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Title: The Animal World, A Book of Natural History - Young Folks' Treasury (Volume V)
Author: Wood, Theodore
Language: English
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[Illustration: TROPICAL AMERICAN HUMMING-BIRDS]



    YOUNG FOLKS' TREASURY

    In 12 Volumes

    HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE
    _Editor_

    EDWARD EVERETT HALE
    _Associate Editor_


    The Animal World

    A Book of Natural History


    _By_
    THEODORE WOOD

    _Edited by_
    ERNEST INGERSOLL


    VOLUME V


    NEW YORK
    THE UNIVERSITY SOCIETY INC.
    _Publishers_



    COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY
    THE UNIVERSITY SOCIETY INC.



PARTIAL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS, ASSISTANT EDITORS AND ADVISERS

  HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE
    _Editor_

  EDWARD EVERETT HALE
    _Associate Editor_


NICHOLAS MURRAY BUTLER, President Columbia University.

WILLIAM R. HARPER, Late President Chicago University.

HON. THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Ex-President of the United States.

HON. GROVER CLEVELAND, Late President of the United States.

JAMES CARDINAL GIBBONS, American Roman Catholic prelate.

ROBERT C. OGDEN, Partner of John Wanamaker.

HON. GEORGE F. HOAR, Late Senator from Massachusetts.

EDWARD W. BOK, Editor "Ladies' Home Journal."

HENRY VAN DYKE, Author, Poet, and Professor of English Literature,
Princeton University.

LYMAN ABBOTT, Author, Editor of "The Outlook."

CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS, Writer of Animal Stories.

JACOB A. RIIS, Author and Journalist.

EDWARD EVERETT HALE, Jr., English Professor at Union College.

JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS, Late Author and Creator of "Uncle Remus."

GEORGE GARY EGGLESTON, Novelist and Journalist.

RAY STANNARD BAKER, Author and Journalist.

WILLIAM BLAIKIE, Author of "How to Get Strong and How to Stay So."

WILLIAM DAVENPORT HULBERT, Writer of Animal Stories.

JOSEPH JACOBS, Folklore Writer and Editor of the "Jewish Encyclopedia."

MRS. VIRGINIA TERHUNE ("Marion Harland"), Author of "Common Sense in the
Household," etc.

MARGARET E. SANGSTER, Author of "The Art of Home-Making," etc.

SARAH K. BOLTON, Biographical Writer.

ELLEN VELVIN, Writer of Animal Stories.

REV. THEODORE WOOD, F. E. S., Writer on Natural History.

W. J. BALTZELL, Editor of "The Musician."

HERBERT T. WADE, Editor and Writer on Physics.

JOHN H. CLIFFORD, Editor and Writer.

ERNEST INGERSOLL, Naturalist and Author.

DANIEL E. WHEELER, Editor and Writer.

IDA PRENTICE WHITCOMB, Author of "Young People's Story of Music,"
"Heroes of History," etc.

MARK HAMBOURG, Pianist and Composer.

MME. BLANCHE MARCHESI, Opera Singer and Teacher.



CONTENTS


                                                       PAGE

  Introduction                                           xi

  CHAPTER

        I Apes and Gibbons                                1

       II Baboons                                         7

      III The American Monkeys and the Lemurs            16

       IV The Bats                                       26

        V The Insect-Eaters                              33

       VI The Larger Cats                                47

      VII The Smaller Cats                               60

     VIII The Civets, the Aard-Wolf, and the Hyenas      68

       IX The Dog Tribe                                  78

        X The Weasel Tribe                               91

       XI The Bear Tribe                                102

      XII The Seal Tribe                                113

     XIII The Whale Tribe                               121

      XIV The Rodent Animals                            136

       XV The Wild Oxen                                 157

      XVI Giraffes, Deer, Camels, Zebras, Asses,
            and Horses                                  179

     XVII The Elephants, Rhinoceroses,
            Hippopotamuses, and Wild Swine              201

    XVIII Edentates, or Toothless Mammals               212

      XIX The Marsupials                                218

       XX Birds of Prey                                 232

      XXI Cuckoos, Nightjars, Humming-Birds,
            Woodpeckers, and Toucans                    243

     XXII Crows, Birds of Paradise, and Finches         254

    XXIII Wagtails, Shrikes, Thrushes, etc.             263

     XXIV Parrots, Pigeons, Pea-Fowl, Pheasants, etc.   273

      XXV Ostriches, Herons, Cranes, Ibises, etc.       281

     XXVI Swimming Birds                                291

    XXVII Tortoises, Turtles, and Lizards               299

   XXVIII Snakes                                        311

     XXIX Amphibians                                    321

      XXX Fresh-water Fishes                            326

     XXXI Salt-water Fishes                             337

    XXXII Insects                                       354

   XXXIII Insects (_continued_)                         369

    XXXIV Spiders and Scorpions                         387

     XXXV Crustaceans                                   397

    XXXVI Sea-Urchins, Starfishes, and Sea-Cucumbers    409

   XXXVII Mollusks                                      414

  XXXVIII Annelids and Coelenterates                    427

          Walks with a Naturalist                       437

          Nature-study at the Seaside                   457

          Our Wicked Waste of Life                      487

          INDEX                                         497

(_Much of the material in this volume is published by permission of
E. P. Dutton & Company, New York City, owners of American rights._)



ILLUSTRATIONS


  TROPICAL AMERICAN HUMMING-BIRDS             _Frontispiece_

                                                FACING PAGE

  TYPES OF APES AND MONKEYS                               6

  PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS OF MONKEYS                      16

  FOUR GREAT CATS                                        48

  SOME FIERCE CATS                                       64

  A WOLFISH GROUP                                        80

  TYPES OF FUR-BEARERS                                   96

  TYPES OF BEARS                                        128

  TYPES OF RODENTS                                      144

  FOUR TYPES OF CATTLE                                  156

  WILD SHEEP AND GOATS                                  164

  GOATS AND GOAT-ANTELOPES                              166

  TYPES OF ANTELOPES                                    176

  THE ANTLERED DEER                                     184

  CHILDREN'S PETS AT THE ZOO                            189

  WILD RELATIVES OF THE HORSE                           196

  PACHYDERMS AND TAPIR                                  206

  TYPES OF MARSUPIALS                                   220

  TYPICAL BIRDS OF PREY                                 232

  FOUR HANDSOME BIRDS                                   253

  FINCHES AND WEAVER-BIRDS                              262

  AMERICAN INSECT-EATING SONG-BIRDS                     272

  GAUDY TROPICAL BIRDS                                  276

  AMERICAN GAME-BIRDS                                   280

  FOUR GREAT GAME-BIRDS                                 280

  AMERICAN WADING BIRDS                                 298

  TYPES OF WATER-BIRDS                                  298

  CHARACTERISTIC FORMS AND MARKINGS OF AMERICAN
    BIRDS EGGS                                          298

  NORTH AMERICAN FOOD AND GAME FISHES                   336

  INSECTS INJURIOUS TO AMERICAN MAPLE-TREES             368

  LEAF-EATING INSECTS OF SHADE-TREES                    386

  LIFE ON THE SEA-BOTTOM                                413

  NORTH AMERICAN SEED-EATING SONG-BIRDS                 442

  CHICKADEE AND WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH                 456



INTRODUCTION


This volume is a sketch of the animal life of the whole world. More than
a sketch it could not be in the space at the author's command; but he
has so skilfully selected his examples to illustrate both the natural
groups and the faunas which they represent, that his work forms a most
commendable ground-plan for the study of natural history.

Few writers have been so successful in handling this subject. His style
is singularly attractive to the young readers whom he has in view; yet
he does not depart from accuracy, nor exaggerate with false emphasis
some unusual phase of an animal's character, which is the fault of many
who try to "popularize" zoölogy.

One may feel confident, therefore, that the boy or girl who opens this
volume will enjoy it and profit by it. The sketch dwells on the animals
most often to be seen in nature, or in menageries, or read of in books
of travel and adventure, and will thus serve as a valuable reference aid
in such reading. But it will, and ought to, do more. It will arouse anew
that interest in the creatures about us which is as natural as breath to
every youngster, but is too rarely fostered by parents and teachers.

Nothing is more valuable in the foundation of an education than the
faculty and habit of observation--the power of noting understandingly,
or at least inquiringly, what happens within our sight and hearing. To
go about with one's eyes half shut, content to see the curtain and never
curious to look at the play on nature's stage behind it, is to miss a
very large part of the possible pleasure in life. That his child should
not suffer this loss ought to be the concern of every parent.

Little more than encouragement and some opportunity is needed to
preserve and cultivate this disposition and faculty. Direct a
youngster's attention to some common fact of woodland life new to him,
and his interest and imagination will be excited to learn more. Give him
a hint of the relationship of this fact to other facts, and you have
started him on a scientific search, and he has begun to train his eye
and his mind without knowing it. At this point such books as this are
extremely helpful, and lead to a desire for the more special treatises
which happily are now everywhere accessible.

This suggestion is not made with the idea that every youngster is to
become a full-fledged naturalist; but with the sense that some knowledge
of nature will be a source of delight throughout life; and with the
certainty that in no direction can quickness of eye and accuracy of
sight and reasoning be so well and easily acquired. These are qualities
which make for success in all lines of human activity, and therefore are
to be regarded as among the most important to be acquired early in life.

The physical benefit of an interest in animal life, which leads to
outdoor exercise, needs no argument. The mental value has been touched
upon. The moral importance is in the sense of truth which nature
inculcates, and the kindliness sure to follow the affectionate interest
with which the young naturalist must regard all living things.

No matter what is to be their walk in life, the observing study of
nature should be regarded as the corner-stone of a boy's or girl's
education.

                                              ERNEST INGERSOLL



MAMMALS



CHAPTER I

APES AND GIBBONS


First among the mammals come the monkeys. First among the monkeys come
the apes. And first among the apes come the chimpanzees, almost the
largest of all monkeys.


CHIMPANZEES

When it is fully grown a male chimpanzee stands nearly five feet high.
And it would be even taller still if only it could stand upright.

But that is a thing which no monkey can ever do, because instead of
having feet as we have, which can be planted flat upon the ground, these
animals only have _hind hands_. There is no real sole to them, no
instep, and no heel; while the great toe is ever so much more like a
huge thumb. The consequence is that when a monkey tries to stand upright
he can only rest upon the outside edges of these hand-like feet, while
his knees have to be bent awkwardly outward. So he looks at least three
inches shorter than he really is, and he can only hobble along in a very
clumsy and ungraceful manner.

But then, on the other hand, he is far better able to climb about in the
trees than we are, because while we are only able to place our feet flat
upon a branch, so as to stand upon it, he can grasp the branches with
all four hands, and obtain a very much firmer hold.

Chimpanzees are found in the great forests of Central and Western
Africa, where they feed upon the wild fruits which grow there so
abundantly. They spend almost the whole of their lives among the trees,
and have a curious way of making nests for their families to live in, by
twisting the smaller branches of the trees together, so as to form a
small platform. The mother and her little ones occupy this nest, while
the father generally sleeps on a bough just underneath it. Sometime
quite a number of these nests may be seen close together, the
chimpanzees having built a kind of village for themselves in the midst
of the forest.


A CLEVER SPECIMEN

If you visit the zoölogical gardens in New York, London, or some other
city, you may be quite sure of seeing one or more chimpanzees. They are
nearly always brought to the zoos when they are quite young, and the
keepers teach them to perform all kinds of clever tricks. One of them in
the London Zoo, who was called "Sally," and who lived there for several
years, actually learned to count! If she was asked for two, three, four,
or five straws, she would pick up just the right number from the bottom
of her cage and hand them to the keeper, without ever making a mistake.
Generally, too, she would pick up six or seven straws if the keeper
asked for them. But if eight, nine, or ten were asked for she often
became confused, and could not be quite sure how many to give. She was a
very cunning animal, however, and when she became tired of counting she
would sometimes pick up two straws only and double them over, so as to
make them look like four!

"Sally" could talk, too, after a fashion, and used to make three
different sounds. One of these evidently meant "Yes," another signified
"No," and the third seemed to be intended for "Thank you," as she always
used it when the keeper gave her a nut or a banana.

Two kinds of chimpanzees are known, namely the common chimpanzee, which
is by far the more plentiful of the two, and the bald chimpanzee,
which has scarcely any hair on the upper part of its head. One very
intelligent bald chimpanzee was kept in Barnum's menagerie, and was even
more clever, in some ways, than "Sally" herself.


THE GORILLA

Larger even than the chimpanzee is the gorilla, the biggest and
strongest of all the apes, which sometimes grows to a height of nearly
six feet. It is only found in Western Africa, close to the equator, and
has hardly ever been seen by white travelers, since it lives in the
densest and darkest parts of the great forests. But several
gorillas--nearly all quite small ones--have been caught alive and kept
in captivity in zoos, where, however, they soon died.

One of these, named "Gena," lived for about three weeks in the Crystal
Palace, near London. She was a most timid little creature, and if
anybody went to look at her she would hide behind a chimpanzee, which
inhabited the same cage, and watched over her in the most motherly way.
Another, who was called "Pongo," lived for rather more than two months
in the London Zoo, and seemed more nervous still, for he used to become
terrified if even his keeper went into the cage. But when the animal has
grown up it is said to be a most savage and formidable foe, and the
natives of Central Africa are even more afraid of it than they are of
the lion.

Like most of the great apes, the gorilla has a most curious way of
sheltering itself during a heavy shower of rain. If you were to look at
its arms, you would notice that the hair upon them is very thick and
long, and that while it grows _downward_ from the shoulder to the
elbow, from the elbow to the wrist it grows _upward_. So when it is
caught in heavy rain, the animal covers its head and shoulders with its
arms. Then the long hair upon them acts just like thatch and carries off
the water, so that the gorilla hardly gets wet at all.

When the gorilla is upon the ground it generally walks upon all fours,
bending the fingers of the hands inward, so that it rests upon the
knuckles. But it is much more active in the trees, and is said to
be able to leap to the ground from a branch twenty or thirty feet high,
without being hurt in the least by the fall.


THE ORANG-UTAN

Another very famous ape is the orang-utan, which is found in Borneo and
Sumatra. It is reddish brown in color, and is clothed with much longer
hair than either the gorilla or the chimpanzee, while its face is
surprisingly large and broad, with a very high forehead. But the most
curious feature of this animal is the great length of its arms. When a
man stands upright, and allows his arms to hang down by his sides, the
tips of his fingers reach about half-way between his hips and his knees.
When a chimpanzee stands as upright as possible, the tips of its fingers
almost touch its knees. But when an orang-utan does the same its fingers
nearly touch the ground. Of course, when the animal is walking, it finds
that these long arms are very much in its way. So it generally uses them
as crutches, resting the knuckles upon the ground, and swinging its body
between them.

But the orang seldom comes down to the ground, for it is far more at its
ease among the branches of the trees. And although it never seems to be
in a hurry, it will swing itself along from bough to bough, and from
tree to tree, quite as fast as a man can run below. Like the gorilla and
the chimpanzee, it makes rough nests of twisted boughs, in which the
female animal and the little ones sleep. And if it is mortally wounded,
it nearly always makes a platform of branches in the same way, and sits
upon it waiting for death.

Orangs are often to be seen in zoölogical gardens, although they are so
delicate that they do not thrive well in captivity. One of these
animals, which lived in the London Zoo for some time, had learned a very
clever trick. Leaning up against his cage was a placard, on which were
the words "The animals in this cage must not be fed." The orang very
soon found out that when this notice was up nobody gave him any nuts or
biscuits. So he would wait until the keeper's back was turned,
knock the placard down with the printed words underneath, and then hold
out his paw for food!

As a general rule, orangs seem far too lazy to be at all savage. Those
in zoos nearly always lie about on the floor of their cage all day,
wrapped in their blankets, with a kind of good-humored grin upon their
great broad faces. But when they are roused into passion they seem to be
very formidable creatures, and Alfred Russel Wallace tells us of an
orang that turned upon a Dyak who was trying to spear it, tore his arm
so terribly with his teeth that he never recovered the proper use of the
limb, and would almost certainly have killed him if some of his
companions had not come to his rescue.


GIBBONS

Next we come to the gibbons, which are very wonderful animals, for they
are such astonishing gymnasts. Most monkeys are very active in the
trees, but the gibbons almost seem to be flying from bough to bough,
dashing about with such marvelous speed that the eye can scarcely follow
their movements. Travelers, on seeing them for the first time, have
often mistaken them for big blackbirds. They hardly seem to swing
themselves from one branch to another. They just dart and dash about,
upward, downward, sideways, backward, often taking leaps of twenty or
thirty feet through the air. And yet, so far as one can see, they only
just touch the boughs as they pass with the tips of their fingers.

If you should happen to see a gibbon in the next zoo that you visit, be
sure to ask the keeper to offer the animal a grape, or a piece of
banana, and you will be more than surprised at its marvelous activity.

The arms of the gibbons are very long--although not quite so long as
those of the orang-utan--so that when these animals stand as upright as
they can the tips of their fingers nearly touch the ground. But they do
not use these limbs as crutches, as the orang does. Instead of that,
they either clasp their hands behind the neck while they are walking, or
else stretch out the arms on either side with the elbows bent downward,
to help them in keeping their balance. So that when a gibbon leaves the
trees and takes a short stroll upon the ground below, it looks rather
like a big letter W suspended on a forked pole!

[Illustration: TYPES OF APES AND MONKEYS

  1. Diana Monkey.       2. Orang-utan.         3. Hanuman Monkey.
  4. Mandrill Baboon.    5. Capuchin Monkey.    6. Spider Monkey.]

Gibbons generally live together in large companies, which often consist
of from fifty to a hundred animals, and they have a very odd habit of
sitting in the topmost branches of tall trees at sunrise, and again at
sunset, and joining in a kind of concert. The leader always seems to be
the animal with the strongest voice, and after he has uttered a peculiar
barking cry perhaps half a dozen times, the others all begin to bark in
chorus. Often for two hours the outcry is kept up, so loud that it may
be heard on a still day two or three miles. Then by degrees it dies
away, and the animals are almost silent until the time for their next
performance comes round.

Several different kinds of gibbons are known, the largest of which is
the siamang. This animal is found only in Sumatra. It is a little over
three feet high when fully grown. If you ever see it at a zoo you may
know it at once by its glassy black color, and its odd whitish beard.
Then there is the hoolock, which is common in many parts of India, and
has a white band across its eyebrows, while the lar gibbon, of the Malay
Peninsula, has a broad ring of white all round its face. Besides these
there are one or two others, but they are all so much alike in their
habits that there is no need to mention them separately.



CHAPTER II

BABOONS


How can we tell a baboon from an ape?

That is quite easy. Just glance at his face. You will notice at once
that he has a long, broad muzzle, like that of a dog, with the nostrils
at the very tip. For this reason the baboons are sometimes known as
dog-faced monkeys. Then look at his limbs. You will see directly that
his arms are no longer than his legs. That is because he does not live
in the trees, as the apes do. He lives in rough, rocky places on the
sides of mountains, where there are no trees at all, so that arms like
those of the gibbons or the orang-utan would be of no use to him. He
does not want to climb. He wants to be able to scamper over the rocks,
and to run swiftly up steep cliffs where there is only just room enough
to gain a footing. So his limbs are made in such a way that he can go on
all fours like a dog, and gallop along so fast among the stones and
boulders that it is hard to overtake him.


THE CHACMA

Perhaps the best known of the baboons is the chacma, which is found in
South Africa. The animal is so big and strong, and so very savage, that
if he is put into a large cage in company with other monkeys, he always
has to be secured in a corner by a stout chain. A chacma that lived for
some years in the Crystal Palace was fastened up in this way, and the
smaller monkeys, who knew exactly how far his chain would allow him to
go, would sit about two inches out of his reach and eat their nuts in
front of him. This used to make the chacma furious, and after chattering
and scolding away for some time, as if telling his tormentors what
dreadful things he would do to them if ever he got the chance, he
would snatch up an armful of straw from the bottom of his cage and fling
it at them with both hands.

"If I fed the smaller monkeys with nuts, instead of giving them to him,"
says a visitor, "he would fling the straw at me."

Chacmas live in large bands among the South African mountains, and are
very difficult to watch, as they always post two or three of their
number as sentinels. As soon as any sign of danger appears one of the
watchers gives a short, sharp bark. All the rest of the band understand
the signal, and scamper away as fast as they can.

Sometimes, however, the animals will hold their ground. A hunter was
once riding over a mountain ridge when he came upon a band of chacmas
sitting upon a rock. Thinking that they would at once run away, he rode
at them, but they did not move, and when he came a little closer they
looked so threatening that he thought it wiser to turn back again.

An angry chacma is a very formidable foe, for it is nearly as big as a
mastiff, and ever so much stronger, while its great tusk-like teeth cut
like razors. When one of these animals is hunted with dogs it will often
gallop along until one of its pursuers has outstripped the rest, and
will then suddenly turn and spring upon him, plunge its teeth into his
neck, and, while its jaws are still clenched, thrust the body of its
victim away. The result is that the throat of the poor dog is torn
completely open, and a moment later its body is lying bleeding on the
ground, while the chacma is galloping on as before.

These baboons are very mischievous creatures, for they come down from
their mountain retreats by night in order to plunder the orchards. And
so cautiously is the theft carried out, that even the dogs on guard know
nothing of what is going on, and the animals nearly always succeed in
getting away.

When it cannot obtain fruit, the chacma feeds chiefly upon the bulb of a
kind of iris, which it digs out of the ground with its paw, and then
carefully peels. But it is also fond of insects, and may often be seen
turning over stones, and catching the beetles which were lying hidden
beneath them. It will even eat scorpions, but is careful to pull off
their stings before doing so.


THE MANDRILL

Another interesting baboon is the mandrill, which one does not often see
in captivity. It comes from Western Africa. While it is young there is
little that is remarkable about it. But the full-grown male is a
strange-looking animal, for on each of its cheeks there is a swelling as
big as a large sausage, which runs upward from just above the nostrils
to just below the eyes. These swellings are light blue, and have a
number of grooves running down them, which are colored a rich purple,
while the line between them, as well as the tip of the nose, is bright
scarlet. The face is very large in proportion to the size of the body,
and the forehead is topped by a pointed crest of upright black hair,
while under the chin is a beard of orange yellow. On the hind quarters
are two large bare patches of the same brilliant scarlet as the nose. So
you see that altogether a grown-up male mandrill is a very odd-looking
creature.

The female mandrill has much smaller swellings on her face. They are
dull blue in color, without any lines of either purple or scarlet.

Almost all monkeys are subject at times to terrible fits of passion, but
the mandrill seems to be the worst tempered of all. Fancy an animal
dying simply from rage! It sounds impossible, yet the mandrill has been
known to do so. And the natives of the countries in which it lives are
quite as much afraid of it as they are of a lion.

Yet it has once or twice been tamed. In the Natural History Museum, at
South Kensington, London, is the skin of a mandrill which lived for some
years in that city in the earlier part of the nineteenth century. His
name was "Jerry," and he was so quiet and contented that he was
generally known as "Happy Jerry." He learned to smoke a pipe. He was
very fond of a glass of beer. He even used to sit at table for his
meals, and to eat from a plate by means of a knife and fork. And he
became so famous that he was actually taken down to Windsor to appear
before King George the Fourth!

There is another baboon called the drill, which is not unlike the
mandrill in many respects, but the swellings on its face are not nearly
as large, and they remain black all through its life. It is a much
smaller animal, too, and looks, on the whole, very much like a mandrill
while it is quite young.


THE GELADA

Almost as odd-looking as the mandrill, though in quite a different way,
is the gelada, which is found in Abyssinia. Perhaps we may compare it to
a black poodle with a very long and thick mane upon its neck and
shoulders. When the animal sits upright this mane entirely covers the
upper part of its shoulders, so that a gelada looks very much as if it
were wearing a coachman's mantle of long fur.

In some parts of Abyssinia geladas are very numerous, living among the
mountains in bands of two or three hundred. Like the chacmas in South
Africa, they are very mischievous in the orchards and plantations,
always making their raids by night. It is said that on one occasion they
actually stopped no less a personage than a Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha,
and prevented him from proceeding on his journey for several hours.

The story is, that as the Duke was traveling in Abyssinia his road lay
through a narrow pass, overhung with rocky cliffs; that one of his
attendants, catching sight of a number of geladas upon the rocks above,
fired at them; that the angry baboons at once began to roll down great
stones upon the path below, and that before they could be driven off
they succeeded in completely blocking the road, so that the Duke's
carriage could not be moved until the stones had been cleared away.

Whether this story is altogether true or not, we cannot say. But there
can be no doubt that geladas are very warlike animals. Not only will
they attack human beings who interfere with them, they also attack other
baboons. When they are raiding an orchard, for instance, they sometimes
meet with a band of Arabian baboons, which have come there for the same
purpose as themselves. A fierce battle then takes place. First of all
the geladas try to roll down stones upon their rivals. Then they rush
down and attack them with the utmost fury, and very soon the
orchard is filled with maddened baboons, tumbling and rolling over one
another, biting and tearing and scratching each other, and shrieking
with furious rage.

The Arabian baboon itself is a very interesting creature, for it is one
of the animals which were venerated by the ancient Egyptians. They
considered it as sacred to their god Thoth, and treated it with the
greatest possible honor; and when it died they made its body into a
mummy, and buried it in the tombs of the kings. Sometimes, too, they
made use of the animal while it lived, for they would train it to climb
a fig-tree, pluck the ripe figs, and hand them down to the slaves
waiting below.

These baboons sometimes travel in great companies. The old males always
go first, and are closely followed by the females, those which have
little ones carrying them upon their backs. As they march along, perhaps
one of the younger animals finds a bush with fruit upon it, and stops to
eat a little. As soon as they see what he is doing, a number of others
rush to the spot, and begin fighting for a share. But generally one of
the old males hears the noise, boxes all their ears and drives them
away, and then sits down and eats the fruit himself.


THE PROBOSCIS-MONKEY

Next we come to a group of animals called dog-shaped monkeys, and the
most curious of them all is the proboscis-monkey. This is the only
monkey which really possesses a nose. Some monkeys have nostrils only,
and some have muzzles, but the proboscis-monkey has not merely a nose,
but a very long nose, so long, in fact, that when one of these monkeys
is leaping about in the trees it is said always to keep its nose
carefully covered with one hand, so that it may not be injured by a
knock against a bough.

Strange to say, it is only the male animal that has this very long nose,
and even he does not get it until he is grown up. Indeed, you can tell
pretty well how old a male proboscis-monkey is just by glancing at his
nose. When he is young it is quite small. As he gets older it grows
bigger. And by the time that he reaches his full size it is three
or four inches long. Naturally this long nose gives him a very strange
appearance, and his great bushy whiskers, which meet under his chin,
make him look more curious still.

We do not know much about the habits of the proboscis-monkey. In Borneo,
its native country, it lives in the thick forests, and is said to be
almost as active among the branches of the trees as the gibbons
themselves. The Dyaks do not believe that it is a monkey at all, but say
that it is really a very hairy man, who insists on living in the forests
in order to escape paying taxes.


THE HANUMAN

The hanuman, another of the dog-shaped monkeys, lives in India, where it
is treated with almost as much reverence as the Arabian baboon was in
Egypt in days of old.

The natives do not exactly worship these monkeys, but they think that
they are sacred to the god Hanuman, from whom they take their name.
Besides that, they believe that these animals are not really monkeys at
all, but that their bodies are inhabited by the souls of great and holy
men, who lived and died long ago, but have now come back to earth again
in a different form. So no Hindu will ever kill a hanuman monkey or
injure it in any way, no matter how much mischief it may do. The
consequence is that these animals are terrible thieves. They know
perfectly well that no one will try to kill them, or even to trap them,
so they come into the villages, visit the bazaars, and help themselves
to anything to which they may take a fancy. Yet all that the
fruit-sellers will do is to place thorn-bushes on the roofs of their
shops to prevent the monkeys from sitting there.

European sportsmen, however, often find the hanuman very useful. For its
greatest enemy is the tiger, and when one of these animals is being
hunted a number of hanumans will follow it wherever it goes, and point
it out to the beaters by their excited chattering.

Next to the tiger, the hanuman dislikes snakes more than any living
creature, and when it finds one of these reptiles asleep it will
creep cautiously up to it, seize it by the neck, and then rub its head
backward and forward upon a branch till its jaws have been completely
ground away.

The hanuman belongs to a group of monkeys which are called langurs. They
may be known by their long and almost lanky bodies, by the great length
of their tails, and by the fact that they do not possess the
cheek-pouches which many other monkeys find so useful. And it is very
curious that while the arms of the apes are longer than their legs, the
legs of the langurs--which are almost as active in the trees--are longer
than their arms.

If you ever happen to see a hanuman you may know it at once by its black
face and feet, and by its odd eyebrows, which are very bushy, and
project quite away in front of its face.


THE GUENONS

We now come to the guenons, of which there are a great many kinds. Let
us take two of these as examples of the rest. The first is the green
monkey, which comes from the great forests of Western Africa. You may
know it by sight, because it is the commonest monkey in every menagerie.
It is one of the monkeys, too, which organ-grinders so often carry about
on their organs. But they do not care to have it except when it is quite
young, for although it is very gentle and playful until it reaches its
full size, it afterward becomes fierce and sullen, and is apt at any
moment to break out into furious passion.

Like most of the guenons, green monkeys go about in droves, each under
the leadership of an old male, who wins and keeps his position by
fighting all his rivals. Strange to say, each of these droves seems to
have its own district allotted to it; and if by any chance it should
cross its boundary, the band into whose territory it has trespassed will
at once come and fight it, and do their utmost to drive it back.

Wouldn't it be interesting to know how the animals mark out their own
domains, and how they let one another know just how far they will be
permitted to go?

Our second example of the guenons is the diana monkey, which you
may at once recognize by its long, pointed, snow-white beard. It seems
to be very proud of this beard, and while drinking holds it carefully
back with one hand, in order to prevent it from getting wet.

Why is it called the "diana" monkey? Because of the curious white mark
upon its forehead, which is shaped like the crescent which the ancients
used to think was borne by the goddess Diana. It is a very handsome
animal, for its back is rich chestnut brown in color, and the lower part
of its body is orange yellow, while between the two is a band of pure
white. Its face and tail and hands and feet are black. It is a very
gentle animal, and is easily tamed.


THE MANGABEYS

These are very odd-looking monkeys, for they all have white eyelids,
which are very conspicuous in their sooty-black faces. Indeed, they
always give one a kind of idea that they must spend their whole lives in
sweeping chimneys.

They are among the most interesting of all monkeys to watch, for they
are not only so active and full of life that they scarcely seem able to
keep still, but they are always twisting their bodies about into all
sorts of strange attitudes. When in captivity they soon find out that
visitors are amused by their antics, and are always ready to go through
their performances in order to obtain a nut or a piece of cake.

Then they have an odd way, when they are walking about their cages, of
lifting their upper lips and showing their teeth, so that they look just
as if they were grinning at you. And instead of carrying their tails
behind them, as monkeys generally do, or holding them straight up in the
air, they throw them forward over the back, so that the tip comes just
above the head.

Only four kinds of mangabey are known, and they are all found in Western
Africa.


MACAQUES

There is one more family of monkeys found in the Old World which we must
mention, and that consists of the animals known as macaques. They
are natives of Asia, with one exception, and that is the famous magot,
the only monkey which lives wild in any part of Europe. It inhabits the
Rock of Gibraltar, and though it is not nearly as common as it used to
be, there is still a small band of these animals with which nobody is
allowed to interfere. They move about the Rock a good deal. When the
weather is warm and sunny, they prefer the side that faces the
Mediterranean, but as soon as a cold easterly wind springs up they all
travel round to the western side, which is much more sheltered. They
always keep to the steepest parts of the cliff, and it is not easy to
get near enough to watch them. Generally the only way to see them at all
is by means of a telescope.

The magot is sometimes known as the Barbary ape, although of course it
is not really an ape at all. But it is very common in Barbary, and two
or three times, when the little band of monkeys on the Rock seemed in
danger of dying out, a few specimens have been brought over from Africa
just to make up the number.

The only other member of this family that we can mention is the
crab-eating macaque, which is found in Siam and Burma. It owes its name
to its fondness for crabs, spending most of its time on the banks of
salt-water creeks in order to search for them. But perhaps the strangest
thing about it is that it is a splendid swimmer, and an equally good
diver, for it has been known to jump overboard and to swim more than
fifty yards under water, in its attempts to avoid recapture.



CHAPTER III

THE AMERICAN MONKEYS AND THE LEMURS


A great many very curious monkeys live in America; and in several ways
they are very different from those of Africa and Asia.

Most of the Old World monkeys, for example, possess large cheek-pouches,
in which, after eating a meal, they can carry away nearly enough food
for another. No doubt you have often seen a monkey with its cheeks
perfectly stuffed out with nuts. But in the American monkeys these
pouches are never found.

Then no American monkey has those bare patches on its hind quarters,
which are present in all the monkeys of the Old World, with the
exception of the great apes, and which are often so brightly colored.
And, more curious still, no American monkey has a proper thumb. The
fingers are generally very long and strong; but the thumb is either
wanting altogether, or else it is so small that it cannot be of the
slightest use.

[Illustration: PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS OF MONKEYS.

  1. Young Orang-utan "Dohong."       2. Barbary Ape.
  3. Japanese Red-faced Monkey.       4. White-faced Sapajou.
  5. Siamang Gibbon.                  6. Chimpanzee "Polly."

_All lived in the New York Zoölogical Park._]


SPIDER-MONKEYS

Perhaps the most curious of all the American monkeys are the
spider-monkeys, which look very much like big black spiders when one
sees them gamboling among the branches of the trees. The reason is that
their bodies are very slightly built, and their arms and legs are very
long and slender, while the tail is often longer than the head and body
together, and looks just like an extra limb. And indeed it is used as an
extra limb, for it is prehensile; that is, it can be coiled round any
small object so tightly as to obtain a very firm hold. A spider-monkey
never likes to take a single step without first twisting the tip of its
tail round a branch, so that this member really serves as a sort of
fifth hand. Sometimes, too, the animal will feed itself with its tail
instead of with its paws. And it can even hang from a bough for
some little time by means of its tail alone, in order to pluck fruit
which would otherwise be out of its reach.

Owing partly, no doubt, to constant use, the last few inches of this
wonderful tail are quite bare underneath--without any hair at all. It is
worth while to remember, just here, that while in many American monkeys
the tail has this prehensile grasp, no monkey of the Old World is
provided with this convenience.

When a spider-monkey finds itself upon level ground, where its tail, of
course, is of no use to it, it always seems very uncomfortable. But it
manages to keep its balance as it walks along by holding the tail over
its back, and just turning it first to one side and then to the other,
as the need of the moment may require. It uses it, in fact, very much as
an acrobat uses his pole when walking upon the tight rope.

It is rather curious to find that while other monkeys are very fond of
nibbling the tips of their own tails, often making them quite raw,
spider-monkeys never do so. They evidently know too well how useful
those members are to injure them by giving way to such a silly
habit--which is even worse than biting one's nails.

When a spider-monkey is shot as it sits in a tree, it always coils its
tail round a branch at once. And even after it dies, the body will often
hang for several days suspended by the tail alone.

These monkeys spend almost the whole of their lives in the trees,
feeding upon fruit and leaves, and only coming down to the ground when
they want to drink. As a general rule they are dreadfully lazy
creatures, and will sit on a bough for hours together without moving a
limb. But when they are playful, or excited, they swing themselves to
and fro and dart from branch to branch, almost as actively as the
gibbons.


HOWLERS

Very much like the spider-monkeys are the howlers, which are very common
in the great forests of Central America. They owe their name to
the horrible cries which they utter as they move about in the trees by
night. You remember how the gibbons hold a kind of concert in the
tree-tops every morning and every evening, as though to salute the
rising and the setting sun. Well, the howlers behave in just the same
way, except that their concert begins soon after dark and goes on all
through the night. They have very powerful voices, and travelers who are
not used to their noise say that it is quite impossible to sleep in the
forest if there is a troop of howlers anywhere within two miles. And it
is hard to believe that the outcry comes from the throats of monkeys at
all. "You would suppose," says a famous traveler, "that half the wild
beasts of the forest were collecting for the work of carnage. Now it is
the tremendous roar of the jaguar, as he springs upon his prey; now it
changes to his terrible and deep-toned growlings, as he is pressed on
all sides by superior force; and now you hear his last dying groan
beneath a mortal wound. One of them alone is capable of producing all
these sounds; and if you advance cautiously, and get under the high and
tufted trees where he is sitting, you may have a capital opportunity of
witnessing his wonderful powders of producing these dreadful and
discordant sounds."

If one monkey alone is capable of roaring as loudly as a jaguar, think
what the noise must be when fifty or sixty howlers are all howling at
the same time. No wonder travelers find it difficult to sleep in the
forest.

Perhaps the best known of these monkeys is the red howler. Its color is
reddish brown, with a broad band of golden yellow running along the
spine, while its face is surrounded by bushy whiskers and beard.


THE OUAKARI

Another very curious American monkey is the red-faced ouakari. If you
were to see it from a little distance you would most likely think that
it was suffering from a bad attack of scarlet fever; for the face and
upper part of the neck are bright red in color, as though they had been
smeared with vermilion paint. And as its whiskers and beard are
sandy yellow, it is a very odd-looking animal.

If a ouakari is unwell, strange to say, the bright color of its face
begins to fade at once, and very soon after death it disappears
altogether.

Ouakaris are generally caught in a very singular way. They are only
found in a very small district on the southern bank of the Amazon River,
and spend their whole lives in the topmost branches of the tallest
trees, where it is quite impossible to follow them. And if they were
shot with a gun, of course they would almost certainly be killed. So
they are shot with a blowpipe instead. A slender arrow is dipped into a
kind of poison called wourali, which has been diluted to about half its
usual strength, and is then discharged at the animal from below. Only a
very slight wound is caused, but the poison is still so strong that the
ouakari soon faints, and falls from its perch in the branches. But the
hunter, who is carefully watching, catches it in his arms as it falls,
and puts a little salt into its mouth. This overcomes the effect of the
poison, and very soon the little animal is as well as ever.

Ouakaris which are caught in this way, however, are generally very
bad-tempered, and the gentle and playful little animals sometimes seen
in zoos have been taken when very young. They are very delicate
creatures and nearly always die after a few weeks of confinement.


THE COUXIA

If you were to see a couxia, or black saki, as it is often called, the
first thing that you would say would most likely be, "What an
extraordinary beard!" And your next remark would be, "Why, it looks as
if it were wearing a wig!" For its projecting black beard is as big as
that of the most heavily bearded man you ever saw, while on its head is
a great mass of long black hair, neatly parted in the middle, and
hanging down on either side, so that it looks just like a wig which has
been rather clumsily made.

The couxia is extremely proud of its beard, and takes very great
pains to prevent it from getting either dirty or wet. Do you remember
how the diana monkey holds its beard with one hand while drinking, so as
to keep it from touching the water? Well, the couxia is more careful
still, for it will not put its lips to the water at all, but carries it
to its mouth, a very little at a time, in the palm of its hand. But the
odd thing is that it seems rather ashamed of thinking so much about its
"personal appearance," and, if it knows that anybody is looking at it,
will drink just like any other monkey, and pretend not to care at all
about wetting its beard.

Like most of the sakis, the couxia is not at all a good-tempered animal,
and is apt to give way to sudden fits of fury. So savagely will it bite
when enraged, that it has been known to drive its teeth deeply into a
thick board.


THE DOUROUCOULIS

Sometimes these odd little animals are called night-monkeys, because all
day long they are fast asleep in a hollow tree, and soon after sunset
they wake up, and all night long are prowling about the branches of the
trees, searching for roosting birds, and for the other small creatures
upon which they feed. They are very active, and will often strike at a
moth or a beetle as it flies by, and catch it in their deft little paws.
And their eyes are very much like those of cats, so that they can see as
well on a dark night as other monkeys can during the day.

The eyes, too, are very large. If you were to look at the skull of a
douroucouli, you would notice that the eye-sockets almost meet in the
middle, only a very narrow strip of bone dividing them. And the hair
that surrounds them is set in a circle, just like the feathers that
surround the eyes of an owl.

But perhaps the most curious fact about these animals is that sometimes
they roar like jaguars, and sometimes they bark like dogs, and sometimes
they mew like cats.

There are several different kinds of these little monkeys, the most
numerous, perhaps, being the three-banded douroucouli, which has three
upright black stripes on its forehead. They are all natives of Brazil
and other parts of tropical America.


MARMOSETS

One of the prettiest--perhaps the very prettiest--of all monkeys is the
marmoset, which is found in the same part of the world. It is quite a
small animal, being no bigger in body than a common squirrel, with a
tail about a foot long. This tail, which is very thick and bushy, is
white in color, encircled with a number of black rings, while the body
is blackish with gray markings, and the face is black with a white nose.
But what one notices more than anything else is the long tufts of
snow-white hair upon the ears, which make the little animal look
something like a white-haired negro.

Marmosets are very easily tamed, and they are so gentle in their ways,
and so engaging in their habits, that if only they were a little more
hardy we should most likely see them in this country as often as we see
pet cats. But they are delicate little creatures, and cannot bear cold.
What they like to eat most of all is the so-called black beetle of our
kitchens. If only we could keep pet marmosets, they would very soon
clear our houses of cockroaches, as these troublesome creatures are
correctly called. They will spend hours in hunting for the insects, and
whenever they catch one they pull off its legs and wings, and then
proceed to devour its body.

When a marmoset is suddenly alarmed, it utters an odd little whistling
cry. Owing to this habit it is sometimes known as the ouistiti, or
tee-tee.


LEMURS

Relatives of the monkeys, and yet in many respects very different from
them, are those very strange animals, the lemurs, which are sometimes
called half-apes. The reason why that name has been given to them is
this: Lemurs by the ancients were supposed to be ghosts which wandered
about by night. Now most of the lemurs are never seen abroad by day.
Their eyes cannot bear the bright sunlight; so all day long they sleep
in hollow trees. But when it is quite dark they come out,
prowling about the branches so silently and so stealthily that they
really seem more like specters than living animals.

