22 Grey Rabbit, Old & Young
LEPUS SYLVATICUS.--BACHMAN. [Sylvilagus floridanus] GRAY RABBIT. [Eastern Cotton tail] PLATE XXII. OLD MALE, FEMALE, and YOUNG. L. auribus capite curtioribus, aurium apice et margine aut nigro; corpore L. Americano minore, supra cinereo-fulva, fusco mixto, subtus subalbido.
CHARACTERS. Smaller than the Northern hare; ears, shorter than the head, not tipped or margined with black; colour, grayish-fawn, varied with brown above; whitish beneath. SYNONYMES. CONY, Third Voyage of the English to Virginia, 1586, by Thomas Herriott. From Pinkerton's Voy., vol. xii., p. 600. HARE, HEDGE CONEY, Lawson, p. 122, Catesby, Appendix 28. AMERICAN HARE, Kalm's Travels, vol. i., p. 105. LEPUS AMERICANUS, Desmarest, Mam., p. 351. LEPUS AMERICANUS, Harlan, Fauna, p. 193. LEPUS AMERICANUS, Godman, Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 157. LEPUS AMERICANUS, Audubon, Birds of America, vol. ii., p. 51, in the talons of Falco Borealis; Ornithological Biography, vol. i., p. 272. LEPUS AMERICANUS, Bach., Jour. Ac. Sc. Phil., vol. vii., p. 326. LEPUS SYLVATICUS, Bach., Jour. Ac. Sc. Phil., vol. vii., p. 403, & vol. viii., p. 78 & 326. LEPUS AMERICANUS, Emmons, Mass. Report, 1840, p. 56. LEPUS NANUS, Dekay, Nat. Hist. of New-York, 1842. DESCRIPTION. This species bears some resemblance to the European burrowing rabbit, (L. cuniculus,) in the gray colour which is natural to the latter in a wild state, but does not change to the different colours the European rabbit presents in a state of domestication. It is a little smaller, and is of a more slender form than L. cuniculus. Head, short; eyes, large; ears, well clothed with short hairs on the outer surface; within, the hairs are a little longer, but less dense, the outer border for the fourth of an inch pretty well covered, but nearer the orifice the skin visible through the thinly scattered hairs; legs, of moderate size; claws, strong, sharp, and nearly straight, concealed by the hair; tail, longer in proportion than that of the Northern hare. Fur, compact and soft, about an inch and a quarter in length in winter. COLOUR. Summer dress.--Fur on the back, yellowish-brown; soft fur, from the roots to the surface, plumbeous; the long hairs which extend beyond the fur, and give the general colour to the animal, are for three-fourths of their length lead coloured, then yellowish, and are tipped with black. Ears, dark-brown on the outer surface, destitute of the distinct black border seen in the Northern hare, and not tipped with black like those of the Polar and the variable hare; whiskers, nearly all black; iris, light brownish-yellow; a circle of fawn colour around the eye, more conspicuous nearest the forehead. Cheeks, grayish; chin, under surface of body, and inner surface of legs, light grayish-white; tail, upper surface grayish-brown, beneath, white. Breast, light yellowish-gray; behind the ears, a broad patch of fawn colour; outer surface of fore-legs and thighs, yellowish-brown. Winter colour.--Very similar to the above; in a few specimens, the hairs are whitest at the tips; in others, black tips prevail. This Hare never becomes white in any part of our country, and so far as our researches have extended, we have scarcely found any variety in its colouring. DIMENSIONS. Adult Male. Inches. Lines. Length of head and body . . . . . . . . 15 0 head . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 5 ears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 0 tail (vertebrae). . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 tail, including fur. . . . . . . . . . 2 2 From heel to end of middle claw. . . . . . 3 7 Weight, 2 lbs. 7oz. HABITS. This species abounds in our woods and forests, even in their densest coverts; it is fond of places overgrown with young pines thickly crowded together, or thickets of the high bush-blackberry, (Rubus villosus;) and is also fond of frequenting farms and plantations, and occupying the coppices and grassy spots in the neighbourhood of cultivation, remaining in its form by day, concealed by a brush-heap, a tuft of grass, or some hedge-row on the side of an old fence; from which retreat it issues at night, to regale itself on the clover, turnips, or corn-fields of the farmer. It not unfrequently divests the young trees in the nursery of their bark; it often makes inroads upon the kitchen-garden, feasting on the young green peas, lettuces, cabbages, &c., and doing a great deal of mischief; and when it has once had an opportunity of tasting these dainties, it becomes difficult to prevent its making a nightly visit to them. Although the place at which it entered may be carefully closed, the Rabbit is sure to dig a fresh hole every night in its immediate vicinity; and snares, traps, or guns, are