39 Leopard Spermophile
SPERMOPHILUS TRIDECEM LINEATUS.--MITCHILL. [Spermophilus tridecemlineatus] LEOPARD-SPERMOPHILE. [Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel] PLATE XXXIX.--MALE AND FEMALE. Magnitudine Tamiae Lysteri; supra striis octo longitudinalibus dilute fulvis cum striis novem fulvis alternatum distributis; harum quinque, stria media et duabus utrinque proximis guttis subalbidis subquadratus distinctis.
CHARACTERS. Size of the chipping-squirrel (Tamias Lysteri); eight pale yellowish-brown stripes on the back, which alternate with nine broader yellowish-brown ones; the five uppermost being marked with a row of pale spots. SYNONYMES. LEOPARD GROUND-SQUIRREL, Schoolcraft's Travels, p. 313, and Index, anno 1821. SCIURUS TRIDECEM LINEATUS, Mitchill, Med. Repository, 1821. ARCTOMYS HOODII, Sabine, Linn. Trans., vol. xii., p. 590, 1822. ARCTOMYS HOODII, Franklin's Journey, p. 663. STRIPED AND SPOTTED GROUND-SQUIRREL, Say, Long's Expedition. SPERMOPHILE, F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. des Mamm. ARCTOMYS TRIDECEM LINEATA, Harlan, Fauna, p. 164. HOOD'S MARMOT, Godman, vol. ii., p. 112. ARCTOMYS HOODII, Fischer's Synopsis, p. 544. SPERMOPHILUS HOODII, Less., Mamm., p. 243, 654. SPERMOPHILUS HOODII, Desmarest, in Dict. des Sc. Nat., L. p. 139. SPERMOPHILUS HOODII, F. Cuv. et Geoff., Mamm., fasc. 46. ARCTOMYS TRIDECEM LINEATA, Griffith, sp. 641. ARCTOMYS (SPERMOPHILUS) HOODII, Rich., Fauna Boreali Americana, p. 177, pl. 14. DESCRIPTION. In form this species bears a considerable resemblance to the very common chipping squirrel of the Atlantic States; by its shorter ears, however, and by its longer nails, which are intended more for digging than climbing, it approaches the marmots. The head has a convex shape and is very much curved, especially from the forehead to the nose; the nose is obtuse, and with the exception of the nostrils and septum is completely covered with very short hairs. The mouth is far back; the cheek-pouches of moderate size. Whiskers, a little shorter than the head; eyes, large; ears, very short, consisting merely of a low short lobe behind and above the auditory opening; they are covered with very short hairs. The hair on the whole body is short, adpressed, and glossy. Legs and feet, rather slender; nails, long, slightly arched, and channelled beneath toward their extremities. On the fore-feet the thumb has one joint, with an obtuse nail; the second toe is longest, (as in the spermophiles, and not the third, as in the squirrels;) the first and third are of equal length; the fourth shortest, and removed far back. The tail is linear; for an inch from the root the fur lies so close that it appears rounded, it then gradually widens, becomes flattened, and seems capable of a slight distichous arrangement. Mammae, twelve, situated along the sides of the abdomen. COLOUR. A line around the eye and a spot beneath, inner and outer surfaces of the legs, and the whole under part of the body, of a pale yellowish colour; on the sides of the neck, the fore-legs near the shoulders, and on the hips, there are tinges of reddish-brown; the feet near the nails, and the under-jaw, are dull white. On the head, there are irregular and somewhat indistinct alternate stripes of brown and yellowish-white, being an extension of the stripes on the back, which, from the irregular blending of the colours, give it a spotted appearance. On the back there are five longitudinal brown stripes, each having regular rows of square spots of yellowish-white; the dorsal stripe, which runs from the back part of the head, and extends for half an inch beyond the root of the tail, is a little the broadest. These dark-coloured stripes are separated from each other by straight and uniform lines of yellowish-white. There are also on each side, two less distinct brown stripes, that are not spotted. Thus the animal has five brown stripes that are spotted, and four that are plain and without spots, together with eight yellowish-white stripes. The hairs in the tail are yellowish-white at the roots, then broadly barred with black, and at the tips yellowish-white, giving it when distichally arranged a bar of black on each side of the vertebrae. DIMENSIONS. Inches. Head and body . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 1/8 Tail (vertebrae) . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1/2 Tail, to end of hair . . . . . . . . . . . 4 1/2 From heel to end of nail . . . . . . . . . . 1 1/2 Longest claw on the fore-foot . . . . . . . . 0 3/8 Measurement of an old female. Inches. Nose to root of tail . . . . . . . . . . . 6 3/4 Tail (vertebrae) . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1/2 Tail, to end of hair . . . . . . . . . . . 4 3/8 Fore-feet to end of claws . . . . . . . . . 0 7/8 Heel to end of longest claw . . . . . . . . . 1 3/8 Nose to opening of ear . . . . . . . . . . 1 1/2 Length of pouch, to angle of mouth . . . . . . 1 7/10 Dr. RICHARDSON measured a male that was nine inches to the insertion of the tail. He remarks that the females are smaller than the males. HABITS. We believe it is generally supposed that "birds," with their varied and pleasing forms, gay and beautiful plumage, tuneful throats, and graceful movements through the air, present greater attractions to the student of nature than "quadrupeds," and awaken in him a stronger desire to acquire a knowledge of their natures and characters than he may entertain to study the habits of the mammalia. In addition, however, to the fact that the latter are, like ourselves, viviparous, and approach our own organization, it should be remembered that all the productions of nature are the work of so infinite a wisdom, that they must, in every department of the physical world, excite our greatest interest and our admiration, even when examined superficially. Among the quadrupeds, there are innumerable varieties of form and character; and although most animals are nocturnal, and therefore their habits cannot be studied with the same facility with which the manners and customs of the lively diurnal species of birds may be observed; yet when we follow them in their nightly wanderings, penetrate into their retreats, and observe the sagacity and extraordinary instincts with which they are endowed, we