Blyth has seen a squirrel of this species renewing its coat, and assuming a variegated appearance during its transition to the breeding dress.
A jet-black squirrel of the same proportion occurs in Sylhet and Cachar, which Dr. Anderson is inclined to think belongs also to this species.
We may, therefore, regard the following as being the same as S. lokroides, viz., S. Assamensis, S. Blythii, S. similis, and the black one, which has apparently not been named.
Jerdon states that these squirrels are mostly seen in the autumn when the chestnuts, of which they are very fond, ripen.
NO. 279. SCIURUS PYGERYTHRUS.
HABITAT.—Burmah (Lower Pegu, and common in the neighbourhood of Rangoon).
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts dark olive grey; basal third of the tail concolorous with the back, its latter two-thirds ringed olive-yellow and black; the tip black; feet olive grey, sometimes washed with yellowish; under surface and inside of limbs orange yellow, which extends also along the middle of the under part of the tail. Paler varieties occur. The skull of this species is smaller than those of S. caniceps, S. Phayrei and S. Blanfordii.
NO. 280. SCIURUS CANICEPS. The Golden-backed Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Burmah (Upper Tenasserim and Tavoy).
DESCRIPTION.—General colour grey or fulvous above; limbs outside grizzled grey; feet yellowish-grey; in some cases the nape, shoulders, and upper parts of back are vivid light ferruginous or golden fulvous, sometimes extending downwards on to the base of the tail. Some have only a trace of this colouring, others none at all. There is infinite variety of colouring in this species, as I observed in my remarks on the genus, and it is closely allied to the next three, if they do not ultimately prove to be the same.
"Out of a large series of specimens referable to S. caniceps, the males illustrate three phases of colouring, associated with a difference in the character of the fur. The first is a grey, the second a yellowish, and the third a phase in which the back becomes brilliant yellowish-red."—Anderson.
NO. 281. SCIURUS PHAYREI. The Laterally-banded or Phayre's Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Burmah. Common in Martaban; has also been obtained at Tounghu.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts dark olive grey; lower parts rich orange red; the same colour being more or less continued along the under surface of the tail; the orange colour extends over the inside of the limbs, the front of the thigh and on the feet; the fore-limbs are dusky outside, with pale rufous yellow feet. Its chief distinguishing mark is a brown well-defined dark band on the flanks between the colour of the upper and lower parts.
NO. 282. SCIURUS BLANFORDII. Blanford's Squirrel.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale grey above, finely punctulated with black and grey; tail concolorous, with a black tip; under parts pale orange yellow; hands and feet yellow. Dr. Anderson shot a female at Pudeepyo, in the beginning of January, which had a distinct tendency to the formation of a dusky lateral stripe, as in the last species; the under-parts also were much more rich orange than in the type of this species. In the grey phase of S. caniceps that species is so like S. Blanfordii in the colouring of the upper parts and feet that it is almost impossible to distinguish them, but, according to Dr. Anderson, "on examining the under parts it is found that in these phases of S. caniceps they are grey, whereas in S. Blanfordii they are a beautiful rich orange, and the feet are yellow."
Before proceeding to the next species, which is a better marked one, I will quote one more passage from Dr. Anderson's careful comparison of the four preceding squirrels. "S. Phayrei corresponds in the colour of the upper fur to the yellow phase of S. caniceps, and the tail is the same as in it, having a black tip, which is the character also that that appendage has in S. pygerythrus. In some examples of S. Phayrei the dusky or blackish is not confined to the lateral line, but extends over the outside of the fore-limbs, the feet being always yellow in squirrels presenting these characters. Some specimens of S. pygerythrus show a distinct tendency to have yellow feet, and further research will probably prove S. Phayrei to be only a variety of S. pygerythrus. When Blyth first encountered this form, he simply regarded it as a variety of S. pygerythrus, and I believe his first opinion will be ultimately found to be more in accordance with the real interpretation of the facts than the conclusion he afterwards adopted. In the Paris Museum there is an example of S. Blanfordii from Upper Burmah which distinctly shows a dark lateral streak, so that, taking into consideration the other examples to which I have already referred, there seems to be a presumption that it and S. Phayrei are one and the same species, and that they are probably identical with S. pygerythrus; moreover, my impression is that a more extensive series will establish their identity with S. caniceps. This view of the question is also supported by a small series of these squirrels in the Leyden Museum from Tounghu in Upper Burmah, presented by the Marquis of Tweeddale. From the characters manifested by these squirrels, and the circumstances that they were all shot in one locality, they are of great interest. One is an adult, and in its upper parts it exactly resembles S. Blanfordii, also in its yellow feet and black tip to its tail, but, like S. Phayrei, it has a broad blackish-brown lateral stripe. The others are smaller, and resemble the foregoing specimens in all their characters, except that they have no dark lateral streak, and that the feet of two are concolorous with the upper parts, while in the remaining squirrel the feet appear to be changing to yellow, as in the adult. The two former of these, therefore, conform to the type of S. pygerythrus, but the fur of the upper parts is greyer and not so richly coloured as in it, but the annulation of the fur has the same character in both. The remaining specimen in its features is distinctly referable to S. Blanfordii" ('Anat. and Zool. Researches,' p. 232).
NO. 283. SCIURUS ATRODORSALIS. The Black-backed Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Burmah and the Malayan countries. Common in Martaban.
DESCRIPTION.—There are two phases of colouring, in which both old and young of this species are found: with the black on the back, and again without it. In the latter case the upper parts and feet are a yellowish-rufous. The upper surface of the head, as far back as to include the ears, orange red; under parts and inside of limbs more or less chestnut; under surface of neck orange yellow, with a centre line of the same on the chest; tail variable—in the young it has seven alternate orange and black bands, the orange being terminal; but the adults have sometimes only five bands, the apical one so broad as to make a rich orange tail with yellowish-white tipped hair. In those with black backs the colour of the upper fur is less fulvous, and the chestnut of the lower parts is darker; in some the tail has broad orange tipped hairs, whilst in others it is, with the exception of the base, wholly black, and not annulated. These differences in colouring are not sexual, nor due to age. The skull of S. atrodorsalis resembles that of S. caniceps, but is broader, with a somewhat shorter muzzle, has smaller teeth, and would appear to be, from comparisons made by Dr. Anderson, smaller.
NO. 284. SCIURUS ERYTHRAEUS. The Assam Red-bellied Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Assam, Garo hills, Munipur.
DESCRIPTION.—The upper parts glistening deep reddish-black, minutely grizzled with light fulvous or yellowish-brown, each hair having two annulations; under parts and inside of limbs dark reddish maroon; feet black; tail concolorous with the back from the basal third, then gradually less grizzled; the terminal half black; whiskers black. Pallas describes the black of the tail as passing upwards in a mesial line.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 9 to 10 inches; tail with hair, from 11 to 12 inches.
NO. 285. SCIURUS GORDONI. Gordon's Squirrel.
DESCRIPTION.—Dr. Anderson, who first named this species, describes it as follows: "S. Gordoni has the upper surface and a narrow line from between the fore-limbs along the middle of the body grizzled olive-brown or greyish, with a variable rufous tint; the annulations are not so fine as in S. erythraeus. The chin and sides of the throat are paler grizzled than on the back and the lower part of the throat; the chest, belly, and inside of the limbs are either pale yellow or rich orange-yellow, or passing into pale chestnut in the Assam variety, in which the belly is rarely lineated. The ears are feebly pencilled; the tail has the same proportion as in S. erythraeus and S. castaneoventris but it is more persistently and uniformly concolorous with the body than in these species, and is finely ringed with black and yellow, the rings being most distinct on the latter fourth; the tip is generally washed with orange yellow" ('Anat. and Zool. Res.').
[Footnote 20: A Chinese species: Western China, Formosa and Hainau.—R. A. S.]
SIZE.—Head and body, 9 inches; tail, 7 inches.
NO. 286. SCIURUS HIPPURUS. The Chestnut-bellied Assam Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Assam; also in the Malayan peninsula.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts of the body, with base of tail yellowish-rufous, punctulated with yellow and black; the lower parts deep ruddy ferruginous or chestnut; feet, tail (which is bushy) and whiskers black.
Dr. Anderson, however, mentions several varieties. He writes: "The specimen in the British Museum referred by Dr. Gray to S. rufogaster, var. Borneoensis differs from Malayan specimens in having portions of the upper parts unannulated and of a deep rich chestnut, which embraces the upper surface of the base of the tail, and is concolorous with the chestnut of the under parts. This, however, is evidently not a persistent form, because I have seen a specimen from the same island in which the red portion of the upper parts is grizzled and much of the same tint as Malayan individuals, except in the mesial line of the neck and back, where the colour is rich red-brown extending along the dorsum of the tail for about three inches.
"Muller and Schlegel mention a variety that I have not seen, and of which they state that the red colour of the under parts extends to the heel, the forefoot and the toes, while the colour of the upper parts passes into a uniform lustrous black. They also remark, however, that the back not unfrequently assumes a pale yellowish brown tint" ('Anat. and Zool. Res.' p. 242).
Horsfield remarks:—"This species is nearly allied to the S. erythraeus of Pallas, but it varies in the depth of the colours both above and underneath."
"In the skull the orbit is rather large, and the muzzle is so contracted at its base that the extremity is but little narrower."—Anderson.
NO. 287. SCIURUS SLADENI. Sladen's Squirrel.
DESCRIPTION.—After Dr. Anderson ('Proc. Zool. Soc.' 1871, p. 139) who first obtained and named this species: "grizzled, rufous olive above, the annulations fine, and the fur of moderate length; the forehead, face, chin, throat, belly, inside of limbs, front of thighs, lower half of fore-limbs, and the hind-feet rich chestnut red; tail rather bushy, as long as the body without the neck and head, concolorous with the upper surface of the body, but slightly more rufous; with a bright chestnut red tip."
SIZE.—Head and body, 10-1/4 inches; tail, including rufous tip, 8 inches.
