109            Mexican Marmot-Squirrel

                        SPERMOPHILUS MEXICANUS.---LICHT.
                            [Spermophilus mexicanus]

                           [Mexican Ground Squirrel]

                       PLATE CIX.---OLD MALE, and YOUNG.

     S. magnitudine sciuri Hudsonici, auriculis brevibus, cauda longa, corpore
supra rufo-fulvo, maculis vel strigio albis, subtus albo flavescente.

     Size of Sciurus Hudsonicus; ears, short; tail, long; body, above,
reddish-tawny, with white spots or bars; beneath, yellowish-white.


     CITILUS MEXICANUS.  Licht., Darstellung neuer oder wenig bekannter
       Saugthiere, Berlin, 1827-1834.
     SPERMOPHILUS SPILOSOMA.  Bennett, Proc. Zool. Soc., London, 1833, p. 40.


     Form, very similar to the leopard spermophile (S. tridecemlineatus),
although the present species is the larger of the two; ears, short, and clothed
with short hairs; body, moderately thick; legs, rather short; toes and nails,
long; tail, somewhat flat, distichous, and shorter than the body.


     Upper surface, rufous-brown, spotted with yellowish-white, the spots
bordered posteriorly with black; under parts, pale buff-white; this colour
extends somewhat upwards on the sides of the animal; feet, pale-yellow; tarsi,
hairy beneath, the hairs extending forwards to the naked fleshy pads at the base
of the toes; claws, dusky horn colour, with pale points; the fur at the roots
(both on the upper and under parts of the animal) is gray.
     The eye is bordered with whitish-yellow; head and ears, rufous-brown; upper
surface of tail, dark-brown, edged with a white fringe on the sides; towards the
extremities the hairs are yellow, but they have a broad black band in the middle
of their length; under surface of the tail of an almost uniform yellowish-hue,
slightly inclining to rust colour.


     Adult male.                                        Inches.     Lines.

       From point of nose to root of tail,  .  .  .  .  . 10          0
       Tail (vertebrae),  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  4          0
       Tail including hair,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  5          0
       Nose to end of head,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  2          6
       Length of ears, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  0          4
       From elbow of fore-leg to end of longest nail,.  .  2          6
       Tarsus (of hind leg), .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  1          9

     Measurements of the specimen named S. Spilosoma by Mr. BENNETT:

     Young.                                             Inches.     Lines.

       From point of nose to root of tail,  .  .  .  .  .  5          9
       Tail (vertebrae),  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  2          9
       Tail including hair,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  3          6
       Nose to ear, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  1          3
       Tarsus and nails,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  1          3
       Length of nail of middle toe,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  0          2 1/3
       Length of fore foot and nails, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  0          9 1/2
       Length of middle toe of fore foot to nail, .  .  .  0          2 1/2


     This Mexican Spermophile has all the activity and sprightliness of the
squirrel family, and in its movements greatly reminds one of the little
ground-squirrel (Tamias Lysteri) of the middle and northern States.  It feeds
standing on its hind feet and holding its food in the fore paws like a common
squirrel, and is remarkable for the flexibility of its back and neck, which it
twists sideways with a cunning expression of face while observing the looker on.
When caught alive this pretty species makes a pet of no common attractions,
having beautiful eyes and being very handsomely marked, while its disposition
soon becomes affectionate, and it retains its gay and frolicsome habits.  It
will eat corn and various kinds of seeds, and is fond of bits of potatoe, apple,
or any kind of fruit, as well as bread, pastry, cakes, &c.:  grasses and clover
it will also eat readily, and in fact it takes any kind of vegetable food.  Even
in the hottest summer weather this animal is fond of making a nest of tow and
bits of carpet, and will sleep covered up by these warm materials as comfortably
as if the temperature was at freezing point outside instead of 85 degrees.
     For some time we have had a fine living animal of this species in a cage,
and he has been a source of great amusement to the little folks, who are fond of
feeding him and pleased to see his antics.  When threatened he shows fight, and
approaches the bars of his cage gritting or chattering with his teeth like a
little fury, and sometimes uttering a sharp squeak of defiance; but when offered
any good thing to eat he at once resumes his usual playful manner, and will take
it from the hand of any one.  In eating corn this little animal picks out the
soft part and leaves the shell and more compact portion of the grain untouched.
     At times he will coil himself up, lying on one side, almost entirely
concealed by the tow and shredded carpet; if then disturbed, he looks up out of
one eye without changing his position, and will sometimes almost bear to be
poked with a stick before moving.  Like the human race he occasionally shows
symptoms of laziness or fatigue, by yawning and stretching.  When first placed
in his cage he manifested some desire to get out, and attempted to gnaw the
wires:  he would now and then turn himself upside down, and with his fore paws
holding on to the wires above his head bite vigorously at the horizontal wires
for half a minute at a time, before changing this apparently uncomfortable
position.  This Spermophile is not in the habit of eating a very great deal at a
time, but seems to prefer feeding at intervals, even when plenty of food lies
within his reach, retiring to his snug nest and sleeping for a while after
eating a sufficient portion.  When thus sleeping we sometimes found him lying on
his back, with his fore paws almost joined, held close by his nose, while his
hind legs were slightly turned to one side so as to give his body the appearance
of complete relaxation.
     These animals are said to be tolerably abundant in Mexico and California,
but only in the wooded districts.  We were informed that they could easily be
procured near Vera Cruz, Tuspan, Tampico, &c.

                           GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.

     Lichtenstein informs us that Mr. DEPPE, procured this animal in 1826, in
the neighbourhood of Toluca in Mexico, where it was called by the inhabitants by
the general term Urion, which was also applied to other burrowing animals.
Captain BEECHY states that his specimen was procured in California, and we are
informed by Captain J. P. MCCOWN that it exists along the Rio Grande and in
other parts of Texas, where he has seen it as a pet in the Mexican ranchos.

                                GENERAL REMARKS.

     In our first edition (folio plates), we gave figures of the young of this
species as S. spilosoma of BENNETT, but having since ascertained that his
specimen was only the young of S. Mexicanus, a species which had been previously
published, we have now set down S. spilosoma as a synonyme of the latter, and
have placed the figures of both old and young on the same plate.