Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

history is so greatly indebted, writes thus mouse nests, he adduces the following as worthy in his “Sketches and Anecdotes of Animal of mention. Life":

1. As is usual at the endof autumn, a number "I have had several tame mice, one of which of flower-pots had been set aside in a shed, in used to sit on my hand, and permit me to carry waiting for the coming spring. Towards the it about so seated, or it would hide itself under middle of winter, the shed was cleared out, and a fold of my coat, or creep up the sleeve for the the flower-pots removed. While carrying one sake of the warmth. In general, brown mice out of the shed, the owner was rather surprised are easier to tame than their white relations, to find a round hole in the mould, and therefore the albinoes. I have seen a common short- examined it more closely.

In the hole was tailed field-mouse come to the bars of its cage, seen, not a plant, but the tail of a mouse, and take a grain of wheat from the finger. which leapt from the pot as soon as it was set The best way to tame them, is to inflict a down. Presently another mouse followed from forced fast of a day or so, and then to feed the same aperture, showing that a nest lay them from the hand, always taking care to beneath the soil. On removing the earth, a accompany the operation with the sound in. neat and comfortable nest was found, made tended to be the call. They will soon learn to chiefly of straw and paper, the entrance to connect the sound and the food, and will come which was the hole through which the inmates to the side of their cage the moment that they had fled. hear it. So if any one wishes to possess tame The most curious point in connection with mice, I would recommend him to save himself this nest was, that although the earth in the the expense of purchasing white mice, which pot seemed to be intact except for the round are also more difficult to preserve in health hole, which might have been made by a stick, than the brown mice, and to try his hand on a none was found within it. The ingenious little few common brown mice, only a few weeks architects had been clever enough to scoop out old.

the whole of the earth and carry it away, so as "But whatever description of mice is kept, to form a cavity for the reception of their nest. the greatest care should be taken to have the They did not completely empty the pot, as if cage thoroughly clean. The most effectual knowing by instinct that their habitation would mode of so doing, is to have a double set of be betrayed. Accordingly, they allowed a cage bottoms, so that one set can be in use, slight covering of earth to remain upon their while the other set is getting dry after wash- nest, and had laboriously carried out the whole ing. It is also necessary to be careful of the of the mould through the little aperture which substances used as bedding. White cotton has been mentioned. The flower-pot was placed wool is, perhaps, the best substance that can on a shelf in the shed, and the earth was quite be used for that purpose ; but black cotton hard, so that in the process of excavation there wool, or black wadding as it is generally called, was little danger that it would fall

upon

the should be scrupulously avoided. I once lost a architects. whole cage of newly-tamed mice, by supplying Another nest was discovered in rather an them with black wadding. It was placed in ingenious position. A bird bad built a nest their cage at night, and by the next morning upon a shrub in a garden, and, as is usual in all the mice were dead.

such cases, had placed its home near the ground. “With proper care, however, mice may be A mouse of original genius saw the nest, and easily reared, and converted into amusing little perceived its value. Accordingly, she built pets. But however amusing they may be as her own nest immediately below that of the pets, in most other respects mice are provoking bird, so that she and her young were sheltered little creatures."

as by a roof. So closely had she fixed her In his recently published and deeply inte- habitation, that, as her young ran in and out resting work, “Homes without Hands,” Mr. of their home, their bodies pressed against Wood treats of the constructive powers of the the floor of the bird's-nest above them. No mouse. He terms it “ a notable house-builder,” | less than six young were discovered in this

says, “There seems to be hardly any place ingenious nest. in which a mouse will not establish itself, and 2. Early in March we set a hen, and, as her scarcely any materials of which it will not nest was a basket, a sack was placed under make its nest."

and around it, so as to keep in the heat. When Among the recorded instances of remarkable the hen was set she was in good feather, wear.

and

E E

ing an ample tail, according to her kind (the acquainted with the mischief done to the in. Brabma); but, as the three weeks went on, strument by the colonies of mice who seem to her tail seemed much broken, assumed a dilapi. be drawn to it by some strange attraction. dated appearance, and finally became a mere They frequently scramble to the mouths of the stump. This excited notice and surprise, as pipes, fall in, and are never able to get out there was nothing near her against which she again. On cleaning an organ, it is seldom was likely to spoil her tail.

that most of the large metal open pipes are When the chickens were hatched, and they not tenanted by sundry skeletons of mice, bats, and their mother were taken to a fresh nest, and even small birds, which do not seem to be and the old one removed, it was found that a able to use their wings in that confined space, mouse had constructed a beautiful nest under and perish miserably. Mice always appear to the basket. The body of the nest was made have a strange penchant for musical instru. of tow scraped from the sack, and chopped or ments. There was a certain closet, one of the gnawed hay from the hen’s nest; while the shelves of which had long been devoted to lining was made of the feathers of her tail, filberts. In another part of the closet an old which had evidently been removed a small bit disused harmonicon had been placed, and been at a time, as wanted, until all the feathers forgotten. On turning out the contents of were reduced to stumps, showing marks of the the closet, with a view to a thorough sweeping, mouse's teeth. We should have liked to have the harmonicon was discovered, apparently in heard the hen's remarks on the transaction, the same state in which it had been placed when the mouse was nibbling her tail.