the best auxiliaries in such cases, soon putting an end to farther depredations. This animal, when first started, runs with greater swiftness, and makes fewer doublings than the Northern hare, (L. Americanus;) having advanced a hundred yards or more, it stops to listen; finding itself pursued by dogs, should the woods be open and free from swamps or thickets, it runs directly toward some hole in the root of a tree or hollow log. In the lower parts of Carolina, where it finds protection in briar patches, and places thickly overgrown with smilax and other vines, it continues much longer on foot, and by winding and turning in places inaccessible to larger animals, frequently makes its escape from its pursuers, without the necessity of resorting for shelter to a hollow tree. The Gray Rabbit possesses the habit of all the other species of this genus with which we are acquainted, of stamping with its hind feet on the earth when alarmed at night, and when the males are engaged in combat. It is also seen during the spring season, in wood-paths and along the edges of fields, seeking food late in the mornings and early in the afternoons, and during the breeding season even at mid-day: on such occasions it may be approached and shot with great ease. This species, like all the true hares, has no note of recognition, and its voice is never heard except when wounded or at the moment of its capture, when it utters a shrill, plaintive cry, like that of a young child in pain; in the Northern hare this cry is louder, shriller, and of longer continuance. The common domesticated European rabbit seems more easily made to cry out in this way than any other of the genus. Dr. RICHARDSON, in his work on the American quadrupeds, expresses an opinion from a careful examination of many specimens in different States, that the change to the winter dress in the Northern hare is effected not by a shedding of its hair, but by a lengthening and blanching of the summer fur. Having watched the progress of this change in the present species in a state of confinement, and having also examined many specimens at all seasons of the year, we have arrived at the opposite conclusion as far as regards the Gray Rabbit. In autumn, the greater portion, if not all, the summer fur drops off in spots, and is gradually replaced by the winter coat. In this state, as there are shades of difference between the summer and winter colours, the animal presents a somewhat singular appearance, exhibiting at the same time, like the Northern hare, (although far less conspicuously,) patches of different colours. The Gray Rabbit, although it breeds freely in enclosed warrens, seldom becomes tame, and will probably never be domesticated. When captive, it seems to be constantly engaged in trying to find some means of escape; and though it digs no burrows in a state of nature, yet, when confined, it is capable of digging to the depth of a foot or more under a wall, in order to effect its object. We, however, at the house of Dr. DE BENNEVILLE at Milestown, near Philadelphia, saw five or six that were taken from the nest when very young and brought up by hand, so completely tamed that they came at the call and leapt upon the lap of their feeder; they lived sociably and without restraint in the yard, among the dogs and poultry. The former, although accustomed to chase the wild rabbit, never molesting those which had, in this manner, grown up with them, and now made a part of the motley tenants of the poultry-yard. We have not only observed dogs peacefully associating with the hare, when thus tamed, but have seen hounds accustomed to the chase of the deer, eating from the same platter with one of those animals that was domesticated and loose in the yard, refraining from molesting it, and even defending it from the attacks of strangers of their own species that happened to come into the premises; and when this tame deer, which occasionally visited the woods, was started by the pack of hounds here referred to, they refused to pursue it. The Gray Rabbit is one of the most prolific of all our species of this genus; in the Northern States it produces young about three times in the season, from five to seven at a litter; whilst in Carolina its young are frequently brought forth as early as the twentieth of February, as late as the middle of October, and in all the intermediate months. Nature seems thus to have made a wise provision for the preservation of the species, since no animal is more defenceless or possesses more numerous enemies. Although it can run with considerable swiftness for some distance, its strength in a short time is exhausted, and an active dog would soon overtake it if it did not take shelter in some hole in the earth, heap of logs, or stones, or in a