When you see them close, they do not look very much like monkeys. Their
faces are much more like those of foxes, and they have enormous staring
eyes without any expression.

The true lemurs are only found in Madagascar, where they are so numerous
that two or three at least may be found in every little copse throughout
the island. More than thirty different kinds are known, of which,
however, we cannot mention more than two.

The first of these is the ring-tailed lemur, which may be recognized at
once by the fact that its tail is marked just like that of the marmoset.
The head and body are shaped like those of a very small fox, and the
color of the fur is ashy gray, rather darker on the back, and rather
lighter underneath. It lives in troops in Central Madagascar, and every
morning and every night each troop joins in a little concert, just like
the gibbons and the howlers.

But, oddly enough, this lemur is seldom seen in the trees. It lives on
the ground, in rough and rocky places, and its hands and feet are made
in such a way, as to enable it to cling firmly to the wet and slippery
boulders. In fact, they are not at all unlike the feet of a house-fly.
The body is clothed with long fur, and when a mother lemur carries her
little one about on her back it burrows down so deep into her thick coat
that one can scarcely see it at all.

The ruffed lemur is the largest of these curious animals, being about as
big as a good-sized cat. The oddest thing about it is that it varies so
very much in color. Sometimes it is white all over, sometimes it is
partly white and partly black, and sometimes it is reddish brown.
Generally, however, the shoulders and front legs, the middle of the
back, and the tail are black, or very dark brown, while the rest of the
body is white. And there is a great thick ruff of white hairs all round
the face.

The eyes of this lemur are very singular. You know, of course, how the
pupil of a cat's eye becomes narrower and narrower in a strong
light, until at last it looks merely like an upright slit in the
eyeball. Well, that of the lemur is made in very much the same way,
except that the pupil closes up from above and below instead of from the
sides, so that the slit runs across the eyeball, and not up and down.

The slender loris may be described as a lemur without a tail, It is
found in the forests of Southern India and Ceylon. It is quite small,
the head and body being only about eight inches long, and in general
appearance it gives one rather the idea of a bat without any wings. In
color it is dark gray, with a narrow white stripe between the eyes.

This animal has a very queer way of going to sleep. It sits on a bough
and rolls itself up into a ball with its head tucked away between its
thighs, while its hands are tightly folded round a branch springing up
from the one on which it is seated. In this attitude it spends the whole
of the day. At night it hunts for sleeping birds, moving so slowly and
silently among the branches as never to give the alarm, and always
plucking off their feathers before it proceeds to eat them. Strange to
say, while many monkeys have no thumbs, the slender loris has no
forefingers, while the great toes on its feet are very long, and are
directed backward instead of forward.


LEMUROIDS

There are two lemur-like animals which are so extraordinary that each of
them has been put into a family all by itself.

The first of these is the tarsier, which is found in several of the
larger islands in the Malay Archipelago. Imagine an animal about as big
as a small rat, with a long tail covered thickly with hair at the root
and the tip, the middle part being smooth and bare. The eyes are
perfectly round, and are so big that they seem to occupy almost the
whole of the face--great staring eyes with very small pupils. The ears
are very long and pointed, and stand almost straight up from the head.
Then the hind legs are so long that they remind one of those of a
kangaroo, while all the fingers and all the toes have large round pads
under the tips, which seem to be used as suckers, and to have a
wonderful power of grasp. Altogether, the tarsier scarcely looks like an
animal at all. It looks like a goblin.

This singular creature seldom seems to walk. It hops along the branches
instead, just as a kangaroo hops on the ground. And when it wants to
feed it sits upright on its hind quarters, and uses its fore paws just
as a squirrel does.

Even more curious still is the aye-aye, of Madagascar, which has puzzled
naturalists very much. For its incisor teeth--the sharp cutting teeth,
that is, in the middle of each jaw--are formed just like those of the
rat and the rabbit. They are made not for cutting but for gnawing; and
as fast as they are worn away from above they grow from beneath. All of
its fingers are long and slender; but the middle one is longer than all
the rest, and is so thin that it looks like nothing but skin and bone.
Most likely this finger, which has a sharp little claw at the tip, is
used in hooking out insects from their burrows in the bark of trees. But
the aye-aye does not feed only upon insects, for it often does some
damage in the sugar plantations, ripping up the canes with its sharp
front teeth in order to get at the sweet juices. It is said at times to
catch small birds, either for the purpose of eating them or else to
drink their blood. And it seems also to eat fruit, while in captivity it
thrives on boiled rice.

The aye-aye is about as big as a rather small cat, and its great bushy
tail is longer than its head and body put together. It is not a common
animal, even in Madagascar, and its name of aye-aye is said to have been
given to it on account of the exclamations of surprise uttered by the
natives when it was shown to them for the first time by a European
traveler. But it is more likely that the name comes from the cry of the
animal, which is a sort of sharp little bark twice repeated.

Strange to say, the natives of Madagascar are much afraid of the
aye-aye. Of course it cannot do much mischief with its teeth or claws;
but they seem to think that it possesses some magic power by means of
which it can injure those who try to catch it, or even cause them to
die. So that they cannot be bribed to capture it even by the offer of a
large reward. Sometimes, however, they catch it by mistake, finding an
aye-aye in a trap which has been set for lemurs. In that case
they smear it all over with fat, which they think will please it very
much, and then allow it to go free.

The aye-aye is seldom seen in captivity, and when in that state it
sleeps all day long.



CHAPTER IV

THE BATS


Next in order to the monkeys come the bats, the only mammals which are
able to fly. It is quite true that there are animals known as flying
squirrels, which are sometimes thought to have the power of flight. But
all that these can do, as we shall see by and by, is to take very long
leaps through the air, aided by the curious manner in which the loose
skin of the body is fastened to the inner surface of the legs.


HOW BATS FLY

Bats, however, really can fly, and the way in which their wings are made
is very curious. If you were to look at a bat's skeleton, you would
notice, first of all, that the front limbs were very much larger than
the hinder ones. The upper arm-bone is very long indeed, the lower
arm-bone is longer still, and the bones of the fingers are longest of
all. The middle finger of a bat, indeed, is often longer than the whole
of its body! Now these bones form the framework of the wing. You know
how the silk or satin of a lady's fan is stretched upon the ribs. Well,
a very thin and delicate skin is stretched upon the bones of a bat's arm
and hand in just the same way. And when the little animal wants to fly,
it stretches its fingers apart, and so spreads the wing. When it wants
to rest it closes them, and so folds it against its body.

Then you would notice that a high bony ridge runs down the bat's
breast-bone. Now such a ridge as this always signifies great strength,
because muscles must be fastened at each end to bones; and when the
muscles are very large and powerful, the bones must be very strong in
order to carry them. So, when an animal needs very strong
breast-muscles, so that it may be able to fly well, we always find a
high bony ridge running down its breast-bone; and to this ridge
the great muscles which work the wings are fastened.

Something more is necessary, however, if the animal is to fly properly.
It must be able to steer itself in the air just as a boat has to be
steered in the water. Otherwise it would never be able to fly in the
right direction. So nature has given it a kind of air-rudder; for the
skin which is stretched upon the wings is carried on round the end of
the body, and is supported there, partly by the hind legs, and partly by
the bones of the tail. And by turning this curious rudder to one side or
the other, or tilting it just a little up or a little down, the bat is
able to alter its course at will.


THE USEFUL CLAW

But you would notice something else on looking at a bat's skeleton. You
would notice that the bones of the thumb are not long and slender, like
those of the fingers, but that they are quite short and stout, with a
sharp hooked claw at the tip. The bat uses this claw when it finds
itself on the ground. It cannot walk, of course, as it has no front
feet; so it hitches itself along by means of its thumbs, hooking first
one claw into the ground and then the other, and so managing to drag
itself slowly and awkwardly forward.

It is not at all fond of shuffling along in this way, however, and
always takes to flight as soon as it possibly can. But as it cannot well
rise from the ground it has to climb to a little height and let itself
drop, so that as it falls it may spread its wings and fly away. And it
always climbs in a very curious manner, with its tail upward and its
head toward the ground, using first the claws of one little foot and
then those of the other.

When a bat goes to sleep it always hangs itself up by the claws of its
hind feet. In an old church tower, or a stable loft, you may often find
bats suspended in this singular way. And there is a reason for it. The
bat wants to be able, at the first sign of danger, to fly away. Now if
it lay flat upon the ground to sleep, as most animals do, it would not
be able to fly quickly; for it would have to clamber up a wall or a post
to some little height before it could spread its wings. And this
would take time. But if it should be alarmed while it is hanging by its
hind feet, all that it has to do is to drop into the air and fly off at
once.


BATS IN THE DARK

There is something else, too, that we must tell you about bats. They
have the most wonderful power of flying about on the darkest night,
without ever knocking up against the branches of trees, or any other
obstacles which they may meet on their way. It used to be thought that
this was because they had very keen eyes. But it has been found out that
even a blind bat has this power, which seems really to be due to very
sensitive nerves in the wings. You can feel a branch by touching it. But
a bat is able to feel a branch _without_ touching it, while it is
eight or ten inches away, and so has time to swerve to one side without
striking against it.


THE WINTER SLEEP

Bats, like hedgehogs and squirrels, pass through the winter in a kind of
deep sleep, which we call hibernation. It is more than ordinary sleep,
for they do not require any food for months together, while they
scarcely breathe once in twenty-four hours, and their hearts almost
cease to beat. If the winter is cold throughout, they do not wake at all
until the spring. But two or three hours' warm sunshine arouses them
from their slumber. They wake up, feel hungry, go out to look for a
little food, and then return to their retreats and pass into the same
strange sleep again.


AN INTERESTING SPECIMEN

"I once kept a long-eared bat as a pet," says a writer, "and a most
interesting little creature he was. One of his wings had been injured by
the person who caught him, so that he could not fly, and was obliged to
live on the floor of his cage. Yet, although he could take no
exercise, he used to eat no less than seventy large bluebottle flies
every evening. As long as the daylight lasted, he would take no notice
of the flies at all. They might crawl about all over him, but still he
would never move. But soon after sunset, when the flies began to get
sleepy, the bat would wake up. Fixing his eyes on the nearest fly, he
would begin to creep toward it so slowly that it was almost impossible
to see that he was moving. By degrees he would get within a few inches.
Then, quite suddenly, he would leap upon it, and cover it with his
wings, pressing them down on either side of his body so as to form a
kind of tent. Next he would tuck down his head, catch the fly in his
mouth, and crunch it up. And finally he would creep on toward another
victim, always leaving the legs and the wings behind him, which in some
strange way he had managed to strip off, just as we strip the legs from
shrimps.

"I often watched him, too, when he was drinking. As he was so crippled,
I used to pour a few drops of water on the floor of his cage, and when
he felt thirsty he would scoop up a little in his lower jaw, and then
throw his head back in order to let it run down his throat. But in a
state of freedom bats drink by just dipping the lower jaw into the water
as they skim along close to the surface of a pond or a stream, and you
may often see them doing so on a warm summer's evening."


THE PIPISTRELLE

The pipistrelle, a common European bat, is said to feed chiefly upon
gnats, of which it must devour a very large number, and as it much
prefers to live near human habitations, there can be no doubt that it
helps to keep houses free from these disagreeable insects. In captivity
it will feed freely upon raw meat chopped very small. It appears earlier
in the spring than the other bats, and remains later in the autumn.


HORSESHOE BATS

These bats of the Old World have a most curious leaf-like membrane upon
the face, which gives them a very odd appearance. In the great
horseshoe bat this membrane is double, like one leaf placed above
another. The lower one springs from just below the nostrils, and spreads
outward and upward on either side, so that it is shaped very much like a
horseshoe, while the upper one is pointed and stands upright, so as
partly to cover the forehead. The ears, too, are very large, and are
ribbed crosswise from the base to the tips; so that altogether this bat
is a strange-looking creature.

Perhaps none of the bats is more seldom seen than this, for it cannot
bear the light at all, and never comes out from its retreat until
darkness has quite set in. And one very seldom finds it asleep during
the day, for it almost always hides in dark and gloomy caverns, which
are hardly ever entered by any human being. In France, however, there
are certain caves in which great numbers of these bats congregate
together for their long winter sleep. As many as a hundred and eighty of
them have been counted in a single colony. And it is a very strange fact
that all the male bats seem to assemble in one colony, and all the
female bats in another.


VAMPIRES

In Central and South America, and also in the West Indian Islands, a
number of bats are found which are known as vampires. Some of these eat
insects, just like the bats of other countries, and one of them--known
as the long-tongued vampire--has a most singular tongue, both very long
and very slender, with a brush-like tip, so that it can be used for
licking out insects from the flowers in which they are hiding. Then
there are other vampires which eat fruit, like the flying foxes, about
which we shall have something to tell you soon. But the best known of
these bats, and certainly the strangest, are those which feed upon the
blood of living animals.

If you were to tether a horse in those parts of the forest where these
vampires live, and to pay it a visit just as the evening twilight was
fading into darkness, you would be likely to see a shadowy form hovering
over its shoulders, or perhaps even clinging to its body. This would be
a vampire bat; and when you came to examine the horse, you would
find that, just where you had seen the bat, its skin would be stained
with blood. For this bat has the singular power of making a wound in the
skin of an animal, and sucking its blood, without either alarming it or
appearing to cause it any pain. And if a traveler in the forest happens
to lie asleep in his hammock with his feet uncovered, he is very likely
to find in the morning that his great toe has been bitten by one of
these bats, and that he has lost a considerable quantity of blood. Yet
the bat never wakes him as it scrapes away the skin with its sharp-edged
front teeth.

Strangely enough, however, there are many persons whom vampires will
never bite. They may sleep night after night in the open, and leave
their feet entirely uncovered, and yet the bats will always pass them
by. Charles Waterton, a famous English traveler, was most anxious to be
bitten by a vampire, so that he might learn by his own experience
whether the infliction of the wound caused any pain. But though he slept
for eleven months in an open loft, through which the bats were
constantly passing, they never attempted to touch him, while an Indian
lad who slept in the same loft was bitten again and again.

But as these bats cannot always obtain blood, it is most likely that
they do not really live upon it, but only drink it when they have the
chance, and that as a rule their food consists of insects.


FLYING FOXES

Of course these are not really foxes. They are just big bats which feed
on fruit, instead of on insects or on blood. They are called also
fruit-bats. But their long, narrow faces are so curiously fox-like that
we cannot feel surprised that the name of flying foxes should have been
given to them.

Flying foxes are found in many parts of Asia, as well as in Madagascar
and in Australia, and in some places they are very common. In India,
long strings of these bats may be seen regularly every evening, as they
fly off from their sleeping-places to the orchards in search of fruit.
In some parts of India, early in the morning, and again in the evening,
the sky is often black with them as far as the eye can reach, and they
continue to pass overhead in an unbroken stream for nearly
three-quarters of an hour. And as they roost in great numbers on the
branches of tall trees, every bat being suspended by its hinder feet,
with its wings wrapped round his body, they look from a little distance
just like bunches of fruit.

It is rather curious to find that when they are returning to the trees
in which they roost, early in the morning, these bats quarrel and fight
for the best places, just as birds do.

In districts where they are at all plentiful, flying foxes do a great
deal of mischief, for it is almost impossible to protect the orchards
from their attacks. Even if the trees are covered all over with netting
they will creep underneath it, and pick out all the best and ripest of
the fruit; while, as they only pay their visits of destruction under
cover of darkness, it is impossible to lie in wait for them and shoot
them as they come.

The flight of the fruit-bats is not at all like that of the bats with
which we are familiar, for as they do not feed upon insects there is no
need for them to be constantly changing their course, and darting first
to one side and then to the other in search of victims. So they fly
slowly and steadily on, following one another just as crows do, and
never turning from their course until they reach their feeding-ground.

The largest of these fruit-bats is the kalong, which is found in the
islands of the Malay Archipelago. It measures over five feet from tip to
tip of the extended wings. The Malays often use it for food, and its
flesh is said to be delicate and well flavored.



CHAPTER V

THE INSECT-EATERS


Next to the bats comes the important tribe of the insect-eaters,
containing a number of animals which are so called because most of them
feed chiefly upon insects.


THE COLUGO

One of the strangest of these is the colugo, which lives in Siam, Java,
and the Islands of the Malay Archipelago. It is remarkable for its
wonderful power of leaping, for it will climb a tall tree, spring
through the air, and alight on the trunk of another tree seventy or
eighty yards away. For this reason it has sometimes been called the
"flying colugo"; but it does not really fly. It merely skims from tree
to tree. And if you could examine its body you would be able to see at
once how it does so.

First of all, you would notice that the skin of the lower surface is
very loose. You know how loose the skin of a dog's neck is, and how you
can pull it up ever so far from the flesh. Well, the skin of the colugo
is quite as loose as that on the sides and lower parts of its body.

Then you would notice that this loose skin is fastened along the inner
side of each leg, so that the limbs are connected by membrane just like
the toes of a duck's foot. And you would also see that when the legs are
stretched out at right angles to the body, this membrane must be
stretched out with them.

Now when a colugo wishes to take a long leap, it springs from the tree
on which it is resting, spreads out its limbs, and skims through the air
just as an oyster-shell does if you throw it sideways from the hand. The
air buoys it up, you see, and enables it to travel ten times as far as
it could without this loose skin. But of course this is not flight. The
animal does not beat the air with the membrane between the legs,
as bats and birds do with their wings. It cannot alter its course in the
air; and it is always obliged to alight at a lower level than that from
which it sprang.

The colugo is about as big as a good-sized cat, and its fur is olive or
brown in color, mottled with whitish blotches and spots. When it clings
closely to the trunk of a tree, and remains perfectly motionless, it may
easily be overlooked, for it looks just like a patch of bark covered
with lichens and mosses. It is said to sleep suspended from a branch
with its head downward, like the bats; and whether this is the case or
not, its tail is certainly prehensile, like that of a spider-monkey. And
strangest of all, perhaps, is the fact that, although it belongs to the
group of the insect-eaters, it feeds upon leaves.


THE HEDGEHOG

In European countries, where it is common, one can scarcely walk through
the meadows on a summer's evening without seeing this curious animal as
it moves clumsily about in search of prey. There everybody is familiar
with its spiky coat, which affords such an excellent protection against
almost all its enemies.

But it is not everybody who knows how the animal raises and lowers its
spines. It has them perfectly under control; we all know that. If you
pick a hedgehog up it raises its spines at once, even if it does not
roll itself up into a ball and so cause them to project straight out
from its body in all directions. But if you keep the creature as a pet,
and treat it kindly, it will very soon allow you to handle it freely
without raising its spines at all.

The fact is this. The spines are shaped just like slightly bent pins,
each having a sort of rounded head at the base. And they are pinned, as
it were, through the skin, the heads lying underneath it. Besides this,
the whole body is wrapped up in a kind of muscular cloak, and in this
the heads of the spines are buried. So if the muscle is pulled in one
direction, the spines must stand up, because the heads are carried along
with it. If it is pulled in the other direction they must lie
down, for the same reason. And it is just by pulling this muscle in one
direction or the other that the animal raises and lowers its spines.


HEDGEHOG HABITS

The hedgehog is not often seen wandering about by day, because it is
then fast asleep, snugly rolled up in a ball under the spreading roots
of a tree, or among the dead leaves at the bottom of a hedge. But soon
after sunset it comes out from its retreat, and begins to hunt about for
food. Sometimes it will eat bird's eggs, being very fond of those of the
partridge; for which reason it is not at all a favorite with the
gamekeeper. It will devour small birds, too, if it can get them, also
lizards, snails, slugs, and insects. It has often been known to kill
snakes and to feed upon their bodies afterward. It is a cannibal, too,
at times, and will kill and eat one of its own kind. But best of all it
likes earthworms.

The number of these which it will crunch up one after another is
astonishing. "I once kept a tame hedgehog," says a naturalist, "and fed
him almost entirely upon worms; and he used to eat, on an average,
something like an ordinary jampotful every night of his life. He never
took the slightest notice of the worms as long as the daylight lasted;
but when it began to grow dark he would wake up, go sniffing about his
cage till he came to the jampot, and then stand up on his hind feet, put
his fore paws on the edge, and tip it over. And after about an hour and
a half of steady crunching, every worm had disappeared."

In many places farmers persecute the hedgehog, and kill it whenever they
have a chance of doing so. And if you ask the reason the answer is
generally to the effect that hedgehogs steal milk from sleeping cows at
night. Now it does not seem very likely that a cow would allow such a
spiky creature as a hedgehog to come and nestle up against her body.
But, on the other hand, it cannot be denied that hedgehogs are often to
be seen close by cows as they rest upon the ground. But they have not
gone there in search of milk. Don't you know what happens if you lay a
heavy weight, such as a big paving-stone, on the ground? The worms
buried under it feel the pressure, and come up to the surface in
alarm. Now a cow is a very heavy weight; so that when she lies down a
number of worms are sure to come up all round her. And the hedgehog
visits the spot in search, not of milk, but of worms!

The young of the hedgehog, which are usually four in number, do not look
in the least like their parents, and you might easily mistake them for
young birds; for their spikes are very soft and white, so that they look
much more like growing feathers. The little creatures are not only
blind, but also deaf, for several days after birth, and they cannot roll
themselves up till they have grown somewhat. The mother animal always
makes a kind of warm nest to serve as a nursery, and thatches it so
carefully that even a heavy shower of rain never seems to soak its way
through.

Strange to say, the hedgehog appears to be quite unaffected by many
kinds of poison. It will eat substances which would cause speedy death
to almost any other animal. And over and over again it has been bitten
by a viper without appearing to suffer any ill results.

In England, about the middle of October, the hedgehog retires to some
snug and well-hidden retreat, and there makes a warm nest of moss and
dry leaves. In this it hibernates, just as bats do in hollow trees, only
waking up now and then for an hour or two on very mild days, and often
passing three or four months without taking food.


SHREWS

During the earlier part of the autumn, you may very often find a curious
mouse-like little animal lying dead upon the ground. But if you look at
it carefully, you will see at once that in several respects it is quite
different from the true mice.

In the first place you will notice that its mouth is produced into a
long snout, which projects far in front of the lower jaw. Now no mouse
ever has a snout like that. Then you will find that all its teeth are
sharply pointed, while the front teeth of a mouse have broad, flat edges
specially meant for nibbling at hard substances. And, thirdly, you
will see that its tail, instead of gradually tapering to a pointed
tip, is comparatively short, and is squared in a very curious manner.
The fact is that the little animal is not a mouse at all, but a kind of
shrew, of which there are many American species. One is large, and
pushes through the top-soil like a mole. Another, smaller, is blackish,
and has a short tail. The commonest one is mouse-gray and only two
inches long plus a very long tail. It is fond of water, but has no such
interesting habits as those of the European shrew next described.

These creatures are very common almost everywhere. But we very seldom
see them alive, because they are so timid that the first sound of an
approaching footstep sends them away into hiding. Yet they are not at
all timid among themselves. On the contrary, they are most quarrelsome
little creatures, and are constantly fighting. If two shrews meet, they
are almost sure to have a battle, and if you were to try to keep two of
them in the same cage, one would be quite certain to kill and eat the
other before very long. They are not cannibals as a rule, however, for
they feed upon worms and insects, and just now and then upon snails and
slugs. And no doubt they do a great deal of good by devouring
mischievous grubs.

Why these little animals die in such numbers just at the beginning of
the autumn, nobody quite seems to know. It used to be thought that they
were killed by cats, or hawks, or owls, which refused to eat them
because of some unpleasant flavor in their flesh. But then one never
finds any mark of violence on their bodies. A much more absurd idea was
that they always die if they run across a path which has been trodden by
the foot of man! Perhaps the real reason may be that just at that season
of the year they perish from starvation.


THE WATER-SHREW

The best way to see this pretty little creature is to go and lie down on
the bank of a stream, and to keep perfectly still for five or ten
minutes. If you do this--not moving even a finger--you will very
likely see half a dozen or more of the little animals at play. They go
rushing about in the wildest excitement, chasing one another, tumbling
over one another, and uttering curious little sharp, short squeaks, just
like a party of boys let out from school after a long morning's work.
Suddenly one will dash into the water and dive, quickly followed by
another and then by a third. As they swim away beneath the surface they
look just like balls of quicksilver, because their soft, silky fur
entangles thousands of little air-bubbles, which reflect back the light
just as a looking-glass does. And you will notice that they do not swim
straight. First they turn to one side, and then to the other side,
exactly like some one who has just learned to ride a bicycle, but does
not yet know how to keep the front wheel straight. And the reason is
this. The shrew swims by means of its hind feet, which are fringed with
long hairs, so as to make them more useful as paddles; and it uses them
by striking out first with one and then with the other. The consequence
is that when it strikes with the right foot its head turns to the left,
while when it strikes with the left foot its head turns to the right.

But it would not be able to swim even as straight as it does if it were
not for its tail, which is fringed with long hairs just like the hind
feet. And as the little animal paddles its way through the water it
keeps its tail stretched out behind it, and uses it as a rudder, turning
it a little bit to one side or the other, so as to help it in keeping
its course.

After chasing one another under water for a minute or two, the little
animals give up their game. And now, if you watch them carefully, you
can see them hunting for food. First they go to one stone down at the
bottom of the stream, and then to another, poking their long snouts
underneath in search of fresh-water shrimps, or the grubs of
water-insects. But a minute or two later they are all back on the bank
again, dashing about and chasing one another and squeaking as merrily as
ever.

Sometimes you may see a water-shrew which is very much darker in color
than the others, the fur on the upper part of its body being almost
black. It used to be thought that such animals as this belonged to a
different species, to which the name of oared shrew was given. But we
know now that they are only dark varieties of the common water-shrew.


JUMPING SHREWS

These are all found in Africa. They are curious little creatures with
extremely long hind feet, by means of which they leap along just as if
they were tiny kangaroos. So swift are they, that it is very difficult
for the eye to follow their movements. And as they disappear into their
burrows at the slightest alarm and do not come out again for some little
time, few people ever have a chance of watching their habits.

The snouts of these shrews are so very long that the little animals are
often known as elephant-shrews.


TREE-SHREWS

This is a group so called because they spend almost the whole of their
lives in the trees. In some ways they are not unlike tiny squirrels,
being nearly as active in their movements, and sitting up on their hind
quarters to feed, while the food is held in their fore paws. They are
found in various parts of Southern Asia. They soon become very tame,
actually entering houses, and climbing up on the table while the
occupants are sitting at meals. They will even drink tea and coffee out
of the cups! And if they are encouraged they make themselves quite at
home, and will drive away any other tree-shrews which may venture into
the house.

The largest animal of this group is the tupaia, which lives in Borneo
and Sumatra. But the most curious is the pen-tailed tree-shrew, which
has a double fringe of long hairs at the end of its tail, arranged just
like the barbs of a feather, so that its tail looks very much like a
quill pen. The rest of the tail, which is very long, is covered with
square scales; and while the tail itself is black, the fringe of hairs
is white, so that the appearance of the animal is very odd. It is found
in Sarawak, and also in some of the smaller islands of the Malay
Archipelago.


THE DESMAN

This animal may be described as a kind of mixture of the elephant-shrew
and the water-shrew; for it has an extremely long and flexible snout,
and it spends almost its whole life in the water. Its feet are very well
adapted for swimming, the toes being joined together by a web-like
membrane like those of the duck and the swan, so that they form most
exquisite paddles. And the animal is so fond of the water that, although
it lives in a burrow in the bank of a stream, it always makes the
entrance below the surface.

This is a very good plan in one way, for if the little animal is chased
by one of its enemies, it can easily take refuge in its long, winding
tunnel, which twists about so curiously, and has so many side passages,
that the pursuer is almost sure to be baffled. But in another way it is
a bad plan, for as the burrow has no entrance except the one under
water, it never gets properly ventilated, the only connection with the
outer air being some chance cranny in the ground. And in winter-time,
when deep snow has covered up this cranny, while the surface of the
stream is frozen to a depth of several inches, the poor little desman
can get no fresh air at all, and often dies in its own burrow from
suffocation.

This animal has a curious musky odor, which is due to certain glands
near the root of the tail. So strong is this odor, that if a pike
happens to have swallowed a desman a few days before it is caught, its
flesh cannot be eaten, for its whole body both smells and tastes
strongly of musk. Two kinds of desman are known. One is the Russian
desman, which is found in the steppes, and the other is the Pyrenean
desman, which lives in the range of mountains from which it takes its
name.


THE COMMON MOLE

This is perhaps the most interesting of all the insect-eaters. Have you
ever noticed how wonderfully it is suited for a life which is almost
entirely spent under the ground?

Notice, first of all, the shape of its body. It is a pointed cylinder.
Now that is the very best shape for a burrowing animal, because it
offers so little resistance to the ground as the creature forces its way
along. And nowadays we make all our boring tools and weapons of that
shape. The gimlet, which has to bore through wood; the bullet, which has
to bore through air; the torpedo and the submarine boat, which have to
bore through water--they are all made in the form of pointed cylinders.
And the mole is a pointed cylinder too. Its body is the cylinder, and
its head is the point; and so the animal is able to work its way through
the soil with as little difficulty as possible.

Then notice the character of its fur. It has no "set" in it. You can
stroke it backward or forward with equal ease. And this is most
important in an animal which lives in a burrow. If a mole had fur like
that of a cat, it would be able to travel head foremost through its
tunnel quite easily; but it could not move backward. And this would
never do, for sometimes the mole is attacked by an enemy in front, while
it has no room to turn round in order to retreat. So nature has made its
fur in such a way that it "gives" in either direction, and enables the
little animal to move either forward or backward with equal ease.


A WONDROUS DIGGER

See what wonderful front paws the mole has--so broad, so very strong,
and armed with such great, stout claws. They are partly pickaxes, and
partly spades, which can tear away the earth and fling it up into
molehills with the most wonderful speed. The rapidity with which a mole
can dig is really marvelous. "Three times," a writer tells us, "I have
seen moles walking about on the ground. Each time I was within ten yards
of the animal; each time I ran to the spot. And yet each time the little
creature had disappeared into the ground before I could get there! It
did not seem to be digging. It simply seemed to sink into the soil, just
as though it were sinking into water."

Then just see how hard and horny the skin of the paws is. If it were
not for this, the mole would be always cutting itself with sharp flints
as it dug its way through the ground. Notice, too, how both the eyes and
ears are hidden away under the fur, so that fragments of earth may not
fall into them. Nature has been very careful to suit the mole to the
strange life which she calls upon it to lead.

Perhaps no animal is so strong for its size as the mole. Its muscles and
sinews are so hard that they will turn the edge of a knife. If a mole
could be magnified to the size of a lion or a tiger, and its strength
could be increased in corresponding degree, it would be by far the more
powerful animal of the two.


THE MOLE AND ITS FOOD

The reason why the mole is so strong, and so well suited for a life
underground, is that it is meant to feed partly upon worms, and partly
upon such grubs as wireworms, which live on the roots of plants. And the
appetite of the animal is astonishing. It is ever eating, and yet never
appears to be satisfied. Don't think of keeping a mole as a pet; because
if you do, you will have to spend almost the whole of your time in
digging up worms for it to eat! Mole-catchers say, indeed, that if a
mole goes without eating for three hours it is in danger of starvation.
So that the animal must spend the greater part of the day, and of the
night too, in searching for food.

How does it find the worms and grubs? Well, of course it cannot see
underground; so sometimes, we may think, it smells them, for its scent
is certainly very keen. But oftener, most likely, it hears them moving
about; for its ears are even keener still. Haven't you noticed that,
although you may often walk through fields which are almost covered with
molehills, you never see the earth being thrown up? That is because the
mole hears you coming. It hears your footsteps when you are a hundred
yards distant, or even more, and immediately stops work until you have
gone away again. In "The Tempest," Caliban tells his companions to
"tread softly, that the blind mole may not hear a footfall." Although
Shakespeare was wrong in thinking that moles are blind, he was quite
right in reminding us that they have very sharp ears.


FRIEND OR FOE?

The gardener, of course, looks upon the mole as a foe; and so it is when
it drives its tunnels under our lawns, and throws up great heaps of
earth on the surface of the grass. And the farmer regards it as a foe
too, and kills it whenever he has an opportunity. But perhaps the farmer
may not know what a busy little animal the mole is, and what thousands
and thousands of mischievous grubs it devours. There are wireworms,
which nibble away at the roots of plants till they kill them, and then
move on to destroy other plants in the same way. There are
"leather-jackets," or daddy-long-legs grubs, which feed upon the roots
of grass, and sometimes ruin all the turf in a meadow. There are also
the great fat white grubs of beetles, which are worse, perhaps, than
either; and many others as well. Now the mole is always preying upon
these. It eats them in hundreds every day of its life. And just think of
all the mischief that they would have done if they had been allowed to
live! No doubt it is annoying to the farmer to have molehills among his
hay, which blunt the knives of the reaping-machines, and prevent them
from cutting properly. But even that is better than having no hay to
cut; and there would be none if all these mischievous grubs were allowed
to live.

But there is another way as well in which the mole is useful; for the
earth which it digs up from down below, and throws up in heaps on the
surface of the ground, serves for what the farmer calls a top-dressing.
After a time, you see, the nourishment in the soil at the surface is
sucked out of it by the roots of the grass. If it were in a garden, the
farmer could dig it. If it were in a corn-field, or a turnip-field, he
could plow it. But in a meadow, he can do neither, without destroying
the pasture. So he applies a top-dressing. He gets some good, rich earth
from elsewhere, and spreads it over the surface; and this earth works
down to the grass-roots, and gives them just the nourishment they
require.

Now this is exactly what the mole is always doing. The earth which it
throws up is fresh, rich earth from down below, which the roots have not
reached. It is just what the failing grass requires. And if the farmer
rakes the molehills down, so as to spread this earth evenly over the
surface of the field, he finds that it forms a top-dressing quite as
good as any he could apply himself. So instead of looking upon the mole
as one of his enemies, he ought to include it in the list of his
laborers.


THE LITTLE WELL-DIGGER

Another thing that we must tell you about the mole is the way in which
it obtains water. It is a very thirsty animal, and constantly requires
to drink. At the same time, it cannot leave its burrow half a dozen
times a day, in order to visit a stream or a pond, for it would almost
certainly be killed by one of its many enemies. So it actually digs
little wells of its own, always doing so in the dampest parts of its
tunnels, where they fill up almost immediately. And when it wants to
drink it just goes off to the nearest of these wells and satisfies its
thirst.


THE MOLE'S FORTRESS

But the most wonderful thing that the mole does is to make what we call
a fortress, surrounding the chamber in which it sleeps. This fortress is
situated either in a natural mound of earth, or else beneath the
spreading roots of a tree or a large bush; and it is made in this way:
First the mole digs a short circular gallery. A little way under this it
digs another, rather larger in diameter, and connects the two by means
of five short passages. In the middle of the mound, and about half-way
between the two galleries, it scoops out a large round hole, from which
three passages run to the lower gallery. This is the mole's bedroom, and
it communicates with the main burrow by a tunnel which dips under the
lower gallery. Finally, a number of runs branch out from the lower
gallery in all directions.

So, you see, if a mole is chased by an enemy, it can nearly always
escape by passing through its fortress. It goes up one passage, down
another, up again by a third, down again by a fourth, and then off by
one of the side runs; so that its pursuer is almost sure to be
bewildered. And if the little animal should be surprised while asleep,
it can escape in any direction without losing even a moment.

As the mole always likes to make itself comfortable, it collects
together a quantity of dry grass, moss, and leaves, and piles them up in
the central chamber, so as to make a warm and cosy bed! And the female
mole makes a nursery for her little ones in much the same way.


FIERCE FIGHTERS

Sad to say, moles are very quarrelsome little animals, and frequently
fight when they meet. Here is an account of one of their battles,
written by a passer-by who happened to witness it.

"Walking along a quiet lane, I heard some very funny little squeaks
proceeding from the other side of the hedge. I am perfectly used to all
sorts of animal and bird sounds, but had never heard the like of these
before. On getting cautiously over the hedge, I found two moles fighting
in the ditch. I went to within two yards of them, but they took not the
slightest notice of me, so intent were both on their business. I at once
looked at my watch. They kept on, up and down, scratch and bite, for
seven minutes, when one turned the other completely over on his back,
and seized him by the throat, which he cut as cleanly as if done by a
knife, thus finishing the fight. The way in which they used their
formidable front feet was surprising."


THE STAR-NOSED MOLE

This mole is found in the United States and Canada. It is a very
odd-looking animal, for its muzzle is shaped into a long snout, at the
tip of which is a circle of fleshy rays of a rosy red color, which look
like the petals of a red daisy, or the spreading arms of a sea-anemone.
These rays can be opened wide or closed up at pleasure, and seem to
serve as very delicate organs of touch, helping the animal in finding
and catching its prey.

This mole is also remarkable for having a very long tail, which is more
than half the length of the head and body. The total length is about
seven inches.



CHAPTER VI

THE LARGER CATS


Now we come to the beasts of prey, foremost among which stand the
members of the great cat tribe. All these animals have their bodies
formed in a very wonderful way.

First of all, their eyes are intended for use chiefly by night. If you
look at a cat's eyes during broad daylight, when the sun is shining, you
will notice that the pupils, through which she sees, are nothing more
than mere narrow slits in the middle. Look at them again toward evening,
when the twilight is just beginning to creep on, and you will see that
the pupils are a good deal bigger, occupying nearly half the eyeball.
Look at them once again, when it is almost dark, and you will find that
they are bigger still, having widened out over nearly the whole of the
eye.

Now the eyes of a lion and a tiger are made in just the same way. The
darker the night, the more the pupils expand, so that they may be able
to take in the few rays of light that there are. We sometimes say that
these animals can see in the dark. That, of course, is a mistake, for in
perfect darkness no animal can see at all. But even on the darkest night
there is always some light, and no matter how little there is it is
enough to allow lions and tigers to see perfectly well, because of the
wonderful way in which their eyes are made.


THE STEALTHY TREAD

But these creatures do not only want to be able to see their victims on
a dark night; they also want to be able to creep up to them without
making the slightest sound. It would be quite useless, for instance, for
a lion to chase a deer, because the deer is by far the swifter animal of
the two. If the lion is to catch the deer at all he must spring upon it
unawares, and strike it down before it knows its danger. And this is
not at all easy, for the ears of a deer are very sharp, and if the lion
were to make the least noise while creeping up, it would take the alarm
directly. But under his great broad paws the lion has soft, fleshy
cushions, which enable him to walk along without making any noise at
all. Haven't you noticed how silent a cat's tread is? You simply cannot
hear her place her foot upon the ground. Well, lions and tigers walk in
just the same noiseless manner, so that the deer never hears them
creeping up, and is struck down and killed before it has time to realize
its danger.

[Illustration: FOUR GREAT CATS

  1. Lion and Lioness.           2. Canada Lynx.
  3. Cheeta.                     4. Tiger.]

But suppose that there are bushes in the way. Suppose, for example, that
in order to approach the deer at all the lion must creep through a
thicket. Is he not quite sure to brush up against a branch as he does
so, causing the leaves to rustle? And will not the deer hear the sound
and take the alarm?

Well, no doubt this would happen if the lion had to depend for his
silent approach only on the soft cushions under his feet. But then, you
see, he has whiskers as well! Perhaps you thought these were only meant
for ornament. But they are meant for use; and they are employed in a
very curious manner. When they are spread out on either side, they
measure from tip to tip exactly the width of the body. Besides this,
there is a very delicate sensitive nerve at the root of every whisker,
which runs straight to the brain. So, you see, if the tip of a whisker
is touched, the brain feels it directly; and if as the lion is creeping
through the bushes his outspread whiskers brush against the branches, he
knows at once that there is no room for him to pass without making a
noise and alarming his victim. So he draws his head back, and creeps up
by another way.


KILLING AND EATING

Then it is very important that his claws should be kept sharp; for he
depends upon them for tearing his victim down. So every claw fits into a
sheath, which protects the point, and prevents it from being worn down
by rubbing against the ground. You can easily see these sheaths by
examining the paw of a cat; and those of the lion and tiger are formed
in just the same way. And the muscles which work them are so arranged
that they keep the claws always drawn back, except just when the animal
uses its paw in striking.

And then, once more, these animals have very curious tongues. Haven't
you noticed when a cat has licked your hand how very dry and rough her
tongue feels? It is quite different from the smooth, wet tongue of a
dog. Well, the tongue of a lion or tiger is even rougher still; and if
you were to look at it sideways, you would see why. It is covered all
over with sharp hook-like projections, the points of which are directed
toward the throat.

The reason is this: a lion or a tiger does not succeed in killing prey
every night. Sometimes it hunts for one night, sometimes for two nights,
sometimes even for three nights, without any success at all. So that
when it does catch a victim, it wants to eat as much of its flesh as it
possibly can. And if its tongue were not made in this singular manner,
it would have to waste a great deal; for its sharp-pointed teeth cannot
tear off nearly all the flesh of the bones. By means of its rough
tongue, however, it can lick off even the tiniest scraps; and not even
the smallest atom has to be wasted.

If you give a dog a bone which is too big for him to crunch up and
swallow, you will always find that he leaves a good deal of meat upon
it. But if you give a similar bone to a hungry cat, you will find that
she licks it perfectly clean. That is because her tongue is made in just
the same way as that of a lion.


LIONS

About forty different kinds of cats are known, most of which are found
in the warmer parts of Africa and Asia. The most famous of all, of
course, is the lion, which is spread over the greater part of the
African continent, and is also found in Persia and in India.

We need not describe the lion, for everybody knows perfectly well what
it is like. But perhaps you do not know that the Indian lion hardly ever
has a mane. For this reason it was formerly thought that there were two
different kinds of lions, the Indian animal being quite different from
that found in Africa. But we now know that this is not the case, and
that the Indian lion is only a kind or variety, not a distinct species.

But there are very few lions left in India now, while even in Persia
they are not nearly so plentiful as they used to be. In many parts of
Africa, however, these animals abound, and it is not at all an uncommon
thing for six or eight to be seen together.

