The Weasel by Francis C. Woodworth


Great numbers of weasels, it seems, sometimes unite together, and defend themselves pretty resolutely against the attacks of men. A laborer in Scotland was one day suddenly attacked by six weasels, who rushed upon him from an old wall near the place where he was at work at the time. The man, alarmed, as well he might have been, by such a furious onset, took to his heels; but he soon found he was closely pursued. Although he had in his hand a large horse-whip, with which he endeavored to frighten back his enemies, yet so eager were they in pursuing him, that he was on the point of being seized by the throat, when he fortunately noticed the fallen branch of a tree, at a little distance, which he reached, and snatching it up as fiercely as possible, rallied upon his enemies, and killed three of them, when the remainder thought it best to give up the battle, and left the field.

A similar case occurred some years ago near Edinburgh, when a gentleman, observing another leaping about in an extraordinary manner, made up to him, and found him beset and dreadfully bitten by about fifteen weasels, who still continued their attack. Both of the men being strong and courageous, they succeeded in killing quite a number of the animals, and the rest escaped and ran into the fissures of a neighboring rock. The account the unfortunate man gave of the beginning of the affray was, that, walking through the park, he ran at a weasel which he saw, and made several attempts to strike it, remaining between it and the rock, to which it tried to retreat. The animal, in this situation, squeaked loudly, when a sudden attack was made by the whole colony of weasels, who came to the rescue of their companion, determined to conquer or die.

Mr. Miller, in his Boy's Summer Book, tells us a little about what he had seen and heard of the habits and disposition of this family. He says, "They are a destructive race of little savages; and one has been known, before now, to attack a child in his cradle, and inflict a deep wound upon his neck, where it clung, and sucked like a leech. They are very fond of blood, and to obtain this, they will sometimes destroy the occupants of a whole hen-roost, not caring to feed upon the bodies of the poultry which they have killed. They will climb trees, attack the old bird on its nest, suck the eggs, or carry off the young; for nothing of this kind seems to come amiss to them. They are great hunters of mice; and their long, slender bodies are well adapted for following these destructive little animals in their rambles among the corn-stalks in the field. In this way, the weasel renders the farmer a good service occasionally, though he never asks to be rewarded with a duck or chicken, always choosing to help himself without asking, whenever he can get a chance. Oh! if you could but see a weasel attack a mouse, as I have done. By just one single bite of the head, which is done in a moment, and which pierces the brain before you can say 'Jack Robinson,' the mouse is killed as dead as a red herring, before he has time to squeak or struggle. It is no joke, I can tell you, to be bitten by a weasel; and if you thought, when you caught hold of one by the back, that you had him safe, you would soon find your mistake out; for his neck is as pliable as a piece of India rubber. He would have hold of your hand in a moment."

I have just come across a funny story about the adventure of a weasel and a hawk. It seems that a hawk took an especial fancy to a weasel that he saw prowling about a farm-yard. His hawkship happened to be pretty hungry at the time, and concluded he would carry off the weasel, and make a dinner of him at his leisure. So he pounced upon the fellow, and set out on his journey home. I should not wonder if he had a nest in the woods not far off. The weasel, however, submitted to his fate with no very good grace. He thought that two could play at that game. He twisted around his elastic neck—to use the language of the writer I mentioned—poked up his pointed nose, and in he went, with his sharp teeth, right under the wings of the hawk, making such a hole in an instant, that you might have thrust your finger in. The hawk tried to pick at him with his hooked beak, but it was no use.

The weasel kept eating away, and licking his lips as if he enjoyed himself; and the hawk soon came wheeling down to the ground, which he no sooner touched, than away ran the weasel, having got an excellent dinner at the expense of the hawk. He was not a bit the worse for the ride; while Mr. Hawk lay there as dead as a nail. The biter was bitten that time, wasn't he? It was a pretty good lesson to the hawk family not to be so greedy, though whether they ever profited by it is more than I can say. From the account that a little girl gave me of the incursions recently made upon her chickens, I judge that they did not all profit by it.