A rabbit hutch or coop is easily built from old packing boxes. One third of the coop should be darkened and made into a nest, with an entrance door outside and the rest simply covered with a wire front, also with a door for cleaning and feeding. The hutch should stand on legs above ground as rabbits do not thrive well in dampness. They will, however, live out all winter in a dry place. A box four feet long and two feet wide will hold a pair of rabbits nicely. Rabbits will become very tame and may often be allowed full liberty about the place if there are no dogs to molest them.
The drawing shows a standard type of rabbit hutch. A boy who is handy with tools can easily build one. We can always dispose of the increase in our rabbit family to friends or to dealers.
A chicken coop for grown fowls can be of almost any shape, size, or material, providing that we do not crowd it to more than its proper capacity. The important thing is to have a coop that is dry, easily cleaned and with good ventilation, but without cracks to admit draughts. A roost made of two by four timbers set on edge with the sharp corners rounded off is better than a round perch. No matter how many roosts we provide, our chickens will always fight and quarrel to occupy the top one. Under the roost build a movable board or shelf which may easily be taken out and cleaned. Place the nest boxes under this board, close to the ground. One nest for four hens is a fair allowance. Hens prefer to nest in a dark place if possible. A modern, up-to-date coop should have a warm, windproof sleeping room and an outside scratching shed. A sleeping room should be provided with a window on the south side and reaching nearly to the floor.
Of the order of toothless animals, the aardvark (Orycteropus aethiopicus), which occurs from the lowlands to the Woina-Deka, should be mentioned. The shy animal, with its smell and hearing, dwells in self-dug caves, characterized by lively leaps and a kangaroo-like position, supported by the powerful tail. It often goes only on the hind feet and nd sniffs the earth with the long, constantly moving nose, which resembles a pig's trunk, in order to look for ants. When it has discovered such a place, it begins to dig very skillfully and vigorously with the forefeet and push back the agitated Earth with the hind feet.
For urine and dung, the aardvark digs a small pit, which is then carefully covered up again. In the building itself, it sleeps curled up lying on its side. Pursued, it hurries away in rapid bursts and burrows quickly, closing the tube behind it.
The burrows are of considerable dimensions, and evidently run to no small depth, as one of them has been known to absorb five barrels of water without being filled.
They are dug in a sloping direction, forming and angle of about forty-five degrees with the horizon, and after descending for five or six feet, they take a sudden turn and rise gradually upward.
The prairie dog has not the privilege of possessing a home exclusively devoted to its own use, for the Burrowing Owl, and the terrible rattlesnake, take forcible possession of the burrows, and devour the inmates, thus procuring board and lodging at very easy rates.
Mother fox bringing food to its young.
The fox is a well-known burrower, its "earth" being familiar to many by by sight, and to all by name.
Few persons, who do not know the history of the fox, would believe it to be capable of forming excavations of such extent. The fore feet of the mole are clearly formed for digging, their sharp claws penetrating the earth, their broad palms acting as shovels, and their powerful muscles giving the needful force. These limbs are essentially used for digging, and are but little employed as means of locomotion.
But the fox is an admirable runner, as any hunter can avouch, and its fore limbs are formed for speed and endurance, their length enduing them with the one quality, and their muscular lightness with the other. Yet, just as the digging limbs of the mole are used fr locomotion, and enable the animal to proceed at no contemptible speed, so the running limbs of the fox are used for digging, and e nable the creature to excavate burrows of no contemptible dimensions.
Of all the mammalia, the Mole is entitled to take first place in our list of burrowers.
This extraordinary animal does not merely dig tunnels in the ground and sit at the end of them, but forms a complicated subterranean dwelling-place, with chambers, passages, and other arrangements of wonderful completeness. It has regular roads leading to its feeding grounds; establishes a system of communication as elaborate as that of a modern railway, or to be more correct, as that of the subterranean network of metropolitan sewers; and is an animal of varied accomplishments.
Osprey landing in its nest with food for its young