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QL
151
S63a
v.l



SMALL

ANIMALS OF NORTH
AMERICA



A




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




-; * & *



THE



ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA.



'Non injussa cano * * * *
Cetera, quae vacuas tenuissent carmine mentes
Omnia jam vulgata."



BY



H. BEAUMONT SMALL, S.C.L.



PRINTED BY JOHN LOVELL, ST. NICHOLAS STREET.
1864.



CLASSIFICATION ADOPTED.



BIMANA, Two handed.

QuADRUMANA, Four handed.

CHEIROPTERA, Finger^cinged.

INSECTIVORA, Insect-devouring.

CARNIVORA, Flesh-devouring.

RODENTIA, Gnawing.

MARSUPIALIA, Pouched.

RUMINANTIA, Cud-chewing.

PACHYDERM AT A, Thick-skinned.

CETACEA, Whales.

ORDER. GENUS. SPECIES.



v.l



AUTHOR'S PREFACE.



THERE are two reasons which have induced the Author to
publish the following pages. The first is, that as the pleasing
study of Natural History ought to be extensively introduced
into institutions of learning, yet the generality of books
already in circulation on this subject, present to the mind of
the student either too great an amount of detail, or else include
in a single volume, necessarily meagre, the whole Animal
Kingdom. The second is, that a growing desire for further
acquaintance with this study is felt among a large and increas-
ing class of intelligent readers, who have not the facilities for
using books of reference which savants have. In a country
like this where a man is brought into contact with mere
nature, teeming with unsuspected wealth, of what incalculable
advantage is it to have, if it be but the rudiments of a science
which will tell him the properties, and therefore the value
of its animals and natural productions. He whose mind is
relaxed and wearied, after the hours of business, will not sit
dreaming over impossible scenes of pleasure, or go for amuse-
ment to haunts of coarse excitement, if his interest is once
awakened in some study fitted to keep the mind in health.
To gratify this desire to some extent, and <$ assist students
in this department, is the object of the present work.
Much of the matter is original, the result of a long and
somewhat extensive familiarity with the science. Much also



365108



V PREFACE.

has been gathered from reliable sources ; the whole divested
as much as possible of all asperities, in the form of scientific
names, which so often deter beginners.

In conclusion, the author takes the opportunity of expressing
his thanks to Sir Win. Logan, Mr. Billings, and the Natural
History Society of Montreal, the use of whose libraries was
kindly tendered and accepted, and to all those who have
evinced an interest in the progress of the work. Should the
success of this volume on the Mammalia warrant the experi-
ment, others will follow in due course, comprising the re-
mainder of the system.

H. BEAUMONT SMALL.

MONTREAL, September 1, 1864.



ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA.



CHAPTER I.

LIMITATION OF SPECIES CENTRES OF CREATION FACTS AND FIC-
TIONFAUNA OF AMERICA OBJECT OF THIS WORK BATS
THEIR HABITS THE SHREW-MOLE ANECDOTE THE STAR-NOSED
MOLE THE SHREW-MOUSE.

One of the most remarkable things that strikes even a
casual observer, in taking a view of the Animal kingdom, is
the manner in which species are distributed over the globe ;
but to understand this, it is necessary to look at the different
influences which circumstances exercise over them. Each
division of the world has a fauna (or group of animals)
peculiar to itself, characterized by some remarkable species
found there only. This has been termed the " limitation or
colonization" of species, and has given rise to many theories ;
one affirming that each race originated in the spot destined
for it ; another, that the same country saw the birth of every
distinct race, which, migrating, and leaving no trace of their
passage, colonized as it were, eastward and westward, and in
the island groups of the Southern Ocean, as either place
was best adapted for their development ; while some again,
maintain that there was originally but one form created, from
which all others have risen ad infinitum, being so changed
by climate and circumstances, as to eventually cause distinct



8 ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA.

species, generating fresh ones in their turn, and terminating
with the human family as the masterpiece of this successive
formation.

