The skin of the rabbit is very thin and tender, and should be carefully removed, either as described for the fox, or in the ordinary method, by incision up the belly. Full directions for curing and tanning the skins will be found under its proper head in a later portion of this work.
This animal also called the marmot, is so well-known to most of our readers, that a detailed description will not be necessary, suffice it to say that the general color is brownish grey above, changing to reddish brown on the under parts. The head, tail and feet partaking of a darker color. The length of the animal is about a foot and a-half, exclusive of the tail, which is four inches long.
The woodchuck is a clumsy looking animal, and anything but active in its movements. It is very unintelligent, and is always too ready to use its powerful teeth on the hand of any one who may attempt to handle it. It is naturally a timid animal, but when cornered or brought to bay, it fights most desperately.
The woodchuck is an expert excavator, and where the animals exist in large numbers great damage is done by their united burrowing. They generally remain in their burrows during the day, only venturing out casually to see what is going on, and keeping near their entrance. Towards evening they start out to feed, devouring certain grasses and weeds, and also pumpkins and green corn with avidity, ever and anon sitting upright on their haunches, to see if the coast is clear. In case they are surprised in their meal, they hurry home in a pell-mell sort of a way, giving as much the appearance of rolling as running, but, nevertheless, getting over the ground with fair speed for such an unwieldy animal. The skin is loose and very tough, and possesses no commercial value, being principally used for whiplashes. Their burrows are generally on the slope of a hill, and often at the foot of a rock or tree. These tunnels vary from ten to thirty feet in length, sloping downward from the opening, afterward taking an upward turn and terminating in a roomy chamber, in which the animal sleeps in [Page 205] winter and where the young from three to eight in number are brought forth. The woodchuck is found throughout nearly the whole of the United States, and is especially abundant in New England, where it is a decided nuisance. It is found as far south as Tennessee, and westward to the Rocky Mountains. The flesh of the woodchuck is by many much esteemed as food, particularly in the Fall. When used for this purpose, the animal should be skinned and carefully cleaned immediately after death, taking especial care to remove the masses of fat which lie inside of the legs, as these, if allowed to remain, are sure to taint the flesh in cooking.