Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/67

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59
AN OLD NATURALIST—CONRAD GESNER.

The Uses of these Animals. — They are caught in the following way, during their winter sleep when they are nice and fat, by hunters, who sell their meat for money: In the summer the people who live at the foot of the Alps mark the holes with long

PSM V47 D067 Gesner snails.jpg
Fig. 12.

sticks which will show above the snow in the winter. About Christmas they walk over the snow to these marks on broad wooden runners, carrying picks and shovels, with which they clear away the snow, and digging into the nests, catch them asleep without trouble, although one must not talk loudly or make much noise while catching them, for if awakened they burrow rapidly into the soil, throwing the earth between themselves and the hunter and making it hard for him to follow them. They are also caught in snares laid before their holes, and in many other ways. They are always found in odd numbers, as seven, nine, eleven, or even more.

The hunters who dig them up in winter notice the length of the cone of dirt with which the animal has plugged up the opening of its burrow, for if this is short the winter will be mild, but very cold and severe if it is several feet long.

The Flesh of the Animal and how to prepare it. —  They are fattest about the Christmas days, and are killed while asleep by cutting the throat with a knife, as calves or swine are slaughtered. They usually die without awakening. The blood is caught, and the animal is scalded with hot water, like a hog, to remove the hair, and is cleaned and made to appear white. The intestines are then taken out, and the body, filled with the blood, is roasted on a spit or is boiled with black pepper. The flesh is sometimes salted and smoked, and is then boiled with black pepper, turnips, or a pumpkin.

The salted flesh is better than the fresh, as the salt dries it and takes away its penetrating odor. It is always indigestible and heating, but it is good for women in their confinement and also for their diseases.

Its Use in Medicine. — The stomach of the marmot is used as a remedy for stomach ache, and the fat for sclerosis of the arteries, which are rubbed with it.