This handsome squirrel is figured in the volume of plates belonging to Dr. Anderson's work on the Zoology of the Yunnan Expedition. Speaking of the skull he says: "The skull of S. Sladeni has a rather short muzzle, with considerable breadth across its base superiorly, and it is a shorter and broader skull than the skulls of squirrels referred to S. Blanfordii. Compared with the skull of the red-headed specimen of S. erythraeus from Bhutan, there is a decided resemblance between the two, the chief distinction being the less breadth of the base of the muzzle of the latter, but the teeth of this specimen show it to be young, while the teeth of S. Sladeni are much worn by use."—'A. and Z. Res.' p. 243.
NO. 288. SCIURUS FERRUGINEUS. The Rusty-coloured Squirrel.
HABITAT.—From Assam to Burmah and Siam, and the adjacent islands of Pulo Condor and Sichang.
DESCRIPTION.—Colouring most diverse, no less than ten named species being referable to this one, viz., S. Finlaysoni, S. ferrugineus, S. Keraudrenii, S. splendidus, S. cinnamomeus, S. Siamensis, S. splendens, S. Germani, S. Bocourtii, S. leucogaster; some are rich red, one jet black, and another is white, but apparently most of the varieties come from Siam; the Assam and Burmah specimens being reddish, of which the following description is by Blyth, according to Horsfield's Catalogue, where it is entered as S. Keraudrenii: "Entirely of a deep rufo-ferruginous colour, rather darker above than below; the fur of the upper parts somewhat glistening; toes of all the feet blackish, as in the three preceding, and the extreme tip of the tail yellowish-white."
* * * * *
The following group consists of the striped squirrels, a smaller and more terrestrial species, allied to the ground squirrels (Tamias).
NO. 289. SCIURUS PALMARUM. The Common Indian Ground Squirrel (Jerdon's No. 155).
NATIVE NAMES.—Gilehri, Hindi; Beral, Lakki, Bengali; Kharri, Mahrathi; Alalu, Canarese; Vodata, Telegu; Urta of Waddurs (Jerdon).
HABITAT.—India generally, except in some parts of Malabar and North-eastern Bengal.
DESCRIPTION.—The upper parts are dusky greenish-grey, with five yellowish-white dorsal lines, the two outer ones being faint and indistinct; under parts whitish; the hairs of the tail are annulated with red and black; ears round. But the colouring varies; some are much darker than others; one I have is a deep ferruginous brown between the dorsal stripes.
SIZE.—Head and body, 6-1/2 to 7 inches; tail, 5-1/2 to 6 inches.
This beautiful little animal is well known to almost all who have lived in India, and it is one of the most engaging and cheerful of all the frequenters of our Mofussil bungalows, although I have heard the poor little creature abused by some in unmeasured terms, as a nuisance on account of its piercing voice. I confess to liking even its shrill chatter; but then I am not easily put out by noise, and am rather like the deaf old King of Oude, who sits and reads in his cockatoo house, and looks up smilingly, as half a dozen of them give vent to extra diabolical shrieks, and pleasantly remarks: "Ah: the birds are singing a little this morning!" I am not quite so bad as that; but as I now sit writing, I have a hill myna on one side of me imitating an ungreased cart-wheel and the agonies of an asthmatic derzie, and on the other side a small female of the rose-headed parrakeet, which has a most piercing selection of whistles and small talk, to say nothing of two small bipeds of five and seven, who cap all the rest for noise, till I sometimes wish I had the aural afflictions of the old king. I can, however, quite imagine the irritation the sharp chirrup-chirrup of this little squirrel would cause to an invalid, for there is something particularly ear-piercing about it; but their prettiness and familiarity make up in great measure for their noisiness. They are certainly a nuisance in a garden, and I rather doubt whether they are of any use, as McMaster says, "in destroying many insects, especially white ants, beetles, both in their perfect and larval state," &c. He adds: "They are said to destroy the eggs of small birds, but I have never observed this myself." I should also doubt this, were it not that the European squirrel is accused of the same thing. General McMaster, I think, got his idea from a quaint old book, which he quotes at times, Dr. John Fryer's 'Voyage to East India and Bombain,' who, writing on the nests of the weaver bird (Ploceus baya), says: "It ties it by so slender a Thread to the Bough of the Tree, that the Squirrel dare not venture his body, though his Mouth water at the eggs and Prey within." McMaster himself writes: "This familiar little pest is accused, but I believe unjustly, of robbing nests; were he guilty of this, it would in the breeding season cause much excitement among the small birds, in whose society he lives on terms of almost perfect friendship." There is much truth in this. Wood and others, however, state that the European squirrel has been detected in the act of carrying off a small bird out of a nest, and that it will devour eggs, insects, &c.
Jerdon relates the Indian legend that, when Hanuman was crossing the Ganges, it was bridged over by all the animals; one small gap remained, which was filled by this squirrel, and as Hanuman passed over he put his hand on the squirrel's back, on which the marks of his five fingers have since remained. It is not unlike the chipmunk of America (Tamias striatus), but these true ground squirrels have cheeks pouches and live in burrows. Our so-called palm squirrel (though it does not affect palms any more than other trees) builds a ragged sort of nest of any fibrous matter, without much attempt at concealment; and I have known it carry off bits of lace and strips of muslin and skeins of wool from a lady's work-box for its house-building purposes. The skins of this species nicely cured make very pretty slippers. They are very easily tamed, and often fall victims to their temerity, in venturing unknown into their owner's pockets, boxes, boots, &c. One I have now is very fond of a mess of parched rice and milk. It sleeps rolled up in a ball, not on its side, but with its head bent down between its legs.
NO. 290. SCIURUS TRISTRIATUS. The Three-striped Ground-Squirrel (Jerdon's No. 156).
NATIVE NAMES.—As in the last. Leyna in Singhalese.
HABITAT.—Ceylon and Southern India; on the Neilgherries. Has been found in Midnapur, and it is stated to range northward to the Himalayas.
DESCRIPTION.—Somewhat larger and darker than the last species, manifesting considerable variation in the colour of the dark lines of the back. In some the lines are rufous; in others dark brown or blackish throughout, or black only from the shoulder to the lumbar region. The general tints are rusty red on the head, greyish on the shoulders, blackish in the middle of the back, rusty on the haunches. Three well-defined yellow dorsal lines, not extending the whole length of the back; the tail rusty beneath, darker than S. palmarum on the sides.
SIZE.—Head and body, 7-1/2 inches; tail, 7-1/2 inches.
This squirrel is more shy than the last, and keeps to the woods, although occasionally it will approach houses. Dr. Jerdon says a pair frequented his house at Tellicherry, but they were less familiar than S. palmarum, and endeavoured to shun observation. Kellaart gives a careful description of it, but does not say anything about its habits, at which I wonder, for it is common there, and takes the place of our little Indian friend, though probably its more retiring disposition has prevented so much notice being taken of it. Were it in the habit of frequenting houses in the manner of its Indian cousin, I am sure Sir Emerson Tennent would have devoted a page to it, whereas he does not mention it at all. It had also escaped McMaster's notice, careful observer though he was. Waterhouse, in his description ('Proc. Zool. Soc.' 1839, p. 118), describes some differences in the skull of this and S. palmarum, but Dr. Anderson finds no difference whatever.
NO. 291. SCIURUS LAYARDI. Layard's Striped Ground-Squirrel (Jerdon's No. 157).
HABITAT.—Ceylon; in the highlands and the mountains of Travancore in Southern India.
DESCRIPTION.—Dark dingy olive, inclining more to ashy than fulvous, except on the head and flanks. Lower parts ferruginous, paler on the breast; middle of back very dark, with a narrow bright fulvous streak in the middle, reaching from between the shoulders to near the tail, and an obscure shorter stripe on either side, barely reaching to the croup; tail ferruginous along the centre, the hairs margined with black, with white tips; a narrower black band near the base of each hair; tip of tail black, forming a pencil tuft three inches long. In some specimens the centre dorsal streak is bright orange, the two intervening bands being jet black. In those in which the streaks are pale, the intervening bands differ only from the surrounding fur in being darker, but are grizzled like it. There is a narrow rufous area round the eye; the whiskers are black; the under-parts and inside of limbs are bright reddish-chestnut, and this colour extends along the under-part of the tail. Jerdon calls this squirrel the Travancore striped squirrel, but I see no reason to retain this name, as it is not peculiar to Travancore, but was first found in Ceylon by Mr. E. Layard, after whom Blyth named it.
NO. 292. SCIURUS SUBLINEATUS. The Dusky-striped Ground-Squirrel (Jerdon's No. 158).
HABITAT.—The mountains of Ceylon and Southern India.
DESCRIPTION.—Smaller than the palm squirrel; fur soft, dense, grizzled olive brown; base of hairs dusky black; three pale and four dark lines on the back and croup, the lineation being obscure, and reaching only from the shoulder to the sacral region. Under-parts variable, but always dusky, never bright, from grey to dusky brown washed with rufous; tail concolorous with the upper part of the body and obscurely annulated.
SIZE.—Head and body, 5 to 6 inches; tail, 4-1/2 to 6 inches.
Kellaart calls this the Newara Elia ground-squirrel, and Jerdon the Neilgherry striped squirrel, but, as it is not peculiar to either one or the other place, I think it better to adopt another popular name. It is common about Newara Elia and Dimboola, but it does not seem to descend lower than 3000 feet. In Southern India it is found in the Neilgherries, Wynaad and Coorg, but only at considerable elevations.
NO. 293. SCIURUS MCCLELLANDI. McClelland's Ground-Squirrel (Jerdon's No. 159).
NATIVE NAME.—Kalli-gangdin, Lepcha.
HABITAT.—"This species has a wide distribution, ranging from Nepal and Thibet to the east of China and Formosa, and through Assam and Cachar south-eastward to Tenasserim and Siam."—Anderson.
DESCRIPTION.—General hue olive brown, each hair having a blackish tip, a sub-apical yellow band, and a slaty black base. A pale yellowish band on the side of the nose, passing underneath the eye and ear along the side of the neck, and continued along the side of the back to the base of the tail; its upper margin has a dusky line; a narrow black line from between the shoulders over the vertebrae to the root of the tail; tail grizzled dark above, fulvous beneath; whiskers black; limbs concolorous with the body: ears small, black edged, fulvous white within, and with white pencil tufts.
SIZE.—Head and body, 5 inches; tail, 4 inches.
