse, and to join their united
labours in erecting their separate habitations, and building their dams
where required.  Travellers who assert that the beavers have two doors
to their houses--one on the land side, and the other next the water--
seem to be less acquainted with these animals than others who assign
them an elegant suite of apartments.  Such a construction would render
their houses of no use, either to protect them from their enemies, or
guard them against the extreme cold of winter.

"So far are the beavers from driving stakes into the ground when
building their houses, that they lay most of the wood crosswise, and
nearly horizontal, and without any other variation than that of leaving
a hollow or cavity in the middle.  When any unnecessary branches project
inward they cut them off with their teeth, and throw them in among the
rest, to prevent the mud from falling through the roof.  It is a
mistaken notion that the woodwork is first completed and then plastered;
for the whole of their houses, as well as their dams, are, from the
foundation, one mass of mud and wood, mixed with stones, if they can be
procured.  The mud is always taken from the edge of the bank, or the
bottom of the creek or pond near the door of the house; and though their
fore-paws are so small, yet it is held close up between them under their
throat: thus they carry both mud and stones, while they always drag the
wood with their teeth.  All their work is executed in the night, and
they are so expeditious, that in the course of one night I have known
them to have collected as much as amounted to some thousands of their
little handfuls.  It is a great piece of policy in these animals to
cover the outside of their houses every fall with fresh mud, and as late
as possible in the autumn, even when the frost becomes pretty severe, as
by this means it soon freezes as hard as a stone, and prevents their
common enemy, the wolverene, from disturbing them during the winter; and
as they are frequently seen to walk over their work, and sometimes to
give a flap with their tail, particularly when plunging into the water,
this has, without doubt, given rise to the vulgar opinion that they use
their tails as a trowel, with which they plaster their houses; whereas
that flapping of the tail is no more than a custom which they always
preserve, even when they become tame and domestic, and more particularly
so when they are startled.

"Their food consists of a large root, something resembling a
cabbage-stalk, which grows at the bottom of the lakes and rivers.  They
also eat the bark of trees, particularly those of the poplar, birch, and
willow; but the ice preventing them from getting to the land in the
winter, they have not any bark to feed on in that season, except that of
such sticks as they cut down in summer, and throw into the water
opposite the doors of their houses; and as they generally eat a great
deal, the roots above-mentioned constitute a principal part of their
food during the winter.  In summer they vary their diet by eating
various kinds of herbage, and such berries as grow near their haunts
during that season.  When the ice breaks up in the spring the beavers
always leave their houses, and rove about until a little before the fall
of the leaf, when they return again to their old habitations, and lay in
their winter-stock of wood.  They seldom begin to repair their houses
till the frost commences, and never finish the outer coat till the cold
is pretty severe, as has been already mentioned.  When they erect a new
habitation they begin felling the wood early in the summer, but seldom
begin to build until the middle or latter end of August, and never
complete it till the cold weather be set in.

"Persons who attempt to take beavers in winter should be thoroughly
acquainted with their manner of life; otherwise they will have endless
trouble to effect their purpose, because they have always a number of
holes in the banks, which serve them as places of retreat when any
injury is offered to their houses, and in general it is in those holes
that they are taken.  When the beavers which are situated in a small
river or creek are to be taken, the Indians sometimes find it necessary
to stake the river across to prevent them from passing; after which they
endeavour to find out all their holes or places of retreat in the bank.
This requires much practice and experience to accomplish, and is
performed in the following manner:--Every man being furnished with an
ice-chisel, lashes it to the end of a small staff about four to five
feet long; he then walks along the edge of the banks, and keeps knocking
his chisel against the ice.  Those who are acquainted with that kind of
work well know by the sound of the ice when they are opposite to any of
the beavers' holes or vaults.  As soon as they suspect any, they cut a
hole through the ice big enough to admit an old beaver; and in this
manner proceed till they have found out all their places of retreat, or
at least as many of them as possible.  While the principal men are thus
employed, some of the under-strappers and the women are busy in breaking
open the house--which at times is no easy task, for I have frequently
known these houses to be five or six feet thick; and one, in particular,
was more than eight feet thick in the crown.  When the beavers find that
their habitations are invaded, they fly to their holes in the banks for
shelter; and on being perceived by the Indians, which is easily done, by
attending to the motion of the water, they block up the entrance with
stakes of wood, and then haul the beaver out of its hole, either by
hand, if they can reach it, or with a large hook made for that purpose,
which is fastened to the end of a long stick.  The beaver is an animal
which cannot keep long under at a time; so that when their houses are
broken open, and all their places of retreat discovered, they have but
one choice left, as it may be called--either to be taken in their house
or their vaults; in general they prefer the latter; for where there is
one beaver caught in the house, many thousands are taken in the vaults
in the banks.  Sometimes they are caught in nets, and, in summer, very
frequently in traps.

"In respect to the beavers dunging in their houses, as some persons
assert, it is quite wrong, as they always plunge into water to do it.  I
am the better enabled to make this assertion, from having kept several
of them till they became so domesticated as to answer to their name, and
follow those to whom they were accustomed in the same manner as a dog
would do; and they were as much pleased at being fondled as any animal I
ever saw.  In cold weather they were kept in my own sitting-room, where
they were the constant companions of the Indian women and children; and
were so fond of their company, that when the Indians were absent for any
considerable time, the beavers discovered great signs of uneasiness, and
on their return showed equal marks of pleasure, by fondling on them,
crawling into their laps, lying on their backs, sitting erect like a
squirrel, and behaving like children who see their parents but seldom.
In general, during the winter, they lived on the same food as the women
did; and were immoderately fond of rice and plum-pudding; they would eat
partridges and fresh venison very freely; but I never tried them with
fish, though I have heard they will at times prey on them.  In fact,
there are few graminivorous animals that may not be brought to be
carnivorous."

The _Musquash_, or _Musk-rat_, is undoubtedly a beaver, and has been
called at times the Little Beaver; but it has pleased the naturalists to
constitute it a genus of itself, though there is only the one species
known.  Its habits are extremely like those of the beaver: it is
aquatic, or amphibious, if you please--building itself a conical house
in the midst of a swamp, or low islet, and feeding on shoots of trees,
bits of green wood, leaves and stalks of nettles, and other herbaceous
plants.  Its fur bears a very great resemblance to that of the beaver,
only it is shorter, and therefore less valuable.  Notwithstanding this,
it is an article of extensive commerce; and upwards of a million skins
have been imported into England in a single year.  The musquash might
also be exterminated like the beaver; but being a smaller creature, and
therefore less persecuted by the amateur sportsman, it is still common
enough upon the streams of the northern and middle States of America.
Further north it is plentiful; and the Hudson's Bay Company procure a
vast number of skins for annual exportation to Europe.  Its name of
musk-rat is derived from the scent of musk which the animal emits, and
which is especially powerful during the season of rut.

It is possible that the musk-rat of Siberia, as well as several species
of water-rats belonging to South America--and known vaguely by the name
of Lutras and Nutrias--may be animals of the beaver kind, rather than
Water-Rats or Otters, among which they are generally classed.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

SQUIRRELS.

These pretty little animals are widely distributed over the earth;
though to this remark Australia seems to form an exception, since no
species has yet been discovered there.  However, there is much of that
great island continent yet to be explored; and perhaps it may turn out
that Australia has its squirrels, as well as other parts of the world--
no doubt squirrels with pouches.

In number of species--and also of individuals, it may be added--America
excels all other countries, and the great forests of North America may
be regarded as the head-quarters of the squirrel tribe; but, if we give
precedence to size, the squirrels of the East Indian countries are
entitled to the first place.

Animals known as Squirrels are of three very distinct kinds--viz.,
Squirrels, properly so called; Ground Squirrels: and Flying Squirrels.
These three kinds are very naturally separated into three different
genera; but the closet naturalists, not content with this simple
division, have again subdivided them into other sub-genera, using very
difficult names to distinguish them.  In our little sketch we shall
simply call them by the three names above-mentioned.

The _Squirrels_, properly so called, are not only tree-climbers, but, as
every one knows, dwell habitually upon trees, and there make their nests
and their home.  And perfectly at home they are among the highest
branches; for under no circumstances do they ever miss their footing, or
are they in the slightest danger of falling.  In fact, they can not only
run with the greatest agility along the branches, but equally well with
their backs downward; and can spring from branch to branch, and also
from tree to tree, over wide intervals of many yards.  They can also
leap down from the tops of the tallest trees to the earth--a feat often
witnessed by squirrel-hunters--and do so without the appearance of
having received the slightest injury; for, without pausing a moment on
the ground, they continue their flight towards some other tree, where
they expect to find better shelter from the short gun or rifle of their
human enemy.

The squirrel builds a nest in the tree, similar to that of some birds;
but they have also in the same tree a more secure retreat in case of
being pursued.  This is a hole in the trunk or one of the larger limbs--
some natural excavation caused by the decaying of a branch--in short,
what is termed a "knot hole," which is common in many kinds of timber.
In this hole the squirrel usually lays up its store of winter food,
consisting of nuts, beech-mast, etcetera; and here it takes refuge when
hunted, finding the tree-cave a safe asylum.  Unless decoyed out again,
or, which often happens, _frightened_ out again, by rubbing the trunk
with a piece of stick, the squirrel must escape scot-free nine times out
of ten, since no hunter would think of felling a huge tree to procure so
insignificant a reward as the carcass of a squirrel; and without felling
the tree, and splitting it up, too, the creature could not be reached.
Various devices, however, are practised to decoy it forth; and these,
unfortunately for the little refugee, too often succeed.

The squirrels are the life of the American woods--indeed, a journey
through these great forests would often be very monotonous were it not
enlivened by the presence and gambols of these beautiful creatures; and
in the depth of winter, when the squirrels keep within their dark
tree-caves, the solitude of the forest seems redoubled.  But even during
frost and snow, when the weather is fine and the sun shining brightly, a
few will be seen venturing forth, as if to take an airing.

A great many species exist in the forests of North America; sometimes
only one, and sometimes several, occupy the same district.  They are of
different colours and sizes--some as small as the common squirrel of
England, while several species are three or four times as large.  Some
are grey, others brown grey, several species of a fox red, and those
esteemed the most beautiful are of a uniform jet black.  Several new
species have lately been found in the forests of Oregon and California.

Their habits are all nearly alike; but to one species of Grey Squirrel
belongs a habit as distinct as it is singular.  This is their habit of
collecting together in immense flocks of many thousands, and migrating
over vast tracts of country, crossing broad rapid rivers, and staying at
no obstacle.  The object of this migration is not known, only that it
appears to be the result of some impulse--such as excites to a similar
movement the springboks of South Africa, the buffaloes of North America,
and the passenger pigeons.

In Europe the squirrel is represented by the Common Squirrel of our own
woods, and which is found throughout the whole of Northern Europe and
Asia, wherever there are trees.  Although of a reddish colour in
England, as well as in France, it assumes different hues, according to
the different countries it inhabits; and in the more northern latitudes
it is quite grey.  Another European species, distinct from the English
squirrel, is a denizen of the Pyrenees and the Alps of Dauphine.

The Palm Squirrel is a beautiful species belonging to the tropical parts
of Africa and India, and dwelling principally upon the palm trees--as
its name imports.

Another, known as the Barbary Squirrel, belongs to North Africa, and is
also a dweller upon palm trees.

The largest, and perhaps the most richly-coated of the tribe, is the
Malabar Squirrel of India, which is as large as a domestic cat.  It also
haunts among palm trees, and is fond of the milk of the cocoa-nut,
either in a liquid or solid state.

There are squirrels also in Eastern Africa.  India has several species,
and the great islands of Madagascar, Ceylon, Java, Borneo, Sumatra,
etcetera, have each one or more species of large and beautiful
squirrels.

The _Ground Squirrels_ differ from the true squirrels in several
respects, though the chief difference lies in the fact that the former
make their nest or lair upon the ground, while the latter universally
lodge themselves aloft among the branches.  The Ground Squirrels can
climb, and appear to ascend trees almost as nimbly as their congeners;
but they rarely do so unless when pursued, and then but seldom go beyond
the lower forks or branches.  Their nest is usually in some hole or
cavity among the roots, though several species have been lately
discovered in rocky regions, dwelling in the crevices of rocks.  They
approach in habits to the marmot tribe, and seem to link the tree
squirrels with these last.  Usually, these ground squirrels are striped
longitudinally with black, red, and white stripes, giving them a fine
appearance; and the species are of different dimensions, from that of
the ordinary squirrel to the size of a mouse.  In America, for a long
time, but one kind was supposed to exist; but latterly a great number of
species have been observed and described: denizens of the far West--of
the prairies, and remote valleys of the Rocky Mountains.

The African species of ground squirrel, already mentioned as the Palm
Squirrel, has its dwelling among the palm trees, on the fruit and roots
of which--especially that of the date-palm--it subsists.  It is also an
inhabitant of India, where there is at least one other species of palm
ground squirrel.

In Europe, and throughout the whole of Northern Asia, the ground
squirrels are represented by the _burunduk_--a very interesting little
species, quite similar in habits to those of North America.

The _Flying Squirrels_ are the last of the group.  These are the most
singular of all, and resemble great bats more than squirrels.  They
possess the power, not exactly of flight, but of making very long leaps
from a higher to a lower level, so long that they might almost be
regarded as flights.  They can pass from one tree to another standing
more than a hundred yards apart, and this without descending more than a
few feet below the level from which they started.  This feat they are
enabled to perform by means of a broad membrane that extends from the
skin of their fore-legs to that of their thighs, and which, when
stretched out, endows them with the properties of a parachute.  Their
bodies, too, have a flattened shape like the bats; and this also helps
to sustain them in the air.

They are true squirrels, however, living upon trees, as the common
squirrels do, and looking very like the latter, notwithstanding their
winged legs.  In one point, however, they differ essentially from the
common squirrels; and that is, they are _nocturnal_ in their habits.  In
the daytime they are never seen, except by accident; but in the
twilight, and during a clear night, they may be observed making their
long leaps from tree to tree, through the glades or along the edges of
the forest.  There are several species inhabiting the forests of
America, and of late California has yielded several new ones.  In the
tropical forests of America there are several large species, and the Old
World has its flying squirrel in the Polatouka, which inhabits the pine
forests of Northern Europe and Asia.

The largest species of these singular quadrupeds appears to belong to
the Oriental Islands--to Java, Sumatra, the Philippines, and Moluccas,
or Spice Islands, as also to Japan.  The great Teguan, or flying
squirrel of the Moluccas, is in reality as large as a cat!

The singular Ay-ay of Madagascar is sometimes classed among the
squirrels and sometimes among the lemurs.  It certainly bears a great
resemblance to the squirrel family; but the habits of all animals
belonging to Madagascar are so little known that it is difficult to
assign them to that exact genus in which Nature intended they should be
placed.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

HARES, RABBITS, AND OTHER RODENTS.

The Hare, and its very near congener, the Rabbit, are animals too
well-known to need description; but it is necessary to say that, besides
the species of both, peculiar to Great Britain, there are many other
kinds in other parts of the world.  Even in Britain itself, including
Ireland, there are several distinct sorts both of hares and rabbits; for
the Irish hare is distinct, being a larger, stronger, and even swifter
animal than the English hare, and having many other points peculiar to
it.  Moreover, in the northern and mountainous parts of Scotland there
is found the Varying or Alpine Hare, whose fur changes in the winter
season to a snowy whiteness.  But I may here remark, that the Irish hare
also possesses this singular power of transformation, since upon the
mountains of the north, especially upon the Mourne range, in county
Down, _white_ hares have been frequently observed.  Is this the Irish
hare turned white, or the true Alpine hare of Pallas?

Hares and rabbits are peculiarly the denizens of cold countries, as
their warm woolly covering would plainly indicate.  In tropical climates
their place is supplied by other kinds of rodents, that resemble them in
habits, if not in "dress."  Of these other animals we shall presently
speak.  To the above remark, however a few partial exceptions may be
brought forward; since there is a species existing in Egypt known as the
Egyptian Hare, and there are three others at the Cape--the Rock Hare,
the Burrow Hare, and the Vlakte Haas.  These, however, differ very
considerably from the common hares and rabbits of northern countries;
and the remark still holds good, that in the tropics--properly so
called--the hare does not exist: neither has any true hare been found in
the new world of Australia.

Otherwise, hares are plenteous in the different continents of Europe,
Asia, Africa, and America.  In Asia there is a species inhabiting the
regions of the Altai Mountains, and another peculiar to the Siberian
territory, called the Tolai.  There is an Indian species found in the
Nepaul Mountains, and a curious variety, also a native of Nepaul and the
Himalayas, known as the Woolly Hare of Thibet.

