Chita kittens are very pretty little things, quite grey, without any spots whatever, but they can always be recognised by the black stripe down the nose, and on cutting off a little bit of the soft hair I noticed that the spots were quite distinct in the under fur. I have not seen this fact alluded to by others. As a rule the young of all cats, even the large one-coloured species, such as the lion and puma, are spotted, but the hunting leopard is externally an exception, although the spots are there lying hid. I had several of them at Seonee.
The second family of the AEluroidea contains only one genus, the Hyaena, which, though somewhat resembling the dog in outward appearance, connects the cat with the civet. The differences between the Felidae and the Viverridae, setting aside minor details, are in the teeth, and the possession by the latter of a caudal pouch. My readers are now familiar with the simple cutting form of the feline teeth, which are thirty in number. The civets have no less than forty, and the grinders, instead of having cutting scissor-like edges, are cuspidate, or crowned with tubercles. Now the hyaena comes in as an intermediate form. He has four more premolars than the typical cat, and the large grinding teeth are conical, blunt and very powerful, the base of the cone being belted by a strong ridge, and the general structure is one adapted for crushing rather than cutting. Professor Owen relates that an eminent engineer, to whom he showed a hyaena's jaw, remarked that the strong conical tooth, with its basal ridge, was a perfect model of a hammer for breaking stones.
Of course, such a formation would be useless without a commensurate motive power, and we may, therefore, look to the skull for certain signs of the enormous development of muscles, which this animal possesses. In shape it somewhat resembles the cat's skull, though not so short, nor yet so long as that of the civet or dog. The zygomatic arches are greatly developed, also the bony ridges for the attachment of the muscles, especially the sagittal or great longitudinal crest on the top of the head, which is in comparison far larger than that of even the tiger, and to which are attached the enormous muscles of the cheek working the powerful jaws, which are capable of crushing the thigh-bone of a bullock. Captain Baldwin, in his book, says he remembers once, when watching over a kill, seeing a hyaena, only some twelve feet below where he sat, snap with a single effort through the rib of a buffalo.
The hyaena also possesses the sub-caudal pouch of the civets, which gave rise amongst the ancients to various conjectures as to the dual character of its sex.
The bulla tympani or bulb of the ear is large as in the cats, but it is not divided into two compartments by a bony partition (which in the dogs is reduced to a low wall), but the paroccipital process or bony clamp on the external posterior surface is closely applied to the bulb as in the cats, and not separated by a groove as in the dogs.
The cervical vertebrae sometimes become anchylosed, from whence, in former times, arose the superstition that this animal had but one bone in the neck.
In its internal anatomy, digestive as well as generative, the hyaena is nearer to the cat than the dog, but it possesses the caecum, or blind gut, which is so large in the canidae, small in the felines, and totally absent in the bears.
The tongue is rough, with a circular collection of retroflected spines. The hind legs are much shorter than the front, and the feet have only four toes with blunt worn claws, not retractile, but like those of the dog.
The hair is coarse and bristly, and usually prolonged into a sort of crest or mane along the neck and shoulders, and to a slighter degree down the back; the tail is bushy.
Dental formula: Inc., 3—3/3—3; can., 1—1/1—1; premolars, 4—4/3—3; molars, 1—1/1—1.
There are only three known species of hyaena, of which one, our common Indian animal, belongs to Asia, and two, H. crocuta and H. brunnea, to Africa.
NO. 220. HYAENA STRIATA. The Striped Hyaena (Jerdon's No. 118).
NATIVE NAMES.—Taras, Hundar, Jhirak (in Hurriana); Lakhar-baghar, Lokra-bagh, Hindi; Naukra-bagh, Bengali; Rerha in Central India; Kirba and Kat-Kirba, Canarese; Korna-gandu, Telegu.
HABITAT.—All over India; but as far as I can gather not in Burmah nor in Ceylon; it is not mentioned in Blyth's and Kellaart's catalogues. It is also found in Northern Africa and throughout Asia Minor and Persia; it is common in Palestine.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale yellowish-grey, with transverse tawny or blackish bands which encircle the body, and extend downwards on to the legs. The neck and back are maned.
SIZE.—Head and body, 3-1/2 feet; tail, about 1-1/2 feet.
This repulsive and cowardly creature is yet a useful beast in its way. Living almost exclusively on carrion, it is an excellent scavenger. Most wild animals are too active for it, but it feeds on the remains left by the larger felines, and such creatures as die of disease, and can, on a pinch, starve for a considerable time. The African spotted hyaena is said to commit great havoc in the sheep-fold. The Indian one is very destructive to dogs, and constantly carries off pariahs from the outskirts of villages. The natives declare that the hyaena tempts the dogs out by its unearthly cries, and then falls upon them. Dr. Jerdon relates a story of a small dog belonging to an officer of the 33rd M. N. I. (the regiment he was with when I first knew him) being carried off by a hyaena whose den was known. Some of the sepoys went after it, entered the cave, killed the hyaena, and recovered the dog alive, and with but little damage done to it.
The hyaena is of a timorous nature, seldom, if ever, showing fight. Two of them nearly ran over me once as I was squatting on a deer run waiting for sambar, which were being beaten out of a hill. I flung my hat in the face of the leading one, on which both turned tail and fled. The Arabs have a proverb, "As cowardly as a hyaena."
The Cryptoprocta ferox is not an inhabitant of India, being found only in the interior of Madagascar. The genus contains only one species, a most savage little animal; it is the most perfect link between the cats and the civets, having retractile claws, one more premolar in each jaw; five toes, and semi-plantigrade feet. It should properly come before the hyaenas, to which the next in order is the South African Aard-wolf (Proteles Lalandii), which forms the connection between the hyaena and the civet, though more resembling the former. It is placed in a family by itself, which contains but one genus and species. It has the sloping back of the hyaena, the hind legs being lower than the fore, and it might almost, from its shape and colouring, be taken for that animal when young. The skull however is prolonged, and the teeth are civet-like. It is nocturnal and gregarious, several living in the same burrow. Like the hyaena it lives on carrion. It has a fifth toe on the fore feet.
VIVERRIDAE—THE CIVET FAMILY.
The Civets are confined to the Old World; they are mostly animals with long bodies, sharp muzzle, short legs, long tapering tail and coarse fur; they are semi-plantigrade, walking on their toes, but keeping the wrist and ankle nearer to the ground than do the cats; the claws are only partially retractile; the skull is longer in the snout than that of felines, and, altogether narrower, the zygomatic arches not being so broad, the base of the skull is much the same, and the bulla tympani shews little difference; the teeth, however, are decidedly different. There are four premolars and two molars on each side of each jaw, which, with the normal number of canines and incisors, give forty teeth in all; the canines are moderate in size, and sharp; the premolars conical, and the molars cuspidate, which gives them a grinding surface instead of the trenchant character of the cats; the tongue is rough, the papillae being directed backwards; the pupils are circular. The most striking characteristics of the family is, however, the sub-caudal pouch, which in most produces an odorous substance, and in the typical civet the perfume of that name.
Dental formula: inc., 3—3/3—3; can., 1—1/1—1; premolars, 4—4/3—3; molars, 2—2/3—3.
The family contains the Civet, Genette, Linsang, Suricate, Binturong and Mongoose, though this last is separated by Jerdon, who follows Blyth.
Anal pouch large, and divided into two sacs secreting the civet perfume of commerce; pupil vertical and oblong; fur spotted and coarse, lengthened into an erectile mane on the back; diet mixed carnivorous and vegetivorous.
NO. 221. VIVERRA ZIBETHA. The Large Civet Cat (Jerdon's No. 119).
NATIVE NAMES.—Katas, Hindi; Mach-bhondar, Bengali, also Bagdos and Pudo-gaula in some parts; Bhran in the Nepal Terai; Nit-biralu, Nepalese; Kung, Bhotia; Saphiong, Lepcha, (Jerdon); Khyoung-myen, Aracanese.
HABITAT.—According to Jerdon this species inhabits Bengal, extending northwards in Nepal and Sikhim, and into Cuttack, Orissa, and Central India on the south, but is replaced in Malabar by the next species; it is also found in Assam and Burmah, but apparently not in Ceylon, where V. Malaccensis represents the family.
DESCRIPTION.—Hoary or yellowish grey, generally spotted and striped with black; some specimens are marked with wavy bands, others are almost free from marks; throat white, with a transverse black band, another on each side of the neck; under-parts white; tail with six black rings; limbs dark.
SIZE.—Head and body, 33 to 36 inches; tail 13 to 20.
"This animal frequents brushwood and grass, and the thorny scrub that usually covers the bunds of tanks. It is very carnivorous and destructive to poultry, game, &c., but will also, it is said, eat fish, crabs and insects. It breeds in May and June, and has usually four or five young. Hounds, and indeed all dogs, are greatly excited by the scent of this civet, and will leave any other scent for it. It will readily take to water if hard pressed."—Jerdon.
The drug civet is usually collected from the glands of this and other species, which are confined for the purpose in cages in which they can hardly turn round, and it is scraped from the pouch with a spoon. Sometimes the animal rubs off the secretion on the walls and bars of its cage, which are then scraped; but the highest price is given for the pouch cut from the civet when killed. In the London Zoological Gardens the collection of the perfume, which is rubbed off against the walls of the cage, is a valued perquisite of the keeper. Cuvier says of a civet which was kept in captivity in Paris: "Its musky odour was always perceptible, but stronger than usual when the animal was irritated; at such times little lumps of odoriferous matter fell from its pouch. These masses were also produced when the animal was left to itself, but only at intervals of fifteen to twenty days."
NO. 222. VIVERRA CIVETTINA. The Malabar Civet-Cat (Jerdon's No. 120).
HABITAT.—Throughout the Malabar coast, abundant in Travancore, and found occasionally in the uplands of Wynaad and Coorg.
DESCRIPTION.—Hair long, coarse, and of a dusky or brownish-grey, and marked with interrupted transverse bands or spots in rows, two obliquely transverse black lines on the neck; the snout, throat, and neck are white; the tail tinged with black. From the shoulders along the back a mane or crest of lengthened hair.
SIZE.—Same as last species.
