Another method consists in embedding a deep flower pot in one of the main tunnels of the animal, and carefully replacing the soil above. The mole in traversing his burrow thus falls into the pit and is effectually captured. This is a very ingenious mode of taking the animal, and rewarded its inventor with seven moles on the first night of trial.
There are a number of other devices said to work excellently, but the above we believe to be the most effectual of all.
There are several species of American moles, the star-nosed variety being familiar to most of us. The most common moles are the shrew moles, with pointed noses. The silver mole is a large species, of a changeable silvery color, found on the Western prairies. The Oregon mole is nearly black, with purplish or brownish reflections.
The most beautiful of all the moles is found at the Cape of Good Hope. It is of about the size of the ordinary American species, and its soft fur glistens with brilliant green and golden reflections. The fur of this species is probably the most wonderful and beautiful in the whole animal kingdom.
There are many species of squirrels found in the United States, but their fur is of little value, and of trifling importance in the fur trade; the squirrel fur of our markets being that of a small grey European variety. Squirrels, as a class, possess much the same peculiarities and habits. Their claws are particularly adapted for life among the trees; their tails are long and bushy, covering over the backs of the animals when in a sitting posture. They are all lithe and quick of movement, and their senses of sight and hearing are especially keen. They are constantly on the alert, and are full of artifice when pursued. Their food consists chiefly of nuts, fruits, and grain, but when pushed by hunger, there is no telling what they will not eat. They generally provide for the [Page 212] winter months by laying up a store of the foregoing provisions, either in holes in trees or interstices in the bark, or in cavities under ground. The shag-bark hickory offers an especial inducement to these provident creatures in the numerous crevices and cracks throughout the bark. It is not an uncommon thing to find whole handfuls of nuts carefully packed away in one of these cracks, and a sharp stroke with an ax in the trunk of one of these trees will often dislodge numbers of the nuts. The writer has many a time gone “nutting” in this way in the middle of winter with good success. The nests of squirrels are generally built in trees, either in a crotch between the branches or in some deserted woodpecker’s hole. Some species live in burrows in the ground, and those individuals who are lucky enough to be in the neighborhood of a barn often make their abode therein, taking their regular three meals a day from the granary. In many localities these animals thus become a perfect pest to the farmers, and their destruction becomes a matter of urgent necessity.