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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/811

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CONCERNING WEASELS.

denly I found myself staring at the smooth greenish-gray root of the maple with 110 weasel in sight. Judging from my own experience, I should say that this is the usual termination of any chance observations of either weasels or minks.

Occasionally they may be seen to dart into the bushes or behind some log or projecting bank, but much more frequently they vanish with a suddenness that defies the keenest eyesight.

In all probability this vanishing is accomplished by extreme rapidity of motion, but if this is the case then the creature succeeds in doing something utterly impossible to any other warm-blooded animal of its size. Mice, squirrels, and some of the smaller birds are all of them swift enough at times, but except in the case of the humming bird none of them, I believe, succeed in accomplishing the result achieved by the weasels. The humming bird, in spite of its small size, leaves us a pretty definite impression of the direction it has taken when it darts away: but when a mink, PSM V54 D811 Weasel.png half a yard in length and weighing several pounds, stands motionless before one with his dark coat conspicuous against almost any background, and the next instant is gone without a rustle or the tremor of a blade of grass, it leaves one with an impression of witchcraft difficult to dispel, and best appreciated when one sees it for one's self. Nor is the everyday life of the weasel quiet or commonplace; his one object in life apparently is to kill, first to appease his hunger, then to satisfy his thirst for warm blood, and after that for the mere joy of killing.

The few opportunities I have had for observing these animals have never shown them occupied in any other way, nor can any hint of anything different be gained from the various writers on the subject, while accounts of their attacking and even killing human beings in a kind of blind fury are too numerous and apparently well authenticated to be entirely ignored. These attacks are said usually to be made by a number of weasels acting in concert, and the motive would appear to be revenge for some injury done to one of their number. There seems to be something peculiar about the entire family of weasels. The American sable or pine marten is said to have strange ways that have puzzled naturalists and hunters for years. In the wilderness no amount of trapping has any effect on their numbers, nor do they show any especial fear of man or his works, occasionally even coming into lumber camps at night and being especially fond of