The Polar Hare, valued for its beautiful white fur, inhabits the
countries around the Arctic Ocean, and is common in Labrador and the
Hudson's Bay territory.  In North America, also, there are several other
species of hares: the Marsh, or Swamp Hare, of the Southern United
States, which dwells among the extensive marshes of the Carolinas and
Louisiana, and which freely takes to the water; the Rabbit of the Middle
States, which is a true hare, though from its small size usually termed
a rabbit; the Californian Hare, indigenous to California, and also
another Marsh Hare, belonging to the same country.  Upon the prairies
several distinct species have lately been discovered, among which the
Sage Hare deserves especial mention.  This kind derives its name from
its being a dweller on the desert plains, where scarce any other
vegetation exists except the _artemisia_, or wild sage plant, the leaves
of which constitute the principal food of the animal, rendering its
flesh almost uneatable.

The _Calling Hares_ differ very much from the common hares and rabbits--
so much as to constitute a separate genus.  Their ears are shorter, and
they are altogether without tails.  Their habits, however, are very
similar to those of the hare family, and they are therefore very
naturally grouped with the latter.  They derive their trivial name from
the habit of uttering a note, which somewhat resembles the piping of a
quail, and which can be heard at a very great distance.  This note is
repeated three or four times at night and morning, but is seldom heard
during the middle of the day, unless when the weather is cloudy.

The calling hares are distributed over Asia and North America.  At least
two species belong to the Himalayan country, and one is found in Cabul.
In Siberia and Northern Russia there is another, called the Eadajac; and
several species inhabit the northern countries of America--some so small
as scarcely to exceed the dimensions of a rat!  The Little Chief is one
of these tiny creatures long known; but late explorers of the Rocky
Mountain regions have discovered a species still smaller than the little
chief.

The _Cavies_ appear to represent the hare family in the tropical parts
of America.  It is true that these last differ from hares in many
particulars; but they have also many points of resemblance, and they may
be grouped together in a very natural manner.  They live much in the
same manner; they are swift and inoffensive as the hares; but, instead
of being clothed in soft wool, which would be altogether unsuitable to
the climate in which they dwell, the cavies have a covering of hair so
fine and thin as to convey to the touch a feeling of coolness rather
than warmth.  Some of the cavies are among the largest animals of the
Rodent Family; for instance, the great Capivara, which is equal in size
to an ordinary pig.  This species is not a swift runner upon land; but
it is semi-aquatic in its habits, and can swim and dive like an otter,
its feet being webbed or palmated.  It herds in troops of from five or
ten to fifty in number, and is found upon the banks of all the great
South American rivers, where it has for its chief enemy the fierce
jaguar.

The Guinea Pig is one of the family of cavies.  This beautiful little
animal is too well-known to require description.  It may be remarked,
however, that the name Guinea Pig is altogether a mistake, since the
creature is found wild only in South America, and is _not_ a native of
Guinea in Africa.  Very likely it was originally brought from Guiana,
and this has led to the misnomer.  There are several species of Guinea
pig in South America, differing from one another in size, shape, and
colour.  Besides the large Capivara and the little Guinea Pig, there are
several intermediate kinds.  These are known as the True Cavies, and are
usually called Agoutis, or Acouchis.  The agoutis are about the size of
the common hare, and run almost as swiftly.  For their food they prefer
nuts to herbage, which is natural enough in a region where the latter is
scanty and the former exists in plenty; and in eating they "squat"
upright on their haunches, and convey the food to their mouth after the
manner of squirrels.  The agouti, like the hare, frequently rolls over
when descending a hill at full speed--a habit, or rather an accident,
due to the same cause in both animals, namely, the great length of the
hind legs.  When angry, the agouti stamps with the fore-feet, grunts
like a young pig, and erects the bristly hair upon its crupper after the
manner of porcupines.

There are many species of agouti throughout tropical America and the
West India Islands, and the range of the genus extends as far south as
the plains of Patagonia.

The _Pacas_ form another genus belonging to the family of the cavies
that may be also grouped with the hares and rabbits.  They burrow like
the common rabbit, and their food consists of nuts, fruits, and roots.
Their flesh is excellent; and on this account they are hunted eagerly,
both by the Indians and whites who dwell in the countries where they are
found.  There are several species of them in South America, and they
were also very common at one time in the West India Islands; but on
account of the persecution of many enemies--more especially of hunters--
they are now comparatively rare.

With the hares and rabbits may be classed still another family of South
American animals, and one of the most interesting of the whole group.
These are the Chinchillas and Viscachas.  The place assigned to them by
some naturalists is with the hamsters, and therefore they are grouped
with the rats; but an examination into the habits of these animals shows
that they are in reality representatives of the hares and rabbits on the
elevated table-lands of Chili and Peru, as also over the whole plain
country of La Plata and Patagonia.  There are several species known
indifferently as Viscachas and Chinchillas; but the true Chinchilla,
celebrated for its soft and beautiful woolly coat, is an inhabitant of
the elevated plateaux of the Andes, where the climate is as cold as in
Siberia itself.  The natural history of these rodents is full of curious
interest, and deserves to be given more in detail, if our space would
only admit of it.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

ELEPHANTS.

The Elephant is by far the largest of land animals, and for this reason
one of the most interesting to the student of zoology; but even without
this superiority, he possesses qualities that entitle him to rank among
the curious objects of creation.

In ages long gone by there were elephants upon the earth--or animals
resembling elephants--as much larger than the existing species as these
are superior in size to other quadrupeds.  Such were the mammoths and
mastodons, the skeletons of which are occasionally found buried beneath
the surface of the soil in different parts of the world.

As might be expected, the species of this gigantic quadruped are not
numerous.  For a long time there was supposed to be only one; but this
was an erroneous belief, and it is now proved that there are _at least_
two, since the elephants of Africa and those of Asia are altogether
different from each other.  It is not quite certain that the elephant of
the Island of Ceylon is identically the same as other Indian elephants;
and in the Asiatic countries and islands there are varieties differing
from each other in size, and other peculiarities, quite as much as any
of them does from the elephant of Africa.  Again, in Africa itself we
find that this great creature has its varieties--some larger and some
smaller, according to the part of the country in which they are found.
Even the natives of both Africa and the Indian territories recognise
different kinds, proving that on both continents there are several
permanent varieties, if not species.

In the Indian countries these varieties have received distinct names--
just as our breeds of dogs--and an elephant is valued according to the
breed or caste to which he belongs; for in India caste is a universal
idea, even among animals.

There are two principal castes--the Koomareah, of princely race; and the
Merghee, or hunting elephant.  These two kinds differ a good deal--as
much, indeed, as if they were separate species.  The koomareah is
deep-bodied, strong, and compact, with a very large trunk and short
thick legs.  As a large trunk is considered the great beauty of an
elephant, the koomareah is therefore preferred to the merghee; besides,
he is also superior to the latter in strength and powers of endurance.

The merghee is a taller animal, but neither so compact nor so strong,
and his trunk is short and slender in proportion to his height.  He
travels faster, however; and for this reason is oftener employed in the
chase.

A cross between these two varieties is called a Sunkareah, which
signifies a mixed breed or mule; and in a herd of elephants there will
be found not only sunkareahs, but several varieties of cross breeds
between the koomareahs and merghees.  These "mules" are prized if they
partake more of the nature of the princely caste, and less valued when
nearer to the merghee.

In addition to these distinctions, another very important one is found
in the size and shape of the teeth.  The Dauntelah is one with very
large teeth, in opposition to the Mookna, in which the tusks are of
small dimensions, and scarcely visible outside the mouth.  The Europeans
prefer elephants of the mookna variety, as these are of milder
disposition than the dauntelahs; but the natives prize the large-toothed
kinds, taking the chance of being able to tame them to submission.
There are many degrees between the mookna and dauntelah, founded on the
form of the tusks.  Those of the Pullung-daunt project forward with an
almost horizontal curve, while the straight tusks of the mooknas point
directly downwards.  Nearly a dozen varieties or breeds are thus
established among the elephants of India that are held in a state of
domestication.

White elephants are also met with, and are highly prized by the rajahs
and wealthy nobles.  These are mere varieties, produced by albinism, and
may belong to any of the castes already described.

It has been further ascertained that the elephants of different Indian
countries vary a good deal in point of size.  Those from the southern
districts, and some of the larger islands, are larger and stronger than
the elephants of Nepaul and other mountain countries in the north.  The
finest are those of Cochin China and the Burmese territories of Pegu,
while those of Ceylon are even superior to the kinds indigenous to
Northern India.

The African elephants are said also to be larger as they dwell nearer to
the Equator; and from this it would appear that the elephant is
essentially a tropical animal, and thrives best in the climate of the
torrid zone.

The Asiatic elephant is found wild as well as domesticated in nearly all
the Indian countries, as also in many of the large islands.  Its range
northward is bounded by the lower hills of the Himalayas; and among
these, especially through the _saul_ forests, these huge animals roam
about in herds, each herd being under the guidance or leadership of an
old male, or "bull," as he is termed.  As an elephant brings a
considerable sum of money, even in India, these are eagerly hunted; and
their capture is accomplished by decoying them into a pound or enclosure
constructed for the purpose, where ropes are attached to them, and then
tied to the neighbouring trees.  The decoy used is a tame elephant, that
has been already trained for the purpose.

There are in India, as well as in Africa, certain old bull elephants
that lead a solitary life, and that are scarcely ever seen in company
with the herds.  These bachelors are usually of a morose and fierce
disposition, and when one of them is captured it requires all the skill
of the hunters to keep clear of danger.  These wild bulls are larger and
stronger than the common kind, and so untamable in their ferocity that
even when captured no use can be made of them, since they will die
rather than submit to being trained.  They are called Goondahs by the
people of Hindostau, and by English hunters Rogues or Rovers.

The African elephant next merits attention.  There is no difficulty in
distinguishing this species from any of the Indian varieties.  The
immensely large ears constitute a marked characteristic of the former,
which at once becomes recognisable.  Other points of difference are the
greater convexity of the forehead or skull and the larger size of the
tusks; though this last point of distinction is not always to be
depended upon, since there are Indian elephants with tusks of similar
dimensions.  Generally, however, the African elephants have the largest
"ivories."

In point of bulk the Asiatic species has been considered superior; but
this belief may not be correct.  Certain circumstances should be taken
into account.  The Asiatic elephant is living in a domesticated state,
and this may have produced a greater size, as it does in the case of
most other quadrupeds.  Another circumstance: the African elephants of
our collections have been mostly obtained from the Cape, or the regions
contiguous to it.  But it is now known that in the countries nearer to
the equator there exists a much larger kind, that appears to be quite as
bulky as any of the Asiatic varieties.

The height of the elephant has been much exaggerated by travellers--some
having been described as measuring eighteen feet from the foot to the
top of the shoulder!  An authority on this subject, who measured the
largest he could meet with in different parts of India, found none that
stood over twelve feet, and this appears to be the actual height of the
very biggest of elephants.

The African elephants have not been tamed--at least not in modern times;
but it is certain that the elephants used by the Carthaginians in their
wars with the Romans were of this species; and also that African
elephants were the species exhibited by Caesar and Pompey in the Roman
arena.

In a wild state the African elephant has a wide range--from the Cape
country on the south to Senegal on the western side, throughout the
whole of Central Africa, and along the oriental coast to the valley of
the Nile; but it is not very certain whether the elephant of the eastern
countries of Africa is the African species or a variety of the Asiatic
kind.  The African elephant is said to be fiercer than that of Asia; but
this is a doubtful statement; and perhaps the habits of the two do not
materially differ, farther than might be expected from a difference of
climate, food, and other external circumstances.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

THE HIPPOPOTAMUS, RHINOCEROS, AND TAPIR.

Though these three kinds of creatures belong to different genera, there
is a certain family likeness among them that entitles them to be classed
together; and since there are not many species of each, they will
conveniently form a group.

Of late the hippopotamus has been the most notorious of the three;
though he is far from being as interesting an animal as the rhinoceros.
Since, however, he is at present the most popular, we shall give him the
foremost place in our sketch.

The Hippopotamus was known to the Greeks and Romans.  His name is Greek,
and, as every one knows, signifies the River-horse.  Why so called? you
may ask--since between this unwieldy creature and the beautiful horse
there does not appear a single point of resemblance.  The answer is,
that the cry of the hippopotamus was fancied to resemble the neighing of
a horse; and in some respects this is really the case.  Hence the
misnomer.  The Dutch of the Cape Colony call the creature a Cow, or
Sea-cow, which is also an ill-adapted name.  The cow is well enough, for
the head and mouth of the animal bear a very striking resemblance to
those of a broad-muffled cow; but what the "sea" has to do with it is
not so clearly understood: since the hippopotamus is found only in fresh
water in lakes and rivers.

Every one knows that this huge creature is of amphibious habits; and
lives equally well on land, in the water, or even under the water.  It
requires air, however, and at intervals rises to the surface to breathe.
On such occasions it usually projects a jet of water from its
nostrils--in other words, it spouts, after the manner of the whales.

It is altogether herbivorous; and grass and the leaves of succulent
plants form its subsistence.  A vast quantity of these are required to
sustain it; and a single individual will consume as much as two hundred
pounds' weight in a day.

The hippopotamus, notwithstanding its formidable appearance, is not a
dangerous enemy if suffered to go unmolested, or rather if persons do
not come in its way.  When wounded, however, or even intruded upon in
its solitary haunts, it will attack man himself; and a boat or canoe
passing along a river frequented by these creatures is in danger of
suffering a similar fate to that resulting from an encounter with the
great whale--that is, of being tossed out of the water or broken to
pieces.

The River-horse, or Sea-cow (whichever you prefer to call the creature),
is exclusively confined to the African continent; and is found in all
the great lakes and rivers from the Cape Colony to the southern limits
of the Sahara.  It is indigenous to the Upper Nile; but does not show
itself in the lower half of that river.  In fact, its range appears to
be exactly co-terminal with that of the African elephant.

There is a question about the number of species.  For long it was
supposed there was only one, but now it is ascertained that two, or even
more, exist.  The hippopotami of the Nile differ considerably from each
other and also from the species known as Sea-cow in South Africa; while
a smaller kind than either has been observed in the rivers of Western
Africa.

The _Rhinoceros_ is altogether a more curious and interesting animal
than the hippopotamus; but, being more common, and oftener encountered
by modern travellers, it is at present less an object of curiosity.

Of rhinoceroses at least seven distinct species are known--three of them
being Asiatic, and four African.

The largest of all is the Indian rhinoceros, which inhabits a part of
Bengal and the countries beyond--Burmah, Siam, and Cochin China.  This
species is easily distinguished from the others by the thick rough skin,
which is placed on the animal's body in such a fashion as to resemble a
coat of ancient armour.  The singular protuberances have a complete
resemblance to the "bosses" which were worn on the shields and
breast-plates of warriors of the olden time.

A second species, the Warak, which inhabits Java, is somewhat similarly
accoutred; but the third Asiatic kind, the Sumatran rhinoceros, has a
smoother skin, more resembling that of the African rhinoceros.

These last-mentioned are denizens of the African continent; but
especially of the regions extending northward from the Cape.  They do
not all four frequent the same district; but two, and sometimes three of
them, are found in one locality.  They are distinguished as the black
and white rhinoceroses--there being two species of the black, and two of
the white.  The black ones are much fiercer than their white congeners;
although the latter are by far the largest, and present a far more
formidable appearance, from the extreme length of their horns.

The _Tapir_ was for a long time supposed to be exclusively an American
animal, but later research proves that there is also a species in Asia.
It is found in the Island of Sumatra, and is larger than the American
species, though very much resembling it in other respects.  A new
species has also been discovered in South America, altogether differing
from the American tapir already so well-known.

The habits of the American tapir are not unlike those of the rhinoceros.
It is a creature of great strength, and heavy in its movements.  It can
live for a long time under water; and its haunts are the banks of the
great rivers--especially where these are marshy, and covered with reeds
and other aquatic plants, which constitute its food.  It can swim or
walk under the water at will; but its lair is generally in some bushy
retreat at a distance from the banks; and its visits to the water are
usually nocturnal.  It is an object of chase among the native Indians,
who prize both its flesh and skin; but its capture is by no means an
easy matter, since its thick hide renders it impervious to the tiny
arrow of the blow-gun.