This species closely resembles the African civet—only that in the latter the mane begins on the occiput. Jerdon supposes that it may be found in Ceylon, but it is not mentioned by Kellaart. It is found chiefly in forests and richly-wooded lowlands, and is stated to be very destructive to poultry. The young may, however, be reared on farinaceous food, with the addition of a little fish and raw meat; when older on flesh alone.
NO. 223. VIVERRA MEGASPILA.
HABITAT.—Burmah, also Malayan peninsula and archipelago (?)
DESCRIPTION.—The body markings larger, blacker and fewer in number than in last species.
SIZE.—Same as last.
Blyth states that this is nearly allied to the last species, but differs from V. tangalunga of Sumatra (with which some consider it synonymous) as the latter is smaller, with a more cat-like tail, and more numerous spots. Gray says that V. tangalunga has the tail black above and ringed on the lower side.
* * * * *
The next species is smaller and more vermiform, with acute compressed claws, a shorter tail, and no crest, and of more scansorial habits. It forms the sub-genus Viverricula of Hodgson, but it is not desirable to perpetuate the sub-division.
NO. 224. VIVERRA MALACCENSIS. The Lesser Civet-Cat (Jerdon's No. 121).
NATIVE NAMES.—Mushak-billi, Katas, Kasturi, Hindi; Gando-gaula, Gandha-gokul, Bengali; Jowadi-manjur, Mahrathi; Punagin-bek, Canarese; Punagu-pilli, Telegu; Sayer, Bug-nyul, Nepalese; Wa-young-kyoung-bank, Aracanese; Kyoung-ka-do, Burmese; Ooralawa, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—India generally, with Assam, Burmah, and Ceylon. It extends also to the Malayan countries, Java and China.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour greyish-brown, spotted black; the dorsal spots elongated, and forming longitudinal interrupted streaks or stripes on the back and croup; the sides and limbs have also spots in lines; a long black streak from ear to shoulder, and some transverse lines on the sides of the neck. Abdomen nearly spotless; feet and part of legs dusky-brown; tail long and tapering, marked with eight or nine black rings.
SIZE.—Head and body, 22 to 24 inches; tail, 16 to 17 inches.
According to Jerdon, "it lives in holes in the ground or in banks, occasionally under rocks or in dense thickets, now and then taking shelter in drains and out-houses." Hodgson says: "These animals dwell in forests or detached woods and copses, whence they wander freely into the open country by day (occasionally at least) as well as by night. They are solitary and single wanderers, even the pair seldom being seen together, and they feed promiscuously upon small animals, birds' eggs, snakes, frogs, insects, besides some fruits or roots. In the Terai a low caste of woodmen, called Mushahirs, eat the flesh." Mr. Swinhoe affirms that the Chinese also eat its flesh, and adds: "but a portion that I had cooked was so affected with the civet odour that I could not palate it." The fur is valued in China as a lining for coats, and is bought by those who cannot afford the more expensive skins. Jerdon had one which was perfectly tame; it caught rats and squirrels at times, as also sparrows and other birds. It is kept alive by the natives in India and Ceylon for the sake of the secretion. Kellaart says it is a great destroyer of poultry, and that it will enter a yard in daylight and carry off a fowl or a duck. It is much dreaded by the Chinese for the havoc it commits in the hen-roost.
Between the last genus and this should come the Genets, which are not found in India, but chiefly in Africa, and one species is common in the south of Europe, where in some parts it is domesticated for the purpose of catching mice. It has rudimentary pouches only, which do not yield the musky secretion of the civets. The Linsang or Prionodon is a very cat-like animal, which was once classed with the Felidae; the body is long and slender; the limbs very short; fur soft, close and erect, very richly coloured and spotted with black; the grinders are tubercular; claws retractile; soles furred; tail long, cylindrical, and ringed with black; no sub-caudal pouch. The female has two pectoral and two inguinal mammae. Teeth, 38; molars, 5—5/6—6.
NO. 225. PRIONODON PARDICOLOR. The Tiger Civet or Linsang (Jerdon's No. 122).
NATIVE NAME.—Zik-chum, Bhotia; Suliyu, Lepcha.
DESCRIPTION.—"Rich orange buff or fulvous, spotted with black; the neck above with four irregular lines; the body above and on the sides with large, entire elliptic or squarish marks, eight in transverse, and seven in longitudinal series, diminishing in size on the dorsal ridge, which has an interrupted dark line, and extending outside the limbs to the digits; below entirely unspotted; tail with eight or nine nearly perfect and equal rings" (Jerdon). "Skull elongate; nose rather short, compressed; brain-case narrow in front, swollen over the ears, and contracted and produced behind; orbits, not defined behind, confluent with the temporal cavity; zygomatic arch slender; palate contracted behind" (Gray). Jerdon's description is a very good one, but it must not be taken as an accurate one, spot for spot, for the animal varies somewhat in colour. Take, for instance, a description from Gray: "Pale whitish grey; back of neck and shoulders with three streaks diverging from the vertebral line; back with two series of large square spots; the shoulders, sides, and legs with round black spots; an elongated spot on the middle of the front part of the back, between the square spots on the sides of the body."
SIZE.—Head and body, 16 inches; tail, 14 inches; height, 6 inches.
Our Indian animal is closely allied to the Malayan species, which was first described as Felis and afterwards Prionodon gracilis. It is mentioned in the English translation of Cuvier as the delundung, "a rare Javanese animal, of which there is only one species," but another was subsequently found by Mr. Hodgson in Nepal, and now a third has been discovered in Tenasserim. They are beautiful little creatures, with all the agility of cats, climbing and springing from branch to branch in pursuit of small mammals and birds, and I have no doubt it is a great enemy of the Tupaiae and squirrels. It breeds in the hollows of trees. It is capable of being tamed, and according to several authors becomes very gentle and fond of being noticed.
Hodgson says it never utters any kind of sound. He fed his on raw meat.
NO. 226. PRIONODON MACULOSUS. The Spotted Linsang.
DESCRIPTION.—"Upper part brownish-black, broken up by greyish-white bands, lower parts white; tail brownish-black, with seven white rings; tips whitish; two broad black bands run down each side of the upper part of the neck, between them is a narrow greyish-white band with a faint mesial dark streak somewhat interrupted, and passing into two bands of elongate spots between the shoulders. The two broad dark bands pass into the dark patches on the back; on each side of these bands is a white rather wavy stripe, commencing at the ear, and continued along the neck above the shoulder and down the side to the thighs, becoming more irregular behind; below this again is a dark band somewhat broken up into spots in front, passing over the shoulder and continued as a line of large spots along the side. The back is chiefly brownish-black, crossed by six narrow transverse whitish bands, the first five equidistant, the foremost communicating with the mesial neck band, and the hinder all uniting with the white band on the side, so as to break up the dark colour into large spots. There are small spots on the fore neck, lower portion of the sides, and outside of the limbs, the spots in the neck forming an imperfect gorget. The white rings on the tail are not much more than half the breadth of the dark rings; the last ring near the tip and the first white ring are narrower than the others; nose dark brown mixed with grey; a dark ring round each orbit, with a streak running back to below the ear, and another passing up to the crown; forehead between and behind the eyes and in front of the ears and cheeks pale grey; ears rounded and clad with blackish hairs outside and near the margin inside, a few long pale hairs on the inner surface of the ear conch; whiskers long, extending to behind the ears, the upper brown, the lower entirely white; soles, except the pads, which are naked, covered with fine hair." The above careful description is by Mr. W. T. Blanford on specimens collected by Mr. Davison in Burmah. Mr. Davison lately showed me a beautiful specimen, which I should describe by a reverse process to Mr. Blanford's, taking the light colour as the ground work, and stating it to be of a yellowish-white or pale buff, with broad black bands and blotches as above described, or in general terms broad black patches over the back, two longitudinal interrupted black bands along the neck and sides, with two lines of elongated spots above and below the lower band, and numerous small spots on the throat, chest and limbs.
SIZE.—Head and body, 18-1/4 inches; tail, 16 inches without the hair, 16-3/4 with it.
This is a larger animal than P. pardicolor, and is distinguished from it by its larger marking. The fur is beautifully soft and close. From the richness of its colouring, the elegance of its shape, and the agility of its movements, it is one of the most beautiful and interesting of our smaller mammals.
NO. 227. PRIONODON GRACILIS. The Malayan Linsang.
HABITAT.—Malacca, Siam, Sumatra, and Tenasserim.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur white, back with broad black cross-bands, sides of neck with a broad black streak continued along the sides of the body, confluent with the bands of the neck; back of neck with five parallel black streaks; tail with seven black and white streaks; a second streak, broken into spots, from the side of the neck to the haunches; legs with small black spots.
Very similar to the last, only somewhat smaller.
* * * * *
Between Prionodon and the next comes a genus Hemigalea, which contains one species, H. Hardwickii, inhabiting the Malay countries. It is a perfect link between Prionodon and Paradoxurus.
GENUS PARADOXURUS—THE MUSANGS.
Paradoxurus is a misnomer, signifying queer-tailed, which originated in an abnormal twist in the tail of the specimen first described and named by M. F. Cuvier. I do not think that it is even occasional, as stated by some naturalists, but is of comparatively rare occurrence; and such deformities are by no means confined to this genus only.
The tail can be rolled up towards the end, and the hair is occasionally worn off, and some have a habit of curling it sideways; but I have never seen one as described by Kellaart when speaking of the genus: "The extreme or more distant half being, when extended, turned over so that the lower side is uppermost, and the animal can roll it up spirally from above downwards, and from the extremity to the base."
In general appearance the musang resembles the civet, and it has in some species a sub-caudal glandular fold which contains a secretion, but without the musky odour of civet.
The dentition is singularly like that of the dog, save that the flesh tooth is proportionally much stouter.
The feet are five-toed, webbed; pads bald; claws semi-retractile; tail very long, with from thirty-six to thirty-eight vertebrae; the pupil of the eye is linear and erect.
NO. 228. PARADOXURUS MUSANGA. The Common Musang (Jerdon's No. 123).
NATIVE NAMES.—Khatas, Menuri (in Southern India), Lakati; Jharka-kutta, Hindi; Bhonar, Bengali; Ud, Mahrathi; Kera-bek, Canarese; Manupilli, Telegu; Marra-pilli, Malayan (toddy-cat and tree-cat of Europeans); Sakrala, Khoonla.
