« PreviousContinue »
destroys the smaller domestic animals, and has been known to attack the human kind. When the first snow falls, he retreats to some hollow tree, or some natural cav. ern in the earth, and passes the winter in a torpid state.
Sec. vi. The Wolf was frequently met with, and also the most noxious of our native animals.
The color of the wolf is a dirty grey, and in general form he resembles the dog, or is, perhaps more properly that animal in its natural state. It is carnivorous, extremely fierce and sanguinary.
He is now found only in the northern, and unsettled parts of the state.
The wolf has a long head, pointed nose, sharp and erect ears, a short thick neck, with sharp and strong teeth. His eyes generally appear sparkling, and his countenance is expressive of great wildness and ferocity. He lives in a state of constant warfare with all other animals, and has, in some instances, ventured his attacks upon men. His
greatest weight is about ninetytwo pounds.
The Cougar and Wolverene have entirely disappeared, or are very rarely met with. 'The cougar was about the size of the wolf, of a grey color, strong, active, fierce, and untameable.
Sec. VII. The Catamount was rarely met with, but, on account of its remarkable ferocity, was much dreaded by the hunters. In general form, it resembled the cat, but was larger than our largest dogs. It is carnivorous, and, from its sanguinary disposition, was esteemed the most dangerous of our animals. Its weight was estimated at about one hundred pounds. It has almost, if not entirely disappeared from our forests.
VI. What is said of the Wolf of the Cougar and Wolverene? VII. For what was the Catamount remarkable ?
The length of the body, including the head, was about 7 feet; the circumference of the body, 2 1-2 feet; length of the tail, 3 feet, and of the legs, about 1 foot. The color, along his back, was nearly black; on the sides, a dark, reddish brown ; his feet black. He was not calculated for running, but leaped with surprising agility:
The Wildcat, Raccoon, and Martin, now occur only in the most uncultivated parts of the state. The wildcat is, in many respects, similar to our common cats, but larger, and stronger. It is of the same disposition, and color, as the wolf.
Sec. vii. The Deer is one of the most common, and valuable of our native animals. It is extremely active, possesses great mildness of disposition, and is easily domesticated.
Its greatest weight is about three hundred pounds.
In the spring, it sheds its hair, and appears of a light red; this color gradually becomes darker until autumn, when it becomes a pale brown. Its horns are slender, round, projecting forwards, and bent into a curve. The horns grow about two feet in length, are shed annually, and weigh from two, to four pounds.
There were several varieties of the Fox. This animal now occurs in various parts of the state, but its numbers are much diminished.
The Hare, Rabbit, Porcupine, and Woodchuck, are occasionally found in most parts of the state.
The porcupine weighs, about sixteen pounds, and is distinguished for the quills, with which he is armed. These quills are about the size of those of the pigeon, and from two to four inches long. When attacked by an enemy, the porcupine places his head between his fore
Describe it. -What is said of the Wildcat, Raccoon and Martin ? VIII. The Deer?- Fox?
-Hare, Rabit, Woodchuck, and Por. cupine? For what is the Porcupine distinguished ?
feet, and erects his quills around him in the form of a hemisphere.
The quills are so loosely inserted in his flesh, and of such a peculiar construction, that they are easily extracted, and like a barbed dart stick fast, and work themselves into the flesh of any animal, that touches their extremities; nor can they be easily withdrawn, without tearing the flesh, but by incision. The color of this animal is gray, and his motion extremely slow.
Sec. ix. The Skunk was common to all parts of the state, and still frequently occurs. It is remarkable for being furnished with organs for secreting, and retaining a fluid, volatile and fetid beyond any thing known. He has the power of emitting this to the distance of several paces, when necessary for his defence. When this ammunition is expended, he is quite harmless. This volatile fæter is a powerful antispasmodic.
This animal is about a foot and a half long, of a moderate height, and size in proportion to its length. His tail is long and bushy; his hair long and chiefly black, but on his head, neck, and back, are found spots of white without any regularity, or uniformity. His sight is imperfect during the day time, and he seeks his food, consisting mostly of beetles and other insects, in the evening, at which time, he often visits farm-houses, for the purpose of committing depredations upon poultry.
Sec. X. The Weasel, and numerous varieties of the Squirrel, and Mouse, are still common to most parts of the state.
The Ermine is rarely found, and is one of the most beautiful inhabitants of the forest.
The ermine in form, dimensions, and activity, resem
Ix. What is said of the Skunk ? x. Of the Weasel, Squirrel, Mouse, and Ermine ? --Describe the Ermine.
bles the weasel; but is rather larger. Its weight is about fourteen ounces, and its color, a beautiful white. The tail is tipped with black, and some have a stripe of dark brown, or mouse color, extending along the back from the head, to the tail. This beautiful animal has the most fine, and delicate fur, that can be imagined.
Sec. xi. The Beaver was formerly common, and its fur in the early period of our history formed an important article of trade. It is amphibious, but cannot live for any length of time under water ; it can live without it, provided, it has the occasional convenience of bathing. The largest beavers, formerly found, were four feet in length, and weighed from fifty to sixty pounds. Those found in later years weigh from twentyfive to thirty pounds. This social, and industrious animal, has left many vestiges of its ingenuity and skill, though now principally driven from our territory.
“ The head of this animal is large, and his ears short and round. Their fore teeth are prominent, long, broad, strong, and grooved or hollowed like a gouge. Their fore legs are short, with toes separate; their hinder legs are long with toes webbed. The tail is large, broad, and scaly, resembling the body of a fish. Their color is generally a dark brown, but varies, according to the climate they inhabit. Their hair is long and coarse; the fur very thick, fine, and highly valued. The castor used in medicine is found in sacs formed behind the kidneys.'
" Their houses are always situated in the water ; sometimes they make use of a natural pond, but generally they choose to form one by building a dam across some brook or rivulet."
“For this purpose they select a number of saplings, of soft wood, generally of less than 6 inches in diameter, but sometimes of 16 or 18 inches; these they fell, and divide
XI. What is said of the Beaver ?--Give some account of the habitations of this animal, and its habits of life.
into proper lengths, and place them in the water, so that the length of the sticks make the width of the dam. These sticks they lay in mud or clay, their tails serving them for trowels, as their teeth did for axes. These dams are six or eight feet thick at bottom; sloping on the side opposed to the stream ; and are about a quarter as broad at top, as at bottom. Near the top of the dam they leave one or more waste ways, or sliding places, to carry off the surplus water."
" The formation of their cabins is no less remarkable. They consist of two stories, one under, the other above water. They are shaped like the oval beehive; and of a size proportioned to the number of inhabitants. The walls of the lower apartment are two or three feet thick, formed like their dams; those of the upper story are thinner, and the whole on the inside plastered with mud. Each family constructs its own cabin. The upper apartments are curiously strewed with leaves, rendered neat, clean, and comfortable.”
“ The winter never surprises these animals before their business is completed; for their houses are generally finished by the last of September, and their stock of provisions laid in, which consists of small pieces of wood deposited in the lower apartments. Before a storm, all hands are employed in repairing or strengthening their dams. They retain their industrious habit even after they are domesticated. In summer they roam abroad, and feed on leaves, twigs, and food of ghis kind. The beavers are considered as the same species, with those in Europe, but are in every respect vastly superior.'
Sec. xii. 'The Musk-Rat is about 15 inches in length, and one foot in circumference. It is frequently found, is of a dark color, with short hair. It is furnished with glands, which secrete a substance, that has the smell of musk. In his manner of living he is a distant imitator of the beaver.
What is said of the Musk-Rat?