tree with a hollow near its root; in these retreats it is often captured by young hunters. In the Northern and Middle States, where the burrows of the Maryland marmot (Arctomys monax) and the holes resorted to by the common skunk, (Mephitis chinga,) are numerous, the Gray Rabbit in order to effect its escape when pursued betakes itself to them; and as they are generally deep, or placed among rocks or roots, it would require more labour to unearth it when it has taken possession of either of these animals retreats than it is worth, and it is generally left unmolested. It is not always safe in these cases, however, for the skunk occasionally is "at home" when the Rabbit runs into his hole, and often catches and devours the astonished fugitive before it can retrace its steps and reach the mouth of the burrow. This species is also captured occasionally by the skunk and other carnivorous animals when in its form. Its most formidable enemy, however, is the ermine, which follows its tracks until it retires to a hole in the earth or to a hollow tree, which the little but ferocious creature, although not one-fourth as large as the timid Rabbit, quickly enters and kills it--eating off the head, and leaving the body until a want of food compels it to return for more. Whilst residing in the State of New-York many years ago, we were desirous of preserving a number of Rabbits during the winter from the excessive cold and from the hands of the hunters, who killed so many that we feared the race would be nearly extirpated in our neighbourhood; our design being to set them at liberty in the spring. At this period we had in confinement several weasels of two species existing in that part of the country (Putorius erminea and P. fusca,) in order to ascertain in what manner their change of colour from brown in summer to white in winter, and vice versa, was effected. We bethought ourselves of using one of each species of these weasels instead of a ferret, to aid in taking the Rabbits we wanted, and having provided ourselves with a man and a dog to hunt the Rabbits to their holes, we took the weasels in a little tin box with us, having first tied a small cord around their necks in such a manner as to prevent them from escaping, or remaining in the holes to eat the Rabbits, whilst it could not slip and choke them. We soon raced a Rabbit to its hole, and our first experiment was made with the little brown weasel, (P. fusca;) it appeared to be frightened, and refused to enter the hole; the common species, (P. erminea,) although we had captured the individual but a few days before, entered readily; but having its jaws at liberty, it killed the Rabbit. Relinquishing the weasel to our man, he afterwards filed its teeth down, to prevent it from destroying the Rabbits; and when thus rendered harmless, the ermine pursued the Rabbits to the bottom of their holes, and terrified them so that they instantly fled to the entrance and were taken alive in the hand; and although they sometimes scrambled up some distance in a hollow tree, their active and perservering little foe followed them and instantly forced them down. In this manner the man procured twelve Rabbits alive in the course of one morning, and more than fifty in about three weeks, when we requested him to desist. On more than one occasion we have seen the tracks of this species on the snow, giving evidence by their distance from each other that the animal had passed rapidly, running under the influence of fear. Examining the surface of the snow carefully, we observed the foot-prints of the weasel, as if in pursuit, and following up the double trail, we found at the mouth of a hole a short distance beyond, the mutilated remains of the luckless Rabbit. The Canada lynx, the Bay lynx, (wild cat,) the red and the gray fox, &c., capture this species by stratagem or stealth; various species of hawks and owls prey upon them, and the rattle-snake, chicken-snake, and other serpents, have been killed with the Gray Rabbit in their stomach. These reptiles probably caught their victims by stratagem, or by stealing upon them when in their form, and enclosing them in their twining folds, as the boa constrictor captures larger animals. In order to catch or kill the Gray Rabbit, different means are resorted to according to the fancy of the hunter or the nature of the locality in which the animal may be. In the northern parts of the United States it is pursued with dogs, and either shot or taken from the hole or other retreat to which it may have been driven. It is also frequently captured in box-traps, or snares, placed in the gaps of some brush-fence made in the woods for the purpose. In the Southern States it is generally hunted with pointer dogs and shot at the moment when it leaps from its form. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. We have not heard of the existence of this species farther north than the southern counties of the State of New Hampshire, beyond which it is replaced by other and larger species. It cannot be said to be abundant in the New England States, except in a few localities, and it does not seem to prefer high mountainous regions. In occasional botanical excursions among the Catskill mountains and those of Vermont and New Hampshire, where we saw considerable numbers of the Northern hare, we found scarcely any traces of the present species, especially in the mountains east of the Hudson river. It exists in the chain of the Alleganies running through Virginia to the upper parts of Carolina. But is there far from being abundant. It was exceedingly scarce north-east of Albany thirty-five years ago, where it has now become far more numerous than the Northern hare, which was then the only species usually met with. It abounds in the sandy regions covered with pine trees west of that city. From Dutchess county to the southern limits of New-York it is found in considerable numbers. In Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, Maryland, and all the Southern States, hunting the Gray Rabbit affords more amusement to young sportsmen than the pursuit of any other quadruped in the country. We have traced this species through all the higher portions of Florida. To the west we have seen it in all the Southern States, and it is very abundant on the upper Missouri River to nearly 1000 miles above Saint Louis. GENERAL REMARKS. This being the most common hare in the Atlantic States of America, it has been longest and most familiarly known. HERRIOTT, who gave an account of the third voyage of the English to Virginia in 1586, in enumerating the natural productions or that country, under the head of Conies, says, "Those that we have seen, and all that we can hear of, are of a gray colour like unto hares; in some places there are such plenty that all the people, of some towns, make them mantles of the fur, or fleece of the skins of those which they usually take." It is subsequently mentioned by the intrepid Governor SMITH of Virginia, by LAWSON and by CATESBY. KALM, in the 1st vol. of his Travels in America, gave a correct description, not only of the animal, but of its habits. The following is an extract from his Journal; the entry was made either at Philadelphia or his favourite retreat "Racoon," in the vicinity of that city, on the 6th Jan. 1749. "There are a great number of hares in this country, but they differ from our Swedish ones in their size, which is very small, and but little bigger than that of a rabbit; they keep almost the same gray colour both in summer and winter, which our Northern hares have in summer only; the tip of their ears is always gray, and not black; the tail is likewise gray on the upper side, at all seasons; they breed several times a year. In spring they lodge their young ones in hollow trees, and in summer, in the months of June and July, they breed in the grass. When they are surprised they commonly take refuge in hollow trees, out of which they are taken by means of a crooked stick, or by cutting a hole into the tree opposite to the place where they lie; or by smoke which is occasioned by making a fire on the outside of the tree. On all these occasions the grayhounds must be at hand. These hares never bite, and can be touched without any danger. In the day-time they usually lie in hollow trees, and hardly ever stir from thence unless they be disturbed by men or dogs; but in the night they come out and seek their food. In bad weather, or when it snows, they lie close for a day or two, and do not venture to leave their retreats. They do a great deal of mischief in the cabbage-fields, but apple-trees suffer infinitely more from them, for they peel off all the bark next to the ground. The people here are agreed that the hares are fatter in a cold and severe winter than in a mild and wet one, for which they could give me several reasons from their own conjectures. The skin is useless, because it is so loose that it can be drawn off; for when you would separate it from the flesh, you need only pull at the fur and the skin follows. These hares cannot be tamed. They were at all times, even in the midst of winter, plagued with a number of common fleas." In 1820 (as we have observed in our article on L. Americanus) DESMAREST mistaking the species, gave a pretty good description of the Gray Rabbit, and unfortunately referred it to L. Americanus. He had evidently been misled by FORSTER, SCHOEPFF, PENNANT, ERXLEBEN and BODD, who having confounded these two species, induced him to believe that as he was describing an American