FAMILY TALPIDAE—THE MOLES.
These animals have a small cylindrical body, very short arm attached to a large shoulder-blade, supported by a stout clavicle or collar-bone. The fore-feet are of great breadth, supported by the powerful muscles of the arm; the palm of the foot or hand is directed outwards or backwards, the lower edge being trenchant, with scarcely perceptible fingers armed with long, flat nails, strong and sharp, with which to tear up the ground and shovel the earth aside. The hind feet are small and weak in comparison, with slender claws. The head tapers to a point, the long snout being provided with a little bone which assists it in rooting, and the cervical muscles are very strong. The eyes are microscopical, and almost concealed in the fur. At one time it was a popular delusion that the mole was devoid of the power of sight, but this is not the case. The sense of hearing is extremely acute, and the tympanum is large, although externally there is no aural development. The tail is short, the fur set vertically in the skin, whence it is soft and velvety. The bones of the pubis do not join, and the young when produced are large. The mammae are six in number. The jaws are weak, the incisors are six above and eight below. The canines (false molars?) have two roots. There are four false molars above and three below, and three molars with pointed cusps.
Moles live principally on earth-worms, snails, and small insects, though they are also said to devour frogs and small birds. They are more common in Europe than in India, where the few known species are only to be found in hilly parts. I have, I think, procured them on the Satpura range some years ago, but I cannot speak positively to the fact at this lapse of time, as I had not then devoted much attention to the smaller mammalia, and it is possible that my supposed moles were a species of shrew.
They are seldom if ever trapped in India, for the simple reason that they are not considered worth trapping, and the destruction of moles in England has long been carried on in the same spirit of ignorance which led farmers, both there and in France, to destroy small birds wholesale, till they did themselves much injury by the multiplication of noxious insects. Moles, instead of being the farmers' foes, are the farmers' friends. Mr. Buckland in his notes to Gilbert White's 'Natural History of Selborne'(Macmillan's edition de luxe of 1876)—says: "After dinner we went round the sweetstuff and toy booths in the streets, and the vicar, my brother-in-law, the Rev. H. Gordon, of Harting, Petersfield, Hants, introduced me to a merchant of gingerbread nuts who was a great authority on moles. He tends cows for a contractor who keeps a great many of the animals to make concentrated milk for the navy. The moles are of great service; eat up the worms that eat the grass, and wherever the moles have been afterwards the grass grows there very luxuriantly. When the moles have eaten all the grubs and the worms in a certain space, they migrate to another, and repeat their gratuitous work. The grass where moles have been is always the best for cows." In another place he says: "M. Carl Vogt relates an instance of a landed proprietor in France who destroyed every mole upon his property. The next season his fields were ravaged with wire-worms, and his crops totally destroyed. He then purchased moles of his neighbours, and preserved them as his best friends."
The poor little despised mole has had its part to play in history. My readers may remember that William the Third's horse is supposed to have put his foot into a mole-pit, and that the king's death was hastened by the unconscious agency of "the little gentleman in black," who was so often toasted afterwards by the Jacobites.
NO. 122. TALPA MICRURA. The Short-tailed Mole (Jerdon's No. 67).
HABITAT.—The Eastern Himalayan range.
NATIVE NAMES.—Pariam, Lepcha; Biyu-kantyen, Bhotia (Jerdon).
DESCRIPTION.—Velvety black, with a greyish sheen in certain lights; snout nude; eyes apparently wanting. Jerdon says there is no perforation of the integument over the eyes, but this I doubt, and think that by examination with a lens an opening would be discovered, as in the case of the Apennine mole, which M. Savi considered to be quite blind. I hope to have an opportunity of testing this shortly. The feet are fleshy white, also the tail, which, as its specific name implies, is very small. "There are three small upper premolars between the quasi-canine tooth and the large scissor-toothed premolar, which is much developed."
SIZE.—Length, 4-3/4 to 5 inches; head alone, 1-3/4; palm with claws, 7/8 inch; tail, 3/16 of an inch or less.
Jerdon says: "This mole is not uncommon at Darjeeling, and many of the roads and pathways in the station are intersected by its runs, which often proceed from the base of some mighty oak-tree to that of another. If these runs are broken down or holes made in them they are generally repaired during the night. The moles do not appear to form mole-hills as in Europe." Jerdon's specimens were dead ones picked up, as the Lepchas do not know how to trap them.
NO. 123. TALPA MACRURA. The Long-tailed Mole (Jerdon's No. 68).
DESCRIPTION.—Deep slaty blue, with a whitish or hoary gloss, iridescent when wet; the tail covered with soft hair.
SIZE.—Head and body, 4 inches; tail, 1-1/4 inch; head alone, 1-1/8 inch; palm, 3/4 inch.
NO. 124. TALPA LEUCURA (Blyth). The White-tailed Mole.
HABITAT.—Sylhet, Burmah (Tenasserim).
DESCRIPTION.—Similar to micrura, but with a short tail covered with white hairs, and it has one premolar less.
Small animals, which from their size, shape, and nocturnal habits are frequently confounded with rats and mice, as in the case of the common Indian Shrew, known to most of us as the Musk-rat; they have distinct though small eyes, distinct ears, the conch of which is like that of a mouse. The tail thick and tapering, whence the generic name Pachyura, applied by De Selys Longchamp, and followed latterly by Blyth; but there is also a sub-family of bats to which the term has been applied. "On each flank there is a band of stiff closely-set bristles, from between which, during the rutting season, exudes an odorous fluid, the product of a peculiar gland" (Cuvier); the two middle superior incisors are hooked and dentated at the base, the lower ones slanted and elongated; five small teeth follow the larger incisors on the upper jaw, and two those on the lower. There are three molars with sharp-pointed cusps in each jaw, with a small tuberculous tooth in the upper. The feet are five-toed, separate, not webbed like the moles; the snout is long and pointed and very mobile.
This family has been subdivided in various genera by naturalists, each one having his followers; and it is puzzling to know which to adopt. Simplicity being the great point to aim at in all these matters, I may broadly state that Shrews are divided into land and water shrews (Sorex and Hydrosorex); the former includes Crocidura of Wagner, Corsira of Gray, and Anurosorex of Milne-Edwards, the latter Crossopus and Chimarrogale, Gray.
For ages both in the West and East this poor little animal has been the victim of ignorance. In England, even in the last century, it was looked upon as an evil thing, as Gilbert White says: "It is supposed that a shrew-mouse is of so baneful and deleterious a nature that wherever it creeps over a beast, be it horse, cow, or sheep, the suffering animal is afflicted with cruel anguish, and threatened with loss of the use of the limb," the only remedy in such cases being the application of the twigs of a shrew ash, which was an ash-tree into which a large hole had been bored with an augur, into which a poor little shrew was thrust alive and plugged up (see Brand's 'Popular Antiquities' for a description of the ceremonies). It is pleasant to think that such barbarities have now ceased, for though shrew ashes are to be found in various parts of England, I have never heard (in my own county, Derbyshire, at least) of the necessity for their use. In an article I contributed to a magazine some thirteen years ago, I pointed out a coincident superstition prevailing in India. Whilst marching as a Settlement officer in the district of Seonee, I noticed that one of my camels had a sore back and on inquiring into the cause was told by the natives that a musk-rat (our commonest shrew) had run over him. Jerdon also remarks that in Southern India (Malabar) the bite of S. murinus is considered venomous, and so it is in Bengal.
GENUS SOREX (Linn.).
SYNONYM.—Pachyura, De S. Long; Crocidura, Wagner.
[Figure: Dentition of Shrew (magnified).]
DESCRIPTION.—Upper front teeth large; "inferior incisors entire, or rarely so much as the trace of a serrated upper edge;" between these and the first cutting molar four teeth as follows: large, small, middling, very small; teeth wholly white; tail thick and tapering, with a few scattered hairs, some with glands secreting a pungent musky odour, some without.
NO. 125. SOREX CAERULESCENS. The Common Musk Shrew, better known as Musk-rat.
NATIVE NAME.—Chachhunder, Hind.; Sondeli, Canarese.
DESCRIPTION.—Bluish gray, sometimes slightly mouse-coloured; naked parts flesh-coloured.
SIZE.—Head and body, 6 to 7 inches; tail 3-1/2 to 4 inches.
This little animal is almost too well known, as far as its appearance is concerned, to need much description, though most erroneous ideas prevail about its habits. It is proverbially difficult to uproot an old-established prejudice; and, though amongst my friends I have been fighting its battles for the poor little shrew for years, I doubt whether I have converted many to my opinions. Certainly its appearance and its smell go strongly against it—the latter especially—but even here its powers are greatly exaggerated. I think by this time the old fallacy of musk-rats tainting beer and wine in bottles by simply running over them is exploded. When I came out in 1856 it was a common thing at the mess table, or in one's own house, to reject a bottle of beer or wine, because it was "musk-ratty;" but how seldom is the complaint made now since country-bottled beverages are not used? Jerdon, Kellaart, and every Indian naturalist scouts the idea of this peculiar power to do what no chemist has yet succeeded in, viz., the creation of an essence subtle enough to pass through glass. That musky bottles were frequent formerly is due to impregnated corks and insufficient washing before the bottle was filled. The musk-rat in a quiescent state is not offensive, and its odour is more powerful at certain seasons. I am peculiarly sensitive to smells, and dislike that of musk in particular, yet I have no objection to a musk-rat running about my room quietly if I do not startle him. I never allow one to be killed, and encourage their presence in the house, for I think the temporary inconvenience of a whiff of musk is amply repaid by the destruction of the numerous objectionable insects which lurk in the corners of Indian houses. The notion that they do damage by gnawing is an erroneous one, the mischief done by mice and rats being frequently laid to their charge; they have not the powerful dentition necessary for nibbling through wood and mortar. In my book on 'Camp Life in Seonee,' I say a good word for my little friends, and relate as follows an experiment which I tried many years ago: "We had once been talking at mess about musk-rats; some one declared a bottle of sherry had been tainted, and nobody defended the poor little beast but myself, and I was considerably laughed at. However, one night soon after, as I was dressing before dinner, I heard a musk-rat squeak in my room. Here was a chance. Shutting the door, I laid a clean pocket-handkerchief on the ground next to the wall, knowing the way in which the animal usually skirts round a room; on he came and ran over the handkerchief, and then, seeing me, he turned and went back again. I then headed him once more and quietly turned him; and thus went on till I had made him run over the handkerchief five times. I then took it up, and there was not the least smell. I then went across to the mess house, and, producing the handkerchief, asked several of my brother officers if they could perceive any peculiar smell about it. No, none of them could. 'Well, all I know is,' said I, 'that I have driven a musk-rat five times over that pocket-handkerchief just now.'"