Dr. Anderson obtained this species at Ponsee in Burmah, at an elevation of 3500 feet, and Dr. Jerdon, at Darjeeling, at from 4000 to 6000 feet. This species is synonymous with Blyth's S. Barbei.
NO. 294. SCIURUS BERDMOREI. Berdmore's Ground-Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Tenasserim and Martaban.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour brownish, with a distinct rufous tinge on the middle of the back. It is punctulated with yellowish on the head, sides of face and body and outside of limbs, and with rich rufous on the middle of the back. An obscure narrow black line along the middle of the back from between the shoulders, but only extending half way down the trunk. On the sides of the back a yellow line from shoulder to articulation of femur; this is margined below with a broad black band, and above by an obscure dusky line. There is a broad pale yellow linear area below the former of these two dark bands, the portion of the side below it being concolorous with the thighs and fore-limbs. The rufous area of the back is confined between the two uppermost yellow lines; ears are large; all under-parts white, slightly washed here and there with yellowish; the tail moderately bushy, all the hairs annulated with four alternative orange and black bands, the terminal black band being occasionally tipped with white, and being as broad as the three remaining bands, so that the tail has a decidedly black tint washed with whitish, the orange bands, however, appearing through the black.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 7-3/4 inches; tail without hair, 5 inches.
NO. 295. SCIURUS QUINQUESTRIATUS. The Stripe-bellied Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Kakhyen hills, on the Burmo-Chinese frontier.
DESCRIPTION.—"Above grizzled olive, brownish-grey, with a distinct rufous tint, deepest on the dorsal surface; annulation fine, as in the grizzled squirrels generally; chin and throat obscurely grizzled greyish, washed with reddish; a rufous grizzled blackish-brown band from the chest along the middle line of the belly to the vent; external of this, on either side, a broad pure white well-defined band from the side to the chest along the belly and prolonged along the inguinal region to the vent; a broad black band from the hollow of the axilla along the side of the belly, expanding on the inside of the thighs, where it is faintly washed with greyish; inside of the fore-limbs blackish, washed with greyish; toes black, with rufous annulations. Tail nearly as long as the body and head, concolorous with body, but the black and rufous annulations much broader and more marked, assuming the form of indistinct rufous and black rings on the posterior third; tip of tail jet black, narrowly terminated with greyish."—Dr. J. Anderson in 'Proc. Zool. Soc.' 1871, p. 142.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 9-1/2 inches; tail, 7-1/4 inches.
This curious squirrel was first discovered and named by Dr. Anderson, who states that it was common at Ponsee on the Kakhyen range of hills east of Bhamo, at an elevation of from 2000 to 3000 feet, and as yet it has only been found on those hills. There is a coloured plate of it in the 'Proceedings of the Zoological Society' for 1871.
* * * * *
The next animal forms a curious link in resemblance between the Tupaiidae and the squirrels. I mentioned some time back that the first Tupaia was taken for a squirrel; and certainly, to look at this long-snouted squirrel, one might easily be misled into supposing it to be a Tupaia, till an examination of its dentition proved it to be a rodent. It is supposed to be a Malayan species, but I was shown not long ago a specimen in Mr. Hume's collection which I understood Mr. Davison to say he had procured in Burmah. It has been classed by Dr. Gray in a separate genus, Rhinosciurus.
NO. 296. SCIURUS (RHINOSCIURUS) TUPAOIDES. The Long-nosed Squirrel.
HABITAT.—The Malayan peninsula and Borneo, and I believe the Tenasserim provinces.
DESCRIPTION.—This animal differs from all other squirrels by the extreme length of its pointed muzzle, with which is associated a long and narrow skull. The coloration varies from light to dark, and almost blackish-brown; the tail is shorter than the body, moderately bushy, narrow at the base, but expanding towards the tip; the hairs are broadly banded with four alternate pale and dark brown bands, the last being the darkest and broadest, with a pale tip; the under-parts are white in some, rich orange yellow in others.
SIZE.—Head and body, 7-1/2 inches; tail reaches to the eye.
* * * * *
The Flying Squirrels next engage our attention. In several groups of animals of strictly arboreal habits, nature has gone beyond the ordinary limits of agility afforded by muscular limbs alone, and has supplemented those limbs with elastic membranes which act like a parachute when the animal takes a leap into space, and gives it a gradual and easy descent. Amongst the lemurs the Galeopithecus, the Pteromys in the squirrels, and the Anomalurus in another family of rodents, are all thus provided with the apparatus necessary to enable them to float awhile in the air, for flying is scarcely the proper term for the letting-down easy principle of the mechanism in question.
The flying squirrels, with which we have now to deal, are in general details the same as ordinary squirrels, but the skin of the flanks is extended between the fore and hind limbs, which, when spread out, stretches it into a wide parachute, increased in front by means of a bony spur which projects from the wrist. These animals have been subdivided into the large round-tailed flying squirrels, Pteromys, and the small flat-tailed flying squirrels, Sciuropterus. The distinction was primarily made by F. Cuvier on the character of the teeth, as he considered Sciuropterus to have a less complex system of folds in the enamel of the molars, more like the ordinary squirrels than Pteromys; but modern research has proved that this is not a good ground for distinction. Dr. Anderson has lately examined the dentition in eleven species of Pteromys and Sciuropterus, and he says: "According to my observations the form of the enamel folds in youth are essentially similar, consisting of a series of tubercular folds which are marked with wavy lines in some, and are smooth in others, but in all there is a marked conformity to a common type. The seemingly more complex character of the folds appears to depend on the extent to which the tubercular ridges are worn by use." He also questions the propriety of the separation according to the distichous arrangement of the hairs of the tail. After a careful examination of the organ in nearly all the members of the series, he writes: "I have failed to detect that it is essentially distinctive of them—that is, that the distichous arrangement of the hairs is always associated with a diminutive species; but at the same time there can be no doubt that it is more prevalent among such." He then goes on to show that the tail is bushy in seventeen species, partially distichous in one, and wholly so in ten, and concludes by saying: "I am therefore disposed to regard the flying squirrels generally as constituting a well-defined generic group, the parallel of the genus Sciurus, which consists of an extensive series of specific forms distinguished by a remarkable uniformity of structure, both in their skulls and skeletons, and in the formations of their soft parts." There is a laudable tendency nowadays amongst mammalogists to reduce as far as possible the number of genera and species, and, acting on this principle, I will follow Dr. Anderson, and treat all the Indian flying squirrels under Pteromys.
General anatomy that of the squirrel, except that the skin of the flanks is extended between the limbs in such a manner as to form a parachute when the fore and hind legs are stretched out in the act of springing from tree to tree.
NO. 297. PTEROMYS ORAL. The Brown Flying Squirrel (Pteromys petaurista in Jerdon, No. 160).
NATIVE NAMES.—Oral of the Coles; Pakya, Mahrathi; Parachatea, Malabarese; Egala dandoleyna, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—India, wherever there are large forests; Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts dusky maroon black grizzled with white; this effect being due to the ends of the hairs being white, tipped with a small black point.
The muzzle and around the eyes, and the feet are black; the limbs and side membrane a lighter rufous maroon; the male has an irregular rufous patch on the sides of the neck, according to Elliot, which in the female is a pale fawn colour; the tail is rather longer than the body, and very bushy; its terminal two-thirds or three-fourths are black or blackish—sometimes (rarely) a little white at the extreme tip; the under-parts are dingy brownish-grey or nearly white. The female has six mammae—two pectoral and four ventral.
SIZE.—Head and body, 20 inches; tail, 21 inches; breadth of expanse, 21 to 24.
This species is nocturnal in its habits as noticed by Mr. Baker ('Journ. As. Soc. Beng.' 1859, vol. xxviii. p. 287), Jerdon and others.
Mr. Baker says it makes a noise at night in the depths of the jungle which is alarming to strangers. On the other hand Tickell, who was one of the first to bring it to notice, says its voice is seldom heard, and it is a weak, low, soft monotone quickly repeated, so low that in the same room you require to listen attentively to distinguish it. "It is to the Coles a sound ominous of domestic affliction. When angry the oral seldom bites, but scratches with its fore-claws, grunting at the same time like a guinea-pig." "When taken young it becomes a most engaging pet. It can be reared on goat's or cow's milk, and in about three weeks will begin to nibble fruit of any kind. During the day it sleeps much, either sitting with its back bent into a circle, and its head thrust down to its belly, or lying on its back with the legs and parachute extended—a position it is fond of in sultry weather. During the night time it is incessantly on the move."
[Footnote 21: I advise half water in the case of cow's milk, or one quarter water with buffalo milk.—R. A. S.]
Jerdon says of it: "It frequents the loftiest trees in the thickest parts of the forest, and is quite nocturnal in its habits, usually making its appearance when quite dusk. The natives discover its whereabouts by noting the droppings beneath the trees it frequents. It is said to keep in holes of trees during the day, and breeds in the same places. In the Wynaad many are killed, and a few captured alive by the Coorumbars, a jungle race of aborigines, who are usually employed to fell the forest trees in clearing for coffee; and I have had several sent to me alive, caught in this way, but could not keep them for any time. It lives chiefly on fruits of various kinds; also on bark, shoots, &c., and, Tickell says, occasionally on beetles and the larvae of insects."
Jerdon says he had several times witnessed the flight of this species from tree to tree, and on one occasion he noted a flight of over sixty yards.
"Of course it was very close to the ground when it neared the tree, and the last few feet of its flight were slightly upwards, which I have also noticed at other times." I think Wallace has observed the same of the Galeopithecus. How this upward motion is accomplished more careful investigation will show; in all probability the depression or elevation of the tail may cause a deviation from a fixed course. According to Elliot it is very gentle, timid, and may be tamed, but from its delicacy is difficult to preserve. The fur is soft, beautiful and much valued. Jerdon gives the localities in which he has found it to be most common: Malabar, Travancore (the Marquis of Tweeddale, according to Dr. Anderson, got a specimen from this locality of a much lighter colour than usual), the Bustar forests in Central India, Vindhian mountains near Mhow, the Northern Circars, and the Midnapore jungles.
NO. 298. PTEROMYS CINERACEUS. The Ashy Flying Squirrel.
