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toes, connected by strong broad webs like those of water-fowl. Thus nature, in every part, has had attention to the life of an animal whose food is fish, and whose haunts must necessarily be about water. *
This voracious animal is never found but at the sides of lakes and rivers, but particularly the former, for it is seldom fond of fishing in a running stream, for sue current of the water having more power upon it than the fishes it pursues, fit bunts against the stream it swims too slow; and if with the stream, it overshoots its prey. However when in rivers, it is always observed to swim against the stream, and to meet the fishes it preys upon rather than to pursue them. In lakes it destroys much more than it devours, and is often seen to spoil a pond in the space of a few nights. But the damage they do by destroying fish is not so great as their tearing in pieces the nets of the tishers, which they infallibly do whenever they happen to be entangled. The instant they find themselves caught, they go to work with their teeth, and in a few minutes destroy nets of a very considerable value.
The otter has two different methods of fishing; the one by catching its prey from the bottom upward, the other by pursuing it into some little creek, and seizing it there. In the former case, as this animal has longer lungs than most other quadrupeds, upon taking in a quantity of air, it can remain for some minutes at the bottom; and whatever fish passes over it at that time is certainly taken; for as the eyes of fish are placed so as not to see under them, the otter attacks them off their guard from below; and, seizing them at once by the belly, drags them on shore, where it often leaves them untouched, to continue the pursuit for hours together. The other method is chiefly practised in lakes and ponds, where there is no current; the fish thus taken are rather of the smaller kind, for the great ones will never be driven out of deep water.
lo this manner the otter usually lives during the summer, being furnished with a supply much greater than its consumption; killing for its amusement, and infecting the edges of the lake with quantities of dead fish, which it leaves there as trophies rather of its victory than its necessities. But in winter, when the lakes are frozen over, and the rivers pour with a rapid torrent, the otter is often greatly distressed for provisions, and is then obliged to live upon grass, weeds, and even the bark of trees. It then comes upon land, and, grown courageous from necessity, feeds upon terrestrial animals, rats, insects, and even sheep themselves. Nature, however, has given it the power of continuing a long time without food; and, although during that season it is not rendered quite torpid, like the marmot or the dormouse, yet it keeps much more within its retreat, which is usually the hollow of a bank worn under by the water. There it often forms a kind of gallery, running for several yards along the edge of the water; so that when attacked at one end, it flies to the other, and often evades the fowler by plunging into the water at forty or fifty paces distance, while he expecís to find it just before him.
• THE COMMON Orter (Mustela Lutra) is found, perhaps exclusively, in the northern is a very destructive water animal (see text). parts of the Pacific Ocean, where the Asiatic
and American continents nearly approach Rapine and spoil Haunt e'en the lowest deeps: seas have their sharks; each other, and in the intervening islands. Rivers and pools inclose the rav'nous pike;
It is said that a single skin is sometimes He, in his turn, becomes a prey-on him
sold, in the Chinese or Japanese markets, for Th' amphibious otter feasts.
upwards of twenty pounds sterling. During A variety of this animal is the
the winter, the sea otter confines itself to the Sea OTTER, (Mustela Lutris,) which is ice near the sea shore, or to the shore itself; full twice the size of the common otter: the in summer, it ascends the rivers, as far as the body is very long, and the tail about one third fresh water lakes, in company with its single the length of the body. Its skin, shining female. The latter is gravid eight or nine like velvet, is the most esteemed of all furs, months, and brings forth, generally, but one and consequently the most expensive. It at a birth. They are said to feed on fuci, as assimilates to the seal, to which it bears cou- well as fish and crustaceous anima's, but the siderable affinity. It weighs soinetimes as teeth do not appear to indicate it. much as seventy, or even eighty pounds. It
We learn from Buffon that this animal, in France, couples in winter, and brings forth in the beginning of spring. But it is certainly different with us, for its young are never fonnd till the latter end of summer; and I have frequently, when a boy, discovered their retreats, and pursued them at that season. I am, therefore, more inclined to follow the account given us of this animal by Mr. Lots, of the Academy of Stockholm, who assures ns that it couples about the middle of summer, and brings forth, at the end of nine weeks, generally three or four at a time.