When I was at Nagpore in 1864 I made friends with one of these shrews, and it would come out every evening at my whistle and take grasshoppers out of my fingers. It seemed to be very short-sighted, and did not notice the insect till quite close to my hand, when, with a short swift spring, it would pounce upon its prey.
A correspondent of The Asian, writing from Ceylon, gives an account of a musk-rat attacking a large frog, and holding on to it in spite of interference.
McMaster says that these shrews will also eat bread, and adds: "insects, however, form their chief diet, so they thus do us more good than harm. I once disturbed one that evidently had been eating part of a large scorpion."
NO. 126. SOREX MURINUS. The Mouse-coloured Shrew (Jerdon's No. 70).
HABITAT.—India generally, Burmah and Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—Brownish-grey above, paler beneath; fur coarser and longer than in the last species, and in the young ones the colour is more of a bluish-grey, browner on the back. The ears are larger than those of S. caerulescens; tail nearly equal to the body, thick at the base, and sparsely covered with long coarse hairs; feet and tail flesh-coloured in the living animal.
SIZE.—Head and body about 6 inches; tail, 3-1/2 inches.
"This," as Jerdon says, "is the common musk-rat of China, Burmah, and the Malayan countries, extending into Lower Bengal and Southern India, especially the Malabar Coast, where it is said to be the common species, the bite of which is considered venomous by the natives." Kellaart mentions it in Ceylon as the "common musk shrew or rat of Europeans;" but he confuses it with the last species. He gives the Singhalese name as "koone meeyo." The musky odour of this species is less powerful, and is almost absent in the young. Blyth states that he was never able to obtain a specimen of it in Lower Bengal, yet the natives here discriminate between the light and dark-coloured shrews, and hold, with the people of Malabar, that the bite of the latter is venomous. Horsfield states that it has been found in Upper India, Nepal, and Assam, and he gives the vernacular name in the last-named country as "seeka."
NO. 127. SOREX NEMORIVAGUS. The Nepal Wood Shrew (Jerdon's No. 71).
DESCRIPTION.—Differs from the last "by a stouter make, by ears smaller and legs entirely nude, and by a longer and more tetragonal tail; colour sooty black, with a vague reddish smear; the nude parts fleshy grey; snout to rump, 3-5/8 inches; tail, 2 inches, planta, 11/16 inch. Found only in woods and coppices."—Hodgson.
NO. 128. SOREX SERPENTARIUS. The Rufescent Shrew (Jerdon's No. 72).
HABITAT.—Southern India, Burmah and Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—Colour dusky greyish, with rufous brown tips to the hairs (Blyth). Above dusky slate colour with rufescent tips to the fur; beneath paler, with a faint rufous tinge about the breast (Jerdon). Fur short ashy-brown, with a ferruginous smear on the upper surface; beneath a little paler coloured (Kellaart). Teeth and limbs small; tail slender.
SIZE.—Head and body about 4-1/2 inches; tail, 2 inches; skull, 1-2/10 inch.
The smell of this musk shrew is said by Kellaart, who names it S. Kandianus, to be quite as powerful as that of S. caerulescens. Blyth seems to think that this animal gets more rufescent with age, judging from two examples sent from Mergui. By some oversight, I suppose, he has not included this species in his 'Catalogue of the Mammals of Burmah.'
NO. 129. SOREX SATURATIOR. The Dark Brown Shrew (Jerdon's No. 73).
DESCRIPTION.—"Colour uniform deep brown, inclining to blackish, with a very slight rufescent shade; fur short, with an admixture of a few lengthened piles, when adpressed to the body smooth, but reversed somewhat harsh and rough; tail cylindrical, long, gradually tapering; mouth elongated, regularly attenuated, ears moderate, rounded."
SIZE.—Head and body, 5-1/2 inches; tail, 3 inches.
Jerdon seems to think this is the same as S. Griffithi or closely allied; I cannot say anything about this, as I have no personal knowledge of the species, but on comparison with the description of S. Griffithi (which see further on) I should say they were identical.
NO. 130. SOREX TYTLERI. The Dehra Shrew (Jerdon's No. 74).
DESCRIPTION.—"Light rufescent sandy brown, paler beneath; unusually well clad even on the feet and tail, this last being covered with shortish fur having numerous long hairs intermixed; form very robust; basal portion of tail very thick."
SIZE.—Head and body, 4-1/2 inches; tail, 2-3/4 inches; hind foot, 7/8 inch.
NO. 131. SOREX NIGER. The Neilgherry Wood Shrew (Jerdon's No. 75).
HABITAT.—Ootacamund, Neilgherry hills.
DESCRIPTION.—"Blackish-brown, with a rufescent shade on the upper parts; abdomen greyish; tail equal in length to the entire animal, exclusive of the head, gradually tapering to a point; snout greatly attenuated. Length of head and body, 3-1/2 inches; of the tail, 2-1/2 inches."—Horsfield.
NO. 132. SOREX LEUCOPS. The Long-tailed Shrew (Jerdon's No. 76).
DESCRIPTION.—Uniform blackish-brown colour; tail very long and slender, exceeding in length the head and body, terminating in a whitish tip of half an inch long.
SIZE.—Head and body, 3 inches; tail, 2-1/2 inches. Jerdon supposes that it is found at great altitudes, from Hodgson having in another place described it (MSS.) under the name nivicola.
NO. 133. SOREX SOCCATUS. The Hairy-footed Shrew (Jerdon's No. 77).
HABITAT.—Nepal, Sikim, Mussoorie.
DESCRIPTION.—According to Hodgson, nearly the size of S. nemorivagus, "but distinguished by its feet being clad with fur down to the nails, and by its depressed head and tumid bulging cheeks (mystaceal region); ears large and exposed; colour a uniform sordid or brownish-slaty blue, extending to the clad extremities; snout to rump, 3-1/2 inches; tail, 2-1/2 inches; planta, 13/16 inch. This animal was caught in a wood plentifully watered, but not near the water. It had no musky smell when brought to me dead."
NO. 134. SOREX MONTANUS. The Ceylon Black Shrew.
HABITAT.—Ceylon, mountainous parts.
DESCRIPTION.—"Fur above sooty black without any ferruginous smear, beneath lighter coloured; whiskers long, silvery grey; some parts of legs and feet greyish, clothed with adpressed hairs; claws short, whitish; ears large, round, naked; outer margin lying on a level with the fur of the head and neck, the ears being thus concealed posteriorly; tail tetragonal, tapering, shorter than head and body."—Kellaart.
SIZE.—Head and body, 3-3/4 inches; tail, 2-1/4 inches; hind feet, 1/3 inch.
NO. 135. SOREX FERRUGINEUS. The Ceylon Rufescent Shrew.
HABITAT.—Ceylon, Dimboola, below Newara Elia.
DESCRIPTION.—"Colour uniform dusky or dusky slate, with the tips of the fur rufescent; fur long; large sebaceous anal glands; smell very powerful."—Kellaart.
SIZE.—Head and body, 3-3/4 inches; tail, 2-1/4 inches.
NO. 136. SOREX GRIFFITHI. The Large Black Shrew.
HABITAT.—Khasia hills and Arracan.
DESCRIPTION.—"Deep blackish-brown, with a slight rufous reflection in a certain light; fur short, close, soft, and adpressed; tail thick at the base, with a few long very slender straggling hairs along its entire length; ears small and rounded; snout elongated."—Horsfield.
SIZE.—Head and body, 5-3/4 inches; tail, 2-1/2 inches.
Horsfield puts this down as having been found in Afghanistan by Griffiths, but this is an error owing to Griffiths' Afghanistan and Khasia collections having got mixed up.
NO. 137. SOREX HETERODON.
DESCRIPTION.—"Very similar to S. soccatus in general appearance, but less dark coloured, with shorter fur, and pale instead of blackish feet and tail underneath; the feet too are broader, especially the hind feet, and they have a hairy patch below the heel" (Blyth). The skull is narrower, and the upper incisors less strongly hooked.
Teeth small; upper incisors shorter and less strongly hooked than in restricted Sorex; posterior spur large; lower incisors serrated with three coronal points. Feet very large.
NO. 138. FEROCULUS MACROPUS. The Large-footed Shrew.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur, long, soft uniform blackish—faint rufescent tinge.
SIZE.—Head and body 4-1/4 inches; tail 2-1/4.
* * * * *
The following species are of a more diminutive type, and are commonly called "pigmy-shrews;" in other respects they are true shrews.
NO. 139. SOREX HODGSONI. The Nepal Pigmy-Shrew (Jerdon's No. 78).
HABITAT.—Nepal and Sikim.
DESCRIPTION.—Brown, with a slight tinge of chestnut; feet and tail furred; claws white.
SIZE.—Head and body 1-1/2 inch; tail, 1 inch.
Found in coppices and fields; rarely entering houses.
NO. 140. SOREX PERROTETI. The Neilgherry Pigmy-Shrew (Jerdon's No. 79).
HABITAT.—Neilgherry hills, probably also other parts of Southern India.
DESCRIPTION.—"Back deep blackish-brown; belly pale; limbs and feet brown; palms and plantae clad with hairs; ears large, conspicuous."