This species is found in all the rivers of South America, from Paraguay
to the Isthmus of Darien; but its range terminates very abruptly on the
north--a fact which puzzles the naturalist, since for many degrees
further northward, climate and other circumstances are found similar to
those which appear to favour its existence in the southern part of the
continent.

The other species of American tapir differs considerably in the nature
of its haunts and habits.  In these it is said more to resemble the
tapir of Sumatra.  The latter is found dwelling at a great elevation, in
fact, on the tops of the highest mountains of that island; whereas the
Danta, or American tapir, is altogether confined to the low hot plains.
In the same district of country, and even in the same rivers--but
further up among the mountains--the smaller species of American tapir is
met with, but never upon the low level of the plains.

When we consider that for more than three centuries, in a country
inhabited by a civilised people, this new species of American tapir has
remained not only undescribed but even unknown to the scientific world,
we may fairly conjecture that other species of this, as well as of many
other animals, may yet be brought to light to gratify the lover of
nature, and add to his store of pleasant knowledge.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

GIRAFFES, CAMELS, AND LLAMAS.

Strictly speaking, the Giraffes cannot be considered as belonging to the
same family with the Camels, nor yet the Camels be classed with the
Llamas; but there is a very great resemblance between these three genera
of animals, and, except for scientific purposes, they form a group
sufficiently natural.  Indeed any one of the three is more like to the
other two than to any other kind of mammalia; although some naturalists
prefer considering the giraffe as a species of deer.  This
classification, however, rests principally upon an erroneous
supposition--that the oblong protuberances on the head of the giraffe
are horns, which in reality they are not, but mere continuations of the
frontal bone.  It would be as absurd, therefore, to call the giraffe a
deer, as to consider it a species of camel, and perhaps more so.  It may
be regarded as an animal _sui generis_; but in making a series of
groups--such as we have here attempted--it appears more natural to place
it alongside the camels than elsewhere; and it is certainly as much like
the true camel or dromedary as either the llama or vicuna.  One of its
most popular names--that of Camelopard, or Spotted Camel--shows the
resemblance which suggests itself to the eye of the traveller and
ordinary observer; and this resemblance extends also to many characters
that are not external.  Indeed, after all that has been said by
anatomical naturalists, we might hazard assertion of the belief, that
the camelopard is neither more nor less than a species of wild camel.

Its appearance need not be described.  Every eye is familiar with the
slender form, long neck, smooth coat, and spotted skin of this singular
animal.  But its habits are less understood, and this arises from
several distinct causes.  In the first place, the giraffe inhabits only
those countries about which very little is known by civilised people;
secondly, it is but rarely seen, even by travellers; and, thirdly, when
it _is_ encountered in its native haunts, it is of so shy a disposition,
and so ready to take flight, that scarce any opportunity is ever
obtained for properly observing it.

The giraffe is exclusively confined to the continent of Africa; but its
range is by no means limited.  It was formerly common enough as far
south as the Cape itself, whence it was driven by the Dutch and
Hottentot hunters.  It is not now met with to the south of the Great
Orange River.  Northward from this point, it extends to Nubia and
Abyssinia; but it does not appear that it inhabits the western section
of the continent, since it is not heard of in Guinea, or any of the
countries on the Atlantic coast.  In the interior it is common enough.

The giraffes herd together in small troops--consisting of ten or a dozen
individuals--and prefer the open forests, or rather the hills covered
with copses of acacia and other African trees.  Their principal food is
the foliage of these trees; and one species of mimosa--the _camel-doorn_
(camel-thorn) of the Dutch hunters--is their especial favourite.  The
leaves of this tree, like all others of the acacia tribe, are of pinnate
form, and sweet to the taste; and the giraffe browses upon them,
standing erect, with its long neck outstretched to a height of nearly
twenty feet!  Its tongue is possessed of a peculiarly prehensile power,
and with this extended a foot or more beyond the lips, it can sweep in
the leaves and twigs for a wide circle around its muzzle.

When affrighted and put to its speed, the giraffe appears to go with an
up-and-down gait, and some travellers have alleged that it limps.  This
arises from the fact, that every time it lifts its fore-feet, it throws
back its long neck, which on other occasions is always held erect.  It
sometimes travels with a pacing step, but it can also gallop after the
manner of a horse, and is even so swift that it requires a horse at full
speed to overtake it.

Notwithstanding that its food consists principally of the leaves and
twigs of trees, the giraffe will also eat grass.  While browsing thus,
it usually bends one of its knees downward; and while stretching upwards
to a high branch, it brings all its feet nearer to each other.  It often
lies down to "chew its cud" or to sleep; and this habit produces the
callosities upon the sternum and knees, which resemble those of the
camels.

The giraffe is a peaceful and timid animal, and is often the prey of the
lion--the fierce beast of prey taking it unawares, springing upon its
back, and destroying it by breaking the cervical vertebrae with his
powerful teeth.  Sometimes, however, it is enabled to drive the lion off
by kicking out against him with its heels, and tiring or discouraging
him from the attack.

The Hottentots and Kaffirs hunt the giraffe for the sake of its flesh,
which in young individuals is very good eating.  Sometimes, however, it
smells strongly of a species of shrub upon which the animal feeds, and
which gives it a disagreeable odour.  The Bushmen are particularly fond
of the marrow produced in its long shank bones, and to obtain this, they
hunt the animal with their poisoned arrows.  They also make out of its
skin bottles and other vessels for containing water.

Conspicuous as is the giraffe, it is not so easy to distinguish it in
the haunts where it inhabits.  Seen from a distance, it has the
appearance of a decayed tree, and, remaining motionless, it is often
passed by the hunter or traveller without being observed.  It is itself
very keen-sighted; and the manner in which its large beautiful eye is
set gives it a decided advantage for seeing around it, even without the
necessity of turning its head.  On this account it is approached with
great difficulty, and usually contrives to escape from the most ardent
pursuer.

The _Camels_ come next in turn.  Of these there exist two distinct
species--the Camel, or Bactrian camel; and the Dromedary, or Arabian
camel.  Both are found only in a domesticated state.  Both are "beasts
of burthen," and of both there are several varieties.

First, then, of the Bactrian camel--that is, the species with two humps.

This animal differs very much from the Arabian camel, and is altogether
more rare.  It is about ten feet in length of body, and covered
generally with a thick shaggy coat of hair of a dark brown colour; but
there is no difficulty in distinguishing it from its Arabian congener.
The two huge humps or hunches upon its back form a sufficient token by
which to identify the species.

It is found in Persia and the adjoining countries; but in no part in
such numbers as in the middle zone of Asia--in the Taurus, and to the
north of the Himalaya Mountains.  It is also seen occasionally in Arabia
and other countries; but in these it is rare, the dromedary taking its
place for all purposes required by man.  It is, nevertheless, of a
stouter build than the latter, and stronger in proportion to its size.
As already stated, there are several varieties, produced by a difference
in stature, colour, and swiftness.

The Dromedary, or Arabian camel, is altogether more widely distributed,
and better known to the world.  It is propagated in Arabia, Persia, the
south of Tartary, some parts of India, in Africa from Egypt to Morocco,
and from the Mediterranean Sea to the river Senegal.  It is also
numerous in the Canary Islands, and has been introduced into Italy,
especially at Pisa, in Tuscany.  It is not generally known that it has
also been transported into the Island of Cuba, and employed at the mines
of El Cobre, near Santiago; and later still--in fact, at the present
hour--an attempt is being made to naturalise it upon the central plains
of Texas and California.

The callosities upon the limbs and chest, and the hump on the back, have
caused much perplexity among naturalists; but, perhaps, their purpose
may be explained.  They seem to bear some relation to the necessities of
the animal, considered as the slave or man.  The callosities are the
points on which it kneels down to receive its burden.  The hump, which
is a fatty secretion, is known to be absorbed into the system when the
animal is pinched for food, thus forming a provision against the
casualties to which it is subject in a life evidently ordained to be
passed in the desert.  Add to this, that its singularly formed stomach
renders it capable of containing a supply of water suitable to long
journeys, and we have ample evidence of the purpose for which this
singular and useful creature was designed.

The camel furnishes the Arab with flesh and milk, of its hair he weaves
clothing, and even tents; his belt and sandals are the produce of its
hide, and its dung affords him fuel.

The hair of the Persian camel is held in the highest estimation.  There
are three kinds of it--black, red, and grey; the black being of most
value, and the grey fetching only half the price of the red.

But all such uses are mere trifles when compared with the value of these
animals as beasts of burden--"ships of the desert," as they have been
poetically named.  By means of them, communication is kept up between
distant countries separated by large tracts of frightful deserts, which,
without some such aid, would be entirely impassable by man.

We arrive at the _Llamas_, or camel sheep, as the old Spanish colonists
used to call them.

These animals are natives of South America, and their range is limited.
They are found only on the high plateaus of the Andes; through which
they extend, from New Granada on the north to Chili on the south, though
one species ranges even to the Straits of Magellan.  In all there are
four distinct species of them--the Llama proper, the Paca or Alpaca, the
Guanaco, and the Vicuna.

The Llama and Paca are both held in a state of domestication; the former
as a beast of burden, and the latter for its hair or wool.  On the other
hand, the Guanacos and Vicunas are wild animals, and are eagerly hunted
by the mountain tribes of Indians for their flesh and skins, but in the
case of the vicuna for the very fine wool which it yields, and which
commands an enormous price in the markets of Peru.

The Cordilleras of the Andes, below the line of perpetual snow, is the
region inhabited by these creatures.  In the hot countries, lying lower,
they do not thrive; and even die in journeys made to the tropic coast
lands.  The wild species keep together in herds--sometimes of one or two
hundred individuals--feeding on a sort of rushy grass or reed--called
_yea_ by the natives--and they scarce ever drink, so long as they can
pasture on green herbage.  They have the singular habit of going to a
particular spot to drop their dung, which resembles that of goats or
sheep; and this habit often costs them their lives, since the excrement
points out to the hunter their place of resort.  They keep a careful
look-out against any danger, usually taking care to place old males as
sentinels of the flock, who give warning of the approach of an enemy.
When startled they run swiftly, but soon halt, stand gazing back, and
then gallop on as before.

During summer they frequent the sides of the mountains; but, as winter
approaches, they descend to the high table plains, and browse upon the
natural meadows found there.  They are captured in various ways.  The
Indians take them by first surrounding the herd, and then driving it
within enclosures constructed for the purpose.  They are also run down
by dogs, trained to hunt them by the mountaineers of Chili, in which
country they are found wild in great numbers.  During the chase they
frequently turn upon their pursuer, utter a wild shrill neighing, and
then resume their rapid flight.

The Vicunas--which are the smallest of the four kinds, and also the
prettiest--are captured by the Indians in a still more singular manner.
A large tract of the plains is enclosed merely by a cord, stretched
horizontally upon stakes, of about four feet in height.  To the cord are
attached pieces of cloth, feathers, or coloured rags of any kind.  Into
this feeble enclosure the herd of vicunas is driven; and, strange to
say, the frightened animals will permit themselves to be crowded
together, and killed with stones rather than leap over the cord.

When any guanacos chance to be mixed up with the herd, the result is
likely to be very different.  These, being of bolder spirit, as well as
larger size, at once overleap or break through the fictitious barrier,
and sweep off to the mountains, followed by the whole flock of the
vicunas.

The capability of the llama to carry burdens is well-known.  They were
thus employed by the ancient Peruvians, and, although at present they
are less valued on this account, many are still used in carrying the
ores from the rich gold and silver mines of Chili and Peru to the
smelting furnaces, or ports of embarkation on the coast.  The
introduction of the mule, however, has to a great extent relieved the
llamas of their load; and less attention is now paid either to their
training or increase.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

SWINE.

If not one of the most agreeable, the Hog--or Pig, as it is oftener
called--is one of the most useful of the domesticated animals.  Indeed,
it would be difficult to say how culinary operations could be carried on
without the valuable fat which this creature produces in such plenty,
and to which both cooks and confectioners are so largely indebted.
Besides, there are whole nations who feed almost entirely upon its
flesh; and even its skin and bristles constitute an important item of
manufacturing industry.  The facility with which the flesh can be
preserved under the name of bacon, the length of time it may be kept
without the danger of spoiling, combined with the undoubted
wholesomeness of such an article of diet, render it one of the most
convenient articles of provision; and hence in agricultural districts,
and other places far remote from towns, it is an almost universal
article of food.

The number of species that form the group of hogs or swine is very
limited indeed; in all not exceeding half a score.  These, however, are
found in endless varieties, and distributed over all the globe, since in
each of the five great divisions one or more indigenous kind of hog has
been found.  That which forms the type on which the swine family is
founded, is, of course, the _Common Pig_; and this is supposed to be
descended from the wild boar, so well-known in connection with the chase
during medieval times.

It is superfluous to say that the common hog of our farmyards has been
propagated until an almost countless variety of breeds have been
produced--not only every country, but even single counties or provinces
having a breed of its own.  All, however, are so much alike in habits
and general appearance, and their characteristics so well-known, that it
would be idle to give any description of them here.  We shall only
remark that the pig, if fairly treated, is by no means an animal of
filthy or dirty habits, as is generally supposed.  On the contrary, it
is cleanly in its nature; and its slovenliness is brought upon it by the
manner in which it is styed up, in its own filth.  Neither is it a
stupid creature, but possesses considerable intelligence; as is proved
by the tricks which it has been taught to perform under the name of the
"learned pig;" while several individuals have been trained to follow the
gun, and stand to game as stanch as the best pointers.  In France it is
not uncommon for the truffle-hunters to use pigs in search of this
favourite esculent--the keenness of scent which the animal possesses
enabling it to find this hidden treasure, just as it does potatoes or
other roots, far under the surface of the ground.

The _Wild Boar_, next to the common domestic variety, is the best known
and most celebrated of the swine.  In earlier times it was found in
every part of Europe.  Even at this day, it is not rare in the forest
fastnesses of most of the continental countries, and also in Asia.  It
was formerly common in England, and the chase of it was a favourite
pastime among the kings and nobles, especially about the time of the
Norman Conquest.  In those days the Game laws were certainly harsh
enough--much more so than those of our own time--since William the
Conqueror issued an edict punishing with the _loss of his eyes_ any one
who should be convicted of killing a wild boar!

In Europe the famed boar spear, used in hunting this animal, has given
way to the rifle; but in India, where the field is taken on horseback,
the spear is still in use; and hunting the wild boar is one of the most
exciting of wild sports practised in that country.

The wild boar of India, however, is in some respects different from that
of Europe; and naturalists generally class it as a distinct species.

The _Babirussa_ is another species belonging to the East Indian world:
found principally in the Moluccas and other islands of the Indian
Archipelago.  It is of about the same size as the common pig; but of
more slender shape, and stands higher upon its deer-like limbs.  The
skin is thinly furnished with soft bristles, and is of a greyish tint,
inclining to fawn colour on the belly.  But the most striking character
of the babirussa is to be found in its tusks.  Of these there are two
pairs of unequal size.  The lower ones are short--somewhat resembling
those of the common boar--whereas the two upper ones protrude through
the skin of the muzzle, and then curve backward like a pair of horns,
and often downward again, so as to form a complete circle!  It is not
known for what purpose these appendages exist.  The two lower tusks must
be formidable weapons; but the upper ones, especially in old
individuals, can hardly inflict a wound.  They may perhaps ward off the
bushes from the eyes of the animal, as it rushes through the thick cover
of its jungly retreat.  The females are without these tusks; and are
also much smaller than the males.

The babirussa inhabits marshy thickets and forests; and is hunted for
its flesh--which is highly prized both by the natives and foreigners.
It is very swift and fierce.  When pursued or wounded in the chase, it
will show fight like the wild boar of Europe.

The _Papuan hog_, or _bene_, is a native of the Island of New Guinea;
and is characterised by its small stature and slender and graceful form.
Its tusks are not large, and are shaped like the incisor teeth.  It is
covered with thick, short, and yellowish-coloured bristles; and when
young it is marked by bright fulvous stripes along the back.  The native
Papuans highly esteem its flesh; and on this account it is hunted by
them in the forests where it is found.  Its young are often captured,
and brought up in a domesticated state--in order that their flesh may
the more easily be procured.  Foreigners, who have visited this island,
relish it as an article of food.

