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Some Facts Of Maternal Instinct In Animals

[Oct. 1, 1892.]

I lately met some friends who had with them a little dog, called Vic,
who had adopted the family of a cat in the house, and, while in
possession, would not let the mother come near her kittens. The kittens
were kept in a very tall basket, and Vic would take them in her mouth,
and jump out with them one by one, and then carry them into the garden
and watch over them, carrying them back in the same way after a time; at
other times, lying contentedly with them in the basket. Of course Vic
had to be forcibly removed when the adopted family required their
mother's attention for their sustenance. I also have met a friend who
saw a hen-hawk, who was in a cage, mothering a young starling. Three
young, unfledged starlings were given the hawk to eat. She ate two, and
then broodled the other, and took the utmost care of it. Unhappily, the
young starling died; and from that moment the hawk would touch no food,
but died herself in a few days.

The same friend was on a mountain one day, when a sheep came up to him,
and unmistakably begged him to follow her going just in front, and
continually looking round to see if he was following. The sheep led him
at last to some rocks, where he found a lamb fast wedged in between two
pieces of rock. He was able to liberate the lamb, to the evident joy of
the mother.

I myself once saw a cat "broodling" and taking care of a very small
chicken, which, being hatched first of a brood, had been brought into a
cottage and placed in a basket near the fire. It managed to get out of
the basket, and hopped up to the cat, who immediately adopted it.


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