Dec 27, 2017

Squirrels and Other Fur-Bearers

by John Burroughs

The focus of this book is not squirrels, although it starts out with members of their family- gray squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks. Goes on to describe minks and weasels, rabbits, skunks, porcupines, raccoons, possums, two kinds of mice, foxes and muskrats. The brief chapters are all first-hand observations of wildlife made by the author on his farmland or in the forest near. He's a good nature writer, although the attitude towards animals not always kindly- seems to be a product of the times. Had no qualms describing hunting down raccoons with dogs, or stomping on a weasel to make it let go of his chicken, or making a porcupine loose all its quills into a wooden board to see what it would do when left without defense. He once dug up a large segment of a bank, curious to find the end of a weasel's maze of tunnels. Those small creatures really do sound fierce!

On the other hand, he writes about most of the animals with admiration or humor, and tells what he learned of their individual habits in interesting detail. The chipmunks are particularly engaging, and the intelligence of the foxes and woodchucks. There are quite a few illustrated plates by none other than John James Audubon; I wish they were larger it is hard to appreciate them on a screen, but still I'm glad they were included.

I read this one on my e-reader, thanks to Project Gutenburg.

Rating: 3/5          114 pages, 1900

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