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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/164

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the sea. Their fur is exceedingly fine, close, soft, and velvety, perfectly black in full season, but at other times of a shining, deep sepia, or of a rich chestnut-brown. The longer hairs are silky and glossy, but not very numerous, and are easily removed. The Chinese prize the fur of the sea-otter so highly that formerly they paid for the skins from sixty to seventy-five dollars each; but they value them somewhat less now. It still remains the choicest, most expensive, and most fashionable, fur of its kind in the market for gentlemen's sets, ladies' sacques, turbans, boas, muffs, etc., and consequently all inferior furs that resemble it are made to imitate it.

Otters are fierce, wild, and shy, nocturnal in their habits, live much in the water, and feed upon fish, which they catch with great dexterity. They love to sport by sliding down a bank of snow in winter,

Fig. 12.
PSM V04 D164 Arctic fox.jpg
Arctic Fox.

or clay in summer, especially when they can, at the bottom, plunge into water. The Canadian otter has long, glossy hair, of a dark color, and an inner fur, close, fine, and soft, of a deep, rich liver-brown. If the fur on any part of the skin lacks the right color, it is brought to the requisite tint by dyeing. The fur is much esteemed, and is used for caps, collars, gloves, etc., though much of it is exported to Europe. The number of otters taken yearly is supposed to be about 40,000.

Beavers have a broad, horizontally-flattened, and scaly tail, a webbed hind-foot, and a general form which is admirable for swimming. They live mostly in and near the water, in large companies,