The most natural supposition is, that the all-wise Creator
placed each species where it was permanently destined to
live; and that from these different "centres of creation,"
combinations have so multiplied between contiguous regions,
as to form the various races of animal life. When we find a
country possessing a group or groups of animals not found
elsewhere; we may at once set down that as being the centre
of a peculiar creation. In the location of many species,
nature has placed various limits, and the spaces occupied by
them are most unequal. For example: the Kangaroo and
Ornithorhyncus are confined to New Holland ; the Grizzly
Bear to the Rocky Mountains ; the Dodo, now extinct, to
the Mauritius ; whilst the Swallow, the Crow, and the Fox,
extend to every known region. The principal cause of
" limitation " is doubtless connected with the unequal tem-
perature x of localities ; certain species which thrive in one
climate, perishing under the influence of another ; also the
nature of vegetation in one country, and the absence of it in
another, as in the Polar regions, confining to the former
the larger beasts of prey, dependent on herbivorous animals
as their food, with the exception of,^in the latter, those that
subsist on fish. The number of species increase as we near
the tropics, and there it is where Nature has been most
lavish in the diversity of life, beauty of color, strangeness
of form, and greatness of proportion. The present total
number of living species which has been satisfactorily made
out and ascertained, exceeds, according to Agassiz, 50,000 !
If the time ever comes when the facts of Natural History
are given without the admixture of fable, then this branch of
science will be more readily advanced in improvement than
can' be readily hoped for, so long as imagination is allowed to
take the place of actual observation. Modern writers continue






ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA. 9

to intermingle so much of what is barely possible with the
little attested, as to give an air of doubt to the whole. We
are nearer the truth when Ave admit our ignorance, than when
we embrace an erroneous hypothesis ; for we have but to
learn in the first -case when the truth is developed ; while in
the latter, we have to unlearn before we can learn. This
experience always proves to be the greatest difficulty to a
learner. Many of the narratives of the older naturalists are
little more than amusing fables. To deduce the leading
characteristics of an animal from a minute investigation of its
physical construction, to watch its habits in its native haunts,
formed no part of the care of those who compiled books on
natural history a century ago. Whatever was imperfectly
known was immediately made the subject of some tale of
wonder.

Some writers, unable to ascertain for themselves, accept and
publish to the world the information given by trappers and
travellers, in which case many errors may have arisen from
the ignorance of the observer ; though in addition to these
errors of ignorance, there must be added a worse evil viz :
the love of the marvellous, which has contributed largely to
false accounts. Godman, the well-known American Natural-
ist, recites an instance of this, where a trader, having given
a most fictitious account of the habits of the beaver to an
ardent enquirer, who carefully noted all down, remarked on
the departure of the latter, that, being so annoyed by a con-
stant enquirer, he had chosen to get rid of him by this method,
viz : appearing to tell him all he knew ! Such errors as this
are great drawbacks to accurate students, and delude the
minds of learners. The injury which the mind receives from
this source is scarcely appreciable, and the false notions we
form concerning the plans of Nature, are not easily afterwards
eradicated.

According to Buffon, fas fauna of America is characterized
by inferiority in size when compared with that of the old



10 ANIMALS OP NORTH AMERICA.

world ; on the other hand, it is the richest in species, none
having yet been extirpated, possessing 557 mammalia, of
which 480 are its own. One curious feature is, that no coun-
try has contributed so little to the stock of domestic animals,
having furnished, with the exception of the llama and the
turkey, no animal serviceable to man. In connection with
this, however, we must remark, that a commonplace observer
would be apt to imagine that the vast herds of wild cattle and
horses which roam in thousands over the savannahs of Mexico
and the extreme Southern States, are indigenous ; little
thinking that they are the descendants of the few animals the
Spanish conquerors permitted to run wild, which have re-
sumed the originality of their species.

The object of this work is to enumerate the different
species of animals of the Northern Continent of America,
arranged as nearly as possible according to Cuvier's system,
with the introduction of certain incidents and peculiarities
really authorized and reliable, and which are in many instan-
ces unknown to the majority of readers, peculiarities which
open new fields of enquiry, and lead the observer to perceive
that what appears accidental in the habits of the Animal
World, is the result of some unerring instinct, or some
singular exercise of the perceptive powers, affording the most
striking objects of contemplation to a philosophic mind.

Passing over the first family (bimana, two-handed') Man,
and the second (quadrumana, four-handed') or Monkeys, as
wanting in North America, we commence with the third,

CHEIROPTERA, (wing-handed) . The Bat. ( Vespertilio.')