SIZE.—Head and body, 1-4/12 inch; tail, 11/12 inch.
NO. 141. SOREX MICRONYX. The Small-clawed Pigmy-Shrew (Jerdon's No. 80).
HABITAT.—West Himalayas, Kumaon, Mussoorie.
DESCRIPTION.—Claws very minute, with fine hairs impending them, only to be detected by a lens; fur paler and more chestnut-brown than any other of these minute shrews, and more silvery below.
SIZE.—Head and body, 1-5/8 inch; tail 1-1/8 inch.
NO. 142. SOREX MELANODON. The Black-toothed Pigmy-Shrew (Jerdon's No. 81).
DESCRIPTION.—Called melanodon from the remarkable colouring of its teeth, which are piceous and white-tipped; colour uniform fuscous, scarcely paler beneath.
SIZE.—Head and body, 1-7/8 inch; tail, 1-1/16 inch.
NO. 143. SOREX NUDIPES. The Naked-footed Shrew.
DESCRIPTION.—"Remarkable for its naked feet and very large ears; also for the odoriferous glands on the sides being strongly developed, whereas we can detect them in no other of these minute species" (Blyth). Colour brown above, a little grizzled and glistening, more silvery below.
SIZE.—Head and body, 1-3/4 inch; tail, 1-1/16 inch.
NO. 144. SOREX ATRATUS. The Black Pigmy-Shrew.
DESCRIPTION.—"Very dark colour, extending over the feet and tail which is even blackish underneath; fur blackish-brown above, a little tinged rufescent, and with dark greyish underneath; the feet and tail conspicuously furred, beside the scattered long hairs upon the latter."—Blyth.
This species was determined by Blyth on a single specimen, which was found without its head, impaled by some shrike upon a thorn at Cherrapunji. The same thing occasionally occurs in England, when the common shrew may be found impaled by the rufous-backed shrike (Lanius collurio).
SUB-GENUS SORICULUS (Blyth).
The foregoing species being of the white-toothed variety (with the exception of S. melanodon, which, however, exhibits coloration decidedly the reverse of the following type), we now come to the shrews with teeth tipped with a darker colour; the dentition is as in the restricted shrews, with the peculiarity of colour above mentioned. The hind feet of ordinary proportions, unadapted for aquatic habits, and the tail slender and tapering, like that of a mouse, instead of being cylindrical with a stiff brush at the end.
NO. 145. SORICULUS NIGRESCENS. The Mouse-tailed Shrew (Jerdon's No. 82).
HABITAT.—Sikim and Nepal.
DESCRIPTION.—"Above dark-blackish or blackish-brown, slightly tinged rufescent, and with a silvery cast in certain lights; beneath greyish-black" (Jerdon). Feet and claws pale; tail slender, straight and naked.
SIZE.—Head and body, 3-1/4 inches; tail, 1-1/2 inch; hind foot, 5/8 inch.
Jerdon says that Kellaart named an allied species from Ceylon Corsira newera ellia, but I have not been able to find it in his 'Prodromus Faunae Zeylanicae,' nor elsewhere.
GENUS CROSSOPUS (Wagner).
The hind feet large; the lower surface, as also of the tail, fringed with stiff hairs; tail somewhat compressed towards the tip; habits aquatic.
NO. 146. CROSSOPUS HIMALAICUS. The Himalayan Water-Shrew (Jerdon's No. 83).
NATIVE NAMES.—Oong lagniyu, Lepcha; Choopitsi, Bhot.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur dark brown above, paler beneath; rusty brown on the lower part of throat and middle of belly, according to Jerdon; slate coloured back with scattered long hairs, which are longer and white-tipped on the sides and rump, according to Blyth's memoir; ears very small, hairy, concealed; tail long, slender, fringed with stiff whitish hair beneath; whiskers long and brown.
SIZE.—Head and body, 5 to 6 inches; tail about 3-1/2 inches; hind foot, 3/4 to 11/12 inch.
Jerdon procured this water-shrew at Darjeeling in the Little Rungeet river; it is said to live on small fish, tadpoles, water insects, &c. The movements of the English water-shrew, when swimming, are very agile. It propels itself by alternate strokes of its hind feet, but with an undulating motion, its sides being in a manner extended, and body flattened, showing a narrow white border on each side; then the fur collects a mass of tiny air bubbles which make the submerged portion glow like silver. It prefers clear still water, but at the same time will make its way up running streams and ditches, and occasionally wanders away into fields, and has been found in houses and barns.
Its food is principally aquatic insects, worms, mollusca, and freshwater crustacea. In Bell's 'British Quadrupeds' its mode of poking about amongst stones in search of fresh-water shrimps (Gammarus pulex) is well described. Mr. F. Buckland states that he once dissected a water-shrew and found the intestines to contain a dark fluid pulpy matter, which, on being examined by a microscope, proved to consist entirely of the horny cases and legs of minute water insects. Continental writers declare that it will attack any small animal that comes in its way, giving it quite a ferocious character, and it is said to destroy fish spawn. I can hardly believe in its destroying large fish by eating out their brain and eyes. Brehm, who gives it credit for this, must have been mistaken. I have also read of its attacking a rat in a trap which was dead, and was discovered devouring it, having succeeded in making a small hole through the skin.
In England this animal breeds in May. The young are from five to seven in number, and are brought forth in a small chamber in the bank, which is constructed with several openings, one of which is usually under the level of the water.
Dr. Anderson has very fully described the Himalayan species under the name of Chimarrogale Himalaica. He caught a specimen in a mountain stream at Ponsee in the Kakhyen hills, 3500 feet above the sea level, and observed it running over the stones in the bed of the stream and plunging freely into the water hunting for insects.
Head and skull as in Soricidae, but with palmated feet and compressed tail, as in Myogalidae. Special characteristic, large pads on the soles of the feet, which form sucking discs.
NO. 147. NYCTOGALE ELEGANS. The Thibet Water-Shrew.
HABITAT.—Moupin in Thibet.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur of two kinds, a soft under down of slaty grey colour through which pass longer hairs, grey at the base with white tips, "causing the animal to vary considerably in appearance according as these hairs are raised or laid flat;" ears quite concealed, and without a conch; tail stout, longer than the body, quadrangular at the base, then triangular, and finally flattened; feet large and palmated, with large pads on the soles, depressed in the middle, forming sucking discs, which are a peculiar characteristic of this animal.
SIZE.—Head and body about 3-1/2 inches; tail about 4 inches.
Though this is not properly an Indian animal, I have thought fit to include it as belonging to a border country in which much interest is taken, and which has as yet been imperfectly explored.
Of Gray, Amphisorex of Duvernoy; differs in dentition from the last in having the lower quasi-incisors serrated with three or four coronal points, and the anterior point of the upper incisors not prolonged beyond the posterior spur, tipped with ferruginous; the lateral small teeth in the upper jaw are five in number, diminishing in size from the first backwards. Tail cylindrical, not tapering, and furnished with a stiffish brush at the extremity. The common British land-shrew is of this type.
NO. 148. CORSIRA ALPINA. The Alpine Shrew (Jerdon's No. 84).
DESCRIPTION.—Deep blackish brown, very slightly rufescent in certain lights; tail slender, nearly naked, very slightly attenuated, compressed at the tip.
SIZE.—Head and body, 2-1/2 inches; tail 2-1/2 inches.
This is identical with the European Alpine shrew; the Sorex caudatus of Horsfield's Catalogue (No. 148), which was a specimen named by Hodgson, is also the same animal.
Remarkably for its large head, nude, scaly extremities, and extremely short, nude, scaly tail. "The structure of the ear, limbs and tail has special reference to a burrowing animal—the ear being valvular, so that it may be effectually closed against the entrance of foreign substances, and the feet devoid of hair, but scaly, and the tail reduced to very small dimensions. The eye is also excessively small, and buried deep in the dense silky fur. The hind feet, contrary to what is almost invariably the case in burrowing mammals, are larger than the fore feet."—Anderson.
NO. 149. ANUROSOREX ASSAMENSIS. The Assam Burrowing Shrew.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour dark slaty, faintly washed with brownish rusty on the long hairs of the rump; fur long and silky, longest over the rump; occasional long brown hairs with pale tips are scattered over the body; long whiskers, yellow claws; naked parts of snout, limbs and tail flesh-coloured.
SIZE.—Head and body nearly 3 inches; tail, 1/2 inch; forefoot, 1/2 inch; hind foot, 3/4 inch.
The skull and dentition of this animal are essentially soricine. The Thibetan species (A. squamipes) is described as being over four inches in length, of a greyish colour, with a greenish-brown tinge; feet and nails whitish. It lives in burrows which it digs in the earth. I think it should properly come after the moles, which it resembles in some particulars.
FAMILY ERINACEIDAE—THE HEDGEHOGS.
The molar teeth broad; the hinder ones nearly square, the tubercles on their upper surface rounded; the other teeth are three incisors on each side, of which the inner one is considerably larger than the rest; behind these, separated by a little gap, come three premolars gradually increasing in size, then one having much the appearance of a true molar, but furnished with a cutting edge; then three molar teeth, two of which are nearly square with strong tubercles. The last molar is small. In the lower jaw the lowermost incisor is very large, and projects almost horizontally forwards, and it is followed by three small teeth now acknowledged to be premolars, with another large premolar, which is of the nature of a carnassial or cutting tooth acting on the one in the upper jaw. Then three molars as above, two large and one small, but with sharp tubercles. The skull has a more carnivorous form; it has "a complete zygomatic arch, and the tympanic bone forms a bundle-like swelling on each side of the back of the skull." Feet pentadactylous or five-toed; legs very short. The tibia and fibula (two bones of the shank) are joined together. The back is clothed with hair intermixed with sharp spines or bristles. Tail short or wanting entirely.
[Figure: Dentition of Hedgehog.]