HABITAT.—Throughout India, Burmah and Ceylon, extending to the Malay countries.
DESCRIPTION.—It is difficult to lay down any precise rule for the colour of this animal, for it varies much. In general it is a fulvous grey, marked or clouded with black, or with black longitudinal stripes. No two naturalists describe it exactly alike. The limbs are, however, always dark, and there is usually a dark stripe down from the top of head to the centre of the nose. I will quote a few descriptions by various authors: "General colour brownish-black, with some dingy yellowish stripes on each side, more or less distinct, and sometimes not noticeable. A white spot above and below each eye, and the forehead with a whitish band in some; a black line from the top of the head down the centre of the nose is generally observable. In many individuals the ground colour appears to be fulvous, with black pencilling or mixed fulvous and black; the longitudinal stripes then show dark; limbs always dark brown; some appear almost black throughout, and the young are said to be nearly all black" (Jerdon). "General colour fulvous grey, washed with black; face darker coloured, with four white spots, one above and one below each eye, the latter more conspicuous; from three to five—more or less interrupted—black lines run from shoulder to root of tail, the central one broader and more distinct than the lateral lines; some indistinct black spots on the sides and upper parts of limbs; tail nearly all black; feet black, soles bald to the heel, flesh-coloured" (Kellaart). "Nose brown in the centre, with the brown colour extending under the eyes; the spot under the eye is small and indistinct" (Gray). The last remark is reverse of what Kellaart says. The muzzle of the young animal is flesh coloured; they are said to lose their black hairs when kept long in confinement, and become generally lighter coloured.
SIZE.—Head and body about 20 to 25 inches; tail from 19 to 21 inches.
This is a very common animal in India, frequently to be found in the neighbourhood of houses, attracted no doubt by poultry, rats, mice, &c. It abounds in the suburbs of Calcutta, taking up its abode sometimes in out-houses or in secluded parts of the main building. During the years 1865-66 a pair inhabited a wooden staircase in the Lieutenant-Governor's house at Alipore (Belvedere). We used to hear them daily, and once or twice I saw them in the dusk, but failed in all my attempts to trap them. That part of the building has since been altered, so I have no doubt the confiding pair have betaken themselves to other quarters. In a large banyan-tree in my brother's garden at Alipore there is a family at the present time, the junior members of which have lately fallen victims to a greyhound, who is often on the look-out for them. As yet the old ones have had the wisdom to keep out of his way.
They are very easily tamed. I had one for a time at Seonee which had been shot at and wounded, and I was astonished to find how soon it got accustomed to my surgical operations. Whilst under treatment I fed it on eggs. In confinement it is better to accustom it to live partly on vegetable food, rice, and milk, &c., with raw meat occasionally. Its habits are nocturnal. I cannot affirm from my own experience that it is partial to the juice of the palm tree, for toddy (or tari) is unknown in the Central Provinces, and I have had no specimens alive since I have been in Bengal, but it has the character of being a toddy-drinker in those parts of India where the toddy-palms grow; and Kellaart confirms the report. It is arboreal in its habits, and climbs with great agility.
NO. 229. PARADOXURUS (PAGUMA of Gray) GRAYII. The Hill Musang (Jerdon's No. 124).
HABITAT.—South-east Himalayas and Burmah, from Nepal to Arakan.
DESCRIPTION.—"Colour above light unspotted fulvous brown, showing in certain lights a strong cinereous tinge, owing to the black tips of many of the hairs; beneath lighter and more cinereous; limbs ash-coloured, deeper in intensity towards the feet, which are black; tail of the same colour as the body, the end dark, white-tipped; ears rounded, hairy, black; face black, except the forehead; a longitudinal streak down the middle of the nose, and a short oblique band under each of the eyes, which are gray or whitish."—Jerdon.
SIZE.—Head and body, 30 inches; tail, 20 inches.
According to Hodgson, this species keeps to the forests and mountains, feeding on small animals and birds, and also vegetable food. "One shot had only seeds, leaves, and unhusked rice in its stomach. A caged animal was fed on boiled rice and fruits, which it preferred to animal food. When set at liberty it would lie waiting in the grass for mynas and sparrows, springing upon them from the cover like a cat, and when sparrows, as it frequently happened, ventured into its cage to steal the boiled rice, it would feign sleep, retire into a corner, and dart on them with unerring aim. It preferred birds, thus taken by itself, to all other food.
"This animal was very cleanly, nor did its body usually emit any unpleasant odour, though when it was irritated it exhaled a most foetid stench, caused by the discharge of a thin yellow fluid from four pores, two of which are placed on each side of the intestinal aperture."
NO. 230. PARADOXURUS BONDAR. The Terai Musang (Jerdon's No. 125).
NATIVE NAMES.—Chinghar, Hindi; Bondar, Baum, Bengali; Mach-abba and Malwa in the Nepal Terai.
HABITAT.—Nepal, North Behar and Terai.
DESCRIPTION.—Clear yellow, tipped with black, the fur coarse and harsh; under fur soft and woolly; legs blackish-brown outside; body without marks, but the bridge of the nose, upper lip, whiskers, broad cheek-band, ears, chin, lower jaw, and the terminal third of the tail blackish-brown; pale yellow round the eyes; snout and feet flesh-grey; nails sharp and curved. The female smaller and paler.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 22 inches; tail, 20 to 22; skull of one 4-1/5 inches, less ventricose than that of P. Grayii.
This species is found, like P. Musanga, in the vicinity of houses; it lives in hollow trees, where it also breeds. Its habits are in great measure those of the common musang, though it is probably more carnivorous; it will, however, eat fruit. Jerdon says: "It sleeps rolled up like a ball, and when angered spits like a cat. It is naturally very ferocious and unruly, but capable of domestication, if taken young. It has a keen sense of smell, but less acute hearing and vision by day than the mungooses."
NO. 231. PARADOXURUS TRIVIRGATUS. The Three-striped Musang.
NATIVE NAME.—Kyoung-na-ga, in Arakan.
HABITAT.—Tenasserim and the Malay countries; also Assam.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur blackish-brown, slightly silvered with pale tips; three narrow black streaks down the back; under parts dirty white; head, feet, and tail black or blackish-brown. This animal forms a separate genus of Gray, following Professor Peters' Arctogale, on account of the smallness of the teeth and the protraction of the palate.
I had a specimen of this Paradoxurus given to me early in the cold season of 1881 by Dr. W. Forsyth. I brought it home to England with me, and it is now in the Zoological Society's Gardens in Regent's Park. It was very tame when Dr. Forsyth brought it, but it became more so afterwards, and we made a great pet of it.
It used to sleep nearly all day on a bookshelf in my study, and would, if called, lazily look up, yawn, and then come down to be petted, after which it would spring up again into its retreat. At night it was very active, especially in bounding from branch to branch of a tree which I had cut down and placed in the room in which it was locked up every evening. Its wonderful agility on ropes was greatly noticed on board ship. Its favourite food was plantains, and it was also very fond of milk. At night I used to give it a little meat, but not much; but most kinds of fruit it seemed to like.
Its temper was a little uncertain, and it seemed to dislike natives, who at times got bitten; but it never bit any of my family, although one of my little girls used to catch hold of it by the forepaws and dance it about like a kitten. Its carnivorous nature showed itself one day by its pouncing upon a tame pigeon. The bird was rescued, and is alive still, but it was severely mauled before I could rescue it, having been seized by the neck.
NO. 232. PARADOXURUS LEUCOTIS. The White-eared Musang.
NATIVE NAME.—Na-zwet-phyoo, Arakanese.
HABITAT.—Burmah and Assam.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur longish, soft, and silky; upper parts tawny; reddish-brown on back and sides; thighs, legs, throat, and belly lighter; tail long, deep chestnut brown; nose with a central white line; ears yellowish.
NO. 233. PARADOXURUS ZEYLANICUS. The Golden Musang.
NATIVE NAME.—Coolla-weddah, Singhalese.
DESCRIPTION.—A golden-brown colour arising from the longer hairs having a bright golden tint; the shorter hairs brown, paler beneath; head and legs dark brown; muzzle and lips blackish; whiskers white or yellowish; ears small, dark brown externally, almost naked internally; tail sub-cylindrical, long; sometimes with a single pale sub-terminal band; tip rounded, paler than the body. According to Kellaart, three inconspicuous brown dorsal streaks diverging and terminating on the crupper, and some very indistinct spots seen only in some lights. Gray says these animals differ in the intensity of the colour of the fur—some are bright golden and others much more brown. The latter is P. fuscus of Kellaart.
SIZE.—Head and body, 19 inches; tail, 15 to 16 inches.
Kellaart writes of this species: "The golden paradoxure appears to be a more frugivorous animal than the palm-cat (Paradoxurus typus). Their habits are alike nocturnal and arboreal. In all the individuals of the former species examined at Newera-Ellia the stomach contained Cape gooseberries (Physalis Peruviana), which grow there now in great abundance; and only one had the remains of animal matter in the stomach. When young they are tolerably docile, but as they grow up their natural ferocity returns." This seems strange, as they appear to be less carnivorous than the others.
[Footnote 17: Cuvier's name for P. musanga.—R. A. S.]
[Footnote 18: The Tipari of Bengal.—R. A. S.]
NO. 234. PARADOXURUS (PAGUMA) LANIGER.
This requires further investigation. Gray says: "This species is only known from a skin without any skull, and in a very bad state."
P. strictus, quadriscriptus and prehensilis are three species alluded to by Gray as requiring further examination, but probably Jerdon is right in considering them as varieties of P. musanga.
A specimen with very large canines has been reported from the Andaman Islands (P. Tytleri?) in addition to these. Gray enumerates as an Indian species P. nigrifrons, which is likely to be a variety of P. musanga; it was described from a single specimen. The dorsal streaks and spots were absent, but then he says the animal had been in confinement, and, as I have said before, this tends to make the dark parts disappear.