NATIVE NAME.—Shau-byau in Arakan.
HABITAT.—Assam, Burmah, viz. Arakan, Pegu and Tenasserim provinces.
DESCRIPTION.—Very like the last, but with a greyish fur, and almost white tail, with a black tip.
The fur generally is a mixture of pale grey and brownish, the hairs of the head and back having a whitish sub-terminal band; the tail consists almost entirely of the greyish hairs; the parachute is reddish brown; the under-parts white. Blyth, however, mentions a specimen from Tenasserim which is unusually rufous, with the tail concolorous with the upper parts.
SIZE.—Same as the last.
It is open to question whether this is not identical with Pteromys oral, merely a local variety. Blyth so termed it; and from what Dr. Anderson has written on the subject, I gather that he, too, inclines to the same opinion, as he says: "The dimensions are the same as those of P. oral, Tickell, of which it will probably prove to be a local race."
NO. 299. PTEROMYS YUNNANENSIS. The Yunnan Flying Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Kananzan mountains; Burmo-Chinese frontier.
DESCRIPTION.—Dr. Anderson, who discovered and named this species, describes it as follows: "The general colour is a rich dark maroon chestnut on all the upper parts, the head and back in some being finely speckled with white, which is most marked in the young, but is always most profuse on the posterior half of the back, which in some individuals has almost a hoary tinge, from the extent to which the annulation of the hairs is carried.
"In the adult, the upper surface of the parachute is of the same colour as the back, and the hairs are not annulated, except along its margin; but in younger specimens they are partially so on the upper surface, as are also the hairs on the first three or six inches of the tail, which are concolorous with the back, but broadly tipped with black, while the remaining portion of the tail is rich glossy black; the sides of the face, below the eye and ear, are yellowish-grey, mixed with chestnut, and the chin is dusky; the paws are rich black, also the margins of the limbs; the under surface is clad with a yellowish-white, rather woolly fur, which in some tends to a chestnut tint in the middle line, and to a darker tint of the same colour at the margin of the parachute.
"The basal portion of the fur of the upper parts is a dark greyish-brown, the hairs at their base being wavy; then follows a palish chestnut band, succeeded by a dark maroon chestnut, which either may or may not have a pure white sub-apical band, the tips of the hairs being glossy deep maroon chestnut, in some verging on black.
"The ears are large and rounded, and very sparsely covered with black hairs externally, with chestnut-coloured hairs on the anterior, and black on the posterior half of the dorsal surface.
"The hairs on the outer side of the tarsus form a rather long and dense brush; the tail is moderately bushy."—'Anat. and Zool. Res.,' p. 282.
SIZE.—Dr. Anderson only got skins of this beautiful squirrel, so accurate dimensions cannot be given, but the largest skin measured from muzzle to root of tail 24 inches, the tail being the same.
NO. 300. PTEROMYS MELANOPTERUS. The Black-flanked Flying Squirrel.
DESCRIPTION.—The back and top of the head are greyish-yellowish, the hairs being leaden grey at the base, passing into yellow, the sub-terminal part being brown, with a minute dark point; the upper surface of the parachute is almost wholly black, with a greyish-white border; under surface yellow; the belly greyish-ashy; feet black; limbs and tail concolorous with the body, the latter very bushy.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 19-1/4 inches; tail, 17-1/4 inches.
I have included this species, although it does not belong to India proper; still it would be well if travellers and sportsmen exploring our Thibetan frontiers would keep a look-out for this animal. At present all we know of it is from Professor Milne-Edwards's description of animals collected by the Abbe David, to whom we are also indebted for the next species.
NO. 301. PTEROMYS ALBORUFUS. The Red and White Flying Squirrel.
HABITAT.—Thibet; district of Moupin.
DESCRIPTION.—I have but a bare note of this species taken long ago from Milne-Edwards's work on the Mammals of Thibet, so I will quote Dr. Anderson's description from the types he examined: "The head, the sides of the neck, the throat and upper part of the chest, variegated with white, through which the rich maroon of the ground colour is partially seen, and it forms a ring around the eye; the hinder part of the back is yellow, and the tail, immediately beyond its base, is also yellowish for a short way, fading into the deep maroon of its latter two-thirds. It has no black tip. The feet are concolorous with the body; the under parts are pale rich orange yellow; the ears are large and moderately pointed."—'Anat. and Zool. Res.,' p. 284.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 23 inches; tail, 16 inches.
NO. 302. PTEROMYS MAGNIFICUS. The Red-bellied Flying Squirrel (Jerdon's No. 162).
NATIVE NAME.—Biyom, Lepcha.
HABITAT.—South-eastern Himalayas, Nepal, Sikim, Bhotan; also in the hill ranges of Assam.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts dark chestnut or a rich lustrous dark maroon chestnut, with a golden yellow mesial line in some; the hairs are black tipped, the dark portions of the back being finely but obscurely punctulated with dark orange; the shoulders and thighs are golden yellow, and the under-parts are orange fawn or orange red; so is also the margin of the parachute; the ears are large, semi-nude, sparsely clad with pale red hair externally, and bright red posteriorly, the base of the upper surface being clad with long hair; the sides of the face below the eyes are yellowish; there is a black zone round the eyes; the chin and the feet are blackish; the tail is orange red, tipped more or less broadly with black.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 16 inches; tail, 22 inches.
The young of this species have not the dorsal line, the head and neck are concolorous with the body, as is also the tail at its base; the under parts are pale yellowish-red. According to Dr. Anderson the skulls of Pteromys magnificus and P. oral differ in the shorter muzzle and the more elevated character of the inter-orbital depression of the latter. This animal is occasionally found at Darjeeling, and according to Jerdon it used to be more common there before the station was so denuded of its fine trees. It frequents the zone from 6000 to 9000 feet, and feeds on acorns, chestnuts and other hard fruit; also on young leaves and shoots. There is a coloured plate of this species in the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal,' vol. xiii. part i. p. 67.
NO. 303. PTEROMYS ALBIVENTER. The White-bellied Flying Squirrel (Pteromys inornatus of Jerdon, No. 161).
NATIVE NAME.—Rusigugar, i.e., flying rat, Kashmiri.
HABITAT.—From Nepal, along the North-western Himalayas to Kashmir.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts grizzled reddish-brown or dark grey with a rufous tinge, or a reddish-bay, darker on the upper surface of the parachute, and outside of limbs; head, neck, and breast greyish-rufous; cheeks grey; chin, throat and lower part of breast white, faintly tinged with rufous in the belly; under part of parachute rufous, tinged white, with a greyish posterior margin. Occasionally a dark brown band over the nose and round the eyes; the whiskers and feet blackish.
SIZE.—Head and body, 14 inches; tail, 16 inches.
This is a common squirrel at Simla. One was killed close to the house in which I was staying in 1880 at the Chota Simla end of the station by a native servant, who threw a stick at it, and knocked it off a bough, and I heard of two living ones being hawked about for sale about the same time—which, to my regret, I failed to secure, some one having bought them. They are common also in Kashmir, where they live in holes made in the bark of dead fir-trees. They are said to hybernate during the season there. A melanoid variety of this species is mentioned by Dr. Anderson as being in the Leyden Museum. It was obtained by Dr. Jerdon in Kashmir, and presented to the Museum by the late Marquis of Tweeddale.
NO. 304. PTEROMYS CANICEPS. The Grey-headed Flying Squirrel (Sciuropterus caniceps of Jerdon, No. 163).
NATIVE NAME.—Biyom-chimbo, Lepcha.
HABITAT.—Sikim and Nepal.
DESCRIPTION.—At first sight this seems to be a grey-headed form of the last species, but with larger ears; the head is iron grey; round the eyes and a patch above and below orange fulvous or chestnut; the base of the ears the same. Regarding this Dr. Anderson, on comparing it with the last, writes: "On a more critical examination of P. caniceps it appears to me, judging from Hodgson's types of the species, that it has larger ears, and if this should prove to be a persistent character, then the grey head and the chestnut speck above and below the eye, and the bright chestnut tuft behind the ears, assume a specific importance which they would not otherwise have." But he adds that his observations are merely from preserved specimens, and that the question of the magnitude of the ears is one yet to be settled by further investigation of the living animal. Jerdon's description is "entire head iron-grey; orbits and base of ears deep orange fulvous; whole body above, with parachute and tail, a mixture of blackish and golden yellow; limbs deep orange ochreous; margin of parachute albescent; beneath the neck whitish; rest of the lower parts pale orange-red; tip of tail black; ears nearly nude; tail sub-distichous." The fur is softer, denser, and longer than in the last two species.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 14 inches; tail, 15 to 16 inches.
NO. 305. PTEROMYS PEARSONII. The Hairy-footed Flying Squirrel (Sciuropterus villosus of Jerdon, No. 166).
HABITAT.—Sikim and Upper Assam.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper part of head and back rich glossy reddish-brown, grizzled with black; the parachute blackish-brown, sparsely washed with faint reddish brown.
"Fur very fine, soft, and rather long, but adpressed, and the hidden portion is almost black, narrowly tipped with the reddish-brown, the sides of the hair being blackish-brown. On the parachute only a few hairs have the reddish band, and these are most numerous towards the margin; the tail is rather bushy and but slightly distichous, and the hidden portion of its fur is pale fawn at the base, passing into pale chestnut brown, washed with dusky brown on the sides and upper surface; the margins of the eyelids are dark brown, and the sides of the face are pale rufous; the ears are moderately large and rounded, rather dark brown towards the tips, and pencilled at the base, anteriorly and posteriorly, with long delicate hairs. There are no true cheek bristles, but the moustachial hairs are very long; the under surface is pale ferruginous, palest on the mesial line, and most rufescent on the outer half of the membrane, the margin of which inferiorly is pale yellowish; the hairs on the membrane have dark slaty—almost black—bases, the ferruginous being confined to the tips; the fur of the under-parts is very soft and dense; the feet are well clad, more especially so those of the hind limbs."—Anderson.
SIZE.—Head and body, 8 inches; tail, 8 inches.
Jerdon says it is found at elevations of 3000 to nearly 6000 feet.
NO. 306. PTEROMYS FUSCOCAPILLUS. The Small Travancore Flying Squirrel (Sciuropterus of Jerdon, No. 167).
