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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, June 13, 2010

furry, the baby squirrel: his diary

In 1902 Anna Botsford Comstock, an assistant professor of Nature-Study at Cornell, rescued a baby red squirrel dropped by its mother. She managed to raise it, and kept a diary of the process. Some excerpts:

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May 18, 1902—The baby squirrel is just large enough to cuddle in one hand. He cuddles all right when once he is captured; but he is a terrible fighter, and when I attempt to take him in one hand, he scratches and bites and growls so that I have been obliged to name him Fury. I told him, however, if he improved in temper I would change his name to Furry.

May 19—Fury greets me when I open his box, with the most awe-inspiring little growls, which he evidently supposes will make me turn pale with fear. He has not cut his teeth yet, so he cannot bite very severely, but that isn't his fault, for he tries hard enough. The Naturalist said cold milk would kill him, so I warmed the milk and put it in a teaspoon and placed it in front of his nose; he batted the spoon with both forepaws and tried to bite it, and thus got a taste of the milk, which he drank eagerly lapping it up like a kitten. When I hold him in one hand and cover him with the other, he turns contented little somersaults over and over.

May 26—He holds the bowl of the spoon with both front paws while he drinks the milk. When I try to draw the spoon away, to fill it again after he has emptied it, he objects and hangs on to it with all his little might, and scolds as hard as ever he can. He is such a funny, unreasonable baby.

May 28—To-night I gave Furry a walnut meat. As soon as he smelled it he became greatly excited; he grasped the meat in his hands and ran off and hid under my elbow, growling like a kitten with its first mouse.

June 4—Furry ranges around the room now to please himself. He is a little mischief; he tips over his cup of milk and has commenced gnawing off the wall paper behind the book-shelf to make him a nest. The paper is green and will probably make him sorry.

June 7—I caught Furry to-day and he bit my finger so it bled. But afterwards, he cuddled in my hand for a long time and then climbed my shoulder and went hunting around in my hair and wanted to stay there and make a nest. When I took him away, he pulled out his two hands full of my devoted tresses. I'll not employ him as a hairdresser.

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To her credit, she seems to have found all that biting and yelling cause for affection rather than resentment. By August 20th Furry was able to live his natural life outdoors in a tree near Comstock's house. Pages 80-33, Anna Botsford Comstock, The Pet Book (Geneva, NY: Comstock Publishing Co., 1914). And you should know a little about the formidable Professor herself, who among other accomplishments was Cornell's first female assistant professor. Read it here.


parlance said...

Oh, that's a lovely post! It seems to be an early form of blogging, lol. How computers have made diary-keeping easy!

Katnip Lounge said...

The bit about the green paper making Furry sorry...Oh, how I laughed! Great post for a Monday.