During the daytime the lion is generally fast asleep, lying up in a
thicket, or in a bed of reeds by the side of a pool or a river. But as
soon as night falls he leaves his retreat, and begins to prowl about in
search of prey, roaring loudly from time to time. One would think that
this would only alarm other animals, and lead them to seek safety in
flight. But when a lion roars he generally puts his head close to the
ground, and this has the effect of making it almost impossible for them
to tell from which direction the sound is coming, so that they do not
know how best to try to escape him. And very often, in their
bewilderment, they rush to the very spot where he is lying in wait.

When a lion springs upon his victim, he either kills it by a stroke from
his terrible paw, or else bites it in the throat or across the back of
the neck. He then drags it away to some convenient retreat, eats his
fill, and returns to his lair to sleep. Next day, very likely, he will
return to the carcass for another meal. But when he gets there he often
finds that the jackals and hyenas have discovered it, and left very
little for him.

Wherever a lion goes he is almost sure to be followed by a number of
jackals, all anxious to feast on the remains of the animals he kills.
But he never allows them to approach until he has eaten as much as he
can possibly swallow, and it is said that if one of them attempts to do
so he will catch it and bite off all its paws as a warning to the others
to be more respectful.

According to a great many hunters, the lion is not nearly so courageous
as it is generally supposed to be, and is really rather a cowardly
animal. They say, for example, that it will hardly ever face a man
unless it is brought to bay, but will always try to slink away and
escape. If they kill a deer, and want to protect its body from the
lions, they can always do so by tying two or three streamers of white
cloth to sticks planted round the carcass, so that they flutter in the
wind. And though the animals may prowl round and round all through the
night, roaring loudly from time to time, they will never venture to
approach within fifteen or twenty yards. Neither will they attack a
tethered horse if the bridle is left hanging from its neck.

All hunters agree, however, that if a lion is wounded, or if it sees no
chance of escape, it is a most terrible foe, and cannot be encountered
without the utmost peril.

If a lion is captured while quite young, it is very easily tamed, and
can even be taught to perform all kinds of tricks at the word of
command. But lions born in captivity are not nearly so easy to manage,
and can never be depended upon for a moment.

Lions generally have three or four cubs at a birth, and the little
animals are just as playful at kittens. But although they are always
ready for a good romp it is not wise to play with them, for a baby lion
is as big as a good-sized cat, and is very much stronger, so that a bite
from its teeth or a blow from its paw is rather a serious matter. For
the first few months of their lives the cubs are brindled, almost like
tigers, the stripes disappearing by degrees as the fur grows darker.
They do not reach their full size until they are about four years old.


TIGERS

The tiger is found principally in the jungles of India, although it is
spread over the greater part of Central and Southern Asia. In some
respects it is a finer animal than even the lion. It is certainly
stronger; it is quite as courageous; and it is nearly as large, though
the shortness of its legs and the absence of a mane cause it to appear a
good deal smaller.

Probably any one, on seeing a tiger for the first time, would imagine
that it must be a very conspicuous animal in its native jungle. But, as
a matter of fact, this is not the case at all. As long as a tiger keeps
perfectly still it is most difficult to see him, even if you happen to
be looking straight at him; for his bright orange fur, marked with
glossy black stripes, looks just like the yellow leaves of the
jungle-grass, with streaks of deep shadow between them. This coloring,
of course, helps the tiger in two ways. In the first place, when he is
hunting, it enables him to creep up to his victims without being seen;
and in the second place, when he is being hunted himself, it often helps
him to crawl away without being noticed.

In some parts of India tigers are still extremely common; and of course
they do a great deal of mischief. They are very fond of preying upon
domesticated cattle, and sometimes, every four or five days for months
together, the same tiger will kill and carry away a bullock from the
same herd. He generally kills his victims by springing upon them
suddenly, seizing their throats with his jaws, and then wrenching their
heads backward and sideways, so as to break their necks. Then he will
either drag away the carcass into the jungle at once, or he will hide
close by, and come back in order to feast upon it when night is
beginning to fall.

Of course a tiger cannot devour the whole of a bullock's body at one
meal; but at the same time he does not care to leave the remainder for
the jackals. So when he has eaten his fill he nearly always finds a
sleeping place close by, so that if he should wake up and hear a party
of jackals quarreling over the carcass, he can rush out at them and
drive them away.


MAN-EATERS

But worse by far than the cattle-destroying tigers are the man-eaters.
These are sometimes said to be the old and almost toothless animals
which can no longer kill a buffalo or a bullock, and therefore take to
preying upon human beings instead. But very often quite a young animal
becomes a man-eater; and it is said that if a tiger should once taste
human blood he will always prefer it afterward to any other food.

A man-eating tiger will often throw a whole district into a state of
terror. Day after day he will conceal himself among the thick bushes
which border a native road, and lie in wait for solitary passers-by. One
day, perhaps, a man will be carried off; the next day, a woman; the day
after, a child. No one knows where the animal is hiding; and sometimes
he will succeed in killing fifty or sixty human beings before he is
discovered and destroyed.


TIGER-HUNTING

When the natives kill a tiger, they generally do so by driving him into
a small clump of jungle, surrounding it with stout netting, and then
spearing him through the meshes. Or perhaps they will climb a tree close
to the carcass of a bullock which the animal has killed, and shoot him
when he comes at dusk to feast upon its remains. But in Oudh the tiger
is said to have been formerly destroyed in a very curious way. A number
of leaves of the prauss tree, which are large and broad like those of a
sycamore, were smeared with a kind of bird-lime, and laid upon the
ground in the animal's path. When he came along one of these leaves
would stick to his paws, and he would find that he could not shake it
off. So he would try to remove it by rubbing it against his face. The
only result, of course, would be that his nose and eyes became covered
with bird-lime. Meanwhile he had trodden upon other leaves, which he
tried to remove in the same way. Before very long his eyelids were stuck
down so that he could not open them. Then he would lie down and rub his
face upon the ground, covering it with earth, and so making matters
worse. By this time he would be thoroughly frightened and begin to howl
pitifully, so that when the hunters came running up they found the poor
beast an easy prey.

Europeans, however, hunt the tiger by means of elephants, which have to
be carefully trained before they can be depended upon to face the
furious animal. A number of elephants are generally employed, the
hunters riding in howdahs, seats fixed upon their backs, while several
hundred natives, perhaps, act as beaters, shouting and yelling, beating
drums, firing guns, and making as much din as they possibly can to
frighten the animal from its retreat. Sometimes it is so terrified that
it slinks out, and falls an easy prey. But now and then it will charge
the nearest elephant with the utmost fury, sometimes springing upon it
and almost reaching the howdah before it is killed by a well-directed
bullet.

The number of tiger cubs in a litter varies from two to five, or even
six, although families of more than three are not very common. The
little ones do not reach their full size until they are three years old,
and during the whole of that time they go about with their parents.


LEOPARDS

Much smaller than either the lion or the tiger, but still a very large
and powerful animal, is the leopard, which is sometimes known as the
panther. It is spread over almost the whole of Africa, and also over the
greater part of Asia, and in many districts is very common.

You can always recognize the leopard by its markings. The ground color
of the fur is bright yellow, with just a tinge of red in it, becoming
lighter on the flanks, and passing into white on the lower surface of
the body. The spots are black, and those on the back and sides are
always ring-shaped, enclosing a patch of yellow. Sometimes, however, the
whole of the fur is black. But even then you can see the spots, which
look something like the markings in watered silk.

Somehow, these black leopards always seem far more savage than the
others, and those who have them under their care say that it is quite
impossible to tame them.

In spite of its smaller size, the leopard is nearly as powerful as the
tiger, and in some ways is an even more formidable foe. It is much more
active, for instance, and is more easily roused into rage; while it can
climb trees like a cat, and spring down upon a passer-by from among the
branches. It does not as a rule attack man, and will always seek safety
in flight if it can. But if it is brought to bay it will fight
furiously, and nothing will check it but a bullet through the heart or
the brain.

When it can do so, the leopard always likes to live near the habitations
of man, because there are so many opportunities of springing upon a
pony, a sheep, or a goat. At night, too, it will rob the hen-roosts, or
make its way into the pens where the calves are kept, and carry one of
them off before its presence is even suspected. Dogs, too, fall victims
to it in great numbers, and now and then it succeeds in pouncing upon
an unwary monkey. When it kills an animal it does not leave the carcass
lying on the ground as the tiger does, and visit it night after night
until it is consumed, but carries parts of its body up into a tree, and
hides them in a kind of larder which it has made among the branches.

Those who have hunted it say that the leopard is a far more difficult
animal to kill than the tiger. The reason is that it is so much more
wary. A tiger, as it creeps through the jungle, will look most carefully
in front of it as it moves along, as well as on either side, but it
never seems to think of looking up into the branches of a tree above, to
see if an enemy is hiding there. So very often the hunter is able to
shoot it before it has the least idea that it is in danger. But a
leopard is much more cautious, and never comes back to its lair, or to
the remains of its kill, without carefully examining the boughs above as
well as the bushes below; so that unless the hunter is well concealed
the animal is almost sure to discover him and to crawl silently away
before he has got the chance of a shot.


THE OUNCE

This animal looks rather like a leopard with very light-colored fur. But
the rosette-like spots are a good deal larger, the fur is very much
longer and thicker, and the tail is almost as bushy as that of a Persian
cat. The reason why the fur is so thick is that the ounce lives in very
cold countries. It is found high up in the mountains of Central Asia,
ascending during the summer to a height of perhaps eighteen thousand
feet--a good deal higher than the summit of Mont Blanc--and coming down
to the lower levels in winter. In other words, it is hardly ever seen
below the snow-line, and is often known as the snow-leopard. So it wants
good thick, warm fur. We do not know very much about its habits, for it
is a very difficult animal to watch in a state of nature. Very few
people ever see it. But it seems to prey chiefly upon wild goats, wild
sheep, and those odd little burrowing animals that we call marmots, and
also upon domesticated sheep and cattle which are sent up to graze on
the higher slopes of the mountains. It is said never to venture to
attack man.


THE JAGUAR

Still more like a leopard is the jaguar, which lives in Central and
South America. But you can tell it at once by looking at the
rosette-like marks on its body, most of which have either one or two
small patches of dark brown fur in the middle. It also has three or four
bold black streaks across its breast, which are never seen in the
leopard. And its tail is ever so much shorter, the tip scarcely reaching
to the ground when the animal is standing upright.

The jaguar is perhaps even a better climber than the leopard, and seems
far more at its ease among the branches than on the ground. Indeed,
there are some parts of the great swampy forests of Brazil in which the
animal is said never to descend to the ground at all, but to spend its
whole life in the trees which stand so close side by side that it can
easily spring from one to another. You wonder, perhaps, what it feeds
upon. Why, upon monkeys, and very active indeed it has to be if it
wishes to catch them. But then, when a band of monkeys discover a
jaguar, they are never able to resist the temptation of getting as close
to him as they dare, and chattering and screaming as loudly as they can,
just to annoy him. Isn't that exactly like monkeys? But sometimes they
venture a little _too_ close, and then with a sudden spring he
seizes the nearest of his impudent tormentors and carries it shrieking
away.

Birds, too, are often caught by the jaguar, who pounces upon them as
they are roosting upon a branch. But he is not at all particular as to
what he eats, and sometimes he will leave the trees altogether, and go
hunting in the reed-beds by the riverside for capybaras, which we will
describe farther on. He is very fond of these animals, for they are so
slow in their movements that they cannot run away, so badly provided
with natural weapons that they cannot fight, and so fat and delicate
that they afford most excellent eating.

Then, just for a change, perhaps, he will stroll down to the
sea-shore, and look for a good big turtle. When he sees one--which is
generally a female on her way back to the water after laying her eggs in
the sand--he seizes it suddenly with his fore paws, and turns it over on
its back, so that it cannot possibly escape. Then, perhaps, if he is not
very hungry, he leaves it for a little while. But soon he returns, and
manages to scoop out all the flesh of the animal from between the shells
by means of his long hooked talons, thrusting in his paw over and over
again, till scarcely the smallest particle is left remaining.

Very likely, too, he will find the spot where the turtle had laid her
eggs, dig them up, and devour them as well. Sometimes he will crouch on
the bank of a stream, quite close to the water, and hook out the fish
that pass by with his claws. And when he is very hungry indeed he will
eat lizards and even insects.

Like the ounce, however, the jaguar seldom or never ventures to attack a
human being, although he will fight savagely if he is driven to bay. But
he will often spring upon horses and cattle, and in such cases he nearly
always kills them by seizing their heads between his front paws, and
giving a sudden wrench sideways and upward so as to break their necks.

Like most of the cats, the jaguar has a fondness for scratching the
trunks of trees, and sometimes a tree may be found with gashes in its
bark an inch deep and more than a yard long.


THE PUMA, OR COUGAR

Next to the jaguar, the puma is the largest of the American cats, a
full-grown male being sometimes as much as eight feet in total length,
of which about three feet is taken up by the tail. In color it is tawny
brown, becoming lighter on the lower surface, and without any spots at
all. But the odd thing is that its young are marked all over with large
blotches of blackish brown, while their tails are ringed with black like
that of the tiger. And these markings do not disappear until they are
more than six months old.

The puma is found in almost all parts of the American continent, from
British Columbia in the north to Patagonia in the south, and it is even
said to have been seen in Tierra del Fuego. It spends some part of its
life in the trees, being almost as good a climber as the jaguar. But it
almost always hunts upon the ground, trying to creep stealthily up to
its victim, and to spring upon it before its presence is even suspected.

It scarcely ever ventures to attack a man, but will often follow him for
a long distance as though waiting an opportunity to pounce upon him
unawares. But if he suddenly turns and faces the animal, it will always
slink away, even if he is quite unarmed. Sometimes, too, it will allow
itself to be killed without attempting to defend itself at all. So
hunters have a rather poor opinion of its courage. The farmers, however,
have very good reason for dreading the animal, for it is a terrible
enemy to sheep, and has been known to kill as many as fifty in a single
night. And it will also leap suddenly upon horses and cattle and break
their necks, just as the jaguar does.

Although in some ways it is such a cowardly creature, the puma will
often fight the jaguar itself. Of course it is the weaker animal of the
two, but it is so exceedingly quick in its movements, and makes such
excellent use of its teeth and talons, that in many cases it gets the
best of the battle. Sometimes, when a jaguar is killed by a hunter, its
back is found to be deeply scored all over by the claws of a puma.

In many parts of North America the puma is known as the panther, or
"painter," also as the mountain lion, and it has other names besides.


THE CLOUDED LEOPARD

There is still one more of the larger cats which we must not pass by
without mention, and that is the clouded leopard, or clouded tiger,
which is found in the southeastern parts of Asia, and in the larger
islands of the Malay Archipelago. In size it is about as big as a small
leopard, and its yellow brown fur is marked with stripes like those of
the tiger, spots like those of the leopard, rosettes like those of the
jaguar, and blotches like those of the ocelots, while its tail is
adorned with rings of glossy black. So, you see, it is a very handsome
animal.

We do not know very much about its habits, but it seems to live
almost entirely in the trees, and to prey chiefly upon birds, while
those who have caught and tamed it say that it is very gentle and
playful. The Malays call it the rimau-dahan, or "tree-tiger"; and there
is a smaller variety, found in the same localities, which is generally
known as the marbled cat.



CHAPTER VII

THE SMALLER CATS


The smaller members of the cat tribe include many interesting animals of
which our readers, if not already informed concerning them, will be glad
to learn something.


THE SERVAL

Unfortunately, although this is quite a common animal in many parts of
Africa, we know very little about its habits. But it appears to prey
chiefly upon the smaller antelopes, creeping silently up to them as they
are grazing, and springing upon them so suddenly that they never know
that they are in danger until they are struck down.

In South Africa, where it is a good deal more numerous than it is in the
northern parts of the continent, the Dutch call the serval the
_bosch-katte_, or "bush-cat," because it looks like a rather big
cat, and lives in the thick bushy parts of the veldt. It is a pretty
animal, and would be prettier still if its short, stumpy tail were a
little longer, for its fur is bright golden yellow, marked with dark
spots, some of which run into one another, and so form stripes.
Underneath the body the fur is nearly white, while the ears are
jet-black, with a broad white band running across them. In length the
animal measures about three feet, ten inches of which are taken up by
the tail; and it stands about eighteen inches in height.


THE OCELOT

This is one of the handsomest of all the cats. It is found in almost all
parts of tropical America. But it is not a very easy animal to describe,
because it varies so much in color that until a few years ago
naturalists thought there were several different kinds of ocelots, to
all of which they gave separate names. As a rule, however, the ground
color of the fur is either brownish yellow or reddish gray, while the
back and sides are marked with rows of streaks and spots and blotches,
which sometimes run into one another in such a way as to look almost
like stripes. The length of the animal is about four feet, of which
about fifteen inches is occupied by the tail, and it stands from sixteen
to eighteen inches in height.

The ocelot is found only in forest districts, and is an excellent
climber, spending most of its life in the trees. It feeds chiefly upon
birds, hiding among the thick foliage until they settle within reach,
and then knocking them over with its ready paw. Or it will spring down
upon them as they alight on the ground below. It seems to like the head
of a bird best of all, and generally eats that first; and very often it
will pluck its victim most carefully before proceeding to devour it.

The animal called the margay is really a kind of small ocelot, and it is
sometimes known as the tiger-cat.


THE EGYPTIAN CAT

In this we have a most interesting animal, not only because it seems
certain that it is the ancestor of the cats we keep now as pets, but
also because in days of old the people of Egypt used to venerate it,
just as they also did the Arabian baboon. In every way they treated it
with the greatest possible honor. Indeed, to kill a cat, in those days,
was a far more serious offence than to kill a man, and if the offender
was discovered he was certainly made to pay the penalty with his life.
And when the animal died its body was carefully embalmed and wrapped in
spices, and was then solemnly buried in the tombs of the kings.

If you ever go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, or to the
Boston Museum, you may see the mummied remains of some of the very cats
which were venerated by the people of Egypt five thousand years ago.

In the British Museum is an old painting which is as interesting,
although in a different way. For it shows us that, while the ancient
Egyptians held the cat in such high honor, they expected it to make
itself useful in return. The picture represents a hunter and his family
going out on an expedition in search of water-birds, and from it we
learn that they would embark in a boat with several decoy birds,
together with a carefully trained cat. They would then push off into the
great beds of tall reeds which fringed the sides of the river, and sit
in the boat while the cat went and caught birds for them, which were
attracted within reach by the decoys. In a picture we have seen, the cat
is represented with one bird in her mouth, another in her fore paws, and
a third between her hind paws; so that if she got all three back to the
boat, she must have been a very clever cat.

This animal is sometimes known as the Caffre cat, and it is found wild
in almost all parts of Africa, and also in Syria and Arabia. In size it
is about as big as a rather large domestic cat, and in color is
generally yellowish gray, with a few faint stripes across the back and
several darker ones on the hind quarters, while the tail is marked with
black rings and always has a black tip.


THE WILDCAT

The true wildcat is a European animal. In the United States, what is
commonly called a wildcat is really a species of lynx--the bay
lynx--often called bobcat. It is found in nearly all the States east of
the Mississippi River that have large forests.

If you were to see a real wildcat in captivity, you would most likely
think that it looked a very gentle creature. But in reality it is one of
the fiercest and most savage of all living animals, and no matter how
kindly it is treated it never seems to become tame.

True wildcats are nearly always found in thickets in mountain districts
which are hardly ever trodden by the foot of man. They mostly live
either in hollow trees, or in crevices among the rocks, where they bring
up their litters of little ones. They keep their kittens in very good
order. We have heard of a wildcat which was kept in a large otter's
cage, with a pool of water in the middle; and there she brought
up three kittens. One day she heard a strange footstep approaching. Now
she could not bear strangers, and would never allow them to look at her
little ones; so she jumped into the sleeping-compartment, and called to
her kittens to come in after her. Two of them obeyed; the third
preferred to stay outside. So out she jumped, soused it three times in
the water, just to teach it to be more obedient in future, and then
carried it off by the scruff of its neck.

A full-grown wildcat is about twenty-eight inches long without the tail,
which is much shorter and more stumpy than that of the domestic cat. The
thick soft fur is gray in color, brindled with black.

Another kind of wildcat is found in the northern parts of Africa, and
also in Persia and India. Sometimes it is called the jungle-cat, and
sometimes the chaus. It is rather bigger than an ordinary cat, and is
sandy gray or grayish brown in color, with just a few darker streaks
across the legs. It lives, as a rule, among long grass and reeds, and in
corn-fields, coming out to hunt only by night; so very few people ever
see it in a wild state, and we do not know very much about its habits.
But it must be rather a formidable animal to meet, for a writer tells us
that a jungle-cat which he kept for some years as a pet was more than a
match for two powerful English bull-terriers, which used to attack her
day after day, but always got the worst of the battle.


THE CARACAL

You may see this animal at some zoo; and if you go to look at it your
first idea will most likely be that it is very bad-tempered. For as soon
as you come near its cage it is almost sure to throw back its ears, show
its teeth, and spit and hiss and snarl at you, and to look as if it
would fly at you in a moment if only the bars were not in its way. And
so no doubt it would, for it is one of the most savage of all the cats,
and cannot be tamed without very great difficulty, unless it is caught
while very young.

The name caracal signifies black-eared, and has been given to the
animal because its ears are jet-black in color. They also have a long
tuft of dark hairs at the tip. The head, body, and legs are bright
reddish brown. But some caracals are a good deal lighter than others,
and now and then the lower parts of the body are marked with dull
reddish spots. The height of the animal is about eighteen inches at the
shoulder, and the length of the body and tail together is from three to
four feet.

Caracals are found in India and Arabia, and also in most parts of
Africa. They live among bushes and long grass, as a rule, and prey upon
the smaller deer and antelopes and also upon birds, which they are said
sometimes to capture even on the wing, springing into the air and
seizing them between their fore paws as they fly past.

[Illustration: SOME FIERCE CATS.

                    1. Mexican Ocelot.
  2. Young Leopard-cat.             3. Himalayan Snow Leopard.
  4. Saharan Serval.                5. American Jaguar.]


THE LYNX

This odd-looking creature appears somewhat like a stoutly built caracal.
But the ears are gray instead of black, the tufts of hair upon them are
a good deal longer, and the fur of the body is gray, generally marked
with a number of darker spots. Its curious appearance, however, is due
to the fact that it has an enormous pair of very bushy whiskers, which
hang down far below the chin.

Not so very long ago the lynx was found commonly in many parts of
Europe, and it is still tolerably plentiful in Norway, Sweden, and the
northern parts of Russia, as well as in Northern Asia. But it is very
much persecuted by the hunters, for two reasons. In the first place, it
is a very destructive creature. A couple of lynxes have been known to
kill six sheep between them in a single night. In the second place, its
fur is so thick, so soft, and so warm that its skin sells for a good
deal of money. So a great many lynxes are shot or trapped every year,
and before very long the animal will most likely disappear from Europe
altogether.

No doubt you have sometimes heard the expression "lynx-eyed" used of
somebody whose sight is unusually good. And certainly the lynx is very
sharp-sighted. In days of old it was actually thought that the animal
could see right through a solid wall as easily as we can through a pane
of glass!

The lynx is a good climber, and spends a great part of its life in the
trees, often lurking among the branches in order to spring down upon an
unsuspecting victim as it passes below. But it mostly makes its lair
among rocks, just as the wildcat does. There it brings up its two or
three little ones, which are playful little creatures, but very
bad-tempered if any one interferes with them. However, they are easily
tamed if they are captured while quite small, and will follow their
master about just like a dog.

Another kind of lynx, called the pardine lynx, inhabits the south of
Europe, from Spain as far as Turkey.

Lynxes are also found in Canada; but it is not quite certain whether
these belong to a different species or not. At any rate, they are rather
smaller than those which live in Europe and Asia, and their tails are
hardly ever more than five inches long. They live in the deepest parts
of the forests, and in thick bushy districts, so that they are not very
often seen; and they prey upon hares and other small animals, and also
upon such birds as grouse and partridges.

When one of these lynxes is running through long grass it looks very
odd; for it travels by means of a series of leaps, all four of its feet
coming to the ground together.

We have already mentioned the bay lynx of the United States, which in
size is equal to the Canada lynx.


THE CHETAH

Last among the cats comes the very curious chetah, or hunting-leopard,
which is found both in Africa and in India.

In some ways, however, it is much more like a dog than a cat. Its head
is quite small and round, its body is very slender, and its legs are
much longer in proportion to its size than they are in any other member
of the family. But, more remarkable still, the claws are not entirely
drawn back into their sheaths while not in use, as they are in all the
true cats, but partly project, so that the points are worn away by
constantly rubbing against the ground. So we may consider the chetah
as partly a cat and partly a dog--a connecting link joining the two
families together.

If it were not for the length of its limbs, however, the chetah might
very well be mistaken for a leopard, for its head and body are colored
and marked in much the same way. But the spots are solid, so to speak,
and not ring-like as they are in the leopard. The animal stands from
thirty to thirty-three inches in height at the shoulders and the body
and tail together are about seven feet long.

The chetah does not capture its prey as other cats do. Lions, tigers,
and leopards, for example, always try to creep up quite close to their
victims, so that they may be able to pounce upon them at a single
spring. But the chetah only creeps up to within about two hundred yards,
and then runs them down in fair chase. It is exceedingly swift of foot,
being able easily to outrun a greyhound, so that when once it starts in
pursuit its victim has but little chance of escape. Indeed, a chetah has
actually been seen to put up a blackbuck two hundred yards away, and to
run it down within a quarter of a mile.

Just fancy being able to run nearly twice as fast as an antelope!

In India the chetah is often caught and tamed, in order that it may
catch game for its master. It is always taken out to the hunting-ground
in a light cart, drawn by a pair of bullocks, and its eyes are covered
with a kind of hood. When a deer or an antelope is sighted, this hood is
taken off, and the chetah is released from its chain. No sooner does it
catch sight of its quarry than it creeps quietly toward it until it is
within distance, and then starts off in pursuit like an arrow shot from
a bow. The hunters ride quietly after it, and before they have gone very
far they are sure to find the chetah with its victim pinned upon the
ground. Then the throat of the animal is cut, and some of the blood is
given to the chetah to drink, after which it is again blindfolded and is
led back to the cart.

When the natives want to catch a chetah or two, in order to train them
for hunting, they do so in rather a curious way. Although these animals
cannot climb trees, because of the manner in which their claws
are made, there are certain trees to which they are very fond of
resorting, in order to sharpen their talons upon the bark. So the
natives make a number of nooses of raw hide, and arrange them on the
ground all round one of these trees: and when they visit them next day
they are almost sure to find that two or three chetahs have been snared.

It is needless to say that this beautiful and interesting animal is very
easily tamed. If it is kindly treated it will rub its great round head
against one, put up its tail, and purr loudly just like a big cat.



CHAPTER VIII

THE CIVETS, THE AARD-WOLF, AND THE HYENAS


Between the great tribes of the dogs and the cats come three small but
rather important families, one of which contains the civets, while the
aard-wolf belongs to the second, and the hyenas to the third. We must
tell you a little about each.


CIVETS

First of all, then, come the civets; and first among the civets is the
fossa, which is found in Madagascar.

This is a very curious animal. It is about five feet long from the end
of its snout to the tip of its tail, and has a body shaped much like
that of a weasel. Its fur is pale reddish brown in color, and reminds
one of the coat of a dachshund dog. But the oddest thing about the fossa
is its way of walking. Some animals walk on the tips of their toes, like
the cats and the dogs. We call these digitigrades. Others plant their
feet flat upon the ground, like the bears. We call these plantigrades.
But the fossa does neither, for its feet have half-soles only, the front
part being quite bare underneath, while the hind part is covered with
hair. And as it walks the animal places the bare part of its feet upon
the ground, while the hind part is lifted up; so that it is half a
digitigrade and half a plantigrade.

Then it has claws just like those of a cat, which are drawn back into
sheaths while not in use, so that their sharp points may not be worn
down by rubbing against the ground. No doubt this is the reason why the
animal is able to climb so well. If you go to look at the fossa in a zoo
you will be quite surprised at its activity. In its double cage, with
one compartment above the other, and two or three stout branches on
which it can take exercise, it goes running up and down from one to the
other, and backward and forward from the branches to the walls, and
from the walls to the branches, with such wonderful swiftness that it is
really not at all easy to follow its movements.

But don't be tempted to stroke the animal, if it happens to be lying
quietly near the bars, for although it looks very gentle it is in
reality a most savage creature, and has hardly ever been tamed. And
partly for this reason, and partly because it only comes out to hunt for
prey by night, we know very little about its habits.

The true civets have much stouter bodies than the fossa. Their heads are
long and narrow, with the muzzle drawn out almost into a point, their
legs are quite short, and along the back runs a crest of stiff hairs,
which can be raised and lowered at will, just like the spines of the
hedgehog.


CIVET PERFUME

Six different kinds of civets are known, five of them being found in
Asia, and one in Africa, and they are chiefly remarkable for producing a
most powerful perfume. This perfume is obtained in a very curious way.
It is secreted in a kind of double pouch under the body, close to the
root of the tail, and as it is continually being formed, the animal is
much too valuable to be killed in order that its pouch may be emptied.
At the same time, its teeth and claws are so sharp and strong, and it
knows so well how to use them, that it would be a most dangerous
creature to handle. So when the perfume has to be taken, the animal is
forced into a long and very narrow cage, in which it is held so close a
prisoner that it can neither scratch nor bite. Then the contents of the
pouch are scraped out by means of a long, slender spoon, which is passed
through a hole under the cage.

Each side of this pouch is about as big as an almond, and the contents
are thick and greasy in character, almost like butter. When the animal
is at liberty the perfume is dropped from time to time, in lumps about
as big as an ordinary hazelnut.


INDIAN CIVET

The best known of these animals is the Indian civet, which is about four
feet in length, including the tail. The general color of its fur is dark
gray, sometimes with a yellowish tinge, and on the chest, shoulders, and
thighs are a number of dark stripes. The crest of hairs along the back
is glossy black, and the tail is marked with six black rings and five
white ones. It is a solitary animal, and is hardly ever seen during the
daytime, which it spends in hiding among bushes, or in long, thick
grass, coming out after dark to search for the lizards, frogs, birds,
and other small creatures upon which it feeds.


GENETS

The genets may be described as small civets, with narrower bodies,
shorter legs, and longer tails, and without the curious pouch for
producing perfume.

One of these animals, the common genet, is found in Spain and the south
of France, as well as in Southwest Asia, and the northern parts of
Africa. It is between three and four feet in total length, and is
yellowish gray in color, with blotches of dark brown scattered all over
the body. It is a very gentle creature, and is easily tamed, being often
kept in houses to destroy rats and mice, just as we keep cats.

The palm-civets live in trees, chiefly in palm-trees, and they are so
fond of drinking the sweet juice, or toddy, which the natives collect in
small vessels suspended on the trunks, that they are often known as
toddy-cats.

One of these animals is very common in many parts of India, where it is
in the habit of taking up its abode in the thatched roofs of the native
huts. It is often tamed by Europeans, and after roaming about the house
all night in search of mice and cockroaches will come up to its master's
bedroom, jump up on his bed, snuggle away under his pillow, and there
sleep soundly until late in the following day. But if it finds a chance
it will get into the poultry-houses and kill some of the fowls, in order
to suck their blood; so that it has to be looked after very carefully.

There are ten or eleven different kinds of these animals, the commonest
of which is the Indian palm-civet. It is about as big as a rather big
cat, and is brownish gray in color, with very coarse and rather ragged
fur. It has an odd way of twisting up its tail into a very tight coil,
and for this reason is sometimes known by the name of paradoxure, a word
which signifies queer-tailed.


THE BINTURONG

The binturong, or bear-cat, as it is often called, may be recognized at
once by the long tufts of black hair upon its ears. Its fur, too, is
entirely black, without any gloss except upon the head, which is gray,
and its tail is very long and bushy, and is prehensile at the tip, like
that of a spider-monkey. When the animal is climbing it makes a great
deal of use of this organ, seldom moving unless it is tightly coiled
around a branch. But it seems hardly ever to hang from a bough by its
tail alone, as the spider-monkeys so often do.

The binturong is a native of Assam, Siam, and some of the larger islands
in the Malay Archipelago. It is not at all an uncommon animal, but is
seldom seen, for it not only lives in the thickest and darkest parts of
the forests, which are scarcely ever trodden by the foot of man, but
spends the whole of the day fast asleep in some snug retreat, with its
head completely buried beneath its big bushy tail. And even if it is
found and disturbed it only gives an angry snarl and shows its teeth,
and then goes to sleep again.


MONGOOSES

Of course you have heard of the mongooses. They look somewhat like
weasels with very long tails, which are thickly covered with hair. The
head is pointed, with a rather sharp nose, the ears are small and
rounded, the legs are very short, and the claws cannot be drawn back
into sheaths, so that they are always projecting like those of a
dog. The general color of the body is either brownish or reddish gray.
But the fur has a peculiar speckled appearance, which is due to the fact
that all the longer hairs are marked with alternate rings of black and
white, like those upon a surveyor's measuring-pole.

At least sixteen kinds of mongooses are found in different parts of the
world, but we shall only be able to tell you about two.

The first of these is the Indian mongoose, which is common in almost all
parts of the great country from which it takes its name. And it is one
of the most useful of all animals, for although it will feed upon mice,
small birds and their eggs, lizards, and even upon insects and fruit
when it is really hungry, there is nothing of which it is so fond as a
snake.

Now snakes are more plentiful in India, perhaps, than in any other
country in the world. Many of them are terribly poisonous, and kill at
least twenty thousand people every year; so that an animal which
destroys them is very useful. Many people keep tame mongooses in their
houses just as we keep cats, knowing that if a snake should find its way
indoors they are sure to find it and kill it.

When a mongoose attacks a snake it dances about in front of the reptile,
and pretends to be about to spring upon it, until the snake strikes.
Then, like lightning, it leaps over the snake's head, or underneath its
open jaws, or round to one side, and gives it a sharp bite just at the
back of its neck. This renders the snake quite harmless, paralyzing it
so that it cannot use its fangs. Then the mongoose crunches up its head,
eats a little of the body also if it is very hungry, and goes off to
look for another.

Rats, too, are killed in great numbers by the mongoose. So in the year
1871, when these animals swarmed in some of the West Indian Islands to
such an extent that it was feared that the sugar-cane plantations would
be wholly destroyed by them, nine mongooses were set free in Jamaica.
Very soon they began to multiply, and the rats began to decrease, till
in about two years' time the mischievous little animals were almost
entirely destroyed. So mongooses were turned down in other islands, with
equally satisfactory results. Unfortunately, however, the mongooses soon
found out that fowls and chickens were even nicer than rats, and began
to visit the hen-roosts at night. Then they took to killing young lambs,
and even small pigs, while they also did a great deal of damage to
mangoes and yams.

So now the planters had to turn their attention to destroying mongooses,
and on one estate alone more than fourteen hundred were trapped in about
two months.

The Egyptian mongoose is a rather larger animal, being about three feet
in length from the head to the tip of the tail. Like its Indian
relation, it preys upon snakes; but it also feeds very largely upon
crocodile's eggs, which it digs out of the sand on the banks of the
rivers. For this reason it was venerated by the ancient Egyptians, who
used to treat it with the greatest reverence while it lived, and to
embalm its body and bury it in the tombs of the kings when it died, just
as they did with the cat and the sacred baboon.


MEERKATS

The last of the civet-like animals about which we can tell you is the
meerkat, sometimes known as the suricate. It is found in South Africa,
and is a small, slender-bodied animal of a light grizzled gray color,
with a number of black stripes running across its back, while the ears
are black, and the tail is yellowish with a black tip.

Meerkats live in large colonies, almost like rabbits, each animal
scratching out for itself a deep hole in the ground. If you were to
drive across the South African veldt, you would very likely come across
one of these curious meerkat warrens, and would see several hundred of
the little animals sitting upright on their hind legs with their front
paws hanging down, just like so many small dogs "begging." Until you
came quite close they would remain quietly watching you. But the moment
that you stopped and attempted to seize one of them there would be a
sudden whisk of hundreds of tails, and down they would all pop into
their burrows as if by magic.

As they are gentle creatures, and very clean in their habits,
meerkats are often kept as pets, and in many parts of Cape Colony there
is scarcely a single house without them. You would think that the dogs
would be very jealous of them, wouldn't you, and that they would be very
much afraid of the dogs? But, strange to say, the two are nearly always
the best of friends, and may often be seen trotting about after their
master together.


THE AARD-WOLF

This is such a very odd animal that it has been placed in a family all
by itself, though there can be no doubt that it is related to the civets
on the one side and to the hyenas on the other. In size it is about as
big as a fox, but with very much longer legs; and in general appearance
it certainly resembles a half-grown striped hyena. But then its skull
and teeth are not at all like those of a hyena; they are like those of a
very big mongoose. So the aard-wolf evidently forms a connecting link
between the two creatures.

The name aard-wolf means earth-wolf, and has been given to this animal
because the Dutch people in South Africa thought that it really was a
kind of wolf, and because it lives in deep burrows which it digs in the
ground. Strange to say, although each aard-wolf digs its own burrow,
several of these tunnels often unite in one large central chamber--a
common sitting-room, as it were--which is used by all the animals alike.
But each always goes in and out by its own front door.

During the daytime the aard-wolf is nearly always fast asleep
underground, so that it is hardly ever seen except by those who go out
to hunt it. But it is not often hunted, being so timid and cowardly that
when it is turned out of its burrow its only idea is to run away as fast
as it possibly can, so that it affords very poor sport.

This animal is not a creature of prey, but feeds chiefly on carrion. But
it is rather fond of insects, and will sometimes break a hole in the
side of a termites' nest and lick up the inmates by thousands as they
come hurrying up to repair the breach in the walls.


HYENAS

These are not very pleasant-looking animals, for their sloping hind
quarters give them a very slinking and cowardly appearance. In their
habits, too, they are disgusting. Nevertheless they are most useful
creatures in the countries in which they live; for they belong to that
vast group of animals which we may call "nature's dustmen," because
their great work in life is to clear away the rubbish from the world.
There are millions upon millions of these natural scavengers, and some
of them have to clear away carrion, some to clear away skins, and some
to clear away decaying vegetable matter. But the principal duty of the
hyenas is to clear away bones, and very thoroughly they do it.

Their jaws and teeth are immensely strong. A hyena will seize the
thigh-bone of an ox, and crush it up into splinters as easily as a dog
will crush a chicken-bone. And when a lion or a tiger kills a victim, he
always leaves a great part of the carcass lying on the ground. Some of
it he has no time to eat because the jackals come and steal it while he
is fast asleep after the big meal which he always takes as soon as he
has killed his victim. Some of it neither he nor the jackals can eat
because their teeth are not nearly strong enough to crush the larger
bones. So they have to leave these for the hyenas, which come up in
numbers to the kill, and quarrel and fight over it, until nothing even
of the skeleton remains.

Although the hyena is a much stronger animal than the aard-wolf, it is
quite as cowardly, and will hardly ever show fight, even when it is
driven to bay. The Arab hunters despise it for its want of courage, and
if they find it hiding in a burrow will never condescend to kill it
themselves. Neither will they use any weapon against it. They just fling
a handful of wet mud into its face, drag it out by its hind feet, and
hand it over to be stoned to death by the women. But sometimes, after
all, it contrives to escape, for it is so cunning that it will pretend
to be dead when it is not really injured, allowing itself to be pulled
about, or even to be severely beaten, without moving a limb. Then
suddenly, when the attention of its captors is taken off for a moment,
it will jump up and run away.

Perhaps you wonder why they should want to kill the hyena if it is such
a useful creature and never attacks human beings. The reason is that it
is fond of prowling about the outskirts of villages in order to prey
upon the cattle. It is much too cowardly to attack them openly, and
always tries to frighten them and make them run away, so that it can
leap upon them from behind. It generally does this by creeping as close
to them as it can, and then springing up suddenly just under their eyes.
But if they stand and face it, instead of running away, it just looks at
them for a few moments and then slinks off without attempting to touch
them.


THE STRIPED HYENA

Three different kinds of these animals are known, the commonest being
the striped hyena, which is found in India, Syria, Persia, Arabia, and
Northern Africa. It is about as big as a collie dog, and is brownish
gray in color, with a number of black stripes running across the body
and round the legs. The ears are long and pointed, the tail is big and
bushy, and a kind of mane of long hairs runs down the neck and along the
middle of the back.

In some parts of Africa these animals roam about by night in large
packs, entering the native villages, and searching the streets for the
offal which has been thrown out from the huts. And more than once, when
very hungry, they have been known to enter a house and carry off a
sleeping man.

Sometimes they will set a kind of snare for a dog. One hyena will lie in
wait behind a bush, while another will run boldly up to within two or
three hundred yards of the village and utter a series of loud howls. A
dog is almost sure to hear him and to rush out in pursuit. Then the
hyena, pretending to be dreadfully frightened, runs away past the bush
where his companion is hiding, and the dog is pounced upon and killed
almost before he realizes that he has two enemies to deal with instead
of only one.


THE BROWN HYENA

This kind of hyena, found in South Africa, is not nearly so numerous as
that just described. It is about the same size as the striped hyena, but
may be recognized at once by the great length of its mane, which hangs
down on each side below the body. In fact, the animal looks just as if
it were wearing a mantle of thick, shaggy fur. It lives chiefly in rocky
ground, on the lower slopes of the mountains, but is fond of visiting
the sea-shore by night, and prowling about in search of the dead bodies
of fishes and other creatures flung up by the waves.


THE SPOTTED HYENA

The tiger-wolf, as the spotted hyena is also called, is much more
dangerous than the other hyenas. It is a larger and more powerful animal
than either of its relations, and is not near so cowardly. It will enter
a sheepfold, or cattle-pen, for instance, under cover of darkness, and
boldly attack and carry off one of the animals. But even an unarmed man
need not be afraid of it, for though it will come quite close, and will
follow him for a long distance, it will never venture to spring upon
him.

