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This animal differs from the polecat, in being rather longer: its tail also is longer in proportion, and more bushy at the end; its nose is flatter: its cry is sharper and more piercing; it colours are more elegant; and its scent is considered as a most agreeable perfume. It is, in truth, the most beautiful of all British beasts of prey. Its head is small and elegantly formed ; its eyes are lively; its ears are broad, rounded, and open; its back, its sides, and tail, are covered with a fine downy fur, with longer hair intermixed; the roots of an ash colour, the middle of a bright chestnut, and the points black: the head is brown, with a slight cast of red; the legs and feet are of a chocolate colour, and the throat and breast white. The claws are large and sharp, well adapted for the purpose of climbing; but, as in other animals of the weasel kind, incapable of being sheathed or unsheathed at pleasure.
These animals are found in all the northern parts of the world, from Siberia to Canada, and China. They are chiefly hunted for their skins; of which it is said that above twelve thousand are annually imported into England from Hudson's Bay, and more than thirty thousand from Canada.
This animal, which in Guinea is called the Berba, is about the size of the ferret, and has a slender body, covered with hair of an ash colour, mixed with tawny. The sides of the face are black; at the hind part of the head are four black lines, extending from thence towards the shoulders ; the tail is long and annulated with black; its eye is very large, round, and black, which gives it a mischievous aspect.— It inhabits the island of Madagascar, Guinea, Cochinchina, and the Philippine Isles. It feeds on flesh and fruits, but prefers the latter, and is peculiarly fond of bananas. It is exceedingly fierce, and difficult to be tamed. At certain seasons the male emits a strong odour like musk.
for its serviceable qualities in destroying serpents, the eggs of the crocodile, and all kinds of vermin. It grows to the length of from twenty-four to forty-two inches, of which the tail occupies one half; and its colour is a pale reddish gray. It is a strong, bold, active, and easily domesticated animal. While eating it sits upright, and uses its fore feet. The Ichneumon has an omnivorous appetite. Rats, mice, birds, serpents, lizards, and insects, are all equally pursued; it attacks every living thing which it is able to overcome. On all kinds of serpents it makes war with great avidity. Its courage equals its voracity, for it fears neither the force of the dog nor the insidious malice of the cat; neither the claws of the vulture, nor the poison of the viper. This creature grows fast, and dies soon. It is an inhabitant of all the southern parts of Asia, and is also found in Africa, particularly in Egypt, and at the Cape of Good Hope.
The Civet has been erroneously denominated the Musk Cat, though it has nothing in common with the cat except being very active. It resembles animals of the weasel kind in the slenderness of its body, the shortness of its legs, the softness of its fur, and the odorous matter that exudes from its glands; but it differs from them in its superior size, it being more than two feet long, in the formation of its nose, and
the length of its tail, which tapers to a point. It is commonly of an ash colour, spotted with black, but is sometimes streaked as in the kind of cats called tabbies.
Although a native of the warmest climates, such as Guinea and the central parts of Africa, it is found to live in temperate and even cold countries, provided it is defended fully from the injuries of the air. Great numbers are bred in Holland, where the inhabitants gain largely by the perfume. The quantity which a single animal affords generally depends upon its health and nourishment: for it yields more in proportion as it is more delicately and abundantly fed. The Civet is collected twice or thrice a week, and is said to be more abundant after the animal has been irritated. Its favourite food consists of fish, eggs, rice, birds, and raw flesh cut small : but it drinks very rarely.
The perfume of the Civet is so strong, that it communicates itself to all parts of the animal's body, and the skin continues to preserve the odour for a long time after it is stripped off. It is taken from a pouch near the tail, and is of the colour and consistence of pomatum. That of Amsterdam is reckoned the purest; the people of other countries adulterating it with gums and other matters.
This animal, which is smaller than the civet, resembles all those of the weasel kind, in its length, compared to its height; in having a soft beautiful fur; its feet armed with claws that cannot be sheathed, and its appetite for petty carnage. But it differs from them, in having a nose somewhat resembling that of a fox, and a tail tapering to a point. It is, in general, spotted with black, upon a ground mixed with red and gray; a sort of mane forms a black streak along the back; and the tail is marked with seven or eight rings, alternately black and white, its whole length.—Like the civet, it has an opening or pouch, in which is secreted a kind of perfume. They are said to be very cleanly and industrious; and to keep houses perfectly clear from rats and mice, which cannot endure their smell. They require a warm climate to subsist and multiply in; yet they are chiefly confined to Spain and Turkey, and are never found in the warmer regions either of India or Africa.
The Raccoon is an inhabitant of North America, and of several of the West India islands. He dwells in the hollows of trees, and his principal food consists of maize, sugar canes, and various kinds of fruit; but he will also eat flesh, and is particularly fond of oysters, which he opens with wonderful dexterity. Being exceedingly partial to sweets, the Raccoon makes great ravages in the sugar plantations.