153 California Gray Squirrel
SCIURUS FOSSOR.--PEALE. [Sciurus griseus] CALIFORNIA GREY SQUIRREL. [Western Gray Squirrel] PLATE CLIII.--FIG. 2. S. Supra e nigro alboque intermixtis griseus, subtus albus, auribus magnis, breviter pilosis, naso nigro, cauda disticha, albo-marginata, corpore longiore. CHARACTERS. Above, grey; beneath, white; ears not tufted, but clothed within and without with short hairs; nose black; tail distichous, tipped with white; body long and rather slender. SYNONYMES. SCIURUS FOSSOR.--Peale, Mam., &c., of the U. S. Exp. Exped., 1838-42. Phila. 1848. SCIURUS HEERMANNI.--Dr. Le Conte, Proceed. Acad. Nat. Sci., Phil., Sept., 1852, p. 149. DESCRIPTION. Whiskers shorter than the head; ears large, subtriangular, rounded at the tip, and covered both within and without with short hair, which does not in any way form a fringe at the margin; tail long and distichous, with long hairs which are grey at the roots, black above and tipped with white; body long and rather slender; hair on the body long and not fine. COLOUR. Body above light grey, produced by an intermixture of black and white points; the hairs are grey at base, then black, and have a pure white annulation about the middle; intermixed with them are a few longer pure black hairs. A small spot towards the tip of the nose, and an indistinct line above the eyes are black; whiskers black. Beneath, the body is pure white, except the perineum, which is grey; tail grey, blackish towards the edges, and broadly margined with white; rather lighter in colour beneath. DIMENSIONS. Inches. Lines. From tip of nose to root of tail,. . . . . 12 5 Head, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2 Length of ear, . . . . . . . . . . . 0 9 Breadth of ear,. . . . . . . . . . . 0 7 Fore foot to end of longest claw,. . . . . 2 1 Hind foot to end of longest claw,. . . . . 3 2 Tail, to end of vertebrae, . . . . . . . 9 8 Tail, to end of hair,. . . . . . . . . 13 0 HABITS. This beautiful squirrel has been often killed by Mr. J. E. CLEMENTS, in the pine woods of California, near Murphy's "diggings." It is exceedingly swift on the ground, and will not readily take to a tree, or, if it does, ascends only a few feet, and then jumping down to the ground runs off with its tail held up but curved downwards towards the tip like that of a fox when in flight. By the aid of a fast cur dog, it may, however, be put up a tree. In this case it hides if a hole offers in which to conceal itself; and unlike some others of its genus, seldom leaps from one tree to another over the higher boughs in the endeavour to make its escape. It appears to make its nest generally in the decayed part of an oak tree, and in the desire to reach its secure retreat, is doubtless led to attempt to run to this tree on the ground, rather than by ascending the nearest trunk and jumping from branch to branch. A large part of its food consists of nuts, which are stuck in hollows or holes bored in the pine trees by a species of woodpecker called by the Californians "Sapsuckers." These nuts are placed in holes in the bark, which are only so deep as to admit the nuts (which are placed small end foremost in them), leaving the large end visible and about flush with the bark--they thus present the appearance of pins or pegs of wood stuck into the trees, and are very curious objects to the eye of the stranger. The California grey squirrel is a roving animal. One may sometimes see from one to a dozen in a morning's hunt in the pines, and again not meet any. They very seldom leave the pines, but are occasionally seen in the dry season following the beds of the then almost empty water courses, which afford them, in common with other animals and birds, water and such roots and grasses as they cannot find on the uplands at that period of the year. They bark somewhat in the same tones as the grey squirrel of the Atlantic States, but immediately cease when they perceive they are observed by man. Sometimes they seem to be excited to the utterance of their cries by the whistling of the California partridges, which, near the hills, approach the edges of the pine woods. Most of those shot by Mr. CLEMENTS were killed when running on the ground. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. This species is found in California in the wooded districts on the sides of the hills; and extends to Oregon, as, in Mr. PEALE's work, we have accounts of its having been observed there. It is also almost a sure conclusion that it is found on the ridges of the mountains, as far south as the nut-bearing trees invite it, and it may thus reach quite a low latitude. GENERAL REMARKS. The pine nuts referred to in the account of the habits of this squirrel, as a favourite article of food for it, are placed on the cones of the Sugar Pine, (Pinus Lambertii, Douglas), so called from the gum which exudes from it, where the bark has been wounded, becomes hard and white, and is quite sweet to the taste. The nuts are formed on the cones, sometimes twenty or thirty on one cone. The Indians pound and crack them. They are very good eating, and taste not unlike a hickory nut. The shell is thin, but hard, the nut covered with a skin like the peach kernel, &c. We hesitated somewhat as to adopting the name (Sciurus Fossor) given to this species by Mr. TITIAN R. PEALE, as his volume on the "Mammalia and Ornithology" of the United States Exploring Expedition, &c., has been suppressed; but as about one hundred copies, it appears, were circulated, we think it is only justice to Mr. PEALE to quote his work, which, as it was printed in 1848, gives his name the priority over Sciurus Heermanni, under which this species was described by our friend Dr. LE CONTE, September, 1852. Its flesh is good eating, and it is sufficiently abundant in some parts of California to make it worth the hunting for market.