This animal is often known as the laughing hyena, because of the
extraordinary sounds it utters when very much excited. These sounds are
not in the least like a yell or a howl, but resemble a peal of strange,
unearthly laughter, and while they are being uttered the hyena dances
about on its hind legs, nods its head up and down, runs to and fro, and
twists itself into all sorts of singular positions, just as though it
had suddenly gone mad. Travelers tell us that sometimes for nights
together sleep is rendered impossible by the hideous outcry of these
creatures, which surround the camp as soon as darkness sets in, and
never cease from their horrible din till sunrise.

The spotted hyena is found throughout Southern Africa, and may be known
from the other two species by its larger size, and also by the
dark-brown spots with which the body and the limbs are marked.



CHAPTER IX

THE DOG TRIBE


Next in order comes the great tribe of the dogs, which includes
altogether about forty different animals. We are not speaking of
domestic dogs, for we have not space in which to tell you about those.
Indeed, if we were to say all that might be said about them, they would
want a very big book all to themselves; and fortunately there are many
good books about domestic dogs that readers who desire them can easily
get. But besides the tame dogs there are two or three wild dogs in the
dog tribe, several wolves, several jackals, and several foxes; and many
of them are very interesting creatures.


THE DHOLE

First of all, there is a dog which is known by three different names.
Sometimes it is called the dhole, sometimes the kholsun, and sometimes
the buansuah. It lives in India, but it is not very often seen, for it
keeps to the thickest parts of the jungle, and never ventures near the
habitations of man. Yet it is by no means a cowardly animal, like the
hyenas and the aard-wolf. On the contrary, it is extremely courageous,
and does not seem to know what fear is, for it will even attack the
tiger itself, and more than that, will kill it.

Of course the tiger is by far the stronger and more formidable animal of
the two, and if he only had one dhole to reckon with, there would be no
doubt as to the issue of the combat. But the dhole always hunts in
packs. Sometimes there are eight or ten animals in one of these packs;
sometimes there are fifteen; sometimes there are as many as twenty, or
even thirty. And so fierce are they, and so determined, and so
persevering, that it is said that when they once put up an animal--that
is, start it from cover--no matter whether it be large or small, they
never fail to kill it.

The deer, of course, are swifter than they are. But then the deer become
tired much sooner than the dholes; and while they are resting their
pursuers catch up with them. The tiger is much more powerful, and has
his talons and fangs to fight with. But while he is killing one of his
foes three or four more are leaping upon him; and even if he should
succeed in killing half the pack the rest will still go on fighting as
savagely as ever. They do not dread the horns of the buffalo, or the
tusks of the wild boar. In fact, they dread nothing, and no animals are
so feared in the jungle.

When the pack are running, they never bark, or yelp or bay, as almost
all domesticated dogs do. For the most part they are silent, the only
sound which they utter being a low whimper. In color the dhole is a rich
bay, which becomes rather darker upon the ears, the muzzle, and the tip
of the tail.


THE DINGO

This is the only member of the dog tribe found in Australia, and many
naturalists think that it is not really a native of that continent, but
was brought there a very long time ago from some other country. But as
the dingo is not now found in any other part of the world, it is quite
impossible to say whether this is actually the case or not. It is a very
fine-looking animal, about as big as a large sheep-dog, with a
reddish-brown coat, pointed, upright ears, and a bushy tail. And if you
were to see it you would most likely think that it must be a very gentle
animal. We have already seen, however, that there are several creatures
which look very gentle, but are in reality most savage and ferocious,
and though the dingo is not quite so fierce as the fossa or the wildcat,
its appearance is not at all in keeping with its character, for it is
very bad-tempered and hard to tame, and is always liable to fits of
rage.

In many ways the dingo is not unlike the dhole. It lives in packs, for
instance, which scour the country in search of prey. These packs are
always led by one of the strongest and most experienced animals,
which has won its position by fighting and overcoming all the rest; and
when the leader begins to grow old and feeble, a younger and stronger
animal takes his place by overcoming him in the same way. In some
strange manner, these packs divide up the country among themselves. Each
pack has its own district allotted to it, over which it may roam at
will, while it is never permitted to hunt outside its own borders.
Wouldn't it be interesting to know how these districts are marked out,
and how the animals arrange what part of the country shall be allotted
to each pack?

[Illustration: A WOLFISH GROUP.

  1. Coyote.        2. Red Fox.          3. Hyena Dog, or Hunting Dog.
  4. Tasmanian Pouched Wolf.     5. Tasmanian Devil.    6. Gray Wolf.]

When the first white colonists settled down in Tasmania, they found
these packs of dingoes terribly troublesome, for they would visit the
folds night after night and carry off the sheep and lambs in numbers.
Watchers were employed to shoot them, traps were set for them, huge
bonfires were lighted to keep them away; but all to no purpose. One
colony lost twelve hundred sheep from their ravages in less than three
months; another lost seven hundred. At last the settlers banded
themselves together in a war against the dingoes, and by hanging pieces
of poisoned meat to the branches of trees, about a foot from the ground,
they succeeded in greatly reducing their numbers, so that now they are
comparatively scarce.

A dingo which was kept at the London Zoo many years ago used to sit
outside his kennel and bay at the moon so loudly that his dismal howling
could be heard all over the Regent's Park.


THE CRAB-EATING DOG

Two or three kinds of wild dog are also found in South America; but of
these we can only mention the crab-eating dog which is chiefly found in
the forests of Guiana, Demerara, and Brazil.

This animal owes its name to its great fondness for crabs. Even domestic
dogs will often eat these creatures. "I once had a black-and-tan
terrier, called 'Jock,'" says a writer, "whose greatest delight was to
be taken for a walk along the sea-shore, so that he might hunt for
crabs. Whenever he found one he would fling it up into the air half a
dozen times or so, until it was perfectly dazed. Then holding it down
with one paw, he would twist off the great claws so that it could not
nip him; and finally he would crunch up its body and lick out pieces of
flesh from the shell. Now and then, however, he would get a pinch and I
would see him dancing about on his hind legs with a crab hanging to his
lip, howling pitifully for me to come and set him free."

Whether the crab-eating dog gets nipped in the same way, sometimes, we
cannot tell you. Most likely he does; at any rate he spends a great deal
of his time in hunting for crabs on the shore. But he also feeds on
small animals and birds, and it is said that sometimes he hunts in
packs, like the dingo and the dhole, which even run down and kill the
swift-footed deer.


WOLVES

Of wolves--which are really only large and very savage wild dogs--there
are several different kinds.

First of all, of course, there is the common wolf of Europe. We have all
read accounts of its ferocity, and of the way in which it sometimes
pursues travelers through the Russian forests during the depths of
winter. In days of old it was plentiful in England, while the last wild
wolf in Scotland was not killed until the middle of the eighteenth
century.

During the spring, summer, and autumn the wolf is mostly found singly,
or at any rate only in pairs. But when the ground is covered with snow,
and food becomes scarce, the hungry animals gather together in packs,
which scour the forest in all directions and kill every living creature
which they meet. In the year 1875 no less than 161 human beings fell
victims to them in Russia, while the mischief which they do in the
farmyards and sheepfolds is very great. In Livonia alone, for instance,
during a single year, 15,182 sheep, 1,807 cattle, 1,841 horses, 3,270
goats, 4,190 pigs, 703 dogs, and 1,873 geese and fowls were destroyed by
wolves.

In some parts of France, too, these animals are still not uncommon,
although a reward of one hundred francs is paid for every adult wolf
that is killed, and thirty francs for each cub. And they are also
found in almost every other country in Europe.

When they are not famished with hunger, wolves are by no means
courageous animals, and if we have many tales of their savage ferocity
we have quite as many more which bear witness to their cowardice. In
Norway, for example, a large tract of country in which wolves had always
been only too numerous was suddenly deserted by them; and what do you
think was the reason? Simply that a telegraph wire had been put up,
which frightened the wolves so much that they left the neighborhood
altogether, and never came near it again! And if a hunter kills a deer,
and wishes to leave the carcass lying on the ground for a while, and at
the same time to protect it from the wolves, all that he has to do is to
plant three or four sticks beside it with streamers of white cloth
fastened to the tips; for not a wolf will dare to approach the spot as
long as these are fluttering in the wind.

When wolves are running they generally utter a series of dismal howls,
which are so loud that they can be heard by any one miles away. And even
a single wolf can make such an outcry that more than once a traveler,
hearing one howl, has imagined that a large pack were in pursuit of him,
and has climbed into a tree and spent the whole night among the branches
before discovering his mistake.

Wolves usually make their lairs among rocks, or in the trunk of a hollow
tree, or among thick bushes. But sometimes they live in holes in the
ground, which they seem to dig out for themselves. There are generally
from six to ten cubs in a litter, which are born in the spring, and do
not leave their parents for at least eight or nine months. Strange to
say, the father often seems much fonder of them than the mother, for he
will take care of them, and hunt for them, and teach them how to hunt
for themselves for weeks after she has left them altogether.


WOLVES IN INDIA

The common wolf is by no means confined to Europe, but is also found in
many parts of Asia, and throughout almost the whole of North
America. In India, however, there is another kind of wolf which is
rather smaller, and has very much shorter fur. It is seldom seen in
large packs, and hardly ever howls as the common wolf does. It is not in
the habit, as a rule, of attacking human beings. But now and then two or
three of these animals will band together to attack a man, while
sometimes they will prowl round the outskirts of a native village, in
the hope of being able to carry off some of the smaller children.

These animals have a very clever way, too, of killing deer. Three or
four of them will creep quietly up and hide themselves near the spot
where the deer are feeding. Then another will come dashing up from the
opposite direction, the result, of course, being that when the
frightened animals run away they pass close to the very place where
their enemies are lying concealed.


COYOTES

On the great plains of North America lives a very handsome wolf called
the coyote, or prairie-wolf. It is a good deal smaller than the common
wolf, but has much thicker and longer fur, so that it looks bigger than
it really is. And a very odd thing about it is that it is differently
colored at different seasons of the year, being reddish yellowish brown
in summer, and grayish, or even quite gray, in winter. The back is
generally darker than the rest of the body, and the tail is rather long
and very bushy.

The coyote takes the place of the hyena as a scavenger, but has some of
the habits of the fox. It catches birds and jackrabbits, and feeds on
insects, as well as small rodents like prairie-dogs and mice. Its
melancholy howls make night hideous to prairie-dwellers. It is the
steady foe of young creatures, such as the fawns of deer. The skin of
this animal is thick and makes good fur wraps.

Coyotes assemble in packs like jackals. It is not an easy matter to
destroy them, for they are so wary that it is almost impossible to
approach within gunshot. Often a single coyote will do a great deal of
mischief before it can be killed. Poison kills a great many; but
a good fence of wire netting has been found to be the best remedy
against these troublesome creatures.


JACKALS

Jackals may be described as half wolves and half foxes. One of these
animals, the common jackal, is found in great numbers in the south of
Asia, and north of Africa, and the southeastern corner of Europe.
Sometimes it is seen singly, sometimes in pairs; but generally it
associates in great packs, which go roaming about the country together.
In India these packs visit the native villages by night, to carry away
any offal which may have been thrown out of the houses. They are
"nature's dustmen," you see, like the hyenas. Then they will follow a
lion or a tiger about for weeks, in order to feast upon the carcasses of
the animals which he kills, after he has eaten his fill. And when twenty
or thirty of these ravenous creatures are all struggling and fighting
over the body of a deer or an antelope, you can easily imagine that in a
short time there is not very much of it left.

The jackal is sometimes called "the lion's provider," but we may say
that the lion ought rather to be called "the jackal's provider."

The natives of Africa say that the jackals stand very much in awe of the
lion, and seldom dare even to show themselves until he has eaten his
fill of his victim's body, and has gone away to sleep. And they also
declare that if a jackal comes too near the carcass before the lion has
finished his meal, the lion catches him and bites off all his paws in
order to teach the rest of the pack better manners.

The howling cry of the jackal is very strange and weird, and the animals
call to one another, and answer one another, just as if they were
carrying on a conversation. First comes a long, wailing yell; then
another, rather higher, then another, a little higher still, and then
three short, sharp barks. And so on, over and over again.

When a jackal is caught, it often pretends to be dead, and will be
perfectly still for a very long time in the hope of being able to make
its escape when the attention of its captors is taken off. On one
occasion one of these animals lay without moving for a whole hour
although several times it was picked up and worried by a dog. Then quite
suddenly it jumped up and rushed away apparently unhurt.

The common jackal is reddish brown in color, sometimes lighter and
sometimes darker, while the tip of the tail is black. But there is
another kind of jackal found in South Africa which has the whole upper
part of the back black, and the lower part of the body and the inner
sides of the limbs nearly white. This animal is called the black-backed
jackal, while a third, which has a pale streak running across its
flanks, is called the side-striped jackal. In habits the three animals
are almost exactly alike.


FOXES

The best-known of the foxes, of course, is the common fox of Great
Britain and Western Europe, which is also found in many other parts of
the world.

This animal is famous for its cunning, and certainly, in many ways, it
is very clever. It has all sorts of tricks, for example, to throw the
hounds off its track when it is being hunted. It seems to know perfectly
well that it is followed by scent, and sometimes it will suddenly leap
to one side so as to break the trail, and then make off in quite a
different direction. Sometimes, when it has a sufficient start, it will
return on its track for sixty or seventy yards, and then leap aside. Or
it will roll in carrion in order to disguise its own peculiar odor. A
hunter tells us that he once found a fox's burrow which was very
cleverly made. The entrance to it was about twenty feet from the edge of
a sand-pit, in the middle of a thick clump of bushes, and there was a
"bolt-hole" about half way down the side of the pit. So when the fox was
chased he could run into his burrow by the upper entrance, slip out by
the lower one, and so make his escape through the pit while the hounds
were all gathered round the hole up above.

Very often a fox will climb a tree, sometimes to a great height, and
hide among the branches, and we have heard of a fox which baffled the
hounds over and over again in a most ingenious way. He used to run to a
certain fence, spring to the top, and then walk along for several
hundred yards before leaping down again to the ground. By doing this, of
course, he broke the scent most thoroughly, and long before the hounds
could find it again he had reached a place of safety.

But although the fox is generally so clever he sometimes does the most
stupid things possible. Charles Waterton tells us of a fox which visited
a poultry-yard and carried off eight young turkeys. He could not eat
them all, of course, so he buried five in the ground, meaning no doubt,
to come and fetch them away on the following evening. But apparently he
thought that if he buried them entirely he might not be able to find
them again. So he carefully left one wing of each bird sticking up above
the surface to serve as a guide, and never seemed to reflect that others
would be able to see it as well as himself! So the farmer recovered his
turkeys, and when Reynard came to look for his supper next night he
found that it had disappeared.

The burrow of a fox is sometimes an old rabbit-hole enlarged to a
suitable size. But generally the animal scrapes out a burrow for
himself, frequently choosing the roots of a large tree as a situation,
or a very rocky piece of ground from which it will be very difficult to
dig him out. In this burrow four or five little ones are brought up.
They are odd-looking creatures, with very snub noses, and if you did not
know what they were you would never take them for young foxes.


THE ARCTIC FOX

This animal, more interesting still, perhaps, lives in the ice-bound
regions of the far north. There are often several of these to be seen in
a zoo, and the first thing that one notices on seeing them is that no
two of them are alike. One, perhaps, is reddish brown above and
yellowish white beneath. Another is gray all over. A third, very likely,
is mottled; while a fourth may be of that curious bluish color which we
see in Russian cats.

In fact, in the snowy polar regions a great many of these foxes turn
perfectly white in winter. This enables them to creep over the snow
without being seen by their victims. Then, when warmer weather comes,
and the snow begins to melt, their fur passes back again to its original
color.

During the spring and summer the arctic fox feeds on sea-birds and their
eggs, and it is said to attract the birds to the place where it is lying
in wait by imitating their peculiar cries. But we do not think that that
is true. What it feeds upon during the rest of the year is rather
doubtful. It cannot catch birds, for they have all flown away farther
south. It cannot catch fishes, for the water is covered in by ice
several feet in thickness. Most likely it catches numbers of those odd
little animals known as lemmings just as winter begins, and stores them
away in a kind of larder, where the cold prevents their bodies from
decaying.

The arctic fox is a good deal smaller than the common fox, and has ears
so short and rounded that they look just as if they had been cropped.

In order to allow it to travel over the slippery ice, the arctic fox has
the soles of its feet covered with long stiff hairs, which give it a
perfectly firm foothold on the frozen surface.

The arctic fox is not nearly such a clever animal as the common fox, and
is very easily trapped. If a hunter follows one, it will certainly run
into its hole; but a moment or two later it is almost sure to poke out
its head in order to yelp at him, so that he is easily able to shoot it.
The consequence is that these animals are destroyed in very great
numbers for the sake of their skins, those with bluish fur being
especially valuable.

First-class skins of these foxes are, in truth, among the most costly of
furs. In view of this, men interested in the fur-trade in Alaska have
endeavored to raise them in captivity, so as to obtain a constant supply
of their pelts. This experiment has succeeded best on a certain island
in Bering Sea, where a large colony of arctic foxes is kept, guarded and
tended by Eskimos, who feed them, and who once a year catch and kill a
certain number when their fur is in its best condition.


AMERICAN FOXES

Besides the arctic fox, which of course is found in American as well as
other arctic regions, this country has many species of fox that belong
peculiarly to itself. William T. Hornaday, director of the New York
Zoölogical Park, who has written many instructive things about animals,
tells us in his "American Natural History" that north of Mexico this
continent has sixteen distinct species of foxes, some of which have
several subspecies.

The American fox most widely found is that which Mr. Hornaday calls "our
wise old friend, the red fox," which is so well known in many parts of
the country. It is a very cunning creature, "so well able to take care
of itself that it refuses to be exterminated." Still we are told that it
was not hard for the early settlers in this country to outwit the red
foxes, and to shoot them and trap them when they came into the clearings
where the settlers made their homes. It is easier to get the better of
these animals in a wild region than where many people live, for the
foxes are sharp observers and appear to learn many things from seeing
what their human neighbors do. Naturalists tell us that in this way the
American foxes have come to be almost as intelligent as those of the Old
World. The red fox, we are told, "now holds his own against man, as much
by boldness and audacity as by caution; few of our wild animals look on
man with so little awe."

You must have read many stories illustrating this boldness of the fox,
often shown in robbing hen-roosts and even catching chickens in the
yards or the fields. And quite as remarkable are the accounts of foxes'
cunning in avoiding hunters and hounds. In fact, they have often been
known to follow the very hunter who was looking for them, as though they
wanted to learn all his ways so as to be better able to baffle him.

The gray fox, which is somewhat smaller than the red fox, belongs
especially to the southern part of the country, "but it ranges northward
far into the home of the red fox." It is very wild, and can move
swiftly. Sometimes, to escape from dogs, it will climb a small tree and
get far above the pursuer's reach. It is at its best only in the forest,
and cannot hold its own as the red fox does, in a country much inhabited
by men. With all his slyness the gray fox "lacks that astonishing
shrewdness and faculty for working out deep-laid schemes which enables
the red fox to turn the tables on the hunter."

All the different varieties of American fox are more or less closely
related to the one or the other of these two--the red fox and the gray
fox--so that naturalists class them in two groups, the red fox group and
the gray fox group. If you learn all that you can about them you will
find that you have obtained a great deal of interesting knowledge.


THE FENNEC

This is a very pretty fox-like little animal found in Nubia and Egypt.
It is only about twenty inches long, including its big bushy tail, and
its fur is sometimes pale fawn color, and sometimes creamy white. But
what strikes one most about it is the extraordinary size of its ears,
which are always carried perfectly upright, and look as if they were
intended for an animal at least five times as big as itself.

The fennec is a creature of the desert, and lives in burrows which it
scoops out in the sand. In order to make these burrows more comfortable,
it lines them with leaves, hair, and the feathers of birds, while they
are nearly always situated beneath the roots of plants, where the sand
is softer and more easy to work. The animal digs with the most wonderful
speed, and those who have surprised it while at a distance from its
burrow say that it disappears in the sand just as though it were sinking
into water, and is lost to sight in a few seconds.

The fennec spends the heat of the day comfortably curled up in its
burrow, with its nose tucked away under its big bushy tail. When the sun
sets it wakes up and goes off to the nearest water to drink, after which
it hunts for jerboas, birds, lizards, insects, and the various other
small creatures upon which it feeds.


THE HUNTING-DOG

Although a member of the great dog tribe, this animal is not really a
dog. It looks very much like a spotted hyena, and yet it is not really a
hyena. Sometimes it is known as the hyena-dog, and perhaps that is the
best name which can be given to it.

These animals are found throughout Southern Africa, and are especially
numerous in Cape Colony. They hunt in packs of from ten to fifty or
sixty, which run with such wonderful speed that even the swiftest
antelopes cannot escape them. When they catch up with their quarry they
all spring upon it together, snapping at it over and over again until
they bring it to the ground. And in a few minutes there is nothing left
of its carcass but just a few of the larger bones.

In size the hyena-dog is about as big as a wolf. In color it varies a
good deal, but the head is always black, with a white mark round the
eyes, while the body is more or less mottled with black, white, and
yellow. The long bushy tail is yellow at the root, black in the middle,
and white at the tip.



CHAPTER X

THE WEASEL TRIBE


Almost all the animals which belong to this tribe have very long,
slender bodies and very short legs; and the reason is a simple one. They
feed on living prey, which they often have to follow through a long and
winding burrow. Now if they had stout bodies or long legs they could not
do this. Most likely they could not enter the burrow at all; and even if
they did so they would be almost sure to find, before they had gone very
far, that they could neither move forward or backward. But, having such
snake-like bodies and such very short limbs, they can wind their way
through the tunnels without any difficulty, and then spring upon their
victim at the end.

They always try to seize their prey by the throat, in order to tear open
the great blood-vessels which pass through that part of the body. One
who had a personal experience of the strength and sharpness of their
teeth thus tells it: "I was walking through a park one day early in the
autumn, when I noticed that the dead leaves under a tree were tossing
and tumbling about in a very curious manner. On going a little closer I
found that a mother weasel and her little ones were playing together.
When I came up of course they all ran away. So I ran after them, and
caught one of the little animals by putting my foot on it, just hard
enough to hold it down on the ground without hurting it. And immediately
the little creature, which was only about six inches long, twisted
itself round, and drove its sharp teeth into the edge of the sole of my
shoe, both from above and below. So that if I had done what I thought of
doing at first and had stooped to pick it up, its teeth would certainly
have met in my finger."

The weasel is common in many parts of the United States as well as in
Europe. In some regions you can scarcely take a walk along the roads or
through the fields without catching sight of it. Very likely it will
poke its head out of a hole in the bank at the side of the road, and
watch you in the most inquisitive manner as you go past. Or you may
notice it slipping in and out of the herbage at the foot of a hedge, as
it searches for the small creatures on which it feeds. But very often it
will leave the hedge, and follow a mole along its burrow. Or it will
make its way to a wheatstack, and pursue the mice through their "runs."
And it is very fond of going out bird's-nesting, and robbing the nests
of the eggs or little ones which they contain. But the weasel is not
always successful when he sets out on one of these expeditions. While
coming down Helvellyn, a mountain in England, a writer witnessed a
strange little scene. "Hearing a loud chattering," he says, "I looked
up, and saw just above me a pair of stonechats and a weasel. Evidently
the weasel had come too near the nest of the birds, and they were trying
to entice him away. And this is how they managed it. First the cock bird
sat down on a stone about a yard in front of the weasel, and began to
flap his wings, and to chatter and scream. The weasel immediately darted
at him, and the bird flew away. Next the hen bird sat down on another
stone a yard farther on, and began to flap her wings and to chatter and
scream. Then the weasel darted at her, and _she_ flew away. As soon
as she had gone the cock came back, sat on a third stone, and played the
same trick again. And so the two birds went on over and over again, till
they got the weasel far up the mountain side, quite two hundred yards
from the nest, when they quietly left him and flew away together.

"Wasn't it clever of them? And the odd thing was that the weasel never
realized that he was being taken in, but evidently thought he was going
to catch one of the birds every time that he darted at them."

When fully grown the European weasel is from eight to ten inches long,
about one-fourth of that length being occupied by the tail. The fur of
the upper parts of the body is brownish red in color, while that of the
throat and lower surface is white.

In the United States are found various species of weasels, the
largest of which is called the New York weasel. The length of the male
is sixteen inches, that of the female thirteen inches, the tail being
more than one-third of the total length. It is also called the
long-tailed weasel. The smallest species is the least weasel, only six
inches long. Both bear much resemblance to stoats. "The various kinds of
weasels in this country," say Stone and Cram in their "American
Animals," "are much alike in their habits.... They hunt tirelessly,
following their prey by scent, and kill for the mere joy of killing,
often leaving their victims uneaten and hurrying on for more."


THE STOAT, OR ERMINE

This is the commonest and most widely distributed of all the weasel
tribe. The name is British. The fur of the lower parts of the stoat's
body is pale yellow instead of white, while the tip of the tail is
black. In very cold countries the whole of the fur becomes white in
winter, like that of the arctic fox, the tip of the tail alone excepted.
Indeed, the famous ermine fur which we value so highly, and which even
kings wear when they put on their robes of state, is nothing but the
coat of the stoat in its winter dress.

The stoat preys upon rather larger animals than do other weasels, and
many a hare and rabbit falls victim to its sharp little fangs. Strange
to say, when one of these creatures is being followed by a stoat it
seems almost paralyzed with fear, and instead of making its escape by
dashing away at its utmost speed, drags itself slowly and painfully over
the ground, uttering shrill cries of terror, although it has not been
injured at all.

In poultry-yards the stoat is sometimes terribly mischievous. One stoat
has been known to destroy as many as forty fowls in a single night. So
both the gamekeeper and the farmer have very good reason for disliking
it. But in some ways it is really very useful. It kills large numbers of
mice and rats and voles, which often do such damage in the fields. And
if we could set the good which it does against the evil, we should find
that the former more than makes up for the latter.


THE POLECAT

This animal was formerly very common in Great Britain. But owing to its
mischievous habits it has been greatly persecuted, and now it is very
seldom met with. It is a good deal larger than the stoat, being nearly
two feet in length from the nose to the tip of the tail, and you would
think, on looking at it, that its fur was brown, yet it scarcely has a
brown hair on the whole of its body. The fact is that the long outer
hairs are so dark as to be almost black, while the soft under-fur next
the skin is pale yellow; and as the inner coat shows through the outer
one, the effect is very much the same as if the whole of the fur were
brown.

The polecat is sometimes called the foumart. This name is formed from
the two words foul marten, and has been given to the animal because it
looks like a marten, and has a most foul and disagreeable smell. In its
habits it is very much like the stoat. It comes out chiefly by night,
and preys upon any birds or small animals which it may meet with,
following rabbits down their burrows, tracking hares to their "forms,"
and sometimes killing nearly all the poultry, geese, and turkeys in a
farmyard. Early in April it makes a kind of nest in a deserted
rabbit-hole, or in a crevice among the rocks, and there brings up its
family of from three to eight little ones.

The animal called polecat in North America is the skunk, of which we
shall speak soon; the name is particularly applied to the common skunk
of the Northeastern States and Canada.


THE FERRET

You know that the ferret is much used in hunting rabbits and rats. It
appears to be really a variety of the polecat, and is usually of a
yellowish white color with pink eyes. But there is also a brown form,
which is generally called the polecat-ferret. It is known only in a
domesticated form.

In some of the Western United States--Kansas, Colorado, etc.--is found
the black-footed ferret, "often called prairie-dog hunter because its
specialty is the killing of prairie-dogs." It has not become very well
known to animal students, for it dwells in burrows and hunts at night.


MARTENS

Old World martens may be described as large weasels that live in the
trees. One of them, the pine-marten, is still found in the wilder parts
of Great Britain, although it is even scarcer, perhaps, than the
polecat.

This animal is about as big as a cat. But it does not look as large as
it really is, because of the shortness of its legs. In color it is rich
brown above and yellowish white below, while the tail is very long, and
is almost as bushy as that of a squirrel.

Martens are only found in the thickest parts of the forests, and spend
almost the whole of their lives in the trees, running up and down the
trunks, and leaping from bough to bough with the most wonderful
activity. They even make nests among the branches, in which to bring up
their little ones, weaving a quantity of leaves and moss together in
such a way as to make a most cosy little nursery. But it is to be feared
that they are sometimes lazy animals, for just to save themselves
trouble they will turn squirrels or woodpeckers out of their nests, and
take possession of them for themselves.

Martens feed on any small animals which they can find, and have more
than once been known to kill lambs, and even fawns. When they happen to
live near the sea, it is said that they will visit the shore by night in
order to hunt for mussels.

The American sable or pine-marten is about the size of a common domestic
cat, and looks much like a young red fox. It is now rare south of
Northern Canada.

The sable found in the mountainous forests of Northern Asia seems to be
nothing more than a variety of the pine-marten with very long fur. This
fur is so much in request that the animal is greatly persecuted, more
than two thousand skins being sometimes taken in a single season.

[Illustration: TYPES OF FUR BEARERS.

  1. Weasel; Ermine.              2. Otter.
  3. Wolverine; Glutton.          4. Pine Marten; Sable.
  5. Skunk.                       6. Badger.]


THE GLUTTON, OR WOLVERENE

You would say that this animal hardly looks like a weasel at all, for it
is very heavily and clumsily built, and, including the tail, is often as
much as four feet long. If you did not know what it was, you might
almost take it for a bear cub with a tail. It is blackish brown in
color, with a lighter band which runs from the shoulders along the sides
and across the flanks, as far as the root of the tail.

"Glutton" is rather an odd name for this creature, isn't it? But
certainly the animal deserves it, for it will go on eating and eating,
long after you would think that it could not possibly swallow a morsel
more. Indeed, a glutton has been known to devour, at a single meal, a
great joint of meat, which would have been more than sufficient for a
lion or a tiger for a whole day! It lives in North America, and also in
Northern Europe and Northern Asia, and the hunters find it a terrible
nuisance, for night after night it will search along a line of traps and
devour all the animals caught in them. Then, too, if they bury a
quantity of provisions in the ground, meaning to come back and fetch
them later on, a glutton is very likely to discover them and dig them
up, while the animal is also fond of visiting their huts while they are
absent, and stealing everything it can carry away.

Blankets, knives, axes, and even saucepans and frying-pans have been
stolen in this way by gluttons, and once one of these animals actually
succeeded in dragging away and hiding a gun! It is even a worse robber,
in fact, than the arctic fox. And it can hardly ever be trapped, because
it is so crafty that it almost always discovers the traps, and either
passes them by or pulls them to pieces, while it is so wary, and so
swift of foot, that the hunter very seldom has a chance of shooting it.

It was formerly supposed that this animal was even more crafty still,
and that it would collect a quantity of the moss of which deer are so
fond, lay it upon the ground as a bait, and hide in the foliage of an
overhanging bough, so as to spring down upon the animals when they
stopped to feed. But this story seems to be quite untrue.


THE RATEL

More curious still is the ratel, which belongs to the family of badgers.
You cannot possibly mistake it if you see it, for all the upper part of
its body is grayish white, and all the lower part is black. So that it
looks rather like a lady wearing a white mantle and a black skirt.

But if the ratel is odd in appearance, it is odder still in habits. If
you go to look at them in a zoo you are sure to find them trotting
leisurely round and round their cage in a perfect circle, one behind the
other. And when they come to a certain spot they always stop, turn head
over heels, pick themselves up, and then run on again. Why they do so
nobody knows, but for hours every day they keep up this singular
performance.

The ratel is very fond of honey, so fond that it is often called the
honey-ratel, or honey-weasel, and it spends a good deal of time in
prowling about in search of the nests of wild bees. You would think that
it would get badly stung by the bees, wouldn't you, when it tore their
nests open and robbed them of their sweet stores? But its coat is so
thick that the insects can scarcely force their stings through it, while
even if they do so there is a thick loose skin under it, and a layer of
fat under that. So it seems quite certain that a ratel never gets stung,
no matter how many nests he may rob.

The animal does not live entirely on honey, however, but also feeds upon
rats, mice, small birds, lizards, and even insects.

Two kinds of ratels are known, one of which lives in Africa and the
other in India.


THE BADGER

The European badger was formerly very common in Great Britain. It was
generally known as the brock, and when we hear of a place called by such
a name as Brockley, or Brockenhurst, we may be quite sure that it was
once inhabited by a great many badgers. Nowadays, however, these
animals are more scarce in Great Britain and only to be found as a
general thing, in the wildest parts of the country; and as they only
come out of their burrows by night, very few people even see them in a
state of freedom. But all over temperate Northern Europe and Asia the
European badger is found.

Their burrows are generally made either in the very thickest part of a
dense forest, or else on the side of a steep cliff which is well covered
with trees. They run for some distance into the ground, and generally
open out into several chambers, while at the end there is always a large
hollow which the animals use as a bedroom. They like to be comfortable,
so they always line this hollow with a good thick layer of dried fern
and dead leaves. You would be quite astonished to find how much of this
bedding is often packed away in the burrow of a single badger.

These animals are most cleanly in their habits, and are very careful not
to take any dirt into their burrows with them. They have been known, for
example, to use a low branch near the entrance as a scraper, and always
to rub their feet upon it before going in. And every now and then they
have a grand house-cleaning, turning out all their bedding, and taking
in a fresh supply.

When the badger is digging, it uses its nose as well as its paws,
shoveling the earth aside with it from time to time. And every now and
then it walks backward to the entrance of the burrow pushing out the
loosened earth in a heap behind it.

The teeth of the European badger are made in a very curious way, for
they interlock with one another just like those of a steel trap. The
jaws, too, are exceedingly strong, so that the animal is able to inflict
a very severe bite. But it is a most peaceable creature, and never
attempts to attack unless it is driven to bay.

As regards food, it will eat almost anything. It seems equally fond of
mice, frogs, lizards, birds' eggs, snails, worms, fruit, beechnuts, and
roots. If it finds a wasps' or a bumblebees' nest, it will dig it up and
devour all the grubs and the food which has been stored up for them,
caring nothing for the stings of the angry insects. And very often
it gathers a quantity of provisions together in a small chamber opening
out of its burrow, which it uses as a larder.

The head of the badger is white, with a broad black streak on either
side, which encloses both the eye and the ear. The body is reddish gray
above, whitish gray on the sides, and blackish brown below, and the
flanks and tail are nearly white. In length it is very nearly three feet
from the muzzle to the tip of the tail.

The American badger, living in the western parts of North America,
resembles its European cousin in nearly all respects, differing from it
chiefly in the form of the teeth, in the habit of eating more flesh, and
in liking open flat country better than the dense forests preferred by
its Old World relation. Another difference is noted by Mr. Hornaday, who
tells us that the American badger "has a savage and sullen disposition,
and as a pet is one of the worst imaginable."


THE SKUNK

Many of the animals of the weasel tribe have a most disagreeable odor;
but there is none whose scent is so horribly disgusting as that of the
skunk.

This is a North American animal of about the size of a cat, with a long,
narrow head, a stoutly built body, and a big bushy tail. In color it is
black, with a white streak on the forehead, a white patch on the neck,
and a broad stripe of the same color running along either side of the
back.

The offensive odor of the skunk is due to a liquid which is stored up in
certain glands near the root of the tail. This liquid can be squirted
out at will to a distance of twelve or fifteen feet, and if the animal
is attacked, or thinks itself in danger, it does not attempt to use its
teeth, but just turns round, raises its tail, and sends a perfect shower
of the vile fluid over its enemy. And it is almost impossible to wash
the smell away. A drop or two once fell on the coat of a dog. The animal
was washed over and over again, most thoroughly, with various kinds of
soap. Yet a week later, when he happened to rub himself against one
of the legs of a table, no one could bear to sit by it afterward.

The skunk seems to know perfectly well how offensive its odor is, and
never runs away if it meets a man, or even a large dog. It just stands
perfectly quiet, like a cat expecting to be stroked, ready to make use
of its evil-smelling fluid if necessary.

This singular animal lives in holes in the ground, making a warm little
nest at the end in which to bring up its young. It feeds upon small
animals, small birds and their eggs, frogs, lizards, and, most of all,
upon insects.


OTTERS

Last among the members of the weasel tribe come the otters. These
animals are specially formed for living in the water. The paws, for
example, are very large and broad, and the toes are fastened together by
means of a kind of web, like that on the foot of a swan or a duck, so
that they form very useful paddles. Then the body is long, lithe, and
almost snake-like, and the tail is so broad and flat that it serves as a
capital rudder, and enables the animal to direct its course. The fur,
too, consists of two coats of hair instead of only one; the outer, which
is composed of long, stiff bristles, lying upon the inner like a very
close thatch, and quite preventing water from passing through. So
although an otter is dripping from head to foot when it comes out of the
water, it never gets really wet.

The animal is wonderfully active in the water, and can easily overtake
and capture the swiftest of fishes. Sometimes it is very destructive,
for when fishes are plentiful it becomes so dainty that it never eats
its victims, but just takes a bite or two from the best part of the
flesh at the back of the neck, and then leaves the rest of the body
lying upon the ground. So fishermen are not at all fond of it, and kill
it whenever they can. But sometimes, when the rivers are very low, or
when the surface of the water is thickly covered with ice, the otters
find it very difficult to obtain a sufficient supply of food. So they
leave the streams and wander far inland, sometimes making their way into
the farmyards, and feasting upon poultry, or even upon young pigs and
lambs. But they only do this when they are in real danger of starvation,
and always return to the river-banks as soon as they can.

The home of the otter is generally situated beneath the spreading roots
of a large tree on the bank of a stream. The animal does not dig a
burrow if it can help it, but prefers to take advantage of some natural
cleft in the ground, at the end of which it makes a nest of flags and
rushes. In this nest from three to five little ones are brought up, and
if you were to lie very quietly on the bank for some little time early
on a warm spring morning, you would very likely see the mother otter
playing with her little ones, or teaching them how to swim and to catch
fish.

The bite of the otter is very severe, and it is almost impossible to
force the animal to loose its hold.

In India there is a kind of otter which is often trained to catch fish
for its master. It is taught, first of all, to pursue an imitation fish
as it is drawn through the water by a string, and to bring it ashore and
lay it down upon the ground. Then a dead fish is substituted for the
false one, and when the otter has learned to bring this to its owner,
and to give it up at the word of command, it is sent in pursuit of a
live fish fastened to a line. And before very long it learns its duties
so thoroughly that it will catch fish after fish, and bring them back
without attempting to eat them, just as a well-trained retriever dog
will bring back the birds or the rabbits which its master has shot.

The otter of North America is still found, but not numerously, in the
Carolinas and Florida, in some Rocky Mountain districts, in British
Columbia and Alaska, and in the Canadian provinces.

There is also a kind of otter which lives in the sea, and is called the
sea-otter. It is also known as the kalan. It is found on the coasts of
the Northern Pacific, and is much larger than the common otter, often
weighing as much as seventy or eighty pounds, and being nearly four feet
in total length. Its fur is the most costly known, a fine pelt being
worth $600 or $800 before dressing. This high price is due partly to the
beauty of the fur, but mainly to its rarity.



CHAPTER XI

THE BEAR TRIBE


The bears are very interesting animals. In no animals, perhaps, are
young folks more interested than in these, for they have many traits
that endear them to little human admirers, while with older persons they
have often lived on terms of intimate friendship. In our own country
this interest in these fascinating animals was lately quickened, for
children especially, by the almost universal possession and popularity
among them of "Teddy bears," so named with playful reference to
President Theodore Roosevelt, affectionately called "Teddy," and himself
well acquainted with bears and other beasts, both wild and tame.


POLAR BEARS

One of the most interesting of all bears is the polar bear, which is
found in almost all parts of the arctic regions. Sometimes it is called
the white bear, on account of the color of its coat. But this is very
seldom really white. Generally it is creamy yellow. And sometimes, in an
old male, it is dingy yellow, and not even of the color of cream.

This is one of the largest of the bears, for it often grows to a length
of nine feet, and weighs eight hundred or even nine hundred pounds. Yet
it is wonderfully active, and it can run with very great speed. Indeed,
if it were to pursue a man, he would have very little chance of escape.
But it is not at all a quarrelsome animal, and although it will fight
most savagely if it is wounded or driven to bay, using both teeth and
claws with terrible effect, it very seldom attacks if it is not
molested.

One of the first things that we notice on looking at a polar bear is the
small size of its head and the length of its neck. This, no doubt, is to
help it in swimming; for if it had a head as big as that of an
ordinary bear it would find it very much harder to force its way through
the water. And of course it must be able to swim well, for otherwise it
could never catch the porpoises and fishes upon which it feeds. We
notice, too, the huge size of its paws, which are nearly eighteen inches
long, and very broad as well. These form most excellent paddles, while
the thick fur is so oily that it quite prevents the icy water from
coming into contact with the skin.

The bear is very fond of feeding upon seals as well as upon porpoises
and fishes. But these are so active in the water that it seldom attempts
to chase them, preferring to creep quietly up to them as they lie
sleeping on the ice. Then it kills them with one stroke of its terrible
paw. Sometimes, too, it is said to prey upon the walrus, crushing in its
skull by a series of tremendous blows before it can shuffle off the ice
into the sea.

The feet of the polar bear are specially suited for traveling over the
ice, for the soles are covered with long, thick hairs, which give it a
firm foothold, and at the same time prevent it from feeling the cold of
the frozen surface.

The young of these bears are born and brought up in a kind of nursery
under the snow, which is so warm and snug that they do not feel the cold
at all. Here they live with their mother until the snow melts at the
return of warmer weather, and then for some months father, mother, and
cubs all wander about together.

Polar bears sometimes live for a very long time in captivity. One of
these animals lived in the London Zoo for thirty-four years, and another
for thirty-three. The former of these once gave the keepers a terrible
fright, for early one morning he managed to climb out of his enclosure,
and when they found him he was just setting off on a journey of
discovery into the Regent's Park. After a good deal of trouble they got
him back, and altered his enclosure in such a way that he could never
make his escape again.


THE BROWN BEAR OF EUROPE AND ASIA

This bear is found in most parts of Europe, and also throughout almost
the whole of Asia north of the Himalayas. In former days it was not
uncommon even in England, and in the time of Edward the Confessor the
city of Norwich was obliged to kill a bear every year and send its body
to the king.

