A Cat-squirrel Hybrid?

Hybrids out of History

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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
I am obliged to report that which is reported, but not to believe it.
—Herodotus, The History, VII, 152
reality thermometer
Reality Thermometer (estimated reliability of this cross).

A seventeenth-century German physician, Gabriel Clauder (1633-1691), published a brief article (Clauderi 1686) in the medical journal Ephemeridum Medico-Physicarum Germanicarum Academiæ Naturæ Curiosorum, an account cited by a variety of later authors (e.g., Blumenbach 1781, p. 10; Broca 1859). Clauder’s report gives a description not of a cat-squirrel hybrid as such, but rather of what seemed to be a pure squirrel birthed by a cat after copulation with a male squirrel.

However fantastic this account may seem today, it reads as follows: “On a Cat giving Birth to a Squirrel—It is certain that both the highest miracles and daily novelties, as well as numerous sports and alterations, arise

Note: It is the policy of this website in listing reports about hybrids to include all serious allegations, especially those of scholars, whether or not the hybrid alleged seems possible or likely. This policy helps to eliminate the effect of subjective judgment, and therefore should remove at least one source of systematic bias. It also helps to fulfill the ethical obligation of telling not just the truth, but the whole truth.


Sciurus vulgaris Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Credit: Peter Trimming (Wikipedia)

Video: A cat and a squirrel make friends

Video: Cat adopts and nurses a baby squirrel
from Nature’s depths, which no human can copy. And out of a diversity of cases, a single instance will suffice to demonstrate this fact: A domestic cat after coitus with a squirrel gave birth to three kittens like herself and to one squirrel. This squirrel, which on account of its rarity was kept as a pet by a most illustrious personage, did not in any way resemble its mother, nor were the feline offspring in the least like their father. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original Latin.]

Presumably the squirrel in question would have been a Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), the only common squirrel in Europe at that time.

That a squirrel and cat might mate is not so improbable as one might suppose. As can be seen in various YouTube videos—for example, the upper video at right—it can be seen that at least some squirrels and cats get along quite well, especially when they are raised together. The video just mentioned is somewhat surprising because it apparently shows a wild squirrel cavorting with a tame cat.

Indeed, as peculiar as it may seem, it’s a fact that cats, at least some cats, have been known to adopt and nurse young squirrels (as shown in the video at right), which is significant in the present context, given that most mammals imprint on the type of animal that raises them. In other words, when they reach sexual maturity, they will choose to mate with that kind of animal, even if that kind is not their own (read a discussion of imprinting elsewhere on this website).

Considering the various videos available on YouTube showing cats nursing squirrels, it’s clear that the behavior documented in the particular video on this page is by no means unique. And seemingly, those who study animals have long been aware that such things do on occasion occur. Thus, an early nineteenth-century naturalist, William Bingley (1820, pp. 247-248) states the following: “A boy, says [the Rev. Mr. White of Selborne], brought to him three young Squirrels, which had been

taken from their nest. These little creatures he put under a Cat that had recently lost her kittens; and he found that she nursed and suckled them with the same assiduity and affection as if they had been her own progeny. So many persons, however, went to see the little Squirrels suckled by a Cat, that the foster-mother became jealous of her charge and in pain for their safety and therefore hid them over the ceiling, where one of them died.

Clauder’s account seems to be unsubstantiated hearsay, but he did publish it in a medical journal. So perhaps it was a real event. If so, it’s interesting to speculate what might have happened. But, of course, at this distance in time there really is no way of knowing whether Clauder’s squirrel actually was birthed by a cat. So I just record his report as something strange and interesting that someone someday might be able to explain.

A related cross >>

Table of contents >>

Bibliography >>

Internet citations >>

Biology Dictionary >>

By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).

A list of cat crosses

The following is a list of reported cat crosses. Some of these crosses are much better documented than others (as indicated by the reliability arrow). Indeed, some might seem completely impossible. But all have been reported at least once. The links below are to separate articles. Additional crosses, not listed here, are covered on the cat hybrids page.

sheep-pig hybrid Sheep-pig hybrids?
reliability arrow

Cat × Wildcat >>

Lion × Tiger >>

Jaguar × Lion >>

Leopard × Lion >>

Jaguar × Leopard >>

Cat × Pallas’s Cat >>

Cat × Rabbit (Cabbits) >>

Cat × Marten >>

Leopard × Tiger >>

Cat × Dog >>

Cat × Raccoon >>

Cat × Opossum >>

Cat × Human >>

Cat × Rat >>

Cat × Squirrel >>

Cat × Duck >>

Cat × Chicken >>

Cat × Horse >>



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