152 Weasel-like Squirrel
SCIURUS MUSTELINUS.--AUD. and BACH. [Sciurus griseus] WEASEL-LIKE SQUIRREL. [Western Gray Squirrel] PLATE CLII.--MALE. FIG. 1. S. Cervice longissima; cauda corpore longiore; pilis curtis, rigidis, compressis, teretibus; omni corporis parte nigerrima. CHARACTERS. Neck, very long; tail, longer than the body; hair, short, rigid, adpressed, and glossy; the whole body, jet black. SYNONYME. SCIURUS MUSTELINUS--WEASEL SQUIRREL. Aud. and Bach., Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phil., Oct. 5, 1841, p. 32. DESCRIPTION. The unusually long neck of this species, together with its long slender body, and smooth lustrous hair, give it somewhat the appearance of a weasel, and suggested to us the specific name. Ears, of moderate size, and nearly naked, there being only a few hairs on the borders; feet, covered with very short hairs, which only reach to the roots of the nails; tail, long, not bushy, moderately distichous. COLOUR. The hairs, in every part of the body, are deep black from the roots to the tips, and the surface is glossy. DIMENSIONS. Inches. Lines. Length of head and body,. . . . . . . . 10 0 Length of tail,. . . . . . . . . . . 13 0 From shoulder to point of nose, . . . . . 3 10 Tarsus, . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5 Height of ear posteriorly, . . . . . . . 0 6 HABITS. The Weasel-like Squirrel feeds in the woody portions of California, on acorns, the seeds of the pines and other trees, and makes its nest in the oaks or nut-bearing pines of that country, which, from their broad spreading branches and dense leafy boughs, afford it security against the hunter, as with equal cunning and agility it hides itself, when alarmed, amid the evergreen foliage, and except when surprised on the ground or near the earth, and shot instantly, can seldom be killed. There is no more tantalizing game, in fact, and as the branches interlock at a moderate elevation from the ground, the animal easily goes from one tree to another, and so swiftly that it is not often to be traced in its course of flight along the boughs. We are unacquainted with the time of this animal's breeding, but presume it brings forth about four or five young at a birth. The young of all species of squirrels with which we are familiar, are born blind, and remain without sight from four to six weeks. This is an admirable provision of nature for their safety, as were they able to use their eyes at an earlier period, they would doubtless be tempted to quit the security of the nest and venture on to the branches, before they had gained strength enough to preserve their footing, and would thus probably fall to the earth and be killed. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. The specimen from which our figure and description were made was procured in California. We have no authority for stating its northern or southern range, but consider it a western species--by which we mean that it is not found east of the Rocky Mountain chain. GENERAL REMARKS. From its thin covering of hair, being nearly destitute of the soft fur usually clothing the squirrels, this species may be considered as belonging to a moderate or warm climate. It differs widely from all the other species of Black Squirrel (as well as all black varieties of Squirrel), in our country. It has shorter and coarser hair than S. capistratus, and is destitute of the white nose and ears of that species, with none of the white tufts invariably found in S. niger; and has a smaller body, although a much longer tail than S. Auduboni, without the white, yellow, and brown annulations in the hair which characterize that species.
SCIURUS AUDUBONI.--BACH. [Sciurus niger] LARGE LOUISIANA BLACK SQUIRREL. [Fox Squirrel] PLATE CLII. FIG. 2.--MALE. Paulo minor quam Sciurus Niger; aures breviores; dentes qui cibum secant latiores; cauda longitudine corpori par; capilli valde crassi, tactuque asperi, sed nihilominus nitidi. Color, supra niger; infra subfuscus. CHARACTERS. A little less than Sciurus niger; ears, shorter; incisors, broader; tail, as long as the body; fur, very coarse and harsh to the touch, but glossy; colour, above, black, beneath, brownish. SYNONYME. LARGE LOUISIANA BLACK SQUIRREL--SCIURUS AUDUBONI. Bach., Monog. of the Genus Sciurus, p. 33. 1839. DESCRIPTION. 2 0-0 4-4 Dental Formula.--Incisive - ; Canine --- ; Molar --- = 20. 2 0-0 4-4 Our specimen has the above number of teeth. If the small anterior molar in the upper jaw exists in the young, which we suspect to be the case in all American species, it is deciduous; and we are warranted in arranging this species among those which have permanently but twenty teeth. In the upper jaw the anterior molar is triangular in shape, and crowned with three blunt tubercles; the other molars are quadrangular, with concave crowns. Head, narrower, and body, thinner than in S. niger; ears, short and conical, covered on both surfaces with short adpressed hairs, presenting no tufts; whiskers, longer than the head, extending to the shoulders. Fur on the back, very coarse. COLOUR. Incisors, deep orange; whiskers, black; back, upper parts, outsides of limbs, and feet, black, with a faint tinge of brown. Many of the hairs are however obscurely annulated with yellowish-white. The whole under surface, and the inner sides of the legs, are brownish. Most of the hairs on the under surface are grayish-white at the base, some are annulated with black and yellow, and others are brown. Chin, black, with the extreme tip whitish; end of nose, brownish; tail, black; when viewed beneath, the hairs exhibit deep yellow annulations; most of the hairs are brownish towards the tip. DIMENSIONS. Inches. Lines. Length of head and body, . . . . . . . . . 11 6 Length of tail (vertebrae), . . . . . . . . 8 9 Length of tail (to end of hair),. . . . . . . 11 6 Length of palm to end of middle fore-claw, . . . 1 6 Heel to point of longest nail, . . . . . . . 2 6 Height of ear posteriorly,. . . . . . . . . 0 3 Length of fur on the back,. . . . . . . . . 0 6 HABITS. This southern Black Squirrel was first described by Dr. BACHMAN, from a specimen obtained by J. W. AUDUBON in Louisiana, and was named by him after its discoverer. It frequents high grounds, and has all the active, restless, and playful habits of the genus. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. The Louisiana Black Squirrel has been seen west of the Mississippi, and as we think is occasionally found in Texas. It is sometimes offered for sale in the New Orleans markets, being shot in the neighbourhood of that city. GENERAL REMARKS. We have been informed by some officers of the United States army that a Squirrel similar to the present species is found in Texas and in parts of New Mexico, but from there being no specimens we could not positively identify the Black Squirrels these gentlemen had observed with S. Auduboni.