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THE BURGESS ANIMAL BOOK FOR CHILDREN
Thornton W. Burgess
TO THE CAUSE OF WILD LIFE IN AMERICA, ESPECIALLY THE MAMMALS MANY OF WHICH ARE
SERIOUSLY THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION, THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED.
The cordial reception given the Burgess Bird Book for Children,
together with numerous letters to the author asking for information
on the habits and characteristics of many of the mammals of
America, led to the preparation of this volume. It is offered
merely as an introduction to the four-footed friends, little and
big, which form so important a part of the wild life of the United
States and Canada.
There has been no attempt to describe or classify sub-species.
That is for the scientist and student with specific interests.
The purpose of this book is to acquaint the reader with the
larger groups--orders, families, and divisions of the latter,
so that typical representatives may be recognized and their
Instead of the word mammal, the word animal has been used
throughout as having a better defined meaning to the average
child. A conscientious effort to avoid technical terms and
descriptions has been made that there may be nothing to confuse
the young mind. Clarity and simplicity have been the objects
kept constantly in view.
At the same time the utmost care to be accurate in the smallest
details has been exercised. To this end the works of leading
authorities on American mammals have been carefully consulted
and compared. No statements which are not confirmed by two or
more naturalists of recognized standing have been made.
In this research work the writings of Audubon and Bachman, Dr. E.W.
Neson, Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Dr. W.T. Hornaday, Ernest Thompson Seton
and others, together with the bulletins of the Biological Survey of
the Department of Agriculture at Washington, have been of the
greatest value. I herewith acknowledge my debt to these.
Whatever the text may lack in clearness of description will be
amply compensated for by the wonderful drawings in color and
black-an-white by Mr. Louis Agassiz Fuertes, the artist-naturalist,
whoese hearty cooperation has been a source of great help to me.
These drawings were made especially for this book and add in no
small degree to such value as it may possess.
If the reading of these pages shall lead even a few to an active
interest in our wild animals, stimulating a desire to preserve
and protect a priceless heritage from the past which a heedless
present threatens through wanton and reckless waste to deny the
future, the labor will have been well worth while.
Only through intimate acquaintance may understanding of the animals
in their relations to each other and to man be attained. To serve
as a medium for this purpose this book has been written. As such
I offer it to the children of America, conscious of its
shortcomings yet hopeful that it will prove of some value in
acquainting them with their friends and mine--the animals of field
and wood, of mountain and desert, in the truest sense the first
citizens of America.
THORNTON W. BURGESS
CHAPTER I JENNY WREN GIVES PETER RABBIT AN IDEA
Peter arranges to go to school to Old Mother Nature.
II PETER AND JUMPER GO TO SCHOOL
The Cottontail Rabbit, Northern Hare and Marsh Rabbit.
III MORE OF PETER'S LONG-LEGGED COUSINS
The Swamp Hare, Arctic Hare, Prairie Hare, Antelope
Jack and common Jack Rabbit.
IV CHATTERER AND HAPPY JACK JOIN
The Squirrel family and order of Rodents.
V THE SQUIRRELS OF THE TREES
The Red, Gray, Fox, Kaibab and Abert Squirrels.
VI STRIPED CHIPMUNK AND HIS COUSINS
The Chipmunk, Spermophiles, and Flying Squirrel.
VII JOHNNY CHUCK JOINS THE CLASS
The Woodchuck and his ways.
VIII WHISTLER AND YAP YAP
The Whistling or Hoary Marmot and Prairie Dogs.
IX TWO QUEER LITTLE HAYMAKERS
The Pika or Cony and the Mountain Beaver or Sewellel.
X PRICKLY PORKY AND GRUBBY GOPHER
Introducing the Porcupine and Pocket Gopher.
XI A FELLOW WITH A THOUSAND SPEARS
More about the Porcupine.
XII A LUMBERMAN AND ENGINEER
The Beaver and his works.
XIII A WORKER AND A ROBBER
The Muskrat and the Brown or Norway Rat.
XIV A TRADER AND A HANDSOME FELLOW
The Cotton Rat, Wood or Pack Rat and the Kangaroo Rat.
XV TWO UNLIKE LITTLE COUSINS
Whitefoot the Wood or Deer Mouse and Danny Meadow
Mouse, also called Field Mouse.
XVI DANNY'S NORTHERN COUSINS, AND NIMBLEHEELS
The Banded and Brown Lemmings and the Jumping Mouse.
XVII THREE LITTLE REDCOATS AND SOME OTHERS
The Pine Mouse, Red-backed Mouse, Rufous Tree Mouse,
Rock Mouse and Beach Mouse.
XVIII MICE WITH POCKETS, AND OTHERS
The Silky and Spiny Pocket Mice, Grasshopper Mouse,
Harvest Mouse and House Mouse.
XIX TEENY WEENY AND HIS COUSIN
The Common or Long-tailed Shrew or Shrew Mouse,
Short-tailed Shrew or Mole Shrew and Marsh or Water
XX FOUR BUSY LITTLE MINERS
The Common Mole, Brewer's or Hairy-tailed Mole, Oregon
Mole and Star-nosed Mole.
XXI FLITTER THE BAT AND HIS FAMILY
The Red Bat, Little Brown or Cave Bat, Big Brown or
House Bat, Silvery Bat, Hoary Bat and Big-eared Bat.
XXII AN INDEPENDENT FAMILY
The Common Skunk, Hog-nosed or Badger Skunk and Little
XXIII DIGGER AND HIS COUSIN GLUTTON
The Badger and Wolverine or Carcajou.
XXIV SHADOW AND HIS FAMILY
The Common or Bonaparte Weasel or Ermine, New York
Weasel, Long-tailed or Yellow-bellied Weasel, Least
Weasel and Black-footed Ferret.
XXV TWO FAMOUS SWIMMERS
Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter.
XXVI SPITE THE MARTEN AND PEKAN THE FISHER
The Pine Marten or American Sable and the Fisher or
XXVII REDDY FOX JOINS THE SCHOOL
The Red, Black and Silver Foxes, Gray Fox, Kit Fox
Or Swift, Desert Fox, Arctic and Blue Foxes.
XXVIII OLD MAN COYOTE AND HOWLER THE WOLF
The Prairie Wolf or Coyote and the Timber or Gray Wolf.
XXIX YOWLER AND HIS COUSIN TUFTY
The Bay Lynx or Bob Cat and the Canada Lynx or Lucivee.
XXX SOME BIG AND LITTLE CAT COUSINS
Puma the Panther, also called Cougar and Mountain Lion,
The Jaguar, the Ocelot, and the Jaguarundi Cat or Eyra.
XXXI BOBBY COON ARRIVES
The Raccoon and the Civet or Ring-tailed Cat, also
Called Coon Cat and Bassaris.
XXXII BUSTER BEAR NEARLY BREAKS UP SCHOOL
The Black Bear and his habits.
XXXIII BUSTER BEAR'S BIG COUSINS
Silvertip, the Grizzly Bear, the Alaska or Great Brown
Bear and the Polar Bear.
XXXIV UNC' BILLY AND OLD MRS. POSSUM
The Virginia Opossum, which is the only American
XXXV LIGHTFOOT, BLACKTAIL AND FORKHORN
The White-tailed or Virginia Deer, Black-tailed Deer
And Mule Deer.
XXXVI BUGLER, FLATHORNS AND WANDERHOOF
The Elk or Wapiti, Moose or Caribou.
XXXVII THUNDERFOOT, FLEETFOOT AND LONGCOAT
The Buffalo or Bison, Antelope or Musk-Ox.
XXXVIII TWO WONDERFUL MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
The Rocky Mountain Sheep or Bighorn and the Rocky
XXXIX PIGGY AND HARDSHELL
The Peccary or Wild Pig and the Armadillo.
XL THE MAMMALS OF THE SEA
The Sea Otter, Walrus, Sea Lions, Seals and Manatee
Or Sea Cow.
THE BURGESS ANIMAL BOOK FOR CHILDREN
CHAPTER I Jenny Wren Gives Peter Rabbit an Idea
"As sure as you're alive now, Peter Rabbit, some day I will catch
you," snarled Reddy Fox, as he poked his black nose in the hole
between the roots of the Big Hickory-tree which grows close to
the Smiling Pool. "It is lucky for you that you were not one jump
farther away from this hole."
Peter, safe inside that hole, didn't have a word to say, or, if he
did, he didn't have breath enough to say it. It was quite true
that if he had been one jump farther from that hole, Reddy Fox
would have caught him. As it was, the hairs on Peter's funny
white tail actually had tickled Reddy's back as Peter plunged
frantically through the root-bound entrance to that hole. It
had been the narrowest escape Peter had had for a long, long time.
You see, Reddy Fox had surprised Peter nibbling sweet clover on the
bank of the Smiling Pond, and it had been a lucky thing for Peter
that that hole, dug long ago by Johnny Chuck's grandfather, had
been right where it was. Also, it was a lucky thing that old
Mr. Chuck had been wise enough to make the entrance between
the roots of that tree in such a way that it could not be
dug any larger.
Reddy Fox was too shrewd to waste any time trying to dig it larger.
He knew there wasn't room enough for him to get between those roots.
So, after trying to make Peter as uncomfortable as possible by
telling him what he, Reddy, would do to him when he did catch him,
Reddy trotted off across the Green Meadows. Peter remained where
he was for a long time. When he was quite sure that it was safe to
do so, he crept out and hurried, lipperty-lipperty-lip, up to the
Old Orchard. He felt that that would be the safest place for him,
because there were ever so many hiding places in the old stone wall
along the edge of it.
When Peter reached the Old Orchard, who should he see but Jenny
Wren. Jenny had arrived that very morning from the Sunny South
where she had spent the winter. "Tut, tut, tut, tut, tut!"
exclaimed Jenny as soon as she saw Peter. "If here isn't Peter
Rabbit himself! How did you manage to keep out of the clutches
of Reddy Fox all the long winter?"
Peter chuckled. "I didn't have much trouble with Reddy during
the winter," said he, "but this very morning he so nearly caught
me that it is a wonder that my hair is not snow white from fright."
Then he told Jenny all about his narrow escape. "Had it not been
for that handy hole of Grandfather Chuck, I couldn't possibly
have escaped," concluded Peter.
Jenny Wren cocked her pert little head on one side, and her sharp
little eyes snapped. "Why don't you learn to swim, Peter, like
your cousin down in the Sunny South?" she demanded. "If he had
been in your place, he would simply have plunged into the Smiling
Pool and laughed at Reddy Fox."