This is a very curious animal, which, like the panda and the linsang, at first misled naturalists in assigning it a place. It was formerly classed with the racoons, which it superficially resembles; and, as Jerdon remarks, it may be considered as a sort of link between the plantigrade and digitigrade carnivora. The skeleton however is similar to that of the musangs as regards the great number (thirty-four) of the caudal vertebrae, but the bones of the feet have a more plantigrade character; the skull resembles that of a badger; the head is conical, with a large brain-case and acute turned-up nose; the orbit of the skull is imperfect, only defined by a prominence above; the ears are pencilled or tufted; the tail is very long, muscular and prehensile—although this was doubted by F. Cuvier, but it is now a well-known fact—and in climbing trees it is much assisted by the tail; the teeth are thirty-six in all; canines stout, upper ones long; grinders small and far apart; of the false grinders, the first and second are conical, the third compressed; the flesh-tooth is triangular, and as broad as long; the tubercular grinders are smaller than the flesh-tooth, the first triangular, the hinder cylindrical and smaller still; toes five in each foot, with powerful semi-retractile claws.
NO. 235. ARCTICTIS BINTURONG. The Binturong (Jerdon's No. 126).
HABITAT.—Assam, Nepal, Simla hills, also Tenasserim, Arakan, and the Malayan countries.
DESCRIPTION.—Long body, short legs, long prehensile tail, very thick at the base, and gradually tapering to a point, clad with very long bristling hair; the hair of the body very coarse; general colour, deep black, with a white border to the ears, a few brown hairs on the head and anterior surface of fore-legs. Some of the Malayan specimens are slightly sprinkled with brown, and have the head, face, and throat grizzled. It has a large sub-caudal gland, secreting an oily fluid.
SIZE.—Head and body 28 to 30 inches; tail about the same. Jerdon gives 28 to 33 inches; tail 26 to 27 inches.
According to Jerdon it is nocturnal, arboreal, and omnivorous, eating small animals, birds, insects, fruit and plants; more wild than viverrine animals in general, but easily tamed. Its howl is loud. In an illustration I have of one of these animals, it is drawn with white patches over the eyes. Cantor says the young are marked with eye spots. I have added the Simla hills to the list of places it inhabits, as Mr. Hume possesses the skin of one which I have lately examined, and which was procured in this neighbourhood.
HERPESTIDAE—THE ICHNEUMON OR MUNGOOSE FAMILY.
A well-defined genus of animals, with long vermiform bodies, clad with long, harsh grizzled hair, long muscular tails, thick at the base, and tapering to a fine point; semi-plantigrade feet with five toes, and partially retractile claws; the eyes are small, but glittering and snakelike; the tongue rough like a cat's. Dr. Gray has divided this family into two groups, Herpestina and Cynictidina, the former containing thirteen genera, the latter one, which is separated on account of its having four toes only. Of the thirteen genera in Herpestina, we have only to do with Herpestes, Calogale, Calictis, Urva, Taeniogale, and Onychogale, which six are by most naturalists treated under Herpestes, and I will continue to do so, as the differences are hardly sufficient to warrant so much subdivision.
Long vermiform body; short legs with five semi-palmated toes with short compressed claws; eyes small, with linear erect pupils; long skull with forty teeth; the orbit complete in many cases, or only slightly imperfect; the hairs are long, rigid, and ringed like the quill of a porcupine, which gives the grizzled appearance peculiar to these animals. The female has only four mammae. They are very active and sanguinary, chiefly hunting along the ground, but can climb with facility. There are several species found within the limits of British India, and many more in Africa.
NO. 236. HERPESTES PALLIDUS vel GRISEUS. The Common Grey Mungoose (Jerdon's Nos. 127 and 128).
NATIVE NAMES.—Mungus, Newul, Newra, Nyul, Hindi; Mungli, Canarese; Yentawa, Telegu; Koral, Gondi; Moogatea, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—India generally and Ceylon, but apparently not in Burmah.
DESCRIPTION.—Light iron grey with a yellowish tint, some more rufous, the hairs being ringed with brown and grey or yellowish-white; muzzle and feet brown; irides light brown.
SIZE.—Head and body, 16 to 20 inches; tail, 14 to 16-1/2 inches.
Jerdon calls this the Madras mungoose, and separates it from the next species, but they are apparently the same. Dr. Anderson prefers the specific name pallidus to either griseus or Malaccensis, as griseus originally included an African species, and the latter name is geographically misleading. Hodgson's name H. nyula is objectionable, as nyul or newul is applied by natives to all mungooses generally. Jerdon's Nos. 127 and 128 differ only in colour and size; according to him the lighter and larger, griseus, being the Southern India mungoose, and the browner and smaller, Malaccensis, the Bengal and the Northern India one. But at Sasseram in Behar, I some years ago obtained a very large specimen of the lighter species, and have lately seen a skin from the North-west Provinces. This animal is familiar to most English residents in the Mofussil; it is, if unmolested, fearless of man, and will, even in its wild state, enter the verandahs and rooms of houses. In one house I know a pair of old ones would not only boldly lift the bamboo chicks and walk in, but in time were accompanied by a young family. When domesticated they are capable of showing as much attachment as a dog. One that I had constantly with me for three years died of grief during a temporary separation, having refused food from the time I left. I got it whilst on active service during the Indian Mutiny, when it was a wee thing, smaller than a rat. It travelled with me on horseback in an empty holster, or in a pocket, or up my sleeve; and afterwards, when my duties as a settlement officer took me out into camp, "Pips" was my constant companion. He knew perfectly well when I was going to shoot a bird for him. He would stand up on his hind legs when he saw me present the gun, and rush for the bird when it fell; he had, however, no notion of retrieving, but would scamper off with his prey to devour it at leisure. He was a most fearless little fellow, and once attacked a big greyhound, who beat a retreat. In a rage his body would swell to nearly twice its size from the erection of the hair, yet I had him under such perfect subjection that I had only to hold up my finger to him when he was about to attack anything, and he would desist. I heard a great noise one day outside my room and found Master "Pips," attacking a fine male specimen I had of the great bustard, Eupodotis Edwardsii, and had just seized it by the throat. I rescued the bird, but it died of its injuries. Through the carelessness of one of my servants he was lost one day in a heavy brushwood jungle some miles from my camp, and I quite gave up all hopes of recovering my pet. Next day, however, in tracking some antelope, we happened to cross the route taken by my servants, when we heard a familiar little yelp, and down from a tree we were under rushed "Pips." He went to England with me after that, and was the delight of all the sailors on board, for his accomplishments were varied; he could sit on a chair with a cap on his head, shoulder arms; ready, present, fire!—turn somersaults, jump, and do various other little tricks.
From watching him I observed many little habits belonging to these animals. He was excessively clean, and after eating would pick his teeth with his claws in a most absurd manner. I do not know whether a mungoose in a wild state will eat carrion, but he would not touch anything tainted, and, though very fond of freshly-cooked game, would turn up his nose at high partridge or grouse. He was very fond of eggs, and, holding them in his fore-paws, would crack a little hole at the small end, out of which he would suck the contents. He was a very good ratter, and also killed many snakes against which I pitted him. His way seemed to be to tease the snake into darting at him, when, with inconceivable rapidity, he would pounce on the reptile's head. He seemed to know instinctively which were the poisonous ones, and acted with corresponding caution. I tried him once with some sea-snakes (Hydrophis palamoides), which are poisonous, but he could get no fight out of them, and crunched their heads off one after the other. I do not believe in the mungoose being proof against snake poison, or in the antidote theory. Their extreme agility prevents their being bitten, and the stiff rigid hair, which is excited at such times, and a thick loose skin, are an additional protection. I think it has been proved that if the poison of a snake is injected into the veins of a mungoose it proves fatal. The female produces from three to four young at a time.
The cry of the mungoose is a grating mew, varied occasionally by a little querulous yelp, which seems to be given in an interrogative sort of way when searching for anything. When angry it growls most audibly for such a small beast, and this is generally accompanied by a bristling of the hair, especially of the tail.
NO. 237. HERPESTES JERDONI vel MONTICOLUS. The Long-tailed Mungoose (Jerdon's No. 129).
HABITAT.—Indian peninsula, it having been found in the extreme south as well as Kashmir in the north and Singbhoom in the centre.
DESCRIPTION.—Colour like the last, but more yellow in general tone; tail long, tipped with maroon and black, very hairy; feet dark reddish-brown; muzzle slightly tinged with red; under fur pale yellowish, the long hairs being broadly tipped with brown, darkest at the tip, paler at the base, then a white band; then three brown bands separated by white, the base of the hair being broadly white; the skull is distinguishable by the breadth of the frontal region across the post-orbital processes, and between the anterior margins of the orbit. Dr. Anderson considers this as identical with the Kashmir H. thysanurus, which has also been found by Mr. Ball in Singbhoom. Dr. Gray says it is very like the African H. ichneumon, only paler. Dr. Jerdon had only obtained it from the Eastern Ghats inland from Nellore, where it inhabits forests among the hills.
SIZE.—Head and body, 20 inches; tail, 19 inches.
NO. 238. HERPESTES SMITHII. The Ruddy Mungoose (Jerdon's No. 130).
NATIVE NAME.—Deeto, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—Southern India and Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—Reddish ferruginous brown, long hair, well grizzled, more red on the head and outer part Of limbs; hairs annulated dark and white, with reddish tips; muzzle long and flesh-coloured; feet black; tip of tail black.
SIZE.—Head and body, 15 inches; tail, 12 to 13 inches.
This is the same as H. Ellioti of Blyth, and H. rubiginosus of Kellaart, and Calictis Smithii of Gray.
NO. 239. HERPESTES AUROPUNCTATUS. The Gold-speckled Mungoose (Jerdon's No. 131).
HABITAT.—The plains near the hills from Afghanistan to Bengal, also Assam and Burmah, and on into the Malayan peninsula.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour olive brown with a golden hue, or finely speckled with golden yellow, due to the fine annulation of the hair; the sides of the body slightly paler, and not so yellow; under parts dirty yellowish-white; limbs the same colour as the body; the under fur is purplish-brown in its lower two-thirds, and pale yellow in its terminal third; the long hair is smooth, fine, short, and adpressed; the tips are dark brown, then yellow, then brown, twice repeated; occasionally a yellow band at the base; in the tail there are generally eight bands, with the terminal dark brown; the skull is remarkable for the narrow and elongated character of its facial portion; the orbit is perfect in the adult. Length of skull about 1-5/12 inches; width at the zygoma, 1-1/4.
SIZE.—Head and body, 12 to 13 inches; tail, 9 to 10 inches.