hare, only one American species at that time being known, it must be the one referred to by previous authors. Hence he quoted GMELIN, SCHOEPFF, ERXLEBEN, PALLAS and BODD, and gave to the species the extravagant geographical range, from Churchill, Hudson's Bay, to California, and assigned it a habitation in New-Albion, Louisiana, Florida, the two Carolinas, &c. HARLAN, in giving an account of the American quadrupeds in 1825, finding the Gray Rabbit described by DESMAREST, translated the article very literally, even to its faults, from the French of that author, (See Encyclopedie de Mammalogie, p. 351.) HARLAN's translation represents the fur as "becoming whiter during winter, but the ears and tail remaining always of the same gray." In the following year GODMAN (Amer. Nat. Hist., vol. ii., p. 157) once more described this species under the (wrong) name of Lepus Americanus. In speaking of its colour, he says, "in winter the pelage is nearly or altogether white," and he gives it the extraordinary weight of seven pounds. This is rather surprising, as we know no city in the union where the market in winter is better supplied with this species of hare than Philadelphia. In this singular manner the Gray Rabbit, the most common and best-known of all the species of quadrupeds in America, had never received a specific name that was not pre-occupied. In 1827, we proposed the name of Lepus sylvaticus, and assigned our reasons for so doing in a subsequent paper, (See Journ. Acad. Nat. Sc., vol. viii., part 1, p. 75.) In 1840, Dr. EMMONS also, (Report on Quadrupeds of Massachusetts,) described it under the (wrong) name of L. Americanus, giving as synonymous, L. Hudsonius, PALLAS; American hare, FORSTER, PENNANT, Arct. Zool. HEARNE'S Journey, SABINE, PARRY and RICHARDSON; who each described the Northern hare, and not this species. He, however, quoted HARLAN and GODMAN correctly, with the exception of the name which they had misapplied. In 1842 Dr. DEKAY (See Nat. Hist. N. York, part 1st, p. 93) refers this species to Lepus nanus of SCHREBER, supposing the description of that author, (which is contained in an old work that is so scarce in America that our naturalists have seldom had an opportunity of referring to it,) to have escaped the notice of modern authors. After giving a translation from SCHREBER, he remarks, "The whole history of the habits of this species, and its abundance, sufficiently confirm the fact that SCHREBER had our Rabbit in view, although he was misled by SCHOEPFF and PENNANT, and confounded two species." We regret that we are obliged to differ from an author who is generally accurate, and who is always courteous in his language towards other naturalists, but in this case we must do so. In order to save the student of natural history the labour of searching for SCHREBER's work, to refer to his description, we have concluded to insert it here, together with our translation of the article, adding the references to authors, &c., which were omitted by DEKAY, and which we conceive very important in pursuing our inquiries. EXTRACT FROM SCHREBER. "DER WABUS, ODER AMERIKANISCHE HASE. TAB. CCXXXXV. B. Lepus nanus. Lepus auribus extrorsum nigro marginatis, cauda supra nigricante. SYNONYMEN. LEPUS HUDSONIUS. LEPUS APICE AURIUM CAUDAEQUE CINEREO, Pall., Nov. Spec. Glis., p. 30, 45, Zimmerm., E. E. z. 336. LEPUS AMERICANUS, Lepus cauda abbreviata pedibus postici corpore dimidio longioribus auricularum caudaeque apicibus griseis, Erxleben. Mamm., p. 330. AMERICAN HARE, Forster, Phil. Tr., lxxii., p. 376, Pennant, Hist., p. 372 u. 243. HARE, HEDGE CONEY, Lawson, Car., p. 122, Catesby's App., p. xxviii. HARAR, en art som ar midt emellan hare ach canin, Kalm, Rese, vol. ii., p. 236, vol. iii, p. 8, 285. DER AMERIKANISCHE HASE, Forster, von den Thieren in Hudson's Bay, in Sprenge's Beyt. DER NORDAMERIKANISCHE HASE, Schoepff. WABUS, (ALGONQUINISCH,) Jefferson's Notes, (Phil. 1788,) P. 51, 57. BESCHREIBUNG. Der Kopf hat nichts Unterscheidendes. Die Backen sind dickharig. Die Ohren dunne, auswendig dunne behaart, inwendig kahl, und reichen, vorwarts gebogen, noch nicht bis an die Nasenspitze; nach hinten gelegt, bis an die Schulterblatter. Ueber den grossen schwarzen Augen vier bis funf Borsten. Die Bartborsten grossentheils schwarz; einige weiss; die langsten scheinen langer als der Kopf zu sein. Die Sommerfarbe ist folgende. Die Ohren braunlich, mit einer sehr schmalen schwarzen Einfassung am aussern Rande, die an der Spitze eben die Breite behalt, oder gegen die Spitze hin gar verschwindet. Stirne, Backen, Rucken und Seiten, Aerme und Schenkel auswendig leicht braun mit Schwarz uberlaufen. Der Umfang des Afters weiss. Die Fusse dicht und kurz behaart, von einem hellern leicht Braun, ohne alles Schwarz, an der