Peter sat bolt upright with his eyes very wide open. In them was
a funny look of surprise as he stared up at Jenny Wren. "What are
you talking about, Jenny Wren?" he demanded. "Don't you know that
none of the Rabbit family swim unless it is to cross the Laughing
Brook when there is no other way of getting to the other side, or
when actually driven into the water by an enemy from whom there is
no other escape? I can swim a little if I have to, but you don't
catch me in the water when I can stay on land. What is more, you
won't find any other members of my family doing such a thing."
"Tut, tut, tut, tut, Peter!" exclaimed Jenny Wren in her sharp,
scolding voice. "Tut, tut, tut, tut! For a fellow who has been
so curious about the ways of his feathered neighbors, you know
very little about your own family. If I were in your place I
would learn about my own relatives before I became curious about
my neighbors. How many relatives have you, Peter?"
"One," replied Peter promptly, "my big cousin, Jumper the Hare."
Jenny Wren threw back her head and laughed and laughed and laughed.
It was a most irritating and provoking laugh. Finally Peter began
to lose patience. "What are you laughing at?" he demanded crossly.
"You know very well that Jumper the Hare is the only cousin I have."
Jenny Wren laughed harder that ever.
"Peter!" she gasped. "Peter, you will be the death of me. Why,
down in the Sunny South, where I spent the winter, you have a
cousin who is more closely related to you than Jumper the Hare.
And what is more, he is almost as fond of the water as Jerry
Muskrat. He was called the Marsh Rabbit or Marsh Hare, and many a
time I have watched him swimming about by the hour."
"I don't believe it!" declared Peter angrily. "I don't believe a
word of it. You are simply trying to fool me, Jenny Wren. There
never was a Rabbit and there never will be a Rabbit who would go
swimming for the fun of it. I belong to the Cottontail branch of
the Hare family, and it is a fine family if I do say so. My
cousin Jumper is a true Hare, and the only difference between us
is that he is bigger, has longer legs and ears, changes the color
of his coat in winter, and seldom, if ever, goes into holes in
the ground. The idea of trying to tell me I don't know about my
Jenny Wren suddenly became sober. "Peter," said she very earnestly,
"take my advice and go to school to Old Mother Nature for awhile.
What I have told you is true, every word of it. You have a cousin
down in the Sunny South who spends half his time in the water.
What is more, I suspect that you and Jumper have other relatives
of whom you've never heard. Such ignorance would be laughable if
it were not to be pitied. This is what comes of never having
traveled. Go to school to Old Mother Nature for a while, Peter.
It will pay you." With this, Jenny Wren flew away to hunt for
Mr. Wren that they might decide where to make their home for
Peter tried to believe that what Jenny Wren had told him was nothing
but a story, but do what he would, he couldn't rid himself of a
little doubt. He tried to interest himself in the affairs of the
other little people of Old Orchard, but it was useless. That little
doubt kept growing and growing. Could it be possible that Jenny
Wren had spoken the truth? Could it be that he really didn't
know what relatives he had or anything about them? Of course Old
Mother Nature could tell him all he wanted to know. And he knew
that whatever she might tell him would be true.
Finally that growing doubt, together with the curiosity which has
led poor Peter to do so many queer things, proved too much for him
and he started for the Green Forest to look for Old Mother Nature.
It didn't take long to find her. She was very busy, for there is
no time in all the year when Old Mother Nature has quite so much
to do as in the spring.
"If you please, Old Mother Nature," said Peter timidly but very
politely, "I've some questions I want to ask you."
Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled in a kindly way. "All right,
Peter," she replied. "I guess I can talk and work at the same
time. What is it you want to know?"
"I want to know if it is true that there are any other members of
the Rabbit and the Hare family besides my big cousin, Jumper, who
lives here in the Green Forest, and myself."
Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled more than ever. "Why, of course,
Peter," she replied. "There are several other members. You ought
to know that. But then, I suppose you don't because you never
have traveled. It is surprising how little some folks know about
the very things they ought to know most about."
Peter looked very humble and as if he felt a little bit foolish.
"Is--is--is it true that way down in the Sunny South I have a
cousin who loves to spend his time in the water?" stammered Peter.
"It certainly is, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature. "He is called
the Marsh Rabbit, and he is more nearly your size, and looks more
like you, than any of your other cousins."
Peter gulped as if he were swallowing something that went down
hard. "That is what Jenny Wren said, but I didn't believe her,"
replied Peter meekly. "She said she had often watched him
swimming about like Jerry Muskrat."
Old Mother Nature nodded. "Quite true. Quite true," said she.
"He is quite as much at home in the water as on land, if anything
a little more so. He is one member the family who takes to the
water, and he certainly does love it. Is there anything else you
want to know, Peter?"
Peter shifted about uneasily and hesitated. "What is it, Peter?"
asked Old Mother Nature kindly. "There is nothing in the Great
World equal to knowledge, and if I can add to your store of it I
will be very glad to."
Peter took heart. "If--if you please, Mother Nature, I would like
to learn all about my family. May come to school to you every day?"
Old Mother Nature laughed right out. "Certainly you may go to
school to me, old Mr. Curiosity," said she. "It is a good idea;
a very good idea. I'm very busy, as you can see, but I'm never
too busy to teach those who really want to learn. We'll have a
lesson here every morning just at sun-up. I can't be bothered
any more to-day, because it is late. Run along home to the dear
Old Briar-patch and think up some questions to ask me to-morrow
morning. And, by the way, Peter, I will ask YOU some questions.
For one thing I shall ask you to tell me all you know about your
own family. Now scamper along and be here to-morrow morning
"May I bring my cousin, Jumper the Hare, if he wants to come?"
asked Peter, as he prepared to obey Old Mother Nature.
"Bring him along and any one else who wants to learn," replied Old
Mother Nature kindly.
Peter bade her good-by in his most polite manner and then scampered
as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip, to the dear Old
Briar-patch. There he spent the remainder of the day thinking up
questions and also trying to find out how much he really did know
about his own family.
CHAPTER II Peter and Jumper go to School
Hardly had jolly, round, red Mr. Sun thrown off his rosy blankets
and begun his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky when Peter
Rabbit and his cousin, Jumper the Hare, arrived at the place in
the Green Forest where Peter had found Old Mother Nature the day
before. She was waiting for them, ready to begin the first lesson.
"I am glad you are so prompt," said she. "Promptness is one of
the most important things in life. Now I am very, very busy these
days, as you know, so we will begin school at once. Before either
of you ask any questions, I am going to ask some myself. Peter,
what do you look like? Where do you live? What do you eat? I
want to find out just how much you really know about yourself."
Peter scratched one ear with a long hind foot and hesitated as
if he didn't know just how to begin. Old Mother Nature waited
patiently. Finally Peter began rather timidly.
"Of course," said he, "the only way I know how I look is by the
way the other members of my family look, for I've never seen
myself. I suppose in a way I look like all the rest of the Rabbit
family. I have long hind legs and short front ones. I suppose
this is so I can make long jumps when I am in a hurry."
Old Mother Nature nodded, and Peter, taking courage, continued. "My
hind legs are stout and strong, but my front ones are rather weak.
I guess this is because I do not have a great deal of use for them,
except for running. My coat is a sort of mixture of brown and gray,
more brown in summer and more gray in winter. My ears are longer for
my size than are those of most animals, but really not very long after
all, not nearly as long for my size as my cousin Jumper's are for his
size. My tail doesn't amount to much because it is so short that it
is hardly worth calling a tail. It is so short I carry it straight
up. It is white like a little bunch of cotton, and I suppose that
that is why I am called a Cottontail Rabbit, though I have heard that
some folks call me a Gray Rabbit and others a Bush Rabbit. I guess
I'm called Bush Rabbit because I like bushy country in which to live."
"I live in the dear Old Briar-patch and just love it. It is a
mass of bushes and bramble-tangles and is the safest place I know
of. I have cut little paths all through it just big enough for
Mrs. Peter and myself. None of our enemies can get at us there,
excepting Shadow the Weasel or Billy Mink. I have a sort of nest
there where I spend my time when I am not running about. It is
called a form and I sit in it a great deal."
"In summer I eat clover, grass and other green things, and I just
love to get over into Farmer Brown's garden. In winter I have to
take what I can get, and this is mostly bark from young trees,
buds and tender twigs of bushes, and any green plants I can find
under the snow. I can run fast for a short distance, but only for
a short distance. That is why I like thick brush and bramble-
tangles. There I can dodge. I don't know any one who can beat me
at dodging. If Reddy Fox or Bowser the Hound surprises me away
from the dear Old Briar-patch I run for the nearest hollow log or
hole in the ground. Sometimes in summer I dig a hole for myself,
but not often. It is much easier to use a hole somebody else has
dug. When I want to signal my friends I thump the ground with my
hind feet. Jumper does the same thing. I forgot to say I don't
Old Mother Nature smiled. "You are thinking of that cousin of
yours, the Marsh Rabbit who lives way down in the Sunny South,"
Peter looked a wee bit foolish and admitted that he was. Jumper
the Hare was all interest at once. You see, he had never heard
of this cousin.
"That was a very good account of yourself, Peter," said Old Mother
Nature. "Now take a look at your cousin, Jumper the Hare, and
tell me how he differs from you."
Peter took a long look at Jumper, and then, as before, scratched
one ear with a long hind foot. "In the first place," said he,
"Jumper is considerably bigger than I. He has very long hind legs
and his ears are very long. In summer he wears a brown coat, but
in winter he is all white but the tips of those long ears, and
those are black. Because his coat changes so, he is called the
varying Hare. He likes the Green Forest where the trees grow
close together, especially those places where there are a great
many young trees. He's the biggest member of our family. I
guess that's all I know about Cousin Jumper."
"That is very good, Peter, as far as it goes," said Old Mother
Nature. "You have made only one mistake. Jumper is not the
biggest of his family."
Both Peter and Jumper opened their eyes very wide with surprise.
"Also," continued Old Mother Nature, "you forgot to mention the
fact that Jumper never hides in hollow logs and holes in the
ground as you do. Why don't you, Jumper?"
"I wouldn't feel safe there," replied Jumper rather timidly. "I
depend on my long legs for safety, and the way I can dodge around
trees and bushes. I suppose Reddy Fox may be fast enough to catch
me in the open, but he can't do it where I can dodge around trees
and bushes. That is why I stick to the Green Forest. If you please,
Mother Nature, what is this about a cousin who likes to swim?"
Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled. "We'll get to that later on,"
said she. "Now, each of you hold up a hind foot and tell me what
difference you see."
Peter and Jumper each held up a hind foot and each looked first at
his own and then at the other's. "They look to me very much
alike, only Jumper's is a lot longer and bigger than mine," said
Peter. Jumper nodded as if he agreed.
"What's the matter with your eyes?" demanded Old Mother Nature.
"Don't you see that Jumper's foot is a great deal broader than
yours, Peter, and that his toes are spread apart, while yours are
Peter and Jumper looked sheepish, for it was just as Old Mother
Nature had said. Jumper's foot really was quite different from
that of Peter. Peter's was narrow and slim.
"That is a very important difference," declared Old Mother Nature.
"Can you guess why I gave you those big feet, Jumper?"
Jumper slowly shook his head. "Not unless it was to make me
different," said he.
"I'm surprised," said Old Mother Nature. "Yes, indeed, I'm
surprised. You ought to know by this time that I never give
anybody anything without a purpose. What happens to those big
feet of yours in the winter, Jumper?"
"Nothing that I know of, excepting that the hair grows out long
between my toes," Jumper replied.
"Exactly," snapped Old Mother Nature. "And when the hair does this
you can travel over light snow without sinking in. It is just as
if you had snowshoes. That is why you are often called a Snowshoe
Rabbit. I gave you those big feet and make the hair grow out every
winter because I know that you depend on your legs to get away from
your enemies. You can run over the deep snow where your enemies
break through. Peter, though he is small and lighter than you are,
cannot go where you can. But Peter doesn't need to depend always
on his legs to save his life. There is one thing more that I want
you both to notice, and that is that you both have quite a lot of
short hairs on the soles of you feet. That is where you differ
from that cousin of yours down in the Sunny South. He has only
a very few hairs on his feet. That is so he can swim better."
"If you please, Mother Nature, why is that cousin of ours so fond
of the water?" piped up Peter.
"Because," replied Old Mother Nature, "he lives in marshy country
where there is a great deal of water. He is very nearly the same
size as you, Peter, and looks very much like you. But his legs
are not quite so long, his ears are a little smaller, and his tail
is brownish instead of white. He is a poor runner and so in time
of danger he takes to the water. For that matter, he goes swimming
for pleasure. The water is warm down there, and he dearly loves
to paddle about in it. If a Fox chases him he simply plunges into
the water and hides among the water plants with only his eyes and
his nose out of water."
"Does he make his home in the water like Jerry Muskrat?" asked
Mother Nature smiled and shook her head. "Certainly not," she
replied. "His home is on the ground. His babies are born in a
nest made just as Mrs. Peter makes her nest for your babies, and
Mrs. Jumper makes a nest for Jumper's babies. It is made of grass
and lined with soft fur which Mrs. Rabbit pulls from her own
breast, and it is very carefully hidden. By the way, Peter how do
your babies differ from the babies of your Cousin Jumper?"
Peter shook his head. "I don't know," said he. "My babies don't
have their eyes open when they are born, and they haven't any hair."
Jumper pricked up his long ears. "What's that?" said he.
"Why, my babies have their eyes open and have the dearest little
Old Mother Nature chuckled. "That is the difference," said she.
"I guess both of you have learned something."
"You said a little while ago that Jumper isn't the biggest of our
family," said Peter. "If you please, who is?"
"There are several bigger than Jumper," replied Old Mother Nature,
and smiled as she saw the funny look of surprise on the faces of
Peter and Jumper. "There is one way up the Frozen North and there
are two cousins way out in the Great West. They are as much
bigger than Jumper as Jumper is bigger than you, Peter. But I
haven't time to tell you about them now. If you really want to
learn about them, be here promptly at sun-up to-morrow morning.
Hello! Here comes Reddy Fox, and he looks to me as if a good
breakfast would not come amiss. Let me see what you have learned
about taking care of yourselves."
Peter and Jumper gave one startled look in the direction Mother
Nature was pointing. Sure enough, there was Reddy Fox. Not far
away was a hollow log. Peter wasted no time in getting to it.
In fact, he left in such a hurry that he forgot to say good-by to
Old Mother Nature. But she didn't mind, for she quite understood
Peter's feelings, and she laughed when she saw his funny little
white tail disappear inside the hollow log. As for Jumper, he
promptly took to his long legs and disappeared with great bounds,
Reddy Fox racing after him.
CHAPTER III More of Peter's Long-Legged Cousins
At sun-up the next morning Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare were on
hand promptly for their next lesson. Old Mother Nature smiled as
she saw the eager curiosity shining in their eyes. She didn't wait
for them to ask questions. "Yesterday," said she, "I told you
about your water-loving cousin, the Marsh Rabbit. You have another
relative down there in the Sunny South who is almost as fond of
the water. Some folks call him the Swamp Rabbit. Others call him
the Swamp Hare. The latter is really the best name for him, because
he is a true Hare. He lives in swamps instead of marshes, but he is
a splendid swimmer and fond of the water. When he is chased by an
enemy he makes for the nearest point or stream."
"How big is he?" asked Jumper.
"Just about your size, Jumper," replied Old Mother Nature. "If
anything, he is a little bit heavier. But because his hair lies
much smoother than yours, you probably would look a little bit
bigger if you were sitting beside him. As with his cousin, the
Marsh Rabbit, the hair on his feet is thin. His toes are rather
long and he can spread them widely, which is a great help in
swimming. He doesn't have to take to the water as his little
cousin does, for he is a very good runner. But he does take to it
as the easiest way of getting rid of those who are chasing him.
The Marsh Rabbit and the Swamp Hare are the only members of your
family in all the Great World who are fond of the water and who
are at home in it. Now, who shall I tell you about?"
"Our biggest cousins," cried Peter and Jumper together. "The ones
you told us yesterday are bigger than Jumper," added Peter. "It
is hard to believe that there can be any much bigger than he."
Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled. "It is often hard to believe
things you know nothing about," said she. "Compared with these
other relatives, Jumper really isn't big at all. He seems big to
you, Peter, but if he should meet his cousin, Snow White the Arctic
Hare, who lives way up in the Frozen North, I am quite sure Jumper
would feel small. Snow White looks very much like Jumper in his
winter coat, for he is all white save the tips of his ears,
which are black."
"Does he wear a white coat all year round?" asked Peter eagerly.
"When he lives so far north that there is snow and ice for most of
the year, he does," replied Old Mother Nature. "But when he lives
far enough south for the snow to disappear for a little while in
the summer, he changes his white coat for one of gray."
"But how can he live so far north that the snow and ice seldom melt?"
asked Peter, looking very much puzzled. "What can he find to eat?"
"Even way up there there is moss growing under the snow. And in the
short summer other plants grow. During the long winter Snow White
digs down through the snow to get these. He also eats the bark and
twigs of little stunted trees. But big as he is, you have a cousin
who is still bigger, the biggest of all the family."
"Who is he?" Jumper and Peter cried together.
"He is called White-tailed Jack," replied Old Mother Nature. "And
he lives chiefly on the great plains of the Northwest, though
sometimes he is found in the mountains and forests. He is sometimes
called the Prairie Hare. In winter his coat is white, but in
summer it is a light brown. Summer or winter his tail is white,
wherein he is much like you, Peter. It is because of this that he
is called White-tailed Jack."
"Is his tail as short as mine?" asked Peter eagerly.
Old Mother Nature laughed right out. "No, Peter," she replied.
"It wouldn't be called a long tail by any other animal, but for a
member of your family it really is long, and when White-tailed
Jack is running he switches it from side to side. His hind legs
are very long and powerful, and he can make a single jump of twenty
feet without half trying. Not even Old Man Coyote can catch him
in a straightaway race. You think Jumper's ears are long, Peter,
but they are short compared to the ears of White-tailed Jack. Not
only are his ears long, but they are very big. When he squats in
his form and lays his ears back they reach way over his shoulders.
Like the other members of the Hare family he doesn't use holes in
the ground or hollow logs. He trusts to his long legs and to his
wonderful speed to escape from his enemies. Among the latter are
Howler the Wolf, Old Man Coyote, Eagles, Hawks and Owls. He is
so big that he would make five or six of you, Peter."
Peter drew a long breath. "It is dreadfully hard to believe that
I can have a cousin as big as that," he exclaimed. "But of course
if you say it is so, it is so," he hastened to add. "Have I any
other cousins anywhere near as big?"
Old Mother Nature nodded. "There are some others very like
White-tailed Jack, only not quite as big," said she. "They have
just such long hind legs, and just such great ears, but their
coats are different, and they live on the great plains farther
south. Some of them live so far south that it is warm all the
year round. One of these latter is Antelope Jack, whose home is
in the Southwest."
"Tell us about him," begged Peter.
"To begin with," replied Old Mother Nature, "he is a member of the
big Jack Rabbit or Jack Hare branch of your family. None of this
branch should be called a Rabbit. All the members are first cousins
to Jumper and are true Hares. All have big ears, long, rather thin
necks, and long legs. Even their front legs are comparatively long.
Antelope Jack is probably next in size to White-tailed Jack. Strange
to say, although he lives where it is warm for most of the year, his
coat is very largely white. His back is a yellowish-brown and so is
his throat. But his sides are white. The surprising thing about
him is that he has the power of making himself seem almost wholly
white. He can make the white hair spread out at will by means of
some special little muscles which I have given him, so that the
white of his sides at times almost seems to meet on his back. When
he does this in the sun it makes flashes of white which can be seen
a long way. By means of this Antelope Jack and his friends can
keep track of each other when they are a long distance apart. There
is only one other animal who can flash signals in this way, and that
is the Antelope of whom I will tell you some other time. It is
because Jack flashes signals in this way that he is called Antelope
Jack. In his habits he is otherwise much like the other members of
his family. He trusts to his long legs and his wonderful powers of
jumping to keep him out of danger. He is not as well known as his
commoner cousin, plain Jack Rabbit. Everybody knows Jack Rabbit."
Peter shook his head. "I don't," said he very meekly.
"Then it is time you did," replied Old Mother Nature. "If you had
ever been in the Far West you would know him. Everybody out there
knows him. He isn't quite as big as Antelope Jack but still he is
a big fellow. He wears a brownish coat much like Jumper's, and
the tips of his long ears are black. His tail is longer than
Jumper's, and when he runs he carries it down."
"I don't carry mine down," Peter piped up.