there, even the hammers retaining their oriIn this case the mouse improved on the con- ginal position. The glasses, however, when duct of her relative that built in the garden: struck, gave forth a singularly dull sound, for, by placing her nest in such a position, she and, on moving the instrument about, a strange not only secured the very best materials for rattling sound was heard in the interior. On her home, but enjoyed the advantage of the removing the glasses, the instrument was regular and high temperature which proceeded found to be entirely filled with the husks and from the body of the sitting hen, and which shells of the filberts, the kernels having been was admirably adapted for the well-being of scooped out as neatly as could be done even by her young family.

an accomplished squirrel. It is difficult to 3. A number of empty bottles had been imagine the object for which all these shells stowed away upon a shelf, and among them were deposited in so singular a place, as mice was found one that was tenanted by a mouse. always make their nests of very soft materials, The little creature had considered that the such as rags, or scraps of paper, and are far bottle would afford a suitable home for her too observant of their own comfort to make young, and had therefore conveyed into it a their beds of sharp, hard nutshells. quantity of bedding, which she made into a 5. The rapidity with which the mouse can nest. The bottle was filled with the nest, and make a nest is somewhat surprising. One of the eccentric architect had taken the precau. the Cambridge journals mentioned some years tion to leave a round hole corresponding to ago, that in a farmer's house a loaf of newly the neck of the bottle. In this remarkable baked bread was placed upon a shelf, according domicile the young were placed ; and it is a to custom. Next day a hole was observed in fact worthy of notice that no attempt had the loaf; and when it was cut open, a mouse been made to shut out the light. Nothing and her nest were discovered therein, the latter would have been easier than to have formed having been made with paper. On examinathe cavity at the under side, so that the soft tion, the material of the habitation was found materials of the nest would exclude the light; to have been obtained from a copy-book, which but the mouse had simply formed a comfortable had been torn into shreds, and arranged into hollow for her young, and therein she had the form of a nest. Within this curious home placed her offspring. It is therefore evident were nine young mice, pink, transparent, and that the mouse has no fear of light, but that newly-born. Thus, in the space of thirty-six it only chooses darkness as a means of safety hours at the most, the loaf must have cooled,

the interior been excavated, the copy-book found 4. An organ does not appear a very promis. and cut into suitable pieces, the nest made, ing residence for these animals, yet every one

and the young brought into the world. Sarely who has busied himself about organs is fully it is no wonder that mice are so plentiful, or

for its young

that their many enemies fail to exterminate be brought again to the same form. But the them.

two spindles spoken of before, ought to be joyned "The number of traps invented for the pur- together in the ends above, and beyond them pose of taking mice," writes Mr. Wood, "is another small spindle to be made, which may beyond the power of statistics to give. There hold in the middle a crooked wedge or butten, are ingenious boards placed on sbelves, which upon the which may be hanged a piece of hogtilt the mouse into a basin of water below, skin, so that one of them may be easily turned where it swims about for many minutes, and at upside down with the skin, and put thou therelast sinks through sheer exhaustion. Struggling unto a little piece of earth or stick, that the for life and fighting for breath to the last mice may easily come to it: So that how many moment of its little life, it continues its vain mice soever shall come thereto, and to the efforts even while slowly sinking below the meat, shall be taken, always by rouling the surface. This is generally applauded as a paper into his wonted place.'” merciful trap.

Then there is a spring trap, The fecundity of the mouse is as great as that that drives a steel spike through the mouse's of the rat, for it breeds at all times of the year, brain, causing instantaneous death. This is and frequently produces three families in the generally stigmatised (especially by ladies) as course of one year, each family numbering from a cruel trap. There is another 'merciful'trap, four to six. In a fortnight the young are able the box trap, that shuts it in without hurting to obtain their own living, and in a few weeks it, and affords it a piece of cheese to eat, and a more become parents themselves. An experiview from between the bars until it is shaken ment on the fecundity of this animal was made out of the trap and carried off by the cat, who so long ago as the time of Aristotle. He placed picks it up and takes it to her kittens, who in a closed box well stored with grain one practise upon it the art of mouse-catching and female mouse who was about to become a tormenting, which they hope soon to begin on mother, and kept the box closed for some time. their own account. There is the garotte trap, When the box was opened he found an hunwhich strangles the mouse, and the arithmeti. dred and twenty mice, all sprung from one cal 4 trap, which mashes it flat. But there is parent. still extant an account of a trap that, from the If any one wishes to repeat the experiment, elaborate description, must be a most valuable he must be very careful about a plentiful supply one, and which the describer has wisely pre- of food, or his mice may come to the same unvented from being too common, by enveloping timely end that befella company of mice whom his account in such a mist of impenetrable lan. a boy had put in a box and forgotten for some guage, that no one whom I have met has been time. When he remembered his neglect, he able to form the least idea of the description bastened to open bis box, and found there only of trap intended--what may be its form, how one great mouse, sitting in solitary misery the mouse is to be caught, or what catches it. . among the relics of his companions, of whom In sheer despair, I present the account to he was the sole survivor, hunger having commy readers, together with a hope that one of pelled them to kill and eat one another. them may be able to make a trap by means of “It is not so easy to clear a house of mice as the description, and that, if so, he will kindly many people imagine, particularly if traps are forward to me a sketch :