find in them matter to interest us greatly, and arouse our curiosity and astonishment. Owls seem to us a dull and stupid race, principally because we only notice them during the day, which nature requires them to spend in sleep, the structure of their eyes compelling them to avoid the light, and seek concealment in hollow trees, in caves, and obscure retreats. But we should recollect that the diurnal birds are, during night, the time for their repose, as dull and stupid as owls are during the day. We should therefore not judge the habits of quadrupeds by the same standard. In regard to their fur, and external markings, there are many that will strike even the most careless observer as eminently beautiful. The little animal which is here presented to you is one of this description. In the distribution of the tints that compose its gaudy dress, in the regularity of its lines and spots, and in the soft blendings of its various shades of colour, we have evidence that even species whose habitations are under ground, may present to the eye as rich and beautiful a vesture as is found in the garb of a majority of the lively songsters of the woods. In the warm days of spring the traveller on our Western prairies is often diverted from the contemplation of larger animals, to watch the movements of this lively little species. He withdraws his attention for a moment from the bellowing buffalo herd that is scampering over the prairies, to fix his eyes on a lively little creature of exquisite beauty seated oil a diminutive mound at the mouth of its burrow, which seems by its chirrupings and scoldings to warn away the intruder on its peaceful domains. On a nearer approach it darts into its hole; but although concealed from view, and out of the reach of danger, its tongue, like that of other scolds of a more intelligent race, is not idle; it still continues to vent its threats of resentment againt its unwelcome visitor by a shrill and harsh repetition of the word "seek-seek." There is a great similarity in the habits of the various spermophili that compose the interesting group to which the present species belongs. They live principally on the open prairies, make their burrows in the earth, and feed on roots and seeds of various kinds, which they carry in their pouches to their dark retreats under ground. The holes of this species, according to RICHARDSON, run nearly perpendicularly, and are so straight, that they will admit a stick to be inserted to the depth of four or five feet. He supposes that owing to the depth of their burrows, which the sun does not penetrate very early in spring, they do not make their appearance as early as some others, especially S. Richardsonii. As soon as they feel the warmth of spring they come forth and go in quest of their mates; at this period they seem fearless of danger, and are easily captured by the beasts and birds of prey that frequent the plains. The males are said to be very pugnacious at this season. This is believed to be the most active and lively of all our known species of marmot-squirrels; we recently observed one in New-York that played in a wheel in the manner of the squirrel. We saw in Charleston a pair in a cage, that were brought from Missouri by an officer of the army. They were adults, had but recently been captured and were rather wild. They seemed to keep up a constant angry querulous chattering; they were fed on various kinds of nuts and grains, but principally on corn-meal and pea or ground-nuts, (Arachis hypogaea.) They would come to the bars of the cage and take a nut from the hand, but would then make a hasty retreat to a little box in the corner of their domicile. On our placing a handful of filberts in front of the cage, they at first came out and carried off one by one to their store-house; but after we had retired so as not to be observed, they filled their pouches by the aid of their paws, and seemed to prefer this mode of transporting their provisions. As we were desirous of taking measurements and descriptions, we endeavoured to hold one in the hand by the aid of a glove, but it struggled so lustily and used its teeth so savagely that we were compelled to let it go. This species frequently takes up its residence near the fields and gardens of the settlers; and in the neighbourhood of Fort Union and other places, was represented as particularly destructive to the gardens. We found the Leopard-Spermophile quite abundant near Fort Union, on the Upper Missouri. Their burrows were made in a sandy gravelly soil; they were never deep or inclined downwards, but ran horizontally within about a foot of the surface of the earth. This difference in habit from those observed by RICHARDSON may be owing to the nature of the different soils. We dug some of their burrows and discovered that the holes ran in all directions, containing many furcations. RICHARDSON states that "the males fight when they meet, and in their contests their tails are often mutilated." All the specimens, however, that we obtained, were perfect and in good order. The Leopard-Spermophile has two more teats than are found in the majority of the species of this genus, and hence it may be expected to produce an additional number of young. RICHARDSON informs us that ten young were taken from a female killed at Carlton House. This was on the 17th May, and we from hence presume that they produce their young soon after this period. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. We have not heard of the existence of this species farther to the north than latitude 55 degrees. It was found by SAY at Engineer Encampment on the Missouri; we found it at Fort Union, latitude 40 degrees 40 minutes; and it is said to extend along the prairies on the Eastern side of the Rocky Mountains into Mexico. The name tridecem lineatus (thirteen lined) is not particularly euphonious, nor very characteristic; yet as it has in conformity with long established usages existing among naturalists, been admitted into our standard works, we have concluded to adopt it. The figures given by SABINE and F. CUVIER of this species are defective, each having been taken from a specimen in which the tail had been mutilated. That given by RICHARDSON, Fauna boreali Americana, drawn by LANDSEER, is more characteristic.