HABITAT.—Southern India and Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts rufous chestnut according to Kellaart, who named it Sciuropterus Layardii; rufescent fulvous or dark brownish isabelline hue, as Jerdon describes it; the fur dusky blackish colour for three-fourths of its length; the tips coarser and coloured rufous chestnut (Kellaart); hairs fuscous with a fulvous tip (Jerdon); two-thirds of the base dusky ashy, the remainder reddish-brown with a black tip (Anderson); the ears are moderate in size, posteriorly ovate with a long pencil of blackish hairs at the base of the posterior margin and at the external surface of the upper angle; cheek bristles well developed; the cheeks white, washed with yellowish, as also before the ears; the margin round the eyes blackish; the parachute is dark brown above washed with pale brown, and the edge is pale yellow; lower parts yellowish-white; the tail is very bushy, and not distichous in the adult, though partially so in the young; it is sometimes yellowish-brown, sometimes dusky brown, especially in the latter half, the under surface being pale brown at the base, passing into blackish-brown. Kellaart says of the Ceylon specimens: "Tail flat and broad, of a lighter chestnut above, washed with black, and under surface of a deep black, except at tip," but apparently he had only one specimen to go upon, and therefore we cannot accept his observations as conclusive.
SIZE.—Head and body, 7-3/4 inches; tail, 6-3/4 inches with hair.
NO. 307. PTEROMYS FIMBRIATUS. The Grey Flying Squirrel (Sciuropterus of Jerdon, No. 164).
DESCRIPTION.—Fur long, soft greyish, with sometimes a tinge of brown; the hairs are grey at the base, then brown with a black tip; face white; orbits dark brown; chin and under parts white; the tail is broad, bushy, and rather tapering, more or less fulvous washed with black, black towards the tip; the feet are broad, and according to Dr. Gray the outer edges of the hind feet have a broad fringe of hair, whence probably its specific name; but Dr. Anderson is of opinion that this character is unreliable.
SIZE.—Head and body, 12 inches; tail, 11 inches.
Blyth's S. Barbei was probably the same as this; he had only drawings and assertions to go upon. The species is extremely doubtful.
NO. 308. PTEROMYS ALBONIGER. The Black and White Flying Squirrel (Sciuropterus of Jerdon, No. 165).
NATIVE NAMES.—Khim, Lepcha; Piam-piyu, Bhotia.
HABITAT.—Nepal, Sikim, Bhotan, Assam, Sylhet, Burmah, Western Yunnan and Cambodia.
DESCRIPTION.—Dr. Anderson says the name applied to the species is not appropriate, as many individuals have the upper parts more or less yellowish, but it is dark above, blackish, faintly washed with hoary or rufous; white beneath with a slight yellow tinge; the ears and feet flesh-coloured.
Jerdon says the young are pure black and white; the teeth are bright orange red.
SIZE.—Head and body, 11 inches; tail, 8-1/4 to 9 inches.
Jerdon procured it near Darjeeling; it frequents elevations from 3000 to 5000 feet.
NO. 309. PTEROMYS SPADICEUS. The Red Flying Squirrel.
NATIVE NAME.—Kywet-shoo-byan, Arakanese.
DESCRIPTION.—Upper parts bright ferruginous bay; under parts woolly and dull white; the membrane, limbs, and tail dusky; the terminal third of the tail pale rufous.
SIZE.—Head and body, 5 inches; tail, 4-1/4 inches.
Stout-bodied, short-tailed animals, with a rudimentary thumb with a flat nail. They are gregarious and terrestrial, living in burrows, where they store provisions against inclement seasons. Some of the genera have cheek pouches, but the true marmots, such as our Indian species, have not. They differ somewhat in dentition from the squirrels in having the first upper molar somewhat larger, and the other molars also differ in having transverse tubercles on the crown. The first upper tooth is smaller than the rest; the ears are short and round, as is also the tail; the hind-feet have five toes, the fore-feet a tubercle in the place of the thumb.
Stout body, short tail, large head and eyes, no cheek pouches, mammae ten to twelve.
Dental formula: Inc., 1—1/1—1; premolars, 1—1/1—1; molars, 4—4/3—3.
NO. 310. ARCTOMYS BOBAC. The Bobac, or Poland Marmot (Thibet Marmot of Jerdon, No. 168).
NATIVE NAMES.—Brin, Kashmiri; Kadia-piu, Thibetan; Chibi, Bhotia; Lho, or Potsammiong, Lepcha.
HABITAT.—The Himalayan range from Kashmir to Sikim, in Thibet, Ladakh, Yarkand, also throughout Central Asia and Eastern Europe from the south of Poland and Gallicia over the whole of Southern Russia and Siberia, to the Amoor and Kamtchatka.
DESCRIPTION.—Above sub-rufescent cat-grey, washed with blackish brown on the back and sides and front of face, rufescent yellow beneath; the hind limbs more rufous; fur close, adpressed, rather harsh; tail with a black tip.
The hairs are tinged with three bands of dusky rufescent yellow and blackish-brown, the latter being most intense on the face, forehead, head and back (see 'P. Z. S.' 1871, p. 560). In the plate given in the report by Mr. Blanford on the mammalia collected during the second Yarkand Mission the back is somewhat barred with dark brown, as is also the tail. The sexes are alike, and of nearly equal size.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 24 inches; tail, 5 to 6 inches. This animal is seldom found at a lower elevation than 12,000 feet, and from that to 16,000 feet according to Jerdon, but Dr. Stoliczka noticed it in Ladakh at a height of 17,800 feet.
"It burrows in the ground, living in small societies, and feeding on roots and vegetables. It lifts its food to its mouth with its fore-feet. It is easily tamed. One was brought alive to Calcutta some years ago, and did not appear, says Mr. Blyth, to be distressed by the heat of that place. It was quite tame and fearless, and used to make a loud chattering cachinnation. It was fond of collecting grass, &c., and carrying it to its den. Travellers and sportsmen often meet with this marmot, and speak of its sitting up in groups, and suddenly disappearing into its burrows. The cured skins form an important item of commerce, and are brought to Nepal, and in great numbers to China" (Jerdon). Mr. Blanford, in alluding to the conditions under which marmots are liable to produce permanent varieties, says: "each colony or group being isolated, and frequently at a distance of many miles from the next colony, the two in all probability rarely, if ever, breed with each other." Therefore several which are recorded as distinct species may in time be proved to be merely varieties of one. Mr. Blanford keeps to the specific name Himalayanus of Hodgson in his report.
NO. 311. ARCTOMYS CAUDATUS. The Red Marmot.
NATIVE NAME.—Drun, Kashmiri.
HABITAT.—The North-western Himalayan range. It is found in Kashmir, the Wurdan Pass, Ladakh, the valley of the Dras river.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour rufous-ochreous, darkest above, "the tips of the hairs are washed with black, which is most intense on the back from the occiput to the lumbar region; pale yellow on the shoulders, which have few, if any, black-tipped hairs, and also along the sides, which are nearly free from them; chin, throat, belly, fore-legs and inside of front of lower limbs deep rusty red; the outside of thighs pale rufous yellow, with a few black-tipped hairs; greyish hairs around the lips; cheeks washed with blackish; a large deep black spot on the upper surface of the nose; the rest of the front of the face rufous yellow; tail black, washed more or less with yellowish-grey, the last four inches black; the fur coarse and nearly 2-1/2 inches in length, loose and not adpressed; the black tips are not very long, and the yellow shows through them as a rule, but there are patches where they wholly obscure it; the base of the hair generally is rather rufous dark brown, and is succeeded by a broad rufous yellow band followed by the apical black one. Palm, including nails, 2-4/12 inches; sole, including nails, 3-10/12 inches; the heel is more sparsely clad with hairs along its margin than is the tarsus of A. bobac" (Dr. J. Anderson, 'P. Z. S.' 1871, pp. 561, 562). Mr. Blanford, who writes of this as Arctomys caudatus of Jacquemont, being of opinion that Hodgson's A. Hemachalanus is a smaller and differently-coloured species, and doubting whether A. caudatus inhabits the Eastern Himalayas, says: "Arctomys caudatus is one of the largest species of marmot, being nearly two feet long exclusive of the tail, which measures with the hairs at the end half as much more. The general colour is yellowish-tawny, more or less washed with black on the back, and with all the under-parts and limbs rusty red. In some specimens (males?) the back is much blacker than in others, the hairs being dusky or black throughout, whilst other specimens have only the tips of the hairs black." I am inclined to think that Mr. Blanford is right, for Jerdon thus describes A. Hemachalanus: "General colour dark grey, with a full rufous tinge, which is rusty, and almost ochreous red on the sides of the head, ears, and limbs, especially in summer; the bridge of the nose and the last inch of the tail dusky brown; head and body above strongly mixed with black, which he equals or exceeds the pale one on these parts; claws long; pelage softer and fuller than in the last."
SIZE.—Jerdon says of the drun: "Head and body, about 13 inches."
Now the size given in the 'P. Z. S.' above quoted is, "length, 22 inches from tip of nose to vent; tail, 10-1/2 inches, exclusively of the hair, nearly half the length of the body and head." This agrees better with Mr. Blanford's account.
NO. 312. ARCTOMYS HEMACHALANUS. The Eastern Red Marmot (Jerdon's No. 169).
NATIVE NAMES.—Sammiong, Lepcha; Chipi, Bhotia.
HABITAT.—The Eastern Himalayas, Sikim, Nepal.
DESCRIPTION.—As given above by Dr. Jerdon.
SIZE.—Head and body, 13 inches; tail, 5-1/2 inches. Hodgson kept some of this species in his garden for some time. They were somnolent by day, active by night, and did not hybernate in Nepal. They were fed on grain and fruit, and would chatter a good deal over their meals, but in general were silent. They slept rolled up into a ball, were tame and gentle usually, but sometimes bit and scratched like rabbits, uttering a similar cry.
NO. 313. ARCTOMYS AUREUS. The Golden Marmot.
HABITAT.—Yarkand, Kaskasee pass, 13,000 feet, on the road from Kashgar to Sarikol and the Pamir.