Old Mother Nature laughed right out. "True enough, Peter, true
enough," said she. "You couldn't if you wanted to. It isn't long
enough to carry any way but up. Jack has more of a tail than you
have, just as he has longer legs. My, how he can run! He goes with
great bounds and about every tenth bound he jumps very high. This
is so that he can get a good look around to watch out for enemies."
"Who are his enemies?" asked Peter.
"Foxes, Coyotes, Hawks, Eagles, Owls, Weasels, and men," replied
Old Mother Nature. "In fact, he has about as many enemies as
"I suppose when you say men, you mean hunters," said Peter.
Old Mother Nature nodded. "Yes," said she, "I mean those who hunt
him for fun and those who hunt him to get rid of him."
Peter pricked up his ears. "What do they want to get rid of him
for. What harm does he do?" he asked.
"When he lives far away from the homes of men he does no harm,"
replied Old Mother Nature. "But when he lives near the homes of
men he gets into mischief, just as you do when you visit Farmer
Brown's garden." Old Mother Nature looked very severe when she
said this and Peter hung his head.
"I know I ought to keep away from that garden," said Peter very
meekly, "but you have no idea what a temptation it is. The things
in that garden do taste so good."
Old Mother Nature turned her head to hide the twinkle in her eyes.
When she turned toward Peter again her face was severe as before.
"That is no excuse, Peter Rabbit," said she. "You should be
sufficiently strong-minded not to yield to temptation. Yielding
to temptation is the cause of most of the trouble in this world.
It has made man an enemy to Jack Rabbit. Jack just cannot keep
away from the crops planted by men. His family is very large, and
when a lot of them get together in a field of clover or young wheat,
or in a young orchard where the bark on the trees is tender and
sweet, they do so much damage that the owner is hardly to be blamed
for becoming angry and seeking to kill them. Yes, I am sorry to
say, Jack Rabbit becomes a terrible nuisance when he goes where
he has no business. Now I guess you have learned sufficient about
your long-legged cousins. I've a great deal to do, so skip along
home, both of you."
"If you please, Mother Nature, may we come again to-morrow?"
"What for?" demanded Old Mother Nature. "Haven't you learned enough
about your family?"
"Yes," replied Peter, "but there are lots and lots of things I
would like to know about other people. If you please, I would
like to come to school to you every day. You see, the more I
learn about my neighbors, the better able I will be to take care
"All right, Mr. Curiosity," replied Old Mother Nature good-naturedly,
"come again to-morrow morning. I wouldn't for the world deny any one
who is really seeking for knowledge."
So Peter and Jumper politely bade her good-by and started for
CHAPTER IV Chatterer and Happy Jack Join
Peter Rabbit, on his way to school to Old Mother Nature, was trying
to make up his mind about which of his neighbors he would ask. He
had learned so many surprising things about his own family that he
shrewdly suspected many equally surprising things were to be learned
about his neighbors. But there were so many neighbors he couldn't
decide which one to ask about first.
But that matter was settled for him, and in a funny way. Hardly
had he reached the edge of the Green Forest when he was hailed by a
sharp voice. "Hello, Peter Rabbit!" said this sharp voice. "Where
are you bound at this hour of the morning? You ought to be heading
for home in the dear Old Briar-patch."
Peter knew that voice the instant he heard it. It was the voice of
Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel. Happy Jack was seated on the top of
an old stump, eating a nut. "I'm going to school," replied Peter
with a great deal of dignity.
"Going to school! Ho, ho, ho! Going to school!" exclaimed Happy
Jack. "Pray tell me to whom you are going to school, and what for?"
"I'm going to school to Old Mother Nature," retorted Peter. "I've
been going for several days, and so has my cousin, Jumper the Hare.
We've learned a lot about our own family and now we are going to
learn about the other little people of the Green Forest and the
"Pooh!" exclaimed Happy Jack. "Pooh! I know all about my own family,
and I guess there isn't much worth knowing about my neighbors that
I don't know."
"Is that so, Mr. Know-it-all," retorted Peter. "I don't believe
you even know all your own cousins. I thought I knew all mine, but
I found I didn't."
"What are you fellows talking about?" asked another voice, a sharp
scolding voice, and Chatterer the Red Squirrel jumped from one
tree to another just above Peter's head.
"Peter is trying to make me believe that I don't know as much as I
might about our own family," snapped Happy Jack indignantly. "He
is on his way to school to Old Mother Nature and has advised me to
join him. Isn't that a joke?"
"Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't," retorted Chatterer, who isn't
the best of friends with his cousin, Happy Jack. "If I don't know
as much about the Squirrel family as you do, may I never find another
nut as long as I live. But at that, I'm not sure I know all there
is to know. I think it would be fun to go to school for a while.
What do you say, Peter, if I go along with you?"
Peter said that he thought it would be a very fine thing and that
Chatterer never would regret it. Chatterer winked at his cousin,
Happy Jack, and followed Peter, only of course, Chatterer kept in
the trees while Peter was on the ground. Happy Jack hesitated a
minute and then, curiosity becoming too much for him, he hastened
after the others.
"Hello!" exclaimed Old Mother Nature, as Happy Jack and Chatterer
appeared with Peter Rabbit. "What are you frisky folks doing
Happy Jack and Chatterer appeared to have lost their tongues,
something very unusual for them, especially for Chatterer. The
fact is, in the presence of Old Mother Nature they felt bashful.
Peter replied for them. "They've decided to come to school,
too," said he. "Happy Jack says he knows all about his own
family, but he has come along to find out if he really does."
"It won't take us long to find out," said Old Mother Nature softly
and her eyes twinkled with amusement. "How many cousins have
you, Happy Jack?"
Happy Jack thought for a moment. "Three," he replied, but he
didn't say it in a very positive way. Peter chuckled to himself,
for he knew that already doubt was beginning to grow in Happy
"Name them," commanded Old Mother Nature promptly.
"Chatterer the Red Squirrel, Timmy the Flying Squirrel, and
Striped Chipmunk," replied Happy Jack.
"He's forgotten Rusty the Fox Squirrel," shouted Chatterer,
dancing about gleefully.
Happy Jack looked crestfallen and gave Chatterer an angry look.
"That's right, Chatterer," said Old Mother Nature. "Rusty is a
very important member of the Squirrel family. Now suppose you
name the others."
"Wha--wha--what others?" stammered Chatterer. "I don't know of
Peter Rabbit hugged himself with glee as he watched the faces of
Happy Jack and Chatterer. "They don't know any more about their
family than we did about ours," he whispered in one of the long
ears of Jumper the Hare.
As for Old Mother Nature, she smiled indulgently. "Put on your
thinking-caps, you two," said she. "You haven't named half of
them. You are not wholly to blame for that, for some of them you
never have seen, but there is one member of the Squirrel family
whom both of you know very well, yet whom neither of you named.
Put on your thinking-caps."
Chatterer looked at Happy Jack, and Happy Jack looked at Chatterer,
and each scratched his head. Each wanted to be the first to think
of that other cousin, for each was jealous of the other. But though
they scratched and scratched their heads, they couldn't think who
that other cousin could be. Old Mother Nature waited a few minutes
before she told them. Then, seeing that either they couldn't
remember or didn't know, she said, "You didn't mention Johnny Chuck."
"Johnny Chuck!" exclaimed Chatterer and Happy Jack together, and
the look of surprise on their faces was funny to see. For that
matter, the looks on the faces of Peter Rabbit and Jumper the
Hare were equally funny.
Old Mother Nature nodded. "Johnny Chuck," she repeated. "He is a
member of the Squirrel family. He belongs to the Marmot branch,
but he is a Squirrel just the same. He is one of your cousins."
"He's a mighty funny looking Squirrel," said Chatterer, jerking
his tail as only he can.
"That just shows your ignorance, Chatterer," replied Old Mother
Nature rather sharply. "I'm surprised at the ignorance of you
two." She looked first at Chatterer, than at Happy Jack. "It is
high time you came to school to me for a while. You've got a lot
to learn. For that matter, so have Peter and Jumper. Now which
of you can tell me what order you all belong to?"
Happy Jack looked at Chatterer, Chatterer looked at Peter Rabbit,
and Peter looked at Jumper the Hare. On the face of each was such
a funny, puzzled expression that Old Mother Nature almost laughed
right out. Finally Peter Rabbit found his tongue. "If you please,"
said he, "I guess we don't know what you mean by an order."
"I thought as much," said Old Mother Nature. "I thought as much.
In the first place, the animals of the Great World are divided
into big groups or divisions, and then these groups are divided
into smaller groups, and these in turn into still smaller groups.
Happy Jack and Chatterer belong to a group called the Squirrel
family, and Peter and Jumper to a group called the Hare family.
Both of these families and several other families belong to a
bigger group called an order, and this order is the order of
Gnawers, or Rodents."
Peter Rabbit fairly jumped up in the air, he was so excited. "Then
Jumper and I must be related to Happy Jack and Chatterer," he cried.
"In a way you are," replied Old Mother Nature. "It isn't a very
close relationship, still you are related. All of you are Rodents.
So are all the members of the Rat and Mouse family, the Beaver
family, the Porcupine family, the Pocket Gopher family, the Pika
family, and the Sewellel family."
By this time Peter's eyes looked as if they would pop right out of
his head. "This is the first time I've ever heard of some of those
families," said he. "My, what a lot we have to learn! Is it
because all the members of all those families have teeth for gnawing
that they are all sort of related?"
Old Mother Nature looked pleased. "Peter," said she, "I think you
ought to go to the head of the class. That is just why. All the
members of all the families I have named belong to the same order,
the order of Rodents. All the members have big, cutting, front
teeth. Animals without such teeth cannot gnaw. Now, as you and
Jumper have learned about your family, it is the turn of Happy Jack
and Chatterer to learn about their family. Theirs is rather a large
family, and it is divided into three groups, the first of which
consists of the true Squirrels, to which group both Happy Jack and
Chatterer belong. The second group consists of the Marmots, and
Johnny Chuck belongs to this. The third group Timmy the Flying
Squirrel has all to himself."
"Where does Striped Chipmunk come in?" asked Chatterer.
"I'm coming to that," replied Old Mother Nature. "The true Squirrels
are divided into the Tree Squirrels, Rock Squirrels, and Ground
Squirrels. Of course Chatterer and Happy Jack are Tree Squirrels."
"And Striped Chipmunk is a Ground Squirrel," interrupted Peter,
looking as if he felt very much pleased with his own smartness.