We now come to the hogs of Africa--the Wart-hogs, as they are commonly
called.  Of these there are two species; and it would be difficult to
say which is the uglier of the two.  In respect of _ugliness_, either
will compare advantageously with any other animal in creation.  The
deformity lies principally in the _countenance_ of these animals; and is
caused by two pairs of large protuberances, or warts, that rise upon the
cheeks and over the frontal bone.  These excrescences--if we may so call
them--lend to the visage of the creature an aspect positively hideous,
which is rendered still more ugly and fierce-looking by a pair of
formidable tusks curving upward from each jaw.  The body is nearly
naked--excepting along the neck and back, where a long bristly mane
gives a shaggy appearance to the animal--especially when these bristles,
of nearly a foot in length, are erected under the impulse of rage.
Other peculiarities are, a pair of whiskers of white curling hair along
the lower jaws; small black eyes surrounded by white bristly hair; a
long tail tufted at the extremity; and on the knees of the fore-legs a
piece of thick callous skin, hard and protuberant.  In fact, every
characteristic of this creature seems intended to make his portrait as
disagreeable as may be.

We have said there are two species.  These are known as Aelian's
wart-hog and the Cape wart-hog.  The former is a native of Abyssinia,
Kordofan, and other countries of North Africa; while the latter, as its
name implies, is found at the Cape--or rather throughout the whole
southern part of the continent.  It is the Vlack Vaark of the Dutch
colonists; and this species differs from Elian's wart-hog in having the
cheek protuberances much larger, its head more singularly shaped, and,
if possible, in being _uglier_!

The wart-hog dwells among low bushes and forests.  It creeps on its bent
fore-feet in quest of food--sliding along on its knees, and propelling
itself forward by its hind legs.  This habit will account for the
callosities already mentioned.  In this posture it digs up the ground,
extracting therefrom the roots and bulbs (of which its food is supposed
entirely to consist); for, fierce and hideous as its aspect may be, the
wart-hog is less omnivorous than several other species of the tribe.

And now for the indigenous hogs of America, the _Peccaries_.  Of these,
also, there are two species described by naturalists; though certainly a
third kind exists in the South American forests, distinct from the two
that are known.

These are the _Collared Peccary_, or _Coyametl_; and the _White-lipped
Peccary_, or _Tagassou_.

For a long time these two species were confounded with each other; but
it is now proved that they are distinct--not only in size and colour,
but to some extent also in their geographical distribution, their
haunts, and habits.

The Collared Peccary is of small stature: not larger than a half-grown
Berkshire pig.  It is thickly covered with hairy bristles of a
greyish-brown colour, and has a whitish band or collar around the neck--
from which circumstance it derives its trivial specific name.  Its
geographical range is more extensive than that of its congener.  It is
found not only in South America, but throughout the whole of Central and
North America, as far as the borders of the United States territory: in
other words, the limits of its range are co-extensive with what was
formerly _Spanish America_.  It exists in Texas; and still further to
the north-west, in New Mexico and California--though nowhere to the east
of the Mississippi river.  In Texas it is common enough; and stories are
related of many a redoubtable Texan hunter having been "tree'd"--that
is, forced to take shelter in a tree from a band of peccaries, whose
rage he may have provoked while wandering in their haunts, and too
recklessly making use of his rifle.  The same is related as occurring to
South American hunters with the white-lipped peccaries--that have a
similar habit of trooping together in droves, and acting in concert,
both for defence and attack, against the common enemy.

The chief points of distinction between the two species are in the size
and colour.  The white-lipped kind is much the larger--frequently
weighing one hundred pounds--while a full-grown individual of the
collared peccary does not exceed in weight over fifty pounds.  The
former are of a deeper brown colour, want the white collar around the
neck; but in its stead have a whitish patch around the mouth or lips,
from which also comes their specific appellation.  These are also
thicker and stouter, have shorter legs, and a more expanded snout.  They
troop together in larger droves, that often number a thousand
individuals of all ages and sizes.  Thus united, they traverse extensive
districts of forest--the whole drove occupying an extent of a league in
length--all directed in their march by an old male, who acts as leader.
Should they be impeded in their progress by a river, the chief stops for
a moment to reconnoitre; then plunges boldly into the stream, followed
by all the rest of the troop.  The breadth of the river, and the
rapidity of the current, seem to be but trifling obstacles to them; and
are overcome easily, since the peccaries are excellent swimmers.  They
continue their onward march through the open grounds; over the
plantations, which, unfortunately for their owners, may chance to lie in
their way; and which they sometimes completely devastate, by rooting out
the whole of the crops of maize, potatoes, sugarcane, or manioc.  If
they should meet with any opposition, they make a singular noise--
chattering their teeth like castanets; and if a hunter should chance to
attack them when moving thus, he is sure to be surrounded and torn to
pieces: unless he find some tree or other convenient object, where he
may make escape, by getting out of their reach.

The white-lipped peccaries are found in all the forests of South
America--from the Caribbean Sea to the Pampas of Buenos Ayres.  They are
abundant in Paraguay; and Sonnini, the traveller, has observed them in
Guyana.  Others report their presence on the Orinoco and its
tributaries--as also on all the waters of the Amazon.  Most probably, it
was from the number of these animals observed upon its banks by the
early travellers, that the last-mentioned river obtained one of its
Spanish names--the Rio Maranon--which signifies the "river of the wild
hogs."



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

HORSES AND ASSES.

The Horse--_par excellence_ the noblest of animals--is represented by
only a limited number of species; but, like other creatures domesticated
by man, he is found of many different breeds and varieties: too many to
be minutely described in these pages.  Suffice it to say, that almost
every civilised nation possesses several kinds of horses--differing from
one another in size, shape, colour, and qualities: in size especially--
since this fine animal may be observed not much bigger than a mastiff;
while other members of his family attain almost to the dimensions of an
elephant!  Even savage tribes, both in Asia and America, are in
possession of peculiar breeds of horses; and it may be assumed as a
fact, that more than a hundred varieties exist upon the earth.  These
have all been regarded as springing from one original stock; but here
again there is only vague conjecture; and it is far more probable, that
the domesticated horses are the descendants of several kinds originally
distinct in their wild state.

There are wild horses at the present day in Asia, Africa, and America;
but it is questionable whether any of these are the descendants of an
originally wild stock.  More likely they are the progeny of horses
escaped from the domesticated breeds.  Of course we refer to the _true_
horses of the genus _equus_; and not to the dziggetais, quaggas, and
zebras--to which we shall presently refer.  These last-mentioned kinds
are still found wild, as they have ever been; and, with one or two
exceptions, none of their species have been tamed to the use of man.

In America--both in the northern and southern divisions of the
continent--herds of wild horses are numerous.  These have all sprung
from individuals that escaped from their owners, and in process of time
have multiplied to a great extent.  Of course they could have no other
origin: since it is well-known that, previous to the time of Columbus,
no animal of the horse kind existed in America.  The wild horses now
found there are descended then from a domestic breed; and this breed has
been easily ascertained to be that used by the Spaniards in their
conquests of Mexico and Peru.  It is a race known as the Andalusian
horse--nearly allied to the Arabian--and no doubt at an earlier period
imported into the peninsula of Spain by the Moors.  These horses are
much smaller than the English hunter; but possess all the properties of
a true horse--the shape, action, etcetera--and cannot, therefore, be
considered as mere _ponies_.  They are, in reality, well-blooded horses,
of small stature; and no breed could be better suited to the climate of
most parts of Spanish America, where they now run wild.

On the pampas of South America these horses exist in vast droves.  The
Gauchos, a half-civilised race of men, live amidst their herds, and hunt
them chiefly for the hides.  They early learn to capture and ride them;
and a Gaucho is seldom seen off the back of his horse.  He can capture
and break one in in the course of an hour.  The flesh also serves him as
an article of food.  Down as far as the Straits of Magellan the droves
of wild horses are found.  There the native Indians have tamed many of
them--even the women and children going most of their time on horseback.
On the llanos, or great plains, that extend northward from the Amazon
and Orinoco--that is, in the provinces of Venezuela--other droves of
wild horses exist; and these, along with half-wild oxen, form the sole
property and pursuit of a class of men called Llaneros, who in many
respects resemble the Gauchos.  Again, proceeding to North America, we
find the same species of horse running wild on the great plains to the
north of Mexico; in California, and upon the prairies east of the Rocky
Mountains.  In Mexico Proper, as also in California, they are _owned_ by
great landed proprietors; and are annually caught, branded, and sold.
Many of these proprietors can count from 10,000 to 20,000 head roaming
within the boundaries of their estates, besides large droves of horned
cattle and mules.  In the vast regions between the settled parts of
Mexico and the frontier settlements of the United States, the wild
horses are the property of no one, but range freely over the prairies
without mark or brand.  These are hunted and captured by different
tribes of Indians--Comanches, Pawnees, Sioux, Blackfeet, etcetera, who
also possess large numbers of them tamed and trained to various uses.
Like the Gauchos and Llaneros of the south, these Indians use the flesh
of the horse for food, and esteem it the greatest delicacy!  Among some
tribes, where the buffalo is not found, the horse takes the place of the
latter as an article of diet; and forms the principal article of
subsistence of thousands of these people.  Among most of the prairie
tribes the chase of this animal, or the buffalo, is the sole pursuit of
their lives.

Still further north ranges the wild horse, even as far as the prairies
extend; and among the tribes of the Saskatchewan he is also found--used
by them for the saddle, and also as a beast of burden.  In these
regions, however, the buffalo still exists in great numbers; and the
horse, besides being eaten himself, is also employed to advantage in the
chase of this animal.

The wild horses of America are not all exactly of one breed.  Those of
the Mexico-American prairies, called by the Spaniards _mustenos_
(mustangs), differ slightly from those found upon the llanos of South
America; and these again from the horses of the pampas, and the
parameros of Peru.  These differences, however, are but slight, and
owing solely to climatic and other little causes.  But the mustangs of
the northern prairies have among them an admixture of breeds, derived
from American runaways along the borders of the Mississippi, and others
escaped from travellers on the prairies; and there have latterly been
discovered mustangs of large size--evidently sprung from the
English-Arabian horse.

In the Falkland Islands the horse is also found in an untamed state.
These were introduced by the French in 1764; but have since become
perfectly wild.  Strange to say, they are only found in the eastern part
of the island--although the pasture there is not more rich than in the
west, and there is no natural boundary between the two!

In Asia the horse runs wild in large herds--just as in America.  The
range in which they are found in this state is chiefly on the great
plains, or steppes--stretching from the Himalaya Mountains to Siberia.
The Calmuck Tartars tame them; and possess vast droves, like the Gauchos
and Indians.  They also eat their flesh; and among many tribes of
Tartars mare's milk is esteemed the most delicious of beverages.

After the true horse, the most beautiful species is the _Zebra_.  Every
one knows the general appearance of this handsomely marked animal, which
appears as if Nature had painted his body for effect.

Of the zebra there are two distinct kinds--both of them natives of
Africa, and belonging to the southern half of that great continent.
They are easily distinguished from each other by the stripes.  One of
them is literally striped to the very hoofs--the dark bands running
around the limbs in the form of rings.  The stripes extend in the same
way over the neck and head, to the very snout or muzzle.  This is the
true zebra, an animal that inhabits the mountainous regions of South
Africa, and which differs altogether from the _dauw_ or Burchell's
zebra, also found upon the great plains or karoos of the same region.
The latter has the stripes only over the body; while the head and legs
are very faintly streaked, or altogether of a plain brownish colour.
Attempts have been made at taming both of these kinds, and with some
success.  They have been trained both to the saddle and draught; but,
even in the most tractable state to which they have been yet reduced,
they are considered as "treacherous, wicked, obstinate, and fickle."

Another species of horse found also in South America is the _Quagga_.
This is very much like the zebra in size, shape, and in fact everything
except colour.  In the last respect it differs from both, in being of a
plain ashy brown hue over the upper parts of the body, very indistinctly
striped, and of a dirty white colour underneath.  Like the dauw, it
frequents the open plains--trooping together in vast droves, and often
herding with several species of antelopes.

Another species of quagga, called the Isabella quagga, is supposed to
exist in South Africa; but there are doubts upon this subject.  The name
is derived from the colour of a specimen seen by a very untrustworthy
traveller, which was of the hue known as Isabella colour; but nothing is
known of the animal, and most naturalists believe that the Isabella
quagga is identical with the other species, and that the specimen
reported by Le Vaillant was only a young quagga of the common kind.

All these species of African horses are generally classed with the genus
_Asinus_; that is, they are considered as _asses_, not _horses_.

We now come to other species of the ass genus, which were all originally
natives of Asia.

First, then, there is the domestic _Ass_; and of this species there are
almost as many varieties as of the horse,--some of them, as the Guddha
of the Mahrattas, not larger than a mastiff, while others exist in
different parts of the world as large as a two-year-old heifer.  Asses
are found of a pure white, and black ones are common, but the usual
colour is that to which they have given their name--the "colour of an
ass."

Besides the domestic species, there are several others still found wild.
There is the Koulan, which is exceedingly shy and swift--so much so
that it is difficult to capture or even kill one of them; since before
the hunter can approach within rifle range of them, they take the alarm
and gallop out of sight.  They live in troops, inhabiting the desert
plains of Persia and Mesopotamia in winter, while in summer they betake
themselves to the mountain ranges.  They are also found on the steppes
bordering the Caspian and Aral Seas.

Another species of wild ass is the Kiang.  This inhabits Thibet.  It is
of a bright bay colour, and has a smooth coat; but the males are deeper
coloured than the females.  They live in troops of about a dozen
individuals under a solitary male; and frequent places where the
thermometer is below zero--though they dwell indifferently either on
open plains or mountains.

The kiang has a variety of appellations, according to the country in
which it is found.  It is the Dziggetai, and the Wild Ass of Cutch, and
also the Yototze of the Chinese; but it is very probable that all these
are the names of different species.  It is further probable, that there
exist several other species of wild asses in the Thibetian and Tartar
countries of Asia--and also in the vast unknown territories of
North-eastern Africa--yet to be classified and described; for it may be
here observed that a monograph of the horse tribe alone, fully
describing the different species and breeds, would occupy the whole life
of a naturalist.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE OX TRIBE.

Our common domestic cattle furnish the type on which this family is
founded; and it is well-known that of this type there are many varieties
in different countries.  Even in our own, so many are there, that a mere
list of their names would fill one of our pages.  We shall refrain
therefore from giving any description of the different varieties--simply
remarking that they are all supposed to spring from one original.  This
is, to say the least, a very doubtful hypothesis, since cattle have been
found domesticated in many countries, and the period of their first
introduction to the society of man is altogether unknown.  It is far
more likely that different species have furnished the varieties now
known as domestic cattle.

We shall proceed to describe the other bovine animals--which, although
of the same family, are beyond doubt of a distinct species from the
common cattle.

The _Zebu_ is one of the most remarkable.  Its home is India and the
adjacent regions; where it branches off into almost as many varieties as
there are breeds of our own oxen.  These varieties have different names;
and they differ in size, shape, and other particulars; but the hump and
long hanging dewlap render the zebu easily recognisable.

In India they are sometimes employed as beasts of the saddle and
draught; and their flesh is also eaten, though with the exception of the
hump (which is esteemed a great delicacy) it is not equal to English
beef.  Among the Hindus the zebus are regarded as sanctified creatures;
and to slaughter them is deemed sin.  For all that, these fanatics do
not hesitate to _work_ them--sometimes hard enough.  There are some
zebus, however, that are considered more holy than common.  These may be
seen wandering idly about the villages, fed from the hands of the
people; and if neglected in this regard, they walk uninvited into the
rice enclosures, and help themselves!

The zebus are usually of an ashy-grey colour, though many are white; and
their size varies from that of an ordinary calf, to the stature of a
full-grown bull.

There is a variety of the zebu--or perhaps a distinct species--known as
the Dante.  It is an African animal--that is, Egypt is the country where
it is chiefly found.  Very little knowledge of it exists among
naturalists.  It is distinguished from the Indian zebu by having a
smaller hump upon the withers and a narrower face; and it is supposed to
be the animal represented on the ancient Egyptian tombs.

We next come to the kind of oxen termed _Buffaloes_; and of these there
are several species.

First, there is the _Indian buffalo_; and it may here be remarked, that
when the word buffalo is used, an animal with a huge hump upon its
shoulders is usually understood.  This is an error, arising, no doubt,
from the fact that the _bison_ of America, which _has_ a hump, is
generally called a buffalo.  But the Indian buffalo has no such
protuberance; nor yet the African species.  The Indian animal is found
both in a domesticated and wild state; but both are clearly of the same
species.  The wild one is called the Arna, and the tame one Bhainsa, in
the language of the natives.  The former is of much greater size than
the latter--standing, when full-grown, as high as the tallest man!  So
strong are these animals, that an arna bull has been known to butt down
a good-sized elephant with a single stroke of his horns!