DESCRIPTION.—after Blanford, who described and named this species ('Jour. As. Soc. Beng.' 1875): "General colour tawny to rich brownish-yellow, the dorsal portion conspicuously tinged with black from all the hairs having black tips, but these are far more conspicuous in some specimens (males?) than in others; face grey to blackish, with a rufous tinge covered with black and whitish hairs mixed, about half an inch long on the forehead. The black hairs on the face are more prevalent in those specimens (perhaps males) which have the blackest backs; the middle of the forehead is in some cases more fulvous. On the end of the nose is a blackish-brown patch, and there is a narrow band of black hairs with a few white mixed round the lips; the sides of the nose are paler; whiskers black. Hairs of the back, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches long, much mixed with woolly fibres, dark slaty at the extreme base for about a quarter inch, then pale straw colour, becoming deeper golden yellow towards the extremity, the end black. In the blackest specimens the black tips are wanting on the posterior portion of the back. Tail yellow, the same colour as the rump, except the tip, which is black, from a length varying from an inch to about 2-1/2 inches (in three specimens out of four it does not exceed an inch); hairs of the tail about two inches long, brown at the base. Lower parts rather browner, and sometimes with a rufous wash; the hairs shorter and thinner, chocolate brown at the base without the short woolly under fur, which is very thick on the back. Feet above yellowish-tawny, like the sides" ('Scientific Results of the Second Yarkand Mission': Mammalia).
SIZE.—Head and body, 16 to 18 inches; tail, 5 to 6 inches. Though this agrees in size with A. Hemachalanus it differs considerably in colour, and, according to Mr. Blanford, also in the skull. There is a beautifully drawn and coloured plate of this marmot in the work from which I have just quoted; also of A. Himalayanus and A. caudatus.
NO. 314. ARCTOMYS DICHROUS.
HABITAT.—Afghanistan; mountainous country north of Cabul.
DESCRIPTION.—Less yellow than the last, without any black on the back, and having the upper parts pale dull tawny, and the lower rufous brown. The tail concolorous with the belly, tinged here and there with rich rufous brown, the tip paling to nearly yellowish-brown.
SIZE.—Head and body, 17 inches; tail, 6-1/2 inches.—Anderson, 'Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist.,' vol. xvi. 1875.
NO. 315. ARCTOMYS ROBUSTUS.
Is a Thibetan species, described by Prof. Milne-Edwards, 'Recherches sur les Mammiferes,' p. 309. I have not the work by me just now.
SECTION II.—MYOMORPHA—RAT-LIKE RODENTS.
The second section of the order GLIRES, containing the following families—those that are not Indian being in italics:—
Myoxidiae, Lophiomyidae, Muridae, Spalacidae, Geomyidae, Theridomyidae (fossil), Dipodidae.
The molar dentition is from 3—3/3—3 to 6—6/6—6, the former being the usual number; the tibia and fibula are united for at least a third of their length; the zygomatic arch is slender, and the malar process rarely extends so far forwards as in the preceding section, and is generally supported below by a continuation of the maxillary zygomatic process; the collar-bones are perfect (except in Lophiomyidae). Upper lip cleft; the muffle small and naked; tail cylindrical, sometimes hairy, but commonly covered with scales arranged in rings.
In all the Indian mammalogy this section is probably the most difficult to write about. Our knowledge of the smaller rodents is extremely imperfect, and is just engaging increased attention. In the meanwhile I feel that, while I make use of such material as is now available, before long much will have to be revised and corrected after the exhaustive inquiries now being made by Dr. Anderson are published.
The Indian families with which we have to deal are but three—the Muridae, Spalacidae, and the Dipodidae. The Arvicolidae of Jerdon's work is merely a sub-family of Muridae. Of these the Muridae take the first place, as containing the greater number of genera. It is estimated that the total number of species known of this family throughout the world exceed 330, of which probably not more than one-fourth or fifth are to be found in India and adjacent countries.
CHARACTER.—"Lower incisors compressed; no premolars; molars rooted or rootless, tuberculate or with angular enamel folds; frontals contracted; infra-orbital opening in typical forms high, perpendicular, wide above and narrowed below, with the lower root of the maxillary zygomatic process more or less flattened into a perpendicular plate; very rarely the opening is either large and oval, or small and sub-triangular. Malar short and slender, generally reduced to a splint between the maxillary and squamosal processes; external characters very variable; pollex rudimentary, but often with a small nail; tail generally sub-naked and scaly, rarely densely haired."—Alston, 'P. Z. S.' 1876.
This family is divided into about ten sub-families, of which the Indian ones are as follows: Platacanthyominae; Gerbillinae; Phlaeomyinae; Murinae; Arvicolinae; Cricetinae.
The other four are Sminthinae, Hydromyinae, Dendromyinae, and Siphneinae, none of which are found within our limits.
CHARACTER.—Molars 3/3, divided into transverse laminae; infra-orbital opening as in typical Muridae; incisive foramina and auditory bullae small; form myoxine (or dormouse-like); fur mixed with flat spines; tail densely hairy. The general resemblance of this animal to the dormouse (Myoxus) is striking, to which its hairy tail and its habits conduce, but on closer examination its small eyes, thin ears, short thumb of the fore-foot bring it into the murine family. The genus was first noted and named by Blyth, who seemed inclined to class it as a dormouse, but this has not been upheld for the reasons given above, and also that Platacanthomys has the normal murine number of molars, viz.: 3—3/3—3, whereas Myoxus has an additional premolar above and below. These points were first brought to notice by Prof. Peters of Berlin (see 'P. Z. S.' 1865, p. 397). There is a coloured plate of the animal in the same volume, but it is not so well executed as most of the illustrations in the Society's works.
NO. 316. PLATACANTHOMYS LASIURUS. The Long-tailed Spiny Mouse (Jerdon's No. 198).
DESCRIPTION.—Light rufescent brown; the under fur paler, more rufous on the forehead and crown; whiskers black; under parts dull white; the hairs on the tail, which are arranged distichously, are darker than those of the body, infuscated except at the tip of the tail, where they are whitish; the muzzle is acute; ears moderate and naked; the fur above is mixed densely with sharp flat spines; the under coat is delicate and fine; the few spines on the lower parts are smaller and finer; the thumb is without a nail.
SIZE.—Head and body, 6 inches; tail, 3-1/2, or five inches including the hair; planta, 1 inch.
This species was discovered by the Rev. Mr. Baker in the Western Ghats of Malabar, and in Cochin and Travancore, at an elevation of about 3000 feet. He writes of it: "It lives in clefts in the rocks and hollow trees, and is said to hoard ears of grain and roots, seldom comes into the native huts, and in that particular neighbourhood the hillmen told me they are very numerous. I know they are to be found in the rocky mountains of Travancore, but I have never met with them on the plains." In another place he adds: "I have been spending the last three weeks in the Ghats, and, amongst other things, had a great hunt for the new spiny dormice. They are most abundant, I find, in the elevated vales and ravines, living only in the magnificent old trees there, in which they hollow out little cavities, filling them with leaves and moss. The hill people call them the 'pepper-rat,' from their destroying large quantities of ripe pepper (Piper nigrum). Angely and jackfruit (Artocarpus ovalifolia and integrifolia) are much subject to their ravages. Large numbers of the shunda palm (Caryota) are found in these hills, and toddy is collected from them. These dormice eat through the covering of the pot as suspended, and enjoy themselves. Two were brought to me in the pots half drowned. I procured in one morning sixteen specimens. The method employed in obtaining them was to tie long bamboos (with thin little branches left on them to climb by) to the trees; and, when the hole was reached, the man cut the entrance large enough to admit his hand, and took out the nest with the animals rolled up in it, put the whole into a bag made of bark, and brought it down. They actually reached the bottom sometimes without being disturbed. It was very wet, cold weather, and they may have been somewhat torpid; but I started a large brown rat at the foot of one of these trees, which ran up the stem into a hole, and four dormice were out in a minute from it, apparently in terror of their large friend. There were no traces of hoarding in any of the holes, but the soft bark of the trees was a good deal gnawed in places. I had two of these dormice alive for some time, but, as they bit and gnawed at everything intended to keep them in durance, I was obliged to kill both. I noticed that when their tails were elevated, the hairs were perfectly erect like a bottle-brush" ('Proc. As. Soc. Beng.' 1859, p. 290).
Incisors narrow; molars divided into transverse laminae; pterygoid fossae short; auditory bullae usually large; hind limbs very long; tail long and hairy.
Form murine, with the exception of the elongated hind-limbs; muzzle pointed; ears moderate and oval; eyes very large and bright; occipital region broad; auditory bullae large; upper incisors grooved; first molar with three laminae, the second with two, and third with one only; hinder tarsus and toes much elongated; the fore-limbs small; tail long and hairy, with a tuft at the end.
NO. 317. GERBILLUS INDICUS. The Indian Jerboa-Rat, or Kangaroo-Rat (Jerdon's No. 170).
NATIVE NAMES.—Hirna-mus, Hindi; Jhenku-indur, Sanscrit and Bengali; Yeri-yelka of the Waddurs; Tel-yelka of the Yanadees; Billa-ilei, Canarese.
HABITAT.—All over India and in Ceylon, but apparently not in Burmah.
DESCRIPTION.—Light fulvous brown above or fawn colour, paling on the sides; under-parts white; the hairs of the back are ashy at the base, with fulvous tips, a few thin black hairs intermixed chiefly on the side and cheeks.
The eyebrow is whitish; whiskers long and black and a few grey; the nose is elongated; the upper jaw projecting nearly half an inch beyond the lower; tail, which is longer than the body, is blackish above and below, pale laterally, and terminates with a black tufted tip; the ears are large and nearly naked; the eye is particularly large and lustrous, which, with its graceful bounds, have given it its Indian name of "antelope-rat" (Hirna-mus).
SIZE.—Head and body, about 7 inches; tail, 8-1/2 inches; fore-foot, 5/10 inch; hind-foot, 2 inches. Weight, 6-3/4 ounces.