Description. Ears broad ; the anterior and posterior ex-
tremities connected by a more or less naked expansion of the
^ skin, or a membrane including the tail, adapted for the pur-
pose of flight : prey upon the wing : nocturnal in their habits.

Few if any of the individuals of the Animal Kingdom are so
singularly and curiously formed as the bat. It is described
by an eminent writer as " holding a very equivocal rank in



ANIMALS OP NORTH AMERICA.



11



creation, and though having a marked resemblance to a
quadruped, a great part of his life is spent in the air like a
bird." Instead of being oviparous or egg-laying, this is a
lactescent, or milk-giving animal ; instead of living on grain,
its food is flesh ; and instead of being like a bird, a biped or
two-legged animal, it is a quadruped in the true sense of the
term.

Great ignorance prevailed among the ancients respecting
bats. Aristotle describes them as " birds with skinny
wings !" Pliny asserts that they are " birds which produce
their young alive, and suckle them;" while Aldrovandus,
who always has something exquisitely graphic, places them
in the same family as the Ostrich, giving as his reason, that
" these two species partake equally of the nature of quadru-
peds ! !" How, why, or from what similitude, he leaves an
open subject.




The wings of the bat are formed by the extension of a fine
membrane over the elongated fingers of the fore-legs, reach-
ing as far as, and fastened to, or rather stretched over the
hind-legs. As however the four fingers are involved in the



12 ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA.

membrane which forms the wings, only a little hook, called
the thumb-nail, is left free. With this the animal suspends
itself on any rough or uneven surface where it happens to
alight ; while the hind feet are also provided with claws, by
which it hangs head downwards on the sides of chimneys,
hollow trees, and roofs of caverns, a favorite resort, still and
silent, sleeping, or perhaps nursing its young by day, till the
approach of evening, when it begins its excursions in search
of food.

Having neither the disposition nor the power to exercise
themselves by day, bats are strictly nocturnal animals, com-
mencing their search after insects soon after the swallow has
quitted his operations for the day. Its motions, as it flits
about in the dim twilight, seldom moving more than a few
yards in a straight line, darting up or down, this way or that,
instead of being for its mere pleasure, as many would
suppose, are really its only means of procuring its living,
since at every turn it seizes, or attempts to seize, some one of
the insect tribe, which swarm under cover of darkness in the
air. While on the wing it continually utters a low shrill cry,
not unlike the squeaking of a mouse.

Naturalists have long since discovered by experiments,
that bats deprived of sight, still avoided obstacles as perfectly
as those with their sight entire, flying through small aper-
tures only just large enough to admit them without touching ;
numerous small threads also were drawn across the room
where the experiment was made at different angles, and still
the blind bat would fly about in every possible direction without
ever touching them. The vibration of the air striking against
the impediment, was supposed to return a sound by which
the animal was warned of its direction. But it has since
been found that the destruction of hearing as well, made no
difference in the fact, and the only theory that has been pro-
posed to account for this curious circumstance is, that some
peculiar sense is lodged in the expanded nerves of the nose.



ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA. 13

No authentic records have ever come before the writer's
notice, of the bat having been tamed ; they seldom live any
time in captivity, but will eat fearlessly and voraciously of
raw meat ; they invariably refuse the house-fly. There are a
number of American species, all agreeing very nearly in habits
and form, amongst which the following are mostly met with.

V. NOVEBORACENSIS (New York Bat). This species is
common throughout the Northern part of the United States,
and not uncommon in Canada, its range extending between
the thirty-third and forty-second parallels of latitude.

V. PRUINOSUS (Hoary Bat), of a grayish color, its hair'
being black, tipped with white, hence its name hoary. Not
common, and but little known of its habits ; its range exten-
t sive, but limits not known.

V. SUBULATUS (Little Brown Bat). This species is subject
to great variation in size and color ; it is found all over the
continent as far as 53 North latitude.

V. NOCTIVAGANS (Silver-haired Bat), color uniform black,
with a sort of collar composed of white or silver tipped hairs
surrounding the neck, and ascending the ears. Its history
very incomplete and range not known, but is said not to
extend north of Massachusetts.

V. CAROLINENSIS (Carolina Bat), glossy chestnut color;
large size ; interfemoral membrane not enclosing tip of the
tail ; range said to be from Georgia to Connecticut.