These bears are found in wooded, hilly districts, often ascending to
considerable heights in the mountains. In some parts of Asia they make
regular tracks through the forest, in the form of pathways about two
feet wide; and it is said that these tracks sometimes run for hundreds
of miles. They are solitary animals, and it is not often that even a
pair are seen together. But for several months after they are born the
cubs go about with their mother.

This bear is generally supposed, when it fights, to try to hug its
enemies to death, throwing its fore limbs round them, and crushing them
in its embrace. But in reality it strikes a kind of side blow, and
forces its great claws into its victim's body thus causing a terrible
wound. Just before it strikes it rears its body erect, and sits for a
moment almost perfectly still; and it is for this moment that an
experienced hunter waits in order to send a bullet through its heart.

The brown bear of Europe and Asia can scarcely be called a beast of
prey, though now and then, when it is very hungry, it will kill a pony
or a sheep and feast upon its flesh. It eats roots, as a rule, digging
them up with its great paws; and it is also very fond of fruit. It will
rob the nests of wild bees, too, and feed greedily upon the honey,
appearing to pay no attention to the stings of the angry insects. And
sometimes it may be seen turning over large stones, in order to catch
and eat the beetles, earwigs, centipedes, etc., which have been hiding
beneath it.

Now and then, too, these bears have been known to catch fish. Their
usual plan seems to be to wade out into a stream, in some place where
the water is not more than about eighteen inches deep, and there to
stand motionless until a fish comes swimming past. Then with one quick,
sudden stroke the victim is killed, and the bear seizes it in its mouth
and carries it to the bank to be devoured.

When bears catch fish in this way they are usually rather dainty, and
only eat the best part of the flesh upon the back.

In cold countries these bears often hibernate during the winter, just as
bats and hedgehogs do. They eat a great deal of food toward the end of
summer, and become exceedingly fat, and then retire to hollow trees or
caves and fall asleep for several months, during which they live on
their own fat. In the spring, of course, when they wake up, they are
very thin, but a few weeks of good feeding will bring them back into
proper condition.

These brown bears are very easily tamed, and many "performing bears"
belong to this species. It is not nearly such a large animal as the
polar bear, its average length being only about six feet.


THE AMERICAN BROWN BEAR

The brown bear of America is closely allied to that of the Old World. It
was first described by Sir John Richardson, who called it the
Barrenlands bear. It has since been further described by Dr. Clinton
Hart Merriam, chief of the United States Biological Survey. It differs
from the grizzly in the smallness of its claws. The difference in the
profile also is very marked--the brown bear having a profile like that
of the European and Asiatic bear, while that of the grizzly is flat.

The brown bear of North America lives largely on the fruits and berries
of the northern plants, on dead deer, and on putrid fish, of which
quantities are left on the banks of the northern rivers. Whether the
large brown bear of the Rocky Mountains is always a grizzly, or often
this less dangerous race, is doubtful. The following is Sir Samuel
Baker's account of these bears. He says: "When I was in California,
experienced informants told me that no true grizzly bear was to be found
east of the Pacific slope. There are numerous bears of three if not four
kinds in the Rocky Mountains. These are frequently termed grizzlies; but
it is a misnomer. The true grizzly is far superior in size, but of
similar habits." There are certainly three Rocky Mountain bears--the
grizzly, the brown, and the small black bear. There is probably also
another--a cross between the black and the brown. It is a mistake to say
that the brown bears which come to eat the refuse on the dust-heaps of
the hotels of the Yellowstone Park, and let ladies photograph them, are
savage grizzly bears.


THE GRIZZLY BEAR

The famous grizzly bear, which lives in North America, is much bigger
and stronger and more savage than the brown bears, so that it is really
a very formidable animal. When fully grown, this huge creature is
sometimes as much as nine feet long from the tip of the snout to the
root of the tail, while it weighs at least 800 or 900 pounds.

The grizzly is a very distinct race of brown bear. It has a flat
profile, like the polar bear. This enormous creature is barely able to
climb trees, and has the largest claws of any--they have been known to
measure five inches along the curve. The true grizzly, which used to be
found as far north as 61º latitude and south as far as Mexico, is a rare
animal now. Its turn for cattle-killing made the ranchmen poison it, and
rendered the task an easy one. It is now only found in the northern
Rocky Mountains and parts of northern California and Nevada. Formerly
encounters with "Old Ephraim," as the trappers called this bear, were
numerous and deadly. It attacked men if attacked by them, and often
without provocation. The horse, perhaps more than its rider, was the
object of the bear.

On a ranch near the upper waters of the Colorado River several colts
were taken by grizzly bears. One of them was found buried according to
the custom of this bear, and the owner sat up to shoot the animal.
Having only the old-fashioned small-bored rifle of the day, excellent
for shooting deer or Indians, but useless against so massive a beast as
this bear, unless hit in the head or heart, he only wounded it. The bear
rushed in, struck him a blow with its paw (the paw measures a foot
across), smashed the rifle which he held up as a protection, and struck
the barrel on to his head. The man fell insensible, when the bear,
having satisfied himself that he was dead, picked him up, carried him
off, and buried him in another hole which it scratched near the dead
colt. It then dug up the colt and ate part of it, and went off.
Some time later the man came to his senses, and awoke to find himself
"dead and buried." As the earth was only roughly thrown over him, he
scrambled out, and saw close by the half-eaten remains of the colt.
Thinking that it might be about the bear's dinner-time, and remembering
that he was probably put by in the larder for the next meal, he hurried
home at once, and did not trouble the bear again.

Not so a Siberian peasant, who had much the same adventure. He had been
laughed at for wishing to shoot a bear, and went out in the woods to do
so. The bear had the best of it, knocked him down, and so frightfully
mangled his arm that he fainted. Bruin then buried him in orthodox bear
fashion; and the man, when he came to, which he fortunately did before
the bear came back, got up, and made his way to the village. There he
was for a long time ill, and all through his sickness and delirium
talked of nothing but shooting the bear. When he got well, he
disappeared into the forest with his gun, and after a short absence
returned with the bear's skin!


THE BLACK BEAR

The black bear is also an inhabitant of North America, but is neither so
common or so widely distributed as it used to be. There are two reasons
for this. The first is that this bear is an extremely mischievous
animal, and is very fond of visiting farmyards, and carrying off sheep,
calves, pigs and poultry. So the farmer loses no opportunity of shooting
or trapping it. And the other reason is, that its coat is very valuable,
so that the hunters follow it even into the wilder parts of the country,
where settlers, as yet, have not made their appearance.

This animal is only about half as big as the grizzly bear, for it seldom
exceeds five feet in total length. It never attacks man unless it is
provoked. When driven to bay, however, it becomes a most formidable
opponent, dealing terrific blows with its fore paws, and fighting on
with furious energy even after it has received a mortal wound.

Early in the autumn the black bear generally goes into winter quarters.
Finding a hollow under a fallen tree, or a cave of suitable size,
it gathers together about a cartload of dead leaves and ferns, and makes
a snug, cosy nest. Very often it lays a number of branches on the top,
to prevent the leaves from blowing away. Before very long, of course,
this nest is deeply covered with snow, and the bear lies fast asleep
inside it for four or five months, living on the fat which it stored up
inside its body during the summer.

This bear is sometimes known as the musquaw, an Indian name.


SUN-BEARS

These animals are so called because they wander about by day, and like
to bask in the hottest sunshine, instead of hiding away in some dark
retreat, as most of the other bears do. They live in India and the
larger islands of the Malay Archipelago. They are excellent climbers,
spending a great part of their lives among the branches of the trees.

These bears have most curious tongues, which are very long and slender,
and can be coiled and twisted about in the most singular way. Apparently
they are used for licking out honey from the nests of wild bees.

Sun-bears are small, gentle creatures, and are easily tamed. In the zoo
they are extremely playful, and you may often see them standing upon
their hind legs and wrestling with one another, and then tumbling over
and rolling upon the floor, evidently enjoying themselves very much.
Their fur is smooth and glossy, and is jet-black in color, the chin and
a crescent-shaped patch under the throat being white.


THE SLOTH-BEAR

Another name for this bear is the aswail--its East-Indian name. It is
perhaps the oddest of all the bears, for it has very long and shaggy
hair, a flexible snout which it is always curling and twisting, and a
very awkwardly and clumsily built body. It walks with a curious rolling
gait, crossing its paws over one another at every step it takes. And it
has a queer way of eating termites and ants by breaking open their
nests with its great fore paws, blowing away the dust and fine earth,
and then sucking up the insects by forcibly drawing in its breath
through its lips. It makes such a noise when doing this that it can be
heard from a distance of two or three hundred yards.

The sloth-bear is seldom seen abroad during the daytime, for the odd
reason that the skin of the soles of its feet is so delicate that it
cannot bear to walk upon ground which is heated by the rays of the sun.
Sometimes, when a hunter has driven one of them from its lair and
pursued it by day, he has found its feet most terribly scorched and
blistered when at last he killed it, simply because it had been obliged
to walk over rocks on which the midday sun was beating down.

When a mother sloth-bear has little ones, she always carries them about
on her back. If she stops to feed they at once jump down, but always
spring up again as soon as she moves on. Even when they are quite big
they travel about in this way, and a sloth-bear may often be seen with a
cub as large as a retriever dog perched upon her back, and another one
trotting along by her side. And from time to time she makes the little
ones change places.

If a mother is wounded while her cubs are with her, she always seems to
think that one of them must have bitten her, and immediately gives them
both a good sound box on the ears. If several of these animals are
together, and one of them is struck by a bullet, it begins to howl and
cry at the top of its voice. The other bears at once come running up to
see what is the matter, and begin to howl and cry too, out of pure
sympathy for its sufferings. Then the wounded animal thinks that they
have caused his injuries, and begins to cuff them with his paws. They,
of course, strike back, and very soon all the bears are buffeting and
biting and scratching one another. They must be very stupid creatures,
mustn't they?

The sloth-bear is a little more than five feet long when fully grown,
and stands from twenty-seven to thirty-three inches in height at the
shoulder. In color it is black, with a white crescent-shaped mark on the
upper part of its chest, like that of the sun-bear.


THE PANDA

Besides the true bears, there are a number of smaller animals which
belong to the same tribe.

One of these is the panda, wah, or bear-cat, which is only about as big
as a rather large cat. It is rusty red in color, with darker rings upon
the tail, the tip of which is black. The face is white, and the lower
parts of the body are very dark brown.

The panda is found in the forests of the Eastern Himalayas, and also in
Eastern Tibet. It is a very good climber and spends much of its time in
the trees, searching for the nuts, fruits, and acorns on which it feeds.
If it happens to find a bird's nest with eggs in it, it will suck them
all, one after the other. And sometimes it will come down to the ground
to make a meal upon roots, or the young shoots of bamboo.

The panda has rather large claws--just like those of a bear--and one
would think that they would form very serviceable weapons. But the
animal seems to have very little idea of fighting, and scarcely tries
even to defend itself if it is attacked.


RACOONS

Next come the racoons, which live in America. The best known of them is
the common racoon, found throughout the United States, and also in
Central America as far south as Costa Rica.

This is a very pretty animal. In size it is about as big as a rather
large cat, and is brown or grayish brown in color, with a tail that is
very bushy and beautifully ringed with gray and black. The head is
rather like that of a fox, with a whitish forehead, and a black patch
just below it, enclosing the eyes.

Racoons may usually be seen in a zoo, and if you give one of them a
piece of bread or biscuit it will take it in its fore paws, just as if
the animal were a monkey, and then go and rinse it carefully in the
little pond in the middle of its cage. It never eats a scrap of food
without washing it in this curious manner, and for this reason the
Germans have given it the name of "Waschbär" or "washing-bear."

The fur of the racoon is so soft and thick that it is very valuable, and
the animal is very much hunted. It is generally hunted by night, the
hunters going out with a number of dogs, which soon drive the animal
into a tree. They then sit in a circle round the trunk, while one of the
hunters climbs the tree, drives the racoon to the end of the branch, and
then shakes it violently till the poor creature falls to the ground,
where it is quickly seized and despatched.

Racoons will eat almost anything. Sometimes they will visit a
poultry-yard and kill a number of the fowls by biting off their heads.
Or they will go down to the sea-shore when the tide is out to search for
crabs and oysters, or to the creeks and streams to hunt for crayfish.
They are fond, too, of mice, and young birds, and eggs, and lizards, and
fresh-water tortoises, and even insects. Occasionally they make a meal
on nuts or fruit; but although they are such capital climbers, and can
run about among the tree-branches as actively as squirrels, they never
appear to pluck fruits or nuts as they grow, but only to pick up those
which have fallen on the ground.

In Northern Mexico and adjoining parts of the United States there is a
small relative of the racoon called cacomistle, or American civet-cat
(though it is not a real civet). This has a sharp, fox-like face, big
erect ears, a cat-like body, and long furry ringed tail; and it makes a
gentle and most amusing pet, of great service in keeping a house free
from vermin. Hence it is often tamed and kept by miners and others who
are glad of its lively company and need assistance in housekeeping.


THE COATI

Closely allied to the racoons is the coati, or coati-mondi, which you
may recognize at once by its very long snout. This snout is turned up at
the tip, and gives to the animal a most curious appearance, while it is
continually being curled and twisted about like that of the sloth-bear.
It is chiefly used for rooting about in the ground in search of worms
and insects, and when the animal is drinking it always turns up the tip
of its snout as far as possible, in order that it may not get wet.

The coati can climb quite as well as the racoons and spends most of its
life in the trees, seldom coming down to the ground except to feed or to
drink. It has a queer way of descending a tree with its head downward,
turning the hinder feet around in such a way that it can hook its claws
into the little crevices in the bark. During the daytime it is generally
fast asleep, using its long bushy tail partly as a pillow and partly as
a blanket. But almost immediately after sunset it wakes up and begins to
scamper about among the branches with the most wonderful activity,
stopping every now and then to rob a bird's nest, or to poke its snout
into a hole in search of insects.

The coati is about a yard in length, nearly half of which belongs to the
tail. In color it is chestnut brown, with black ears and legs, while the
tail has black and brownish yellow rings.


THE KINKAJOU

Only one more member of the bear tribe remains to be mentioned, and that
is the very curious kinkajou, which is found in the forests of South and
Central America. It is about as big as a cat, with very woolly fur of a
light brown color, and a very long tail. This tail is prehensile, like
that of a spider-monkey, and the animal never seems quite happy unless
the tip is coiled round a branch. And if you make a pet of it, and carry
it about in your arms, it will always try to coil its tail round one of
your wrists.

It has a very odd tongue, too, so round and long that it looks almost
like a worm. The animal can poke this tongue into the cells of a
honeycomb, in order to lick out the honey, or use it in plucking fruit
which would otherwise be out of its reach. And it descends the trunks of
trees head first, just as the coati does.



CHAPTER XII

THE SEAL TRIBE


We now come to a group of carnivorous or flesh-eating mammals which live
in the water--the seals.

People sometimes think that these creatures are fishes; but that is
quite a mistake, for their blood is as hot as our own, and they breathe
by means of nostrils and lungs just as we do, and not by means of gills,
like the fishes. Then they have not fins to keep their bodies upright in
the water as fishes have, neither do they swim by means of their tails;
and their bodies are covered with fur, not with scales.


HOW SEALS SWIM

So, you see, seals are very different from fishes, although they spend
almost the whole of their lives in the water. But nature has formed them
in such a way that they can swim and dive quite as well as the fishes
can. Yet it is difficult to see how they do so. If you watch a tame seal
swimming about in a large tank of water, you will see that it glides
smoothly and swiftly and easily and gracefully along, rising and diving
and turning with the most perfect ease; but _how_ it swims you will
not be able to tell at all.

You know, however, that you can row a boat by means of a single oar, if
you work it from side to side at the stern. You will not travel very
fast, partly because the oar is not very big, and partly because you are
not very strong. But still the boat will move.

Now if you look at the hinder feet of a seal, you will see that they are
very broad, that they are set far back upon the body, and that, if
necessary, they can be placed side by side together. Then think of the
body of the seal as a live boat, and of these great broad feet as an
oar worked from the stern, and you will be able to understand how the
animal swims. It just places these feet side by side, and uses them in
such a way that they act upon the water exactly as an oar does, while
their strength is so great that they drive the body along very swiftly.


HOW THEY ARE KEPT WARM

But if the seal is a hot-blooded animal, how can it remain in the sea
for days together without being chilled? If we go to the seaside, and
wish to bathe, we are advised not to stay in the water for more than ten
or fifteen minutes; and if we were to do so, we might be made seriously
ill. Yet the seal can live for days, or even weeks, in the icy seas of
the far north and yet never seem to suffer from the cold at all. How is
this?

Well, the fact is that, first of all, nature has supplied the seal with
a kind of mackintosh, to keep it dry. This mackintosh, in most seals, is
made of a double coat of fur. First there is an outer layer of long,
stout hairs, almost like bristles; and underneath there is generally
another layer of soft, close hairs--those which you see in a lady's
sealskin jacket. And in order to keep the water from passing through it,
this double coat of fur is kept constantly oiled. All over the surface
of a seal's skin are thousands upon thousands of little holes, each of
which opens into a tiny bag of oil, and this oil is constantly oozing
out on to the fur. So, you see, the furry coat really does act like a
mackintosh, for it quite prevents the seal from ever getting wet.

When an animal lives in water which is often covered with ice, however,
something more than a mackintosh is necessary in order to keep it warm;
so under the mackintosh nature has provided the seal with a thick
greatcoat. And this greatcoat is made of a substance much warmer than
cloth, or even than fur. It is made of fat. Just under the skin,
covering the whole of the body, is a layer of fat two or three inches
thick. And this keeps the seal so warm that even when it is lying upon
ice it never gets chilled in the least.


FULLY FITTED FOR ITS HOME

The nostrils and the ears of the seal are made in such a way that water
cannot enter them when the animal is diving. They are furnished with
little valves, which are so arranged that they close as soon as the
water presses upon them. And the greater the pressure the more tightly
they shut up, so that not the tiniest drop of water can ever enter them.

There is still one more way in which the animal is specially fitted for
its life in the water. It has to feed on fishes, and fishes are very
slippery creatures. If you have ever tried to hold a live fish in your
hand you will know that it is a difficult thing to do, for the fish just
gives a wriggle and a twist, and slips out of your grasp as if it had
been oiled. So that it would seem quite impossible for the seal to hold
its finny victims, even if it overtook and seized them. But when we come
to look at its teeth we find that those which we call molars, or
grinders, are set with long, sharp points; so that when a fish is seized
they enter its body, and hold it in a grip from which there is no
escape.


THE COMMON SEAL

There are many different kinds of seals, but we shall only be able to
tell you about four or five of the best known.

The first of these is the common seal. It is found on both sides of the
Atlantic Ocean and in the North Pacific. On some coasts it is much
disliked by fishermen, owing to the great number of fishes which it
devours. It is so cunning that it will even find its way in among the
nets they have let down, feast heartily upon the captive fish, and then
quietly swim out again, often doing the same thing day after day for
weeks together. And it is almost impossible to destroy it, for it seems
to know perfectly well when its enemies are on the watch, and will only
expose its nostrils above the water when it comes up to the surface to
breathe.

Very often fishermen consider it "unlucky" to kill a seal, so that the
animal is able to carry on its robberies without being interfered with.

The common seal, when fully grown, is about five feet long, and is
yellowish gray in color, with a number of darker spots sprinkled over
the body and sides. It is very active in the sea, and fairly active on
land, for although it cannot walk it will shuffle along over the beach
at a wonderful pace for such an animal. As it does so, it throws up a
perfect shower of stones with its hinder nippers, and those who have
chased it have often thought that it was doing so on purpose, and was
actually throwing stones at them.

If this seal is caught when quite young and treated kindly, it soon
becomes exceedingly tame. It has even been known to live indoors, like a
dog or a cat, and to lie for hours together basking in front of the
fire. And in more than one case, when its owner wished to get rid of it,
and put it back into the sea, it swam after him, crying so pitifully as
he rowed away that he could not bear to leave it, and took it home with
him again after all.


SEA-LIONS

The sea-lions are so called because they are supposed to look very much
like lions. But it is not easy to see the resemblance. Sometimes they
are called hair-seals, because there is no soft woolly under-fur beneath
the coating of thick bristles, as there is in most of the animals
belonging to this family.

There are nearly always sea-lions to be seen in zoos, and they are so
intelligent and clever that the keepers are able to teach them to
perform many tricks. A wooden platform is built for them, with the upper
end standing some feet above the surface of the water, and they are very
fond of shuffling up this, lying at the end until a number of visitors
have come close to the railings to look at them, and then diving into
the water with a great splash, so as to send a shower of spray over the
spectators.

There are several different kinds of these animals, of which the
Patagonian sea-lion is perhaps the most numerous. It is found on both
the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts of South America, and is rather
more lion-like than its relations, since it has a crest of long hairs on
the back of its neck, which really looks something like a mane. But you
cannot see this crest when the animal is wet, as it then lies down flat
upon the skin. The color of the fur varies much, for the old males are
brown, the females are gray, and the young ones are a rich chocolate,
which begins to grow paler when they are almost twelve months old.

The California sea-lion is a distinct species of the Pacific coast, and
is found from there to Japan. On the rocks off San Francisco is one of
its ancient rookeries, and the animal is there preserved by the
government as one of the sights of the bay. In traveling menageries and
in zoos you may hear the California sea-lions loudly and continually
barking.

A sea-lion that lived for a good many years in the London Zoo was
exceedingly clever, for it would climb up and down a ladder, with either
its head or its tail first, fire off a gun, kiss its keeper, and catch
fishes in its mouth if they were thrown to it, just as a dog will catch
a piece of biscuit. Cleverer still, however, were a party of sea-lions,
established at the London Hippodrome in 1902, for they would play a kind
of football with their heads, catching the ball and passing it from one
to another in a most wonderful way, and scarcely ever missing it or
making a mistake. They would take part, too, in a musical performance,
one playing the drum, another cymbals, a third the horn, and a fourth
the bells, while their trainer stood in the middle and beat time. And
one of them would actually balance an upright pole, with a fish on the
top, on the tip of its nose, waddle across the stage, still holding the
pole upright, and then suddenly jerk the pole aside, and catch the fish
in its mouth as it fell.

But sea-lions are rather expensive pets to keep, for they have such very
large appetites. A single sea-lion will eat about twenty-five pounds of
fish in a single day! And when one remembers that these seals are
sometimes found in herds of hundreds of thousands, one would almost
think that they must very soon devour all the fishes in the sea.

When fully grown the male of the largest species of sea-lion is often
ten feet long and weighs a thousand pounds.


FUR-SEALS

The fur-seals are sometimes known as sea-bears, although they are not
even as much like bears as the sea-lions are like lions. They are
destroyed in very great numbers for the sake of their skins, which have
a thick coating of soft fur under the stiff outer bristles. These
bristles, of course, have to be removed before the fur can be used, and
this is done by shaving the inner surface of the skin away until their
roots are cut off. They can then be pulled out without any difficulty,
while the roots of the under-fur, which are not nearly so deeply buried,
are not hurt in the least. But the operation is not at all an easy one,
and can only be performed by a highly skilled workman, and that is one
reason why sealskin jackets are so expensive.

Another reason is that in almost every skin there are a number of flaws,
all of which have to be most carefully cut out, after which the holes
have to be filled up in such a way as to leave no traces of the
operation. Then the fur has to be cleaned, combed, and prepared and
dyed, so that the garments which are made from it really cannot be sold
except at a very high price.

These seals are not hunted in the sea, for they are such good swimmers
that it would be very difficult to kill them. So during the greater part
of the year they are allowed to live in peace. But during the
breeding-season they live on land, lying upon certain parts of the coast
in enormous herds; and the seal-hunters visit these places, drive the
young males to a distance from the rest, and there kill them by striking
them on the head with a heavy club.

Such vast numbers of fur-seals were destroyed in this way that at last
it became necessary to protect them, for fear lest they should be
entirely killed off. So only a certain number may now be killed in each
year.

The best known of the fur-seals is the northern sea-bear, which is found
on both shores of the Northern Pacific. It used to visit the Pribilof
Islands in enormous numbers during the breeding-season, but lately so
many have been killed, despite protective laws, that now the herds are
quite small.


THE HOODED SEAL

Another seal whose fur is very valuable is called the hooded seal, or
crested seal, because the adult male has a singular growth upon the
front part of the head. This hood or crest consists of a kind of bag of
skin which lies just above the nose, and can be inflated with air at
will. What its use may be in a state of nature is not known. But when
the seal is hunted it is often of the greatest service, for the force of
a blow which would otherwise have caused instant death is so broken by
the crest that the animal is merely stunned for a few moments, and is
able to slip into the water before the hunter returns to take off its
skin.

This seal is rather a formidable animal when it is enraged, for it is
quite large when fully grown, and uses both its claws and its teeth in
fighting. The male animals are very quarrelsome among themselves, and
most desperate battles take place.

These and other hair-seals lie in summer upon floating ice-fields where
their young are born. Steamers filled with men find them off the coast
of Labrador, land on the ice, and kill thousands for the sake of their
skins and the oil tried out of the blubber or underlying fat.


THE SEA-ELEPHANT

One of the biggest of all the seals is the great sea-elephant, also
called elephant-seal, which frequents the shores of many of the islands
in the Antarctic Ocean. It owes its name partly to its enormous size,
the old males sometimes reaching a length of eighteen or even twenty
feet, and partly to its very curious trunk, which is sometimes as much
as a foot long. In the females and the young animals this trunk is
wanting, and even in the male it is seldom seen unless the animal is
excited, when it can be blown out very much like the bag of the hooded
seal.

The fur of the sea-elephant is much too coarse to be of any great value.
But its skin can be made into excellent leather, while the thick coat of
blubber which lies beneath it furnishes large quantities of useful oil.
The consequence is that the animal has been much hunted, and is now
comparatively scarce even in districts where it was once very common. It
is not nearly so fierce as the hooded seal, and almost always takes to
flight if it is attacked, its huge body quivering like a vast mass of
jelly as it shuffles awkwardly along over the beach. But the males fight
most fiercely with one another, inflicting really terrible wounds by
means of their tusk-like teeth.


THE WALRUS

The strangest of all the seals is the walrus, whose tusks, representing
the canine teeth, are sometimes as much as two feet long.

This animal is found only in the northern parts of the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans, and is not often seen outside the arctic circle.
Formerly it was far more widely distributed, and in the Atlantic was
even seen frequently as far south as the Gulf of St. Lawrence; but it
has been so persecuted by hunters that it has quite disappeared from
many districts where once it was in great numbers.

The walrus is not quite so large as the sea-elephant, nevertheless, it
is a very big animal, for a full-grown male will often measure twelve
feet in length, and will weigh nearly a ton. It uses its tusks for many
different purposes. When it wants to climb upon an ice-floe, for
example, it will dig them deeply into the ice, and so obtain purchase
while it raises its huge body out of the water. They are very formidable
weapons, too, and the animal can strike so quickly with them, both
sideways and downward, that it is not at all easy to avoid their stroke.
Then they are very useful in obtaining food. If a walrus finds the body
of a dead whale, it will cut off huge lumps of the flesh by means of its
tusks; and very often it will dig in the sandy mud with them for mussels
and cockles. The consequence is that the tusks are frequently broken,
while they are nearly always very much worn at the tips.

The name walrus is a corruption of whale-horse. The animal is sometimes
known as the sea-horse, and also as the morse.



CHAPTER XIII

THE WHALE TRIBE


The whales are more thoroughly creatures of the water than even the
seals, for they never come upon dry land at all, even during the
breeding-season. Indeed, if a whale is unfortunate enough to be thrown
upon the shore by a great wave, and left stranded, it cannot possibly
make its way back into the sea, but is obliged to lie there till it
dies.

Yet we must not think that these giant creatures are fishes; for they
are as truly mammals as the seals are. Their blood is hot, and is driven
through the body by a heart made up of four chambers, instead of only
two. They breathe by means of nostrils and lungs, and not by means of
gills. And besides that they suckle their young, just as all other
mammals do.

Then, once more, if you look at the body of a whale, you will see that
its tail is quite different from that of a fish. The tail of a fish is
upright, but that of a whale is set crosswise. So that there is only one
respect in which whales are really like fishes, and that is the general
shape of the body.

These huge animals fall naturally into two families, the first
consisting of those which have teeth, and the other of those which have
whalebone, or baleen, instead. But in many ways the members of both
these families are alike.


HOW WHALES BREATHE

All whales, for example, breathe in a very curious way. No doubt you
have heard of the "spouting" of these animals, and perhaps you may have
seen a picture of a whale lying on the surface of the sea, and throwing
up a great column of water from its nostrils, or blow-holes. These
pictures, however, are rather exaggerated, for what really happens is
this: A whale, as of course you know, often remains under water for a
very long time, and when at last it rises to the surface, the air in its
lungs is heavily laden with moisture. When the air is discharged through
the blow-holes into the cold atmosphere the moisture condenses at once
into a kind of misty spray, just as that in our own breath does in very
cold weather. This is what one sees when a whale is spouting, although
as the animal sometimes begins to blow while its nostrils are still
beneath the surface, a small quantity of sea-water may, perhaps, be
thrown up too.

A whale, if it is not disturbed, will often blow fifty or sixty times in
succession. Let us try to explain why it does so.

If _you_ try to hold your breath, you will find that it is very
difficult to do so for more than three-quarters of a minute. But if,
before you make the attempt, you get rid of as much of the air in your
lungs as you possibly can, draw in a very deep breath and get rid of
that, and then repeat the process about half a dozen times, you will
find that you can hold your breath quite easily for at least a minute
and a half. The reason is that by breathing so often and so deeply you
have purified all the blood in your body, instead of having, as usual, a
very large quantity which has done its work, and requires to be
refreshed in the lungs before it can be of any further use.

Now the whale spouts fifty or sixty times in succession for just the
same reason. It is taking a series of deep breaths so that it may purify
all the blood in its body, and be able to remain under water for as long
a time as possible without having to rise to the surface for air. And,
besides this, there is a most wonderful arrangement in its body which
enables it to stay below for very much longer than would otherwise be
possible. Inside its chest it has a sort of blood-cistern, so to speak,
consisting of a number of large vessels, which contain a great quantity
of extra blood, besides that which is circulating through the body. This
blood, also, is purified when the whale spouts. Then, when the animal
has remained under water for some little time, and begins to feel the
want of air, it does not rise to the surface at once, in order to
breathe, but just pumps some of the extra blood from this curious
cistern into its veins and arteries, to take the place of that which is
used up and requires to be purified. This it can do over and over
again until all the extra blood-supply is used up too, when it is
obliged to rise and spout.

As a general rule a whale spends from ten to twelve minutes in spouting,
and can then remain under water, if necessary, for considerably more
than an hour.

It is owing to this singular method of breathing that whales can be so
easily killed. The object of the hunters is simply to drive them below
before they have finished spouting. They do this again and again, and
the consequence is that the poor animal soon becomes completely
exhausted and falls an easy prey.


THE WHALE'S BLUBBER

You remember, don't you, how the seals are protected from cold, partly
by their thick and oily fur, and partly by the layer of fat which lies
just under the skin? Well, the whales are protected in much the same
way. They have no fur, of course; but the layer of fat, which we call
blubber, is always several inches in thickness, and is sometimes as much
as two feet; so that the whale is never chilled by living in the water,
even when it has to make its way through floating ice.

This blubber has another use as well. When the whale dives to a great
depth--and sometimes it sinks half a mile or more beneath the surface of
the sea--the pressure on its body becomes enormously great because of
the weight of the water above it. If you were to dive to half that depth
you would die. But the blubber of the whale is so elastic that it
resists the pressure just as a great thick sheet of india-rubber would,
so that the animal does not suffer from it in the least.


MISTAKES OF ARTISTS

Sometimes you see pictures in which whales are drawn with very big eyes,
very long ears, and perhaps even with their tongues hanging out of their
mouths. Now such pictures are drawn by artists who know nothing about
whales, for the eyes of these animals are quite small, their outward
ears are merely little holes in the skin, closing by means of
self-acting valves like those of the seals, and the tongue cannot
be poked out of the mouth at all.

Now let us learn something about the different kinds of whales.


TOOTHED WHALES

First come the toothed whales, or denticetes. As an example of these we
will take the famous sperm or spermaceti whale, which is also known as
the cachalot.

This whale has nearly all its teeth in the lower jaw, the upper one only
having a very short row of small teeth on either side. The lower teeth
are five or six inches long, and fit into pits in the upper jaw when the
mouth is closed. These teeth are composed of beautiful ivory, and were
formerly valued so highly by the natives of the South Sea Islands, that
more than once a tribe has actually gone to war with another tribe
simply to obtain possession of a single whale's tooth.

Now that it has been hunted so much, apparently the sperm-whale does not
grow to so great a size as it did in days gone by. Yet it is a very big
animal, for a full-grown male will attain to a length of sixty or even
seventy feet, while even a baby whale is from eleven to fourteen feet
long, or as big as a big walrus. And, strange to say, the head is almost
as large as the body and tail put together. This is chiefly due to the
fact that there is a great cavity in the skull, which contains the
valuable substance we call spermaceti. When one of these whales is
killed, the head is cut off, and a kind of well is dug in the forehead,
from which the spermaceti is drawn to the surface in buckets, as much as
thirty barrels being sometimes taken from a single animal.

Besides this, the blubber yields a large quantity of very valuable oil,
which burns with a much clearer and stronger light than ordinary
whale-oil. And sometimes a curious substance called ambergris is found
in its body. It is used in making certain kinds of scent, and is quite
costly, although as much as fifty pounds of it have sometimes been taken
from a single whale.

Sperm-whales are generally seen in companies, which are known as
schools. In olden days there were sometimes as many as two hundred
whales in one of these schools. But so many of the great creatures have
been killed by whalers that it is now quite the exception to see more
than four or five together.

These whales are very playful creatures, and may often be seen gamboling
on the surface of the sea, and now and then breaching, or leaping
completely out of the water and falling back again with a tremendous
splash. They feed chiefly upon the great cuttles, or squids, which are
so plentiful in some parts of the ocean, but also devour large numbers
of cod and other fishes. But how they manage to catch these fishes
nobody quite seems to know.

These whales were formerly hunted by means of a small boat, in the bow
of which stood a man with a long spear, or harpoon, in his hand,
attached to an enormous coil of rope. As soon as this was hurled at a
whale the boat was backed, so as to escape the stroke of its tail, and
the whale would then sound, or dive to the depth of perhaps
three-quarters of a mile. As soon as he rose he was driven down again,
as already described, before he had had time to finish spouting, and at
last, when quite exhausted, was killed by means of a very long and
sharp-edged lance. Nowadays, however, the harpoon is generally fired
from a ship by means of a gun, and as a charge of gun-cotton is placed
in the harpoon's head, which explodes as soon as the weapon enters the
body of the whale, such a severe wound is caused that the animal very
soon dies.


BOTTLE-NOSED WHALES

These whales are so called because their muzzles are produced into beaks
shaped somewhat like bottles. Although they belong to the toothed whales
they only have two teeth in the lower jaw, and even these are so small
that they are completely buried in the gum.

By the side of the cachalot the bottle-nosed whale seems quite a small
animal, for even the full-grown male seldom exceeds thirty feet in
length, while the female is quite six feet shorter. It yields, on an
average, about two hundredweight of spermaceti and two tons of oil. Its
color, strange to say, is continually changing all through its life, for
the young animals are black above and the older ones brown, which grows
lighter and lighter as time goes on, till at last it becomes almost
yellow.

These whales seem to be very sympathetic creatures, for if one of them
is wounded, its companions generally swim round and round it, and will
even allow themselves to be killed one after the other rather than take
to flight. But they are also rather stupid animals, for if they happen
to find themselves near the coast they seldom seem to realize that they
can easily escape by turning round and swimming out to sea, but leap and
tumble about in a state of great terror till at last a big wave comes
and throws them up on the beach.


WHALEBONE-WHALES

The members of the other great group of these animals are called
whalebone-whales, because they have whalebone in their mouths instead of
teeth.

Of course this substance is not really bone at all. It consists of a
kind of horny material which grows all round the upper jaw in a series
of flattened plates, which are usually very long, and hang downward from
the edge of the palate. Each of these plates, at the tip, is broken up
into a sort of hair-like fringe; so that when the jaws are partly closed
there is a kind of sieve, or strainer, between them, through which
everything must pass that goes in or out of the mouth.

This sieve is used in feeding. It seems strange that an animal so huge
as a whale should feed on some of the smallest creatures which live in
the sea. Yet such is the case, for the throats of the whalebone-whales
are so narrow that one of them would almost certainly be choked if it
tried to swallow a herring. So these whales live upon very small jelly
fishes, and the young of shrimps, prawns, tiny crabs, etc., which often
swim about in such vast shoals that for miles and miles the sea is quite
alive with them. When the whale meets with one of these shoals it opens
its mouth wide and swims through it. Then it partly closes its mouth,
and squirts out the water which it has taken in through the whalebone
strainer, the little animals, of course, remaining behind. These are
then swallowed, a few thousand at a gulp, and the whale opens its mouth
and repeats the operation over and over again, until its enormous
appetite is satisfied.

Most of the whalebone which we use is obtained from the bowhead, or
Greenland whale, which is found in the northern seas. This animal is
from forty to sixty feet long when fully grown, and the baleen plates
are often ten or even twelve feet in length, while there are nearly four
hundred of them on each side of the upper jaw. In a large whale these
plates weigh more than a ton, and are worth at least $15,000. Then from
130 to 150 barrels of oil will be obtained from its blubber; so that a
big Greenland whale is a very valuable animal.

But whales of this size are now very rarely met with, and there seems to
be some danger that before many years have passed away these giant
creatures will be almost extinct.


RORQUALS

The rorquals are sometimes known as fin-whales, or finbacks, because
they have an upright fin on the hinder part of the back. They are not so
valuable as the Greenland whale, because their baleen is of inferior
quality, and is very much shorter, while their blubber does not yield
nearly so much oil, and they can swim with such speed that they are very
much harder to catch.

The common rorqual grows to a length of about sixty or sixty-five feet,
and is found throughout all the northern seas, and occasionally even in
the Mediterranean. It is a solitary animal as a rule, but schools of
from ten to fifteen individuals are sometimes met with, and may be seen
leaping into the air, and rolling and tumbling about in the water, as
though they were having a game of play together.

The rorqual feeds partly upon the small creatures which it captures by
means of its whalebone strainer, and partly upon fishes. How vast its
appetite is you can judge from the fact that as many as six hundred
large codfish have been found in the stomach of one of these animals,
together with a number of pilchards. Sometimes a rorqual will come quite
near the coast, and remain in a fishing-ground for weeks together, and
as it swallows several boatloads of fish every day, it is scarcely
necessary to say that the fishermen are not at all pleased to see it.

There is another kind of whale, called the lesser rorqual, which only
grows to the length of about twenty-five or thirty feet. It is common
off the shores of Norway, and commoner still in North American waters,
where it is known as the sharp-nosed finner. It is a very playful
animal, and is said sometimes to gambol round and round a ship for
miles, now and then diving underneath it on one side and coming up on
the other.

[Illustration: TYPES OF BEARS.

  1. Polar or Ice Bear.          2. American Black Bear.
  3. Brown Bear: Grizzly Bear.   4. A Marine Bear (California Seals).]


THE DOLPHIN FAMILY

Next we come to the dolphin family, which includes the narwhal, the
grampuses, and the porpoises, as well as the true dolphins.


THE NARWHAL

This is a curious animal, for the male has a very long straight tusk
projecting from one side of its upper jaw. This tusk is often as much as
seven or eight feet in length, and the ivory of which it is made is
twisted round and round in a spiral from base to tip. In former days
this tusk was thought to be the horn of the unicorn, and the narwhal is
often known as the sea-unicorn.

In reality, this tusk is the left-hand upper "eye" tooth of the animal,
that on the right-hand side being very small and completely buried in
the bone of the jaw. Now and then, however, both teeth are developed,
and a narwhal was once killed which had one tusk seven feet five inches
long and the other seven feet. There are no other teeth in the mouth,
and the female animal has no tusks at all.

Now what is the use of this singular weapon? Two or three answers have
been given to this question. Some people have supposed, for example,
that it is used in spearing fish, or in digging up buried mollusks from
the mud at the bottom of the sea. But the female narwhals require food
just as much as the males do; how is it that they are not provided with
tusks also?

Other people have thought that when the winter is very severe, and the
ice on the surface of the sea is very thick, the animal could bore a
hole through it with its tusk, and so be able to breathe. But then
again, female narwhals require air just as they require food. So this
suggestion will not do either.

The only explanation we can really give is that the narwhal's tusk is a
weapon used in fighting, just like the antlers of the male deer. At any
rate, narwhals have several times been seen as they were taking part in
a kind of make-believe battle, and striking and clashing their tusks
together just as though they were fencing with swords. And when they are
fighting in earnest they must be able to use their long spears with
terrible effect, for several times a narwhal has charged a ship, and
driven its tusk so deeply into her timbers that it was quite unable to
withdraw it.

The ivory of which this weapon is made is of very fine quality. But as
the tusk is hollow for the greater part of its length it is not very
valuable.

Narwhals are only found in the half-frozen seas of the far north, where
they are sometimes seen swimming side by side together in large
companies. They grow to a length of twelve feet or over, and are dark
gray in color on the upper part of the body, and white underneath, the
back and sides being more or less mottled with gray.


THE WHITE WHALE

The white whale, or beluga, is something like a large narwhal without a
tusk, and is also a dweller in the northern seas. But it often ascends
the larger rivers for hundreds of miles in search of fish. Now and then
it has been killed off the coasts of Scotland, and one example lived for
quite a long time in the Firth of Forth, going up the river day after
day as the tide came in, and always retreating as it began to fall. The
fishermen were very anxious to kill it, because of the quantities of
fish which it devoured. But it was so quick and active that it eluded
them over and over again, and three whole months passed away before at
last they succeeded.

In one or two of the great rivers of North America white whales are
regularly hunted, the animals being first driven up the stream, and then
caught with nets as they return. They yield a large quantity of very
pure oil, and the "porpoise-hide," which is used so largely in making
boots and shoes, is in reality prepared from their skins.