It is the Indian buffalo that is found in Italy--where it has been
introduced, and is used for draught; its great strength giving it the
advantage over horses, especially on the deep miry roads that exist in
some parts of the peninsula.

The _Manilla buffalo_ is a smaller variety or species of the arna,
inhabiting, as its name imports, the Philippine Islands.

The _African buffalo_, sometimes known as the _Kaffir buffalo_, is
another of these great oxen, and not the least celebrated of the tribe.
It is an inhabitant of Africa, and is found chiefly in the southern half
of that continent, from the Cape of Good Hope northwards.  It is an
animal of vast size and strength; often waging war with the lion, and
frequently with man himself.  In these encounters the buffalo is but too
successful; and it is asserted among the natives of South Africa, that
there are more deaths among them, caused by buffalo bulls, than by all
the other wild beasts of the country.  Like his Indian congener, the
shock from the massive horns of an African buffalo is almost
irresistible; and both the lion and elephant at times succumb to it.

There is a smaller African species about which less is known.  This is
the Zamouse or Bush cow, which differs from the true buffalo in having a
flatter forehead, and being altogether without the dewlap.

We now come to the _American buffalo_, or _Bison_, as it should be
called.  This is indigenous to North America; and its present range is
confined to the great prairies that extend eastward from the foot of the
Rocky Mountains.  It was formerly found much farther to the east--in
fact, to the Atlantic coast; but its limits are now far beyond the
meridian of the Mississippi.  Hunters (both red and white) have driven
it across the Rocky Mountains; and of late years it has been met with in
the territory of the Upper Columbia.  Its habits are too well-known to
call for a description here, and its shaggy coat, with the deformity of
its huge shoulder-hump, are familiar to every eye.  With one exception,
it is the only species of the ox tribe indigenous to America--and it may
be added, to North America--since no native bovine animal is known to
exist in the southern half of the Transatlantic continent.

The _European buffalo_--or as it is sometimes called _Lithuanian
buffalo_--bears a considerable resemblance to that of the prairies.  In
size it is perhaps superior; but the two are much alike in general
appearance--especially in their massive form, and the long brown hair,
of woolly texture, so thickly set upon their necks and shoulders.

The European buffalo is nearly extinct, and exists only in some of the
forests of Lithuanian Poland, where it is rather half-wild than wild;
that is, it freely roams the forests, but only as the deer in our own
extensive parks, or the white cattle, known as the wild Scotch oxen--in
other words, it has an owner.

A very remarkable species is the _Yak_, or _Grunting Ox_.  This is found
only in the high, cold countries that lie to the north of the Himalayan
Mountains--in Thibet and Tartary.  There is only one species, but this
is both wild and tame--the wild sort being the larger and more
formidable animal.  The domestic variety is used by the people of Thibet
for carrying burdens; and both its milk and flesh are in great demand in
these cold countries of poverty and hunger.

The yaks dislike the warmth of summer; and during that season seek to
hide themselves in the shade, or under water, in which they swim well.
Their grunt exactly resembles that of a hog.  The calves are covered
with rough black hair like a curly-haired dog; but, when three months
old, they obtain the long hair that distinguishes the full-grown animal,
and which hangs so low as to give it the appearance of being without
legs!  They willingly live with common cattle, and will breed with them;
but the wild yak bull is an exceedingly fierce and dangerous animal.
The tail of the grunting ox is very full, or bushy; and although the
hair of the body is usually black, that upon the tail is universally of
a pure white.  This hair, when dyed red, is used by the Chinese to form
the tufts worn in the caps of the mandarins.  It is the _chowry_ or
fly-brush of India.

Like other domesticated cattle, the yak is found of different breeds--
known by the names of Noble yak, Plough yak, etcetera.

Next in succession comes the _Musk Ox_ of America, which, from its long
hanging hair, and also from many of its habits, bears a good deal of
resemblance to the grunting ox.  The musk ox is a native of North
America; and there his range is confined to the most remote regions of
the Hudson's Bay territory.  He is met with in the inhospitable track
known as the Barren Grounds--and also along the coasts and islands of
the Arctic Ocean--but nowhere so far south as the boundary of the United
States or the Great Lakes.  But for the land expeditions of several
Arctic explorers, the existence of the musk ox would hardly have been
known; and, as it is, his habits are but little understood.  He is not
of large size--being between the stature of an ox and a sheep--and in
general appearance he resembles the latter more than the former; hence,
among naturalists, he is styled the Sheep ox (_ovibos_).  He and the
Bison, as already remarked, are the only _indigenous_ oxen of America.

To return to Asia.  In its south-eastern parts--the Indies--we find
several other species of the ox tribe.  There is the _Gayal_ or
_Jungly-gau_, which inhabits the eastern parts of Bengal, especially the
mountains that separate this province from Arracan.  Of this there is a
tame and wild species--the latter an inhabitant of forests, living
rather upon the shoots of trees than upon grass.  It is a large animal,
more like the common ox than any of the buffaloes; and it is also less
fierce in its disposition than the latter.

Next to the gayal is the _Gam_--also a forest-dwelling ox, of large
size; and, like the other, browsing upon the leaves and twigs of trees.

The gam inhabits several forest-covered mountains in Central India,
where it is only found wild.  Attempts have been made to domesticate it,
but without success--since it is both a shy and fierce animal; so much
so that even the calves will not live in captivity!

Another Indian ox is the _Takin_, which inhabits the country of the
Kamptis, in the eastern ranges of the Himalayas, and about which there
is a dispute among naturalists, as to whether _it is an ox_!

We conclude our sketch with the _Anoa_, which belongs to Celebes--a
small species bearing some resemblance to the antelopes; and the
_Banting_ or _Sumatran Ox_, a native of Java, Borneo, and also, as its
second name denotes, of the Island of Sumatra.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

SHEEP.

The Sheep is one of the animals which man has subjected to his use; and
one, too, of primary importance in the domestic economy of almost every
civilised nation.  Like the horse, dog, cat, ox, and pig, it has assumed
the greatest possible variety.  Many naturalists have treated these
varieties as species; but those writers of greatest authority agree in
considering all the domestic breeds as having originated from one common
stock; and it would be idle here to speculate upon this question.

Of the _tame sheep_ there are not less than forty very distinct kinds,
besides numerous varieties of each of these kinds!  These, of course,
are distributed among many nations, and exhibit a very great difference
in point of size and general appearance.  Some are without horns, while
others have these appendages very large, and of eccentric shape; some
are covered with long crisp wool; others have the wool lank and
straight; while still others have no wool at all, but instead a coat of
hair resembling that of a spaniel or Newfoundland dog!  But, besides
these distinct kinds, as already stated, there are numerous varieties of
each kind.  For instance, the common sheep of England is itself branched
out into quite as many as twenty breeds, each of which has a name of its
own, and differs from all the others in many essential characteristics.

Leaving the common sheep of our own country, we shall say a few words of
some of the more noted kinds that are in the possession of different
nations abroad.

From Spain comes the Merino, so celebrated for the quality of its wool;
while in Astracan and other Oriental countries there is a breed, the
lambs of which furnish the well-known Astracan lambs'-skin, one of the
most beautiful and valuable of furs.  The Wallachian sheep, bred in
Hungary, Transylvania, and the Danubian principalities, also produces a
flue fur-like skin, much worn by the peasantry of Eastern Europe, in
jackets and cloaks termed "bundas."

A very similar kind of hairy-coated sheep is propagated throughout
Asiatic Russia and Siberia--the skins affording a warm and comfortable
clothing for the natives of these cold countries.

In the Indian countries there are many varieties, such as the Barwall of
Nepaul, and also the Huniah, Cago, and Seeling, belonging to the same
kingdom.  Again, in the Deccan there is a breed known as Deccan sheep,
another called Garar, and two others in Mysore denominated respectively
the Carrimbar and Shaymbliar.  China has a variety known as the Morvan,
with very long legs; and in Russia, again, there is a kind with tails so
long that their tops drag upon the ground; and another in Northern
Russia, with tails so short that they appear altogether wanting!

With regard to tails, no breed has these appendages so developed as the
broad or fat-tailed sheep.  This kind is supposed to have originally
come from Barbary; but they are now propagated in different parts of the
world.  In Asia they are found among the Tartars, Persians, Buchanans,
and Thibetians.  In Africa itself they are common among the Abyssinians,
and are also kept in large flocks by the Dutch colonists of the Cape.
The tails of these sheep are sometimes so large and heavy, that it is
with difficulty the animals can carry them; and in some instances they
are dragged along the ground as the sheep move from place to place!  The
fat of which this appendage is composed is esteemed a great delicacy;
and at the Cape, as elsewhere, it constitutes an important article of
the _cuisine_.

There are several other curious breeds of sheep reared in the different
countries of Africa.  These are, the Guinea sheep of the western coast;
the Morocco sheep, bred in the kingdom of the same name; the African
sheep, an inhabitant of the Sahara; and the smooth-haired African sheep.
There are also the Tezzan sheep, belonging to Tripoli; the Saint Helena
sheep, of the celebrated Island of Saint Helena; the Congo sheep, of
Congo; and the Angolas, of the same region, famous for the quality of
their wool--not to be confounded, however, with the Angora wool, which
is the produce of a goat.  There are sheep in Tartary that eat bones
like dogs, and in Hindustan and Nepaul there are kinds that have four
horns each.  These are the Dumbas.  A little species exists in Iceland,
in which the horns sometimes grow to the number of eight--though four is
the more common number.  America, too, has its varieties.  These are the
Brazilian sheep, the Demerara breed, the South American sheep, and a
variety known as the West Indian.

In fact, go to whatever part of the world you may, you will find a
species or variety of this valuable animal, different in some respects
from all the others.

The _wild sheep_, like the wild goats, do not number a great many
species; but there are certainly several that are yet undescribed, and
perhaps there may be about a dozen in all.  No doubt the great central
mountains of Asia, and also the ranges of Northern Africa, still
unexplored, will in time yield several new species of wild sheep.
Indeed, late travellers in the Himalayas speak of wild sheep that appear
to be essentially different from the _argali_, and other species already
known.

One species of wild sheep belongs to Europe--the Moufflon, which is to
this day found plentifully in the mountainous parts of Corsica, Cyprus,
and Candia.  It was supposed to be the original of the tame breeds; but
this is a mere conjecture.

In America there is also but one species of wild sheep, though it has
also a variety.  This is the Bighorn of the Rocky Mountains, lately much
spoken of by prairie travellers and fur-hunters.  It is not known in
tropical North America, nor does its range extend to the Andes of the
south; but it is found to the west, in the mountains of California, in a
variety called the Californian sheep.  The bighorn is extremely like the
Asiatic argali, and was for a long time regarded as identical with the
latter; but this was an error.  It is now ascertained that not only is
the American animal of another species, but also that there are several
distinct species of the argali itself in the different ranges of Asiatic
mountains.

Africa has its wild sheep, but only in its northern parts.  This is the
Aoudad, which dwells in the mountains of Barbary.

Asia appears to be the head-quarters of the wild sheep.  One species is
found in Armenia, and another in the Caucasus.  Siberia has an argali,
that appears altogether to differ from the argali of the Himalayas.
Again, in the Himalayan Mountains themselves, there is one species which
ranges north only as far as Thibet; while on the Thibetian plateaux, as
far as the Altai Mountains, there is another, if not two other species,
quite distinct from the latter.

It has been observed by competent travellers, that these Thibetian
argalis bear a very strong resemblance to the different breeds of tame
sheep found in the same regions; from which it may be reasonably
inferred that the domesticated varieties of different countries have
sprung from several wild species, instead of being all descended from
one common origin.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

GOATS.

My young readers will be surprised to hear that nothing is more
difficult than to tell a _Goat_ from a _Sheep_.  Yet such is in reality
the fact.  Of course the common goat is easily distinguished from the
common sheep; but then there are species and varieties of both these
animals so like in shape, size, colour, and habits, that the most
accomplished naturalists are unable to pronounce which are goats and
which are sheep!  Indeed, some naturalists make no distinction at all,
but class both under the same genus.  This, however, is not a correct
view, since there is an essential difference in the _nature_ of these
two animals, notwithstanding the frequent resemblance in their outward
appearance.  It was upon this very point--their _nature_--that the
renowned Buffon relied in separating them; he alleging that the sheep
differed only from the goats in the greater gentleness and timidity of
their disposition.  It is true that this is not a very scientific mode
of classification; yet, strange to say, it is held to be one of the
safest guides for distinguishing the one from the other.  Of course, it
can only be relied upon when taken in connection with other indices of a
physical character.  Perhaps you may fancy that goats and sheep may be
distinguished from each other by the "coat"--the former having a _hairy_
coat, while that of the latter is _woolly_.  For you who reside in the
British Islands, this mark would stand good enough, since British goats
are in reality clothed with hair, and British sheep with wool; but in
many other countries the case is not only different, but directly the
reverse, the goats being _woolly_, while the sheep are _hairy_!

It may be further remarked, that there are both goats and sheep so very
nearly akin to antelopes, that it is again difficult to draw a line of
distinction among the three.  Indeed, there is a section of the antelope
tribe, called the _goat-antelopes_, so called on account of this very
approximation.  Several species of antelopes--as the chamois of the
Alps, and others--are by many naturalists classed as goats; and the
bighorn of the Rocky Mountains, which is a true wild sheep, is also
classed by some zoologists as a species of antelope.

The goats approach nearer to the nature of antelopes than do the sheep.
In fact, the mountain antelopes are extremely like goats in their nature
and habits.  On this account the latter are supposed to stand between
the sheep and antelopes.

We shall separate the goats into two kinds: first, the _tame_ or
_domesticated_ goats; and secondly, the _wild_ ones.  Of the
domesticated kind there is an endless list of varieties; and upon the
question as to which of the wild species was the parent stock, thousands
of opinions have been expressed, and long treatises written.  It is just
as with the dog, and other domestic animals--no one can certainly say
what species was first introduced to the society of human beings; and it
is far more likely that it was not any one wild species, but several,
and belonging to different countries, that gave origin to the numerous
kinds of goats now in the possession of man.

It would be a troublesome task to describe these numerous varieties.
Every country has its kind; and, in fact, every district of country can
show a breed distinct from all the others.  Instead of specifying each
breed, we shall only mention a few of the more noted and valuable sorts.

The Thibet or Cashmere goat is perhaps the most celebrated of the tribe;
its celebrity arising from the fineness of its wool, out of which are
manufactured the costly Cashmere shawls.  An attempt was made to
introduce this variety into England; but it has not been successful,
though the cause of its failure has not been communicated to the public.
We can easily find a very good reason in the fact, that a first-class
Cashmere shawl requires a year in its manufacture; and therefore, if an
English weaver were to have the raw material for nothing, his labour
would amount to more than the shawl was worth in the market!  It is just
the same with the culture of the tea-plant.  There are many districts in
America where the tea-tree would flourish as well as in China; but what
would be the use of growing it there, since the labour required to bring
it to a state of readiness for the teapot would also raise it to an
unsaleable price!  These are the important principles that people who
talk of protective duties entirely lose sight of.

The best Cashmere goats are brought from the Thibet country; and then
wool sells for a rupee a pound in Cashmere itself.  It is spun by the
women, and afterwards dyed.  The persons employed in making the shawls
sit on a bench around the frame.  If it be a _pattern_ shawl, four
persons labour at its manufacture; but a plain one requires only two.
The borders are marked with wooden needles, there being a separate
needle for each colour; and the rough side of the shawl is uppermost
while it is being made.

The best shawls are manufactured in the kingdom of Cashmere itself,
though many are made in other Oriental countries, and also in France;
and the wool of several varieties of the goat, besides the Thibet, is
used in the manufacture.  In Cashmere alone 30,000 shawls are made
annually--giving employment to about 50,000 people.

The Angora goat is another noted variety--esteemed for its fine silky
hair.  It inhabits the countries of Angora and Beibazar, in Asiatic
Turkey, where it is kept in large flocks, the goatherds bestowing much
care upon the animals--frequently combing and washing them!

The Syrian goat, remarkable for its excessively long ears, is reared in
Aleppo and other parts of Asiatic Turkey, and is kept for the use of its
milk, with which many of the towns are supplied.

There are other varieties less noted, among which may be mentioned the
Spanish goats, without horns; the Juda, or African goat, with two hairy
wattles under the chin; and the pretty little Whidaw goat--also a small
African variety.  There is also a Nepaul goat, and one belonging to the
Deccan, called Bukee--a very large gaunt fellow, with long shaggy hair.
The Irish goat, too, is a peculiar variety of the common or domestic
species.

