27 JANUARY 1939, Page 18

An Omnivorous Rat Here is • another odd and unexpected

experience in the winter ways of animals. Several rabbits shot in a small wood were left in a heap while other coverts were drawn. On returning later in the day the keeper found some grey squirrels greedily devouring the rabbits. We have all heard unnumbered tales of the practices of these omnivorous rodents. Buffon, years ago, wrote of their disastrous on- slaughts on the corn, that is the maize, of South American farmers. Personally, I have known them to eat peaches, both those grown on a wall and those inside the greenhouse. I have seen one carrying a fully-grown sparrow ; and in a neighbouring parish a number twice bit a way through the wood of a shed in order to raid the store of wheat and barley within. Green shoots, bark, nuts, eggs, young birds —nothing comes amiss ; but it had never occurred to me that they would play the fox or rat on the body of so big an animal as the rabbit. It says something for their cunning and skill in observation that no squirrels had been seen during the shoot. They are adepts at keeping on the other side of a branch or trunk. The incident occurred after the hard weather was well over : frost had not driven them to an abnormal practice.