THE TRUE PORPOISE

The true porpoise, or sea-hog, is much more widely distributed. It likes
to tumble and gambol on the surface of the sea quite close to the shore.
It will ascend tidal rivers too. Its range is mainly along the Atlantic
coast, and it is also found on coasts of Europe and in the Pacific
Ocean. Chasing porpoises in canoes, and spearing them, is an exciting
Canadian sport.

Porpoises have a curious way of swimming, for they travel along by a
series of bounds, first of all leaping almost out of the water, and then
diving under it. When a number of them are moving along in this way one
behind the other, as they very often do, they look from a little
distance just like an enormous snake winding its way through the water,
and no doubt have given rise to some of the tales about the great
sea-serpent.

A herd of porpoises will frequently follow a sailing ship for days,
sometimes, apparently, out of pure curiosity, and sometimes in the hope
of picking up something eatable among the rubbish that is thrown
overboard. But they are very much afraid of steamships, and always keep
at a respectful distance from them. They feed chiefly on fish, and are
so quick and active that even the salmon cannot escape from them, while
they will follow up shoals of mackerel and herrings and destroy them in
enormous numbers.

When fully grown the porpoise is rather more than five feet long. The
upper part of the body is almost black in color, becoming paler on the
sides, while the lower surface is almost pure white.


THE GRAMPUS

The largest and fiercest of all the members of the dolphin family is
undoubtedly the grampus, which is also known as the killer, or
killer-whale. It often reaches a length of twenty feet, or even more,
and is so savage and voracious that it has sometimes been called the
wolf of the sea. One of these animals was once found floating on the
surface of the sea, choked by a seal which it had attempted to swallow;
and when its body was opened fourteen other seals and thirteen porpoises
were taken from its stomach.

Three or four killers will often combine in an attack upon a large
whale, leaping upon it again and again, and striking terrific blows upon
its body with their tails, hanging upon its lips like so many bulldogs,
biting and tearing its flesh, and often actually killing it. The whale
seems terrified by the onslaught of the ferocious creatures, and
sometimes scarcely attempts to resist them, apparently knowing quite
well that they are sure to be victorious in the end.

The grampus is most plentiful in the northern seas, but is found now and
then in almost all parts of the ocean. It occasionally visits the
British shores. Once a living specimen was exhibited in the Brighton
Aquarium, and did very well for some little time. But one day it got its
snout jammed in the rock-work at the bottom of its tank, so that it
could not rise to the surface to spout. And when the keeper discovered
what had happened to it the poor creature was dead.


THE BLACKFISH

Almost as large as the grampus, but not nearly so savage, is the
blackfish, which is so called on account of its color, for it is not a
fish, being a member of the dolphin family. It is found in great shoals,
generally consisting of two or three hundred animals, and often of a
great many more, which are always under the guidance of a single leader.
Wherever he goes they will always follow, and they are such stupid
creatures that if he swims into shallow water and casts himself ashore,
they will all swim after him and fling themselves on the beach also. In
Iceland, and also in the Faroe Islands, large numbers of them are often
killed, the fishermen arranging their boats in a semicircle between the
shoal and the deep sea, and then driving them forward till they strand
themselves upon the shore in their efforts to escape. Large herds have
also been driven ashore in the Orkneys and the Shetlands.

On the east coast of North America the blackfish is one of the most
abundant cetaceans. Off Cape Cod more than a hundred blackfish have been
seen in one school, and they are eagerly hunted for the sake of the soft
oil yielded by their fat.


DOLPHINS

There are two groups of dolphins, the first of which contains three
animals that live in rivers, and therefore are generally called
fresh-water dolphins.

The only one of these that we can mention is the Gangetic dolphin, which
inhabits the great rivers of India, and is named from the Ganges. Its
chief peculiarity is that it is almost totally blind. Although the
animal grows to a length of seven or eight feet, and is bulky in
proportion, yet its eyeballs are no larger than peas, while the nerves
of sight are so imperfect that it is quite possible that it may not be
able to see at all. This is no deprivation to it however, for the rivers
in which it lives are always so thick with mud that even if it had
properly developed eyes it would be quite unable to use them.

The Gangetic dolphin is very seldom seen, because when it comes up to
breathe it only raises just the blow-holes above the surface of the
water. For the same reason, we know very little indeed about its habits.
But it seems to feed on fresh-water shrimps and mollusks, and also on
certain fishes which lie half-buried in the mud at the bottom of the
water, rooting about for them with its snout after the manner of a pig.
This animal is often known as the susu.


SEA-DOLPHINS

Of the sea-dolphins we can only notice two. The first of these is the
common dolphin, which is found in great numbers in almost all parts of
the temperate and tropical seas. Apparently it is not often to be found
on American coasts, but it has been captured in eastern harbors. It
generally lives in herds, which will follow ships for hours together,
leaping and gamboling on the surface of the sea, and yet keeping pace
with the vessel without the least apparent effort. It feeds on fishes,
to capture which, and hold them firmly, it has one hundred and ninety
teeth, so arranged that when the mouth is closed the upper and lower
ones fit in between one another like those of a steel trap and hold the
prey in a grip from which there is no escape.

A full-grown dolphin is usually about seven feet long, but much larger
specimens are occasionally found. The color is dark gray or glossy black
above, and almost pure white on the lower parts of the body.

The bottle-nosed dolphin is a rather smaller animal, with a shorter and
more pointed beak shaped rather like the neck of a bottle, and is purple
black above and grayish white below. Its range is on the North Atlantic
coast from Maine to Florida, on the Gulf coast, and also on some of the
coasts of Europe.


MANATEES AND DUGONGS

There is just one other family of water-mammals which it will be
convenient to mention here, although they do not really belong to the
whale tribe. These are the very curious creatures known as sirenians,
the best known of them being the manatee and the dugong.

Of course you have heard of mermaids, those imaginary creatures of the
sea, which were supposed in days of old to combine the head and body of
a woman with the tail of a fish. Well, very likely stories of them were
told in the first place by some traveler who had seen a manatee, for the
animal has a queer way of raising its head and the upper part of its
body almost upright out of the water and cuddling its little one in its
flippers, so that from a little distance it really looks something like
a human being with a child. But at close quarters the comparison would
not be a very flattering one, for there is a kind of disk-like swelling
at the end of the snout, and the skin is black and coarse and wrinkled
like that of an elephant.

Manatees are found on the west coast of Africa, and also on the shores
of South America, living near the mouths of the larger rivers. They
never seem to leave the water of their own accord, and if by any chance
they find themselves upon dry land, they are perfectly helpless, and can
only roll over and over. One specimen seen in a zoo was quite a small
animal, and had to be fed with milk out of a baby's bottle, while the
keeper nursed it upon his knees. When it grew a little bigger it became
very playful, and would tumble and roll about in its tank almost like a
dolphin or a porpoise. And more than once it even succeeded in knocking
its keeper into the water.

Another of these animals, caught at the mouth of the Essequibo River,
lived in an aquarium for sixteen months. It was about eight feet long,
and its tail was so powerful that every one was afraid the sides of its
tank would be broken in by its tremendous blows. Its appetite was
remarkably good, for it used to eat as much as eighty-four pounds of
lettuces every day.

There is a species of manatee, also called sea-cow, formerly ranging the
South Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, but now seen only
in the rivers and lagoons of southeastern Florida, where it has become
so rare that the State prohibits its wanton destruction under penalty of
a heavy fine.

The dugong is found on the east coast of Africa, and also on the coasts
of Mauritius, Ceylon, the islands of the Indian Archipelago, and Western
Australia. In many respects it is very much like the manatee. But it has
a forked tail instead of a rounded one, and its body is bluish black
above and whitish below. It lives in shallow water near the mouths of
rivers, feeds on various water-plants, and is said to be so affectionate
that if one of a pair is killed the other cannot be induced to leave the
dead body, but will remain by it and allow itself to be slaughtered
also.

Not very many years ago dugongs were found in large herds, sometimes
consisting of two or three hundred individuals, and were so tame that
they would even permit themselves to be touched without attempting to
escape. But they have been killed in great numbers for the sake of their
hides and a valuable oil which is extracted from their bodies, so that
nowadays it seldom happens that more than two or three are seen
together.

A full-grown dugong is generally from seven to eight feet long, and
measures about six feet round the body. The Australian dugong is said to
attain a length of fourteen feet.



CHAPTER XIV

THE RODENT ANIMALS


The group of the rodents is the largest of all the tribes of mammals,
for it contains more than a thousand different animals. Indeed, nearly
one third of all the mammals in the world belong to this very important
division.


TEETH OF THE GNAWERS

The word rodent signifies gnawing, and is given to these creatures
because their front teeth are specially formed for the purpose of
gnawing hard substances. You know, of course, how long and sharp the
front teeth of a rat or a mouse are, and how easily these animals can
nibble their way through a stout piece of board. Well, all the rodent
animals have these teeth formed in just the same way. And when we come
to examine them we find that they are beautifully suited to their
purpose.

You would think that as they are so constantly in use, these teeth would
quickly be worn down to the gums, wouldn't you? Ours would, if we
employed them in the same way. But then, in the rodent animals, these
teeth never stop growing, so that as fast as they are worn from above
they are pushed up again from below.

Sometimes this fact leads to a very singular result. It happens now and
then that a rodent animal meets with an accident and breaks off one of
its front teeth. Now these teeth, remember, cannot be used unless they
have one another to work against, just as the blades of a pair of
scissors cannot be used unless they have one another to cut against. So,
you see, when one tooth is broken short off, the opposite tooth in the
other jaw becomes useless. It has nothing to work against. So it is no
longer worn away from above. But of course it still goes on growing.
So before very long it projects in front of the other teeth. Still it
continues to grow, and in course of time its natural curve brings it
round in a semicircle, with the point toward the face. And at last, if
it is a lower tooth, it pierces first the flesh of the forehead and then
the skull beneath it, and enters the brain and kills the animal; while,
if it happens to be an upper tooth, the point curls round under the chin
and at length prevents the poor creature from opening its mouth, so that
it dies miserably of starvation! It seems impossible, doesn't it? Yet in
museums there are skeletons of hares and rabbits which have been killed
in this singular way by one of their own front teeth.


HOW THE TEETH ARE KEPT SHARP

One would think that the edges of the teeth, at any rate, must soon be
worn away. Nature has guarded against this danger by making these teeth
of two different substances. The face of the tooth is made of a very
thin plate of hard enamel, the rest of the tooth of much softer bone.
During use, of course, the soft bone is worn away very much faster than
the hard enamel, and so the sharp, cutting edge is preserved.

It is interesting to find that we make our chisels in a very similar
way. The blade is not a solid piece of steel, of the same quality
throughout; it consists of steel of two different qualities. The face of
the tool is a very thin plate of extremely hard steel, but the rest is
of much softer metal. And as it is with the rodent's tooth, so it is
with the chisel. The soft metal is worn away during use much faster than
the hard, so that the edge is not destroyed.

Only two pairs of front teeth are developed in the rodent animals, and
as the "eye" teeth are wanting there is always a gap in each jaw between
these and the grinders.


THE COMMON SQUIRREL

First on our list of rodent animals comes the common red squirrel, which
of course you know by sight very well. There are very few parts of the
country where we may not see it frisking and gamboling among the
branches of the trees, or sitting upright on its hind quarters and
nibbling away at a nut, which is delicately held between its front paws.

It skips up the trunk of a tree quite as easily as it runs along the
ground. That is because its sharp little claws enter the bark, and give
it a firm foothold. And it scarcely ever falls from a branch because its
big bushy tail acts as a kind of balancing-pole, like that of a man
walking upon a tight rope; and by stretching it straight out behind its
body, and turning it a little bit to one side or a little bit to the
other, the animal can nearly always manage to save itself from a tumble.

Even if it does fall, however, it does not hurt itself, for the skin of
the lower part of the body is very loose, and it is fastened for a
little distance along the inner surface of each leg. So, when the animal
falls from a height, it merely stretches out its limbs at right angles
to its body--stretching out the loose skin, of course, with them--and so
turns itself into a kind of open umbrella, just like the parachutes
which are often sent down from balloons. And instead of tumbling
headlong to the ground and being killed by the fall, it is buoyed up by
the air and floats down comparatively slowly, so that it is not hurt in
the least.

The squirrel feeds on nuts, acorns, beechnuts, bark, buds, and the young
shoots of certain trees. But it is also very fond of fir-cones, which it
nibbles right down to the core; and sometimes it will eat bird's eggs.
In fact, this squirrel is, in the United States, one of the most dreaded
foes of nesting birds, and they often attack it and chase it away from
their homes. Early in the autumn it always lays up a store of
provisions, hiding them away in a hole in a tree, or more often in
several holes. Then, when a warmer day than usual rouses it from its
long winter sleep, it goes off to its hoard and enjoys a hearty meal.

These pretty little animals generally go about in pairs, and the little
ones are brought up in a warm cosy nest made of leaves and moss. It is
placed either in the fork of a lofty branch or in a hole high up in a
tree-trunk, and it is so perfectly made that rain never soaks through
it, and the wind never blows it away.


THE GRAY SQUIRREL

"This," says Mr. Hornaday, "is the most prominent squirrel of Southern
Canada, New England, and the Eastern and Southern States southward to
Florida. It ranges westward to Minnesota, Kansas, and Texas. Above, its
color is clean iron-gray, which in southern specimens is mixed with dull
yellow. The lower surface is white, varying to yellowish brown. Usually
it nests in hollow trees, but when crowded for room builds an open nest
of green leaves, or strippings of cedar bark made into a round ball. The
young are usually five in number. The gray squirrel frequently consents
to live in city parks, and becomes quite tame. It spends much of its
time upon the ground, searching for nuts, roots, or anything which can
be eaten."

Here is a good place to repeat some other words of Mr. Hornaday's.
"There is no other animal of equal size," he says, "that can add so much
of life and cheerfulness to a hardwood forest or a meadow as a good
healthy squirrel. _Why is it_ that American men and boys kill them
so eagerly?... Surely no true sportsman or right-minded boy can find any
real 'sport' in 'potting' squirrels out of the tree-tops." And we might
add that too often the desire to kill leads men and boys to destroy
other kinds of innocent animals, instead of treating them as friends to
be enjoyed, and whose right to live is just as good as that of human
beings. Kindness toward harmless animals helps to make us kinder to each
other.


FLYING SQUIRRELS

So-called flying squirrels are found in some parts of the world; but
like the colugo, of which we have told already, they do not really fly.
They merely skim from one tree to another by spreading out the very
loose skin of the sides of the body and then leaping into the air. In
this way they can travel for perhaps two or three hundred feet. But as a
rule they merely spring from branch to branch, just like the common
squirrel.

The largest and perhaps best known of these squirrels is the taguan,
which is found in India and Siam, and is about two feet in length, not
including the tail. It is fairly abundant, but is not very often seen,
for all day long it is fast asleep in a hole in some tree, only coming
out of its retreat after sunset.

Several species of flying squirrels are found in North America, and
often make their homes in garrets.


GROUND-SQUIRRELS

There are several squirrels that live upon the ground, and do not climb
trees at all. The most famous of these is the chipmunk, or chipping
squirrel, which is very common in many parts of North America. It is
called chipmunk because, when it is excited or alarmed, it utters a
sharp little cry like the word "chip-r-r-r," over and over again.

This is an extremely pretty little animal, its fur being brownish gray
on the back and orange brown on the forehead and hind quarters, while a
broad black stripe runs along the back, and a yellowish-white stripe
edged with black along each side. The throat and lower part of the body
are white.

The chipmunk lives in burrows which it digs in the ground, and very
wonderful little burrows they are, seldom less than eight or nine feet
long, with a large sleeping-chamber at the end, filled with moss and
grass and dry leaves. Then on either side of the main burrow are several
shorter ones which are used as larders, and in which large stores of
provisions are packed away. From one chipmunk's nest have been taken
nearly a peck of acorns, together with about a quart of beechnuts, two
quarts of buckwheat, a few grains of corn, and a quantity of
grass-seeds! Only three squirrels were found in this burrow; so that
they were in no danger of starving during the winter, were they?

The beechnuts have very sharp points, and the chipmunk bites these
carefully off before it attempts to pack the nuts away in its mouth. It
carries four nuts to its burrow at a time, putting one into each of its
odd cheek-pouches, which are very much like those of certain monkeys,
and one into the mouth itself, while the fourth is held between the
teeth.

The chipmunk is a very active little creature, and its quick, jerky
movements as it darts in and out among the herbage have often been
compared to those of the wren.


PRAIRIE-DOGS

The prairie-dog, which is so called because it lives on the prairies of
North America, and utters an odd little yelping cry which is something
like the bark of a very small dog, has several other names as well, for
sometimes it is known as the prairie-marmot, and sometimes as the
wishtonwish. It is quite a small animal, being seldom more than twelve
inches in length without counting the tail, and is reddish brown or
brownish gray above, and yellowish or brownish white beneath. The tail
is about four inches long.

In the great prairie-lands which lie to the east of the Rocky Mountains,
this quaint little animal is exceedingly plentiful. It lives in
underground burrows, and the earth which it digs out in making them is
always piled up just outside the entrance in the form of a mound about
two feet high, on the top of which it likes to sit upright, squatting on
its hind quarters as a dog does when "begging." At the slightest alarm
it utters its queer little yelping cry, throws a sort of
half-somersault, and dives into its burrow, to reappear a few minutes
later when it thinks the danger has passed away.

A large number of prairie-dogs always live together, like rabbits in a
warren, and sometimes the prairie, as far as one can see, is dotted all
over with their mounds. Usually the animals are steadily moving
eastward. They increase as ranching and farming spread over the plains;
for the cultivation of hay and grain and the destruction of their
natural enemies favor them. In parts of Texas and northward they are so
destructive that united means of destroying them by poison have been
adopted.

It was formerly thought that prairie-dogs took in lodgers, so to speak,
for small owls, known as burrowing owls, are often found in their
tunnels, together with rattlesnakes; and it was supposed that all three
lived peaceably together. But now we know that this is not the case, for
the owls are nearly always found in deserted burrows, while the
rattlesnakes undoubtedly enter the homes of the prairie-dogs for the
purpose of feeding upon their young.


MARMOTS

Not unlike a rather big prairie-dog is the common marmot, which is found
in considerable numbers in the mountainous parts of Northern Europe and
America. Here it is named whistler or siffleur. More familiarly known is
the American woodchuck, or groundhog, which burrows deeply in the fields
of almost every farm in the country. These marmots are famous for their
winter sleep. During the summer months they are very active and busy.
From about the middle of autumn till the beginning of spring, however,
they are fast asleep in their burrows, not waking up at all for at least
six months! Before entering upon this long slumber they pack their
sleeping-chamber full of dry grass, and in these warm beds survive the
winter by the slow absorption of their fat, so that when they come out
they are very lean.

Another kind of marmot, called the bobac, is found both in Northern
Europe and in Asia. It is sometimes eaten as food, but is most difficult
to kill, for unless it is actually shot dead as it sits it will nearly
always contrive to get back into its burrow. And if the animals are
startled by the report of a gun they all disappear underground, and will
not be seen again for several hours.


BEAVERS

One of the most interesting of all the rodent animals is the beaver,
which is found in the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and America. It
spends a great part of its life in the water, and no doubt you have
heard of the wonderful dams which it makes in order to prevent the
rivers from drying up during the summer months.

When the animals want to construct one of these dams, the first thing
they do is to fell a number of trees which stand near the banks of the
river. They do this by gnawing through the stems quite close to the
ground, and they are able easily to cut through trunks ten or even
twelve inches in diameter. Most likely one of the trees falls across the
stream. In that case they leave it as it is. Then they strip off the
bark from the others, and cut up both the trunks and the larger branches
into logs about four or five feet long. These logs they arrange most
carefully in position, piling them upon one another, and keeping them in
their places by heaping stones and mud upon them. They also fill up all
the gaps between them with mud, and so hard do they work that by the
time the dam is finished it is often two hundred yards long, fifteen or
even twenty feet thick at the bottom, and six or eight feet high. And
when the river runs swiftly, they are clever enough to make their dam in
the form of a curve, so that it may be better able to resist the force
of the current.

This dam causes the river to swell out into a broad shallow pool, and in
districts where beavers are plentiful the whole course of a stream is
sometimes converted into a series of pools, made in this curious manner.
After a time peat is formed round the edges, and gradually spreads, and
then the marshy ground round the pool is called a beaver-meadow.

But beavers do not only make dams. They construct what are called lodges
as well, to serve as dwelling-places. These are made by piling up a
number of logs, mingled with clods of earth, stones, and clay, and
digging out the soil from underneath so as to form a sort of hut. These
lodges are oven-shaped, and are from twelve to twenty feet in diameter,
the inside chamber being about seven feet wide. So, you see, they have
very thick walls. And they are generally entered by at least two
underground passages, all of which open in the river-bank below the
surface of the water, so that the animals can go straight from their
lodge into the river without showing themselves above ground at all.

Inside each lodge is a bed of soft warm grasses and woodchips, on which
the animals sleep; and it is even said by some hunters that each beaver
has his own bed! At any rate, several animals of various ages live
together in each lodge. Then near the lodge these wonderful creatures
make a ditch or hole, which is so deep that even in the hardest winter
the water in it never freezes quite to the bottom; and in this deep
place they pile up a great quantity of logs and branches, so that in
winter they may have as much bark as they require to eat.

Beavers are capital swimmers, for the toes of their hinder feet are
joined together with webbing, and make excellent oars, while the broad,
flat tail is very useful as a rudder. They are very much hunted, for
their fur is valuable, while they also secrete a curious substance known
as castor, or castoreum, which is used in medicine. So in some parts of
North America these animals are strictly preserved, and only a certain
number may be killed every third year.

[Illustration: TYPES OF RODENTS

  1. European Hamster.          2. East Indian Striped Squirrel.
  3. Woodchuck; Marmot.         4. South American Capybara.
  5. South American Vizcacha.   6. Beaver.]


THE DORMOUSE

Everybody knows what a sleepy little creature the dormouse is. Very
often it may actually be picked up and handled without waking! It sleeps
all day long, and hibernates from the middle of October till the
beginning of April as well, so that it fully deserves its name of
dormouse, or sleep-mouse. It is found in Europe and Asia, and sometimes
in Africa.

In Germany it is called the Haselmaus, or hazel-mouse, because it is so
fond of hazelnuts. It eats these just as the squirrel does, holding them
in its fore paws as it sits upright on its hind quarters. But it also
feeds upon acorns, beechnuts, hips and haws, and corn when it can get
it.

Dormice always make two nests during the year, one being used during the
summer, and the other during the winter. They are very warm and cosy
little retreats, about six inches in diameter, and are made of grass,
leaves, and moss. Sometimes numbers of the summer's nests are found in
thick bushes, or among the low herbage at the bottom of a hedge, perhaps
with the dormice fast asleep in them. But the winter nests are generally
more carefully hidden, so that it is not very easy to find them even
when the leaves are off the bushes.

Before it goes into hibernation in the autumn, the dormouse becomes very
fat. But it does not sleep right through the winter without taking any
food, for on very mild days it wakes up for an hour or two, and eats one
of the nuts or acorns which it has carefully stored away in its nest.


JERBOAS

The jerboa is an extremely curious animal, and if you were to see it in
the sandy deserts of the Old World, where it is found, you would be very
likely to mistake it for a small bird. For it has very short fore legs,
which it tucks up against its breast in such a way that they can hardly
be seen, and very long hind ones, on which it hops about in a very
bird-like manner. But you would soon notice that it has a long tail,
rather like that of a mouse, but which has a tuft of hairs at the tip.
When it is leaping about it stretches this tail out behind it, and seems
to find it of very great use in keeping its balance.

Jerboas are very common in Egypt and other parts of North Africa, and
live in burrows which they dig in the sandy soil. In order to enable
them to obtain a firm foothold on the slippery sand, the soles of their
feet are covered with long hairs, which also prevent them from being
scorched by contact with the heated ground. But as a rule they do not
come out of their burrows until the evening, when the sun is not so
powerful as it is during the middle of the day. They feed upon grasses
and dry shrubs; but how they find enough to eat in the desert places in
which they live is rather hard to understand.

Many different kinds of jerboas are known. The best known, the common
jerboa, is about as big as a small rat, and has a tail about eight
inches long. In color it is so much like the sand that from a few yards
away it is almost impossible to see it, even when it is skipping about.


THE HAMSTER

This is a queer little rodent which is found very plentifully in
Germany, and also in many districts between that country and Siberia. It
is a rather stoutly built animal, and measures nearly a foot in length
including the tail, which is about two inches long. In color it is
generally light brownish yellow above and black beneath, with a black
stripe on the forehead, a yellow patch on the back, and white feet. But
hamsters are by no means all alike, and some are entirely black, some
pied, and some entirely white.

You remember how dormice make summer and winter nests. In the same way,
European hamsters make summer and winter burrows. The summer burrow is
quite a small one, not more than a foot or two deep, with a small
sleeping-chamber at the bottom. But the winter one is very much larger,
for it is not only six feet long at least, with quite a big
sleeping-chamber, but there are from one to five side chambers as well,
which are used as granaries. In these the animal stores up vast
quantities of grain, peas, and beans, as many as sixty pounds of corn
having been taken from the burrow of a single hamster, and a
hundredweight of beans from that of another. About the middle of October
it stops up the entrances to its home, and passes into a state of
hibernation, in which it remains till the beginning of March. For about
a month longer it still remains in its burrow, feeding on its stores and
provisions, till early in April it resumes its active life, and returns
to its summer habitation.

Of course hamsters are terribly destructive in cultivated land, and
large numbers are destroyed every year. In one district alone nearly a
hundred thousand have been killed in a single season, while an enormous
quantity of grain was recovered from their tunnels.


WATER-VOLES

If you walk along the bank of a stream in some European country, you may
often hear a splash, and see a brownish animal about eight inches long
swimming away through the water. This is a water-vole, often called
water-rat, although it belongs to quite a different family from that of
the true rats. And if one looks down the side of the bank he will see
its burrow, which generally runs into the ground for some little
distance.

Water-voles are usually supposed to be mischievous; but during the
greater part of the year they feed only on water-plants, being specially
fond of the sweet pith of the wild flags. In winter, however, when food
of this kind is scarce, they will nibble away the bark of small
trees and shrubs, and sometimes do a good deal of damage in osier-beds,
while they will also visit cultivated fields in order to feed on
vegetables.

The water-vole is a very good swimmer, although its toes are not webbed,
and its fur is so close and so glossy that it throws off the water just
like the feathers on a duck's back.

A near relation of the water-vole is the field-vole, or field-mouse,
also called meadow-mouse, which is found very commonly in most parts of
Europe, and also in North and South America. It is about as big as an
ordinary mouse, and is grayish brown in color, which becomes rather
paler on the lower parts of the body.

This animal is found chiefly in meadows, where it makes long runs
beneath the grass, and also burrows into the ground. It is always
plentiful, and sometimes appears in such vast numbers that it can only
be described as a plague.

The muskrat, which is one of the most widely distributed and important
of American fur-bearing animals, is really a a sort of big aquatic vole.


LEMMINGS

Still more mischievous, in Norway and Sweden, are the odd little rodents
known as lemmings, which make their appearance from time to time
literally in millions. They always seem to come down from the mountains,
and when once they have begun their journey nothing will stop them. If
they come to a river they swim across it; if to a house, they climb over
it; if to a stack of corn or hay, they eat their way through it. Large
numbers of wolves, foxes, weasels, stoats, hawks, and owls soon discover
the swarm, and kill off the animals in thousands; but still the great
army moves steadily on, leaving the country perfectly bare behind it,
until it reaches the sea. And then those behind push on those in front,
till almost the whole vast host perish in the waves.

These great migrations take place, as a rule, about once in seven years,
and no one seems to know quite where the lemmings come from, or why they
travel in this singular manner.

These strange little animals do not seem to know what fear is, for if a
passer-by happens to meet one of them it will never turn aside, but will
sit up and yelp defiantly at him, while if a dog goes up and examines
it, the chances are that it will try to bite his nose!

In color the European lemming is blackish brown above and yellowish
white below, while its length is about six inches.

Various kinds of rodents known as lemmings are found in North America.
The Hudson Bay lemming has a thick, warm fur. Eskimo children use
lemming-skins to make clothes for their dolls.


RATS

The brown rat and the black rat, of course, are only too common
everywhere. They seem to have come in the first place from Asia, and
have spread to almost all parts of the world. For almost every ship that
sails the sea is infested with rats, some of which are nearly certain to
make their way ashore at every port at which she touches.

Rats are rather formidable animals, for besides being very savage, a
number of them will often combine together in order to attack a common
foe. We have known a large cat, for example, to be so severely wounded
by rats, that after lying in great pain for two or three days it
actually died of its injuries. Rats are very bloodthirsty creatures, for
if one of their own number is caught in a trap, they will tear it in
pieces and devour it. They will enter fowl-houses at night, and kill the
birds as they roost upon their perches, while if they can find their way
into a rabbit-hutch they will even destroy the rabbits.

In barns and farmyards rats are very mischievous, and corn-stacks are
often infested by them. How often they get into houses you know too
well! But on the other hand, they often do a great deal of good, by
devouring substances which would otherwise decay and poison the air; so
that they are not altogether without their uses, as people annoyed by
them are too apt to suppose.

Rats generally have three broods of little ones in the course of the
year, and as there are from eight to fourteen in each brood, you can
easily understand how it is that these animals multiply so rapidly.


MICE

Still more plentiful, and almost as mischievous, is the common mouse,
which is found both in town and country. And this, too, seems to have
been in the first place a native of Asia, and to have since spread to
almost all parts of the world.

There is no need, of course, to describe its appearance, and most of us
are familiar with its habits. So we will pass on at once to one of its
near relations which is not quite so well known, namely, the long-tailed
field-mouse.

In some respects this animal is very much like the field-vole. But you
can tell it at once by its more pointed muzzle, by its much larger ears,
and, above all, by its very much longer tail. It lives in gardens,
fields, and hedgerows, but often takes shelter in houses and barns
during the winter. But all through the spring, summer, and autumn it
occupies burrows in the ground, and very often it lays up quite large
quantities of provisions in its tunnels for winter use, just as the
hamster does in Germany. It does not always dig these burrows for
itself, however, for very often it will take possession of the deserted
run of a mole, or even of a natural hollow beneath the spreading roots
of a tree.

As a general rule, this little animal is a vegetable-eater only. But
when food is scarce it will kill and devour small animals, and has even
been known to prey upon its own kind.

The pretty little harvest-mouse is the smallest of the European rodents.
A full-grown harvest-mouse is seldom more than four and a half inches
long, of which almost one half is occupied by the tail. And it would
take six of the little creatures to weigh an ounce.

The harvest-mouse is not found, as a rule, near human habitations, but
lives in corn-fields and pastures. But sometimes it is carried home in
sheaves of corn at harvest-time, and in that case it lives in the ricks
during the winter. Generally, however, it spends the winter months fast
asleep in a burrow in the ground. Then, when the warm months of spring
come round, it wakes up, and sets about building a most beautiful little
nest of grasses and leaves, which it always suspends among corn-stalks
or grass-stems at some little height from the ground. This nest is about
as large as a baseball, and the odd thing about it is that you can never
find any entrance! Apparently, when the little builder wishes to go in
and out, it pushes its way between the strips of grass of which the nest
is composed, and then carefully arranges them again in position. And it
is so cleverly built that when eight or nine little mice which are
brought up inside it begin to grow, it stretches to suit their
increasing size, so that their nursery is always just big enough to
contain them.

The harvest-mouse is a capital climber, and runs up and down the
corn-stalks with great activity, even though they bend nearly to the
ground under its weight. The tip of its tail, strange to say, is
prehensile, just like that of a spider-monkey.


PORCUPINES

Of course you know what a porcupine is like, with its coat of long,
bristling spines. Indeed, the word porcupine means spiny pig, and refers
partly to the quill-like spikes, and partly to the odd grunting noise
which the animal utters from time to time.

There are several different kinds of porcupine in the Old World and in
America. The common porcupine is found in the south of Europe, and also
in the northern and western parts of Africa, and grows to a length of
about two feet four inches, not including the tail. The quills are of
two kinds. First of all, there are a number of long, slender spines,
which bend quite easily, and are not of very much use as weapons. But
under these is a close array of very much stiffer ones from five to ten
inches long; and these are very formidable indeed. For they are so
loosely fastened to the skin that when the animal backs upon a foe a
good many of them are sure to be left sticking in its flesh; while,
further, they are made in such a manner that they keep on boring their
way farther and farther in, and in course of time may penetrate a vital
organ, and cause death. Even tigers have sometimes lost their lives
through the quills of a porcupine which they had been trying to kill and
devour. The animal is not at all fond of fighting, however, and never
attacks unless it is provoked.

During the daytime the porcupine is seldom seen, being fast asleep in
its burrow. But soon after sunset it leaves its retreat, and wanders to
long distances in search of the roots, bark, etc., upon which it feeds.
"In the woods, it loves to prowl around camps and eat every scrap of
leather or greasy board it can find."

In North America is found the Canada porcupine, ranging from New England
westward to Ohio and northward to Hudson Bay. Another species in the
West and Northwest is the yellow-haired porcupine. In Mexico, Central
America, and South America are other species known as tree-porcupines.

It has been widely supposed that porcupines shoot their quills, but this
belief has no foundation. When attacked, Mr. Hornaday tells us, its
defence consists in erecting its quills and striking quickly a strong
sidewise blow with the tail, which often drives many quills into its
enemy.


THE CHINCHILLA

This pretty little rodent is famous for its beautiful silky fur, which
is in much request for women's garments. In appearance it is rather like
a large dormouse, with very big rounded ears, and a short, hairy tail.
It is found in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, and lives high up among the
mountains in burrows in the ground. A large number of the animals always
dwell together, so that their burrows form a kind of large warren, and
they dart up and down the steep rocks with such wonderful speed that it
is almost impossible to follow their movements.

When it is feeding the chinchilla sits upright, like a squirrel, and
conveys the food to its mouth with its fore paws. It lives chiefly upon
roots, and as the districts in which it lives are so wild and barren it
often has to travel for long distances in order to obtain them.


THE VISCACHA

Closely related to the chinchilla is the viscacha, which is found very
abundantly in the great pampas districts of South America. It generally
lives in little colonies of from twenty to thirty animals, which dig
their burrows close together, and heap up the earth which they scrape
out into one common mound. These burrows are generally dug in the form
of the letter Y, and often a number of them communicate with one another
by means of short passages, so that if the little animals feel in want
of society they can easily go and see their friends.

These colonies are called viscacheras, and in some parts of the
Argentine Republic the plains are closely studded with them as far as
the eye can reach.

Viscachas have a curious way of clearing off all the vegetation that
grows near their burrows, and piling up the refuse in a mound near the
entrance. They will also collect together any hard objects which they
may happen to find, and we are told by Darwin that sometimes quite a
barrow-load of bones, stones, thistle-stalks, and lumps of earth may be
found outside the entrance to a single burrow, and that a traveler who
dropped his watch one evening found it next day by searching the
viscacha-mounds in the neighborhood.

In appearance the viscacha is not unlike a rather small marmot; but the
fur is gray above, with dusky markings, and white below, while the face
is crossed by two black bands, with a broad white stripe between them.


THE AGOUTI

This animal, found in South America and the West Indies, was formerly
very plentiful--in some parts literally swarming. But it did so much
mischief in cultivated ground that it was trapped and shot in immense
numbers, and it has now almost entirely disappeared from many districts
in which it once abounded.

The first point that strikes one on looking at the agouti is the great
length of its hind legs. So long are these limbs, that the animal finds
a good deal of difficulty in running downhill, and often tumbles head
over heels and rolls for several yards before it can recover its
footing. And for the same reason, when it is running at any pace on
level ground, it travels along by a kind of gallop, which is really made
up of a series of leaps.

As the agouti comes out only by night it is a difficult animal to watch,
and it is so wary that it cannot be approached without great caution.
All the time while it is feeding, it keeps on turning its head first to
one side and then to the other, so that it can scarcely ever be taken by
surprise.

If it should be captured, however, it never seems to fight, and has no
idea of using either its sharp teeth or its claws to defend itself. So
sometimes it has been thought that an agouti would make a very nice pet.
Those who have allowed it to run loose in the house, however, have
seldom repeated the experiment, for it will ruin any article of
furniture in a very short time, and will cut its way through the
stoutest door in a few minutes!

When fully grown, the agouti is rather more than eighteen inches long,
and in general color it is olive brown. But the hair of the hinder
quarters, which is very much longer than that of the rest of the body,
is golden brown, while the middle line of the lower part of the body is
almost white.


THE CAPYBARA

Few people, on seeing a capybara for the first time, would take it to be
a rodent. It looks much more like a wild pig, for it has a very heavily
built body, which almost touches the ground as it waddles along, short,
stiff, bristly hair, and great hoof-like feet. Indeed, it is sometimes
called the water-hog. Yet we only have to look at its front teeth to see
that it really is a rodent after all.

The capybara is a native of South America, and is generally found in the
damp, marshy ground near the banks of the larger rivers. It is a good
swimmer, and always makes for the water when alarmed. It is a good
diver, too, and can easily remain below the surface for seven or eight
minutes without requiring to breathe, so that if it can once plunge into
the river it is safe from almost any foe. When fully grown, the capybara
is about four feet long, and weighs nearly one hundred pounds. In fact,
it is the largest of all the rodent animals. In color it is reddish
brown above, and brownish yellow beneath, and it is further remarkable
for having no tail at all.


HARES AND RABBITS

The hares and rabbits, of which our account is taken from "The Life of
Mammals," by Ernest Ingersoll, form a compact family of some sixty
species, scattered in all divisions of the globe except Australasia and
Madagascar; but only one species occurs in South America, and the family
is most numerous in northerly regions, where these animals form an
important food resource for man and beast. All are much alike in the
long, high-haunched hind legs, which give great leaping and dodging
power; tall, erectile ears; divided upper lip; short scut; and grizzled
gray-brown coat, with various specific markings of white and black. The
only exceptional one is the "hispid" hare of Northeastern India, which
has small eyes, bristly short ears, short hind legs, and much the manner
of a rabbit.

The term rabbit has wholly replaced "hare" in America, because the
common small hare of the eastern United States, quickly seen by the
first English settlers, looked to them more like the rabbit they had
known at home than like their bigger hare; and they ignored the
difference in habits as they did so many other facts in their careless
naming of the animals of the New World after those of Europe. It must
always be remembered that the first Pilgrims, Puritans, and southern
"adventurers" were mainly from cities, and knew little of rural things,
to which ignorance, by the way, they owed most of their early
misfortunes in the colonies.

The true rabbit, or cony, differs from its relatives by its small size
(average weight two and a half to three pounds), short ears and hind
legs; but more in its habits, for its young are born naked, blind, and
helpless, and it is comparatively slow-footed. Hence it has been
compelled to become a burrower for the safety of both itself and its
babies, and, as is usual with animals become burrowers, has acquired the
habit of gathering in communities, whose crowded diggings, or warrens,
are labyrinths of subterranean runways. Even this, however, would hardly
suffice to preserve this timid and nearly defenceless race were not
several litters of five to eight young (leverets) produced by each pair
annually to make good the loss from enemies and disease. The original
European wild rabbit is grayish brown, becoming foxy on the neck, but
this rabbit has been domesticated since ancient times, and alterations
of coloring as well as of form have been produced. Ten or more distinct
breeds are recognized by fanciers, some of which, as the lop-eared, the
great Belgian, and the Angora, are far away from the original type.

Their amazing fecundity has caused rabbits to multiply into an almost
uncontrollable pest since they were unwisely introduced into Australia
and New Zealand, where the scarcity of beasts of prey allowed them to
increase without bounds. In a few years, therefore, the whole country
was overrun by millions, which threatened to devour not only all the
crops but every bit of wild herbage; even in Europe, when for any reason
their subjection is neglected, they do great damage to gardens,
orchards, and plantations of young trees.

At present further use is being made of the rabbits by "packing" their
edible flesh in various forms as an article of preserved food, which is
finding a wide market; and probably the pest will be abated in course of
time by natural processes.

Returning to the hares, not much need be said as to particular species.
All dwell either in open grassy country or else among rocks and bushes.
They do not flock, nor make any sort of shelter, but each inhabits a
certain small district, where it makes a smooth resting-place called its
form. To this it will return day after day for a long time unless
frightened; and in such a form the young are born and are left
concealed, when still in the suckling age, under a cover of leaves and
vines, or even fur plucked by the mother from her own loose coat and
felted into a sort of blanket. They seek no better shelter than this in
winter, except that some, as our common little cottontail, will creep
into the mouth of an old skunk's or woodchuck's hole or within a hollow
stump, to seek protection from the "cauld blast." The "jacks" of the
Plains are so well furred that even the soles of their feet are warm
mats of hair; and they are the only small animals able to survive
outside of burrows the intense winter cold and gales of those bleak
uplands. This hardihood is due primarily, of course, to the fact that
hares are able to find nutritious forage all through the winter, and so
keep up their bodily heat.

[Illustration: FOUR TYPES OF CATTLE.

  1. American Bison.           2. Hindu Humped Ox.
  3. Thibetan Yak.             4. Asiatic Water Buffalo.]

All species have great speed--their principal means of safety--and the
swiftest hounds are hardly able to run them down; while they also have
astonishing skill in suddenly halting and turning, or doubling, by which
they gain a fresh start before their more clumsy pursuers can perceive
what has happened, and change their course. Chasing them with greyhounds
is a regular sport called coursing. Along with this goes extreme
timidity and watchfulness, in which their big ears serve a most useful
purpose, rising to the slightest sound, but dropping out of the way as
the animal makes off in a series of tremendous leaps; and the hare can
make faster time uphill than down, owing to the greater length of the
hind legs--a decided advantage. Knowing these tricks, most of its
enemies resort to counter-strategy--a stealthy approach and quick
rush--and an excellent picture of these wiles, and poor Bunny's efforts
to meet them, may be read in Seton's tale of "Raggylug," and in such
delightful writings as those of Audubon and Bachman, Godman, Kennicott,
Lockwood, Abbott, Robinson, Sharp, Cram, and some others. Even the least
of the tribe, however, is able to make a defense which often completely
disconcerts the foe, and the means are found in its strong hind feet.

