[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #3 1923]
P. M. C. KERMODE.
7th December, 1916.
Of the six Orders in the British Isles, five are represented in the Isle of Man, but of these we have-so far as at present known-only 14 Genera as compared with the British 54, and only 15 species compared with 82. It is possible that a few may be present and have escaped notice, I, therefore, offer this list for consideration and invite members of our Natural History Society to add to it if possible, and especially to be themselves, and get their friends to be, on the look-out for the species named at the foot.
l. Order, CHIROPTERA. Bats.
1. Pipistrellus pipistrellus, Schreber. Common Bat or Flittermouse,
2 Plecotus auritus, L. Long-eared Bat.
3. Erinaceus europceus, L. Hedgehog.
4. Soren minutus, L. Pygmy or Lesser Shrew .
5. Oryctolagus cuniculus, 1,. Rabbit.
6. Lepus europaeus, Pallas; sub-species. Common or Brown Hare.
7. Adopemus sylvaticus, L.; sub-sp. sylvaticus, Field Mouse. -
8. Epimys rattus, T,. Black or Ship Rat.
9. Epimvs notvegicus, Berkenhout. Brown Rat.
10. Mus musculus, L. House Mouse,
11. Mustela, ermineus hibernicus. Irish Stoat, (The above are all our land-mammals.)
12. Phoca vitulina, L. Common Seal.
13. Balaenoptera acuto-rostratta. Lesser Rorqual.
14. Hyperoöidon rostratus, Chem. Bottle-nosed Whale,
15. Phocrena communis. Common Porpoise.
It is interesting to note that in every case save one-that of the rats-we have each genus represented by one species only, as though there were not room in our small district for more than one of any single genus, the competition for existence between the species of the same genus being keener than that between the species of different genera. The case of the black and the brown rat rather supports this view, since we know that the older form has been driven out by the intruder and is now only met with when reintroduced from time to time by incoming vessels.
Of our fifteen species I may note-
1. The common bat appears to be notch more numerous in individuals than the long-eared. In parts of England the reverse is the case. I should be glad if our members would note whether this is the same in all parts of the Island, as possibly in some districts even here they may occur in different proportions. Careful observations prove that elsewhere this bat flies all night, from half an hour after sunset to half an ]tour before sunrise, and this even in December and January; at Port Erin I have seen them flying in the beginning of the latter month.
2. The long-eared bat is considered to be one of the most arboreal species, and will hunt all night from half an hour after sunset to forty-five minutes before sunrise. In County Wexford it has been observed that the ash is the tree most frequently selected, where it may be seen from May to September. Sometimes individuals have been seen to take winter flights, but I have not known of this in the Isle of Man.
3. The hedgehog, the farmer's friend, might be expected to be indigenous to the Island, the species being found in pleistocene formations both in :Britain and Ireland. My reasons for supposing it to have been introduced early in the 19th century were that in different parts of the Island I had heard circumstantial stories of such introduction; also that I never heard a Manx name for it. Kelly's Dictionary gives 'grainag' which may be taken from the Irish or the Gaelic dictionary. Cregeen gives ' arkan-soney,' the first part of which suggests a connection with the old English name ' urchin.' I have not found either of these words known to Manx-speaking people. In the winter the hedgehog hiberates, and one that I kept in a garden went to sleep in a nest of dead leaves under a laurel from Christmas Eve to the lath April following.
4. We have only the one form of shrew, which is smaller than the common one, and has a more hairy, thicker, and relatively longer tail. These do not hibernate.
5. The rabbit, indigenous to Spain, appears to have been introduced into both Britain and Ireland about the end of the 12th century. To Scotland it has been suggested that it was introduced by the inmates of various monasteries in the 16th century. We cannot now know know or when it reached the Isle of Man: it might be, on the analogy of Scotland, that it was brought over by the monks of Rushen, or, perhaps more likely, by the Stanleys or their retainers. It appears to have been plentiful from at least the middle of the 17th century.
6, In the British Isles are three species of hares, the common or brown, the mountain hare of Scotland, and the Irish hare. The latter is a species peculiar to Ireland; the other two are sub-species closely allied to those of the Continent. Whether originally introduced to our district, as possibly it might have been, under the Stanleys, there certainly have been many reintroductions for the purpose of sport, and there appears to be no difference between the form in the Isle of Man and that of England.