This and H. persicus are the smallest of the genus; it is included in Gray's genus Calogale, and he gives the specific name followed by Jerdon, Nipalensis, which is geographically misleading. I have therefore followed Dr. Anderson in retaining the more appropriate title. H. persicus is closely allied, but the nasal portion of the palate is narrower.
NO. 240. HERPESTES FUSCUS. The Nilgherry Brown Mungoose (Jerdon's No. 132).
HABITAT.—Madras Presidency, Neilgherries.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour, brown; hair ringed black and yellow, tawny at the base; throat dusky yellowish.—Jerdon.
SIZE.—Head and body, 18 inches; tail, with hair, 17 inches.
NO. 241. HERPESTES (ONYCHOGALE of Gray) MACCARTHIAE.
DESCRIPTION.—Reddish-brown; elongate, flaccid, pale brown, with a broad thick sub-terminal band and a long whitish-brown tip; fur of hands and face shorter; feet blackish brown; hair white-tipped; tail redder; hair elongate, one coloured red; ears rounded, hairy.—Gray.
NO. 242. HERPESTES FERRUGINEUS.
DESCRIPTION.—Resembles rufous specimens of H. pallidus, but the skull shows differences in the greater breadth of the post-orbital contraction of the frontals, and a shorter, broader muzzle, more particularly with posterior or nasal part of the palate.
* * * * *
The next species, which is included in Gray's genus Taeniogale, has the bony orbit always perfect, and the molars are 6—6/7—7.
NO. 243. HERPESTES VITTICOLLIS. The Stripe-necked Mungoose (Jerdon's No. 133).
NATIVE NAME.—Loco-moogatea, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—Southern India, Ceylon, Burmah?
DESCRIPTION.—Grizzled grey, more or less ferruginous, especially on the rump and tail; a dark stripe from the ear to the shoulder; tail rufous black at the tip; skull characteristics: large, with flattened and expanded frontal region, projected narrow muzzle and powerful teeth, larger than other Asiatic Herpestes, the last molar being proportionately greater.
SIZE.—Head and body 21 inches; tail 15 inches.
I have put Burmah in the list of places where this mungoose is found, having lately been shown by Mr. Davison the skin of a stripe-necked mungoose obtained by him in Burmah, which seemed to be of this species.
* * * * *
The next has been formed into a separate genus, Urva; the teeth are blunter than in Herpestes.
NO. 244. URVA CANCRIVORA. The Crab-eating Mungoose (Jerdon's No. 134).
HABITAT.—South-east Himalayas, Assam, and Burmah.
DESCRIPTION.—"General colour fulvous iron-grey, inner fur woolly, outer of long straggling lax hairs, generally ringed with black, white, and fulvous; in some the coat has a variegated aspect; in others a uniform tawny tint prevails, and in a few dark rusty brown mixed with grey is the prevalent hue; abdomen brown; limbs blackish-brown; a white stripe on either side of the neck from the ear to the shoulder; tail rufous or brown, with the terminal half rufous" (Jerdon). Gray's account is: "black grizzled hairs with a very broad white sub-terminal ring; a white streak on the side of the neck; legs and feet black; tail ashy red at the end."
SIZE.—Head and body, 18 inches; tail, 11 inches.
Somewhat aquatic in its habits, living on frogs and crabs. It has two anal glands, from which it can squirt a foetid secretion. It is the only mungoose mentioned in Blyth's 'Catalogue of the Mammals of Burmah,' but there are at least two more, and probably some of the Malayan species are yet to be found in Tenasserim.
This is the next and last section in the order I have adopted, of the land Carnivora, and contains the typical family Canis. All the animals that we shall have to deal with might and would be by some authors brought into this one genus, the only others recognised by them being the two African genera, Megalotis and Lycaon, the long-eared fox and the hyaena-dog, and the Nyctereutes or racoon-dog of Northern China and Amoorland. But although all our Indian species might be treated of under the one genus Canis, it will be better to keep to the separation adopted by Jerdon, and classify the wolves and jackals under Canis, and the foxes under Vulpes. As regards the wild dog of India, its dentition might warrant its being placed in a separate genus, but after all the name chosen for it is but merely a difference in sound, the two being the same thing in Latin and Greek.
But although this group contains the smallest number of forms, the varieties of the domestic dog are endless, and no part of the world is without a species of the genus, except certain islands, such as the West Indies, Madagascar, the Polynesian isles, New Zealand and the Malayan archipelago; in these territories there is no indigenous dog. I speak of dogs in its broad sense of Canis, including wolves and foxes.
The proper position of the Cynoidea should be between the bears and the cats, as in their dentition they approximate to the former, and in their digitigrade character to the latter; but, with a view to make this work concurrent with that of Jerdon's, I have accepted the position assigned by him, though it be a little out of place.
The general form of the skeleton of a dog resembles that of a feline, though the limbs may be to a certain extent longer; they also walk on the tips of their toes, but their claws are not retractile, although the ligament by which the process of retraction in the cat is effected is present in a rudimentary form, but is permanently overpowered by the greater flexor muscles. A dog's paw is therefore by no means such a wonderful piece of mechanism and example of power as that of the cat, but is feeble in comparison, and is never used as a weapon of offence, as in the case of felines, the prey being always seized by the teeth.
The skull partakes of the characteristics of both cat and bear. It departs from the simple cutting dentition of the former by the addition of two tuberculated molars in each upper jaw, or one more than the rudimentary molar in the cat, whilst the lower jaw has two extra molars on each side; the premolars are also in excess, being four in number on each side of the upper and lower jaws, whereas in the feline there are three above and two below.
There is also a difference in the lower carnassial or first molar, which impinges on the upper carnassial or fourth premolar; it has a protuberance behind, termed the heel, which is prominently marked, but it is in the molars in which the greatest deviation from the specially carnivorous dentition occurs. The incisors are somewhat larger than, but the canines and premolars approximate to, those of the felines; the crown of the incisors is cuspidate, and the premolars increase gradually in size, with the exception of the fourth in the upper jaw, the carnassial, which is treble the size of the one next to it.
But it is in the molars that we find the similarity to the semi-herbivorous bears. The last two molars on each side of the upper and lower jaws are true grinders, divided into four cusps, which suits the dog to a mixed diet.
Of course the increased number of teeth (the dog has forty-two against thirty of the cat) necessitates a prolonged muzzle, and therefore the skull has more of the bear than the cat shape. The nasal bones are long, the zygomatic arch smaller, but it has the ear-bulb or bulla tympani, so conspicuous in the cat and wanting in the bear, yet the character of the aperture of the ear or auditory meatus approaches that of the latter, as the margins of its outer aperture are somewhat prolonged into a short tube or spout, instead of being flush, as in the felines. Then the bony clamp or par-occipital process, which in the cats is fixed against the hinder end of the bulla, is in the dogs separated by a decided groove.
The intestinal peculiarities of this section consist of a very large caecum or blind gut, which is small in the cats and wholly absent in the bears, and in the very long intestines. Some have a sub-caudal gland secreting a pungent whey-like matter.
GENUS CANIS—THE DOG.
Muzzle obtuse; tail short; no caudal gland.
Dental formula: inc., 6/6; can., 1—1/1—1; premolar, 4—4/4—4; molar, 2—2/3—3.
This genus contains the wolf and the jackal, as well as the dog proper.
The origin of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is involved in obscurity; it is mentioned in its domestic state and in an infinity of varieties in records of remote ages. Job talks of "the dogs of my flock," and in the Assyrian monuments, as far back as 3400 years before Christ, various forms are represented; and in Egypt not only representations of known varieties, easy to be recognised, are found, but numerous mummies have been exhumed, the animal having been held in special veneration. There is a preponderance of opinion strongly in favour of the theory that the domestic dog sprang from the wolf, and much argument has been advanced in support of this idea. The principal objection made to this by those who hold opposite views is the fact that no dog in a wild state barks, but only howls.
Now for the evidence adduced in support of the former assertion; some domesticated species of dog closely resembling the wild wolf.
Sir John Richardson says of the Eskimo dog that it is not only extremely like the North American wolf (Canis lupus), both in form, colour, and nearly in size, but that the howl of both animals "is prolonged so exactly in the same key that even the practised ear of an Indian fails at times to discriminate them." He adds of the dog of the Hare Indians, a distinct breed, that it is almost the same as the prairie wolf (Canis latrans), the skull of the dog appeared to him a little smaller, otherwise he could detect no difference in form, nor fineness of fur, nor the arrangement of spots of colour.
Professor Kitchen Parker writes: "Another observer remarks that, except in the matter of barking, there is no difference whatever between the black wolf-dog of the Indians of Florida and the wolves of the same country. The dogs also breed readily with the wild animals they so closely resemble. The Indians often cross their dogs with wolves to improve the breed, and in South America the same process is resorted to between the domesticated and the wild dogs." He then goes on to allude to many varieties of dogs closely resembling wolves—the shepherd dog of Hungary, which is so like that a Hungarian has been known to mistake a wolf for one of his own dogs. Some Indian pariahs, and some dogs of Egypt, both now and in the condition of mummies, closely resemble the wolf of their country. The domestic dogs of Nubia and certain mummified forms are closely related to jackals. The Bosjesman's dog is very like the black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas). Domestic dogs which have run wild do in some measure, though not entirely, revert to the wolf type. The dingo of Australia is thought to be derived from some imported variety of dog. The wolf is easily tamed, and even in its wild state has some of the peculiarities of the dog; for instance, a young wolf, when surprised and threatened by the hunter, will crouch and fawn like a spaniel. Mr. Bell tells of a she-wolf in the Regent's Park Zoological Gardens which would bring her cubs to the bars of the cage, that they might be caressed by the visitors; and there is a most interesting account, too long for insertion here, in the third volume of the old India Sporting Review (new series) chiefly taken from Major Lloyd's 'Scandinavian Adventures,' of the tameability of wolves, giving an instance of two cubs out of a litter of three becoming as faithfully attached as any dog. The period of gestation (sixty-three days) is the same in both animals, and they will interbreed freely, the progeny being also fertile. There only now remains the question of the bark, which, singularly enough, is peculiar to the domesticated dog only, and may have arisen in imitation of the gruffer tones of the human voice. The domestic dog run wild will in a few generations lose the power of barking. This happened on the island of Juan Fernandez; the dogs left there quite lost their bark in thirty-three years, and it is said that a few caught and removed after that period reacquired it very slowly. We may then, I think, accept Darwin's opinion that "it is highly probable that the domestic dogs of the world have descended from two good species of wolf (C. lupus and C. latrans), and from two or three other doubtful species of wolves (namely, the European, Indian, and North African forms), from at least one or two South American canine species, and from several races or species of the jackal."