In addition to this familiar eastern cottontail we have in the United
States several other species, as the little marsh-hare and the big
water-hare of the Southern States; the large northern varying hare; the
arctic hares; the various long-eared, long-legged "jack rabbits" of the
Plains and Rocky Mountains; and several lesser species, more or less
common on the Pacific coast. The varying hare is so called because, as
is the case with several foreign northern hares, its brown summer coat
when shed as usual on the approach of winter is replaced by one which is
white.



CHAPTER XV

THE WILD OXEN


We now come to a very important group of mammals called ungulates, or
hoofed animals, because of the way in which their feet are formed. The
oxen, sheep, goats, antelopes, deer, horses, swine, elephants, and
rhinoceroses all belong to this order. First let us notice some of the
wild oxen.


THE GAUR

The largest of these is the Gaur, which is found in India. It is a very
big animal, sometimes standing more than six feet in height at the
shoulder, and as it has long and very powerful horns, it is much dreaded
by the natives. As a rule, however, it is a very gentle and peaceable
animal, scarcely ever venturing to attack man, and only dwelling in
those remote parts of the jungle to which even hunters seldom find their
way.

The gaur lives in small herds, generally of from ten to twenty in
number. Each of these is led by an old bull, and there are generally two
or three younger ones, the rest being cows and calves. When the younger
bulls grow up they usually fight the old one in order to take his place.
For some time he contrives to hold his own; but when at last he is
beaten he goes off and lives in the thickets by himself.

These solitaries, as they are called, are generally very savage, and
will often rush out and attack a passer-by, even when he has not
provoked them at all.

The gaur is a very wary animal, and sentries are always posted near the
herd, in order to give warning of the approach of a foe. When feeding,
they are said to stand in a circle with their heads outward, so that
they can see in every direction.

The old male gaurs are nearly black in color, and the younger ones and
the cows reddish brown, while they all have white "stockings" from the
knee downward.


THE YAK

The yak, which lives in Tibet, is something like an ox with great masses
of hair on its flanks, limbs, and tail. In color it is blackish brown,
with a little white upon the muzzle, and in height is about five feet
six inches at the shoulder. The thick fringes of hair do not begin to
grow till it is about three months old, and the young calf is covered
all over with curly black hair, like a Newfoundland dog.

The yak lives among the mountains, sometimes climbing to a height of
fully twenty thousand feet, and scrambles about among the boulders with
wonderful activity. Large herds of these animals, however, have been
domesticated, and are used as beasts of burden, while their flesh is
said to be almost as tender and well-flavored as beef. The big, tufted
tail, too, is highly valued, for it is dyed in various colors, and is
then employed in making the fly-flappers which are used so much in
Eastern countries for driving away flies.


THE BISON

The famous bison, commonly called buffalo, of North America, sad to say
is now almost extinct, for there are only a few small herds living under
special protection. Yet, not so very many years ago, these magnificent
animals wandered over the prairies in millions. Even a single herd,
sometimes, would extend farther than the eye could reach, and we read of
one herd which covered a tract of country fifty miles long and
twenty-five miles broad! But these herds were recklessly destroyed for
the sake of their hides and tongues, and now there are only a few wild
buffaloes left alive altogether.

Generally, however, buffaloes are to be seen in zoos, and if you go to
look at them you will most likely think that the male looks rather like
a very big lion. For it has an enormous mane of long, shaggy hair, which
covers the head and shoulders. There is also a sort of long beard under
the chin, and the hair of the sides and hind quarters is very thick. The
consequence is that the animal looks a great deal bigger than it
really is, although it stands well over five feet high at the shoulders.

In spite of its great mass of hair, this is a very active animal, and it
can both trot and gallop with considerable speed. When galloping it
always holds its head close to the ground, and its tail high up in the
air. It is not by any means a courageous animal, notwithstanding its
size and strength. But the bulls fight most savagely with one another,
roaring so loudly that in the days of the great herds the noise was
compared to thunder, and could be heard for miles.

Another kind of bison, called the aurochs, lives in the great forests of
Northern Europe. Its mane is not so long and thick as that of the
American animal, but its horns are longer and not so strongly curved.


THE CAPE BUFFALO

Smaller than the bison, but very much more formidable, is the cape
buffalo, which is spread over almost the whole of Africa south of the
equator. It is about as big as an ordinary bullock, and has a pair of
massive and sharply pointed curved horns, which are sometimes as much as
three feet in length.

This animal lives in reedy swamps, and is generally found in herds,
which often number from 250 to 300 individuals. They are very wary, and
difficult to approach, while they are so swift of foot that only a very
fast horse can escape from them when carrying a rider on its back. In
charging they throw their heads back, with the horns upon the shoulders,
and then suddenly bend down and strike upward when they come within
reach.

The buffalo does not usually attack unless it is wounded, however,
though solitaries will often lie in concealment and rush out upon the
hunter as he passes by.


THE INDIAN BUFFALO

There is another kind of buffalo found in India, which is a very
different animal in every way. It is different in appearance, for it has
its head drawn out into a kind of muzzle, while its horns are very long
indeed, and taper gradually from base to tip, at the same time curving
outward and upward and backward. And it is different in disposition,
because it is easily tamed, and is employed in many parts of India as a
beast of draught and burden. You might see buffaloes drawing a plow, for
example, or dragging a cart, and for these and similar purposes they
have been introduced into Egypt, and even into Southern Europe. The wild
bulls, however, are apt to be very savage when they live alone. But a
herd of buffaloes, strange to say, though they will gallop up close, and
toss their heads, and behave in a most threatening manner, seem never to
actually attack a man so long as he has the courage to stand perfectly
still.


THE MUSK-OX

Though it is called an ox, and looks like an ox, this animal is in
reality much more closely related to the sheep. It is of about the size
of a rather large ram, but looks much bigger than it really is, owing to
the great masses of long hair, which cover the whole of its body, and
hang down so far that one can scarcely see its legs at all. It is even
more hairy than the yak.

The horns of the male animal are very curiously formed, for they are so
broad and flat at the base that they form a kind of helmet, which covers
almost the whole of the forehead. They then droop downward on either
side of the face, but curve upward and outward at the tips. Those of the
cow, however, are very much smaller.

The musk-ox lives in the most northerly parts of North America. It is
perfectly at home amid the snow and ice, and lives in the wildest and
dreariest regions, in which the ground scarcely thaws during the whole
of the year; so that the life of those who hunt it is a very hard one.
But, as a rule, its only enemies are the arctic wolves, which drive it
to bay on some rocky mountain slope, and tear it to the ground by the
mere force of numbers.

The name of this animal is due to the musky flavor of its flesh, which
is said to be very tender and delicate.


SHEEP

The sheep are represented at the present time by several wild species,
one of which is found in Northern India east of the Indus, in the
Punjab, and in Sind; one in North America; and another in North Africa.
The rest inhabit the high ground of Europe and Asia as far south as the
Himalayas. These mountains, with the adjacent plateaus of the Pamirs and
the great ranges of Central Asia, form the main home of the group. Wild
sheep are of various types, some so much like the goats that it is
difficult to draw a hard and fast line between them; while others,
especially the curly-horned argalis, bighorns, urial, and Kamchatka wild
sheep, are unmistakably of the sheep type.

The wild original of the domesticated breeds of sheep is unknown.
Domesticated sheep which live on hills and mountains are still inclined
to seek the highest ground at night. The rams fight as the wild rams do,
and many of them display activity and powers of climbing and of finding
a living on barren ground scarcely less remarkable than in the wild
races.

The domesticated sheep have been bred by artificial selection for
unnumbered ages in order to produce wool. It is said that in some of the
wild breeds there is an under-fur which will felt like wool. Most of the
species are short-tailed animals, but this is not the case with the
Barbary wild sheep. Wild sheep are mainly mountain-living animals or
frequenters of high ground. They generally, though not always, frequent
less rugged country than that of the wild goats, and some are found at
quite low levels. The altitude at which other wild sheep are found is,
however, very great; on the Pamirs it reaches twenty thousand feet. Here
the country is quite open.


THE EUROPEAN MOUFLON

The only wild sheep of Europe is the mouflon, found in the mountains of
Corsica and Sardinia. Its height at the shoulder is about twenty-seven
inches. In the rams the horns are strong, and curved into a spiral,
forming almost a complete circle. The hair is close, and in winter has a
woolly under-fur. In summer and autumn the coat is a bright red brown
on the neck, shoulders, and legs; the rump and under parts are whitish,
and the back and flanks marked with a white saddle. In winter the brown
becomes darker and the white saddle broader. A rather larger mouflon is
found on the Elburz mountain range in Persia, in Armenia, and in the
Taurus Mountains. A smaller variety exists in Cyprus, where it has been
preserved since the British occupation. The mouflon is a typical wild
sheep. In Sardinia and Corsica are dense scrubby forests of tall
heather, some five feet high, practically impenetrable to hunters. When
alarmed, the mouflon dash into this cover and are safe. These forests
have preserved two very interesting survivals of antiquity--the mouflon,
and the Corsican or Sardinian bandit. The Corsican bandit, like the
mouflon of the same island, is nearly extinct. In Sardinia both still
flourish.


THE ARGALI

This animal is found in Siberia and Mongolia, and also in Tibet. It is
the largest of all living wild sheep, and is about as big as a large
donkey, and has enormous twisted and wrinkled horns, which are sometimes
as much as four feet long, and nineteen inches round at the base. The
male Tibetan argali has a ruff on the throat. The usual color is a stony
gray, mingled with white in summer in the case of the old males.

The argali rams are very fond of fighting one another, and such fierce
conflicts take place that sometimes their horns are broken short off,
and left lying upon the ground. And it will give you some idea of the
size of these horns when we tell you that more than once a fox has been
found lying fast asleep in one of them!

The argali is a mountain-loving animal, seldom seen at a lower level
than twelve or thirteen thousand feet even in winter, while in summer it
ascends much higher. It is a most difficult creature to approach, for it
lives in small flocks, which always post a sentry to keep careful watch
while they are feeding. At the slightest sign of danger the alert
sentinel gives the alarm and a moment later the animals are dispersing
in all directions, scrambling so actively over rocks and up and down
precipices that is it quite impossible to follow them.

It has sometimes been said that when the argali leaps from a height it
alights on its horns, which break the force of its fall. But this
statement seems to be quite untrue.

Writing of the argali of Southern Siberia, the naturalist Brehm says
that when the Tartars want mutton an argali-hunt is organized. The
Tartar hunters advance on their horses at intervals of 200 or 300 yards,
and when the sheep are started generally manage, by riding, shooting,
coursing them with dogs, and shouting, to bewilder, shoot, or capture
several.


THE GULJAR, OR MARCO POLO'S SHEEP

On the high plateau of the Pamirs and the adjacent districts Marco
Polo's sheep is found. The rams are only slightly less in size than the
Siberian argali; the hair is longer than in that species, and the horns
are thinner and more slender and extend farther in an outward direction.
An adult ram may weigh three hundred pounds. The first description of
this sheep was given by the old traveler whose name it now bears. He
said that on the Pamir plateau wild animals were met with in large
numbers, particularly a sheep of great size, having horns three, four,
and even six palms in length; and that the shepherds (hunters?) formed
ladles and vessels from them. In the Pamirs Marco Polo's sheep is seldom
found at less than 11,000 or 12,000 feet above the sea. In the Tian-Shan
Mountains it is said to descend to 2,000 or 3,000 feet. They prefer the
hilly, grassy plains, and only seek the hills for safety. On the Pamirs
they are said to be very numerous in places, one hunter stating that he
saw in one day not less than six hundred head.


THE BIGHORN SHEEP OF AMERICA AND KAMCHATKA

North America has its parallel to the argalis in the famous bighorn. It
is now very rare even in Northern Canada, and becoming scarce in the
United States, though a few are found here and there at various points
on the Rocky Mountains as far south as Mexico. In habits it is much the
same as other wild sheep--that is to say, it haunts the rock-hills and
"bad lands" near the mountains, feeding on the scanty herbage of the
high ground, and not descending unless driven down by snow.

[Illustration: WILD SHEEP AND GOATS

  1. Chamois.          2. Moufflon.
  3. Argali.           4. Markhor.]

The bighorn sheep are very partial to salt. Mr. Turner, who hunted them
in British Columbia, says: "Wild sheep make periodical excursions to the
mountain-tops to gorge themselves with salty clay. They may remain from
an hour to two days, and when killed their stomachs will be found full
of nothing but the clay formed from denuded limestone, which they lick
and gnaw until sometimes deep tunnels are formed in the cliffs, large
enough to hide six or seven sheep. The hunter, standing over one of
these warrens, may bolt them within two yards of him. In the dead of
winter sheep often come to the woods to feed on fir-trees. At such times
they may be seen mixed with black-and-white-tailed deer, low on a
river-bank. I have known them come within forty yards of an inhabited
hut."

Mr. H. C. Nelson tells us that once he was sleeping with two other
friends in a hut in the mountains where some miners had lived for a
time. These men, when they washed up their pots and pans, threw the
slops away at a certain place close by the hut. As all water used for
cooking meat has salt put into it, a little salt remained on the
surface. This the wild sheep had found out, and were in the habit of
coming to lick it at night.

The bighorn sheep stands from three feet two inches to three feet six
inches at the shoulder. The horns are of the general type of the
argalis, but smoother. Another bighorn is found in Kamchatka. There is
also a beautiful white race of bighorn inhabiting Alaska. The typical
Rocky Mountain race is browner than the Asiatic argalis, and in winter
is dark even beneath the front parts of the body. It is not found on the
high peaks of the great ranges, but on difficult though lower ground on
the minor hills.


THE URIAL

The vast range of the Himalayas affords feeding-ground to other species
of wild sheep and wild goat, so different in the shape of the horns that
the variations of the sheep race under domestication need not be matter
for wonder when so much variety is seen in nature.

The urial, or sha, is found in Northwest India, on the Trans-Indus
Mountains, and in Ladak, Northern Tibet, Afghanistan, Baluchistan,
Turkestan, and Southern Persia. The horns make a half-curve backward,
and are flattened. The angle with the horizontal line across the ears is
about half a right angle. The coat is of a reddish-gray color, with
white on the belly, legs, and throat. This species has a very wide
geographical distribution, and is the only wild sheep found in India
proper.


THE AOUDAD, OR ARUI

This is a large wild type of the North African highlands. It stands
intermediate between sheep and goats. The old rams have a very fine
appearance, with a long flowing beard or mane, and large horns. These
wild animals, though somewhat goat-like in appearance, are typical of
the sheep race in general habits. They live in the Atlas Range, and in
the splendid heights of the Aures Mountains, which lie at the back of
Algeria and fringe the great Sahara Desert. In the isolated and burning
rocks which jut up in the desert itself into single mountains they are
also found, living on ground which seems absolutely destitute of water,
grass, or vegetation. They live singly or in small families; but the
rams keep mainly alone. Sometimes they lie in shallow caves during the
heat of the day. These caves smell like a sheepfold. More generally the
aoudad reposes on some shelf of rock, where it matches the color of the
stone, and is almost invisible. The ground is one of the most difficult
in which any hunting is attempted, except perhaps in chamois-stalking;
but the pursuit seems to fascinate sportsmen.

Mr. A. E. Pease gives some charming descriptions of the silence,
the rugged rocks, and the astonishing views over the great orange Sahara
Desert seen from the tops of these haunts of the aoudad--mountains on
the summits of which his Arab guides would prostrate themselves in
evening prayer as the sun sank over the desert, and then, rising, once
more resume the chase. The young of the aoudad are charming little
creatures, much like reddish kids. They can follow the mother over the
steepest ground at a great pace. When caught, as they sometimes are by
the Arabs, they soon become tame.

[Illustration: GOATS AND GOAT-ANTELOPES.

  1. Asiatic Tahr.       3. Rocky Mountain White Goat.
  2. Alpine Ibex.        4. African Aoudad.
             5. Arctic Musk-Ox.]


THE GOATS

Though the dividing-line between the sheep and goats is very indistinct,
some differences are of general application. The goats are distinguished
by the unpleasant odor of the males, and by beards on the chins of the
same sex, by the absence of glands in the hind feet, which sheep
possess, and by certain variations in the formation of the skull. The
difference between the temperament of the sheep and goats is very
curious and persistent, showing itself in a marked way, which affects
their use in domestication to such a degree that the keeping of one or
the other often marks the owners as possessors of different degrees of
civilization. Goats are restless, curious, adventurous, and so active
that they cannot be kept in enclosed fields. For this reason they are
not bred in any numbers in lands where agriculture is practised on
modern principles; they are too enterprising and too destructive.
Consequently the goat is usually only seen in large flocks on mountain
pastures and rocky, uncultivated ground, where the flocks are taken out
to feed by the children.

On the high alps, in Greece, on the Apennines, and in Palestine the goat
is a valuable domestic animal. The milk, butter, and cheese, and also
the flesh of the kids, are in great esteem. But wherever the land is
enclosed, and high cultivation attempted, the goat is banished, and the
more docile and controllable sheep takes its place. In Syria the goat is
perhaps more docile and better understood as a dairy animal than
elsewhere in the East. The flocks are driven into Damascus in the
morning; and instead of a milk-cart calling, the flock itself goes round
the city, and particular goats are milked before the doors of regular
customers.

The European goat is a very useful animal for providing milk to poor
families in large towns. The sheep, while preserving its hardy habits in
some districts, adapts itself to richer food, and acquires the habits as
well as the digestion of domestication. The goat remains, as in old
days, the enemy of trees, inquisitive, omnivorous, pugnacious. It is
unsuited for the settled life of the farm. Rich pasture makes it ill,
and a good clay soil, on which cattle grow fat, kills it. But it is far
from being disqualified for the service of some forms of modern
civilization by the survival of primitive habits. Though it cannot live
comfortably in the smiling pastures of the low country, it is perfectly
willing to exchange the rocks of the mountain for a stable-yard in town.
Its love for stony places is amply satisfied by a granite pavement, and
it has been ascertained that goats fed in stalls and allowed to wander
in paved courts and yards live longer and enjoy better health than those
tethered even on light pastures. In parts of New York the city goats are
said to flourish on the paste-daubed paper of the advertisements which
they nibble from the bill-boards!

It is beyond doubt that these hardy creatures are exactly suited for
living in large towns; an environment of bricks and mortar and
paving-stones suits them. Their spirits rise in proportion to what we
should deem the depressing nature of their surroundings. They love to be
tethered in places where they find bushes to nibble. A deserted
brick-field, with plenty of broken drain-tiles, rubbish-heaps, and
weeds, pleases them still better. Almost any kind of food seems to suit
them. Not even the pig has so varied a diet as the goat; it consumes and
converts into milk not only great quantities of garden stuff which would
otherwise be wasted, but also, thanks to its love for eating twigs and
shoots, it enjoys the prunings and loppings of bushes and trees. In the
Mont Dore district of France the goats are fed on oatmeal porridge. With
this diet, and plenty of salt, the animals are scarcely ever ill, and
never suffer from tuberculosis; they will often give ten times their own
weight of milk in a year.

The Kashmir shawls are made of the finest goats' hair. Most of this very
soft hair is obtained from the under-fur of goats kept in Tibet, and by
the Kirghiz in Central Asia. Only a small quantity, averaging three
ounces, is produced yearly by each animal. The wool is purchased by
middlemen, and taken to Kashmir for manufacture.

In India the goat reaches perhaps the highest point of domestication.
The flocks are in charge of herd-boys, but the animals are so docile
that they are regarded with no hostility by the cultivators of corn and
cereals. Tame goats are also kept throughout Africa. The valuable Angora
breed, from which mohair is obtained, is now domesticated in South
Africa and in Australia. In the former country it is a great commercial
success. The animals were obtained with great difficulty, as the Turkish
owners did not wish to sell their best-bred goats; but when once
established at the Cape, it was found that they proved better producers
of mohair than when in their native province of Angora. The clip from
their descendants steadily improves.

We now pass to consider various species of wild goats, all of which
present very interesting features for our study.


THE TURS

In the Caucasus, both east and west, in the Pyrenees, and on the South
Spanish sierras three fine wild goats, with some features not unlike the
burhal sheep, are found. They are called turs by the Caucasian
mountaineers. The species found in the East Caucasus differs from that
of the west of the range, and both from that of Spain. The East
Caucasian tur is a massive, heavy animal, all brown in color, except on
the fronts of the legs, which are blackish, and with horns springing
from each side of the skull like half-circles. The males are
thirty-eight inches high at the shoulder. The short beard and tail are
blackish, and there is no white on the coat. The West Caucasian tur is
much lighter in color than that of the East Caucasus, and the horns
point backward, more like those of the ibex, though set on the skull at
a different angle. The Spanish tur has the belly and inner sides of the
legs white, and a blackish line along the flank, dividing the white
from the brown; also a blackish chest, and some gray on the flank.

In the Caucasus turs are found on the high crags above the snow-line in
summer, whence they descend at night to feed on patches of upland grass;
but the main home of the tur by day is above the snow-line. The Spanish
species modifies its habits according to the ground on which it lives.
Mr. E. N. Buxton found it in dense scrub, while on the Andalusian
sierras it frequents bare peaks 10,000 feet high. In Spain tur are
sometimes seen in flocks of from 100 to 150 each.


THE PERSIAN WILD GOAT

The original of our domesticated goat is thought by some to be the
pasang, or Persian wild goat. It is a fine animal, with large
simitar-shaped horns, curving backward, flattened laterally, and with
knobs on the front edge at irregular intervals. It is more slender in
build than the tur, light brown in general color, marked with a black
line along the nape and back, black tail, white belly, blackish
shoulder-stripe, and a black line dividing the hinder part of the flank
from the white belly. Formerly found in the islands of Southeastern
Europe, it now inhabits parts of the Caucasus, the Armenian Highlands,
Mount Ararat, and the Persian mountains as far east as Baluchistan. A
smaller race is found in Sind. It lives in herds, sometimes of
considerable size, and frequents not only the high ground, but the
mountain forests and scrub, where such cover exists. The domesticated
goat of Sweden is said to be certainly a descendant of this species.


THE IBEX

Of the ibex, perhaps the best known of all the wild goats, several
species, differing somewhat in size and in the form of their horns, are
found in various parts of the Old World. Of these, the Arabian ibex
inhabits the mountains of Southern Arabia, Palestine, and Sinai, Upper
Egypt, and perhaps Morocco. The Abyssinian ibex is found in the high
mountains of the country from which it takes its name. The Alpine
ibex is now extinct in the Swiss Alps and Tyrol, but survives on the
Piedmontese side of Monte Rosa. The Asiatic ibex is the finest of the
group; its horns have been found to measure nearly fifty-five inches
along the curve. This ibex inhabits the mountain ranges of Central Asia,
from the Altai to the Himalayas, and the Himalayas as far as the source
of the Ganges.

The King of Italy is the great preserver of the Alpine ibex, and has
succeeded where the nobles of the Tyrol have failed. The animals are
shot by driving them, the drivers being expert mountaineers. The way in
which the ibex come down the passes and over the precipices is simply
astonishing. One writer lately saw them springing down perpendicular
heights of forty feet, or descending "chimneys" in the mountain-face by
simply cannoning off with their feet from side to side. Young ibexes can
be tamed with ease, the only drawback to their maintenance being the
impossibility of confining them. They will spring on to the roof of a
house, and spend the day there by preference, though allowed the run of
all the premises. The kids are generally two in number; they are born in
June.

The ibex was long one of the chief objects of the Alpine hunter. The
Emperor Maximilian had a preserve of them in the Tyrol mountains, and he
shot them with a crossbow when they were driven down. He tells us in his
private hunting-book that he once shot an ibex at a distance of two
hundred yards with a crossbow, after one of his companions had missed it
with a gun, or "fire-tube." When away on an expedition in Holland, he
wrote a letter to the wife of one of the most noted ibex-poachers on his
domain, promising her a silk dress if she could induce her husband to
let the animals alone. In the Himalayas the chief foes of the ibex are
the snow-leopard and wild dog.


THE MARKHOR

The very fine Himalayan goat of this name differs from all other wild
species. The horns are spiral, like those of the kudu antelope and
Wallachian sheep. It may well be called the king of the wild goats. A
buck stands as much as forty-one inches at the shoulder, and the
maximum measurement of the horns is sixty-three inches! It has a long
beard and mane, and stands very upright on its feet. Besides the
Himalayas, it haunts the mountains on the Afghan frontier. These goats
keep along the line between the forest and snow, some of the most
difficult ground in the hills. The horns are a much-prized trophy.


THE TAHR

The tahr of the Himalayas is a very different-looking animal from the
true goats, from which, among other characters, it is distinguished by
the form and small size of the horns. The horns, which are black, spring
in a high backward arch, but the creature has no beard. A buck stands
sometimes as much as thirty-eight inches high at the shoulder. It has a
long, rough coat, mainly dark stone-color in tint.

These animals live in the forest districts of the Middle Himalayas,
where they are found on very high and difficult ground. General Donald
Macintyre shot one standing on the brink of an almost sheer precipice.
Down this it fell, and the distance in sheer depth was such that it was
difficult to see the body even with glasses. The tahr is fairly common
all along the higher Himalayan Range. Its bones are believed to be a
sovereign cure for rheumatism, and are exported to India for that
object. A smaller kind is found in the mountains of Eastern Arabia,
where very few, even sportsmen, have yet attempted to shoot them.


THE NILGIRI TAHR, OR NILGIRI IBEX

Though not an ibex, the sportsmen of India early gave this name to the
tahr of the Nilgiri and Anamalai hills. The Himalayan species is covered
with long, shaggy hair; the South Indian, has short smooth brown hair.

"The ibex," says Hawkeye, the Indian sportsman, of this animal, "is
massively formed, with short legs, remarkably strong fetlocks, and a
heavy carcass, short and well ribbed up, combining strength and
agility wonderful to behold. Its habits are gregarious, and the does are
seldom met with separate from the flock or herd, though males often are.
The latter assume, as they grow old, a distinctive appearance. The hair
on the back becomes lighter, almost white in some cases, causing a kind
of saddle to appear; and from that time they become known to the hunters
as the saddlebacks of the herd, an object of ambition to the eyes of the
true sportsman. It is a pleasant sight to watch a herd of ibex feeding
undisturbed, the kids frisking here and there on pinnacles or ledges of
rock and beetling cliffs where there seems scarcely safe hold for
anything much larger than a grasshopper, the old mother looking calmly
on. Then again, see the caution observed in taking up their resting or
abiding places for the day, where they may be warmed by the sun,
listening to the war of many waters, chewing the cud of contentment, and
giving themselves up to the full enjoyment of their nomadic life and its
romantic haunts. Usually, before reposing, one of their number,
generally an old doe, may be observed gazing intently below, apparently
scanning every spot in the range of her vision, sometimes for half an
hour or more, before she is satisfied that all is well, but, strange to
say, seldom or never looking up to the rocks above. Then, being
satisfied on the one side, she follows the same process on the other,
and eventually lies down calmly, contented with the precautions she has
taken. Should the sentinel be joined by another, or her kid come and lie
by her, they always lie back to back, in such a manner as to keep a good
lookout to either side. A solitary male goes through all this by
himself, and wonderfully careful he is; but when with the herd he
reposes in security, leaving it to the female to take precautions for
their joint safety." Is it not pleasanter to think of watching such
innocent creatures, looking out for their own safety, than to think of
hunting and killing them?


THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN GOAT

America possesses only one species of wild goat, the place of this genus
being taken in the southern part of the continent by the camel-like
guanacos. The Rocky Mountain goat, the North American representative of
the group, has very few of the characteristics of the European and
Asiatic species. In place of being active in body and lively in
temperament, it is a quiet, rather drowsy creature, able, it is true, to
scale the high mountains of the Northwest and to live among the snows,
but with none of the energetic habits of the ibex or the tahr. In form
it is heavy and badly built. It is heavy in front and weak behind, like
a bison. The eye is small, the head large, and the shoulders humped. It
feeds usually on very high ground; but hunters who take the trouble to
ascend to these altitudes find little difficulty in killing as many wild
goats as they wish. These goats are most numerous in the ranges of
British Columbia, where they are found in small flocks of from three or
four to twenty. Several may be killed before the herd is thoroughly
alarmed, possibly because at the high altitudes at which they are found
man has seldom disturbed them. None of the domesticated sheep or goats
of the New World are native to the continent of America. It is a curious
fact, well worth studying from the point of view of the history of man,
that, with the exception of the llama, the dog, and perhaps the
guinea-pig, every domesticated animal in use from Cape Horn to the
Arctic Ocean has been imported. The last of these importations is the
reindeer, which, though the native species abounds in the Canadian
woods, was obtained from Lapland and Eastern Asia.

When the first rush to Klondike was made, the miners were imprisoned and
inaccessible during the late winter. The coming of spring was the
earliest period at which communication could be expected to be restored,
and even then the problem of feeding the transport animals was a
difficult one. The United States government decided to try to open up a
road from Alaska by means of sledges drawn by reindeer, and the Canadian
government devised a similar scheme. Agents were sent to Lapland and to
the tribes on the western side of Bering Sea, and deer, drivers, and
harness obtained from both. The deer were not used for the Klondike
relief expeditions by the Americans; but the animals and their drivers
were kept in Alaska, native reindeer were caught, and were found very
useful for carrying the mails in winter.


THE CHAMOIS

The goats are linked with the antelopes by the famous chamois, which is
especially interesting because it makes its home among the snow-clad
mountains of Europe. It is a pretty little creature about two feet in
height, with a pair of short black horns which spring upright from the
forehead, and are then sharply hooked, with the points directed
backward. And its coat, strange to say, instead of becoming paler in
winter grows darker, so that from brownish yellow it deepens into rich
chestnut.

The chamois is one of the most active of all living animals, leaping
from rock to rock, and skipping up and down steep cliffs, where it would
seem quite impossible for it to obtain any foothold at all. It will
often spring down, too, from a very great height, never seeming to
injure itself and always alighting upon its feet. And as it is very
sharp-sighted and exceedingly wary, a hunter finds the utmost difficulty
in approaching, and very often for days together he never has the chance
of obtaining a shot.

When a chamois notices any sign of danger, it utters a shrill whistling
cry, on hearing which all the members of the herd instantly take to
flight. There are generally from fifteen to twenty animals in each herd,
consisting partly of does and partly of young bucks. The old bucks spend
most of the year quite by themselves. But early in the autumn they
rejoin the herds, drive away their younger rivals, and then fight fierce
battles with one another for the mastery.

The young of the chamois are born in May or June, and are so strong and
active that when they are only a day old they can follow their mother
almost anywhere.


THE ELAND

This is the finest of the antelopes, and is a really magnificent animal,
for it stands from five to six feet high at the shoulder, and
sometimes an eland weighs nearly fifteen hundred pounds! Both the buck
and the doe have spirally twisted horns, which are generally about two
feet long, and there is a heavy dewlap under the throat. In color the
animal is pale fawn, but sometimes the old males are bluish gray.

In former days the eland was spread all over Southern and Eastern
Africa. But it has been so much hunted on account of its hide that it
has quite disappeared from South Africa, and is fast disappearing
elsewhere. There seems reason to fear that soon this splendid antelope
will be altogether extinct. It lives for the most part in wooded plains,
and is generally found in large herds, which spend the daytime hiding in
the forests, and come out into the open country by night to graze and
drink. In the desert districts, however, where water is scarce, they
quench their thirst by feeding upon melons.

The eland is a difficult animal to hunt, for besides being very wary and
very timid, it is often accompanied by a rhinoceros-bird, which gives it
early warning of the approach of a foe. And, further, it is very swift
of foot, so that it can only be ridden down by a good horse. As a rule
it will never fight. But when a doe has calves with her, she will
withstand the onset of dogs, and has even been known to impale them upon
her horns.


THE KUDU

This is another very fine antelope. It can easily be distinguished from
the eland by the shape of the horns of the male, which are twisted like
a corkscrew, while the female has none at all. Besides this, it has a
white mark across its face, shaped something like the letter V, several
white spots on its cheeks and throat, a white streak along its back, and
several others running down its sides and hinder quarters. It stands
rather more than four feet in height at the shoulder, and the horns are
often more than three feet long.

The kudu is found all over Africa, from the Cape to Abyssinia, though it
is now very rare in the extreme south. It does not live in herds, as a
rule, but is generally found in pairs, which pass the day in dense
thickets, and come out to graze in the evening. It is not very swift
of foot, and can easily be run down by a man on horseback. But as it is
chiefly found in the country infested by the terrible tsetse-fly, whose
bite kills horses in a few days, it is generally hunted only with dogs.

[Illustration: TYPES OF ANTELOPES

  1. Waterbuck.  2. Dorcas Gazelle.  3. Indian Blackbuck.  4. Springboks.
            5. Oryx.           6. Eland.          7. Sable Antelope.]


THE GEMSBOK

Another very fine antelope is the gemsbok, which is found in the more
desert regions of Southwestern Africa. It is remarkable for its very
long straight horns, which sometimes measure nearly four feet from base
to tip, and are such formidable weapons that the animal has been known
to drive off even the lion. More than once, indeed, a lion and a gemsbok
have been found lying dead together, the antelope having thrust his
horns deep into the lion's body, and been quite unable to withdraw them.

What the gemsbok feeds upon is rather a mystery, for it is often found
in districts where there is no vegetation except a little dry scrub. Yet
it nearly always seems to be in good condition. And it is odder still to
find that for months together sometimes it must go without drinking!
Some hunters, indeed, have declared that they are quite positive that
the animal never drinks at all, obtaining all the moisture it needs from
small watermelons and certain bulbous roots.

The gemsbok is of about the same size as the kudu, and is gray in color
above and white below. But there is a black streak across the face,
while another streak, which is much broader, runs along the sides,
dividing the gray of the upper parts from the white of the lower. This
antelope is hunted on horseback, and is so swift and so enduring, that
there is said to be no animal in Africa which is harder to overtake.


THE SPRINGBOK

The most graceful and elegant of all the antelopes are the gazelles, of
which we may take the springbok as an example.

In former days this was by far the most abundant of all the African game
animals, and would sometimes be seen traveling from one district to
another in enormous herds, covering the country as far as the eye could
reach. So vast were these herds, indeed, and so closely did the animals
march side by side together that sometimes a lion would be seen in their
ranks marching along with them, quite unable to stop, or to make his
escape, because of the pressure all round him!

The springbok, or "springbuck," owes its name to its marvelous activity,
and to its curious habit of suddenly leaping straight up into the air.
In this way it can easily spring to a height of eight or ten feet.

The springbok is easily tamed, and soon comes to know who are its
friends. One of these animals was kept as a pet by a lady living at
Klerksdorp, in South Africa, and would wander about the town by itself,
not seeming to be in the least afraid of the passers-by, or even of the
dogs. Every morning, too, it would cross the river, and go out upon the
veldt to feed; and although it would mix freely with its wild companions
during the day, it always left them in the evening and came home to
sleep.

In height the springbok stands about two feet six inches, and it can
easily be distinguished from all the other gazelles by the white streak
which runs along the middle of the back. The horns are black, with a
number of ridge-like rings running round them, and the color of the coat
is dark cinnamon-yellow above and white beneath, with a blackish stripe
on the flanks between the two.


GNUS

If the gazelles are the most graceful of all the antelopes, the gnus,
also known as wildebeests, are certainly the most ungainly, their great
broad heads, and very high shoulders giving them an extremely awkward
appearance. Then the curved horns are very broad at the base, and are
set so closely together on the forehead that they form a sort of helmet,
like those of the Cape buffalo, while the muzzle is fringed with long
bristles, and there is an upright mane of stiff hairs upon the neck. So
that altogether the gnu cannot be considered as a handsome animal!

Two kinds of gnus are known, both of which are found in Southern and
Eastern Africa. The commoner of the two is called the white-tailed gnu,
because it has a long white tail, while the other, the brindled gnu, has
a black one. Both animals stand about four feet six inches in height at
the shoulder.

Gnus are very suspicious, very inquisitive, and very timid, and when
they catch sight of a human being, they often behave in a most
extraordinary way, prancing about, pawing the ground, capering on their
hind legs, leaping into the air, and whisking their long tails about in
the most absurd manner. Then some will chase the others round and round
in circles. Next they will come charging on in a long line like cavalry,
as though they meant to attack. And then, quite suddenly, the whole herd
will wheel round, and dash off together, enveloped in a cloud of dust!

They are so inquisitive that a hunter has often attracted a gnu to
within a very few yards just by tying a red handkerchief to the muzzle
of his gun, and allowing it to flutter in the breeze like a flag!

Other antelopes that we should like to tell about have been described by
travelers and hunters. The sable antelope of South Africa, for example,
is regarded by Mr. Ernest Ingersoll as perhaps "the most admirable of
all antelopes," the object of "an admiring enthusiasm among sportsmen"
as well as naturalists. But as we cannot find space to describe all
these interesting creatures, we must leave you to learn about some of
them in books wholly designed to make them known.



CHAPTER XVI

GIRAFFES, DEER, CAMELS, ZEBRAS, ASSES, AND HORSES


Here we reach a number of animals with which you have more or less
acquaintance, and about which you cannot fail to be interested in
hearing any particulars that we may be able to set down for you.


GIRAFFES

These are the tallest of all living animals, for a full-grown male may
stand eighteen or even nineteen feet in height. Just think of it! If one
elephant were to stand upon another elephant's back a giraffe could look
over them both.

This wonderful height is chiefly due to the great length of the neck.
Yet there are only seven _vertebræ_, or joints of the spine, in
that part of the body, just as there are in our own necks. But then each
of these joints may be as much as a foot long! When the animal is
hungry, its height is of very great use to it, enabling it to feed upon
the leaves of trees which do not throw out branches near the ground. And
in captivity, of course, its manger has to be put quite close to the
roof of its stable.

Strange to say, the giraffe plucks each leaf separately by means of its
tongue, which is very long indeed and very slender, and is prehensile at
the tip, like the tail of a spider-monkey. So it can be coiled round the
stem of a leaf in order to pull it from the branch. And sometimes at the
zoo you may see a giraffe snatch flowers out of ladies' hats and bonnets
by means of this curious tongue.

If a giraffe wants to feed upon grass instead of leaves, it straddles
its front legs very widely apart, and then bends its long neck down
between them. And it does just the same when it drinks.

The giraffe is a fast runner, and a horse must be very swift to overtake
it. It runs in a most singular manner, with "a queer camel-like gallop,"
and throwing out the hind legs with a semicircular movement, while its
long neck goes rocking backward and forward like that of a toy donkey,
and the long tail switches up and down as regularly as if it were moved
by clockwork. So a long line of giraffes all running away together must
look very odd indeed.

You would think that giraffes would be very easily seen, even in the
forest, wouldn't you? Yet every hunter tells us that as long as they are
standing still it is almost impossible to detect them, since they look
just like the stems and foliage of the trees, with the sunlight shining
in patches between the leaves!

Giraffes are found in various parts of Africa, south of the Sahara, and
two different varieties are known, that from South Africa being much the
darker of the two, and having the spots much larger and closer together.
A third kind, with five of the so-called horns on the head, has been
recorded by Sir Harry Johnston.


THE OKAPI

A still more remarkable discovery, made in the same forest district by
the same famous explorer, was that of the okapi, which is a very
singular animal. Perhaps we can best describe it to you by saying that
it is something like a giraffe, and something like an antelope, and
something like a zebra, and something like an ox! The color of its coat
is like that of a very red cow, there are zebra-like stripes on the fore
and hind quarters, and the legs are cream-colored, while on the skull
are faint traces of horns like those of the giraffe.

We do not as yet know much about the habits of this wonderful animal,
except that it lives in the thickest parts of the forest, seems to go
about in pairs, and to feed wholly on leaves and twigs.


THE DEER

In some ways these animals are not unlike antelopes. But one great
difference between the two is this. In the antelopes the horns are
hollow, growing upon bony cores which spring from the skull, and remain
all through the life of the animal. But in the deer they are solid, and
are thrown off every year, fresh ones growing in their places in the
course of four or five months. Then the material of which they are made
is altogether different, for whereas the horns of the antelopes really
consist of highly compressed hair, those of the deer are composed of
lime, and are very much more like bone. On account of these differences
horns of deer are better called antlers.

The way in which these antlers grow is very curious. For some little
time after they are shed the animal is extremely timid, for he knows
perfectly well that he has lost his natural weapons. So he hides away in
the thickest parts of the forest, where none of his enemies are likely
to find him. After a while, two little knobs make their appearance on
the head, just where the horns used to be. These knobs are covered with
a close furry skin, which is known as the velvet, and if you were to
take hold of them you would find that they were quite hot to the touch.
That is because the blood is coursing rapidly through them, and leaving
particles of lime behind it as it goes. Day by day they increase in
size, throwing out branches as they do so, until they are rather larger
than the pair which were cast off. Then the blood-vessels close up, and
the velvet becomes dry and begins to fall off, sometimes hanging down in
long strips, which are at last rubbed off against the trees and bushes.


REINDEER AND CARIBOU

A great many kinds of deer are found in different parts of the world,
perhaps the most famous of all being the reindeer.

This is the only deer in which the does possess horns as well as the
stags. It is found in the northern parts of Europe and Asia and also of
North America, where it is called the caribou and generally
lives in large herds. During the winter and spring these herds remain in
the forests. But in summer they are so annoyed by flies that they make
their way to the hills, ascending to such a height that their insect
enemies cannot follow them, and there they remain until the autumn. A
number of herds usually join together when they are migrating in this
way, and the appearance of thousands upon thousands of the animals
traveling slowly along, each with its antlers uplifted, has been
compared to that of a moving forest of leafless trees.

In Siberia, Lapland, and Norway, large herds of reindeer are kept as we
keep cattle, and are used as beasts both of draught and burden. A single
reindeer can carry a weight of about 130 pounds upon its back, or draw a
load of 190 pounds upon a sledge, and it so enduring that it will travel
at the rate of from eight to ten miles an hour for twelve hours
together.

