The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6
10. Peragalea lagotis. — Rabbit Rat. — Wuirrapur, (Murray natives.) — Jecko, (Darling tribes.)
10. Peragalea lagotis.
Wuirrapur, (Murray natives.)
Jecko, (Darling tribes.)
This beautiful animal, like many other species, has long ago retreated to the north of the Murray. It is social, not gregarious, page 15 in its habits, only found in pairs scattered over the wide plains formerly the sole domain of the Kangaroo and Emeu. It digs into the ground, forming a burrow like a rabbit, but with only one entrance, and differs herein from Bettongia Graii, the burrows of which are provided with several outlets, and may easily be distinguished from those of the Peragalea.
As this "Rabbit Rat" often prefers entering the ground on a hill side, and as hills, even of very slight elevation, are often scarce on these extensive plains, it will sometimes happen, that the Peragalea takes advantage of the mound raised upon a departed black-fellows grave, providing for itself a habitation beneath the natives weary bones. Upon this ground an investigator asserted, some years ago, that this animal dug out the dead bodies of the natives and fed upon them. I think that every naturalist that has the slightest knowledge of the habits of this animal, will agree with me, that it is no resurrectionist, and if it takes advantage of the "mound," it is only for convenience sake, and not for criminal purposes.
It is nocturnal in its habits, feeds upon grass, roots, insects, &c., and always retires before dawn. Its flesh is very good eating, though the fur has a peculiar sweetish smell which is retained for years after the skin has been cured.
The natives seldom unearth the animal; the holes being very deep, and often found to be uninhabited. I procured a few specimens only, among which, was an adult female, with a very deep pouch, 8 teats, and two large young.
All the spots which, in the adult, are covered with black hair, were of a purple colour in the nude young specimens, which appeared to be about four months old; so that, according to my diary, their breeding season will be about the beginning of May. The pouch runs upwards.