Old Mother Nature shook her head. "You are wrong this time,
Peter," said she, and Peter looked as foolish as he felt. "Striped
Chipmunk is a Rock Squirrel. Seek Seek the Spermophile who lives
on the plains of the West and is often called Gopher Squirrel, is
the true Ground Squirrel. Now I can't spend any more time with you
little folks this morning, because I've too much to do. To-morrow
morning I shall expect Chatterer to tell me all about Happy Jack,
and Happy Jack to tell me all about Chatterer. Now scamper along,
all of you, and think over what you have learned this morning."
So Peter and Jumper and Chatterer and Happy Jack thanked Old Mother
Nature for what she had told them and scampered away. Peter headed
straight for the far corner of the Old Orchard where he was sure he
would find Johnny Chuck. He couldn't get there fast enough, for he
wanted to be the first to tell Johnny Chuck that he was a Squirrel.
You see he didn't believe that Johnny knew it.
CHAPTER V The Squirrels of the Trees
Peter Rabbit found Johnny Chuck sitting on his doorstep, sunning
himself. Peter was quite out of breath because he had hurried so.
"Do you know that you are a Squirrel, Johnny Chuck?" he panted.
Johnny slowly turned his head and looked at Peter as if he thought
Peter had suddenly gone crazy. "What are you talking about, Peter
Rabbit? I'm not a Squirrel; I'm a Woodchuck," he replied.
"Just the same, you are a Squirrel," retorted Peter. "The Woodchucks
belong to the Squirrel family. Old Mother Nature says so, and if she
says so, it is so. You'd better join our school, Johnny Chuck, and
learn a little about your own relatives."
Johnny Chuck blinked his eyes and for a minute or two couldn't find
a word to say. He knew that if Peter were telling the truth as to
what Old Mother Nature had said, it must be true that he was member
of the Squirrel family. But it was hard to believe. "What is this
school?" he finally asked.
Peter hastened to tell him. He told Johnny all about what he and
Jumper the Hare had learned about their family, and all the
surprising things Old Mother Nature had told them about the
Squirrel family, and he ended by again urging Johnny Chuck to
join the school and promised to call for Johnny the next morning.
But Johnny Chuck is lazy and does not like to go far from his own
doorstep, so when Peter called the next morning Johnny refused to
go, despite all Peter could say. Peter didn't waste much time
arguing for he was afraid he would be late and miss something.
When he reached the Green Forest he found his cousin, Jumper the
Hare, and Chatterer the Red Squirrel, and Happy Jack the Gray
Squirrel, already there. As soon as Peter arrived Old Mother
Nature began the morning lesson.
Happy Jack," said she, "you may tell us all you know about your
"To begin with, he is the smallest of the Tree Squirrels," said
Happy Jack. "He isn't so very much bigger than Striped Chipmunk,
and that means that he is less than half as big as myself. His
coat is red and his waistcoat white; his tail is about two-thirds
as long as his body and flat but not very broad. Personally, I
don't think it is much of a tail."
At once Chatterer's quick temper flared up and he began to scold.
But Old Mother Nature silenced him and told Happy Jack to go on.
"He spends more of his time in the trees than I do," continued
Happy Jack, "and is especially fond of pine trees and other
cone-bearing trees. He likes the deeper parts of the Green Forest
better than I do, though he seems to feel just as much at home on
the edge of the Green Forest, especially if it is near a farm where
he can steal corn."
Chatterer started to scold again but was silenced once more by Old
Mother Nature. "I have to admit that Chatterer is thrifty,"
continued Happy Jack, quite as if he hadn't been interrupted.
"He is very fond of the seeds of cone-bearing trees. He cuts the
cones from the trees just before they are ripe. Then they ripen
and open on the ground, where he can get at the seeds easily. He
often has a number of store-houses and stores up cone seeds, acorns,
nuts, and corn when he can get it. He builds a nest of leaves and
strips of bark, sometimes in a hollow tree and sometimes high up
in the branches of an evergreen tree. He is a good jumper and
jumps from tree to tree. He is a busybody and always poking his
nose in where he has no business. He steals my stores whenever he
can find them."
"You do the same thing to me when you have the chance, which isn't
often," sputtered Chatterer.
Happy Jack turned his back to Chatterer and continued, "He doesn't
seem to mind cold weather at all, as long as the sun shines. His
noisy tongue is to be heard on the coldest days of winter. He is
the sauciest, most impudent fellow of the Green Forest, and never
so happy as when he is making trouble for others. He sauces and
scolds everybody he meets, and every time he opens his mouth he
jerks his tail. He's quarrelsome. Worse than that, in the spring
when the birds are nesting, he turns robber. He goes hunting
for nests and steals the eggs, and what is even more dreadful, he
kills and eats the baby birds. All the birds hate him, and I
don't blame them."
Chatterer could contain himself no longer. His tongue fairly flew
and he jerked his tail so hard and so fast that Peter Rabbit almost
expected to see him break it right off. He called Happy Jack
names, all the bad names he could think of, and worked himself up
into such a rage that it was some time before Old Mother Nature
could quiet him.
When at last he stopped from sheer lack of breath, Old Mother
Nature spoke, and her voice was very severe. "I'm ashamed of you,
Chatterer," said she. "Unfortunately, what Happy Jack has said
about you is true. In many ways you are a disgrace to the Green
Forest. Still I don't know how the Green Forest could get along
without you. Happy Jack forgot to mention that you eat some
insects at times. He also forgot to mention that sometimes you
have a storehouse down in the ground. Now tell us what you know
about your cousin, Happy Jack."
For a few minutes Chatterer sulked, but he did not dare disobey Old
Mother Nature. "I don't know much good about him," he mumbled.
"And you don't know much bad about me either," retorted Happy
Old Mother Nature held up a warning hand. "That will do," said
she. "Now, Chatterer, go on."
"Happy Jack is more than twice as big as I, but at that, I'm not
afraid of him," said Chatterer and glared at Happy Jack. "He is
gray all over, except underneath, where he is white. He has a
tremendously big tail and is so proud of it he shows it off
whenever he has a chance. When he sits up he has a way of
folding his hands on his breast. I don't know what he does it
for unless it is to keep them warm in cold weather. He builds a
nest very much like mine. Sometimes it is in a hollow tree, but
quite as often it is in the branches of a tree. He is a good
traveler in the tree-tops, but he spends a good deal of his time
on the ground. He likes open woodland best, especially where
there are many nut trees. He has a storehouse where he stores up
nuts for winter, but he buries in the ground and under the leaves
more than he puts in his storehouse. In winter, when he is hungry,
he hunts for those buried nuts, and somehow he manages to find them
even when they are covered with snow. When he comes to stealing
he is not better than I am. I have seen him steal birds' eggs,
and I wouldn't trust him unwatched around one of my storehouses."
It was Happy Jacks' turn to become indignant. "I may have taken a
few eggs when I accidentally ran across them," said he, "but I never
go looking for them, and I don't take them unless I am very hungry
and can't find anything else. I don't make a business of robbing
birds the way you do, and you know it. If I find one of your
storehouses and help myself, I am only getting back what you have
stolen from me. Everybody loves me and that is more than you
"That's enough," declared Old Mother Nature, and her voice was very
sharp. "You two cousins never have agreed and I am afraid never will.
As long as you are neighbors, I suspect you will quarrel. Have you
told us all you know about Happy Jack, Chatterer?"
Chatterer nodded. He was still mumbling to himself angrily and
wasn't polite enough to make a reply. Old Mother Nature took no
notice of this. "What you have told us is good as far as it goes,"
said she. "You said that Happy Jack is all gray excepting
underneath. Usually the Gray Squirrel is just as Chatterer has
described him, but sometimes a Gray Squirrel isn't gray at all,
but all black."
Peter Rabbit's ears stood straight up with astonishment. "How can
a Gray Squirrel be black?" he demanded.
Old Mother Nature smiled. "That is a fair question, Peter," said
she. Gray Squirrel is simply the name of Happy Jack's family.
Sometimes some of the babies are born with black coats instead of
gray coats. Of course they are just the same kind of Squirrel,
only they look different. In some parts of the country there are
numbers of these black-coated Squirrels and many think they are a
different kind of Squirrel. They are not. They are simply
black-coated members of Happy Jack's family. Just remember this.
It is the same way in the family of Rusty the Fox Squirrel. Some
members are rusty red, some are a mixture of red and gray, and some
are as gray as Happy Jack himself. Way down in the Sunny South Fox
Squirrels always have white noses and ears. In the North they never
have white noses and ears. Rusty the Fox Squirrel is just a little
bigger than Happy Jack and has just such a handsome tail. He is
the strongest and heaviest of the Tree Squirrels and not nearly
as quick and graceful as Happy Jack. Sometimes Rusty has two
nests in the same tree, one in a hollow in a tree for bad weather
and the other made of sticks and leaves outside in the branches
for use in good weather. Rusty's habits are very much the same
as those of Happy Jack the Gray Squirrel, and therefore he likes
the same kind of surroundings. Like his cousin, Happy Jack,
Rusty is a great help to me."
Seeing how surprised everybody looked, Mother Nature explained.
"Both Happy Jack and Rusty bury a great many more nuts than they
ever need," said she, "and those they do not dig up sprout in the
spring and grow. In that way they plant ever so many trees without
knowing it. Just remember that, Chatterer, the next time you are
tempted to quarrel with your cousin, Happy Jack. Very likely Happy
Jack's great-great-ever-so-great grandfather planted the very tree
you get your fattest and best hickory nuts from.
"Way out in the mountains of the Far West you have a cousin called
the Douglas Squirrel, who is really a true Red Squirrel and whose
habits are very much like your own. Some folks call him the Pine
Squirrel. By the way, Chatterer, Happy Jack forgot to say that
you are a good swimmer. Perhaps he didn't know it."
By the expression of Happy Jack's face it was quite clear that he
didn't know it. "Certainly I can swim," said Chatterer. I don't
mind the water at all. I can swim a long distance if I have to."
This was quite as much news to Peter Rabbit as had been the fact
that a cousin of his own was a good swimmer, and he began to feel
something very like respect for Chatterer.
"Are there any other Tree Squirrels?" asked Jumper the Hare.
"Yes," replied Old Mother Nature, "there are two--the handsomest
of all the family. They live out in the Southwest, in one of the
most wonderful places in all this great land, a place called the
Grand Canyon. One is called the Abert Squirrel and the other the
Kaibab Squirrel. They are about the size of Happy Jack and Rusty
but have broader, handsomer tails and their ears have long tufts
of hair. The Abert Squirrel has black ears, a brown back, gray
sides and white underneath. Kaibab has brown ears with black
tips, and his tail is mostly white. Both are very lovely, but
their families are small and so they are little known."