NO. 245. CANIS PALLIPES. The Indian Wolf (Jerdon's No. 135).
NATIVE NAMES.—Bheria, Bhera, North and Central India; Landagh, South India; Nekra, in some parts; Bighana, Hunder, or Hurar, in Bundelkund; Tola, Canarese; Toralu, Telegu.
HABITAT.—Throughout the whole of India, though Hodgson says he has not found it in the Himalayas, nor can I find any notice of it in Burmah, and it is likewise absent in Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—"Hoary fulvous or dirty reddish-white, some of the hairs tipped with black, which gives it a grizzled appearance; somewhat reddish on the face and limbs, the latter paler than the body; lower parts dingy white; tail thinly bushy, slightly black-tipped; ears rather small" (Jerdon). But, as a matter of fact, wolves vary greatly in colour. Every one who has seen much of them will bear testimony to this. Sir Walter Elliot says: "Several adults that I shot differed in their colours and general character." The late Brigadier-General McMaster, in his notes on Jerdon, wrote: "Wolves vary a good deal in colour and length of hair, probably with season and climate. I have seen some of light reddish-grey, and others much darker than any jackal;" and he speaks of another "nearly as red as an Irish setter."
SIZE.—Head and body, about 3 feet; tail, 16 to 18 inches; height at shoulder, 26 inches.
The Indian wolf is somewhat inferior in size to the European one, and is probably less ferocious, or at all events its ferocity is not called out by the severity of the climate, as in the case of C. lupus. We never hear of them attacking bodies of men and overwhelming them by numbers. In 1812 twenty-four French soldiers were surrounded by an immense troop of wolves; and though, it is said, the men killed two or three hundred of their assailants, they had to succumb at last to numbers, and were all devoured. This was doubtless an extreme case, but in the severe winters of the north, when these animals band together and roam abroad in search of food, they will attack anything that comes in their way, although a single wolf will hardly ever dare to meddle with a man.
In India one seldom hears of their attacking grown-up men. I remember an instance in which an old woman was a victim; but hundreds of children are carried off annually, especially in Central India and the North-west provinces.
Stories have been related of wolves sparing and suckling young infants so carried off, which, if properly authenticated, will bring the history of Romulus and Remus within the bounds of probability. I have not by me just now the details of the case of the "Boy-Wolf" of Lucknow, which was, I believe, a case vouched for by credible witnesses. It was that of a boy found in a wolf's lair, who had no power of speech, crawled about on his hands and knees, ate raw flesh, and who showed great wildness in captivity. I think he died soon after being caught. The story of the nursing is not improbable, for well-known instances have been recorded of the ferae, when deprived of their young, adopting young animals, even of those on whom they usually prey. Cats have been known to suckle young leverets. The wolf in its wild state is particularly partial to dog as an article of diet, yet in confinement it will attach itself to its domesticated canine companions, and interbreed with them. A writer in the India Sporting Review, vol. vi. of 1847, page 252, quoted by McMaster, says he received from Dr. Jameson, Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens at Saharunpore, a hybrid, the produce of a tame female wolf and a pointer dog. This hybrid died when twenty months old, and is said to have been mild and gentle; its howl seems to have had more of the bark in it than the cry of the hybrid jackal, and to have been more dog-like. "It exactly resembled the coarse black pariah to be seen about Loodhiana and Ferozepore," the black colour doubtless coming from the pointer sire. As General McMaster remarks, it would be interesting to know what the colours of the rest of the litter were. Wolves do, I think, get light-coloured with great age. I remember once having one brought into my camp for the usual reward by a couple of small boys, the elder not more than ten or twelve years of age, I should think. The beast was old and emaciated, and very light coloured, and, doubtless impelled by hunger, attacked the children, as they were herding cattle, with a view to dining off them; but the elder boy had a small axe, such as is commonly carried by the Gonds, and, manfully standing his ground, split the wolf's skull with a blow—a feat of which he was justly proud.
Sir Walter Elliot's description of the manner in which wolves hunt has been quoted by Jerdon and others, but, as it is interesting, I reproduce it here:—
"The wolves of the southern Mahratta country generally hunt in packs, and I have seen them in full chase after the goat antelope Gazella Arabica (Bennettii ?). They likewise steal round the herd of Antilope cervicapra and conceal themselves on different sides till an opportunity offers of seizing one of them unawares as they approach, while grazing, to one or other of their hidden assailants. On one occasion three wolves were seen to chase a herd of gazelle across a ravine in which two others were lying in wait. They succeeded in seizing a female gazelle, which was taken from them. They have frequently been seen to course, and run down hares and foxes; and it is a common belief of the ryots that in the open plains, where there is no cover or concealment, they scrape a hole in the earth, in which one of the pack lies down and remains hid, while the others drive the herd of antelope over him. Their chief prey, however, is sheep; and the shepherds say that part of the pack attack, and keep the dogs in play, while others carry off their prey, and that, if pursued, they follow the same plan, part turning and checking the dogs, while the rest drag away the carcase, till they evade pursuit. Instances are not uncommon of their attacking man. In 1824 upwards of thirty children were devoured by wolves in one pergunnah alone. Sometimes a large wolf is seen to seek his prey singly; these are called Won-tola, and are reckoned particularly fierce."
McMaster corroborates the account of wolves hiding themselves by scratching holes in the ground whilst antelope were quietly walking up to the ambush; and there is a most amusing account given by Major Lloyd, in his 'Scandinavian Adventures,' of the wiles of a tame wolf in her efforts to get young pigs within her reach. He says: "When she saw a pig in the vicinity of her kennel, she evidently, with the purpose of putting him off his guard, would throw herself on her side or back, wag her tail most lovingly, and look innocence personified; and this amicable demeanour would continue until the grunter was beguiled within reach of her tether, when, in the twinkling of an eye, 'Richard was himself again!'" Major Lloyd asserts that but for this penchant for his neighbours' pigs he would have trained this wolf as a pointer.
Jerdon states that he has known wolves turn on dogs that were running at their heels, and pursue them smartly till close up to his horse. He adds: "A wolf once joined with my greyhounds in pursuit of a fox, which was luckily killed almost immediately afterwards, or the wolf might have seized one of the dogs instead of the fox. He sat down on his haunches, about sixty yards off, whilst the dogs were worrying the fox, looking on with great apparent interest, and was with difficulty driven away."
NO. 246. CANIS LANIGER (LUPUS CHANCO of Gray). The Thibetan Wolf.
NATIVE NAMES.—Chanko, Changu.
DESCRIPTION.—Yellowish-grey, with long soft hairs (Kinloch). Long sharp face, elevated brows, broad head, large pointed ears, thick woolly pelage, and very full brush of medial length; above dull earth-brown; below, with the entire face and limbs, yellowish-white; no marks on limbs; tail concolourous with the body, that is brown above and yellowish below, and no dark tip (Hodgson).
SIZE.—Length, 4 feet; tail, 20 inches; height, 30 inches.
Hodgson says this animal is common all over Thibet, and is a terrible depredator among the flocks, or, as Kinloch writes: "apparently preferring the slaughter of tame animals to the harder task of circumventing wild ones." The great Bhotea mastiff is chiefly employed to guard against it. According to Hodgson the chanko has a long, sharp face, with the muzzle or nude space round the nostrils produced considerably beyond the teeth, and furnished with an unusually large lateral process, by which the nostrils are much overshadowed sideways and nearly closed. The eye is small and placed nearer to the ear than to the nose; the brows are considerably elevated by the large size of the frontal sinuses; the ears are large and gradually tapered to a point from their broad bases, and they have the ordinary fissure towards their posteal base; the head is broad; the teeth large and strong; the body long and lank, the limbs elevated and very powerful; the brush extends to half-way between the mid-flexure (os calcis) of the hind limbs and their pads, and is as full as that of a fox.
The fur or pelage is remarkable for its extreme woolliness, the hairy piles being few and sparely scattered amongst the woolliness, which is most abundant; the head as far as the ears, the ears, and the limbs are clad in close ordinary hair; the belly is thinly covered with longer hairs; but all the rest of the animal is clothed in a thick sheep-like coat, which is most abundant on the neck above and below. Gray ('P. Z. S.,' 1863, p. 94) says: "The skull is very much like, and has the same teeth as the European wolf (C. lupus)," but in this I think he is mistaken, as the upper carnassial in C. lupus is much larger than in any of the Asiatic wolves, and in this particular C. laniger is affined to C. pallipes. There is a black variety of the chanko, as there is of the European wolf, and by some he is considered a distinct species, but is really a melanoid variety, though Kinloch writes: "The black chanko is rather larger than the grey one; he is of a beautiful glossy black, with a small white star on the chest and a few grey hairs about the muzzle." He was fortunate enough to secure two cubs of this variety. "They fed ravenously on raw meat, and before long became pretty tame." After accompanying him for two months he left them at the hill station of Kussowlie, fearing that the heat at Meerut might prove too great for them; at the end of 2-1/2 months they were sent down. "By this time they had immensely increased in size, but, although they had not seen me for so long, they recognised me, and also my greyhound, of which they had previously been very fond. They soon became much attached to me, and would fawn on me like dogs, licking my face and hands; they were always, however, ready to growl and snap at a stranger. I took them to Agra at the time of the great Durbar there, and used to let them loose in camp with my dogs, so tame had they become."
He eventually presented them to the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park, and their portraits appeared in the Illustrated London News of November 21st, 1868. Whether the skins purchased at Kashgar by the Yarkand Mission were of C. laniger or lupus is doubtful, as no skulls were procured. In some particulars they seem to agree with the chanko in being rather larger (i.e., larger than pallipes); the hair long, and the under fur ash-grey and woolly, but the black line down the forelegs is like C. lupus. It is not stated whether the tail was dark-tipped or not, the absence of this dark tip, common to most other wolves, is a point noticed by Hodgson in speaking of C. laniger. Mr. Blanford describes another skin which was purchased at Kashgar, and which he supposes may belong to a new species, but there was no skull with it—it is that of a smaller canine, midway between a wolf and a jackal, the prevailing tint being black, mixed with pale rufous, and white along the back and upper surface of the tail; pale rufous on the flanks, limbs, anterior portion of the abdomen and under the tail; a distinct black line down the front of each foreleg; upper part of head rufous, mixed with whitish and black, the forehead being greyer, owing to the white tips to the hairs; the tip of the tail is quite black, and the tail itself is short, as in the jackal, but more bushy, the feet larger than the common jackal—a short, bushy tail agrees with Cuon, so also does the large foot.
