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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

Bushy-tailed Wood Rat

Capt. Lewis, July 2, 1805--after our return, in moving some of the baggage we caught a large rat. (Copy for Dr. Barton) it was somewhat larger than the common European rat, of lighter colour; the body and outer part of the legs and head of a light lead colour, the belly and inner side of the legs white as were also the feet and years. the toes were longer and the ears much larger than the common rat; the ears uncovered with hair. the eyes were black and prominent the whiskers very long and full. the tail was reather longer than the body and covered with fine fur or poil of the same length and colour of the back. the fur was very silkey close and short. I have frequently seen the nests of these rats in clifts of rocks and hollow trees but never before saw one of them. they feed very much on the fruit and seed of the prickly pear; or at least I have seen large quantities of the hulls of that fruit lying about their holes and in their nests.

Capt. Lewis, February 27, 1806--The rat in the Rocky mountain on it’s West side are like those on the upper part of the Missouri in and near those mountains and have the distinguishing trait of possessing a tail cover with hair like other parts of the body; one of those we caught at the White-bear Islands in the beginning of July last and was then discribed.

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