This graceful little creature frequents bare plains and sandy country in general, where it forms extensive burrows. Hardwicke writes of it: "These animals are very numerous about cultivated lands, and particularly destructive to wheat and barley crops, of which they lay up considerable hoards in spacious burrows. A tribe of low-caste Hindus, called Kunjers, go in quest of them at proper seasons to plunder their hoards, and often within the space of twenty yards square find as much corn in the ear as could be crammed in a bushel." Sir Walter Elliot's account of their burrows is most interesting. He says: "The entrances, which are numerous, are small, from which the passage descends with a rapid slope for two or three feet, then runs along horizontally, and sends off branches in different directions. These galleries generally terminate in chambers from half a foot to a foot in width, containing a bed of dried grass. Sometimes one chamber communicates with another furnished in like manner, whilst others appear to be deserted, and the entrances closed with clay. The centre chamber in one burrow was very large, which the Wuddurs attributed to its being the common apartment, and said that the females occupied the smaller ones with their young. They do not hoard their food, but issue from their burrows every evening, and run and hop about, sitting on their hind legs to look round, making astonishing leaps, and on the slightest alarm flying into their holes." This account differs from that of Hardwicke as regards the hoarding of food, and from what I can learn is the more correct.
The food of this animal is grain, grass, and roots, but Kellaart mentions certain carnivorous propensities, for one night several of them nearly devoured an albino rat which had been put into the same cage with them. McMaster says of its agility: "I have seen them when released from a trap baffle and elude dogs in the most extraordinary manner by wonderful jumps made over the backs, and apparently into the very teeth of their pursuers."
Buchanan-Hamilton's assertion that "these animals live in holes which they dig in the abrupt banks of rivers and ponds" is misleading. They may do so occasionally, but in general they choose sandy plains. The female is prolific, bringing forth from eight to twelve young ones, and Dr. Jerdon states that it is said to have occasionally as many as sixteen to twenty. With regard to Kellaart's accusation of its being carnivorous at times, I may say I have noticed such tendencies amongst several other rodents which are supposed to be purely vegetarians. I have also known ruminants take to flesh-eating when opportunity offered.
NO. 318. GERBILLUS HURRIANAE. The Desert Jerboa-Rat (Jerdon's No. 171).
HABITAT.—The sandy deserts west of the Jumna and Hurriana; also in Afghanistan according to Horsfield's Catalogue, and probably in Rajpootana, Sindh, and the Punjab.
DESCRIPTION.—Pale rufous or sandy above, with fine dusky lines, the hairs being blackish at the base, the rest fawn coloured, with a blackish tip very minute; sides paler, with fewer dusky lines; under-parts white, tinged more or less with fulvous or fawn on the belly; limbs pale fawn; orbits pale; whiskers whitish, a few of the upper ones dark; tail yellowish-rufous or fawn colour throughout, with a line of dusky brown hairs on the upper surface of the terminal half, gradually increasing in length to the tips.
SIZE.—Smaller than the last species. Head and body, 5 inches; tail, 4-1/2.
Jerdon says of this rat that it is "exceedingly numerous in the sandy downs and sand-hills of Hurriana, both in jungles and in bare plains, especially in the former, and a colony may be seen at the foot of every large shrub almost. I found that it had been feeding on the kernel of the nut of the common Salvadora oleifolia, gnawing through the hard nut and extracting the whole of the kernel. Unlike the last species, this rat, during the cold weather at all events, is very generally seen outside its holes at all hours, scuttling in on the near approach of any one, but soon cautiously popping its head out of its hole and again issuing forth. In the localities it frequents it is far more abundant than I have ever seen G. Indicus in the most favourable spots" ('Mammals of India,' p. 186).
NO. 319. GERBILLUS CRYPTORHINUS. The Lobe-nosed Jerboa-Rat.
DESCRIPTION.—after Mr. Blanford, who first described and named the species: "Colour above sandy rufescent, some specimens rather more rufous than others; below white, the two colours sharply divided on the sides; cheeks pale; supercilia whitish; feet white; tail above rather more rufous than the back, paler and occasionally whitish below, becoming dark brown or blackish above near the end, and with the slight tuft of longer hairs at the end of the same dark colour; fur soft and glossy, about half an inch long in the middle of the back, all the basal portion being at least three-quarters of the length, dark ashy; the terminal portion pale yellow brown to pale rufous, with numerous longer hairs with black tips mixed; on the under surface the hairs are white throughout; on the tail the hair is rather short, coarse, and close together; there are a very few longer black tips mixed, but scarcely enough to produce an effect in the general colour.
"The ears are oval and of moderate length; densely clad with brown hairs on the anterior portion of the outer surface, and with a fringe of longer hairs on the anterior margin; the posterior portion of the external surface is nearly naked, except near the margin, and the anterior portion of the inner surface is completely destitute of hair, but the inner surface is more hairy near the hinder margin. The whiskers are very numerous, the longest slightly exceeding the head; the uppermost behind being black, all the rest white; all are mixed at the base with long hairs, which cover the side of the nose; soles of the fore-feet with scattered white hairs, but nearly naked; those of the hind-feet densely covered with hair everywhere except at the extreme tips of the toes and at the heel.
"Mammae, eight—four pectoral and four inguinal, as usual in the genus.
"The most remarkable character of these species is the presence at the end of the snout of a semi-circular lobe, which forms a flap completely covering the openings of the nostrils. This lobe can, of course, only be well seen in the specimens preserved in spirit. In the dried skin its presence can sometimes be detected, but not always. In the only spirit specimen, an adult female, the flap measures about 0.3 inch in breadth, and is barely an eighth of an inch long.
"It is hairy both outside and inside, the hairs being very short and rather scattered inside; the surface below the nostrils covered by the flap is also hairy. The use of this lobe is evidently to keep out sand and dust from the air passages" (W. T. Blanford's 'Mammalia of the Second Yarkand Mission,' p. 56).
SIZE.—Head and body, about 5-1/2 inches; tail, 5 inches; length of fore-foot, 0.5 inch; hind-foot, 1.4 inch.
The peculiarity of the lobe, which was first detected by Mr. Oscar Fraser in removing a skull from a spirit specimen, distinguishes this species from the other Asiatic forms. There is also a peculiarity in the skull noticed by Mr. Blanford, which is that the lachrymal process, instead of being anchylosed to the adjoining bones, as in others of the genus, is free, and this species is therefore distinguished from the one most resembling it, G. unguiculatus from Chinese Mongolia, in which the lachrymal process is united to the frontal.
NO. 320. GERBILLUS ERYTHRURUS. The Red-tailed Jerboa-Rat.
HABITAT.—Afghanistan and Persia.
DESCRIPTION.—Rufous brown above, with a few long black hairs, more numerous on the rump and thighs; under fur slaty; under-parts white, gradually blending with the colour of the sides; ears much larger than in the last species, hairy outside and near the margin inside; soles of hind feet and toes thickly covered with hair, except on the hinder half of the tarsus; tail very rufous—brown with a black tip, black hairs are scattered along the upper surface, and form a black band towards the end above, finally covering the whole tip.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 6 inches; tail, equal.
Mr. Blanford, to whose 'Eastern Persia' I am chiefly indebted for the above description, writes: "From G. Hurrianae, which Jerdon thought might probably be the same, the present form is distinguished by its much larger ears and by the hind feet, and especially the toes, being more thickly covered with hair beneath; the fur too is longer and the colour browner on the back; the tail is more rufous, and the tip blacker; the skull is larger and broader; the nasal portion more elongate and less concave above, and the hind upper molar has a distinct talon, or rudimentary second transverse ridge, in young specimens, traces of which may be detected in the form of the worn tooth."
Its habits are similar to those of the last species.
NO. 321. GERBILLUS NANUS. The Dwarf Jerboa-Rat.
DESCRIPTION.—The fur is soft and long, rufous brown or fawn colour above, white below, the colours being less sharply distinguished than in G. Indicus; the hairs of the upper parts have no black tips, and the basal two-thirds are slaty grey. There is a broad white supercilium in front, joining the white area of the sides of the face, so that the brown of the nose is reduced to a rather narrow band; ears almost naked, a few short whitish hairs near the edge only; whiskers nearly all white; a few of the upper hairs brown near the base; feet white above, naked beneath, tail light brown above, whitish beneath; towards the end a band of darker brown hairs runs along the upper portion, those at the end lengthened; but there is a less marked tuft than usual, and there are no black hairs at the end (Blanford's 'Eastern Persia,' vol. ii. p. 72, with plate).
SIZE.—Head and body, 2.6 inches; tail, exclusive of hair, 4.5 inches; hair, 0.55 inches.
This curious little animal was first found and named by Mr. W. T. Blanford, who obtained two specimens, with others of G. Hurrianae, in a large area of ground that was flooded. He at first supposed them to be the young of G. Indicus, but found on subsequent examination that they were full grown.
Incisors broad; molars divided into transverse laminae; infra-orbital opening typical; claws large.
Muzzle blunt; ears moderate; claws long; fur rather harsh; tail short, scaly, sparsely haired; palate narrow; incisive foramina short; auditory bullae rather small; incisors broad; first molars with three laminae, the rest with only two.—Alston.
There has been some confusion regarding the species of this genus. Jerdon, in his 'Mammals of India,' gives only two, including Arvicola Indica and Mus kok of Gray, Mus providens of Elliot, and Mus pyctoris of Hodgson, under Nesokia Indica, and classifying Nesokia Huttoni with N. Hardwickii; but Dr. Anderson, after a most careful examination of specimens from all parts of India, has proved the distinctness of Mus providens vel kok from the species called by Jerdon Nesokia Indica, which, being a synonym of N. Hardwickii, he has now renamed Mus (Nesokia) Blythianus (see 'Jour. As. Soc. Beng.' 1878, vol. xlvii. pt. ii.), and Mr. Blanford had clearly demonstrated that N. Huttoni is a distinct species from N. Hardwickii ('Zool. of Persia,' vol. ii. p. 59).
NO. 322. NESOKIA HARDWICKII. Hardwick's Field-Rat (Jerdon's No. 173).
DESCRIPTION.—General colour sandy brown on the upper parts, paler on the sides, dusky grey, with a tinge of yellowish-rufous on the under-parts; muzzle, feet, and tail flesh-coloured; ears of the same, but rather darker; head short and bluff; muzzle broad and deep; eye moderately large; ears moderate, rounded, clad with minute hairs; fur soft and moderately long, of three kinds, viz. short under-fur, ordinary hairs, and mixed with them, especially on the back and rump, numerous long black hairs which project a good way beyond the fur.