NO. 247. CANIS LUPUS. The European Wolf.
HABITAT.—All over Europe and Northern Asia, in Turkestan and Yarkand(?)
DESCRIPTION.—Fur long and coarse, dark yellowish-grey, sometimes almost black, but there is a good deal of variation in both colour and texture of the hair according to the country, whether cold or warm, from which the animal comes; a dark streak on the forelegs; the carnassial tooth is however the chief point of distinction between this and the Indian and Thibetan species; it is very much larger in the European animal, approximating to, and sometimes exceeding in size, the two molars together, which is not the case with the others. Mr. Blanford, in his report on the Mammalia of Yarkand published by Government in the 'Scientific Results of the Second Yarkand Mission,' quotes from Professor Jeitteles, of Vienna, the opinion that none of the larger domestic dogs could have descended from the European wolf, because of the relative proportions of their teeth, but that all must have been derived from the Indian wolf or from allied forms.
SIZE.—Head and body, 3-1/2 to 4 feet; tail, 20 inches; height, about 30 to 32 inches.
Mr. Blanford supposes, and with some degree of reason, that the flat skins purchased at Kashgar were those of this species; but unfortunately the absence of the skulls must for the present leave this in doubt, as variations in colour and texture of fur are frequent and dependent on climatic conditions.
NO. 248. CANIS AUREUS. The Jackal (Jerdon's No. 136).
NATIVE NAMES.—Srigala, Sanscrit; Geedhur, Hindi; Shial, Sial, Siar and Shialu, Bengali; Kola, Mahrathi; Nari, Canarese; Nakka, Telegu; Nerka, Gondi; Shingal or Sjekal, Persia; Amu, Bhotia; Myae-khawae, Burmese; Nareeah, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—Throughout India, Burmah, and Ceylon; it is found over a great part of Asia, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa.
DESCRIPTION.—"Fur dusky yellowish or rufous grey, the hairs being mottled black, grey, and brown, with the under fur brownish yellow; lower parts yellowish-grey; the tail reddish-brown, ending in a darkish tuft; more or less rufous on the muzzle and limbs; tail moderately hairy."—Jerdon.
SIZE.—Head and body, 28 to 30 inches; tail, 10 or 11 inches; height, 16 to 18 inches.
The jackal is one of our best-known animals, both as a prowler and scavenger, in which capacity he is useful, and as a disturber of our midnight rest by his diabolical yells, in which peculiarity he is to be looked upon as an unmitigated nuisance.
He is mischievous too occasionally, and will commit havoc amongst poultry and young kids and lambs, but, as a general rule, he is a harmless, timid creature, and when animal food fails he will take readily to vegetables. Indian corn seems to be one of the things chiefly affected by him; the fruit of the wild behr-tree (Zizyphus jujuba) is another, as I have personally witnessed. In Ceylon he is said to devour large quantities of ripe coffee-berries, the seeds, which pass through entire, are carefully gathered by the coolies, who get an extra fee for the labour, and are found to be the best for germination, as the animal picks the finest fruit. According to Sykes he devastates the vineyards in the west of India, and is said to be partial to sugar-cane. The jackal is credited with digging corpses out of the shallow graves, and devouring bodies. I once came across the body of a child in the vicinity of a jungle village which had been unearthed by one. At Seonee we had, at one time, a plague of mad jackals, which did much damage. Sir Emerson Tennent writes of a curious horn or excrescence which grows on the head of the jackal occasionally, which is regarded by the Singhalese as a potent charm, by the instrumentality of which every wish can be realised, and stolen property will return of its own accord! This horn, which is called Nari-comboo, is said to grow only on the head of the leader of the pack.
The domestic dog is supposed to owe its origin to this species, as well as to the wolf, but all conjecture on this point can be but pure speculation. Certain it is that the pariahs about villages are strikingly like jackals, at least in many cases, and they will freely interbreed.
The writer in the India Sporting Review alluded to by me in writing of the wolf, mentions some experiments made in crossing dogs with jackals. "First cross, hybrid between a female jackal and Scotch terrier dog, or half jackal and half dog; second cross, between the hybrid jackal and terrier, or quarter jackal and three-quarters dog; third cross between the quarter jackal and terrier, or seven-eighths dog and one-eighth jackal. Of the five pups comprising the litter, of which the last was one, two were fawn-coloured and very like pariahs, while three had the precise livery of the jackal; noses sharp and pointed; ears large and erect; head and muzzle like the jackal. This cross, he remarks, appears to have gone back a generation, and to have resembled the jackal much more than their mother, whose appearance, with the exception of the very sharp muzzle, although she had so much jackal blood, was that of a sleek, well-fed pariah dog, colour yellow fawn, but her gait and gallop were precisely that of the jackal."—McMaster.
Dentition as in restricted Canis, but wanting the second grinder behind the flesh-tooth in the lower jaw; the nose is short; skull arched; the forehead broad, convex, and gradually shelving from the nose line; nasals long, produced behind the hinder upper edge of the maxillaries.
NO. 249. CANIS (CUON) RUTILANS. The Indian Wild Dog (Jerdon's No. 137).
NATIVE NAMES.—Jungli-kutta; Son-kutta; Ban-kutta, Ram-kutta, Hindi; Kolsun, Kolusna, Kolsa and Kolasra, Mahrathi; Reza-kutta, Adavi-kutta, Telegu; Shen-nai, Malabarese; Eram-naiko, Gondi; Sakki-sarai, at Hyderabad; Ram-hun in Kashmir; Siddaki, Thibetan, in Ladakh; Suhu-tum, Lepcha; Paoho, Bhotea; Bhaosa, Bhoonsa, Buansu in the Himalayas, generally from Simla to Nepal (Jerdon); Tao-khwae, Burmese; Assoo-adjakh, Assoo-kikkee, Javanese; Oesoeng-esang, Sundese; An-jing Utan, Malay; Hazzee, Thibetan.
HABITAT.—The whole of India and down the Burmese country to the Malayan archipelago, but not in Ceylon, although Jerdon asserts that it is common there. I however cannot find any authority for this, and both Kellaart and Sir Emerson Tennent affirm that there are no wild dogs in Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour bright rusty or red, somewhat paler beneath; ears large and erect, round at the tips; large, hairy-soled feet; very bushy, straight tail, reaching half-way from the hough to the sole, with a dark tip. It stands lower in front than behind; and, though somewhat resembling a jackal, has an unmistakable canine physiognomy; the eye is fuller and better placed, and forehead broader, and the muzzle less pointed.
SIZE.—Head and body, 32 to 36 inches; tail, 16 inches; height 17 to 20 inches.
It has been supposed that there were two or three species of wild dog to be found within the limits of British India, but it is now, I think, conclusively settled that the Malayan and Indian species are one, and that those from Darjeeling and other hills, which showed variation, are the same, with slight differences caused by climate. They are certainly not canine in disposition; the wolf and jackal are much more so, for in confinement they are as ill-conditioned brutes as it is possible to conceive. Those in the Regent's Park Gardens are active, snappy, snarly, wild-looking creatures. Hodgson writes of them: "Those I kept in confinement, when their den was approached, rushed into the remotest corner of it; huddled one upon another, with their heads concealed as much as possible. I never dared to lay hands on them, but if poked with a stick they would retreat from it as long as they could, and then crush themselves into a corner, growling low, and sometimes, but rarely, seizing the stick and biting it with vehemence. After ten months' confinement they were as wild and shy as the first hour I got them. Their eyes emitted a strong light in the dark, and their bodies had the peculiar foetid odour of the fox and jackal in all its rankness." McMaster sent one to the People's Park, at Madras, which he obtained in Burmah, and says of her: "'Evangeline,' as she is named, is certainly though an interesting and rare creature to have in a museum or wild-beast show, the most snarling, ill-mannered, and detestable beast I have ever owned." "Hawkeye," whose most interesting paper on the wild dog appeared in the South of India Observer, of January 7th, 1869, alludes to "Evangeline" in the following terms:—"I saw the beast at the People's Park, and a more untameable wretch I never met with; and why so fair a name for such a savage de'il, I know not." It is strange that the most dog-like of the wild canines should refuse domestication when even the savage European wolf has become so attached as to pine during the absence of his master. Jesse, in his 'History of the British Dog,' relates that a lady near Geneva had a tame wolf, which was so attached that when, on one occasion, she left home for a while he refused food and pined. On her return, when he heard her voice, he flew to meet her in an ecstasy of delight; springing up, he placed a paw on each of her shoulders, and the next moment fell backwards and expired. The wild dog, however, refuses all endearments, and keeps his savage nature to the last. I have never heard of their attacking men, but few four-footed beasts, even of large size, escape them. Fortunately they are not as common as jackals, otherwise little game would be left in the country. During my residence in the Seonee district from 1857 to 1864, I only came across them two or three times. Their mode of hunting has been described by various writers—Hodgson, Elliot, Jerdon, and others of less reliability—but one of the best descriptions, which I regret I have not space for in extenso, is that to which I have already alluded as written by "Hawkeye," and which may be found in the paper above mentioned, and also in McMaster's notes on Jerdon; but I give a few extracts:—
"Generally speaking, however, the wild dog has not been known to be the aggressor against mankind; and, though not displaying much dread of man, has hitherto refrained from actual attack, for I have never heard of any case proving it otherwise; at the same time it is well known and an established fact that the tiger and leopard are often driven away by these dogs. It is uncertain whether they really attack with intent to kill either the one or the other, but that they have been repeatedly seen following both there is no question. The wild dog in appearance bears much similitude to the English fox; he is however larger, and stands some inches higher, and has no white tip to his tail, which, with his muzzle, is perfectly black. The muscular development all over the body is extraordinary. One that I shot, when skinned, was a most perfect specimen of thews and sinews I ever beheld." He describes various hunts by packs of these dogs, in one of which, witnessed by a brother sportsman, the dogs, five in number, in pressing a Sambar stag, spread themselves out like a fan, which he considers a matter of instinct, so that in case of a flank movement the outer dogs would have a chance; in this case however the stag kept straight on, and, the ground being precipitous, he managed to escape. The evidence produced tends to confirm the opinion that the wild dog endeavours to seize the quarry by the flanks and tear out the entrails. According to Hodgson the buansu, as it is called in Nepal, runs in a long, lobbing canter, unapt at the double, and considers it inferior in speed to the jackal and fox. It hunts chiefly by day. Six or eight, or more, unite to hunt down their victim, maintaining the chase more by power of smell than by the eye, and usually overcome by force and perseverance, though occasionally mixing stratagem with direct violence. He asserts that in hunting they bark like hounds, but their barking is in such a voice as no language can express. "Hawkeye," however, states that the wild dog does not throw his tongue when in chase; he has heard them make a kind of tremulous whimper.
