82 Red Texan Wolf
CANIS LUPUS.--Linn: Var. Rufus. [Canis rufus] RED TEXAN WOLF. [Red Wolf. ENDANGERED] PLATE LXXXII.--MALE. C. Colore supra inter fulvum nigrum variante, subtus dilutior; cauda apice nigro.
CHARACTERS. Varied with red and black above, lighter beneath. End of tail black. DESCRIPTION. In shape the Red Texan Wolf resembles the common gray variety. It is more slender and lighter than the white Wolf of the North West, and has a more cunning fox-like appearance. The hairs on the body are not woolly like those of the latter but lie smooth and flat. Its body and legs are long, nose pointed, and ears erect. COLOUR. The body above is reddish-brown mixed up with irregular patches of black; the shorter hairs being light yellowish-brown at the roots, deepening into reddish at the tips; many of the longer hairs interspersed are black from the roots through their whole extent. Nose, outer surface of ears, neck, and legs, chestnut-brown, a shade paler on the under surface. There is a brown stripe on the fore-legs extending from the shoulders to near the paws. Moustaches few and black; inner surfaces of ears soiled-white; nails black; along the upper lip, under the chin, and on the throat, grayish-white. Upper surface and end of tail, as well as a broad band across the middle portion, black. DIMENSIONS. Ft. Inches. From point of nose to root of tail,. . . . . . . 2 11 Tail,. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 HABITS. This variety is by no means the only one found in Texas, where Wolves, black, white and gray, are to be met with from time to time. We do not think, however, that this Red Wolf is an inhabitant of the more northerly prairies, or even of the lower Mississippi bottoms, and have, therefore, called him the Red Texan Wolf. The habits of this variety are nearly similar to those of the black and the white Wolf, which we have already described, differing somewhat, owing to local causes, but showing the same sneaking, cowardly, yet ferocious disposition. It is said that when visiting battle-fields in Mexico, the Wolves preferred the slain Texans or Americans, to the Mexicans, and only ate the bodies of the latter from necessity, as owing to the quantity of pepper used by the Mexicans in their food, their flesh is impregnated with that powerful stimulant. Not vouching for this story, however, the fact is well known that these animals follow the movements of armies, or at least are always at hand to prey upon the slain before their comrades can give them a soldier's burial, or even after that mournful rite; and if anything could increase the horrors displayed by the gory ensanguined field, where man has slain his fellows by thousands, it would be the presence of packs of these ravenous beasts disputing for the carcasses of the brave, the young, and the patriotic, who have fallen for their country's honour! No corpse of wounded straggler from his troop, or of unfortunate traveller, butchered by Comanches, is ever "neglected" by the prowling Wolf, and he quarrels in his fierce hunger in his turn over the victim of similar violent passions exhibited by man! The Wolf is met on the prairies from time to time as the traveller slowly winds his way. We will here give an extract from the journal kept by J. W. AUDUBON while in Texas, which shows the audacity of this animal, and gives us a little bit of an adventure with a hungry one, related by POWELL, one of the gallant Texan Rangers. "Like all travellers, the ranger rides over the wide prairie in long silences of either deep thought or listless musings, I have never been able to decide which; but when, riding by the side of WALKER or HAYS, who would like to say that a vacant mind was ever in the broad brow or behind the sparkling eye either of him with the gray, or of him with the brown? but at times when watching closely I have thought I could trace in the varying expression, castle after castle mounting higher and higher, till a creek 'to water at' or a deer which had been sound asleep and to windward of us, started some 30 or 40 yards off our path to wake up the dreamers of our party. No one is certain that his queries will be welcome to the backwoodsman on a march through a strange country, any more than would be those of a passenger, put to the captain of a vessel as he leans over the weather-rail looking what the wind will be, or thinking of the disagreeable bustle he will have, when he gets into port, compared to his lazy luxury on shipboard: but as I rode by the side of POWELL we started no deer, nor came to a 'water hole,' but a Red Wolf jumped up some two or three hundred yards from us, and took to the lazy gallop so common to this species; 'Run you -------,' cried POWELL, and he sent a yell after him that would have done credit to red or white man for its shrill and startling effect, the Wolf's tail dropped lower than usual, and now it would have taken a racer to have overtaken him in a mile; a laugh from POWELL, and another yell, which as the sound reached the Wolf made him jump again, and POWELL turned to me with a chuckle, and said, 'I had the nicest trick played me by one of those rascals you ever heard of.' The simple, how was it, or let's have it, was all that he wanted, and he began at the beginning. 'I was out on a survey about 15 miles west of Austin, in a range that we didn't care about shooting in any more than we could help, for the Camanches were all over the country; and having killed a deer in the morning, I took the ribs off one side and wrapping them in a piece of the skin, tied it to my saddle and carried it all day, so as to have a supper at night without hunting for it; it was a dark, dismal day, and I was cold and hungry when I got to where I was to camp to wait for the rest of the party to come up next day; I made my fire, untied my precious parcel, for it was now dark, with two sticks put up my ribs to roast, and walked off to rub down and secure my horse, while they were cooking; but in the midst of my arrangements I heard a stick crack, and as that in an Indian country means something, I turned and saw, to my amazement, for I thought no animal would go near the fire, a large Red Wolf actually stealing 'my ribs' as they roasted; instinct made me draw a pistol and 'let drive' at him; the smoke came in my face and I saw nothing but that my whole supper was gone. So not in the most philosophical manner I lay down, supperless, on my blanket; at daylight I was up to look out for breakfast, and to my surprise, my half-cooked ribs lay within twenty feet of the fire, and the Wolf about twenty yards off, dead; my ball having been as well aimed as if in broad daylight." We have represented a fine specimen of this Wolf, on a sand-bar, snuffing at the bone of a buffalo, which, alas! is the only fragment of "animal matter" he has in prospect for breakfast. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. In all species of quadrupeds that are widely diffused over our continent, it has often appeared to us that toward the north they are more subject to become white-toward the east or Atlantic side gray--to the south black--and toward the west red. The gray squirrel, (S. migratorius), of the Northern and Eastern States presents many varieties of red as we proceed westwardly towards Ohio. In the south, the fox squirrel in the maritime districts is black as well as gray, but not red. On proceeding westwardly, however, through Georgia and Alabama, a great many are found of a rufous colour. In Louisiana, there are in the southern parts two species permanently black as well as the fox squirrel, which in about half the specimens are found black, and the remainder reddish. The same may be said in regard to the Wolves. In the north there is a tendency towards white--hence great numbers are of that colour. Along the Atlantic coast, in the Middle and Northern States, the majority are gray. To the south, in Florida, the prevailing colour is black, and in Texas and the south-west the colour is generally reddish. It is difficult to account, on any principles of science, for this remarkable peculiarity, which forms a subject of curious speculation. This variety of Wolf is traced from the northern parts of the State of Arkansas, southerly through Texas into Mexico; we are not informed of its southern limits. GENERAL REMARKS. The Wolves present so many shades of colour that we have not ventured to regard this as a distinct species; more especially as it breeds with those of other colours, gangs of Wolves being seen, in which this variety is mixed up with both the gray and black.