SCIURUS ABERTI.--WOODHOUSE. [Sciurus aberti] COL. ABERT'S SQUIRREL. [Abert's Squirrel] PLATE CLIII.--FIG. 1. S. Auribus magnis latisque, cristatis longis subnigris cinereisque crinibus; rubra in dorso striga. CHARACTERS. Ears large and broad, tufted with long blackish grey hairs; a reddish stripe on the back. SYNONYMES. SCIURUS DORSALIS.--Woodhouse, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Phil., June, 1852, p. 110. SCIURUS ABERTI.--Woodhouse, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phil., Dec., 1852, p. 220. DESCRIPTION. Ears large and broad, with very long tufts; tail very large; fur long, compact, and soft; claws long, very strong, and much curved; whiskers very long. COLOUR. General colour above dark grey, with the exception of the dorsal line and a band extending along the external base or hind part of the ear, which is of a rich ferruginous brown colour; beneath, white, with the exception of the perineum, which is grey; cheeks greyish white; tail grey above with a broad white margin, and white beneath; claws of a black colour with the exception of their points, which are light and almost transparent; whiskers black; iris dark brown. DIMENSIONS. Dried Skin. Inches. Length from nose to root of tail, about,. . . . 13 From heel to point of longest nail, . . . . . 2 8/10 Height of ears, externally, . . . . . . . . 1 3/10 Height of ears, to end of tufts, . . . . . . 2 8/10 Breadth of ears,. . . . . . . . . . . . 1 From ear to point of nose, about . . . . . . 1 7/10 Tail (vertebrae), about . . . . . . . . . 8 Tail to end of fur,. . . . . . . . . . . 11 HABITS. Dr. WOODHOUSE, from whose description we have extracted above, makes the following remarks: "This beautiful squirrel I procured whilst attached to the expedition under command of Capt. L. SITGREAVES, Topographical Engineer U. S. Army, exploring the Zuni and the great and little Colorado rivers of the west, in the month of October, 1851, in the San Francisco Mountain, New Mexico, where I found it quite abundant, after leaving which, I did not see it again." GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. So far as shown by the foregoing account, and according to our knowledge, this squirrel has not been seen except in the San Francisco Mountain, New Mexico. It is, however, most likely that it inhabits a considerable district of elevated and wooded country in that part of our Continent, and may hereafter be found in California or even Oregon. GENERAL REMARKS. We have not been able to procure any further information regarding this species, which was first named Sciurus dorsalis by its discoverer, but a subsequent examination having satisfied him that this name had "already been applied by J. E. GRAY, to one of the same genus," he proposed "to call it Sciurus Aberti, after Col. J. J. ABERT, chief of the corps of Topographical Engineers, U. S. Army, to whose exertions science is much indebted."--(Proceed. Acad. Nat. Sci., Phil., Dec. 1852, p. 220. It gives us great pleasure to welcome this beautiful new animal under the name of Col. ABERT's Squirrel.