Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/828

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

like; he will lie up in the winter, and eat vegetable as well as animal food. Some other creatures, that are supposed to be strictly carnivorous, will eat fruit when they can get it.

The badger, poor beast! is getting scarce; more's the pity, from the animal collector's and the naturalist's point of view. He generally manages to dispense with the observation of the latter; for, unless his ways are well known, he will escape from a place that might have been supposed strong enough to hold a rhinoceros. All his family have been excavators from the beginning, on the most scientific principles. Unless you take the greatest precautions, he will dig himself out and get away in quick time. He is a most quiet and orderly being, and a contented one too, if let alone; for, as a rule, he is fat.

His persecutors are many, from the keeper down to the rat-catcher's lad, who boasts that he has "the best dog at any varmint as ever run on four legs." Some of our common expressions require alteration, being founded on ignorance. For instance, folks say, "Dirty as a badger"; whereas a cleaner creature in its home and surroundings would be hard to find. A very wide-awake individual he is; and he needs be, for the hand of both man and of boy is against him, and utterly without reason.

If the badger had but the same privileges extended to him that the fox has, he would not be so rare an animal as he is now. Why should he be so worried by dogs? It is to be hoped that badger-drawing has nearly had its day. This very practice, brutal as it is, testifies to his determined courage and fighting qualities; you could not find a more determined antagonist than he is when on his mettle.

With regard to his food, the greater part of it consists of such small deer as may fall in his way, when he wanders here and there in the evening after leaving the hole where he has lain dormant all the day. That long snout of his will poke and root out all manner of things, from a wild bees' nest to a field-mouse. He will eat young rabbits when he can get them, and old ones do not come amiss to him when the chance offers. A sporting character I knew once procured a fine badger for the express purpose of having him baited by all the fancy dogs in his locality. Among other creatures he kept rabbits, and his particular fancy was to have the very best of the lop-eared variety that could be procured. One doe he valued most highly, because, setting aside her own qualities, she had a fine lot of young ones, well grown, and as beautiful as herself.

The badger had only been caught the same evening on which it was brought to this individual. Not having a place ready for it, he placed it for the time in an empty hutch just over the one in which his favorite doe and her little ones were. Fastening the