The Burgess Animal Book for Children Natural History
do not hesitate to swim a stream that may be in theirpath.""I've never seen Robber," said Peter. "What kind of atail does he have?""I might have known you would ask that," laughed OldMother Nature. "It is long and slim and has no hair onit. His fur is very coarse and harsh and is brown andgray. He has a close relative called the Black Rat. Butthe latter is smaller and has been largely driven out of the country by his bigger cousin. Now I guess this isenough about Robber. He is bad, all bad, and hasn't asingle friend in all the Great World.""What a dreadful thing--not to have a single friend,"said Happy Jack."It is dreadful, very dreadful," replied Old MotherNature. "But it is wholly his own fault. It shows whathappens when one becomes dishonest and bad atheart. The worst of it is Robber doesn't care. To-morrow I'll tell you about some of his cousins who arenot bad.
CHAPTER XIVA TRADER AND A HANDSOME FELLOW
"Way down in the Sunny South," began Old MotherNature, "lives a member of the Rat family who, thoughnot nearly so bad as Robber, is none too good and soisn't thought well of at all. He is Little Robber theCotton Rat, and though small for a Rat, being only atrifle larger than Striped Chipmunk, looks the littlesavage that he is. He has short legs and is ratherthick-bodied, and appears much like an overgrownMeadow Mouse with a long tail. The latter is not barelike Robber's, but the hair on it is very short and thin.In color he is yellowish-brown and whitish underneath.His fur is longer and coarser than that of other nativeRats.
"He lives in old fields, along ditches and hedges, and insimilar places where there is plenty of cover in whichhe can hide from his enemies. He burrows in theground and usually has his nest of dry grass there,though often in summer it is the surface of the ground.He does not live in and around the homes of men, likethe Brown Rat, but he causes a great deal of damageby stealing grain in the shock. He eats all kinds of grain, many seeds, and meat when he can get it. He isvery destructive to eggs and young of ground-nestingbirds. He has a bad temper and will fight savagely. Mr.and Mrs. Cotton Rat raise several large families in ayear. Foxes, Owls and Hawks are their chief enemies."But there are other members of the Rat family farmore interesting and quite worth knowing. One of these is Trader the Wood Rat, in some parts of the FarWest called the Pack Rat. Among the mountains he iscalled the Mountain Rat. Wherever found, his habitsare much the same and make him one of the mostinteresting of all the little people who wear fur."Next to Jerry Muskrat he is the largest native Rat,that is, of the Rats which belong in this country. He isabout two thirds as big as Robber the Brown Rat, butthough he is of the same general shape, so that youwould know at once that he is related to Robber, he isin all other ways wholly unlike that outcast. His fur isthick and soft, almost as soft as that of a Squirrel. Hisfairly long tail is covered with hair. Indeed, somemembers of his branch of the family have tails almostas bushy as a Squirrel's. His coat is soft gray and ayellowish-brown above, and underneath pure white orlight buff. His feet are white. He has rounded ears andbig black eyes with none of the ugliness in them thatyou always see in the eyes of Robber. And he has longwhiskers and plenty of them."
This is the Eastern form of this interestingbranch of the Rat family.
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