114 Say's Marmot Squirrel
SPERMOPHILUS LATERALIS.--SAY. SAY'S MARMOT-SQUIRREL, OR SPERMOPHILE. [Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel] PLATE CXIV. S. magnitudine Sciuri Hudsonici; stria laterali flavescente alba nigro marginata.
CHARACTERS. Size of Sciurus Hudsonicus; a yellowish-white stripe bordered with dark brownish-black on each flank. SYNONYMES. SMALL GRAY SQUIRREL. Lewis and Clark, vol. iii. p. 35. SCIURUS LATERALIS. Say, Long's Expedition, vol. ii. p. 46. SCIURUS LATERALIS. Harlan, Fauna Americana, p. 181. ROCKY MOUNTAIN GROUND SQUIRREL. Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii. p. 144. ARCTOMYS (SPERMOPHILUS) LATERALIS. Rich., Zool. Jour., vol. ii., No. 12, p. 519, ARCTOMYS (SPERMOPHILUS) LATERALIS, SAY'S MARMOT. Rich., F. B. A., p. 174, pl. 13. DESCRIPTION. The body in form resembles the Spermophiles, with a slight approach to the Tamiae; head, rather large; forehead, convex; nose, obtuse and covered with short hairs, except a naked space around the nostrils; incisors, flattened anteriorly; mouth placed pretty far back; whiskers, shorter than the head; a few long black hairs over the eye and posterior part of the cheeks; eyes, rather large; ears, oval and somewhat conspicuous, appearing like the ears of most animals of this genus, with the exception that they seem as if trimmed or cut short; they are thickly clothed on both surfaces with short hairs, and have a small doubling of the anterior margin to form a helix, which where it approaches the auditory canal is covered with longer hairs. Legs, shorter and stouter than those of the squirrel family; feet, shaped like those of the Spermophili; claws, stronger, straighter, and better adapted for digging than those of the Tamiae; the thumb tubercle is far back, and has a small obtuse nail; soles (of hind feet), naked to the heel, as are also the palms (of fore feet) and the under surface of the toes; upper surface of the feet, covered with short hairs which scarcely reach to the claws; tail depressed, slightly distichous, nearly linear, very slightly broadest towards the tip; there are no annulations in the hairs of the tail. COLOUR. Above, brownish-ash, intermixed with blackish, producing a hoary brownish-gray; there is no vestige of a dorsal line. A yellowish-white stripe appears on the neck, and running backwards along the sides, terminates at the hip; it is widest in the middle,, being there three lines broad; and in some specimens it is faintly seen along the sides of the neck, reaching the ear; this white stripe is bounded above and below between the shoulder and the hip by a pretty broad border of brownish-black; top of the head and neck, tipped with ferruginous; the sides, all the ventral parts, inner surfaces of the legs, breast, and throat, yellowish-white, in parts tinged with brown. Cheeks, and sides of the neck, chestnut-brown; ears, brown on their margins, paler near the base; a circle around the eye, upper lip, and chin, nearly white; nails, black; tail, black above, with an intermixture of brownish-white hairs, and bordered with white; the under surface is yellowish-brown, margined with black and brownish-white. DIMENSIONS. Inches. Lines. Length of head and body, . . . . . . . . 8 0 Length of head, . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 Length of tail (vertebrae), . . . . . . . 2 9 Length of tail (including fur), . . . . . . 3 9 Length of middle fore claw, . . . . . . . 0 4 1/2 Length of palm and middle fore claw, . . . . 0 11 Length of sole and middle claw (of hind-foot), . 1 6 Height of ear,. . . . . . . . . . . . 0 4 Breadth of base of external ear,. . . . . . 0 5 HABITS. This beautiful inhabitant of the wooded valleys of the Rocky Mountains was not seen by us on our journey up the Missouri river, although it is probably found within the district of country we traversed. We are therefore unable to give any personal information in regard to its habits, and we find but little in the works of others. Mr. DRUMMOND obtained several specimens on the Rocky Mountains as far north as latitude 57 degrees, and observed that it burrowed in the ground. Mr. SAY did not give any account of its habits, and probably the specimen he described was brought into camp by the hunters attached to the expedition, without his ever having seen the animal alive. All the Spermophiles that we have seen are lively, brisk, and playful, resembling the common ground-squirrels (Tamias Lysteri) in their general habits. The Mexican women make pets of some of the species inhabiting that country, and they become very fond of their mistresses, running over their shoulders, and sometimes nestling in their bosoms, or the pockets of their gowns. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. DRUMMOND obtained several specimens on the Rocky Mountains, in latitude 57 degrees. LEWIS and CLARK state that it is common to every part of that range where wood abounds. We have not been able to determine the limits of its southern migrations, and have no information as to its existence in California. GENERAL REMARKS. This species was first observed by LEWIS and CLARK, but was named and described by Mr. SAY, who placed it among the ground-squirrels. Dr. RICHARDSON subsequently gave a very accurate description of it, and transferred it through Arctomys to the subgenus Spermophilus, although considering it intermediate between the nearly allied subgenera Spermophilus and Tamias, with respect to its claws and teeth. It is, however, in reality a Spermophilus and not a Tamias, as can easily be seen from the form of the body, the shortness of the legs, shape of the feet, and more especially its strong and nearly straight nails. On the other hand, the longitudinal lines on the back, and the shape of the tail, indicate a slight approach to the Tamiae. At the close of this article we embrace the opportunity of adding another species to this interesting genus, the habitat of which is, however, we regret to say, so much involved in obscurity that we cannot with certainty, at present, add it to the list of our North American mammalia. Shortly after the return of the United States Exploring Expedition under the command of Captain WILKES, we happened to meet several of the naturalists who had been attached to the expedition. Some one--we cannot now recollect the gentleman--presented us with this specimen, stating that he could not tell where it had been obtained; the specimen has from that time remained in our collection without our having been able to gain any information in regard to its habitat, and without our learning that any other specimen has been procured, although we have anxiously sought to obtain farther intelligence on the subject. This family is represented in the old world by few and peculiarly marked species, to none of which can we refer our animal, whilst on the other hand it bears in form, size, and markings, a strong connection with the American spermophiles, and will, as we are inclined to think, yet be found in some part of the western sea-coast regions of America. We introduce it under the following name and description: [See Spermophilus Pealei.]