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Study Animals At Home

But before going to study big game in the jungles you must study all animals, wild and tame, at home.

Every Boy Scout ought to know all about the tame animals which he sees every day. And if you live in the country, you ought to know all about grooming, feeding, and watering a horse, about putting him into harness or taking him out of harness and putting him in the stable, and know when he is going lame and should not therefore be worked.

Your Dog

A good dog is the very best companion for a Scout, who need not think himself a really good Scout till he has trained a young dog to do all he wants of him. It requires great patience and kindness, and genuine sympathy with the dog. Dogs are being used frequently for finding lost men and for carrying messages.

A dog is the most human of all animals, and therefore the best companion for a man. He is always courteous, and always ready for a game-full of humour, and very faithful and loving.

Where to Study Animals

Of course a Scout who lives in the country has much better chances of studying animals and birds than in a town.

Still, if you live in a big city there are lots of different kinds of birds in the parks, and there is almost every animal under the sun to be seen alive in zoological gardens.

In smaller towns it is perhaps a little more difficult, but many of them have their Natural History Museum, where a fellow can learn the appearance and names of many animals, and you can do a lot of observing in the parks or by starting a feeding-box for birds at your own window. But, best of all, is to go out into the country whenever you can get a few hours for it, by train, or bicycle, or on your own flat feet, and there stalk animals and birds, and watch what they do, and get to know different kinds and their names, and also what kind of tracks they make on the ground, and, in the case of the birds, their nests and eggs, and so on.

If you are lucky enough to own a camera, you cannot possibly do better than start making a collection of photos of animals and birds. Such a collection is ten times more interesting than the ordinary boy's collection of stamps, or autographs.

Watching Animals

Every animal is interesting to watch, and it is just as difficult to stalk a weasel as it is to stalk a lion.

We are apt to think that all animals are guided in their conduct by instinct-that is, by a sort of idea that is born in them. For instance, we imagine that a young otter swims naturally, directly he is put into water, or that a young deer runs away from a man from a natural inborn fear of him.

Any naturalist will tell you that animals largely owe their cleverness to their mothers, who teach them while they are young. Thus an otter will carry her young upon her back into the water, and after swimming about for a little while, suddenly dive from under them, and leave them struggling in the water. But she will rise near them and help them to swim back to the shore. In this way she gradually teaches them to swim.

I once saw a lioness in East Africa sitting with her three little cubs all in a row watching me approach her. She looked exactly as though she were teaching her young ones how to act in the case of a man coming.

She was evidently saying to them:

"Now, cubbies, I want you all to notice what a white man is like. Then, one by one, you must jump up and skip away, with a whisk of your tail. The moment you are out of sight in the long grass, you must creep and crawl till you have got to leeward (down-wind) of him. Then follow him, always keeping him to windward, so that you can smell whereabouts he is, and he cannot find you."

Author

Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation

1908

Learn A Continuation:

to the next page: Birds

Back in The Past:

to the previous page: Animals


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