AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851) Vol. I, Plate 10, Common American Shrew Mole

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Painted by John James Audubon (1785-1851) with background likely by Victor Gifford Audubon (1809-1860)
Lithographed by J. T. Bowen &. Co.
Lithograph with hand color, paper dimensions: approximately 22 x 28 inches
From Vol. I, Part 2 of John James Audubon and John Bachman’s (1790-1875) The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.
New York: V.G. Audubon, 1845-1848.

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The following passage is included in the accompanying description of Scallops Aqualicus, Linn. Common American Shrew Mole.

“Whilst almost every farmer or gardener throughout the Northern and Eastern States is well acquainted with this curious animal, as far as the mere observation of its meandering course through his fields and meadows, his beds of green peas or other vegetables, is concerned, but few have arrived at proper conclusions in regard to the habits of the Shrew Mole; and it is generally caught and killed whenever practicable; the common idea being,, that the Mole feeds on the roots of tender plants, grasses, &c.; while the fact that the animal devours great quantities of earth-worms, slugs, and grubs, all hurtful to the fruit trees, to the grasses, and the peas and other vegetables, seems to be unknown, or overlooked.

In justice to the farmer and gardener, however, we must say, that the course taken occasionally by this species, directly along a row of tender plants, throwing them out of the earth, as it does, or zig-zag across a valuable bed or beautiful lawn, is rather provoking, and we have ourselves caused traps to be set for moles, being greatly annoyed by their digging long galleries under the grass on our sloping banks, which during a heavy shower soon filled with water, and presently increased to large gutters, or deep holes, requiring repairs forthwith. At such times also, a Mole-track through loose soil where there is any descent, will be found by the gardener, perchance, to have become a miniature ravine some twenty or thirty yards in length, and a few (anticipated) bushels of carrots are destroyed. In neglected or sandy soils, one of these gutters becomes deep and wide in a short time, and we may perhaps not err in hazarding the opinion that some of the unsightly ravines which run almost through large estates, occasionally might be traced to no higher origin than the wandering of an unlucky mole!”