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it appeared that they were so young as to be both naked and blind."
This animal in some parts of England is called the bean-mouse, from the havoc it makes in the newly sown bean-fields. The harvest mouse, which builds a curious and beautiful nest on the stalks of corn, is supposed to be the smallest quadruped known. Two of them placed in a scale weighed down just one copper halfpenny. A full-grown domestic mouse would weigh at least six times as much as one of these.
"It appears to retire, like other mice, to little burrows during the winter months: but it also remains the whole of this season in ricks of corn, in which situations, according to the testimony of more than one writer, it does not become torpid, as it does when hibernating under ground. Its beautiful little round nest was first described by White, 'as being most artificially platted, and composed of the blades of wheat, perfectly round, and about the size of a cricket-ball, with the aperture so ingeniously closed, that there was no discovering to what part it belonged. It was so compact and well filled, that it would roll across the table without being discomposed, though it contained eight little mice that were naked and blind.' This 'wonderful procreant cradle,' an elegant instance of the efforts of instinct, was found in a wheatfield suspended in the head of a thistle."*
The beech-mouse, an inhabitant of Germany, is also a very small animal. It lives alone in the hollows of old beech-trees. In ascending the branches, it coils round the twig with its tail, in the manner of an opossum. Dr. Pallas says, that he has often observed it ascending the stems of some strong grasses, which were scarcely bent by its weight. He kept several of them a considerable time, they became quite tame, and delighted to be held in his hand.
The minute mouse of Russia is about the size of the beech-mouse; a beautiful variety is found in Siberia, of an elegant yellow colour above, and snowy white beneath the body.
Both rats and mice produce an enormous * Bell's British Quadrupeds.
number of young, and this would be the cause of serious evil, if they did not destroy each other in the time of famine, and had not numerous enemies among other animals. A large and strong rat is as much dreaded by its own species, as the whole species is feared by those animals on which it preys. Dogs and cats destroy, but do not eat them. The weasel is the greatest enemy of the rat, for being about the same size, it follows him into his hole; and as its teeth and mouth are formed differently, it generally succeeds in mastering him. The weasel fastens on the throat of his victim, and sucks the blood, until the rat is too weak to offer any further resistance. In the Isle of France the black rat is found in such vast numbers, that it is said the Dutch were compelled to abandon the island. In some of the houses 30,000 have been killed in a year. They make large hoards under ground both of fruit and corn; they commit sad ravages by attacking young poultry, and will even climb trees to devour the birds, or to suck their eggs. M. St. Pierre says that he has seen a field of maize in which the rats had not
left a single ear. On the return of the Valiant, man-of-war, from the Havannah, in 1766, the rats in the ship had increased to such a degree that they destroyed a hundredweight of biscuit daily; the crew were at last obliged to smoke the ship between decks, and thus suffocate them. This had the desired effect, and many hampers were for some time filled every day with the rats thus killed. The black rat also swarms at Tahiti, and other of the Society Islands. In Tahiti they are so bold as to attack the natives while they are asleep, who hold them in the greatest detestation, and will not even destroy them lest they should be polluted by the touch. They carefully avoid eating the bread-fruit the animals may have chanced to run over. Various have been the methods employed to get rid of rats who abound especially in old houses in the country, where great quantities of corn are kept, and where the neighbouring haystacks favour their retreat.
Gressner says, that the most effectual way is to catch a rat, "and if a bell be tied round its neck, and then set at liberty, it will drive away all the rest."
A gentleman who travelled in Germany about forty years ago, saw a tame rat who had been thus treated. "After dinner," says he, "the landlord placed on the floor a large dish of soup, and gave a loud whistle; immediately there came into the room a mastiff, an Angora cat, an old raven, and a large rat with a bell about its neck. They all four went to the dish, and without disturbing each other, fed together; after which the dog, the cat, and the rat lay before the fire, while the raven hopped about the room." The landlord, after accounting for the familiarity which existed among these animals, informed his guest that the rat was the most useful of the four; for that the noise he made had completely freed the house from the rats and mice, with which it had been before infested.
Monsieur de la Tude, a Frenchman, who, having incurred the displeasure of Madame de Pompadour, was imprisoned in the Bastile for thirty-five years, found great solace and amusement during his