INSECTIVORA (INSECT-EATERS) is the next order, compris-
ing only the shrews and moles.

Description. Body cylindrical; head tapering to a
pointed snout ; fore-limbs short, with large feet, terminated
with strong flat claws ; eyes very small, and covered with
fur ; ears merely small orifices ; fur soft like velvet.

American Mole, or Shrew Mole (Scalops Aquaticus).
Great care must be taken to avoid confounding this animal
with its European namesake (talpa), of Cuvier, to which it is
very similar.



14 ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA.

The adaptation of the structure of animals to their modes of
life, is perhaps in no instance more apparent than in the orga-
nization of this creature. Its short and strong fore-limbs,
broad, firm feet, and powerful claws, pointed nose, of which
the extremity moves in all directions, the round form of its
body, and minute eyes, are all so befitting the place and
manner of its life, that without the combination of these parts,
it could never exist. Its eyes are adapted to the mere per-
ception of light, since distant vision would be useless to one
living entirely under ground, and being so densely covered
with a silky fur, are proof against the moist earth, through
which it travels. Its sense of hearing is very acute, diving
into the earth with a facility perfectly astonishing.

In the construction of its dwelling it displays much taste
and judgment. This consists of a little hillock in some dry
place, from whicn paths run in all directions, each terminating
at the surface, where a small aperture is left. These paths, as
well as the ground about its headquarters, are made solid by
the continual passing of their inmates, so that they not only
may not admit water during rainy weather, but serve also as
a means by which they obtain their daily food, consisting of
worms and insects, which finding their way into them cannot
eecape, and thus fall an easy prey.

All attempts at taming a mole have hitherto proved unsuc-
cessful; we, however, subjoin the following account of one
brought by some young people to the Rev. J. C. Wood, an
eminent naturalist. It ran about in a large box in which it
was secured, with great agility, thrusting its long and flexible
snout into every crevice. A little earth was placed in the
box, which it entered and re-entered, scattering it tolerably
evenly here and there, twitching every now and then, with a
quick convulsive shaking, the loose earth from its fur. It was
unremitting in its efforts to get through the box, but the wood
was too tough for it to make an impression ; and after satis-
fying itself that it could not get through a deal board, it took



ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA. 15

to attempts to scramble over the sides, ever slipping sideways,
and coming down on its forefeet. Its sight and smell seemed
to be practically obsolete, for a worm placed close to its nose
was not detected ; but no sooner did it touch one than in a
moment it flung itself upon it shaking it backward and for-
ward, till, getting it fairly into its mouth, it devoured it with
a greedy crunching sound.

Having heard from popular report that a twelve hours' fast
would kill a mole, Mr. Wood resolved to try the experiment,
so having dug a handful of worms he placed them in the box.
In its movements backwards and forwards it came upon this
mass of worms, on whichit flung itself in a paroxysm of excite-
ment, pulling them about in every direction ; at last having
settled on one, it commenced operations, the rest making their
escape to the loose mould. Thinking it had now a sufficient
supply, two dozen worms having been put in, Mr. Wood shut
up the box, which was not opened until the next morning.
Twelve hours had elapsed since the supply was inserted, but
as it must have spent an hour in hunting for and devouring
the others, eleven hours probably had only gone by since the
last worm was consumed, but the mole was dead.

The extreme voracity and restless movements here recorded
show its value to the agriculturist ; for though generally con-
sidered a perfect nuisance in gardens and lawns, yet its de-
struction of worms and grubs might still show a balance in its
favor : and in certain localities, such as old rocky pastures, by
throwing up and loosening the soil, and as a subsoil drainer
who works without wages, it is of great benefit.

There is another species of this family, much more rare,
the Star-nosed Mole {Condylura cristata). This mole has
a slender elongated muzzle, terminating in a vertical circular
disk of from eighteen to twenty cartilaginous fibres. When
in confinement, these tendrils or fibres are in perpetual motion.
Its geographical limits are not yet established, but it is known
from Hudson Bay to Virginia. It is found about old build-



16 ANIMALS OF NORTH AMERICA.

ings, fences, and stone walls, and occasionally it finds its way
into cellars, where, if there is a shallow vessel containing
water or milk, it will be sure to terminate its existence from
its inability to escape, through clumsiness. All this family
pass their winters in a state of torpidity.