Tame goats are distributed very generally over all the Old World.  They
thrive well in the cold climate of Norway; and are equally at home in
the hottest parts of Africa and the Indian islands.  In America they are
rare, in the territory inhabited by the Anglo-Saxon races--it not being
considered a valuable speculation to "raise" them; but throughout the
Spanish territories, both in North and South America, large flocks may
be seen, and the wild goats of Juan Fernandez are descendants of these
Spanish-American domesticated breeds.

The species of true _wild goats_ are not numerous, but are very
generally distributed over the world--particularly over the old
continents.  In America only one wild species is indigenous: that is,
the Rocky Mountain goat.  Some authors have asserted that this species
is not indigenous to America; but most certainly this statement is an
error.  From its peculiar appearance, as well as from the locality in
which it is found, it could never have sprung from any known
domesticated breed.  It is a long-haired creature, snow-white in colour,
and with very short straight horns.  Its hair is of silky hue and
fineness, and hangs so low that the animal appears as if without legs.
Its skin makes one of the most beautiful of saddle covers; and for this
purpose it is used; but the animal itself being rare, and only found in
the most remote and inaccessible regions of the Rocky Mountains, a good
skin is as costly as it is valuable.  It is met with in the great
central range, from Northern Mexico, as far north as the Rocky Mountains
extend; and it is supposed also to exist among the higher summits of the
Californian mountains.

The Ibex is another species of wild goat, somewhat celebrated.  It is
the wild goat of the European Alps, where it is known by the Germans as
Stein-boc, and as Bouquetin among the French.

Another ibex belongs to the Caucasian Mountains, called Zebudor, or
Hach; and still another kind inhabits the Himalayas, where it passes
under the name of Sakeen.  There is also an ibex in Siberia; and still
another in the Pyrenees.

In addition to these, there is a large wild goat in the loftiest
Himalayas, known as the Jaral, or Tur; and another in India called the
Jungle Kemas, or Wild Sheep of Tenasserim.  In Northern Africa, again,
there are several species of native wild goats, as the Jaela in Egypt,
and the Walie of the African-Arab countries; but in South Africa no
indigenous wild goats have been observed--their place in that region
being supplied by their near congeners the Klipspringers, and other
rock-loving antelopes.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

ANTELOPES.

The Antelope tribe is so closely related to that of the Deer, that it is
often difficult to distinguish one from the other.  Indeed, certain
species of antelopes are more like to certain species of deer, than
either to their own kind.  This is more especially true of the females,
where the horns--the chief point of distinction--are absent.  In such
cases, even the accomplished naturalist is perplexed by the close
resemblance--which extends beyond mere outward appearance, and is found
throughout all their habits.

It may be remarked, however, that the different species of antelopes
differ not only in size, shape, and colour, but quite as much in their
modes of existence.  Some, like the African Eland and the Nyl-ghau of
India, are clumsy creatures both in shape and movements; while others,
as the Gazelles, are models of symmetry and grace.  Some are dwellers in
the arid recesses of the desert; while others affect the most fertile
pastures, or the deepest shades of the thick forest.  Others, again,
find their home amidst the sedge on the banks of lakes and rivers,
passing half their time in the water; while several species--as the
Chamois of Europe and the Klipspringer of South Africa--dwell in the
mountains, making their way among cliffs and ravines, with an agility
scarce equalled by any other animal.  Again, some species are
gregarious, and herd together in vast flocks; while others are found
only in small droves, or families, and not a few species lead what is
termed a solitary life.  In all these respects the antelopes resemble
the deer; and, indeed, no very marked distinction can be pronounced
between the two.  As already remarked, the main point of difference,
upon which scientific naturalists rely, is found in the horns; those of
the deer being termed osseous, or bony, while these appendages in the
antelopes are true horns--that is, of the same material as the horns of
oxen.  Furthermore, the horns--or rather antlers--of the deer are
caducous, shedding annually; while those of the antelopes are
persistent, remaining throughout the life-time of the animal--as with
goats, sheep, and oxen.

The antelopes appear to stand, as it were, in a central position,
surrounded by these three last-mentioned groups; in other words, there
are species of antelopes that can scarcely be distinguished from goats,
others equally like sheep, and others that come very near being true
oxen!  Nay, further, there are one or two species--the Gnus of South
Africa--that bear a considerable resemblance to horses!

At one time the antelopes were all classed in a single genus; but since
the species have increased--or rather the knowledge of them--this
arrangement has been deemed inconvenient; and the systematic naturalists
have separated them into a great many genera--twenty or more--and to
these genera they have given such a variety of pedantic titles, that it
would be wellnigh impossible for one man's memory to retain them all.  I
do not hesitate to say, that it would have been much wiser to have
retained the nomenclature of the old naturalists, and called all these
animals _antelopes_--leaving the specific appellations to distinguish
them from one another.

In a popular sketch it is necessary to treat them in this way; for to
give even a list of the generic characters of the systematic naturalists
would occupy the whole of our space.

First, then, of the number of these ruminants--that is, the number of
kinds.  In this respect they exceed the deer tribe, amounting in all to
between eighty and ninety distinct kinds.  Perhaps there are one hundred
species upon the whole earth, since several new ones have been recently
discovered in the interior regions of Asia and Africa.

It is scarcely necessary to say that Africa is the great head-quarters
of the antelope tribe--more than half the species belonging to that
continent.  In number of individuals, too, it far excels; the vast herds
of these animals that roam over the karoos and great plains of South
Africa consisting sometimes of numbers countless as locusts or the sands
of the sea!  Asia, however, is not without its share of species; and
especially that portion of it--the Oriental region--so rich in other
mammalia.  In Australia no antelope has yet been found; nor even in the
large island of Madagascar, so African in its character.  Only one
representative of the antelopes is indigenous to the New World--the
Prong-horn of the prairies; for the Bighorn of the Rocky Mountains is a
sheep, not an antelope.  To say the least, this is a natural fact of
some singularity; for from all we know of the habits of these animals,
no country could be better suited to their existence than the great
prairies of North America, or the llanos of the Orinoco, the paramos of
Brazil, and the pampas of Buenos Ayres and Patagonia.  And yet on these
South American plains no animal of the genus _antelope_ has yet been
discovered;--and on the prairies, as already mentioned, only one
species, the Prong-horn.

It is worthy of remark, also, that in Africa, where the antelopes most
abound, no deer are found to exist in the few African species of the
latter being denizens only of the extreme north of Africa, where that
continent approximates in character to the southern countries of Europe.

In Europe there are two species--the well-known Chamois of the Alps, and
the Saiga of Eastern Europe, which last is also an Asiatic animal.

In describing the different species--and we can only say a word or two
of each--we shall class them, not according to generic distinctions, but
rather by their geographical distribution; and we shall begin with the
_Antelopes of Africa_.

Of these the Eland is the largest (as it also is the largest of
antelopes), being sometimes of the size and weight of a full-grown
horse!  It is an animal of rather an ungainly appearance; but its
beautiful buff colour and mild disposition make up for its ungraceful
shape; and it is scarcely ever out of good condition.  Its home is
Southern Africa, where it is still found in large herds; and its flesh
affords a plentiful subsistence both to travellers and the half-savage
natives of the land.

Hunting the eland is a common pastime; and no craft is required to
insure success, since these creatures are almost as tame as domestic
cattle; so tame that the horseman usually rides into the middle of the
drove, and, singling out the fattest bull, shoots him down without any
difficulty.  The eland thrives well in England; and Dr Livingstone
remarks it strange that it has not long since been introduced to our
pastures--since its flesh is better than beef, and the animal itself is
as large as an ox.

The Gingi Jonga is a distinct variety of the eland, found in Western
Africa.

The Koodoo is another large species, of which South Africa is the home.
This is remarkable for a noble appearance; but its most striking
characteristic is its magnificent horns--each of which is four feet in
length, sweeping widely outwards in an elegant spiral curvature.  The
koodoo loves the shade of the forest, and especially delights to dwell
on the banks of rivers--taking freely to the water and swimming well.

The Gnu next merits attention.  In point of fact this is the most
singular of the whole genus--being that which in many respects resembles
the horse.  There are two kinds, both belonging to South Africa, and
known as the Gnu and Brindled Gnu.  When seen galloping at a distance,
they bear a marked resemblance to quaggas, or wild horses.  They live in
extensive herds on the karoos; and are hunted by the natives for their
skins--out of which the Kaffirs make their karosses.  Their flesh is
eaten; though it is not so much esteemed as that of some other
antelopes.

The Oryx, or Gemsbok, is a middle-sized species, dwelling in the same
neighbourhood with the gnus.  It is a heavy, stout animal, with a long
bunch tail, and a pair of tapering slender horns, almost perfectly
straight, and sweeping back towards the shoulders.  It is truly a
creature of the open desert plains; and can go for a long time without
water.  It is bold and dangerous--especially when wounded--and will give
battle to the hunter even, it is said, when that hunter chances to be
the lion himself!

The true Oryx, or Milk-white Antelope, mentioned by early writers, is a
kindred species to the Gemsbok; and is found in Northern Africa--in
Sennaar, Nubia, Abyssinia, and Senegal.  This last is a celebrated
species, on account of the supposition that it is the animal figured on
the temples of Egypt, and known as the _Unicorn_.  It would not be
difficult, I imagine, to point out the absurdity of this belief; and to
prove that the Unicorn of the ancients was either the Gnu of South
Africa, or an allied species--supposed to exist at the present time in
the inter-tropical region of the same continent.

A third species of oryx, the Beisa, inhabits Abyssinia.

The Addax is a large, heavily-formed antelope, with spiral horns and
ox-like appearance, inhabiting the greater part of the Central African
region.  It frequents sandy plains, and is noted for its broad hoofs,
which seem designed to prevent it from sinking in the soft yielding sand
of the desert.  The addax is not gregarious, living in pairs or
families.

One of the handsomest of South African antelopes is the Water Buck, a
fine large species, with long, widely-spreading horns.  It is called
Water Buck on account of its habit of frequenting the marshy banks of
rivers and lakes, where it spends most of its time half immersed in the
water!

The Lechee is another species, allied to this, and of very similar
habits; and two, if not three species of _water_ antelopes have been
lately discovered by Livingstone and other South African explorers.  The
Sing-sing is an antelope belonging to Western Africa.  The English on
the Gambia call it the "Jackass Deer," from its resemblance to a donkey.
The negroes believe that its presence has a sanitary effect upon their
cattle; and hardly a flock is seen without having one or two sing-sings
along with it.  A similar fancy is entertained in our own country in
regard to the common goat--many people keeping one in their stables,
under the belief that it is beneficial to the health of the horses!

Another Sing-sing is the Equitoon, or Kob, of Senegal--often confounded
with the former species.

A very beautiful antelope is the Blue buck, or Blauwboc of the Cape
colonists.  It is a large, bold animal, with horns ringed, and gently
curving backwards.  Its skin is jet black; and it is this colour
reflected through the ashy-grey hair that gives the animal that purplish
or blue tint, whence it derives its name.  It is found in small troops
on the plains north of Kurrichane; and when wounded, or in the rutting
season, the males are dangerous creatures.  Another similar species, but
larger, is the Tah-kaitze, which is plentiful in the country of the
Bechuanas.  It is so ferocious in its disposition, that the native
hunters fear to attack it with the asseghai; but prefer capturing it in
pitfalls.

The Black buck is a species of similar character and habits; and in
Senegal there is one, not unlike the foregoing, known among the French
as _vache-brune_, and called by the Mandingoes _white mouth_.

The Pallah is another fine species of South African antelope.  Its horns
are of the lyrate form, and its colour a bright rufous.  It is on this
account known among the Dutch colonists as the Rooye-boc (Red buck).  It
runs in small troops, and is found in the country of the Bechuanas, who
hunt it for its flesh.

The Stein-boc is one of the slenderest and most graceful of antelopes.
It lives upon stony plains and in mountain valleys in South Africa--
hence its name of _stein-boc_, or stone buck.  It is very swift, and,
when at full speed, will often spring over fifteen feet at a single
leap.  Its flesh is much prized, and on this account it is hunted
eagerly by the natives; so that, although one of the swiftest of
animals, it is now rare in most parts of the Cape colony.

The Grys-boc is a closely allied species, but not so elegantly formed,
nor yet so swift.  It hides when closely pursued--thrusting its head
into a bush, or squatting like a hare in her form.  The stein-boc has a
similar habit.

The Bleek-boc, or Ourebi, is one of those antelopes which have the
curious appendages upon the knees called brushes.  It is a large animal,
and its flesh is eaten by the Kaffirs, in whose country it is chiefly
found.  A very similar species, called the _gibari_, exists in Northern
Africa--Abyssinia--and also on the western coast.

Of all the South African antelopes, perhaps none is more known and
admired than the Spring-boc (springbuck).  Its name is derived from a
curious habit the animal has of, every now and then, springing upward
from the ground, while going at full speed across the plains.  This leap
is sometimes made to the height of many feet, in an almost perpendicular
direction, and apparently without any other motive than for amusement!
The spring-bucks are eminently gregarious; indeed, they may be said to
swarm.  Herds have been met with, numbering as many as 50,000
individuals, migrating from one part of the country to the other, and
paying but little heed to the crowds of hyenas, wild dogs, and other
predatory creatures, who keep them company only to destroy and devour
them.

The Klipspringer is a small antelope that inhabits the most inaccessible
mountains of Southern Africa; and, like its near congener, the chamois
of the Alps, is as much at home on the narrow ledges of cliffs as its
kindred are upon the open plains.  It is a long-haired, shaggy little
creature; but its long hair does not protect it from the bullet of the
hunter; and its young frequently fall victims to the eagle, and the
great lammer-geyer vulture, which also dwells among these mountains.

In addition to those described, there are many other species of
antelopes in Africa.  The Duyker-boc, or Diving-buck--so called from its
habit of ducking or diving under the bushes when pursued--is a Cape
species; and there is another diving-buck, called the Black-faced; and
still another of these bush antelopes, termed Burchell's bush-boc.  Then
there is the Four-tufted antelope of Senegal; the Red-crowned bush-boc,
also of Western Africa; and, belonging to the same region, the
White-backed bush-boc.  In the Island of Fernando Po there is found the
Black-striped bush-boc; and in Abyssinia, the Madoqua, or Abyssinian
bush-goat, of a yellow colour.  The Bay bush-buck and Bay bush-goat are
two species described as natives of Sierra Leone; while the Black
bush-boc, of a sooty black colour, is found on the coast of Guinea.

The Coquetoon is a species of a deep-reddish bay colour, belonging to
Western Africa; and on the Senegal and Gambia we meet with another sooty
species, called the Guevei.  At Port Natal, in South Africa, there is a
red species called the Natal bush-boc; and the Kleene-boc, a diminutive
little creature, only about twelve inches in height--a very pigmy among
the antelopes--also belongs to the same region.  Several other small
species--or pigmy antelopes, as they are termed--are found along the
west coast of Africa, viz., the Black-rumped guevei of Fernando Po; the
Grisled guevei of Sierra Leone; and the White-footed guevei of the same
region.  The little creature known as the Royal antelope, or
Guinea-musk, is a native of Guinea.  Still others in South Africa are
the Ree-boc and the Reed-boc--the latter deriving its name from its
habit of frequenting the reeds that grow along the banks of the South
African rivers.  In the Island of Zanzibar there is a very small species
of antelope; and another found in Abyssinia, and called also the
Madoqua, is said to be the smallest of all horned animals--being not so
large as an English hare!

In North Africa--in the Sahara Desert--exists a large species, called by
the Arabs the Wild Ox.  It is one of the clumsiest in shape of the whole
tribe.  In the south two kinds are near akin to it--the Harte-beest or
Secaama, and the Sassaby or Bastard harte-beest.  The Korrigun is
another of these large antelopes, belonging to Western Africa; and the
Bonte-boc and Bles-boc are two similar kinds, existing in the country of
the Hottentots.  The Bosch-boc, or Bush-goat, is still another of the
southern antelopes, which derives its name from its dwelling-place--the
bushy thickets--out of which it never shows itself; and, in addition to
all these, there is the Decula of Abyssinia, the Guib of the western
coast, the Ingala of Natal, and the Broad-horned antelope of the Bight
of Biafra.