innern Seite starker in grau-weiss abfallend. Der Schwanz oben auf von der Farbe des Ruckens, (vermuthlich starker mit Schwarz uberlaufen, denn Herr PENNANT beschreibt ihn oben schwarz,) unten weiss. Die Kehle weiss; der Untertheil des Halses leicht braun, mit Weiss uberlaufen. Brust, Bauch, innere Aerme und Schenkel, einem weichen Weiss. Die Winterfarbe, wo sie verschieden, ist weiss. Backenzahne oben und unten auf jeder Seite funf. Die Lange des Korpers hochstens anderthalb englische Fuss, des Schwanzes nicht viel uber zwei Zoll. Das Gewicht 2 1/4 bis 3 Pfund; nach Herrn PENNANT 3 bis 4 1/2 Pfund. Die underscheidenden Merkmale dieser Art sind nach den Herren FORSTER, PENNANT und SCHOEPFF, 1. die Grosse; er kommt dem gemeinen und veranderlichen Hasen lange nicht bei, und ist kaum grosser als ein Kaninchen, daher er auch in Nord-Amerika nicht selten den Namen Rabbit oder Kaninchen bekommt. 2. Das Verhaltniss der Fusse; die Vorterfusse sind kurzer und die Hinterfusse langer als an allen Dreien. 3. Die Farbe der Ohren; sie haben eine schwarze Einfassung auswendig, aber keinen schwarzen Fleck an der Spitze. Ihre geringere Lange unterscheidet von den Ohren des gemeinen Hasen. 4. Die Farbe des Schwanzes; diese ist oben auf nicht schwarz, oder doch nicht so sattschwarz als am Hasen. 5. Die Farbe des Korpers. 6. Die Lebensart und Eigenschaften. Er kann also unmoglich etwas anders als eine fur sich bestehende Art sein. Sein Vaterland ist ganz Nord-Amerika, von Hudson's Bay an bis nach Florida hinab. Er schweift nicht herum, sondern schrankt sich auf kleine Raume ein. In Hudson's Bay, Canada und Neu-England vertauscht er sein kurzes Sommerhaar im Herbste gegen ein langes seitenartiges und bis an die Wurzel silberweisses Haar, und nur der Rand der Ohren und der Schwanz behalten ihre Farbe, (PENNANT, KALM.) In den sudlichen Landern bleibt die Farbe, auch in den hartesten Wintern, unverandert, (KALM.) Daher konnte man diesen Hasen fuglich den halb-veranderlichen nennen." ---------- In carefully reading the above description, the attentive reader can scarcely have failed to remark that if Lepus Americanus of ERXLEBEN, and Lepus Hudsonius of PALLAS, are the Northern hare, Lepus nanus must be the same species, as the descriptions agree in every particular; and where SCHREBER enters more into detail, he describes the Northern hare still more minutely, and only confirms us still farther in the conviction that he had never seen the Gray Rabbit, and was describing the very species he professed to describe, viz., the Hudson's Bay quadruped of DAINES BARRINGTON, (See vol. lxii. Phil. Trans., p. 11,) and the "American hare, called rabbit at Hudson's Bay," of FORSTER, (See the above vol., p. 376,) which, however, had already received from two of his countrymen, PALLAS and ERXLEBEN, the names of L. Americanus and L. Hudsonius. The time when this description was made must not be overlooked. At the close of the year 1772, the Philosophical Transactions, containing the two accounts of this new American hare, were published. No specific Latin name, such as would according to the binary system which was then coming into use, entitle the first describer to the species, had as yet been given to it; and whilst the English naturalists were looking for decided characters by which it could be distinguished, (and we know from experience with how much difficulty these characteristics are found in the hares,) the German naturalists, with the example of LINNAEUS, their next door neighbour, before their eyes, went forward in hot haste to describe the species. Leaving the English philosophers to cook their animal, to ascertain by the colour of its flesh whether it was a hare or a rabbit, they sought for a Latin cognomen, desirous that their own names should be handed down to posterity along with it. Hence ERXLEBEN, PALLAS and SCHREBER, (the two former evidently without the knowledge of the latter,) named the species, very likely, as we are inclined to think, without having had any specimen before them, and simply attaching a name to the descriptions of the English naturalists. Be this as it may, in less than three years it had already received in Germany alone, the several names of L. Americanus, nanus, and Hudsonius. If SCHREBER, who had the Philosophical Transactions lying before him when he drew up his description, (for he quotes both the accounts,) and who also possessed the accounts of ERXLEBEN and PALLAS, had examined a different species, surely he would have made the discovery; but after a careful examination, and not a bad description, he gives the size, colour, and measurements of the Northern hare, and finally quotes FORSTER, PENNANT, SCHOEPFF, &c., as his authorities for the species. The name Lepus nanus, given to it by SCHREBER, might at first lead us to conjecture that as he meant to designate the species as a small hare, and as the Northern hare is rather large, he could not have intended it for the latter, but had in view the Gray Rabbit--hence the name, nanus, dwarf. There can, however, be no difficulty in accounting for the choice of that name. On turning to the eleventh page of the Philosophical Transactions, vol. xlii., where the species was first announced, it will be perceived that BARRINGTON had been closely investigating the several species of hare with which the naturalists of Europe were acquainted at that early day; and he gives the following measurements:-- Fore-leg.