The Shrew Mouse {Sorex) is remarkable for its diminutive
size and apparent helplessness, rarely showing itself by day.
Measuring only 2 to 5 inches, it may properly be considered
the smallest mammiferous animal belonging to this continent.
Although cats will destroy these little creatures with as great
eagerness as they do mice, it is a well-ascertained fact that
they will never devour them, probably from the strong musky
smell they emit. They frequent the long grass in orchards,
and the outskirts of gardens.

There are several species, viz :

SOREX DEKAYI, dark slate blue, 5 to 6 inches long. Not
common.

S. BREVICAUDUS, the short tail shrew, furlong, head large,
color blackish lead, length 4 inches, very rare.

S. PARVUS, brownish ash color, feet flesh-colored, length
2 to 3 inches.

S. CAROLINENSIS, iron gray, 4 inches in length, very little
known.



CHAPTER II.

ORDER CARNIVORA A CHAPTER ON BEARS THE BLACK BEAR A
NIGHT'S SPORT IN LOUISIANA THE GRIZZLY BEAR CAPTAIN
BIARCY'S DESCRIPTION OF IT THE POLAR BEAR ITS HABITS
AND PECULIARITIES.

The family next in order is the CARNIVORA, or flesh devour-
ing. They fulfil their destined office in the scheme of creation
by checking excess in the progress of life, and thus maintain-
ing, as it were, the balance of power in the animal world.

They are characterised by having six conical front teeth in
each jaw the molars formed for cutting and tearing, rather
than grinding. Of these, the Bears will engross our first
attention.

Description. Teeth adapted for either flesh or vegetable
food ; limbs thick and stout ; gait heavy and sluggish ; feet
broad ; head large ; tail very short.

There are only three species of this animal found here,
viz. : the Black, the Grizzly, and the Polar or White Bear,
though four are usually described ; but the Brown Bear is not
to be ranked as an inhabitant of this northern continent ;
though it has frequently been mentioned by travellers, yet
there is abundant reason to believe that they have mistaken
the young of the Black Bear, the accounts of their being
seen having been confined to the regions where the black or
grizzly bear are found. The bear is an animal of great
strength and ferocity, passing a great portion of the winter
in a state of torpidity and inaction, in dens or hollow trees.

THE BLACK BEAR ( Ursus Americanus') is peculiar to this
country, his range extending from the shores of the Arctic
Sea to the southern extremity of the continent; his food
principally consists of grapes, wild fruits, the acorns of the




18 ANIMALS OP NORTH AMERICA.

live or evergreen oak (on which he grows excessively fat),
larvae, or the grub worms of insects, insects themselves, and
honey, though when pressed by hunger he refuses scarcely
anything, his teeth being fitted for a vegetable diet ; he sel-
dom attacks other animals unless compelled by necessity ;
though Major Long, in his explorations in Missouri, saw him
" disputing with wolves and buzzards for a share of the car-
casses abandoned by the hunters." When he does seize an

animal, he does
not, as most others
of the Carnivora
do, first put it to
death,but tears it,
while struggling,
to pieces, and
may be said really to eat his victim alive. One distinguishing
mark between the European and American Bear is in the
latter having one more molar tooth than the former, and also
in having the nose and forehead nearly in the same line. It
is mostly met with in the remote and mountainous districts,
but is becoming more scarce as the population increases.
The yellow bear of Carolina is only a variety of this species.
The black bear will not attack a man, but invariably runs
from him, unless wounded, or accompanied by its young,
when; if molested, it fights very savagely. The old story of
the bear sucking its paws, to derive nourishment therefrom
when hungry, has doubtless arisen from the slow circulation
of the blood in the extremities for several days after recover-
ing from its winter's sleep, which creates an irritation in the
paws, alleviated by sucking them, just as we see a dog licking
its feet when pierced or lacerated by a thorn.

Bear hunting by moonlight in the Southern States is a
favorite amusement, especially in Louisiana. The writer
remembers* a night expedition of the kind, sallying forth
from the hospitable mansion of Major H , on the Bayou



ANIMALS OP NORTH AMERICA. 19

Goulard, about a hundred miles north of New Orleans. For
several nights great depredations had been committed in a
large maize plantation some ten or twelve miles distant, sup-


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