The European hedgehog is well known to most of us. Few boys who have lived a country life have been without one at some time or other as a pet. I used to keep mine in a hole at the root of an old apple-tree, which was my special property, and they were occasionally brought into the house at the cook's request to demolish the black-beetles in the kitchen. These they devour with avidity and pursue them with the greatest ardour. They also eat slugs, worms, and snails; worms they seize and eat from end to end, like a Neapolitan boy with a string of maccaroni, slowly masticating, the unconsumed portion being constantly transferred from one side of the mouth to the other, so that both sides of the jaws may come into play. Dr. Dallas quaintly remarks on the process: "This must be an unpleasant operation for the worm, much as its captor may enjoy it." Toads, frogs, mice, and even snakes are eaten by the European hedgehog. It would be interesting to find out whether the Indian hedgehog also attacks snakes; even the viper in Europe is devoured by this animal, who apparently takes little heed of its bite. The European species also eats eggs when it can get them, and I have no doubt does much damage to those birds who make their nests on the ground.
Few dogs will tackle a hedgehog, for the little creature at once rolls itself into a spiny ball, all sharp prickles, by means of the contraction of a set of cutaneous muscles, the most important of which, the orbicularis panniculi, form a broad band encircling the body which draws together the edges of the spiny part of the skin. There is a most interesting account of the mechanism of the spines in Mr. F. Buckland's notes to White's 'Natural History of Selborne,' vol. ii., page 76. A jet of water poured on to the part within which the head is concealed will make the creature unroll, and it is said that foxes and some dogs have discovered a way of applying this plan, and also that foxes will roll a hedgehog into a ditch or pond, and thus make him either expose himself to attack or drown. Gipsies eat hedgehogs, and consider them a delicacy—the meat being white and as tender as a chicken (not quite equal to porcupine, I should say); they cook them by rolling them in clay, and baking them till the clay is dry; when the ball is broken open the prickles come off with the crust.
Hedgehogs have had several popular fallacies concerning them. They were supposed to suck cows dry during the night and to be proof against poisons. Mr. Frank Buckland tried prussic acid on one with fatal results, but he says the bite of a viper seemed to have no effect. Pallas, I know, has remarked that hedgehogs will eat hundreds of cantharides beetles with impunity, whereas one or two will cause extreme agony to a cat or dog. The female goes with young about seven weeks, and she has from three to eight in number. The little ones when born have soft spines—which, however, soon harden—are blind, and, with the exception of the rudimentary prickles, quite naked. They are white at birth, but in about a month acquire the colour of the mother.
NO. 150. ERINACEUS COLLARIS. The Collared Hedgehog (Jerdon's No. 85).
HABITAT.—Northern India and Afghanistan. Dallas says from Madras to Candahar; but Jerdon calls it the North Indian hedgehog, and assigns to it the North-west, Punjab, and Sind, giving Southern India to the next species.
DESCRIPTION.—Spines irregularly interwoven, ringed with white and black, with yellowish tips, or simply white and black, or black with a white ring in the middle; ears large; chin white; belly and legs pale brown.
SIZE.—Head and body, 8 to 9 inches; tail, 7/12 inch.
I have found this species in the Punjab near Lahore. One evening, whilst walking in the dusk, a small animal, which I took to be a rat, ran suddenly between my legs. Now I confess to an antipathy to rats, and, though I would not willingly hurt any animal, I could not resist an impulsive kick, which sent my supposed rat high in the air. I felt a qualm of conscience immediately afterwards, and ran to pick up my victim, and was sorry to find I had perpetrated such an assault on an unoffending little hedgehog, which was however only stunned, and was carried off by me to the Zoological Gardens. Captain Hutton writes of them that they feed on beetles, lizards, and snails; "when touched they have the habit of suddenly jerking up the back with some force so as to prick the fingers or mouth of the assailant, and at the same time emitting a blowing sound, not unlike the noise produced when blowing upon a flame with a pair of bellows." He also says they are very tenacious of life, bearing long abstinence with apparent ease; when alarmed they roll themselves up into a ball like the European species.
Hutton also remarks that E. collaris, on hearing a noise, jerks the skin and quills of its neck completely over its head, leaving only the tip of the nose free.
NO. 151. ERINACEUS MICROPUS. The Small-footed Hedgehog (Jerdon's No. 86).
DESCRIPTION.—"Ears moderately large; form somewhat elongated; tail very short, concealed; feet and limbs very small; head and ears nude, sooty-coloured; belly very thinly clad with yellowish hairs; spines ringed dark brown and whitish, or whitish with a broad brown sub-terminal ring, tipped white."—Jerdon.
SIZE.—Head and body about 6 inches. Dr. Anderson considers this as identical with E. collaris.
NO. 152. ERINACEUS PICTUS. The Painted Hedgehog.
HABITAT.—Central India, Goona, Ulwar, Agra, Kurrachee.
DESCRIPTION.—Similar to the above, but the tips of the spines are more broadly white, and the brown bands below not so dark; the ears are somewhat larger than micropus, and the feet narrower and not so long.
NO. 153. ERINACEUS GRAYI.
DESCRIPTION.—The general colour is blackish-brown; the spines are narrowly tipped with black, succeeded by a narrowish yellow band; then a blackish-brown band, the rest of the spine being yellowish; the broad dark-brown band is so strongly developed as to give the animal its dark appearance when viewed from the side; some animals are, however, lighter than others. The feet are large; the fore-feet broad, somewhat truncated, with moderately long toes and powerful claws.
SIZE.—Head and body about 6-3/4 inches.
NO. 154. ERINACEUS BLANFORDI (Anderson).
HABITAT.—Sind, where one specimen was obtained by Mr. W. T. Blanford, at Rohri.
DESCRIPTION.—Muzzle rather short, not much pointed; ears moderately large, but broader than long, and rounded at the tips; feet larger and broader than in the next species, with the first toe more largely developed than in the last. The spines meet in a point on the forehead, and there is no bare patch on the vertex. Each spine is broadly tipped with deep black, succeeded by a very broad yellow band, followed by a dusky brown base; fur deep brown; a few white hairs on chin and anterior angle of ear.
SIZE.—Head and body, 5.36 inches.
NO. 155. ERINACEUS JERDONI (Anderson).
HABITAT.—Sind, Punjab frontier.
DESCRIPTION.—Muzzle moderately long and pointed; ears large, round at tip and broad at base; feet large, especially the fore-feet; claws strong. The spines begin on a line with the anterior margins of the ears; large nude area on the vertex; spines with two white and three black bands, beginning with a black band. When they are laid flat the animal looks black; but an erection the white shows and gives a variegated appearance.
SIZE.—Head and body about 7-1/2 inches.
NO. 156. ERINACEUS MEGALOTIS. The Large-eared Hedgehog.
More information is required about this species. Jerdon seems to think it may be the same as described by Pallas (E. auritus), which description I have before me now ('Zoographica Rosso Asiatica,' vol. i. page 138), but I am unable to say from comparison that the two are identical—the ears and the muzzle are longer than in the common hedgehog. This is the species which he noticed devouring blistering beetles with impunity. It has a very delicate fur of long silky white hairs, covering the head, breast and abdomen, "forming also along the sides a beautiful ornamental border" (Horsfield, from a specimen brought from Mesopotamia by Commander Jones, I.N.)
The space to which I am obliged to limit myself will not allow of my describing at greater length; but to those of my readers who are interested in the Indian hedgehogs, I recommend the paper by Dr. J. Anderson in the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal' for 1878, page 195, with excellently drawn plates of the heads, skulls and feet of the various species. There is one peculiarity which he notices regarding the skull of E. collaris (or, as he calls it, micropus): the zygomatic arch is not continuous as in the other species, but is broken in the middle, the gap being caused by the absence of the malar or cheek-bone. In this respect it resembles, though Dr. Anderson does not notice it, the Centetidae or Tanrecs of Madagascar.
Dr. Anderson's classification is very simple and good. He has two groups: the first, containing E. micropus and E. pictus, is distinguished by the second upper premolar simple, one-fanged, the feet club-shaped; soles tubercular. The second group, containing E. Grayi, E. Blanfordi and E. Jerdoni, has the second upper premolar compound, three-fanged, and the feet well developed and broad. The first group has also a division or bare area on the vertex; the second has not.
FAMILY HYLOMIDAE (Anderson).
The following little animal has affinities to both Erinaceidae and Tupaiidae, and therefore it may appropriately be placed here. Dr. Anderson on the above ground has placed it in a separate family, otherwise it is generally classed with the Erinaceidae. Its skull has the general form of the skull of Tupaia, but in its imperfect orbit, in the rudiment of a post-orbital process, and in the absence of any imperfections of the zygomatic arch and in the position of the lachrymal foramen it resembles the skull of Erinaceus. The teeth are 44 in number: Inc., 3—3/3—3; can., 1—1/1—1; premolars, 4—4/4—4; molars, 3—3/3—3, and partake of the character of both Tupaia and Erinaceus. The shank-bones being united and the rudimentary tail create an affinity to the latter, whilst its arboreal habits are those of the former.
Head elongate; ears round; feet arboreal, naked below; tail semi-nude; pelage not spiny.
NO. 157. HYLOMYS PEGUENSIS. The Short-tailed Tree-Shrew.
HABITAT.—Burmah, Pegu, Ponsee in the Kakhyen hills.
Appears to be identical with the species from Borneo (H. suillus).