With this, Old Mother Nature dismissed school for the day.
CHAPTER VI Striped Chipmunk and his Cousins
Of course there couldn't be a school in the Green Forest without
news of it spreading very fast. News travels quickly through the
Green Forest and over the Green Meadows, for the little people who
live there are great gossips. So it was not surprising that Striped
Chipmunk heard all about Old Mother Nature's school. The next
morning, just as the daily lesson was beginning, Striped Chipmunk
came hurrying up, quite our of breath.
"Well, well! See who's here!" exclaimed Old Mother Nature. "What
have you come for, Striped Chipmunk?"
"I've come to try to learn. Will you let me stay, Mother Nature?"
replied Striped Chipmunk.
"Of course I'll let you stay," cried Old Mother Nature heartily.
"I am glad you have come, especially glad you have come today,
because to-day's lesson is to be about you and your cousins. Now,
Peter Rabbit, what are the differences between Striped Chipmunk
and his cousins, the Tree Squirrels?"
Peter looked very hard at Striped Chipmunk as if he had never really
seen him before. "He is smaller than they are," began Peter. "In
fact, he is the smallest Squirrel I know." Peter paused.
Old Mother Nature nodded encouragingly. "Go on," said she.
"He wears a striped coat," continued Peter. "The stripes are black
and yellowish-white and run along his sides, a black stripe running
down the middle of his back. The rest of his coat is reddish-brown
above and light underneath. His tail is rather thin and flat. I
never see him in the trees, so I guess he can't climb."
"Oh, yes, I can," interrupted Striped Chipmunk. "I can climb if I
want to, and I do sometimes, but prefer the ground."
"Go on, Peter," said Old Mother Nature.
"He seems to like old stone walls and rock piles," continued Peter,
"and he is one of the brightest, liveliest, merriest and the most
lovable of all my friends."
"Thank you, Peter," said Striped Chipmunk softly.
"I never have been able to find his home," continued Peter. "That is
one of his secrets. But I know it is in the ground. I guess this
is all I know about him. I should say the chief difference between
Striped Chipmunk and the Tree Squirrels is that he spends all his
time on the ground while the others live largely in the trees."
"Very good, Peter," said Old Mother Nature. "But there are two
very important differences which you have not mentioned. Striped
Chipmunk has a big pocket on the inside of each cheek, while his
cousins of the trees have no pockets at all."
"Of course," cried Peter. "I don't see how I came to forget that.
I've laughed many times at Striped Chipmunk with those pockets
stuffed with nuts or seeds until his head looked three times bigger
than it does now. Those pockets must be very handy."
"They are," replied Striped Chipmunk. "I couldn't get along without
them. They save me a lot of running back and forth, I can tell you."
"And the other great difference," said Old Mother Nature, "is
that Striped Chipmunk sleeps nearly all winter, just waking up
occasionally to pop his head out on a bright day to see how the
weather is. A great many folks call Striped Chipmunk a Ground
Squirrel, but more properly he is a Rock Squirrel because he
likes stony places best. Supposing, Striped Chipmunk, you tell
us where and how you make your home."
"I make my home down in the ground," replied Striped Chipmunk. "I
dig a tunnel just big enough to run along comfortably. Down deep
enough to be out of reach of Jack Frost I make a nice little
bedroom with a bed of grass and leaves, and I make another little
room for a storeroom in which to keep my supply of seeds and nuts.
Sometimes I have more than one storeroom. Also I have some little
"But why is it I never have been able to find the entrance to your
tunnel?" asked Peter, as full of curiosity as ever.
"Because I have it hidden underneath the stone wall on the edge of
the Old Orchard," replied Striped Chipmunk.
"But even then, I should think that all the sand you must have
taken out would give your secret away," cried Peter.
Striped Chipmunk chuckled happily. It was a throaty little chuckle,
pleasant to hear. "I looked out for that," said he. "There isn't
a grain of that sand around my doorway. I took it all out through
another hole some distance away, a sort of back door, and then
closed it up solidly. If you please, Mother Nature, if I am not
a Ground Squirrel, who is?"
"Your cousin, Seek Seek the Spermophile, sometimes called Gopher
Squirrel, who lives on the open plains of the West where there are
no rocks or stones. He likes best the flat, open country. He is
called Spermophile because that means seed-eater, and he lives
largely on seeds, especially on grain. Because of this he does a
great deal of damage and is much disliked by farmers.
"Seek Seek's family are the true Ground Squirrels. Please remember
that they never should be called Gophers, for they are not Gophers.
One of the smallest members of the family is just about your size,
Striped Chipmunk, and he also wears stripes, only he has more of
them than you have, and they are broken up into little dots. He
is called the Thirteen-lined Spermophile. He has pockets in his
cheeks just as you have, and he makes a home down in the ground
very similar to yours. All the family do this, and all of them
sleep through the winter. While they are great seed-eaters they
also eat a great many insects and worms, and some of them even
are guilty of killing and eating the babies of birds that nest
on the ground, and also young mice.
"Some members of the family are almost as big as Happy Jack the
Gray Squirrel and have gray coats. They are called Gray Ground
Squirrels and sometimes Gray Gophers. One of the largest of these
is the California Ground Squirrel. He has a big, bushy tail, very
like Happy Jack's. He gets into so much mischief in the grain
fields and in the orchards that he is quite as much disliked as is
Jack Rabbit. This particular member of the family is quite as much
at home among rocks and tree roots as in open ground. He climbs low
trees for fruit and nuts, but prefers to stay on the ground. Now
just remember that the Chipmunks are Rock Squirrels and their cousins
the Spermophiles are Ground Squirrels. Now who of you has seen Timmy
the Flying Squirrel lately?"
"I haven't," said Peter Rabbit.
"I haven't," said Striped Chipmunk.
"I haven't," said Happy Jack.
"I haven't," said Chatterer.
"I have," spoke up Jumper the Hare. "I saw him last evening just
after jolly, round, red Mr. Sun went to bed behind the Purple Hills
and the Black Shadows came creeping through the Green Forest. My,
I wish I could fly the way he can!"
Old Mother Nature shook her head disapprovingly. "Jumper," said she,
"what is wrong with your eyes? When did you ever see Timmy fly?"
"Last night," insisted Jumper stubbornly.
"Oh, no, you didn't," retorted Old Mother Nature. "You didn't see
him fly, for the very good reason that he cannot fly any more than
you can. You saw him simply jump. Just remember that the only
animals in this great land who can fly are the Bats. Timmy the
Flying Squirrel simply jumps from the top of a tree and slides down
on the air to the foot of another tree. If you had used your eyes
you would have noticed that when he is in the air he never moves
his legs or arms, and he is always coming down, never going up,
excepting for a little at the end of his jump, as would be the case
if he could really fly. He hasn't any wings."
"When he's flying, I mean jumping, he looks as if he had wings,"
insisted Jumper stubbornly.
"That is simply because I have given him a fold of skin between the
front and hind leg on each side," explained Old Mother Nature.
"When he jumps he stretches his legs out flat, and that stretches
out those two folds of skin until they look almost like wings.
This is the reason he can sail so far when he jumps from a high
place. You've seen a bird, after flapping its wings to get going,
sail along with them outstretched and motionless. Timmy does the
same thing, only he gets going by jumping. You may have noticed
that he usually goes to the top of a tree before jumping; then he
can sail down a wonderfully long distance. His tail helps him to
keep his balance. If there is anything in the way, he can steer
himself around it. When he reaches the tree he is jumping for he
shoots up a little way and lands on the trunk not far above the
ground. Then he scampers up that tree to do it all over again."
"But why don't we ever see him?" inquired Striped Chipmunk.
"Because, when the rest of you squirrels are out and about, he is
curled up in a little ball in his nest, fast asleep. Timmy likes
the night, especially the early evening, and doesn't like the
light of day."
"How big is he?" asked Happy Jack, and looked a little sheepish as
if he were a wee bit ashamed of not being acquainted with one of
his own cousins.
"He is, if anything, a little smaller than Striped Chipmunk,"
replied Old Mother Nature. "Way out in the Far West he grows a
little bigger. His coat is a soft yellowish-brown above; beneath
he is all white. His fur is wonderfully soft. He has very large,
dark, soft eyes, especially suited for seeing at night. Then, he
is very lively and dearly loves to play. By nature he is gentle
"Does he eat nuts like his cousins?" asked Peter Rabbit.
"He certainly does," replied Old Mother Nature. "Also he eats
grubs and insects. He dearly loves a fat beetle. He likes meat
when he can get it."
"Where does he make his home?" Peter inquired.
"Usually in a hole in a tree," said Old Mother Nature. "He is very
fond of an old home of a Woodpecker. He makes a comfortable nest
of bark lining, grass, and moss, or any other soft material he can
find. Occasionally he builds an outside nest high up in a fork in
the branches of a tree. He likes to get into old buildings."
"Does he have many enemies?" asked Happy Jack.
"The same enemies the rest of you have," replied Old Mother Nature.
"But the one he has most reason to fear is Hooty the Owl, and that
is the one you have least reason to fear, because Hooty seldom hunts
"Does he sleep all winter?" piped up Striped Chipmunk.
"Not as you do," said Old Mother Nature. "In very cold weather he
sleeps, but if he happens to be living where the weather does not
get very cold, he is active all the year around. Now I guess this
is enough about the Squirrel family."
"You've forgotten Johnny Chuck," cried Peter.
Old Mother Nature laughed. "So I have," said she. "That will
never do, never in the world. Johnny and his relatives, the
Marmots, certainly cannot be overlooked. We will take them for
our lesson to-morrow. Peter, you tell Johnny Chuck to come over
here to-morrow morning.
CHAPTER VII Johnny Chuck Joins the Class
Peter Rabbit delivered Mother Nature's message to Johnny Chuck.
Johnny didn't seem at all pleased. He grumbled and growled to
himself. He didn't want to go to school. He didn't want to learn
anything about his relatives. He was perfectly satisfied with
things as they were. The truth is, Johnny Chuck was already
beginning to get fat with good living and he is naturally lazy.
As a rule he can find plenty to eat very near his home, so he
seldom goes far from his own doorstep. Peter left him grumbling
and growling, and chuckled to himself all the way back to the dear
Old Briar-patch. He knew that Johnny Chuck would not dare disobey
Old Mother Nature.