7. Mr. Barrett Hamilton, an expert on the :Mammals of Europe and -Northern Asia, to the great loss of zoological science, died in 1914, when on an expedition to South Georgia to study the habits of the whales and make scientific collections in that region. He had kindly consented to act on our British Association Committee for the biological survey of the Isle of Man, and was engaged upon a History of British Mammals, He remarked of the field mouse the tendency as shown by adult skulls from different parts of the British Isles, to develop races adjusted to the requirements of purely local conditions. Those from Wales, from the lowlands, and from the highlands of Scotland, and from Ireland, all showed slight but distinct difference: and, compared with skulls from central and southern England, ' those from Man have slightly deeper brain-cases and longer palates'.'
8. The black rat is entitled to a place on our list, as it is still brought from time to time in ships. (Three have just been sent to me by Mr. J, Bell, Steam Packet Co., Ramsey,) It is believed to have been introduced to the British Isles about the time of the Crusades, that is to say, from between the end of the 11th and the end of the 12th century. When it reached our shores it flourished here as elsewhere till ousted by the invasion of the next species. It may be recognised by its smaller size, its larger ears, and its tail, which is about an inch longer than its head and body, whereas that of the brown rat is about 1½ inches shorter,
9, The brown rat is thought to have reached Britain from some Russian ports during the first half of the 18th century, and must soon after have found its way to the Isle of Man, where, as elsewhere, it is now a very great pest.
10. Like the last two, the house mouse appears to be of Asiatic origin. It would seem to have reached Britain at an early date, since it is mentioned in the old Welsh laws more than ten centuries ago.
11. The stoat, here as in Ireland spoken of as the weasel, is the only representative in our district of the land carnivora. It is interesting to find that ours is not the common stoat of England, but a smaller form now recognised as a distinct species and identical with the only form of stoat found in Ireland.
13. The 'Finner Whale' described by Mr, Corrin as chased and harpooned off our west coast in 1860, must have been the lesser rorqual, which is commonly captured or stranded on the coasts of England, Ireland, and Scotland. It measures up to 30 feet in length, which was the size of that secured by Mr. Corrin and Mr. Lumsden.
14. An example of the bottle-nosed whale-a species pretty frequent in British waters, was stranded at Maughold Head in December, 1894. This is one of the toothed whales, and, of course, does not produce the ' whale-bone' of commerce, nor is it of any value for its oil.
The following species should be looked for, and I should be very glad to receive specimens for our Museum or to hear of any if noticed in our district :-
Nyctalus leisleri, hairy-armed bat. This little creature is found round the East and North of Ireland and in many parts of England, It is about the size of the common bat, but may be distinguished by the greater length of the fore-arm, which is clothed with fur or soft hair on the inner side. It is to be seen morning and evening from about the middle of April till towards the end of November. Mystis mystacinus (Whiskered Bat) is rather larger than the last, and appears to be common in every part of England excepting the East and possibly the North. It is distinguished by the presence of bristles on the upper lip. It has a flight similar to that of the common bat, and is said to be the most diurnal species.
Halichærus gryphus (the Grey Seal', probably visits our shores. In 1881 Mr. L. E. Adams wrote me that he had found remains of one at Port Erin.* In August of the present year I just missed seeing some ' large seals ' at Port Grianagh, which may have been of this species. It attains a length of 8ft to 9ft as compared with 4ft to 5ft. of the common seal.
It is certain that other cetaceans than those named occur off our coasts. The common rorqual, Balcenoptera musculus, which attains a length of from 60 to 70 feet, is no rarity in British waters, and is frequently cast up on the coasts of England, Wales, and Ireland. Some sixteen years ago a large vertebral bone, trawled from Brahama Bank, was brought to me, which might belong to this species. There were, too, some bones of a large cetacean in Dr. Crellin's collection at Orrysdale. The Perkin-vooar, or Great Flerring Flog, of our fishermen may perhaps be identified as Orca gladiator (Common Killer Whale, or (rampus), from 21 to 30 feet long, and Pseudorca crassidens (the Lesser Killer), about 14 feet, may be the ' Sharkagh,' which, I am told, is often seen off Port Erin. Both of these are commonly seen off the coasts of the British Isles.
Besides identifying all the species of our district we should now procure specimens of them for our Museum. As regards the land Mammals, we should be able to show the difference of pelage for each month in the year. All specimens should have particulars of the locality and date of capture carefully noted. Each Order also should be illustrated by a perfect skeleton. I invite all the members of our Society to help in this work and so enable us in a short time to complete our collection and our knnwledge of this branch of our local Natural History.
* This specimen. found as above stated in June, 1881, was recorded by Mr. Adams, in Zoologist, March, 1899 (p 131), and Y.L.M.. Vol Ill, p. 451. The skull was identified by Mr. R. Lydekker-ED).
| Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB
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