[*] Hind-leg.[*] Back and Head. (inches) (inches) (inches) Rabbit. . . . . . . 4 1/2 6 3/4 16 1/2 Hare . . . . . . . 7 3/4 11 22 Hudson's Bay quadruped . 6 3/4 10 3/4 18 Alpine hare . . . . . 6 1/2 16 3/4 22 [*] From uppermost joint to toe. Here then we have the relative sizes of the several species. The first is the common wild rabbit of England, (L. cuniculus,) which is a little larger than our Gray Rabbit. The second is the common English hare, (L. timidus.) The third, the American hare from Hudson's Bay; and the fourth, the Alpine or variable hare, (L. variabilis.) The rabbit being a burrowing animal with white flesh, was not considered a hare, and the American animal was smaller than either the European or the Alpine hare, measuring only eighteen inches in length, whilst these last measured twenty-two inches each. We perceive, therefore, that it was called Lepus nanus, because it was the smallest of the species then known. For the same reason our American woodcock was called scolopax minor, because it was smaller than the English woodcock, although it finally proved to be the largest snipe in America. Let us compare the description of SCHREBER'S L. nanus, with the Northern hare, of which we have a number of specimens (including all its various changes of colour) before us, to refer to as we proceed. TRANSLATION (Lepus Nanus.) The head has nothing peculiar; cheeks, thickly haired; ears, thin, externally with few hairs, naked within, and when bent forward do not reach the point of the nose; when bent backward they reach the shoulder blades. REMARKS (Lepus Americanus.) This description agrees with L. Americanus; the ears in our dried specimens are none of them more than 3 1/2 inches long, whilst from nose to ear they measure 4 inches; the cars therefore could not reach the nose. TRANSLATION Eyes, large and black, with four or five bristles above them; whiskers, mostly black; some are white, the longest appear to be longer than the head. REMARKS Applies perfectly to our specimens of L. Americanus, except the colour of the eyes, which applies to neither the Northern hare nor the Gray Rabbit, and which he must have obtained from some other source than a dried skin. TRANSLATION The following is the colour in summer: ears, brownish, with a very narrow black border on the outer margin, being at the tips the same breadth, or it even disappears towards the tips. REMARKS The very narrow black border on the outer margin betrays the species; it belongs to the Northern hare, but not to the Gray Rabbit. They only become effaced when covered with white hair in winter; and it is evident this last expression was taken from KALM, who says of the Rabbit, "the tip of their ears is always gray, and not black, as is the case in the European, common, and Alpine hares." TRANSLATION Forehead, cheeks, back and sides, fore and hind-legs externally, light-brown, mixed with black; around the breech, white. REMARKS All agreeing with the description of the Northern hare. TRANSLATION Feet, thickly covered with short hairs of a light brown, unmixed with black, changing on the inside to a grayish white. REMARKS Such is the colour of the feet of several of our specimens of the Northern hare in summer pelage. TRANSLATION Upper part of the tail the colour of the back, (perhaps mixed with black, as PENNANT describes it black above,) beneath white. REMARKS The upper part of the tail is like the back in most specimens, but it is seen how anxious he was not to depart from the views of PENNANT, who describes it as black, which is the case in some specimens. TRANSLATION Throat, white; lower part of the neck, bright brown, mixed with white; chest and belly, inside of fore and hind-legs, a dull white. REMARKS These distinctive marks all belong to the Northern hare. TRANSLATION Colour in winter, when it does change, white. REMARKS The Gray Rabbit does not become white in winter. TRANSLATION Molars above and beneath, on each side, five. The length of the body at farthest eighteen inches, the tail not over two inches. REMARKS This size applies to the Northern hare, and not to the Gray