These interesting little animals were first accurately described about the year 1820, though, as I have before stated, it was noticed in the papers connected with Captain Cook's voyages, but was then supposed to be a squirrel. Sir T. Stamford Raffles writes: "This singular little animal was first observed tame in the house of a gentleman at Penang, and afterwards found wild at Singapore in the woods near Bencoolen, where it lives on the fruit of the kayogadis, &c." Another species, T. Javanica, had, however, been discovered in Java fourteen years before, but not published till 1821. They are sprightly little creatures, easily tamed, and, not being purely insectivorous, are not difficult to feed in captivity. Sir T. S. Raffles describes one that roamed freely all over the house, presenting himself regularly at meal-times for milk and fruit. Dr. Sal. Muller describes the other species (T. Javanica) as a confiding, simple little animal, always in motion, seeking its food at one time amongst dry leaves and moss on the ground, and again on the stems and branches of trees, poking its nose into every crevice. Its nest, he says, is formed of moss at some height from the ground, supported on clusters of orchideous plants. Dr. Cantor, in his 'Catalogue of the Mammalia of the Malayan Peninsula,' writes as follows: "In a state of nature it lives singly or in pairs, fiercely attacking intruders of its own species. When several are confined together they fight each other, or jointly attack and destroy the weakest. The natural food is mixed insectivorous and frugivorous. In confinement, individuals may be fed exclusively on either, though preference is evinced for insects; and eggs, fish and earth-worms are equally relished. A short, peculiar, tremulous, whistling sound, often heard by calls and answers in the Malayan jungle, marks their pleasurable emotions, as for instance on the appearance of food, while the contrary is expressed by shrill protracted cries. Their disposition is very restless, and their great agility enables them to perform the most extraordinary bounds in all directions, in which exercise they spend the day, till night sends them to sleep in their rudely-constructed lairs in the highest branches of trees. At times they will sit on their haunches, holding their food between their forelegs, and after feeding they smooth the head and face with both fore-paws, and lick the lips and palms. They are also fond of water, both to drink and to bathe in. The female usually produces one young."
The above description reminds one forcibly of the habits of squirrels, so it is no wonder that at one time these little creatures were confounded with the Sciuridae.
The dentition of this genus is as follows: Either four or six incisors in the upper jaw, but always six in the lower; four premolars and three molars in each jaw, upper and lower. The skull has a complete bony orbit, and the zygomatic arch is also complete, but with a small elongated perforation; the muzzle attenuated, except in T. Ellioti; ears oval; the stomach possesses a caecum or blind gut; the eyes are large and prominent, and the tail bushy, like that of a squirrel; the toes are five in number, with strong claws; the shank-bones are not united as in the hedgehogs. The diet is mixed insectivorous and frugivorous.
NO. 158. TUPAIA ELLIOTI. Elliot's Tree-Shrew (Jerdon's No. 87).
HABITAT.—Southern India, Godavery district, Cuttack; the Central Provinces, Bhagulpore range.
[Figure: Dentition of Tupaia.]
DESCRIPTION.—Fur pale rufous brown, darker on the back and paler on the sides; the chin, throat, breast and belly yellowish, also a streak of the same under the tail; the upper surface of the tail is of the same colour as the centre of the back; there is a pale line from the muzzle over the eye, and a similar patch beneath it; the fur of this species is shorter and more harsh, and the head is more blunt than in the Malayan members of the family.
SIZE.—Head and body, 7 to 8 inches; tail, 7 to 9 inches.
NO. 159. TUPAIA PEGUANA. Syn.—TUPAIA BELANGERI. The Pegu Tree-Shrew (Jerdon's No. 88).
HABITAT.—Sikim (Darjeeling), Assam and through Arakan to Tenasserim.
[Figure: Tupaia Peguana.]
DESCRIPTION.—Jerdon says: "General hue a dusky greenish-brown, the hairs being ringed brown and yellow; lower parts the same, but lighter; and with a pale buff line; a stripe from the throat to the vent, broadest between the forearms and then narrowing; ears livid red, with a few short hairs; palms and soles dark livid red." Dr. Anderson remarks that the fur is of two kinds of hairs—one fine and wavy at the extremity, banded with black, yellow and black; the second being strong and somewhat bristly, longer than the other, and banded with a black basal half and then followed by rings of yellow and black, then yellow again with a black tip, the black basal half of the hairs being hidden, the annulation of the free portions produces a rufous olive-grey tint over the body and tail.
SIZE.—Head and body about 7 inches; tail, 6-1/2.
Jerdon says of it that those he procured at Darjeeling frequented the zone from 3000 to 6000 feet; they were said by the natives to kill small birds, mice, &c. The Lepcha name he gives is Kalli-tang-zhing. McMaster in his notes writes: "The Burmese Tupaia is a harmless little animal; in the dry season living in trees and in the monsoon freely entering our houses, and in impudent familiarity taking the place held in India by the common palm squirrel. It is, however, probably from its rat-like head and thievish expression, very unpopular. I have found them in rat-traps, however, so possibly they deserve to be so." He adds he cannot endorse the statement regarding their extraordinary agility mentioned by Dr. Cantor and quoted by Jerdon, for he had seen his terriers catch them, which they were never able to do with squirrels; and cats often seize them.
Mason says: "One that made his home in the mango-tree near my house at Tonghoo made himself nearly as familiar as the cat. Sometimes I had to drive him off the bed, and he was very fond of putting his nose into the teacups immediately after breakfast, and acquired a taste both for tea and coffee. He lost his life at last by incontinently walking into a rat-trap."
The Burmese name for it is Tswai in Arracan. Jerdon states that it is one of the few novelties that had escaped the notice of Mr. Brian Hodgson, but Dr. Anderson mentions a specimen (unnamed) from Nepal in the British Museum which was obtained by Hodgson.
NO. 160. TUPAIA CHINENSIS (Anderson).
HABITAT.—Burmah, Kakhyen hills, east of the valley of the Irrawaddy.
DESCRIPTION.—Ferruginous above, yellowish below, the basal two-thirds of the hair being blackish, succeeded by a yellow, a black, and then a yellow and black band, which is terminal; there is a faint shoulder streak washed with yellowish; the chest pale orange yellow, which hue extends along the middle of the belly as a narrow line; under surfaces of limbs grizzled as on the back, but paler; upper surface of tail concolorous with the dorsum.
SIZE.—Head and body, 6-1/2 inches; tail, 6.16.
The teeth are larger than those of T. Ellioti, but smaller than the Malayan T. ferruginea, and the skull is smaller than that of the last species, and the teeth are also smaller. Dr. Anderson says: "When I first observed the animal it was on a grassy clearing close to patches of fruit, and was so comporting itself that in the distance I mistook it for a squirrel. The next time I noticed it was in hedgerows."
The other varieties of Tupaia belong to the Malayan Archipelago—T. ferruginea, T. tana, T. splendidula, and T. Javanica to Borneo and Java. There is one species which inhabits the Nicobars.
NO. 161. TUPAIA NICOBARICA.
DESCRIPTION.—Front and sides of the face, outside of fore-limbs, throat and chest, golden yellow; inner side of hind limbs rich red brown, which is also the colour of the hind legs and feet; head dark brown, with golden hairs intermixed; back dark maroon, almost black; upper surface of the tail the same; pale oval patch between shoulders, dark band on each side between it and fore-limbs, passing forward over the ears.
SIZE.—Head and body, 7.10; tail, 8 inches.
* * * * *
There is a little animal allied to the genus Tupaia, which has hitherto been found only in Borneo and Sumatra, but as Sumatran types have been found in Tenasserim, perhaps some day the Ptilocercus Lowii may be discovered there. It has a rather shorter head than the true Banxrings, more like T. Ellioti, but its dentition is nearly the same, as also are its habits. Its chief peculiarity lies in its tail, which is long, slender and naked, like that of a rat for two-thirds of its length, the terminal third being adorned with a broad fringe of hair on each side, like the wings of an arrow or the plumes of a feather. There is an excellent coloured picture of it in the 'Proc. Zool. Society,' vol. of Plates.
* * * * *
I had almost concluded my sketch of the Insectivora without alluding to one most interesting genus, which ought properly to have come between the shrews and the hedgehogs, the Gymnura, which, though common in the Malay countries, has only recently been found in Burmah—a fact of which I was not aware till I saw it included in a paper on Tenasserim mammals by Mr. W. T. Blanford ('Jour. As. Soc. Beng.,' 1878, page 150). Before I refer to his notes I may state that this animal is a sort of link between the Soricidae and the Erinaceidae, and De Blainville proposed for it the generic name of Echinosorex, but the one generally adopted is Gymnura, which was the specific name given to it by its discoverer, Sir Stamford Raffles, who described it as a Viverra (V. gymnura); however, Horsfield and Vigors and Lesson, the two former in England and the latter in France, saw that it was not a civet, and, taking the naked tail as a peculiarity, they called the genus Gymnura, and the specimen Rafflesii. There is not much on record regarding the anatomy of the animal, and in what respects it internally resembles the hedgehogs. Outwardly it has the general soricine form, though much larger than the largest shrew. The long tail too is against its resemblance to the hedgehogs, which rests principally on its spiny pelage.
The teeth in some degree resemble Erinaceus, the molars and premolars especially, but the number in all is greater, there being forty-four, or eight more. It would be interesting to know whether the zygomatic arch is perfect and the tibia and fibula united, as in the hedgehogs, or wanting and distinct as in the shrews. I have given a slight sketch in outline of the animal.
NO. 162. GYMNURA RAFFLESII. The Bulau.
HABITAT.—Tenasserim (Sumatra, Borneo); Malacca.
[Figure: Gymnura Rafflesii.]
DESCRIPTION.—Long tapering head, with elongated muzzle, short legs, shrew-like body, with a long, round, tapering and scaly rat-like tail, naked, with the exception of a few stiff hairs here and there among the scales. In each jaw on each side three incisors, one canine (those in the upper jaw double-fanged) and seven premolars and molars; feet five-toed, plantigrade, armed with strong claws. Fur of two kinds, fine and soft, with longer and more spiny ones intermixed. The colour varies a good deal, the general tint being greyish-black, with head and neck pale or whitish, and with a broad black patch over the eye. Some have been found almost wholly white, with the black eye-streak and only a portion of the longer hairs black, so that much stress cannot be laid on the colouring; the tail is blackish at the base, whitish and compressed at the tip. Mr. Blanford says: "The small scales covering the tail are indistinctly arranged in rings and sub-imbricate; on the lower surface the scales are convex and distinctly imbricate, the bristles arising from the interstices. Thus the under surface of the tail is very rough, and may probably be of use to the animal in climbing." He also refers to the fact that the claws of his specimen are not retractile, and mentions that in the original description both in Latin and English the retractability of the claws is pointed out as a distinction between Gymnura and Tupaia. In the description given of the Sumatran animal both by Dallas and Cuvier nothing is mentioned about this feature.