In the rivers and the lakes frequented by the otter, the bottom is generally stony and uneven, with many trunks of trees, and long roots stretching underneath the water (g) The shore also is hollow and scooped inward by the waves. These are the places the otter chiefly chooses for its retreat; and there is scarce a stone which does not bear the mark of its residence, as upon them its excrements are always made. It is chiefly by this mark that its lurking places are known, as well as by the quantity of dead fish that are found lying here and there upon the banks of the water. To take the old ones alive is no easy task, as they are extremely strong, and there are few dogs that will dare to encounter them. They bite with great fierceness, and never let go their bold when they bave once fastened.* The best way, therefore, is to shoot them at once, as they never will be thoroughly tamed; and, if kept for the purposes of fishing, are always apt to take the first opportunity of escaping. But the young ones may be more easily taken, and converted to very useful purposes. The otter brings forth its young generally under the hollow banks, upon a bed of rushes, flags, or such weeds as the place affords it in the greatest quantities. I see in the British Zoology a description of its habitation, where that naturalist observes, “ that it burrows underground, on the banks of some river or lake, and always makes the entrance of its hole under water, then works up to the surface of the earth. and there makes a minute orifice for the admission of air; and this little air-hole is often found in the middle of some thicket.” In some places this may be true, but I have never observed any such contrivance; the retreat, indeed, was always at the edge of the water, but it was only sheltered by the impending bank, and the otter itself seemed to have but a small share in its formation. But, be this as it may, the young ones are always found at the edge of the water; and, if under the protection of the dam, she teaches them instantly to plunge like herself, into the deep, and escape among the rushes or weeds that fringe the stream. At such times, therefore, it is very difficult to take them; for, though ever so young, they swim with great rapidity, and in such a manner that no part of them is seen above water, except the tip of the nose. It is only 'when the dam is absent that they can be taken ; and in some places there are dogs purposely trained for discovering their retreats. Whenever the dog comes to the place, he soon, by his barking, shows that the otter is there ; which, if there be an old one, instantly plunges into the water, and the young all follow. But if the old one be absent, they continue terrified, and will not venture forth but under her guidance and protection. In this manner they are secured and taken home alive, where they are carefully fed with small fish and water. In proportion, however, as they gather strength, they have milk mixed among their food, the quantity of their fish provision is retrenched, and that of vegeta
• Bite of the OTTER.—Some few years turned its head, and bit the end of the man's ayo, the late Mr. Bradshaw, of Hatton Hall, thumb completely off! was otter-hunting in the river Lune. After One of the workmen belonging to Arrats some time, the chase being no longer able to mill, near Montrose, while walking beside keep the water, left it, and made for the mouth the mill-head, in February, 1825, observed an of a sough or drain, a short distance from the otter. A little dog belonging to the man, river's edge. Several persons were standing began to bark and approached it, when the near the mouth of the sough, among the rest otter, making a sudden leap, seized the dog a mechanic of the name of Slater. The otter by the back, plunged with it into the water, was in a fair way of getting in, when Slater from which it never rose again.-ED. seized him by the tail. The animal instantly
(8) Journal Etranger, Juin. 1756, p. 14.
bles is increased, until at length they are fed wholly upon bread, which perfectly agrees with their constitution. The manner of training them up to hunt for fish requires not only assiduity but patience; howevor, their activity and use, when taught, greatly repays the trouble of teaching; and, perhaps, no other animal is more beneficial to his master. The usual way is, first to teach them to fetch as dogs are instructed; but as they have not the same docility, so it requires more art and experience to teach them. It is usually performed by accustoming them to take a truss stuffed with wool, of the shape of a fish, and made of leather, in their mouths, and to drop it at the word of command; to run after it when thrown forward, and to bring it to their master. From this they proceed to real fish, which are thrown dead into the water, and which they are taught to fetch from thence. From the dead they proceed to the live, until at last the animal is perfectly instructed in the whole art of fishing.
Otters are to be met with in most parts of the world, and rather differ in size and colour from each other, than in habitudes or conformation.(g) In North America and Carolina they are usually found white, inclining to yellow. The Brasilian otter is much larger than ours, with a roundish head, almost like a cat. The tail is shorter, being but five inches long; and the hair is soft, short. and black, except on the head, where it is of a dark brown, with a yellowish spot under the throat.*
THE BEAVER.T_In all countries as man is civilized and improved, the lower ranks of animals are repressed and degraded.(8) Either reduced to servitude, or treated as rebels, all their societies are dissolved, and all their united talents rendered ineffectual. Their feeble arts quickly disappear, and nothing remains but their solitary instincts, or those foreign habitudes which they receive from human education. For this reason there remain no traces of their ancient talents and industry, except in those countries where man himself is a stranger; where, unvisited by his controlling power, for a long succession of ages, their little talents have had time to come to their limited perfection, and their common designs have been capable of being united.
* The Sea Orrer.—The whole length of each other, and seem to kiss. When attacked the sea otter is generally about four feet, of they make no resistance, but endeavour to which the tail occupies thirteen inches. The save themselves by flight: if, however, they fur is extremely soft, and of a deep glossy are closely pressed, and can see no means of black. The ears are small and erect, and the escape, they scold and grin like an angry cat. whiskers long and white. The legs are short On receiving a blow, they immediately lie on and thick, the hinder ones something resem- their side, draw up their hind legs together, bling those of a seal. The weight of the cover their eyes with their fore paws, and thus largest sea otter is from seventy to eighty seem to prepare for death. But if they are pounds. In their general habits of life, these fortunate enough to escape their pursuer, they animals are perfectly harmless and inoffen. deride him as soon as they are safe in the sive; and towards their offspring they exhibit sea. a degree of attachment which is extremely The skins of the sea otters are of great interesting. They will never desert them; value, and have long formed a considerable they will even starve themselves to death on export from Russia. They are disposed of to being robbed of them, and strive to breathe the Chinese at the rate of eighty or a hundred their last on the spot where their young have rubles each. The trade for this fur at Nootka been destroyed. The female produces only a had, not many years ago, nearly produced a single one at a time, which she suckles almost war between Great Britain and Spain. a whole year, and until it takes to itself a The CAYENNE OTTER — The toes on the mate. The sea otters pair, and are very con- fore feet are unconnected; the tail is long, stant. They often carry their young between taper, and naked. It inhabits Cayenne. their teeth, and fondle them, frequently throw. ing them up, and catching them again
iu their + The Beaver has the front teeth in the paws. Before these can swim, the old ones upper jaw abruptly cut off, and hollowed out will take them in their fore feet, and swim into a transverse angle; those of the lower about with them on their backs. The sea jaw being transverse at the tips; there are otters swim sometimes on their sides ; at four grinders on each side in each jaw: the other times on their backs, or in an upright tail is long, flattened and scaly; and it has position. They are very sportive, embrace perfect collar bones. (8) Ray.