Rabbit. None of our dried specimens of the former reach quite eighteen inches, and none of the Gray Rabbit beyond fifteen. Tail of the Northern hare, including fur, two inches; that ot the Gray Rabbit is longer. TRANSLATION The weight is from 2 1/4 to 3 lbs.; according to PENNANT, from 3 to 4 1/2 lbs. REMARKS These weights were compiled from authors. CARVER, who had reference to the Gray Rabbit, gave the lesser weight; and PENNANT, who referred to the Northern hare, gave the greater. TRANSLATION The most striking distinctions in this species, according to FORSTER, PENNANT, and SCHOEPFF, are, 1st, its size; it is not near as large as the common hare or the changeable hare, and scarcely larger than a rabbit; hence in North America he is frequently called rabbit. REMARKS FORSTER says in regard to the Northern hare--"The proper characteristics of this species seem to be, 1st, its size, which is somewhat bigger than a rabbit, but less than that of the Alpine or lesser hare." TRANSLATION 2d, The proportion of the legs. The hind-feet being longer and the fore-feet shorter than either of the three. REMARKS 2d, FORSTER says, "The proportion of its limbs. Its hind-feet being longer in proportion to the body than those of the rabbit and the common hare." TRANSLATION 3d, The colour of the ears; they have a black margin outside, but no black spot at the tip. REMARKS 3d, "The tip of the ears and tail, which are constantly gray, not black," KALM'S Travels, vol. ii., p. 45. TRANSLATION The ear being less in length separates it from the common hare. REMARKS The ears of the Northern hare, the species here referred to, are considerably less in length than those of the common European hare. TRANSLATION 4th, The colour of the tail; this is on the upper surface not black, or as intensely black as that of the hare. REMARKS The upper side of the tail of the European hare, (L. timidus,) is black, that of the Northern hare generally dark brown. TRANSLATION 5th, The colour of the body. REMARKS That of the European hare is not as dark. TRANSLATION 6th, Its mode of living and habits. REMARKS In the description of these habits by FORSTER, two species had been blended. TRANSLATION It can therefore only be a distinct species. REMARKS He meant distinct from those of Europe. TRANSLATION It is a native of all North America, from Hudson's Bay to Florida. It does not migrate far, but confines itself to a narrow compass. REMARKS The Gray Rabbit is not found at Hudson's Bay, where the other abounds. In his views of the Southern range of the Northern hare, he was misled by FORSTER, and supposing KALM'S rabbit referred to the same species, he quoted KALM as authority for its existence as far south as Florida. TRANSLATION In Hudson's Bay, Canada, and New-England, it changes in autumn this short summer hair into a long silky fur, white from the roots, and only the border of the ears and the tail preserve their colour, (PENNANT, KALM.) REMARKS The Gray Rabbit does not change in this manner. He meant by this to show that whilst this species became white in winter, the border of the ear and upper part of the tail underwent no change. TRANSLATION In the Southern parts, his colour, even in the coldest winters, remains unchanged, (KALM.) He might, therefore, be properly called the half changing hare REMARKS SCHREBER, never having been in America, had to compile his account of its habits from others. It is easily seen that in this he was misled by FORSTER, who misunderstood KALM; the latter having here referred to the Gray Rabbit, which never changes its colour. ---------- DEKAY conceives SCHREBER to have described the Gray Rabbit, from the abundance of the species; but the Northern hare, where it does exist, is not less abundant. In particular localities in the Northern States, it is more frequently met with than the Gray Rabbit in the Middle or Southern States. HEARNE says that on the south side of Anawed Lake they were so plentiful, that several of the Indians caught twenty or thirty of a night with snares; and at Hudson's Bay, where all the specimens first brought to Europe were procured, it is represented as very abundant. We think we have now shown that SCHREBER'S account of L. nanus--its size, length of legs, the black margin around the ear, its change of colour, and his references to authors, all prove explicitly that he had no reference to the Gray Rabbit, but described the Northern hare. His name must therefore stand as a synonyme of L. Americanus, which is to be somewhat regretted, as although the name itself is very objectionable, his description of that species appears to us the best that was given, from its first describer, FORSTER, down to the time of RICHARDSON, whose description is so accurate that nothing need be added to it.