SIZE.—A Sumatran specimen: head and body, 14 inches; tail, 12 inches. Mr. Blanford's specimen: head and body, 12 inches; tail, 8.5.
Mr. Blanford was informed by Mr. Davison, who obtained it in Burmah, that the Gymnura is purely nocturnal in its habits, and lives under the roots of trees. It has a peculiar and most offensive smell, resembling decomposed cooked vegetables. The Bulau has not the power of rolling itself up like the hedgehog, nor have the similar forms of insectivores which resemble the hedgehog in some respects, such as the Tenrecs (Centetes), Tendracs (Ericulus), and Sokinahs (Echinops) of Madagascar.
Speaking generally, the whole range of mammals between the Quadrumana and the Rodentia are carnivorous with few exceptions, yet there is one family which, from its muscular development and dentition, is pre-eminently flesh-eating, as Cuvier aptly remarks, "the sanguinary appetite is combined with the force necessary for its gratification." Their forms are agile and muscular; their circulation and respiration rapid. As Professor Kitchen Parker graphically writes: "This group, which comprises all the great beasts of prey, is one of the most compact as well as the most interesting among the mammalia. So many of the animals contained in it have become 'familiar in our mouths as household words,' bearing as they do an important part in fable, in travel, and even in history; so many of them are of such wonderful beauty, so many of such terrible ferocity, that no one can fail to be interested in them, even apart from the fact likely to influence us more in their favour than any other, that the two home pets, which of all others are the commonest and the most interesting, belong to the group. No one who has had a dog friend, no one who has watched the wonderful instance of maternal love afforded by a cat with her kittens, no one who loves riding across country after a fox, no lady with a taste for handsome furs, no boy who has read of lion and tiger hunts and has longed to emulate the doughty deeds of the hunter, can fail to be interested in an assemblage which furnishes animals at once so useful, so beautiful and so destructive. It must not be supposed from the name of this group that all its members are exclusively flesh-eaters, and indeed it will be hardly necessary to warn the reader against falling into this mistake, as there are few people who have never given a dog a biscuit, or a bear a bun. Still both the dog and several kinds of bears prefer flesh-meat when they can get it, but there are some bears which live almost exclusively on fruit, and are, therefore, in strictness not carnivorous at all. The name must, however, be taken as a sort of general title for a certain set of animals which have certain characteristics in common, and which differ from all other animals in particular ways." I would I had more space at my disposal for further quotations from Professor Parker's 'General Remarks on the Land Carnivora,' his style is so graphic.
The dentition of the Carnivora varies according to the exclusiveness of their fleshy diet, and the nature of that diet.
In taking two typical forms I give below sketches from skulls in my possession of the tiger, and the common Indian black bear; the one has trenchant cutting teeth which work up and down, the edges sliding past each other just like a pair of scissors; the other has flat crowned molars adapted for triturating the roots and herbage on which it feeds. A skull of an old bear which I have has molars of which the crowns are worn almost smooth from attrition. In the most carnivorous forms the tubercular molars are almost rudimentary.
[Figure: Dentition of Tiger and Indian Black Bear]
The skull exhibits peculiar features for the attachment of the necessary powerful muscles. The bones of the face are short in comparison with the cranial portion of the skull (the reverse of the Herbivores); the strongly built zygomatic arch, the roughened ridges and the broad ascending ramus of the lower jaw, all afford place for the attachment of the immense muscular development. Then the hinge of the jaw is peculiar; it allows of no lateral motion, as in the ruminants; the condyle, or hinge-bolt of a tiger's jaw (taken from the largest in my collection), measures two inches, and as this fits accurately into its corresponding (glenoid) cavity, there can be no side motion, but a vertical chopping one only. The skeleton of a typical carnivore is the perfection of strength and suppleness. The tissue of the bones is dense and white; the head small and beautifully articulated; the spine flexible yet strong. In those which show the greatest activity, such as the cats, civets and dogs, the spinous processes, especially in the lumbar region, are greatly developed—more so than in the bears. These serve for the attachment of the powerful muscles of the neck and back. The clavicle or collar-bone is wanting, or but rudimentary. The stomach is simple; the intestinal canal short; liver lobed; organs of sight, hearing, and smell much developed.
Now we come to the divisions into which this group has been separated by naturalists. I shall not attempt to describe the various systems, but take the one which appears to me the simplest and best to fit in with Cuvier's general arrangement, which I have followed. Modern zoologists have divided the family into two great groups—the Fissipedia (split-feet) or land Carnivora, and the Pinnipedia (fin-feet) or water Carnivora. Of the land Carnivora some naturalists have made the following three groups on the characteristics of the feet, viz., Plantigrada, Sub-plantigrada and Digitigrada. The dogs and cats, it is well known, walk on their toes—they are the Digitigrada; the bears and allied forms on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet, more or less, and thus form the other two divisions, but there is another classification which recommends itself by its simplicity and accuracy. Broadly speaking, there are three types of land carnivores—the cat, the dog, and the bear, which have been scientifically named AEluroidea (from the Greek ailouros, a cat); Cynoidea (from kuon, a dog); and Arctoidea (from arctos, a bear). The distinction is greater between the families of Digitigrades, the cat and dog, than between the Plantigrades and Sub-plantigrades, and therefore I propose to adopt the following arrangement:—
I. ARCTOIDEA Plantigrades. Sub-plantigrades.
II. AELUROIDEA Digitigrades. III. CYNOIDEA
I may here remark that the Insectivora are in most cases plantigrade, therefore the term is not an apposite one as applied to the bear and bear-like animals only, but in treating of them under the term Arctoidea we may divide them again into Plantigrades and Sub-plantigrades.
The bears differ from the dogs and cats widely in form and manner, and diet. The cat has a light springy action, treading on the tips of its toes, a well-knit body glistening in a silky coat, often richly variegated, "a clean cut," rounded face, with beautifully chiselled nostrils and thin lips, and lives exclusively on flesh. The bear shambles along with an awkward gait, placing the entire sole of his foot on the ground; he has rough dingy fur, a snout like a pig's, and is chiefly a vegetarian—and in respect to this last peculiarity his dentition is modified considerably: the incisors are large, tri-cuspidate; the canines somewhat smaller than in the restricted carnivora; these are followed by three small teeth, which usually fall out at an early period, then comes a permanent premolar of considerable size, succeeded by two molars in the upper, and three in the under jaw. The dental formula is therefore: Inc., 3—3/3—3; can., 1—1/1—1; premolars, 4—4/4—4; molars, 2—2/3—3. In actual numbers this formula agrees with that for the dogs; but the form of the teeth is very different, inasmuch as the large premolars and the molars have flat tuberculated crowns, constituting them true grinders, instead of the trenchant shape of the cats, which is also, to a modified extent, possessed by the dogs, of which the last two molars have, instead of cutting edges, a grinding surface with four cusps. The trenchant character is entirely lost in the bear, even in the carnivorous species which exhibit no material difference in the teeth, any more than, as I mentioned at the commencement of this work, do the teeth of the human race, be they as carnivorous as the Esquimaux, or vegetarian as the Hindu.
[Figure: Dentition of Bear.]
[Figure: Skull of Bear (under view).]
There is also another peculiarity in the bear's skull as compared with the cat's. In the latter there is a considerable bulging below the aperture of the ear called the bulla tympani, or bulb of the drum. This is almost wanting in the bear, and it would be interesting to know whether this much affects its hearing. I myself am of opinion that bears are not acute in this sense, but then my experience has been with the common Indian Ursus, or Melursus labiatus only, and the skulls of this species in my possession strongly exhibit this peculiarity. The cylindrical bones resemble those of man nearer than any other animal, the femur especially; and a skinned bear has a most absurd resemblance to a robust human being. The sole of the hind foot leaves a mark not unlike that of a human print.
[Footnote 6: On referring to Mr. Sanderson's interesting book, 'Thirteen Years among the Wild Beasts of India,' and General Shakespear's 'Wild Sports,' I find that both those authors corroborate my assertion that the sloth bear is deficient in the sense of hearing. Captain Baldwin, however, thinks otherwise; but the evidence seems to be against him in this respect.]
The Brown Bear of Europe (Ursus arctos) is the type of the family, and has been known from the earliest ages—I may say safely prehistoric ages, for its bones have been frequently found in post-pliocene formations along with those of other animals of which some are extinct. An extinct species of bear, Ursus spelaeus, commonly called the Cave Bear, seems to have been the ancestor of the Brown Bear which still is found in various parts of Europe, and is said to have been found within historic times in Great Britain.
The bear of which we have the oldest record is almost the same as our Indian Brown or Snow Bear. Our bear (U. Isabellinus) is but a variety of U. Syriacus, which was the one slain by David, and is spoken of in various parts of the Bible. It is the nearest approach we have to the European U. arctos.
NO. 163. URSUS ISABELLINUS. The Himalayan Brown Bear (Jerdon's No. 89).
NATIVE NAME.—Barf-ka-rich or Bhalu, Hind.; Harput, Kashmiri; Drin-mor, Ladakhi.
[Figure: URSUS ISABELLINUS.]
DESCRIPTION.—A yellowish-brown colour, varying somewhat according to sex and time of year. Jerdon says: "In winter and spring the fur is long and shaggy, in some inclining to silvery grey, in others to reddish brown; the hair is thinner and darker in summer as the season advances, and in autumn the under fur has mostly disappeared, and a white collar on the chest is then very apparent. The cubs show this collar distinctly. The females are said to be lighter in colour than the males."