We have not yet mentioned the _Gazelles_, which are, perhaps, the most
interesting of all the antelope tribe.  It is not necessary to describe
their forms, or dilate upon the gracefulness of their movements and
appearance.  Their beautiful eyes have been a theme for the admiration
of all ages.  We shall only remark here, that there are several species
of antelopes called gazelles, and that they are all natives of Africa.
There is the Dorcas gazelle of Egypt, Barbary, and Asia Minor; the
Isabella gazelle of Egypt and Kordofan; the Mhorr of Western Africa; the
Abyssinian mhorr of the eastern parts of the continent; the Andora of
Sennaar, Dongola, and Kordofan; and, lastly, the Korin.  These are all
gazelles; and it is believed that several other species may yet be found
in the interior parts of Africa.  Such is the list of African antelopes.

With regard to the Asiatic species, we can only find space to give their
names, and point out the localities they inhabit.

The Nyl-ghau claims to be mentioned first, as it is one of the largest
antelopes known.  It inhabits the dense forests of India, and is a
creature of interesting and singular habits.  The Goral and Serow are
also two large species inhabiting the Himalayas--especially in the
kingdom of Nepaul--while the Chousinga is a denizen of the wooded plains
of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa.  Two others, Chousingas, are the Rusty red
and Full horned, both natives of India; and the Jungliburka, a species
found in the Bombay Presidency.  In Persia we find the well-known Sasin,
or common antelope, as it is usually called; and in the Oriental
Islands, Sumatra furnishes us with the Cambing outan, and Japan with the
Japanese goat antelope.  The Mahrattas have the Chikara, or Ravine-deer,
a species peculiar to the rocky hills of the Deccan.  China is not
without its representative in the Whang-yang, or yellow-goat, which also
inhabits the arid deserts of Central Asia, Thibet, and Southern Siberia.
The Goa is another Thibetian species; and this ends our list of the
tribe: for the two European antelopes, the Chamois and Saiga, and the
one peculiar to the prairies of North America--the Prong-horn--have
already received mention.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

DEER.

Of these graceful quadrupeds there are nearly fifty species known to the
scientific naturalist.  These are geographically distributed throughout
the continents of Europe, Asia, and America; and several belong to the
great Indian islands.  In Africa we find only two kinds, and these
confined to the mountain regions near the coast of the Mediterranean
Sea.  Throughout the central and southern parts of that vast continent
no native deer exist; but their place is plentifully supplied by their
very near kindred the antelopes--for which, as already seen, Africa is
especially famous.

It will be evident to my young readers, that anything like a detailed
description of fifty different kinds of animals would take up a volume
of itself.  I must therefore content myself with giving a brief account
of the more remarkable species, and a word or two only about those less
noted.

If size entitle a species to precedence, then decidedly the _Elk_ should
stand first.  He is the largest of the deer tribe--not unfrequently
standing as high as a horse, and carrying upon his crown a pair of
broad, flat-branched antlers, weighing sixty pounds!  Although truly an
animal of the deer kind, he lacks those graceful shapes and proportions
that characterise most of his congeners; and his mode of progression--a
sort of shambling trot--is awkward in the extreme.  While the animal is
in the act of running, its long split hoofs strike together, giving out
a series of singular sounds that resemble the crackling of castanets.
In the elk countries of North America the native Indians prize the
skins--dressing them into a soft pliable leather.  The flesh is also
eaten; but it is inferior to the venison of either the fallow or red
deer.

The elk belongs equally to the Old and New Worlds.  His range is the
wooded countries of high latitudes in the north, both of Europe and
Asia; and in America he is found in similar situations.  In the latter
continent he is called the Moose; and the name Elk is there erroneously
given to another and more southern species--the Wapiti--to be noticed
presently.

In North America the range of the elk may be defined by regarding the
boundary-line of the United States and Canada as its southern limit.
Formerly elks were met with as far south as the Ohio--now they are rare
even in Wisconsin.  In Canada, and northward to the shores of the Arctic
Sea, wherever timber is plenteous, the great moose deer dwell.  They
roam in small herds--or perhaps only families, consisting of six or
seven individuals--and feed chiefly on the leaves of plants and trees.
Their legs are so long, and their necks so short, that they cannot graze
on the level ground, but, like the giraffes of Africa, are compelled to
browse on the tops of tall plants, and the twigs and leaves of trees, in
the summer; while in the winter they feed on the tops of the willows and
small birches, and are never found far from the neighbourhood where such
trees grow.  Though they have no fore-teeth in their upper jaw, yet they
are enabled somehow or other to crop from the willows and birch trees
twigs of considerable thickness, cutting them off as clean as if the
trees were pruned by a gardener's shears.

The moose is a sly animal, and in early winter all the craft of the
hunter is required to capture it.  In summer it is easier to do so:
these animals are then so tormented with mosquitoes and gnats, that they
become almost heedless of the approach of their more dangerous enemy,
man.  In winter the hunter follows the moose by his track, easily
discovered in the snow; but it is necessary to approach from the
leeward, as the slightest sound borne to his ear upon the breeze is
sufficient to start him off.  A very singular habit of the moose adds to
the difficulty of approaching him.  When he has the intention to repose,
he turns sharply out of the general track he has been following, and
then, making a circuit, lies down, his body being hidden by the
surrounding snow.  In this lair he can hear any one passing along the
track he has made; and, thus warned, his escape is easy.  The hunter who
understands his business can usually give a guess (from a survey of the
ground) of where these detours are likely to be taken, and takes his
measures accordingly.  When within range, the hunter usually makes some
noise, as by snapping a twig: the moose starts to his feet, and shows
himself above the snow.  For a moment he squats on his hams, before
starting off.  This is the fatal moment, for it is the time for the
hunter to take sure aim and send the fatal bullet.  If the shot prove
only a slight wound, and not mortal, the moose sometimes turns upon his
enemy; and if a friendly tree be not convenient, the hunter stands a
good chance of being trampled to death.  In the rutting season the moose
will assail even man himself without provocation; and at such times the
old "bulls" (as the hunters term the males) have terrible conflicts with
one another.

The habits of the elk of Northern Europe appear to be identical with the
moose of America.  Hunting it in Sweden and Norway is a favourite sport,
and its flesh is eaten, the nose and tongue being esteemed great
delicacies, as they are in America.  It is related that elks were
formerly used in Sweden to draw the sledge; but, for certain reasons,
this was prohibited by law.

In point of size, the _Wapiti_ stands next to the elk.  In shape he
resembles the well-known Stag or Red Deer of our parks, but is much
larger.  The wapiti is exclusively a native of North America; and it may
be remarked that his range is more southerly, and not so northerly as
that of the moose.  He is not found so far south as the Southern States,
nor farther north than the Canadas; but around the great lakes, and
westward to the Rocky Mountains, and even to the Pacific, the wapiti is
met with.  He is a noble creature--perhaps the noblest of the deer
tribe--and it is a boast of the backwoods' hunter to have killed an elk;
for such, as already mentioned, is the name erroneously given to this
animal.

Perhaps the _Reindeer_ is the most celebrated of all the deer; and just
on that account I shall say but little of this species, since its habits
are familiar to every one.  Every one has read of the Laplander and his
reindeer--how these people have tamed and trained, and otherwise
submitted it to a variety of useful purposes; but the Laplanders are not
the only people who have to do with the reindeer.  The tribes of the
Tungusians and Tchutski, who inhabit the northern parts of Asia, have
also trained it to various uses--as a beast of burden, and also to ride
upon.  The variety--perhaps it is a distinct species--which the
Tungusians employ for the saddle, is much larger than that of the
Laplanders; but it may be remarked that there are also varieties in
Lapland itself.  The same remark applies to the reindeer of America,
which is found in the northern parts of the Hudson's Bay territory, and
all along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, making its way over frozen
seas, even to the islands that lie around the pole.  In these desolate
countries the Caribou (for by such name is the reindeer known in
America) is hunted by both Indians and Esquimaux; but it has never been
trained by either race to any useful purpose, and is only sought for as
furnishing an important article of food and clothing.  At least two
kinds of Caribou exist in the vast tracts of almost unknown country
known as Prince Rupert's Land, or the Hudson's Bay territory.

As the three kinds described belong--at least partially--to the New
World, we shall finish with the other deer of this hemisphere, before
proceeding to those peculiar to the Old World.

The _Virginian Deer_ is the species common to the United States proper,
and, in fact, the only wild species now found in the greater number in
the States.  It is a small animal, very similar to the fallow-deer of
Europe; and several varieties (or species), not differing much from the
Virginian deer, exist throughout the forests of Mexico, California,
Oregon, and South America.  In Mexico there are three or four species,
severally known as the Mexican Deer, the Mazama, the Cariacou, and by
other appellations.  Of course, the inhabitants simply know them as
venados (deer).  In Guyana there are one or two small species, and along
the forest-covered sides of the Andes two or three more.  In Bolivia
there is a large kind known as the Tarush; and on the pampas of Buenos
Ayres and Patagonia is a kind called Guazuti, which associates in large
herds, and is remarkable for the powerful odour emitted by the bucks.

In the forests of the Amazon, and all through the Brazilian country,
deer exist of different species; several, as the Guazuviva, the Pita,
the Eyebrowed Brocket, and the Large-eared Brocket, being tiny little
creatures, not much larger than the fawns of the ordinary species.

Returning to North America, we find several varieties of the Virginian
Deer in the countries lying along the Pacific coast--viz., California,
Oregon, and Russian America.  These have received trivial names, though
it is believed that they are only varieties, as mentioned above.  Two,
however, appear to be specifically different from the Virginian deer.
One of these is the Mule Deer of the Rocky Mountains--almost as large as
the red deer of our own country, and well-known to the trappers of the
Upper Missouri.  Another is a well-marked species, on account of the
length of its tail--whence it has received its hunter appellation of the
Long-tailed Deer.

The _Deer of Europe_ are not numerous in species; but if we consider the
large herds shut up in parks, they are perhaps as plentiful in numbers
as elsewhere, over a like extent of territory.

The _Reindeer_ and _Elk_, as already stated, are both indigenous to
Europe; so also the _Stag_ or _Red Deer_, the greatest ornament of our
parks.  The red deer runs wild in Scotland, and in most of the great
forests of Europe and Asia.  There are also varieties of this noble
animal, a small one being found in the mountains of Corsica.

The _Fallow-Deer_ is too well-known to need description.  It is enough
to say that it exists wild in most countries of Europe, our own
excepted.  Into this country it is supposed to have been introduced from
Denmark.

The _Roebuck_, another species of our parks, is indigenous to both
England and Scotland.  It is now found plentiful only in the northern
parts of Great Britain.  It is a native also of Italy, Sweden, Norway,
and Siberia.

The _African Deer_ consist of two species, supposed to be varieties of
red deer.  They are found in Barbary, and usually known as the Barbary
Deer.  But the fallow-deer also exists in North Africa, in the woods of
Tunis and Algiers; and Cuvier has asserted that the fallow-deer
originally came from Africa.  This is not probable, since they are at
present met with over the whole continent of Asia, even in China itself.

We now arrive at the species more especially termed _Asiatic_ or _Indian
Beer_.  These form a numerous group, containing species that differ
essentially from each other.

There is the _Ritsa_, or Great Black Stag of the Japanese and Sumatrans.
It is named _black_ stag, from its dark brown colour during winter.  It
is fully as large as our own stag; and is further distinguished by long
hair growing upon the upper part of its neck, cheeks, and throat, which
gives it the appearance of having a beard and mane!  It inhabits Bengal,
and some of the large Indian islands.

The _Samboo_, or _Sambur_, is another large species, not unlike the
rusa.  It is found in various parts of India, and especially in the
tropical island of Ceylon.  Several varieties of it have been described
by naturalists.

In the Himalaya Mountains there exist two or three species of large
deer, not very well-known.  One is the Saul Forest Stag, or Bara-singa--
a species almost as large as the Canadian wapiti.  Another is the Marl,
or Wallich's Stag, which is also found in Persia.  Still another
species, the Sika, inhabits Japan; and yet another, the Baringa, or
Spotted Deer of the Sunderbunds, dwells along the marshy rivers of this
last-mentioned territory.  Again, there is the Spotted Rusa, and other
species, inhabitants of the Saul Forests.  In fact, the number of
species of Indian deer is far from being accurately ascertained, to say
nothing of the very imperfect descriptions given of those that are
actually known.

When we come to the great Oriental islands--the Isles of Ind--we find
many new and beautiful species; some being large noble stags, while
others are tiny graceful little creatures like gazelles.

In Sumatra and Borneo we have a distinct species of Sambur Deer; in
Timor a smaller one; a third exists in Java; and a fourth in the
Philippines.  In Java, too, we find the beautiful little Muntjak; and
another tiny variety in China, called the Chinese Muntjak.

Returning again to the Himalaya country, we encounter, in the plains
south of this great chain, the Spotted Axis, so well-known from its
beautiful markings, which resemble those of the fawn of our own
fallow-deer.  But it may be remarked that there are two or three species
of spotted deer, and that they inhabit the plains of India--from the
Himalayas southward to the Island of Ceylon.  Ascending these great
mountains, we encounter among their lower slopes another very singular
species of cervine creature--the Musk Deer--which, though but little
known, is one of the most interesting of its tribe; especially so, as it
is from the secreting glands of this curious little animal that most of
the celebrated perfume of commerce is obtained.

Crossing the Himalayas, and advancing northwards, we find upon the
plains of Central Asia a species of deer, known among the Tartars as
Siaga, and to our own naturalists as the Tail-less Roe.  Several species
entirely unknown to scientific men will yet be discovered, when the
immense steppes of Asia come to be explored by observers capable of
describing and classifying.

Like many another genus of animals, a complete monograph of the deer
tribe would be of itself the labour of a life.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

QUADRUPEDS WITH POCKETS.

In the year 1711 was brought to France, from the Island of New Guinea,
an animal of an unknown species, and one that was singular in many
respects; but especially so, from the fact of its having a double skin,
covering a part of its belly, and forming a sort of pocket or pouch.
This animal was Le Brun's Kangaroo; very properly named after the
naturalist who first described it, since it was the first of the
marsupial or pouched animals known to the scientific world.

The Opossums of America were afterwards scientifically described; but it
is only of late years that the numerous species and genera of pouched
animals--constituting almost the entire mammalia of the Australian
world--have become generally known to Europeans.

The peculiarity of the _pouched_ animals is in reality the _pouch_,
common to all of them.  Otherwise they differ in many respects--some
being carnivorous, others graminivorous, others insectivorous, and so
on.  In fact, among them we have forms analogous to almost all the
different groups of ordinary mammalia.  Some naturalists have even
classified them in the different groups, but with little success; and it
is perhaps better to keep them together, retaining the "pouch" as the
common characteristic.

The marsupial animals bring forth their young before they are fully
developed.  The mother places the mouth, of what is little more than a
foetus, to her teat; and there it remains till it is able to go alone.
The pouch covers the teats, and serves to protect the young, while the
process of development is going on.  Even after the little ones are able
to run about, they continue to use this singular nest as a place of
repose, and a refuge in case of attack by an enemy!

The pouched animals are not entirely confined to the Australian island.
The large island of New Guinea possesses some of them; and there are
species in Java, and others of the Asiatic islands.  America (both North
and South) has the opossums, in numerous species; but it is in
Australia, and the contiguous islands of Van Diemen's Land and New
Guinea, that we find both the genera and species in greatest numbers.
These countries are, in fact, the head-quarters of the marsupial
animals.

The true genera are not numerous, though the species of most of them
are; and it is but natural to suppose that many new ones--both genera
and species--will yet be discovered, when the vast _terra incognita_ of
Australia comes to be explored.  In fact, every expedition into the
interior brings home with it some new animal that carries a pouch!

As the opossums were the first of these animals whose habits became
generally known to Europeans, we shall speak first of them; and it may
be remarked, that although there are several species in the Australian
countries resembling the true opossums, and are even called opossums,
yet among naturalists the name is usually limited to the pouched animals
of America.

The old writer, Lawson, gives as succinct an account of the habits of
the best known species--the Virginia opossum--as may be found anywhere.
We shall adopt it _verbatim_:--"The possum," says he, "is found nowhere
but in America.  She is the wonder of all the land animals--being of the
size of a badger, and near that colour.  The female, doubtless, breeds
her young at her teats, for I have seen them stuck fast thereto when
they have been no bigger than a small raspberry, and seemingly
inanimate.  She has a paunch, or false belly, wherein she carries her
young, after they are from those teats, till they can shift for
themselves.