used as the means of destruction. Many will ‘And again he telleth of another manner of be caught when the traps are first set, but the catching of mice, which is as great as the first, numbers fall off, and at last cease altogether, and it is after this manner: Take two smooth when the householder flatters bimself that the boards about the lenth of thy arm, and in mice are all gone. But the fact is that the breadth half thy arm, but joyn it so together, little creatures have learned caution, and have that they may be distant from the lower part only avoided entering the trap, while they still in lenth some four fingers, or little less, with continue their depredations. They not only two small spindles or clefts, which must be at take warning from seeing their fellows caught, every end one, and fasten paper under them, but if one that has been captured has been and put a piece of paste therein, being cut over- suffered to make its escape, the trap may as thwart in the middle, but you must not fasten well be removed, for no more mice will be it nigb the middle, and let it be so bound, that caught. After a month or two, it may again it may easily be lifted up betwixt the spindles, be used with success. that if by slipping it should be altered, it might “During my residence in college, the mice

had been a fertile source of annoyance. They mouth. I thought that it seemed singularly nibbled my candles in two, so that they would indifferent to the battery, and withdrew the not stand upright; they drank my milk; they wire on finding that no effect had been pro. pattered with their little feet over my butter; duced. The mouse, however, remained in they raced about between the papered canvas exactly the same position; and, upon a close and the stone wall, until the wall was riddled examination, proved to be quite dead. On with holes made by a toasting-fork thrust opening the trap and inclining it, the mouse through the paper, in the vain hope of spearing slid out as if it had been carved in wood. All them; they would run across my carpet in the its limbs were rigidly stiff, and its neck most undisguised manner; until I determined stretched out in exactly the same position in to extirpate them. So I got a double trap, which it had bitten at the wire. It is imposbaited it very temptingly, and placed it in the sible to imagine any death more sudden than closet. Scarcely had the door been closed, when this must have been; for it was so instan. two smart blows told of the capture of two taneous that no perceptible sign appeared to mice. They were speedily immolated, and the mark the moment when the life left the body." trap again set. During the first two or three Mr. Smee relates the following instance of days the trap was constantly going off, until I the sagacity of the mouse in refusing to be was tired of going and taking out the mice. caught a second time :The others, however, took warning, and came 'Many years ago, I caught a common mouse more and more sparingly, until it was a rare in a trap, and, instead of consigning it to the thing to catch one young mouse in a day, and usual watery grave, or to the unmerciful claws after a week or so, none were caught at all, of the cat, I determined to keep it a prisoner. although the trap was baited with most savoury After a short time the little mouse made its toasted cheese, and my candles suffered as

escape in a room attached to my father's before. I then bethought me of changing the residence in the Bank of England. I did not bait: so, after suffering the trap to be well desire the presence of a wild mouse in the aired, and the scent of the cheese to evaporate, room, and therefore adopted means to secure I substituted a piece of tallow with great suc- him. The room was paved with stone, and cess, for the mice came nearly as fast as ever. enclosed with solid walls. There was no hope When they had begun to dread the latter, for him that he would ultimately escape, a piece of bacon was used as the bait, and although there were abundant opportunities by systematically changing the bait, great for hiding. I set the trap and baited it with numbers were caught. At last, however, the a savoury morsel; but day after day no mouse mice seemed to comprehend that the trap was entered. The poor little thing gave unequivocal in fault, and not the bait, and I had to substi- signs of 'extreme hunger, by gnawing the tute a 4 trap, to which they again came in bladder from some of my chemical bottles. I multitudes, and as the descending weight was a gradually removed everything from the room very large book, several often perished at once. that he could possibly eat, but still the old

“I once made an experiment on a mouse of proverb of Once caught, twice shy' so far rather a singular description. At that time applied, that he would not enter my trap. galvanism had become rather a fashionable After many days, on visiting the apartment study among the members of the University; one morning, the trap was down, the mouse and numerous were the experiments that were was caught; the pangs of hunger were more tried, from firing gunpowder under water, to intolerable than the terror of imprisonment

. knocking down a scout with an electric shock. He did not, however, will the unpleasant alterI happened to have an excellent home-made native of entering the trap until he was so battery, only a small single-cell one, but one nearly starred that his bones almost protruded which would cause an electro-magnet to sustain through his skin; and he freely took bits of a weight of forty pounds, and, when connected food from my fingers through the bars of the with a coil, would give a tolerably severe shock. cage." A mouse happened to be caught, and the wires The proverb is well known that speaks of were thrust into the trap, as much in jest as rats deserting a falling house. Topsell gives a in earnest. The mouse, seeing the wires, and, circumstantial account of such a proceeding in being enraged at its incarceration, dashed at the following lines :them, and happened to place its feet upon one " It is also very certain that mice which live at the moment that it seized the other in its in a house, if they perceive by the age of it, it

« AnteriorContinuar »