Gray does not agree in the theory that Ursus Syriacus is the same as this species; in external appearance he says it is the same, but there are differences in the skull; the nose is broader, and the depression in the forehead less. The zygomatic arch is wider and stronger; the lower jaw stronger and higher, and the upper tubercular grinders shorter and thicker than in Ursus Isabellinus.
"It is found," Jerdon says, "only on the Himalayas and at great elevations in summer close to the snow. In autumn they descend lower, coming into the forests to feed on various fruits, seeds, acorns, hips of rose-bushes, &c., and often coming close to villages to plunder apples, walnuts, apricots, buckwheat, &c. Their usual food in spring and summer is grass and roots. They also feed on various insects, and are seen turning over stones to look for scorpions (it is said) and insects that harbour in such places. In winter they retreat to caves, remaining in a state of semi-torpidity, issuing forth in March and April. Occasionally they are said to kill sheep or goats, often wantonly, apparently, as they do not feed upon them. They litter in April and May, the female having generally two cubs. This bear does not climb trees well."
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The next three species belong to the group of Sun Bears; Helarctos of some authors.
NO. 164. URSUS (HELARCTOS) TORQUATUS vel TIBETANUS. The Himalayan Black Bear (Jerdon's No. 90).
NATIVE NAME.—Bhalu, Hind.; Thom, Bhot.; Sona, Lepcha.
HABITAT.—The Himalayas, Nepal, Assam, Eastern Siberia, and China.
[Figure: URSUS TIBETANUS.]
DESCRIPTION.—Entirely black, with the exception of a broad white V-shaped mark on the chest and a white chin. Neck thick, head flattened; ears large; claws very long and curved; fur short; body and head more slender than the preceding species.
Jerdon remarks that the specific name of this bear is unfortunate, since it is rare in Thibet. However the more appropriate specific name torquatus is now more generally adopted. It seems to be common in all the Himalayan ranges, where it is to be found from 5000 to 12,000 feet. Jerdon says it lives chiefly on fruit and roots, apricots, walnuts, apples, currants, &c., and also on various grains, barley, Indian corn, buckwheat, &c., and in winter on acorns, climbing the oak trees and breaking down the branches. They are not afraid of venturing near villages, and destroy not only garden stuff, but—being, like all bears, fond of honey—pull down the hives attached to the cottages of the hill people. "Now and then they will kill sheep, goats, &c., and are said occasionally to eat flesh. This bear has bad eyesight, but great power of smell, and if approached from windward is sure to take alarm. A wounded bear will sometimes show fight, but in general it tries to escape. It is said sometimes to coil itself into the form of a ball, and thus roll down steep hills if frightened or wounded." If cornered it attacks savagely, as all bears will, and the face generally suffers, according to Jerdon; but I have noticed this with the common Indian Sloth Bear, several of the men wounded in my district had their scalps torn. He says: "It has been noticed that if caught in a noose or snare, if they cannot break it by force they never have the intelligence to bite the rope in two, but remain till they die or are killed." In captivity this bear, if taken young, is very quiet, but is not so docile as the Malayan species.
[Footnote 7: Since writing the above, the following letter appeared in The Asian of May 11, 1880:—
"THE HIMALAYAN BLACK BEAR.
"SIR,—Mr. Sterndale, in the course of his interesting papers on the Mammalia of British India, remarks of Ursus Tibetanus, commonly known as the Himalayan Black Bear, that 'a wounded one will sometimes show fight, but in general it tries to escape.' This description is not, I think, quite correct. As it would lead one to suppose that this bear is not more savage than any other wild animal—the nature of most of the ferae being to try to escape when wounded, unless they see the hunter who has fired at them, when many will charge at once, and desperately. The Himalayan Black Bear will not only do this almost invariably, but often attacks men without any provocation whatever, and is altogether about the most fierce, vicious, dangerous brute to be met with either in the hills or plains of India. They inflict the most horrible wounds, chiefly with their paws, and generally—as Mr. Sterndale states—on the face and head. I have repeatedly met natives in the interior frightfully mutilated by encounters with the Black Bear, and cases in which Europeans have been killed by them are by no means uncommon. These brutes are totally different in their dispositions to the Brown Bear (Ursus Isabellinus), which, however desperately wounded, will never charge. I believe there is no case on record of a hunter being charged by a Brown Bear; or even of natives, under any circumstances, being attacked by one; whereas every one of your readers who has ever marched in the Himalayas must have come across many victims of the ferocity of Ursus Tibetanus. As I said before, this brute often, unwounded, attacks man without any provocation whatever. Two cases that I know of myself may not be without interest. An officer shooting near my camp was stalking some thar. He was getting close to them, when a Black Bear rushed out at him from behind a large rock on his right and above him. He was so intent on the thar, and the brute's rush was so sudden, that he had barely time to pull from the hip, but he was fortunate enough to kill the animal almost at his feet. I heard this from him on the morning after it happened. On another occasion, I was shooting in Chumba with a friend. One evening he encamped at a village, about which there was, as usual, a little cultivation on terraces, and a good many apricot-trees. Lower down the khud there was dense jungle. The villagers told us that a Black Bear had lately been regularly visiting these trees, and generally came out about dusk, so that if we would go down and wait, we should be pretty sure of a shot. We went, and took up positions behind trees, about 200 yards apart, each of us having a man from the village with us. Intervening jungle prevented us from seeing each other. I had not been at my post more than ten minutes when I was startled by loud shrieks and cries from the direction of my companion. No shot was fired, and the coolie with me said that the bear had killed some one. In less than a minute I had reached the spot where I had left my friend. He, and the man with him, had disappeared; but, guided by the shrieks, which still continued, I made my way into the thick cover in front of his post, and about fifty yards inside it, much to my relief, came upon him, rifle in hand, standing over the dead body of a man, over which two people—the coolie that had been with my friend and an old woman—were weeping, and shrieking loudly, 'Look out!' said he, as I came up, 'the bear has just killed this fellow!' The first thing to be done was to carry him out into the open. I helped to do this, and directly I touched him I felt that he was stone cold, and a further examination showed he must have been dead some hours. That he had been killed by a bear was also very evident. He was naked to the waist, and had been cutting grass. His bundle lay by him, and the long curved kind of sickle that the hillmen used to cut grass with was stuck in his girdle, showing that he had not had time to draw it to strike one blow in his defence. The mark of the bear's paw on his left side was quite distinct. This had felled him to the ground, and then the savage brute had given him one bite—no more, but that one had demolished almost the whole of the back of his head, and death must have been instantaneous. The man had apparently cut his load of grass, and was returning with it to the village, when he disturbed the bear, which attacked him at once. The old woman was his mother, and the coolie with J—— some relation. Her son having been away all day, I suppose the old woman had gone to look for him. She found his body, as described, just below J——'s post, and at once set up a lamentation which brought the coolie, J——'s attendant, down to her, and J—— following himself, thought at first that the man had been killed then and there. There was such a row kicked up that no bear came near the apricots that night, and the next day we had to march, as our leave was up. I have heard of many other cases of the Black Bear attacking without any provocation, and from what I know of the brute I quite believe them; and, after all, the animal is not worth shooting. Their skins are always poor and mangy, and generally so greasy that they are very difficult to keep until you can make them over to the dresser. The skin of the Snow or Brown Bear, on the other hand, particularly if shot early in the season, is a splendid trophy, and forms a most beautiful and luxurious rug, the fur being extremely soft, and several inches in depth.
In The Asian of January 7th, 1879, page 68, a correspondent ("N. F. T. T.") writes that he obtained a specimen of this bear which was coal black throughout, with the exception of a dark dirty yellow on the lower lip, but of the usual crescentic white mark she had not a trace. This exceptional specimen was shot in Kumaon. Robinson, in his 'Account of Assam,' states that these bears are numerous there, and in some places accidents caused by them are not unfrequent.
All the Sun Bears are distinguished for their eccentric antics, conspicuous among which is the gift of walking about on their hind legs in a singularly human fashion. Those in the London Zoological Gardens invariably attract a crowd. They struggle together in a playful way, standing on their hind legs to wrestle. They fall and roll, and bite and hug most absurdly.
Captain J. H. Baldwin, in his 'Large and Small Game of Bengal,' puts this bear down as not only carnivorous, but a foul feeder. He says: "On my first visit to the hills I very soon learnt that this bear was a flesh-eater, so far as regards a sheep, goats, &c., but I could hardly believe that he would make a repast on such abominations (i.e. carrion), though the paharies repeatedly informed me that such was the case. One day, however, I saw a bear busy making a meal off a bullock that had died of disease, and had been thrown into the bed of a stream." In another page Captain Baldwin states that the Himalayan Bear is a good swimmer; he noticed one crossing the River Pindur in the flood, when, as he remarks, "no human being, however strong a swimmer, could have stemmed such a roaring rapid."
NO. 165. URSUS (HELARCTOS) GEDROSIANUS. Baluchistan Bear.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur ranging from brown to brownish-black, otherwise as in last species.
This is a new species, brought to notice by Mr. W. T. Blanford, and named by him. The skull of the first specimen procured was scarcely distinguishable from that of a female of Ursus torquatus, and he was for a time apparently in doubt as to the distinctness of the species, taking the brown skin as merely a variety; but a subsequently received skull of an adult male seems to prove that it is a much smaller animal.
NO. 166. URSUS (HELARCTOS) MALAYANUS. The Bruang or Malayan Sun Bear.
NATIVE NAME.—Wet-woon, Arracan.
HABITAT.—Burmah, Malay Peninsula and adjacent islands.
[Figure: Ursus Malayanus.]
DESCRIPTION.—Smaller than U. torquatus, not exceeding four and a half feet in length. Fur black, brownish on the nose; the chest marked with a white crescent, or, in the Bornean variety, an orange-coloured heart-shaped patch; the claws are remarkably long; mouth and lower jaw dirty white; the lower part of the crescent prolonged in a narrow white streak down to the belly, where it is widened out into a large irregular spot. Marsden, in his 'History of Sumatra,' published towards the end of the last century, speaks of this bear under the name of Bruang (query: is our Bruin derived from this?), and mentions its habit of climbing the cocoa-nut trees to devour the tender part, or cabbage.