SIZE.—Head and body, nearly 8 inches; tail, about 4-1/2 inches.
It is probable that this species is identical with Mus Griffithi, though the dimensions given by Horsfield ('Cat. Mam. Mus. E. I. Comp.') and the description do not quite agree. He gives the size of head and body at 6-1/2 inches; tail, 3 inches, and says that the teeth are nearly white.
NO. 323. NESOKIA HUTTONI. Hutton's Field-Rat.
HABITAT.—Northern India, Afghanistan and Persia.
DESCRIPTION.—Colour above from ferruginous brown to sandy brown, lower parts isabelline, but frequently appear dark in consequence of the fur being thin or worn; the basal portion dark slaty grey both above and below the animal; hairs on the back soft and of moderate length, a very few black hairs being scattered amongst the brown ones; tail naked, and ears almost naked, the latter having only a few extremely short hairs, thinly scattered, and the feet are covered above very sparsely with short whitish hairs (see Blanford's 'Persia,' vol. ii., for description and plate). Nose and feet flesh-coloured; ears and tail darker and brownish; mammae eight, as usual in the genus.
According to Dr. A. Barclay (quoted by Dr. Anderson) the holes of this rat do not run deep, but ramify horizontally just below the surface of the ground. It throws out a mound of earth at the exit of the hole.
NO. 324. NESOKIA SCULLYI. Scully's Field-Rat.
NATIVE NAME.—Mughi, Turki.
HABITAT.—Kashgaria at Sanju, south-east of Yarkand.
DESCRIPTION.—Light rufescent brown above, dirty white beneath; fur fine and silky, blackish-grey at the base, and for two-thirds, the last third of the longer hairs being fawn colour; face earthy brown; whiskers black, tipped with white; ears very short, semi-nude; feet and claws flesh-coloured; tail naked, with a few scattered fine short hairs.
SIZE.—Head and body, 6.6 inches; tail, 5.2 inches.
NO. 325. NESOKIA PROVIDENS. The Southern India Field-Rat (Jerdon's No. 172).
NATIVE NAMES.—Kok, Canarese; Golatta-koku, Telegu of the Yanadees; Yea-kwet (?) Burmese.
HABITAT.—Southern India and Ceylon, probably Burmah, as one species is mentioned there by Blyth.
DESCRIPTION.—Head short and truncated, with a deep muzzle; ears nearly round, semi-nude, sparsely covered with minute hairs; eyes moderately large, half-way between snout and ear; feet largish; claws short and stout; tail nearly equalling length of head and body, semi-nude, ringed, and with short brown bristly hairs round the margin of the annuli; whiskers full and long; colour of the fur—which is harsh and long, as in the rest of the genus, and of the usual three kinds—is a brown, mixed with a tinge of fawn; the under-parts are whitish, with a yellowish tinge; the nose, ears, and feet are dark flesh-coloured or brownish, and the feet are covered with short brown hair. The incisors are orange yellow; the claws yellowish.
Sir Walter Elliot states that a variety found in red soil is much redder in colour than that inhabiting the black land. The skull is considerably smaller, according to Dr. Anderson, than that of the Bengal Nesokia, N. Blythiana, of the same age, from which it is also distinguished by its more outwardly arched malar process of the maxillary, by its considerably smaller teeth and long but less open anterior palatine foramina. The brain case is also relatively shorter and more globular than that of Nesokia Blythiana.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 7 inches; tail, 6-1/2 inches.
The habits of this rat are similar to those of the Bengal species, to which I will allude further on, and it has the same way of taking to water when pursued.
Jerdon says that this rat is most destructive to tea-trees, biting the roots just below the surface, more, he believes, because they happen to come in the way of their burrows than to feed on them.
Sir Walter Elliot writes: "In its habits it is solitary, fierce, living secluded in spacious burrows, in which it stores up large quantities of grain during the harvest, and when that is consumed lives upon the huryale grass and other roots. The female produces from eight to ten at a birth, which she sends out of her burrow as soon as they are able to provide for themselves. When irritated it utters a low grunting cry, like the bandicoot. The race of people known by the name of Wuddurs, or tank-diggers, capture this animal in great numbers as an article of food, and during the harvest they plunder their earths of the grain stored up for their winter consumption, which in favourable localities they find in such quantities as to subsist almost entirely upon it during that season of the year. A single burrow will sometimes yield as much as half a seer (1 lb.) of grain, containing even whole ears of jowaree (Holchus sorghum)." Sir Walter Elliot goes on to give a most interesting account of the construction of the burrows of this animal.
NO. 326. NESOKIA BLYTHIANA. The Bengal Field-Rat.
NATIVE NAME.—Yenkrai, Bengalee.
HABITAT.—From Ghazipur in the North-west to Eastern Bengal and Cachar. Very common about Calcutta.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur coarse as in the genus, profusely intermixed with long piles, more numerous on the lumbar and sacral regions, which project a long way beyond the ordinary pelage. The general colour a dark brown with yellowish hairs intermingled, which give a somewhat rufous tinge, paler beneath. Nose, ears, and feet flesh-coloured; tail naked, ringed, and sparsely covered with short bristly hairs at the margin of the rings; feet moderately large; claws short and stout; eyes moderately large, placed a little nearer to the ear than to the snout; ears rounded, semi-nude, covered with a fine down; whiskers black; incisor teeth rich orange, but generally white towards their tips.
The female has eight pairs of mammae.
SIZE.—Head and body, 8-1/4 inches; tail, 6-1/2 inches.
I have already alluded to the distinguishing features of the skull of this species, as compared with Nesokia providens. From the skull of N. Hardwickii it differs in its considerably narrower incisors and smaller and more irregularly laminated molars, and by its long and open anterior palatine foramina. It has also a more arched skull (Anderson).
This animal, which is included in Jerdon's Nesokia Indica, is very generally distributed over Lower Bengal. In the neighbourhood of Calcutta, Alipore for instance, it is abundant, and is a great nuisance in gardens. It burrows in tortuous directions, only a few inches below the ground, there being no definite plan, some being more complicated than others—the principal passage leading to a chamber containing a nest of leaves and grass. I have been told by natives that large quantities of grain are stored by these rats. When I first heard of its aquatic powers, I was led to believe that it was a species of vole, and was particularly desirous to get one, not being aware of any true water-rat in India. However, the reports of the natives have been confirmed by what Sir Walter Elliot states regarding the habits of N. providens, and by Dr. Anderson, who made several experiments with these rats in captivity. He says: "To test this aquatic power, I had two rats placed in a large wire birdcage, and the cage partially submerged; if the rats, when in those circumstances, were much annoyed, they immediately dived to the bottom of the cage, where they could be observed running about under water. I also had them removed from the cage, and let loose in the large sheet of water in the Zoological Gardens, between the two iron bridges. When let loose at the bank, and an attempt was made to catch them, they immediately dived; and the stronger of the two did not appear at the surface for some time, when it was observed at a considerable distance from the bank making for the opposite side."
In confinement these rats are not engaging pets; they show a considerable amount of surliness and ferocity. I have noticed that on approaching the bars of the cage, one would grind its teeth, put back its ears, and fly at you with a grunt.
NO. 327. NESOKIA BARCLAYIANA. Barclay's Field-Rat.
HABITAT.—Northern India, the North-west and some parts of Bengal (Purneah) and Assam.
DESCRIPTION.—General colour brownish; under surface silvery grey; feet and muzzle flesh-colour; tail nearly black; claws horny white; a white band from the nose through the eye; muzzle short and bluff; forehead slightly arched; tail exceeding the length of the trunk, but not equal to head and body, ringed, and sparsely clad; fur coarse; piles moderately long.
SIZE.—Head and body, about 8-3/4 inches; tail, 7-1/4 inches.
This rat was first discovered by Dr. Arthur Barclay at Goona in Central India, and apparently it appears to be identical with specimens collected at Srinagar in Kashmir, in the Purneah district, and in Cachar.
* * * * *
The next two have usually been classed as true Mus, and the latter is to be found in Jerdon; but, from the breadth of the incisors and the lamination of the molars, which are less sinuous and relatively larger than in Mus, and from other characteristics of the skull, they are nearer allied to Nesokia than to the true rats.
NO. 328. MUS (NESOKIA) ELLIOTANUS. Elliot's Field-Rat.
HABITAT.—Bengal, Assam, Khasia hills.
DESCRIPTION.—This rat is thus described by Dr. Anderson. It is the nearest approach in size to the bandicoot: "Head short and deep; muzzle deep and broad; eye half-way between ear and nose, moderately large; ears not large, rounded, sparsely covered with short hairs; feet large and well developed, with strong claws, and sparsely clad; tail sparsely covered with short bristles on the margins of the annuli, and nearly equalling the length of the body and head. Pelage coarse, with moderately large piles, most numerous on the back; vibrissae moderately long.
"General colour, above brown, with intermixed yellowish or pale brown hairs producing much the same colour as in M. (N.) Blythianus; paler on the sides, and passing into greyish on the under-parts; nose and feet flesh-coloured; ears dark brown; tail blackish" ('J. A. S. B.' 1878, vol. xlvii; pt. ii. p. 231).
NO. 329. MUS (NESOKIA) GIGANTEUS. The Bandicoot (Jerdon's No. 174).
NATIVE NAMES.—Indur, Sanscrit; Ghunse, Hindi; Ikria, Bengali; Heggin, Canarese; Pandi-koku, i.e. pig-rat, Telegu; Oora-meyoo, Singhalese.
HABITAT.—Throughout India; also in Ceylon.
DESCRIPTION.—Fur coarse, consisting of the three kinds, of which the coarser piles are very long, and almost hide the general pelage on the lumbar and dorsal regions. These piles are almost absent on the head, neck, and sides; general colour earthy brown, with yellowish hairs intermixed; the piles blackish-brown; under-parts dusky brown, mixed with grey; limbs brownish; nose, inside of ear and feet flesh-coloured; tail black, ringed, and sparsely haired. The female has twelve mammae.