"Their food is roots, poultry, or wild fruits.  They have no hair on
their tails, but a sort of scale or hard crust, as the beavers have.  If
a cat has nine lives, this creature surely has nineteen; for if you
break every bone in their skin, and smash their skull, leaving them
quite dead, you may come an hour after and they will be quite gone away,
or, perhaps, you may meet them creeping away.  They are a very stupid
creature, utterly neglecting their safety.  They are most like rats than
anything.  I have for necessity, in the wilderness, eaten of them.
Their flesh is very white and well-tasted, but their ugly tails put me
out of conceit with that fare.  They climb trees as the racoons do.
Their fur is not esteemed or used, save that the Indians spin it into
girdles and gaiters."

Bating the exaggeration about their tenacity of life, and also the error
as to their mode of bringing forth, the above account hits off the
opossum to a nicety.  Lawson might have added that their tails are
highly prehensile, and are not only used for suspending them to the
branches of trees, but also employed by the female for holding her young
upon her back--in which fashion she often carries them about.

The flesh of the opossum is not only eatable, but much eaten, and even
sought after as a delicacy both by negroes and whites.

It is surprising how the number of species of this animal has lately
multiplied, under the research of naturalists.  Perhaps no creature
illustrates more forcibly the folly of setting limits to the species of
animals, by simply trusting to the account of those known or described.
Over thirty species have been found in America, of which five or six
belong to the northern division of the continent.  The tropical region
is their head-quarters; but they are not confined to the torrid zone,
since there are species existing everywhere, from Canada to Chili.

Another form of pouched animal that can scarcely be called an opossum is
the Yapock of tropical South America.  It is a smaller animal than the
opossum, aquatic in its habits, and in fact approaches nearer to the
family of the water-rats.  Of this, too, there are several species.

Crossing to Australia we find the pouched animals, as already observed,
of several different and very dissimilar genera.

Taking them in the usual order of mammalia, we have three kinds truly
carnivorous.  First, the Tasmanian wolf, a creature which possesses all
the fierce attributes of his synonyme, and is, in fact, a wolf, only one
who carries a pocket.  He is an animal as active as fierce, and lives by
preying on the kangaroos and other kindred animals.  He is also
troublesome to the breeders of sheep; as, since the introduction of
these innocent animals to his country, he appears to have formed a
preference for mutton over kangaroo flesh.  Fortunately his range is not
extensive, as he is confined to the island of Van Dieman's Land, and has
not been observed elsewhere.  Only one species has been yet discovered.

Another pouched animal, equally carnivorous, is the Ursine Opossum.
This is a burrowing creature about the size of a badger, and of equally
voracious habits.

In some places it proves extremely destructive to the poultry of the
settler, though it will also eat carcass, or dead fish--in short,
anything.

In a state of captivity it will not submit to be tamed, biting
everything that comes near it, at the same time uttering a sort of
yelling growl.  Small though it be, in many of its actions and habits it
resembles the bear, and might be regarded as the Australian
representative of the ursine family; but several of its species approach
nearer to the weasels--for it is not so poor in species as the Tasmanian
wolf, there being at least five kinds of it in Australia and Van
Dieman's Land.  One variety of it is distinguished by the name of Native
Devil!

Another genus of Australian _carnivora_ is in the Phascogals.  These
animals are smaller than the last, and dwell upon trees like squirrels.
From their having bushy tails, they might readily be mistaken for
animals of the squirrel kind; but their habits are entirely different--
since to birds, and other small game, they are as destructive as the
weasel itself.

After the true carnivora come the Bandicoots.  These are named after the
great bandicoot rat of India, to which the early settlers fancied they
bore a resemblance.  They are insect-eaters, and represent in Australia
the shrews and tenrecs of the Old World.  They also feed upon roots and
bulbs, which with their strong claws they are enabled to scratch up out
of the ground.  Their mode of progression is by leaps--not like those of
the kangaroo, but still more resembling the pace of a rabbit or hare--
and they appear to prefer mountainous regions for their habitat.  There
are several species of them in Australia and the adjacent islands.

The Phalangers, or Fox Opossums, come next in order.  These creatures
are so called from a sort of resemblance which they bear to the
well-known Reynard; but, fortunately, the resemblance does not extend to
their habits, as they are all supposed to be innocent creatures, living
on fruits and seeds, and climbing trees for the purpose of obtaining
them.  The true Vulpine Opossum--which is a native of Australia, near
Port Jackson--is very much like a small fox; but there are two
sub-genera of the phalangers that differ much from this form.  One of
these is the Scham-scham, a very beautiful spotted creature found in the
Molucca and Papuan islands.  Several other species of phalangers inhabit
these and other Asiatic islands, especially Celebes and New Ireland.

The other sub-genus is that of the Flying Squirrels, usually known as
Norfolk Island Flying Squirrels, though it is not even certain that they
inhabit the last-mentioned island.  It needs only to be said that these
animals are very much like other flying squirrels; and in fact they
_are_ squirrels, only squirrels of the marsupial kind.  There are
several species already described.

Another pouched animal is the Koala, or Ashy Koala as it is called.  It
differs in appearance from all the others, being of stout make, and
almost without a tail.  It is not unlike the bear in its form and
movements; but its bulk is scarce equal to that of a moderate sized dog.
It can climb trees with great facility, though it makes its lodgment
among their roots, in a den which it hollows out for itself.  Its food
is supposed to be fruits, and very likely it is the Australian
representative of the _frugivorous_ bears.  It has the singular habit of
carrying its young one upon its back, after the latter has grown too
large to be conveniently stowed away in the pouch.  Two species of koala
have been spoken of, but as yet one only is described and certainly
known.

The Wombat is another animal of thick stout form, and also without tail.
It is a slow creature, easily overtaken by a man on foot.  It burrows
in the ground.  During the day it remains in its hole, issuing forth
only at night to procure its food, which consists mainly of herbage.
There is but one species known, belonging to both Van Dieman's Land and
New South Wales.

I have kept the Kangaroos to the last: not that they are the least
interesting, but because these very singular animals are now so
well-known, and their habits have been so often described, that it seems
almost superfluous to say a word about them.  I shall content myself
with observing that the genus of the kangaroos has been divided into two
sub-genera, the true Kangaroos, and those known as Kangaroo Rats.  The
difference, however, is not very great, since the rats are as mild and
inoffensive in their habits as the kangaroos themselves.  Of the
kangaroo rats there are several species; but when we arrive at the true
kangaroos we find a list altogether too numerous to mention.  They are
of all sizes, too, from that of the great giant kangaroo, that stands,
or rather squats, full five feet in height, down to little tiny
creatures not bigger than rabbits or squirrels.  There are nearly fifty
species in all inhabiting the known parts of the Australasian islands.
It may be remarked, in conclusion, that two or three other kinds of
pouched animals, differing from all the foregoing, have been lately
brought to light by recent explorers; but, since nothing certain has
been ascertained in regard to their habits, it would be idle in this
place even to mention their names.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

ANT-EATERS, ARMADILLOES, AND OTHER ODD ANIMALS.

This is, perhaps, the most interesting of the groups--interesting on
account of the singular animals which compose it, every one of which may
be termed an odd creature.  In a strictly natural classification these
animals would not come together, since many of the species are unlike
the others both in appearance and habits; but in a scientific point of
view the absence of incisor teeth has caused them to be ranged together
in a group, known as the _edentata_, or toothless animals.

In this group we shall give the first place to the true ant-eaters, and
first speak of the ant-eaters of America.  Of these there are four
well-known species, the great Ant-bear, or Tamanoir; the Tamandua, or
little Ant-bear; another little ant-bear, the Ringed Tamandua; and a
very small species that differs much from the other three.  They are all
inhabitants of tropical America, and there are varieties of them in
different districts.

The Tamanoir is by far the largest, often attaining the size of a
Newfoundland dog; and the long hair which covers its sides, together
with its immense bushy tail, give to it the appearance of being much
bulkier than it is.

Its habits are tolerably well-known, constituting a very curious chapter
in natural history which we have not space to give.  Suffice it to say
that its food consists entirely of ants and termites, which of
themselves form a strange feature in the zoology of tropical countries.
These it eats--not with teeth, but by means of its long slimy tongue, by
which it is enabled to draw into its mouth hundreds of the little
creatures at a time.

The two species of smaller ant-bears, or Tamanduas, obtain their
sustenance in a similar manner, and in other respects are like their
great congener; but they possess a power with which the latter is not
gifted--that of climbing trees, and making their nests high up in the
cavities of the trunks.  They have the further power of being able to
suspend themselves from the branches with their tails, which, like those
of the opossums, are highly prehensile.  The tamanduas do not live
solely upon ant-diet.  The wild bees, that build nests among the
branches, are also objects of their attention; and their thick hairy
skins appear to protect them from the stings of these insects.

The smallest species--called the Ouatiri, or Two-toed Ant-eater--differs
altogether from the three above-mentioned.  It more resembles a little
monkey, and is covered all over with a thick coat of soft woolly hair of
a yellowish colour.  It is also a tree-climber, possesses a naked
prehensile tail, and makes its nest in a hole in the trunk, or in one of
the larger branches.

In Africa the ant-eaters are represented by several kinds of animals,
differing essentially from each other in outward appearance, though all
agreeing in their habits, or rather in the nature of their food.

The Aard-vark, or Earth-hog, of the Cape colonists, is the most noted
kind.  This animal is a long, low-bodied creature, with sharp-pointed
snout, and an immense whip-like tongue, which he is capable of
projecting to a great distance, in the same manner as the tamanoir.  His
body is covered with a dense shock of reddish-brown hair; and he dwells
in a burrow, which he can cleverly make for himself--hence his trivial
name of Ground-hog.

The other African ant-eaters are usually called Pangolins, or Manis.
These are covered with scales that resemble suits of ancient armour; and
on this account they have sometimes been confounded with the
armadilloes, though the two kinds of creatures are altogether different
in their habits.  The pangolins possess, in common with the armadilloes,
the power of rolling themselves into a ball whenever attacked by an
enemy--a fashion not peculiar to pangolins and armadilloes, but also
practised by our own well-known hedgehog.

The Sloths belong to this group of mammalia; not that they have the
slightest resemblance to the ant-eaters in any respect, but simply, as
before stated, because they want the cutting teeth.  They are not
absolutely toothless, however, since they possess both canines and
molars.  With these they are enabled to masticate their food, which
consists of the leaves and tender shoots of trees.

The name, _sloth_, is derived from the sluggishness of their movements,
amounting almost to complete inactivity.  They scarce stir from the spot
in which they may be placed, or at all events move so slowly as to be a
whole hour in getting from one tree to another, or even from one limb to
another!  They spend most part of their time upon the trees (the
_cecropia peltata_ is their favourite), usually clinging to the branches
with their backs downward; and in this way they crawl from one to
another, uttering at intervals a plaintive cry, which resembles the
syllable _ai_, uttered several times in succession.  From this they
derive one of their trivial names of Ai, or Ay-ay.

The sloths are all inhabitants of tropical America--dwellers in the
great forests of Guiana and Brazil.

As natural curiosities in the animal kingdom, the Armadilloes do not
yield to any of the four-footed creatures, and an account of their
habits, would space permit, could not be otherwise than extremely
interesting.  They are exclusively inhabitants of America; but many
species, both in North and South America, are found far beyond the
limits of the torrid zone.  There are a great many species known--and
these are of all sizes--from that of an ordinary rat, to the Giant
Tatou, which sometimes attains the enormous dimensions of a moderate
sized sheep!  It may be mentioned that they are subdivided into a number
of genera, as the sloths, etcetera; and here, again, without any very
sufficient reason, since they all possess the scaly armour--from which
the name armadillo is derived--and their habits are nearly identical.
They dwell in burrows, which they make for themselves; in fact, they are
more than ordinarily clever at excavating, and have been blamed for
carrying their tunnels into graveyards, and feeding upon the bodies
there deposited!  Of some of the species this charge is but too true;
and one would think that an animal of such habit would be regarded with
disgust.  On the contrary, the flesh of the armadillo is in much esteem
as an article of food, both among the white colonists and the natives,
and men and dogs are employed in many parts of South America to procure
it for the table.  Several species of armadilloes possess the power of
clueing themselves up, _a la hedgehog_, and thus presenting an
impenetrable front to the attacks of an enemy; while others want this
power, but, in its stead, can flatten their bodies along the ground, in
such a way that neither dog nor jaguar can set tooth upon anything
softer than their scales, and these are as impenetrable as if they were
plates of steel.

The more noted species are known by different names--as the Tatou Poyou,
the Giant Tatou, the Peba, the Pichiciago, the Pichey, the Hairy Tatou,
the Mataco, the Apara, and such like designations.

It may be added, that the armadilloes dwell in districts very
dissimilar.  According to the species, they inhabit low marshes, thick
forests, or dry open hills; and several kinds are indigenous to the high
table-lands of the Andes.

Their usual food consists of fruits, legumes, and roots; but they are
nearly all omnivorous, and will eat carrion whenever it falls in their
way.

To this group belong two very singular animals, that have only of late
years become known.  These are the Mullingong--better known as the
Ornithoryncus--and the Echidna, or Ant-eating Hedgehog.  Both are
natives of what may be termed the new world of Australasia.

To give an account of the peculiar conformation or appearance of the
mullingong would require many pages, and only the artist can convey any
idea of what the creature is like.  Suffice it to say, that it is a sort
of triangular cross between a bird, a quadruped, and a fish; having the
bill of a duck, the hair, skin, and legs of a quadruped, and the aquatic
habits of a fish, or rather of a seal.  In general appearance it is,
perhaps, more like to a beaver than to any other animal.  It dwells upon
the banks of rivers, lakes, or marshes, burrows in the ground like a
badger, swims and dives well, and feeds chiefly on aquatic insects.

The echidna is altogether a different sort of creature, both in
appearance and habits.  It is, in reality, an ant-eater, with the body
of a porcupine, having a long slender snout and an extensile tongue,
just like that of other ant-eaters.  It burrows in the ground, where it
can remain for a long period without food, and it is supposed to issue
forth only during the season of the rains.  It also possesses the power
of rolling itself into a ball, like the hedgehog--hence its name among
the colonists of Ant-eating Hedgehog; but by far the most appropriate
appellation for it is the Porcupine Ant-eater, since in general
appearance it is exceedingly like several species of porcupines.

The Porcupines and Hedgehogs, though usually classed elsewhere, on
account of their teeth, their food, and a few other reasons not very
natural, should certainly stand in this group of odd animals; and here
let us place them.  We have not space to say much about either of them;
and can only remark of the porcupines, that there are nearly a dozen
known species inhabiting different parts of the world--as usual,
separated into a great number of genera.  Europe, Asia, Africa, the
Asiatic Islands, North and South America, all have their porcupines--
some of them entirely covered with quills, others with hair intermingled
with the spines, and still others on which the spinous processes are so
small as to be scarcely perceptible, yet all partaking of the habits and
character of the true porcupines.  It may be further remarked, that the
American porcupines are tree-climbers, and feed upon twigs and bark; in
fact, lead a life very much resembling that of the sloths.

The Hedgehogs, about which so much has been said, should also go with
this group, though it is usual to place them among carnivorous animals.

Of hedgehogs there are also several species, and they are found in most
countries of Europe, and in many parts of Asia and Africa.  No true
hedgehog has yet been discovered in North or South America, but they
have their representatives there in other species of worm-eating
animals.

It would not be proper to conclude these sketches without remarking,
that there are still a few other odd animals which we have not an
opportunity of introducing here.  As an instance, we may mention the
little Daman, or Hyrax, a native of Africa and Asia Minor, and of which
there are two or three distinct species.  This is the animal over which
Mr Frederic Cuvier, and other learned anatomists, have raised such a
paean of triumph--having discovered that, notwithstanding its great
resemblance to a rabbit, the little creature was, in reality, a
_rhinoceros_!

M. Cuvier and his followers seem to have omitted the reflection that
this wonderful discovery very naturally suggests.  Putting it
interrogatively, we may ask, How is it that the hyrax, whose "anatomical
structure proves it to be a rhinoceros," is _not_ a rhinoceros in
habits, appearance, nor, in fact, in anything but the shape of its
bones?

If, then, we were to take osteology for our guide, I fear we should
often arrive at very erroneous conclusions; and were the little hyrax an
extinct animal, and not known to us by actual observation, we should be
led by anatomical theorists to ascribe to the timid creature a very
different set of manners from what it has got.

Despite anatomic theories, then, we shall continue to regard the hyrax--
the coney of the Scriptures--as a _rabbit, and not a rhinoceros_!

FINIS.





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