93              Black-footed Ferret

                       PUTORIUS NIGRIPES.--Aud. and Bach.
                               [Mustela nigripes]

                              BLACK-FOOTED FERRET.

                              PLATE XCIII.--MALE.

     P. Magnitudine mustelam martem equans, fronte, caudea, apice, pedibusque
nigris; supra e flavido fuscus infra albus.

     Size of the pine marten; forehead, feet, and extremity of tail, black;
yellowish-brown above, white beneath.


     PUTORIUS NIGRIPES.  Aud. and Bach, Quadrupeds of North America. vol. 2,
       pl. 93.


     In its dentition this species possesses all the characteristics belonging
to putorius and from the number and disposition of the teeth, cannot be placed
in the genus, mustela.  The canine teeth are stout and rather long, extending
beyond the lips; they are slightly arched and somewhat blunt; the two outer
incisors in the upper jaw are largest, the remainder are smaller, but regular
and conspicuous.  The first false molar is small but distinctly visible, it is
without a lobe; the second is larger and has a slight lobe on each side.  The
great tuberculous tooth has two points and an external lobe; the last molar is
rather small.  In the lower jaw the incisors are small, and much crowded
together.  The three false molars on each side increase in size from the first,
which is smallest and simple, to the third, which is largest and tuberculated.
The great internal tooth has three lobes but no tubercle on the inner side, as
is the case in the genus mustela; the last, or back tooth, is small but simple.
     Body, very long; head, blunt; forehead, arched and broad; muzzle, short;
eyes, of medium size; moustaches, few; ears, short, erect, broad at base, and
triangular in shape, clothed on both surfaces with short hair; neck, long; legs,
short and stout; toes, armed with sharp nails, very slightly arched; the feet
on both surfaces covered with hair even to the soles, concealing the nails.
     The pelage is of two kinds of hair, it is short soft and very fine, the
outer and interspersed hairs are not so fine, but are not long and very coarse.
The fur is finer than that of the mink or pine marten, and even shorter than
that of the ermine.  The hairs below the ears, under the forearms and belly are
the coarsest; the tail is cylindrical, and less voluminous than that of the
mink, containing more coarse hair, and less fine fur, than in that animal.


     The long hairs on the back are at the roots whitish, with a yellowish
tinge, broadly tipped with reddish-brown; the soft under fur is white, with a
yellowish tinge, giving the animal on the back a yellowish-brown appearance, in
some parts approaching to rufous; on the sides and rump the colour is a little
lighter, gradually fading into yellowish-white.  Whiskers, white and black;
nose, ears, sides of face, throat, under surface of neck, belly, and under
surface of tail, white, a shade of brownish on the chest between the forelegs.
There is a broad black patch commencing on the forehead, enclosing the eyes, and
running down within a few lines of the point of the nose; outer and inner
surfaces of the legs, to near the shoulders and hips, black, with a tinge of
brownish the tip of the tail is black, for two inches from the extremity.


                                                      Feet.   Inches.

     From point of nose to root of tail, .  .  .  .  .  1     7
     From point of Tail, (vertebrae)  .  .  .  .  .  .        4
     From head to end of hairs  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        5 1/4
     Height of ear posteriorly, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .          1/2
     From shoulder to end of fore leg,.  .  .  .  .  .        4


     It is with great pleasure that we introduce this handsome new species; it
was procured by Mr. CULBERTSON on the lower waters of the Platte River, and
inhabits the wooded parts of the country to the Rocky Mountains, and perhaps is
found beyond that range, although not observed by any travellers, from LEWIS and
CLARK to the present day.  When we consider the very rapid manner in which every
expedition that has crossed the Rocky Mountains, has been pushed forward, we
cannot wonder that many species have been entirely overlooked, and should rather
be surprised at the number noticed by LEWIS and CLARK, and by NUTALL, TOWNSEND,
and others.  There has never yet been a Government expedition properly
organized, and sent forth to obtain all the details, which such a party, allowed
time enough for thorough investigation, would undoubtedly bring back, concerning
the natural history and natural resources of the regions of the far west.  The
nearest approach to such an expedition having been that so well conducted by
LEWIS and CLARK.  Nor do we think it at all probable that Government will attend
to such matters for a long time to come.  We must therefore hope that private
enterprise will gradually unfold the zoological, botanical, and mineral wealth
of the immense territories we own but do not yet occupy.
     The habits of this species resemble, as far as we have learned, those of
the ferret of Europe.  It feeds on birds, small reptiles and animals, eggs, and
various insects, and is a bold and cunning foe to the rabbits, hares, grouse,
and other game of our western regions.
     The specimen from which we made our drawing was received by us from Mr. J.
G. BELL, to whom it was forwarded from the outskirts or outposts of the fur
traders on the Platte river, by Mr. CULBERTSON.  It was stuffed with the
wormwood so abundant in parts of that country, and was rather a poor specimen,
although in tolerable preservation.  We shall have occasion in a future article
to thank Mr. BELL for the use of other new specimens, this being only one of
several instances of his kind services to us, and the zoology of our country, in
this way manifested.

                           GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.

     As before stated, the specimen which we have figured and described was
obtained on the lower waters of the Platte river.  We are not aware that another
specimen exists in any cabinet