The stories of their attacking and killing tigers must be received with caution, though it is certain they will harass both tigers and leopards. I wrote some time back, in 'Seonee': "The natives in all parts of India declare that even tigers are attacked by them; and we once heard a very circumstantial account given of a fight, which took place near the station of Seonee, between a tiger and a pack of these dogs, in which the latter were victors. They followed him about cautiously, avoiding too close a contact, and worried him for three successive days—a statement which should be received with caution. We have, however, heard of them annoying a tiger to such an extent as to make him surrender to them the prey which he had killed for himself."
I agree with Jerdon in disbelieving the native superstition that the wild dog sheds a pungent secretion on his tail, and whisks it in the eyes of the animals it attacks, or covers the leaves of the bushes through which the victim graze, and then takes advantage of the temporary blindness thus caused; but it is a curious fact that the idea is prevalent in all parts of India, north and south, and has been accepted by many writers on Indian sports.
The wild dog dwells and breeds in holes and caves in rocks. The breeding season is from January to March, and about six whelps are born at a time. The mammae are more numerous than in any other canine—from twelve to fourteen. Jerdon notices that Mr. Wilson at Simla discovered a breeding-place in holes under some rocks, where evidently several females were breeding together. At such times they endeavour to hunt their game towards their den, and kill it as near to it as possible.
The foxes form a distinct group of the Canidae; their bodies are long, with short legs, the muzzle more lengthened in comparison and much sharper, and the pupil of the eye contracts vertically instead of circularly; the tail is very bushy, with a gland at the base secreting a strong odorous substance. The female has six mammae. There are two types in India—the desert fox or fox of the plains, Cynalopex of Hamilton Smith; and the hill fox, which approximates to the European species. The former has longer ears and longer and more slender limbs.
NO. 250. VULPES BENGALENSIS. The Indian Fox (Jerdon's No. 138).
NATIVE NAMES.—Lomri, Lokri, Lokeria, Hindi; Kokri, Mahrathi; Khekar and Khikir in Behar; Khek-sial, Bengali; Konk, Kemp-nari, Chanaak-nari, Canarese; Konka-nakka or Gunta-nakka, Poti-nara, Telegu.—Jerdon.
HABITAT.—Throughout India; probably Ceylon, as Kellaart mentions having heard of a fox there, but I cannot trace it, or any other, in Burmah.
DESCRIPTION.—"Reddish-grey; rufous on the legs and muzzle; reddish white beneath; ears long dark brown externally; tail long bushy, with a broad black tip; muzzle very acute; chin and throat whitish."—Jerdon.
Here is Colonel Sykes's description of it in Southern India:—
"It is a very pretty animal, but smaller than the European fox; head short; muzzle very sharp; eyes oblique; irides nut-brown; legs very slender; tail trailing on the ground, very bushy; along the back and on the forehead fawn colour, with hair having a white ring to its tip; back, neck, between the eyes, along the sides, and half way down the tail reddish-grey; each hair banded black and reddish-white; all the legs reddish outside, reddish-white inside; chin and throat dirty white; along the belly reddish-white; ears externally dark brown, and with the fur so short as to be scarcely discoverable; edges of eyelids black; muzzle red brown."
The colour however varies a good deal, according to season and locality. It becomes more grey in the cold season. McMaster writes that he once killed one silvery grey, almost white.
SIZE.—Head and body, 20 to 21 inches; tail, 12 to 14 inches; weight, 5-1/2 lbs.
This fox is common, not only in open country, but even in cantonments and suburbs of cities. Hardly a night passes without its familiar little chattering bark in the Dalhousie Square gardens, or on the Maidan, being heard; and few passengers running up and down our railway lines, who are on the look-out for birds and animals as the train whirls along, fail to see in the early morning our little grey friend sneaking home with his brush trailing behind him.
Jerdon says of the manner in which he carries this that he trails it when going slowly or hunting for food; holds it out horizontal when running; and raises it almost erect when making a sudden turn.
It also, like the jackal; will eat fruit, such as melons, ber, &c., and herbs. It breeds in the spring, from February to April, and has four cubs. Jerdon says the cubs are seldom to be seen outside their earth till nearly full grown. It is much coursed with greyhounds, and gives most amusing sport, doubling constantly till it gets near an earth; but it has little or no smell, so its scent does not lie.
Sir Walter Elliot wrote of it in the Madras Journal of Literature and Science (vol. x. p. 102): "Its principal food is rats, land-crabs, grasshoppers, beetles, &c. On one occasion a half-devoured mango was found in the stomach. It always burrows in open plains, runs with great speed, doubling like a hare; but instead of stretching out at first like that animal, and trusting to its turns as a last resource, the fox turns more at first; and, if it can fatigue the dogs, it then goes straight away."
It is easily tamed if taken young, and is very playful, but Jerdon, in repeating the assertion that tame foxes sooner or later go mad, says he has known one or two instances where they have done so; but McMaster throws doubt on this, and puts the supposed madness down to excitement at the amorous season. He gives an interesting account of a pair kept by a friend, which lived on amicable terms with his greyhounds. The owner writes: "I sometimes took them on to the parade ground, and slipped a couple of greyhounds after them. They never ran far, as when tired they lay down on their backs, and were at once recognised by the dogs. On one occasion one fox was tired before the other, and after he had made friends with the dogs he joined them in the chase after the other."
NO. 251. VULPES LEUCOPUS. The Desert Fox (Jerdon's No. 139).
HABITAT.—Northern India, and also on the Western Coast about Cutch.
DESCRIPTION.—"Light fulvous on the face, middle of back and upper part of tail; cheeks, sides of neck and body, inner side, and most of the fore parts of the limbs, white; shoulder and haunch, and outside of the limbs nearly to the middle joint, mixed black and white; tail darker at the base above, largely tipped with white; lower parts nigrescent; ears black posteriorly; fur soft and fine as in V. montanus, altogether dissimilar from that of V. Bengalensis. The skull with the muzzle distinctly narrower, and the lower jaw weaker. One I killed at Hissar had the upper parts fulvous, the hair black-tipped; sides paler; whole lower parts from the chin, including the inside of the arm and thigh, blackish; feet white on the inner side anteriorly, with a blackish border on the anterior limbs; legs fulvous externally; all feet white; tail always with a white tip."—Jerdon.
SIZE.—Head and body, 20 inches; tail, 14 inches; weight, 5-1/2 lbs.
According to Mountstuart Elphinstone the backs of the foxes in Hurriana are of the same colour as the common fox, but in one part of the desert their legs and belly, up to a certain height, are black, and in another white—the one seems to have been wading up to the belly in ink, and the other in whitewash.
This fox lives chiefly on the jerboa-rat (Gerbillus Indicus) common on sandy plains. Jerdon thinks it more speedy than the common Indian fox.
NO. 252. VULPES FERRILATUS. The Thibetan Grey Fox.
NATIVE NAME.—Iger, Thibetan.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale fulvous, with grizzled white or iron-grey sides; shorter ears than in the Indian fox.
* * * * *
We now come to the true foxes, with shorter legs and moderate ears.
NO. 253. VULPES MONTANUS. The Hill Fox (Jerdon's No. 140).
NATIVE NAMES.—Loh, Kashmiri; Lomri, Hindi, at Simla; Wamu, Nepalese.
HABITAT.—Throughout the Himalayas.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale fulvous, with a dark brownish or deep chestnut streak down the back; sides deeper fulvous; the haunches a steely grey, mixed with yellowish hairs; tail grey and very bushy, largely tipped with white; ears deep black on outside; cheeks and jowl greyish-white; moustaches black; legs chestnut in front, paling off behind.
SIZE.—Head and body, 30 inches; tail, 19 inches; weight, 14 lbs.
Not at all unlike an English fox, only more variegated. The foregoing description is taken chiefly from a very fine specimen shot in the garden of the house in which I stayed at Simla; but it is subject to great variation, and is in its chief beauty in its winter dress. Several specimens which I have seen are all more or less different in colour. I have never seen a handsomer fox; the fur is extremely rich, the longer hairs exceeding two inches, and the inner fur is fine and dense. It is said to breed in April and May, the female usually having three to four cubs.
NO. 254. VULPES PUSILLUS. The Punjab Fox (Jerdon's No. 141).
HABITAT.—Punjab Salt Range.
DESCRIPTION.—Similar to the last, but much smaller, being about the size of the Indian fox. Jerdon suggests that it may be a variety of the last species, dwarfed by a warmer climate, but Blyth and others keep it apart.
NO. 255. VULPES FLAVESCENS. The Persian Fox.
NATIVE NAMES.—Tulke, at Yarkand; Wamu, Nepalese.
HABITAT.—Eastern Turkestan, Ladakh, Persia, and, according to Gray, Indian Salt Range; Thibet.
DESCRIPTION.—Fulvous, darker on back, very similar to V. montanus, only more generally rufous and paler, with longer hair and larger teeth; face, outer side of fore-legs and base of tail pale fulvous; spot on side of face, chin, front of fore-legs, and a round spot on upper part of hind foot blackish; hairs of tail tipped black; ears externally black; tail tipped largely with white. The skull of one mentioned by Mr. Blanford had larger auditory bullae than either the European fox or V. montanus.