Sure enough, the next morning Johnny Chuck came waddling through
the Green Forest just as Old Mother Nature was about to open school.
He didn't look at all happy, and he didn't reply at all to the
greetings of the others. But when Old Mother Nature spoke to him
he was very polite.
"Good morning, Johnny Chuck," said she.
Johnny bobbed his head and said, "Good morning."
"I understand," continued Old Mother Nature, "That you are not at
all interested in learning about your relatives. I am sorry for
any one who doesn't want to learn. The more one knows the better
fitted he is to take care of himself and do his part in the work of
the Great World. However, it wasn't for your benefit that I sent
word for you to be here this morning. It was for the benefit of
your friends and neighbors. Now sit up so that all can get a good
look at you."
Johnny Chuck obediently sat up, and of course all the others stared
at him. It made him feel quite uncomfortable. "You remember,"
said Old Mother Nature, "how surprised you little folks were when
I told you that Johnny Chuck is a member of the Squirrel family.
Happy Jack, you go sit beside Johnny Chuck, and the rest of you
look hard at Happy Jack and Johnny and see if you do not see a
Seeing Happy Jack and Johnny Chuck sitting up side by side, Peter
Rabbit caught the resemblance at once. There was sort of family
look about them. "Why! Why-ee! Johnny Chuck does look like a
Squirrel," he exclaimed.
"Of course he looks like a Squirrel, because he is one," said Old
Mother Nature. "Johnny Chuck is very much bigger and so stout in
the body that he has none of the gracefulness of the true Squirrels.
But you will notice that the shape of his head is much the same as
that of Happy Jack. He has a Squirrel face when you come to look at
him closely. The Woodchucks, sometimes called Ground Hogs, though
why any one should call them this is more than I can understand,
belong to the Marmot branch of the Squirrel family, and wherever
found they look much alike.
"As you will notice, Johnny Chuck's coat is brownish-yellow, his
feet are very dark brown, almost black. His head is dark brown with
light gray on his cheeks. Beneath he is reddish-orange, including
his throat. His tail is short for a member of the Squirrel family,
and although it is bushy, it is not very big. He has a number of
whiskers and they are black. Some Woodchucks are quite gray, and
occasionally there is one who is almost, or wholly black, just as
there are black Gray Squirrels.
"Johnny, here, is not fond of the Green Forest, but loves the Old
orchard and the Green Meadows. In some parts of the country there
are members of his family who prefer to live just on the edge of the
Green Forest. You will notice that Johnny has stout claws. Those
are to help him dig, for all the Marmot family are great diggers.
What other use do you have for those claws, Johnny?"
"They help me to climb," replied Johnny promptly.
"Climb!" exclaimed Peter Rabbit. "Who ever heard of a Woodchuck
"I can climb if I have to," retorted Johnny Chuck indignantly. "I've
climbed up bushes and low trees lots of times, and if I can get a good
run first, I can climb up the straight trunk of a tree with rough bark
to the first branches--if they are not too far above ground. You ask
Reddy Fox if I can't; he knows."
"That's quite true, Johnny," said Old Mother Nature. "You can climb
a little, but as a real climber you are not much of a success. You
are better as a digger."
"He certainly is all right as a digger," exclaimed Peter Rabbit.
"My, how he can make the sand fly! Johnny Chuck certainly is right
at home when it comes to digging."
"You ought to be thankful that he is," said Old Mother Nature, "for
the holes he has dug have saved your life more than once. By the
way, Peter, since you are so well acquainted with those holes,
suppose you tell us what kind of a home Johnny Chuck has."
Peter was delighted to air his knowledge. "The last one I was in,"
said he, "was a long tunnel slanting down for quite a distance and
then straightening out. The entrance was quite large with a big
heap of sand out in front of it. Down a little way the tunnel
grew smaller and then remained the same size all the rest of the way.
Way down at the farther end was a nice little bedroom with some grass
in it. There were one or two other little rooms, and there were two
branch tunnels leading up to the surface of the ground, making side
or back doorways. There was no sand around either of these, and they
were quite hidden by the long grass hanging over them. I don't
understand how Johnny made those doorways without leaving any sand
on the doorsteps."
"Huh!" interrupted Johnny Chuck. "That was easy enough. I pushed
all the sand out of the main doorway so that there would be nothing
to attract the attention of any one passing near those back doorways.
Those back doorways are very handy in time of danger."
"Do you always have three doorways?" asked Happy Jack.
"No," replied Johnny Chuck. "Sometimes I have only two and once in
a while only one. But that isn't really safe, and I mean always to
have at least two."
"Do you use the same house year after year?" piped up Striped Chipmunk.
Johnny shook his head. "No," said he. "I dig a new hole each spring.
Mrs. Chuck and I like a change of scene. Usually my new home isn't
very far from my old one, because I am not fond of traveling.
Sometimes, however, if we cannot find a place that just suits us,
we go quite a distance."
"Are your babies born down in that little bedroom in the ground?"
asked Jumper the Hare.
"Of course," replied Johnny Chuck. "Where else would they be born?"
"I didn't know but Mrs. Chuck might make a nest on the ground the
way Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Jumper do," replied Jumper meekly.
"No, siree!" replied Johnny. "Our babies are born in that little
underground bedroom, and they stay down in the ground until they
are big enough to hunt for food for themselves."
"How many do you usually have?" inquired Chatterer the Red Squirrel.
"Six or eight," replied Johnny Chuck. "Mrs. Chuck and I believe
in large families."
"Do you eat nuts like the rest of our family?" inquired
"No," replied Johnny Chuck. "Give me green food every time. There
is nothing so good as tender sweet clover and young grass, unless
it be some of those fine vegetables Farmer Brown grows in his garden"
Peter Rabbit nodded his head very emphatically as if he quite agreed.
"I suppose you are what is called a vegetarian, then," said Happy
Jack, to which Johnny Chuck replied that he supposed he was. "And
I suppose that is why you sleep all winter," added Happy Jack.
"If I didn't I would starve," responded Johnny Chuck promptly.
"When it gets near time for Jack Frost to arrive, I stuff and stuff
and stuff on the last of the good green things until I'm so fat I
can hardly waddle. Then I go down to my bedroom, curl up and go
to sleep. Cold weather, snow and ice don't worry me a bit."
"I know," spoke up Striped Chipmunk. "I sleep most of the winter
myself. Of course I have a lot of food stored away down in my
house, and once in a while I wake up and eat a little. Do you
ever wake up in the winter, Johnny Chuck?"
"No," replied Johnny. "I sleep right through, thank goodness.
Sometimes I wake up very early in the spring before the snow is
all gone, earlier than I wish I did. That is where my fat comes
in handy. It keeps me warm and keeps me alive until I can find
the first green plants. Perhaps you have noticed that early in
the spring I am as thin as I was fat in the fall. This is
because I have used up the fat, waiting for the first green
things to appear."
"Do you have many enemies?" asked Peter Rabbit, who has so many
himself that he is constantly thinking of them.
"Not many, but enough," growled Johnny Chuck. "Reddy Fox, Old Man
Coyote, men and Dogs are the worst. Of course, when I was small I
always had to be watching out for Hawks, and of course, like all
the rest of us little folks, I am afraid of Shadow the Weasel.
Reddy Fox has tried to dig me out more than once, but I can dig
faster than he can. If he ever gets me cornered, he'll find that I
can fight. A small Dog surprised me once before I could get to my
hole and I guess that Dog never will tackle another Woodchuck."
"Time is up," interrupted Old Mother Nature. "Johnny Chuck has a
big cousin out in the mountains of the Great West named Whistler,
and on the prairies of the Great West he has a smaller cousin named
Yap Yap. They are quite important members of the Marmot family, and
to-morrow I'll tell you about them if you want me to. You need not
come tomorrow, Johnny Chuck, unless you want to," she added.
Johnny Chuck hung his head, for he was a little ashamed that he had
been so unwilling to come that morning.
"If you please, Mother Nature," said he, "I think I'll come. I didn't
know I had any close relatives, and I want to know about them."
So it was agreed that all would be on hand at sun-up the next
morning, and then everybody started for home to think over the
things they had learned.
CHAPTER VIII Whistler and Yap Yap
Johnny Chuck was the first one on hand the next morning. The fact
is, Johnny was quite excited over the discovery that he had some
near relatives. He always had supposed that the Woodchucks were a
family by themselves. Now that he knew that he had some close
relatives, he was filled with quite as much curiosity as ever Peter
Rabbit possessed. Just as soon as Old Mother Nature was ready to
begin, Johnny Chuck was ready with a question. "If you please,"
said he, "who are my nearest relatives?"
"The Marmots of the Far West," replied Old Mother Nature. "You
know, you are a Marmot, and these cousins of yours out there are
a great deal like you in a general way. The biggest and handsomest
of all is Whistler, who lives in the mountains of the Northwest.
The fact is, he is the biggest of all the Marmot family."
"Is he much bigger than Johnny Chuck?" asked Peter Rabbit.
"Considerably bigger," replied Old Mother Nature, nodding her head.
"Considerably bigger. I should think he would weight twice as much
Johnny's eyes opened very wide. "My!" he exclaimed, "I should like
to see him. Does he look like me?"
"In his shape he does," said Old Mother Nature, "but he has a very
much handsomer coat. His coat is a mixture of dark brown and white
hairs which give him a grayish color. The upper part of his head,
his feet and nails are black, and so are his ears. A black band
runs from behind each ear down to his neck. His chin is pure white
and there is white on his nose. Underneath he is a light, rusty
color. His fur is thicker and softer than yours, Johnny; this is
because he lives where it is colder. His tail is larger, somewhat
bushier, and is a blackish-brown."
"If you please, why is he called Whistler?" asked Johnny Chuck eagerly.
"Because he has a sharp, clear whistle which can be heard a very long
distance," replied Old Mother Nature. "He sits up just as you do.
If he sees danger approaching he whistles, as a warning to all his
relatives within hearing."
"I suppose it is foolish to ask if he lives in a hole in the ground
as Johnny Chuck does," spoke up Peter Rabbit.
"He does," replied Old Mother Nature. "All Marmots live in holes in
the ground, but Whistler lives in entirely different country. He
lives up on the sides of the mountains, often so high that no trees
grow there and the ground is rocky. He digs his hole down in between
"It must be a nice, safe hole," said Peter. "I guess he doesn't
have to worry about being dug out by Reddy fox."
