89 Say's Squirrel
SCIURUS SAYII.--Aud. and Bach. [Sciurus niger] SAY'S SQUIRREL. [Fox Squirrel] PLATE LXXXIX.--MALES. S. Sciurus cinereus magnitudine sub aequans. Corpore supra lateribusque cano-nigroque variis; capitis lateribus orbitis que pallide cano-ferrugineis; genis auriculusque saturate fuscis; cauda supra ferrugineo-nigroque varia, infra splendide ferruginea.
CHARACTERS. About the size of the cat-squirrel (S. cinereus); body above, and on the sides mixed with gray and black; sides of the head and orbits, pale ferruginous; cheek and under the eye, dusky; tail, above, mixed with ferruginous and black, beneath, bright ferruginous. SYNONYMES. SCIURUS MACROURUS. Say, Long's Exped. vol. 1., p. 115. S. MAGNICAUDATUS. Harlan, Fauna, p. 178. S. MACROUREUS. Godman's Nat. Hist. vol. 2, p. 134. DESCRIPTION. In size and form this species bears a considerable resemblance to the Cat-Squirrel (S. cinereus). It is a little longer in body, not quite as stout, and has shorter ears. In length and breadth of tail, they are about equal. The first molar tooth in the upper jaw, which in some of the species is deciduous and in others permanent, was wanting in the six specimens we examined; we presume, however, it exists in very young animals; mammae, 8, placed equidistant on the sides of the belly; palms, as is usual in this genus, naked, the rudimental thumb protected by a short blunt nail; the feet are covered with hair, which extends between the toes, half concealing the nails; hair on the body, of moderate length, not as coarse as that of the Fox-Squirrel, (S. capistratus), but neither as fine or woolly as that of S. cinereus. Our specimens were obtained in summer.--SAY has remarked: "The fur of the back in the summer dress, is from three-fifths to seven-tenths of an inch long; but in the winter dress, the longest hairs of the middle of the back are from one inch to one and three-fourths in length. He also remarks that it is only in winter that the ears are fringed, which is the necessary consequence of the elongation of the hair; in our summer specimens, the ears are thinly clothed with hair, not rising above the margins. COLOUR. The fur on the back, is for one half its length from the base plumbeous, then pale cinnamon, then a narrow line of black, then cinereous, and broadly tipped with black, giving it what is usually termed an iron-gray colour; the hairs on the under surface are of a light-ash colour at base, and without any annulations brighten into ferruginous at apex, the paler colours beneath giving way to the broader markings on the extremities; the eyes and moustaches are black; nails, dark-brown; sides of face, around the eyes, both surfaces of ears, feet, chin, neck, inner surfaces of legs, and under surface of tail, bright ferruginous; the hairs on the tail, are at their roots reddish-yellow, with three black annulations, and are broadly tipped with reddish-yellow. DIMENSIONS. Feet. Inches. From point of nose to root of tail . . . . . . . 1 0 Tail (vertebrae) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 1/2 Tail to end of fur. . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Height of ear posteriorly . . . . . . . . . . 5/8 HABITS. The habits of this Squirrel are not very different from those of the Cat Squirrel, to which it is most nearly allied. It does not run for so great a distance on the ground before taking a tree as the southern Fox Squirrel, nor does it leap quite as actively from tree to tree as the northern Gray Squirrel, (S. migratorius,) but appears to possess more activity, and agility than the Cat Squirrel. The forests on the rich bottom lands of the Wabash, the Illinois, and the Missouri rivers are ornamented with the stately pecan-tree (Carya olivaeformis), on the nuts of which these squirrels luxuriate; they also resort to the hickory and oak trees, in the vicinity of their residence, as well as to the hazel bushes, on the fruits of which they feed They are becoming troublesome in the corn-fields of the farmer, who has commenced planting his crops in the remote but rapidly improving states and territories west of the Ohio. The flesh is represented by all travellers as delicate, and is said to be equal in flavour to that of any of the species. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. This squirrel is found along the shores of the Missouri, and in the wooded portions of the country, lying east and north of that river; we have received several specimens, from Michigan, and it seems to be observed west and north of that State. GENERAL REMARKS. This species was first discovered by Mr. THOMAS SAY, and by him described and named Sciurus Macrourus. This name, unfortunately, was preoccupied, the Ceylon Squirrel having been so designated: (vide PENNANT, Hist. Quad. ii. p. 140, No. 330.) Dr. HARLAN and Dr. GODMAN in their respective works, seeing this, applied other names. The former calls it (Sciurus magnicaudatus,) the latter (Sciurus macroureus.) Authors copied Mr. SAY's description almost literally. Dr. HARLAN gives SAY's name (S. macrourus,) as a synonyme, and Dr. GODMAN gives his name (Sciurus macroureus) as SAY's name: giving in a note intimation that he has taken the liberty of changing the name by the addition of a single letter, which he considers sufficient to render further change unnecessary. Neither of these gentlemen claimed the discovery of this species, gave original descriptions, or appear to have ever seen the animal; and, according to all rules which should govern naturalists, they had no right to name it. We, therefore, having procured a good many specimens, and having from them identified, and described this species, have used the grateful privilege of naming it in honour of its discoverer, Mr. SAY, and have given Dr. HARLAN's and Dr. GODMAN's names as synonymes.