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116   IN THE ACADIAN LAND.

food than twenty times its weight in fir twigs. This ability to tide over a famine with his eyes open is one proof of the red squirrel's high rank in squirrel intelligence. He stands at the head of a large family to be found all over the world excepting Australia, Madagascar, and the Polar regions. With some minor differences of shades of color, and slight variations of markings, our squirrels may be found from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, from Hudson's Bay to the mountains of the Southern States. They are near relations of the gophers and prairie dogs, and woodchucks or ground-hogs. The prairie dogs and woodchucks are grass-eating, burrowing, winter-sleeping, slow, stupid creatures in comparison with these pine squirrels, who have descended from a parent stock of the woodchuck type. The ability to climb a tree quickly, to be agile and nimble, to use the front feet for hands, and secure the best food in small quantities are all developments in the line of intelligence. In the common striped squirrel we have a creature midway in the upward journey ; he is vastly nearer to the parent stock, he lives in dens of his own making under ground, he sleeps through the winter; he can climb a tree but not nimbly, he prefers the ground and only climbs for food occasionally. If hard pressed by dogs


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