It is more tamable and docile than the Himalayan Sun Bear, and is even more eccentric in its ways. The one in the London "Zoo," when given a biscuit, lies down on its back, and passes it about from fore to hind paws, eyeing it affectionately, and making most comical noises as it rolls about. Sir Stamford Raffles writes of one which was in his possession for two years:—"He was brought up in the nursery with the children; and when admitted to my table, as was frequently the case, gave a proof of his taste by refusing to eat any fruit but mangosteens, or to drink any wine but champagne. The only time I ever knew him out of humour was on an occasion when no champagne was forthcoming. He was naturally of a playful and affectionate disposition, and it was never found necessary to chain or chastise him. It was usual for this bear, the cat, the dog, and a small blue mountain bird, or lory, of New Holland, to mess together and eat out of the same dish. His favourite playfellow was the dog, whose teasing and worrying was always borne, and returned with the utmost good humour and playfulness. As he grew up he became a very powerful animal, and in his rambles in the garden he would lay hold of the largest plantains, the stems of which he could scarcely embrace, and tear them up by the roots." The late General A. C. McMaster gives an equally amusing account of his pet of this species which was obtained in Burmah. "Ada," he writes, "is never out of temper, and always ready to play with any one. While she was with me, 'Ada' would not eat meat in any shape; but I was told by one of the ship's officers that another of the same species, 'Ethel' (also presented by me to the Committee of the People's Park of Madras, and by them sent to England), while coming over from Burmah killed and devoured a large fowl put into her cage. I do not doubt the killing, for at that time 'Ethel' had not long been caught, and was a little demon in temper, but I suspect that, while attention was taken off, some knowing lascar secured the body of the chicken, and gave her credit for having swallowed it. 'Ada's' greatest delight was in getting up small trees; even when she was a chubby infant I could, by merely striking the bark, or a branch some feet above her head, cause her to scramble up almost any tree. At this time poor 'Ada,' a Burman otter, and a large white poodle were, like many human beings of different tastes or pursuits, very fast friends." In another part he mentions having heard of a bear of this species who delighted in cherry brandy, "and on one occasion, having been indulged with an entire bottle of this insinuating beverage, got so completely intoxicated that it stole a bottle of blacking, and drank off the contents under the impression that they were some more of its favourite liquor. The owner of the bear told me that he saw it suffering from this strange mixture, and evidently with, as may easily be imagined, a terrible headache."
So much for the amusing side of the picture, now for the other.
Although strictly frugivorous, still it has been known to attack and devour man in cases of the greatest want, and it also occasionally devours small animals and birds, in the pursuit of which, according to Dr. Sal Muller, it prefers those that live on a vegetable diet. The Rev. Mr. Mason, in his writings about Burmah, says "they will occasionally attack man when alone;" he instances a bear upsetting two men on a raft, and he goes on to add that "last year a Karen of my acquaintance in Tonghoo was attacked by one, overcome, and left by the bear for dead." In this case there was no attempt to devour, and it may have been, as I have often observed with the Indian Sloth Bear, that such attacks are made by females with young.
Dr. Sal Muller states: "in his native forests this bear displays much zeal and ingenuity in discovering the nests of bees, and in extracting their contents by means of his teeth from the narrow orifices of the branches of the trees in which they are concealed."
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The next species constitutes the genus Melursus of Meyer or Prochilus of Illiger. It is an awkward-shaped beast, from which it probably derives its name of "Sloth Bear," for it is not like the sloth in other respects. It has long shaggy hair, large curved claws (which is certainly another point of resemblance to the sloth), and a very much elongated mobile snout. Another peculiarity is in its dentition; instead of six incisors in the upper jaw it has only four.
Blyth, in his later writings, adopts Illiger's generic name Prochilus.
NO. 167. URSUS (MELURSUS) LABIATUS. The Common Indian Sloth Bear.
NATIVE NAMES.—Bhalu, Hind.; Reench, Hind.; Riksha, Sanscrit; Aswail, Mahr.; Elugu, Tel.; Kaddi or Karadi, Can.; Yerid or Asol of the Gonds; Banna of the Coles.
HABITAT.—All over the peninsula of India. Blyth says it is not found in Burmah.
[Figure: Ursus labiatus.]
DESCRIPTION.—General shape of the ursine type, but more than usually ungainly and awkward. Hair very long and shaggy, all black, with the exception of a white V-shaped mark on the chest, and dirty whitish muzzle and tips to its feet; snout prolonged and flexible; claws very large.
SIZE.—A large animal of this species will measure from five to six feet in length, and stand nearly three feet high, weighing from fifteen to twenty stones.
Our old friend is so well known that he hardly requires description, and the very thought of him brings back many a ludicrous and exciting scene of one's jungle days. There is frequently an element of comicality in most bear-hunts, as well as a considerable spice of danger; for, though some people may pooh-pooh this, I know that a she-bear with cubs is no despicable antagonist. Otherwise the male is more anxious to get away than to provoke an attack.
This bear does not hibernate at all, but is active all the year round. In the hot weather it lies all day in cool caves, emerging only at night. In March and April, when the mohwa-tree is in flower, it revels in the luscious petals that fall from the trees, even ascending the branches to shake down the coveted blossoms. The mohwa (Bassia latifolia) well merits a slight digression from our subject. It is a large-sized umbrageous tree, with oblong leaves from four to eight inches long, and two to four inches broad. The flowers are globular, cream coloured, with a faint greenish tint, waxy in appearance, succulent and extremely sweet, but to my taste extremely nasty, there being a peculiar disagreeable flavour which lingers long in the mouth. However not only do all animals, carnivorous as well as herbivorous, like them, but they are highly appreciated by the natives, who not only eat them raw, but dry them in the sun and thus keep them for future consumption, and also distil an extremely intoxicating spirit from them. The fresh refuse, or marc, after the extraction of the spirit is also attractive to animals. Some years ago I sent to Mr. Frank Buckland, for publication in Land and Water, an account of a dog which used to frequent a distillery for the purpose of indulging in this refuse, the result of which was his becoming completely intoxicated. This marc, after further fermentation, becomes intensely acid, and on one occasion I used it successfully in cleaning and brightening a massive steel and iron gate which I had constructed. I made a large vat, and filling it with this fermented refuse, put the gate in to pickle. The seeds of the mohwa yield an oil much prized by the natives, and used occasionally for adulterating ghee. The wood is not much used; it is not of sufficient value to compensate for the flower and fruit, consequently the tree is seldom cut down. When an old one falls the trunk and large limbs are sometimes used for sluices in tanks, for the heart wood is generally rotten and hollow, and it stands well under water. If you ask a Gond about the mohwa he will tell you it is his father and mother. His fleshly father and mother die and disappear, but the mohwa is with him for ever! A good mohwa crop is therefore always anxiously looked for, and the possession of trees coveted; in fact a large number of these trees is an important item for consideration in the assessment of land revenues. No wonder then that the villager looks with disfavour on the prowling bear who nightly gathers up the fallen harvest, or who shakes down the long-prayed-for crop from the laden boughs.
The Sloth Bear is also partial to mangos, sugar-cane, and the pods of the amaltas or cassia(Cathartocarpus fistula), and the fruit of the jack-tree (Artocarpus integrifolia).
It is extremely fond of honey, and never passes an ant-hill without digging up its contents, especially those of white ants. About twenty years ago my first experience of this was in a neighbour's garden. He had recently built himself a house, and was laying out and sowing his flower-beds with great care. It so happened that one of the beds lay over a large ants' nest, and to his dismay he found one morning a huge pit dug in the centre of it, to the total destruction of all his tender annuals, by a bear that had wandered through the station during the night. Tickell describes the operation thus: "On arriving at an ant-hill the bear scrapes away with the fore-feet till he reaches the large combs at the bottom of the galleries. He then with violent puffs dissipates the dust and crumbled particles of the nest, and sucks out the inhabitants of the comb by such forcible inhalations as to be heard at two hundred yards distant or more. Large larvae are in this way sucked out from great depths under the soil."
Insects of all sorts seem not to come amiss to this animal, which systematically hunts for them, turning over stones in the operation.
The Sloth Bear has usually two young ones at a birth. They are born blind, and continue so till about the end of the third week. The mother is a most affectionate parent, defending her offspring with the greatest ferocity. A she-bear with cubs is always an awkward customer, and she continues her solicitude for them till they are nearly full grown. The young ones are not difficult to rear if ordinary care be taken. The great mistake that most people make in feeding the young of wild animals is the giving of pure cows' milk. I mentioned this in 'Seonee' in speaking of a bear:—
"The little brute was as savage as his elders, and would do nothing but walk to the end of the string by which he was attached to a tent peg, roll head over heels, and walk in a contrary direction, when a similar somersault would be performed; and he whined and wailed just like a child; one might have mistaken it for the puling of some villager's brat. Milford was going to give it pure cows' milk when Fordham advised him not to do so, but to mix it with one half the quantity of water. 'The great mistake people make,' he said, 'who try to rear wild animals, is to give them what they think is best for them, viz., good fresh cows' milk, and they wonder that the little creatures pine away and die, instead of flourishing on it. Cows' milk is too rich; buffalos' milk is better, but both should be mixed with water. It does not matter what the animal is: tiger-cub, fawn, or baby monkey—all require the same caution.'"
I had considerable experience in the bringing up of young things of all sorts when in the Seonee district, and only after some time learnt the proper proportions of milk and water, and also that regularity in feeding was necessary—two-thirds water to one of milk for the first month; after that half and half.
The Sloth Bear carries her cubs on her back, as do the opossums, and a singular little animal called the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)—and she seems to do this for some time, as Mr. Sanderson writes he shot one which was carrying a cub as large as a sheep-dog.