"You guessed quite right," laughed Old Mother Nature. "Nevertheless,
he has reason to fear being dug out. You see, out where he lives,
Grizzly, the big cousin of Buster Bear, also lives, and Grizzly is
very fond of a Marmot dinner when he can get one. He is so big and
strong and has such great claws that he can pull the rocks apart and
dig Whistler out. By the way, I forgot to tell you that Whistler is
also called the Gray Marmot and the Hoary Marmot. He lives on grass
and other green things and, like Johnny Chuck, gets very fat in the
fall and then sleeps all winter. There are one or two other Marmots
in the Far West who live farther south than does Whistler, but their
habits are much the same as those of Whistler and Johnny Chuck. None
of them are social. I mean by that you never find two Marmot homes
very close together. In this they differ from Johnny's smaller cousin,
Yap Yap the Prairie Dog. Yap Yap wouldn't be happy if he didn't have
close neighbors of his own kind. He has one of the most social
natures of all my little people."
"Tell us about him," begged Happy Jack Squirrel before Johnny Chuck,
who is naturally slow, could ask for the same thing.
"Yap Yap is the smallest of the Marmot family," said Old Mother
Nature. "In a way he is about as closely related to the Ground
Squirrels as he is to the Marmots. Johnny Chuck has only four
claws on each front foot, but Yap Yap has five, just as the Ground
Squirrels have. He looks very much like a small Chuck dressed in
light yellow-brown. His tail for the most part is the same color
as his coat, but the end is black, though there is one member of
the family whose tail has a white tip. In each cheek is a small
pouch, that is, a small pocket, and this is one of the things that
shows how closely related to the Spermophiles he is.
"As I said before, Yap Yap is very social by nature. He lives on
the great open plains of the West and Southwest, frequently where it
is very dry and rain seldom falls. When you find his home you are
sure to find the homes of many more Prairie Dogs very close at hand.
Sometimes there are hundreds and hundreds of homes, making a regular
town. This is because the Prairie Dogs dearly love the company of
their own kind."
"Does Yap Yap dig the same kind of a hole that I do?" asked
"In a way it is like yours," replied Old Mother Nature, "but at the
same time it is different. In the first place, it goes almost
straight down for a long distance. In the second place there is no
mound of sand in front of Yap Yap's doorway. Instead of that the
doorway is right in the very middle of the mound of sand. One reason
for this is that when it does rain out where Yap Yap lives it rains
very hard indeed, so that the water stands on the ground for a short
time. The ground being flat, a lot of water would run down into
Yap Yap's home and make him most uncomfortable if he did not do
something to keep it out. So he brings the sand out and piles it
all the way around his doorway and presses it down with his nose.
In that way he builds up a firm mound which he uses for two purposes;
one is to keep the water from running down the hole, and the other is
as a sort of watch tower. He sits on the top of his mound to watch
for his enemies. His cousins with the white tail digs a hole more
"Yap Yap loves to visit his neighbors and to have them visit him.
They are lively little people and do a great deal of talking among
themselves. The instant one of them sees an enemy he gives a signal.
Then every Prairie Dog scampers for his own hole and dives in head
first. Almost at once he pops his head out again to see what the
danger may be."
"How can he do that without going clear to the bottom to turn
around?" demanded Peter
"I wondered if any of you would think of that question," chuckled
Old Mother Nature. "Just a little way down from the entrance Yap
Yap digs a little room at one side of his tunnel. All he has to do
is to scramble into that, turn around and then pop his head out.
As I said before, his tunnel goes down very deep; then it turns and
goes almost equally far underground. Down there he has a nice
little bedroom. Sometimes he has more than one."
"If it is so dry out where he lives, how does he get water to drink?"
asked Happy Jack.
"He doesn't have to drink," replied Old Mother Nature. "Some folks
think that he digs down until he finds water way down underneath,
but this isn't so. He doesn't have to have water. He gets all
the moisture he needs from the green things he eats."
"I suppose, like the rest of us, he has lots of enemies?" said Peter.
Old Mother Nature nodded. "Of course," said she. "Old Man Coyote
and Reddy Fox are very fond of Prairie Dog. So are members of the
Hawk family. Then in some places there is a cousin of Shadow the
Weasel called the Black-footed Ferret. He is to be feared most of
all because he can follow Yap Yap down into his hole. There is a
cousin of Hooty the Owl called the Burrowing Owl because it builds
its home in a hole in the ground. You are likely to find many
Burrowing Owls living in Prairie Dog villages. Also you are apt
to find Buzztail the Rattlesnake there.
"A lot of people believe that Yap Yap, Buzztail and the little
Burrowing Owl are the best of friends and often live together in
the same hole. This isn't so at all. Buzztail is very fond of
young Prairie Dog and so is the Burrowing Owl. Rather than dig a
hole for himself the Owl will sometimes take possession of one of
Yap Yap's deserted holes. If he should make a mistake and enter a
hole in which Yap Yap was at home, the chances are that Yap Yap
would kill the Owl for he knows that the Owl is an enemy. Buzztail
the Rattlesnake also makes use of Prairie Dog holes, but it is safe
to say that if there are any Prairie Dog babies down there they
never live to see what the outside world is like. So Buzztail
and the Burrowing Owl are really enemies instead of friends of
Yap Yap, the Prairie Dog."
"Why is he called a Dog?" asked Peter.
Old Mother Nature laughed right out. "Goodness knows," said she. "He
doesn't look like a Dog and he doesn't act like a Dog, so why people
should call him a Dog I don't know, unless it is because of his habit
of barking, and even his bark isn't at all like a Dog's--not nearly
so much so as the bark of Reddy Fox. Now I guess this will do for
to-day. Haven't you little folks had enough of school?"
"No," cried Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare and Happy Jack and
Chatterer the Red Squirrel and Striped Chipmunk and Johnny Chuck.
"We want to know about the rest of the members of the order of
Rodents or Gnawers," added Peter. "Of course in a way they are sort
of related to us and we want to know about them."
Old Mother Nature laughed good-naturedly. "All right," said she,
"come again to-morrow morning and we'll see what more we can learn."
CHAPTER IX Two Queer Little Haymakers
There is nothing like a little knowledge to make one want more.
Johnny Chuck, who had gone to school only because Old Mother Nature
had sent for him, had become as full of curiosity as Peter Rabbit.
The discovery that he had a big, handsome cousin, Whistler the
Marmot, living in the mountains of the Far West, had given Johnny
something to think about. It seemed to Johnny such a queer place
for a member of his family to live that he wanted to know more
about it. So Johnny had a question all ready when Old Mother
Nature called school to order the next morning.
"If you please, Mother Nature," said he, "does my cousin, Whistler,
have any neighbors up among those rocks where he lives?"
"He certainly does," replied Old Mother Nature, nodding her head.
"He has for a near neighbor one of the quaintest and most interesting
little members of the big order to which you all belong. And that
order is what?" she asked abruptly.
"The order of Rodents," replied Peter Rabbit promptly.
"Right, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature, smiling at Peter. "I
asked that just to see if you really are learning. I wanted to
make sure that I am not wasting my time with you little folks.
Now this little neighbor of Whistler is Little Chief Hare."
Instantly Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare pricked up their long
ears and became more interested than ever, if that were possible.
"I thought you had told us all about our family," cried Jumper,
"but you didn't mention Little Chief."
"No," said Old Mother Nature, "I didn't, and the reason I didn't
was because Little Chief isn't a member of your family. He is
called Little Chief Hare, but he isn't a Hare at all, although he
looks much like a small Rabbit with short hind legs and rounded
ears. He has a family all to himself and should be called a Pika.
Some folks do call him that, but more call him a Cony, and some
call him the Crying Hare. This is because he uses his voice a
great deal, which is something no member of the Hare family does.
In size he is just about as big as one of your half-grown babies,
Peter, so, you see, he really is a very little fellow. His coat
is grayish-brown. His ears are of good size, but instead of being
long, are round. He has small bright eyes. His legs are short,
his hind legs being very little longer than his front ones. He
has hair on the soles of his feet just like the members of the
"What about his tail?" piped up Peter Rabbit. You know Peter is
very much interested in tails.
Old Mother Nature smiled. "He is worse off than you, Peter," said
she, "for he hasn't any at all. That is, he hasn't any that can be
seen. He lives way up among the rocks of the great mountains above
where the trees grow and often is a very near neighbor to Whistler."
"I suppose that means that he makes his home down in under rocks,
the same as Whistler does," spoke up Johnny Chuck.
"Right," replied Old Mother Nature. "He is such a little fellow
that he can get through very narrow places, and he has his home
and barns way down in among the rocks."
"Barns!" exclaimed Happy Jack Squirrel. "Barns! What do you mean
Old Mother Nature laughed. "I just call them barns," said she,
"because they are the places where he stores away his hay, just as
Farmer Brown stores away his hay in his barn. I suppose you would
call them storehouses."
At the mention of hay, Peter Rabbit sat bolt upright and his eyes
were wide open with astonishment. "Did you say hay?" he exclaimed.
"Where under the sun does he get hay way up there, and what does
he want of it?"
There was a twinkle in Old Mother Nature's eyes as she replied,
"He makes that hay just as you see Farmer Brown make hay every
summer. It is what he lives on in the winter and in bad weather.
Little Chief knows just as much about the proper way of making hay
as Farmer Brown does. Even way up among the rocks there are places
where grass and peas-vines and other green things grow. Little
Chief lives on these in summer. But he is as wise and thrifty as
any Squirrel, another way in which he differs from the Hare family.
He cuts them when they are ready for cutting and spreads them out
on the rocks to dry in the sun. He knows that if he should take
them down into his barns while they are fresh and green they would
sour and spoil; so he never stores them away until they are
thoroughly dry. Then, of course, they are hay, for hay is nothing
but sun-dried grass cut before it has begun to die. When his hay
is just as dry as it should be, he takes it down and stores it away
in his barns, which are nothing but little caves down in among the
rocks. There he has it for use in winter when there is no green food.
"Little Chief is so nearly the color of the rocks that it takes
sharp eyes to see him when he is sitting still. He has a funny
little squeaking voice, and he uses it a great deal. It is a funny
voice because it is hard to tell just where it comes from. It seems
to come from nowhere in particular. Sometimes he can be heard
squeaking way down in his home under the rocks. Like Johnny Chuck,
he prefers to sleep at night and be abroad during the day. Because
he is so small he must always be on the lookout for enemies. At the
first hint of danger he scampers to safety in among the rocks, and
there he scolds whoever has frightened him. There is no more
loveable little person in all my great family than this little
haymaker of the mountains of the Great West."