Visual display of the Aldo Leopold papers : 9/25/10-4 : Species and Subjects

jus As 1945 
Xr. Roe of ths Ur1vrsty~ W Far    says ti-at ir~iAls Gon    Squirre 
*emqrxe this year ca k-ppsoimtl  my 10. He has so far kille   30 
ubmra. last year he only kille a doea,   This OW S*S~at., hih 
A prmiso cr Is Ulm ma for Apri.l 3.946 to ask Mr. DmAw to      W an 
*mt date of "r     e sa  ag.a$tally of his kill 
A" Leool 
a. bies 

Last July 8 I had what appears to be a rather 
unique experience. I had arrived on the Hillcrest 
Experimental Field of the University of Missouri 
about 8 a.m. and had been harvesting in a small 
plot of wheat for only a few minutes when I heard 
sharp squeals from a fence row about 50 yards 
away. Immediately starlings by the dozen, a few 
sparrows and possibly other birds began swarming 
around the source of the cries. I assumed that a 
snake had captured a young rabbit or bird and set 
off to persuade the reptile to find a meal less worthy 
of protection than a young rabbit, though it could 
have had a starling and welcome. 
When I approached the seat of activity, the 
birds retreated and then I saw a young rabbit 
struggling to escape-not from a snake-but from 
a rat. The rat seemed to have hold of the rabbit 
just in front of the right hip near or at the back- 
bone and the rabbit was apparently unable to move 
about, except in front. I leaped at once, aiming at 
the rat, but both rat and victim perished instantly 
when the heavy shoes landed. 
The rat and rabbit were about of equal size. 
By actual weight the rat weighed 170 grams (just 
a medium-sized rat) and the young rabbit 153 grams, 
but, being softer than the rat, had lost more sub- 
stance under the crushing, fatal blow. Thus, the 
rat and rabbit were nearly the same size, indicating 
that a large rat might successfully attack a full- 
grown rabbit. 
The rat was a female and was possibly suck- 
ling young, but certainly was not in a starved condi- 
tion. In fact she looked to be in good shape. 
The spot where the rat attacked the rabbit was 
several hundred yards from any building, and there 
was no rubbish heap anywhere near. 
This observation brings up the question: How 
much wildlife do rats destroy?-Luther Smith, De- 
partment of Field Crops, University of Missouri.