"The caribou," says Mr. Ingersoll, "has never been utilized by any of
the people of arctic America, although just across Bering Strait the
same animal was kept in large herds by the Chuckchis of Siberia. The
United States government has attempted to repair this deficiency by
introducing large numbers of Lapp reindeer among the Alaskans, and the
experiment is proving successful." (See also page 173.)

During the summer reindeer can obtain plenty of food, but in the winter
they have to live upon a kind of white lichen, which grows in waste, dry
places. Very often, of course, this is covered with snow, which the
animals have to scrape away with their hoofs. But when a slight thaw is
followed by a frost they find it very difficult to do this, and
sometimes they actually perish from starvation.

The color of the reindeer varies slightly at different seasons of the
year, the coat usually being sooty brown in summer and brownish gray in
winter. The nose, neck, hind quarters, and lower parts of the body are
always white or whitish gray.

The people of Lapland, Finland, and Siberia have for a long time
domesticated reindeer, finding their flesh good to eat, and their hides,
horns, and sinews valuable for making clothing and implements of various
kinds. Their milk makes excellent cheese, which in those regions is an
important article of food.


THE ELK, OR MOOSE

The elk, which is found in the same parts of the world as the reindeer,
is a much larger animal. Indeed, it is the biggest of all living deer, a
full-grown stag standing well over six feet in height at the withers,
and sometimes weighing as much as twelve hundred pounds. It is not at
all a graceful creature, for the neck is very short, and the head is
held below the level of the shoulders, while the antlers are so
enormously large that it hardly seems possible that the animal should be
able to carry them.

One would think that when the elk was traveling through the forest these
huge antlers would be constantly getting entangled among the branches of
the trees. But the animal is able to throw them well back upon its
shoulders, so that they do not really interfere with its progress in the
least.

In America this animal is known as the moose, and is generally found in
small parties, consisting of a buck, a doe, and their fawns of two
seasons. During the summer they live near swamps or rivers, where there
is plenty of rich, long grass. But as soon as winter comes on they
retire to higher ground and spend the next few months in a small
clearing in the midst of the thickest forest. These clearings are
generally called moose-yards, and you might think, perhaps, that when a
hunter had discovered one he would have no difficulty in shooting the
animals. But they are so wary that it is almost impossible to approach
them, either by day or by night, and many a hunter has followed them for
weeks without obtaining a shot.

The Indians attract the moose within range by imitating the cry of the
doe, which they do so cleverly that if a buck is within hearing he is
sure to come up to the spot. Or they will rattle a moose's shoulder-bone
against the bark of a tree so as to make a sound like the call of the
buck, which any buck in the neighborhood is sure to take as a challenge
to fight. For these animals are very quarrelsome creatures, and wage
fierce battles with one another, sometimes using their antlers with such
effect that both combatants die from their wounds.

The deer family is so large that we must content ourselves with briefly
mentioning a few of its members. First we will speak of three of the Old
World deer, and of these as they are seen in Great Britain, whose
literature has so much to say of them.

[Illustration: THE ANTLERED DEER

  1. Virginian, or White-tailed Deer.    2. East Indian Sambar.
  3. Moose; European Elk.    4. East Indian Jungle Deer.
  5. Roe Deer.    6. Wapiti; American Elk.    7. Caribou Reindeer.

(All are stags)]


THE RED DEER

This is the noblest object of the chase in Europe. The only part of
England in which it is now really wild is Exmoor, where it is still
quite plentiful. But in many parts of the Scottish Highlands it is
carefully preserved, large moorland districts being given up to it under
the title of deer forests.

When the female deer has a little fawn to take care of, she generally
hides it among very tall heather, pressing it gently with her nose to
make it lie down. There it will remain all day long without moving, till
she returns to it in the evening. But she is never very far away, and is
always ready to come at once to its aid if it should be attacked by a
fox or a wildcat.

The stag of this animal is a good deal larger than the doe, and may
stand as much as four feet high at the shoulder, while its antlers may
be more than three feet long. In color it is a bright reddish brown,
which often becomes a good deal paler during the winter.


THE FALLOW DEER

This deer is not nearly so big as the red deer. It is never more than
three feet in height, while you can also distinguish it by the fact that
the antlers are flattened out at the tip into a broad plate, and that
the coat is spotted with white.

This is the deer which is kept in so many English parks, where one may
often see a herd of a hundred or more of the pretty, graceful animals
moving about together.

There is always a "master" deer in each of these herds, who has won his
post by fighting and overcoming all his rivals. He does not always
remain with the herd, but often lives apart for weeks together,
accompanied, perhaps, by three or four favorite does; and in his absence
the herd is led by some of the younger bucks. But whenever he makes his
appearance these make way for him, and no one disputes his sway until he
becomes too old and infirm to hold his position any longer.

The male fallow deer is known by different names at different times of
his life. In the first year he is called a "fawn," in the second year a
"pricket," in the third a "sorrel," and in the fourth a "soare," while
when he is five years old he is described as a "buck of the first lead,"
and when he is six as a "buck complete."


THE ROEBUCK

This is quite a small animal, seldom exceeding twenty-six inches in
height at the shoulder. In color it is reddish or grayish brown above
and grayish white underneath, with a white patch on the chin and another
round the root of the tail. The antlers stand nearly upright, and throw
off one "tine," or spur, in front, and two more behind.

There is only one part of England where the roebuck is found wild, and
that is Blackmoor Vale, in Dorsetshire. But it is common in many of the
Scottish moors and forests. It is never seen in herds, like the fallow
deer, but goes about in pairs, although when there are fawns they
accompany their parents.

The roebuck sheds its antlers in December, and the new ones are fully
developed by about the end of February. Although they are seldom more
than eight or nine inches long they are really formidable weapons, more
especially as the deer is very powerful in proportion to its size. The
bucks are very quarrelsome creatures and fight most savagely with one
another, while more than once they have been known to attack human
beings and to inflict severe wounds before they could be driven away.


AMERICAN DEER

Excepting the moose, caribou, and wapiti, often wrongly called an elk,
found in the western United States and some parts of Canada, the deer of
North and South America stand quite apart from those of the Old
World, and are placed in a genus of their own. Usually the tail is long,
and the brow-antler is always wanting. The most familiar species is the
common American deer, of which the Virginia or white-tailed deer is the
type. This deer is found in varying forms in both continents, and was
regularly hunted by the ancient Mexicans with trained pumas.

The well-known Virginia deer found in Eastern North America, and
believed to range as far south as Louisiana, stands a trifle over three
feet in height, and weighs, clean, about one hundred and seventy-five
pounds. The coloration is chestnut in summer, bluish gray in winter. The
antlers are of good size, and usually measure from twenty to twenty-four
inches in length. As a sporting animal the white-tailed deer is not
popular. It has been described as "an exasperating little beast,"
possessing every quality which a deer ought not to, from the sportsman's
point of view. "His haunts are river-bottoms, in choking, blinding bush,
and his habits are beastly. No one could ever expect to stalk a
white-tail; if you want to get one, you must crawl." Mr. Selous bagged
one of these deer somewhat curiously. "He was coming," he writes,
"through the scrubby, rather open bush straight toward me in a series of
great leaps, rising, I think, quite four feet from the ground at every
bound. I stood absolutely still, thinking to fire at him just as he
jumped the stream and passed me. However, he came so straight to me
that, had he held his course, he must have jumped on to or over me. But
when little more than the width of the stream separated us--when he was
certainly not more than ten yards from me--he either saw or winded me,
and, without a moment's halt, made a prodigious leap sideways. I fired
at him when he was in the air, and I believe quite six feet above the
ground." The deer, an old buck with a good head, was afterward picked up
dead. In different parts of America, as far south as Peru and Bolivia,
various local races of this deer are to be found.


THE MULE-DEER

The mule-deer is found in most parts of North America west of the
Missouri, as far south as Southern California, stands about
three feet four inches at the shoulder, and weighs over two hundred and
forty pounds. It carries good antlers, measuring as much as thirty
inches, and in color is tawny red in summer, brownish gray in winter. It
is a far better sporting animal than the sneaking white-tailed deer, and
affords excellent stalking. This deer is still abundant in many
localities. It is commonly called "blacktail," but the true blacktail is
a similar but smaller species confined to the Northern Pacific coast.


THE WAPITI

This is the largest and finest of American deer, originally numerous
everywhere west of the Appalachian Mountains, but now to be found only
in the mountains of the Northwest. It is much like the European red
deer, but very much larger, and is connected with it by a series of
stags, known as the maral, shou, etc., inhabiting Central Asia from
Persia to Kamchatka. It grazes like cattle, rather than browses; and in
the fall gathers into herds, which formerly contained many thousands and
spent the winter among sheltering hills.


MARSH-DEER

In South America are to be found several kinds of marsh-deer, of which
the best known has its range from Brazil to the forest country of the
Argentine Republic. The marsh-deer is almost equal in size to the red
deer of Europe, but somewhat less stout of build; the coloring is bright
chestnut in summer, brown in winter; the coat is long and coarse, as
befits a swamp-loving creature; the antlers usually display ten points,
and measure more than twenty inches.


THE PAMPAS-DEER

This species, closely allied to the marsh-deer, is of small size,
standing about two feet six inches at the shoulder. The antlers, usually
three-pointed, measure no more than from twelve to fourteen inches in
fine specimens. The pampas-deer is found from Brazil to Northern
Patagonia.


PERUVIAN AND CHILEAN GUEMALS

These are small deer, found on the high Andes, and are somewhat inferior
in size to the Virginia deer. The males carry simple antlers forming a
single fork, and measuring about nine inches. The coat, yellowish brown
in hue, is coarse, thick, and brittle. The Chilean guemal is found also
in most parts of Patagonia; unlike the guemal of Peru, which delights in
altitudes of from 14,000 to 16,000 feet, it lives chiefly in deep
valleys, thick forest, and even the adjacent plains, to which it resorts
in winter.


BROCKETS

Of these, several species are found in South and Central America and
Trinidad. They are small deer, having spike-like antlers and tufted
crowns. The largest is the red brocket, found in Guiana, Brazil, and
Paraguay, which stands twenty-seven inches at the shoulder. The body
coloring is brownish red. Like most of the group, this brocket is
extremely shy; but although fond of dense covert, it is found also in
open patches. The pygmy brocket, a tiny dark-brown deerlet, less than
nineteen inches in height, found in Central Brazil, is the smallest of
these very small deer.


PUDUS

Two other diminutive deer, known as pudus, closely allied to the
brockets, are found in South America. These are the Chilean and Ecuador
pudus, of which the former is only about thirteen inches in height, the
latter about fourteen or fifteen inches. Little is known of the history
and life habits of these charming little creatures, one of which, the
Chilean species, has occasionally been seen in zoölogical gardens.


CAMELS

We now come to a remarkably interesting animal. First let us tell you
how wonderfully the camel is suited to a life in the desert.

[Illustration: CHILDREN'S PETS AT THE ZOO.

  1. Guanaco and Young.         2. Dorcas Gazelle.
            3. Bactrian Riding Camel.]

In the first place, it has great spreading feet. Now this is very
important, for if the animal had small, hard hoofs, like those of the
horse or the donkey, it would sink deeply into the loose sand at every
step, and would soon be so tired out that it would be quite unable to
travel any farther. But its broad, splay, cushion-like toes do not sink
into the sand at all, and it can march easily along, hour after hour,
where a horse could scarcely travel a mile.

Then it can go for several weeks with hardly any food. All that it finds
as it journeys through the desert is a mouthful or two of dry thorns,
and even at the end of the day its master has nothing to give it but a
few dates. And on this meager diet it has to travel forty or fifty miles
a day with a heavy load on its back.

But then, you must remember, the camel has a hump. Now this hump
consists almost entirely of fat, and as the animal marches on day after
day with scarcely any food, this fat passes back by degrees into its
system, and actually serves as nourishment. So, you see, while the camel
is traveling through the desert it really lives chiefly on its own hump!
By the time that it reaches its journey's end, the hump has almost
entirely disappeared. Little more is left in its place than a loose bag
of empty skin. The animal is then unfit for work and has to be allowed
to graze for two or three weeks in a rich pasture. Then, day by day, the
hump fills out again, and when it is firm and solid once more the camel
is fit for another journey.

More wonderful still, perhaps, is its way of carrying enough water about
with it to last for several days.

Except the camel, typical ruminating animals, or those which chew the
cud, have the stomach divided into four separate compartments, through
which the food passes in turn. These are called the paunch, the
honeycomb stomach or bag, the manyplies and the abomasum. In the camel
the third of these is wanting, and the first and second are provided
with a number of deep cells, which can be opened or closed at the will
of the animal.

In these cells the animal is able to store up water. When it has the
opportunity of drinking, it not only quenches its thirst, but fills up
all these cells as well. In this way it can store up quite a gallon and
a half of liquid. Then, when it grows thirsty, and cannot find a pool or
a stream, all that it has to do is to open one or two of the cells and
allow the contents to flow out, and so on from time to time until the
whole supply is exhausted.

In this way a camel can easily go for five or six days without requiring
to drink, even when marching under the burning sun of the desert.

Two kinds of camels are known, neither of which is now found in a wild
state.


ARABIAN CAMEL

The first of these is the Arabian camel, which only has one hump on its
back, and is so well known that there is no need to describe it. It is
very largely used in many parts of Africa and Asia as a beast of both
draught and burden. Camels for riding upon, however, are generally
called dromedaries, and may be regarded as a separate breed, just as
hunters are a separate breed from cart-horses. And while they will
travel with a rider upon their backs at a pace of eight or nine miles an
hour, an ordinary camel with a load upon its back will scarcely cover a
third of that distance in the same time.

This camel is a bad-tempered animal. It gets very cross when it is made
to kneel down to be loaded, and crosser still when it has to kneel again
in the evening for its burden to be removed, and all day it goes
grunting and snarling and groaning along, ready to bite any one who may
come near it. And it is so stupid that if it wanders off the path for a
yard or two, in order to nibble at a tempting patch of herbage, it goes
straight on in the new direction, without ever thinking of turning back
in order to regain the road.

Besides being used for riding and for carrying loads, the camel is
valuable on account of its flesh and also of its milk, while its hair is
woven into a kind of coarse cloth.


BACTRIAN CAMEL

This camel, which comes from Central Asia, has two humps on its back
instead of one. It is not quite so tall as the Arabian animal, and is
more stoutly and strongly built, while its hair is much longer and more
shaggy. For these reasons it is very useful in rocky and hilly country,
for it can scramble about for hours on steep and stony ground without
getting tired, while its thick coat protects it from the cold.


LLAMAS

Llamas may be described as South American camels. But they are much
smaller than the true camels, and have no humps on their backs, and
their feet are not nearly so broad and cushion-like, while their thick
woolly coat grows in dense masses, which sometimes reach almost to the
ground.

There are four kinds of llamas, but we can only tell you about one of
them, the guanaco.

This animal lives both among the mountains and in the plains. It is
generally found in flocks, consisting of a single male and from twelve
to fifteen females. But sometimes the flocks are much larger, and more
than once several hundred animals have been seen together. The male
always keeps behind the flock, and if he notices any sign of danger he
utters a curious whistling cry. The does know exactly what this means
and at once take to flight, while the male follows, stopping every now
and then to look back and see if they are being pursued.

Usually, when two male guanacos meet, they fight, biting one another
most savagely, and squealing loudly with rage. When one of these animals
is killed, its skin is likely to be found deeply scored by the wounds it
has received from its numerous antagonists.

If you go to look at the llamas in a zoo, we would advise you not to
stand too near the bars of their enclosure, for they have a habit of
spitting straight into one's face! When they are used for riding they
will often turn their heads round and spit at their rider, just to show
that they are getting tired. And if once they lie down no amount of
persuasion or even of beating will make them get up again, until they
consider that they have had a proper rest!


ZEBRAS

There are three different kinds of these beautiful animals. The largest
and finest is known as Grévy's zebra, which is found in the mountains of
Somaliland. It has many more stripes than the other two, while the
ground color is quite white. The smallest is the mountain zebra, which
is only about as big as a good-sized pony, and has its legs striped
right down to the hoofs. This is now a very scarce animal, being only
found in one or two mountainous districts in South Africa, where no one
is allowed to interfere with it. And between the two is the Burchell's
zebra, which is about as large as a small horse, and has its legs white,
with only a very few markings. This animal is quite common in many parts
of the South African plains, and has often been domesticated, and taught
to draw carriages and carts. Indeed, in some districts of Southern
Africa, a coach drawn by a team of zebras instead of horses is not a
very uncommon sight.

You would think that an animal, colored like the zebra would be very
easily seen, even by night, wouldn't you? But strange to say, these
creatures are almost invisible from a distance of even a few yards.
Indeed, hunters say that they have often been so close to a zebra at
night that they could hear him breathing, yet have been quite unable to
see him!

This seems to be due to his stripes, for it has been found that while a
pony can be easily seen from forty or fifty yards away on a moonlight
night, it at once becomes invisible if it is clothed with ribbons in
such a way as to resemble the stripes of the zebra!

Zebras are generally found in herds, and they have a curious habit of
traveling about in company with a number of brindled gnus and ostriches,
which all seem to be as friendly as possible together.


THE QUAGGA

The quagga, which became extinct some time ago, never had a very
extended range, but once it existed in great numbers on all the upland
plains of Cape Colony to the west of the Kei River, and in the open
treeless country lying between the Orange and Vaal rivers. North of the
Vaal it appears to have been unknown.

The quagga seems to have been nearly allied to Burchell's
zebra--especially to the most southerly form of that species--but was
much darker in general color. Instead of being striped over the whole
body, it was only strongly banded on the head and neck, the dark brown
stripes becoming fainter on the shoulders and dying away in spots and
blotches. On the other hand, in size and build, in the appearance of its
mane, ears, and tail, and in general habits, it seems to have nearly
resembled its handsomer relative. The barking neigh "qua-ha-ha,
qua-ha-ha" seems, too, to have been the same in both species. The
Dutch word quagga is pronounced in South Africa "qua-ha" and is of
Hottentot origin, an imitation of the animal's neighing call. To-day
Burchell's zebras are invariably called qua-has by both Boers and
British colonists.


WILD ASSES

The true asses are without stripes on the head, neck, and body, with the
exception of a dark streak down the back from the mane to the tail,
which is present in all members of the group, and in some cases a dark
band across the shoulders and irregular markings on the legs.

In Africa the wild ass is only found in the desert regions of the
northeastern portion of that continent. It is a fine animal, standing
between thirteen and fourteen hands at the shoulder. It lives in small
herds or families of four or five individuals, and is not found in
mountainous districts, but frequents low stony hills and arid desert
wastes. It is as a general rule an alert animal and difficult to
approach, and so fleet and enduring that excepting in the case of foals
and mares heavy in young, it cannot be overtaken even by a well-mounted
horseman. Notwithstanding the scanty nature of the herbage in the
districts they frequent, these desert-bred asses are always in good
condition. They travel long distances to water at night, but appear to
require to drink regularly. Their flesh is eaten by the natives of the
Soudan. The bray of the African wild ass, it is said, cannot easily be
distinguished from that of the domesticated animal, which is undoubtedly
descended from this breed.

In Asia three varieties of the wild ass are found, which were formerly
believed to represent three distinct species; but all the local races of
the Asiatic wild ass are now considered to belong to one species, and it
is to them that reference is made in the description on pages 196 and
197.

These wild asses have a wide range, and are met with from Syria to
Persia and Western India, and northward throughout the more arid
portions of Central Asia. Like their African relatives, the wild asses
of Asia are inhabitants of waste places, frequenting desert plains and
wind-swept steppes. They are said to be as fleet and enduring as the
others.

The wild asses of the desert plains of India and Persia are said to be
very wary and difficult to approach, but the kiang of Tibet is always
spoken of as a much more confiding animal, its curiosity being so great
that it will frequently approach to within a short distance of any
unfamiliar object, such as a sportsman, engaged in stalking other game.

Asiatic wild asses usually live in small families of four or five, but
sometimes congregate in herds. Their food consists of various grasses in
the low-lying portions of their range, but of woody plants on the high
plateaus, where little else is to be obtained. Of wild asses in general
the late Sir Samuel Baker once said: "Those who have seen donkeys only
in their civilized state can have no conception of the wild or original
animal; it is the perfection of activity and courage."


THE HORSE

Like the wild camels, genuine wild horses are very generally believed to
be extinct. The vast herds which occur to-day in a wild state in
Europe, America, and Australia are to be regarded, say those who believe
in the extinction theory, as descended from domesticated animals which
have run wild. So far as the American and Australian horses are
concerned, this is no doubt true; but of the European stocks it is by no
means so certain. However, without giving you any theory of our own, we
will quote at some length from an interesting and instructive chapter on
the horse by A. B. Buckley.

"There rose before my mind the level grass-covered pampas of South
America, where wild horses share the boundless plains with troops of the
rhea, or American ostrich, and wander, each horse with as many mares as
he can collect, in companies of hundreds or even thousands in a troop.
These horses are now truly wild, and live freely from youth to age,
unless they are unfortunate enough to be caught in the more inhabited
regions by the lasso of the hunter. In the broad pampas, the home of
herds of wild cattle, they dread nothing. There, as they roam with one
bold stallion as their leader, even beasts of prey hesitate to approach
them, for, when they form into a dense mass with the mothers and young
in their center, their heels deal blows which even the fierce jaguar
does not care to encounter, and they trample their enemy to death in a
very short time. Yet these are not the original wild horses; they are
the descendants of tame animals, brought from Europe by the Spaniards to
Buenos Aires in 1535, whose descendants have regained their freedom on
the boundless pampas and prairies.

"As I was picturing them careering over the plains, another scene
presented itself and took their place. Now I no longer saw around me
tall pampas-grass with the long necks of the rheas appearing above it,
for I was on the edge of a dreary, scantily covered plain between the
Aral Sea and the Balkash Lake in Tartary. To the south lies a barren
sandy desert, to the north the fertile plains of the Kirghiz steppes,
where the Tartar feeds his flocks, and herds of antelopes gallop over
the fresh green pasture; and between these is a kind of no-man's land,
where low scanty shrubs and stunted grass seem to promise but a poor
feeding-ground.

"Yet here the small long-legged but powerful tarpans, the wild horses
of the treeless plains of Russia and Tartary, were picking their morning
meal. Sturdy wicked little fellows they are, with their shaggy
light-brown coats, short wiry manes, erect ears, and fiery watchful
eyes. They might well be supposed to be true wild horses, whose
ancestors had never been tamed by man; and yet it is more probable that
even they escaped in early times from the Tartars, and have held their
own ever since, over the grassy steppes of Russia and on the confines of
the plains of Tartary. Sometimes they live almost alone, especially on
the barren wastes where they have been seen in winter, scraping the snow
off the herbage. At other times, as in the south of Russia, where they
wander between the Dnieper and the Don, they gather in vast herds and
live a free life, not fearing even the wolves, which they beat to the
ground with their hoofs. From one green oasis to another they travel
over miles of ground.

    'A thousand horse--and none to ride!
    With flowing tail and flying mane,
    Wide nostrils--never stretched by pain,
    Mouths bloodless to the bit or rein,
    And feet that iron never shod,
    And flanks unscarred by spur or rod,
    A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
    Like waves that follow o'er the sea.'[A]

      [A] Byron's "Mazeppa."

"As I followed them in their course I fancied I saw troops of yet
another animal of the horse tribe, the kulan, or _Equus hemionus_,
which is a kind of half horse, half ass, living on the Kirghiz steppes
of Tartary and spreading far beyond the range of the tarpan into Tibet.
Here at last we have a truly wild animal, never probably brought into
subjection by man. The number of names he possesses shows how widely he
has spread. The Tartars call him kulan, the Tibetans kiang, while the
Mongolians give him the unpronounceable name of dschiggetai. He will not
submit to any of them, but if caught and confined soon breaks away again
to his old life, a 'free and fetterless creature.'

[Illustration: WILD RELATIVES OF THE HORSE.

  1. Northern or Grévy's Zebra.       2. Abyssinian Ass.
  3. Southern (or Burchell's) Zebra.  4. Przwalsky's Central-Asian Horse.]

"No one has ever yet settled the question whether he is a horse or an
ass, probably because he represents an animal truly between the two. His
head is graceful, his body light, his legs slender and fleet, yet his
ears are long and ass-like; he has narrow hoofs, and a tail with a tuft
at the end like all the ass tribe; his color is a yellow brown, and he
has a short dark mane and a long dark stripe down his back as a donkey
has. Living often on the high plateaus, sometimes as much as fifteen
hundred feet above the sea, this 'child of the steppes' travels in large
companies even as far as the rich meadows of Central Asia; in summer
wandering in green pastures, and in winter seeking the hunger-steppes
where sturdy plants grow. And when Autumn comes the young steeds go off
alone to the mountain heights to survey the country around and call
wildly for mates, whom, when found, they will keep close to them through
all the next year, even though they mingle with thousands of others.

"Till recent years the _Equus hemionus_ was the only truly wild
horse known, but in the winter of 1879-80 the Russian traveler
Przhevalsky brought back from Central Asia a much more horse-like
animal, called by the Tartars kertag, and by the Mongols statur. It is a
clumsy, thick-set, whitish-gray creature with strong legs and a large,
heavy, reddish-colored head; its legs have a red tint down to the knees,
beyond which they are blackish down to the hoofs. But the ears are
small, and it has the broad hoofs of the true horse, and warts on the
hind legs, which no animal of the ass tribe has. This horse, like the
kiang, travels in small troops of from five to fifteen, led through the
wildest parts of the Dsungarian desert, between the Altai and Tian-Shan
Mountains, by an old stallion. They are extremely shy, and see, hear,
and smell very quickly, so that they are off like lightning whenever
anything approaches them.

"So having traveled over America, Europe, and Asia, was my quest ended?
No; for from the dreary Asiatic deserts my thoughts wandered to a far
warmer and more fertile land, where between the Blue Nile and the Red
Sea rise the lofty highlands of Abyssinia, among which the African wild
ass, the probable ancestor of our donkeys, feeds in troops on the rich
grasses of the slopes, and then onward to the bank of a river in Central
Africa where on the edge of a forest, with rich pastures beyond,
elephants and rhinoceroses, antelopes and buffaloes, lions and hyenas,
creep down in the cool of the evening to slake their thirst in the
flowing stream. There I saw the herds of zebras in all their striped
beauty coming down from the mountain regions to the north, and mingling
with the darker-colored but graceful quaggas from the southern plains,
and I half grieved at the thought how these untamed and free rovers are
being slowly but surely surrounded by man closing in upon them on every
side.

"I might now have traveled still farther in search of the onager, or
wild ass of the Asiatic and Indian deserts, but at this point a more
interesting and far wider question presented itself, as I flung myself
down on the moor to ponder over the early history of all these tribes.

"Where have they all come from? Where shall we look for the =first=
ancestors of these wild and graceful animals? For the answer to this
question I had to travel back to America, to those Western United States
where Professor Marsh has made such grand discoveries in horse history.
For there, in the very country where horses were supposed never to have
been before the Spaniards brought them a few centuries ago, we have now
found the true birthplace of the equine race.

"Come back with me to a time so remote that we cannot measure it even by
hundred of thousands of years, and let us visit the territories of Utah
and Wyoming. Those highlands were very different then from what they are
now. Just risen out of the seas of the Cretaceous Period, they were then
clothed with dense forests of palms, tree-ferns, and screw-pines,
magnolias and laurels, interspersed with wide-spreading lakes, on the
margins of which strange and curious animals fed and flourished. There
were large beasts with teeth like the tapir and the bear, and feet like
the elephant; and others far more dangerous, half bear, half hyena,
prowling around to attack the clumsy paleotherium or the anoplotherium,
something between a rhinoceros and a horse, which grazed by the
waterside, while graceful antelopes fed on the rich grass. And among
these were some little animals no bigger than foxes, with four toes and
a splint for the fifth, on their front feet, and three toes on the hind
ones.

"These clumsy little animals, whose bones have been found in the rocks
of Utah and Wyoming, have been called _Eohippus_, or horse of the
dawn, by naturalists. They were animals with real toes, yet their bones
and teeth show that they belonged to the horse tribe, and already the
fifth toe common to most other toed animals was beginning to disappear.

"This was in the Eocene Period, and before it passed away with its
screw-pines and tree-ferns, another rather larger animal, called
_Orohippus_, had taken the place of the small one, and he had only
four toes on his front feet. The splint had disappeared, and as time
went on still other animals followed, always with fewer toes, while they
gained slender fleet legs, together with an increase in size and in
gracefulness. First one as large as a sheep (_Mesohippus_) had only
three toes and a splint. Then the splint again disappeared, and one
large and two dwindling toes only remained, till finally these two
became mere splints, leaving one large toe or hoof with almost
imperceptible splints, which may be seen on the fetlock of a horse's
skeleton.

"You must notice that a horse's foot really begins at the point which we
call his knee in the front legs, and at his hock in his hind legs. His
true knee and elbow are close up to the body. What we call his foot or
hoof is really the end of the strong, broad, middle toe covered with a
hoof, and farther up his foot we can feel two small splints, which are
remains of two other toes.

"Meanwhile, during these long succeeding ages while the foot was
lengthening out into a slender limb, the animals became larger, more
powerful, and more swift, the neck and head became longer and more
graceful, the brain-case larger in front, and the teeth decreased in
number, so that there is now a large gap between the biting teeth and
the grinding teeth of a horse. Their slender limbs too became more
flexible and fit for running and galloping, till we find the whole
skeleton the same in shape, though not in size, as in our own horses and
asses now.

"They did not, however, during all this time remain confined to America,
for, from the time when they arrived at an animal called
_Miohippus_, or lesser horse, which came after _Mesohippus_
and had only three toes on each foot, we find their remains in Europe,
where they lived in company with the giraffes, opossums, and monkeys
which roamed over these parts in those ancient times. Then a little
later we find them in Africa and India; so that the horse tribe,
represented by creatures about as large as donkeys, had spread far and
wide over the world.

"And now, curiously enough, they began to forsake, or to die out in, the
land of their birth. Why they did so we do not know; but while in the
old world as asses, quaggas, and zebras, and probably horses, they
flourished in Asia, Europe, and Africa, they certainly died out in
America, so that ages afterward, when that land was discovered, no
animal of the horse tribe was found in it.

"And the true horse, where did he arise? Born and bred probably in
Central Asia from some animal like the kulan, or the kertag, he proved
too useful to savage tribes to be allowed his freedom, and it is
doubtful whether in any part of the world he escaped subjection. In
England he probably roamed as a wild animal till the savages, who fed
upon him, learned in time to put him to work; and when the Romans came
they found the Britons with fine and well-trained horses.

"Yet though tamed and made to know his master, he has, as we have seen,
broken loose again in almost all parts of the world--in America on the
prairies and pampas, in Europe and Asia on the steppes, and in Australia
in the bush. And even in Great Britain, where so few patches of
uncultivated land still remain, the young colts of Dartmoor, Exmoor, and
Shetland, though born of domesticated mothers, seem to assert their
descent from wild and free ancestors as they throw out their heels and
toss up their heads with a shrill neigh, and fly against the wind with
streaming manes and outstretched tails as the kulan, the tarpan, and the
zebra do in the wild desert or grassy plain."



CHAPTER XVII

THE ELEPHANTS, RHINOCEROSES, HIPPOPOTAMUSES, AND WILD SWINE


There are three reasons, perhaps, why elephants interest us so greatly.

The first is their enormous size. They are by far the largest of all the
animals which live upon land. "Jumbo," for instance, the famous African
elephant that we in the United States saw in the last century, was
nearly twelve feet in height, and weighed more than six tons. A height
of ten feet is quite common.

Next, there is their wonderful docility. When wild, no doubt, they are
often very fierce and savage. Yet they are easily tamed; and it is a
strange sight to see one of these giant creatures walking about with a
load of children upon its back, and meekly obeying the lightest word of
a man whom it could crush to death in a moment by simply placing its
foot upon him.

And then, once more, there is that marvelous trunk, so strong that it
can tear down great branches from the trees, and yet so delicate that it
can pick up the smallest scrap of food from the ground. When the
elephant wishes to feed, it seizes the food with its trunk and pokes it
into its mouth. When it wishes to drink, it fills the same organ with
water, and then squirts the contents down its throat. If it should be
hot, it can take a shower-bath by squirting water over its body instead.
And it breathes through its trunk and smells with it as well. So this
wonderful member is used for a great many different purposes.

As it is so valuable, the elephant takes very great care of its trunk,
always curling it up out of harm's way, for example, if it should find
itself in any danger.

Two different kinds of elephants are known, one of which is found in
Africa and the other in Asia.


THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT

You can easily tell the African elephant by the great size of his ears,
which are so large that a man might almost hide himself behind one of
them. "Jumbo's" ear, indeed, measured no less than five feet five inches
from side to side. When the animal is excited these enormous ears stand
out at right angles to the head. Then the legs are much longer than
those of the Indian elephant, while the trunk, instead of having one
finger-like projection at the tip, has two, one in front and one behind.
Both the male and female animal, as a rule, possess tusks, while in
Indian elephants these weapons are only occasionally present in the
male, and hardly ever in the female.

The tusks of the male elephant, however, are always much larger than
those of his mate, and sometimes they grow to a very great size. A
length of nine feet is not very uncommon, while tusks ten feet long, or
even more, have sometimes been recorded. Generally one tusk is several
inches shorter than the other, having been worn down in digging for the
roots on which the animal is fond of feeding; for elephants seem to dig
with one of the tusks only, and never with both.

The ivory of which these tusks are composed is so valuable that the
African elephant has been most terribly persecuted, and in many
districts where it was formerly plentiful it has disappeared altogether.
It lives as a rule in herds, which seek the thickest parts of the forest
during the day, and come out at night to search for food and water. And
even a small herd of elephants will sometimes do a great deal of damage,
for they will uproot trees eighteen or even twenty feet high, in order
to feed upon the foliage of the upper branches, or snap off the stems
quite close to the ground. When the tree is a large one, it is said that
two elephants will unite in breaking it down.

You would think that a herd of elephants would be very conspicuous even
in the thick forest, wouldn't you? Yet all hunters unite in saying that
as long as they remain still it is almost impossible to see them, while
they make their way through the bushes so silently that even
when they are moving it is not at all easy to hear them.


THE INDIAN ELEPHANT

This elephant seldom exceeds nine feet in height at the shoulder,
although larger examples are sometimes found. It lives in the thick
jungle in herds of forty or fifty, which sometimes wander by night into
cultivated ground, and do terrible damage to the crops. Now and then,
however, a male elephant will live entirely alone. These solitary
animals are always very fierce, and will rush out and attack any one who
may pass by. For this reason they are known as "rogues."

The Indian elephant is very often tamed, and is taught to perform all
kinds of heavy work, such as dragging timber or piling logs. It is also
used for riding, a howdah with several seats being placed upon its back,
while it is guided by a native driver, called a mahout, who sits upon
its neck and directs its movements by means of a spiked hook. It is
largely employed, too, in hunting the tiger. But for this purpose it has
to be most carefully trained, for elephants are naturally very much
afraid of tigers, and even after a long course of instruction will
sometimes take to flight when the furious animal springs at them with
open jaws and eyes flaming with rage.

Elephants in India are mostly captured by being driven into a large
keddah, or enclosure of stout posts, from which they are unable to make
their escape. In this way a large herd of the huge animals are often
taken prisoners together.

Next in size to the elephants are the great creatures known as
rhinoceroses, which are found both in Africa and in Asia. Five different
kinds are known altogether, but we shall only be able to tell you about
two.


THE INDIAN RHINOCEROS

In this animal the hide falls into great folds upon the shoulders and in
front of the thighs, while there are smaller folds upon the neck and the
hind quarters. The sides of the body are marked with a large
number of round projections, sometimes as much as an inch in diameter,
which look very much like the rivets in the iron plates of a boiler.
When fully grown this animal stands rather over five feet in height at
the shoulder.

The Indian rhinoceros has only one horn, which is generally about a foot
long. This horn, strange to say, is not connected in any way with the
bones of the skull, but is really a growth from the skin, although there
is a bony prominence under it on which it is set. By means of a sharp
knife, it could be cut away without difficulty. But it is a very
formidable weapon, and some of the rhinoceroses with longer horns have
been known to rush at a mounted hunter with lowered head, and then to
strike upward with such terrible force that the horn has actually
pierced the horse's body, and entered the thigh of the rider. Sometimes
a rhinoceros will rush along with its head bent downward so far that the
horn cuts a deep furrow in the ground.

This animal is chiefly found in the swampy parts of the great
grass-jungles of India. It is very fond of taking a mud-bath, from which
it comes out with its whole body thickly caked with clay. This serves as
a great protection from flies and other insects, which persecute it
terribly, forcing their way under the thick folds of hide at the
shoulders and thighs, where the skin is thinner, and driving it nearly
mad by the irritation of their bites.

In spite of its great size this rhinoceros is a rather timid animal, and
nearly always runs away when it is attacked. But if it is wounded or
brought to bay it becomes a terrible foe, charging with fury again and
again, and striking savagely with its horn, and sometimes with its tusks
as well.

The African rhinoceroses are without the folds of skin which are found
in the Indian species, and have two horns on the head instead of one.
Sometimes these horns are of very great length. We have seen a
walking-stick that might serve a very tall man, which was cut from the
core of such a horn.


THE COMMON RHINOCEROS

This is the better known of the two African species, and is found in
almost all the wilder districts from Abyssinia to Cape Colony. It lives
in the thickest parts of the forest, breaking away the bushes and the
lower branches of the trees so as to leave a clear space perhaps fifteen
or twenty feet in diameter. These retreats are called rhinoceros-houses,
and the animals remain in them during the heat of the day.

The common rhinoceros is wonderfully quick and active for so large and
heavy an animal, and is said to be able to overtake a man riding a fast
horse. But it does not seem, as a rule, to be savage in disposition, and
very seldom attacks a human foe. One great hunter tells us that although
many rhinoceroses have advanced toward him to within twenty or thirty
yards, they always ran away if he threw stones at them, or even if he
waved his arms and shouted. When wounded, however, they will sometimes
attack furiously. But they never think of looking for their enemy in a
tree, and if he can climb on to a bough even three or four feet from the
ground he is perfectly safe.


THE HYRAX

Oddly enough, one of the animals most closely related to the
rhinoceroses is much more like a rabbit, and actually lives in burrows
in the ground. This is the hyrax, or coney, as it is called in the
Bible, which almost anybody would mistake at first sight for a rodent.
Yet when one comes to look at its front teeth he sees at once that
instead of having flat, sharp edges, like a chisel, they are pointed;
and these teeth do not continue to grow all through life, like those of
the rodent animals. And besides this there are several other points in
its bodily structure which show us that it really is a relation of the
rhinoceroses.

About fourteen different kinds of hyrax are known, some of which are
found in Africa, and the others in Arabia, Syria, and Palestine. They
all live in rocky districts high up on the sides of mountains, a great
number making their burrows close to one another, just as rabbits do in
a warren. They are very active and sure of foot, and scamper up and down
the sides of the rocks with the greatest ease. It is difficult to watch
them, however, for they are so shy that they will not leave
their holes if they think that any one can see them, while they only
come out to feed at night and very early in the morning. Sometimes, it
is true, they will lie out on the rocks during the day, enjoying the hot
sunshine. But one of them is always appointed to act as a sentinel, and
as soon as he notices the slightest sign of danger he gives the alarm,
and then they all disappear into their holes.

[Illustration: PACHYDERMS AND TAPIR.

  1. African Elephant.             2. African Rhinoceros.
  3. East African Hippopotamus.    4. Malayan Tapir.]


TAPIRS

Very odd-looking animals are the tapirs, which are found both in Central
and South America, and also in some of the islands of the Malay
Archipelago. They are about as large as donkeys, but look more like very
big pigs. On the neck is a short, stiff, upright mane of black hairs,
and the upper lip is lengthened out into a kind of trunk, something like
that of an elephant, but on a very much smaller scale, and without the
odd finger-like organ at the tip.

These curious animals live in thick forests near the banks of great
rivers, and come out from their retreats chiefly by night. By constantly
traveling backward and forward they make regular pathways through the
thickets. They swim very well, and are fond of gamboling in the water,
and also of rolling about on the muddy banks. But they are so timid that
it is very difficult to watch them; and it is said that they will run
away in terror from even a tiny dog.

But if a mother tapir thinks that her little one is in danger she seems
to lose all sense of fear, and will even dash at a man and try to knock
him down. And if she succeeds she will trample upon him and even bite
him, just like the wild swine.

In America the great enemy of the tapirs is the jaguar, which springs
upon them unexpectedly, and generally succeeds in tearing them to the
ground. But sometimes they manage to escape either by rushing at once
into the very thickest bushes, which sweep away their terrible enemy
from his hold, or else by plunging into the water, when he is obliged to
loose his grip for fear of being drowned.

The American tapirs are sooty brown in color, but that which is found in
the Malayan Islands is white on the sides and the hinder parts of the
body, while the young animal is spotted and streaked with white all
over.


THE HIPPOPOTAMUS

The hippopotamus, or river-horse, is perhaps the most awkward and
ungainly animal in the world. His huge body almost touches the ground as
he waddles clumsily along, while his short stout legs are set so far
apart that they actually make a double track through the herbage. So you
can easily understand that when a herd of twenty or thirty of these
enormous creatures find their way into a plantation they do terrible
damage, eating a good deal, and trampling down far more than they eat.

Then what tremendous mouths they have! When they open their jaws wide,
their heads really look as if they were splitting in two right down into
their necks. And they have a most formidable array of tusks and teeth,
arranged in such a manner that they mow down the herbage almost like the
blade of a scythe.

The hippopotamus is a native of Africa, and is found in great numbers in
many of the rivers and lakes. It spends a great deal of its time in the
water, often sinking its body so low that only its nostrils appear above
the surface. And it can dive for eight or even ten minutes at a time,
without requiring to breathe. When it rises again it generally begins to
blow out the exhausted air from its lungs just before reaching the
surface, whereby a column of spray is forced up into the air, just as it
is by a whale when spouting.

When a mother hippopotamus has a little one, she generally carries it
about on her back.

A writer tells us that the first hippopotamus that was ever brought to
the London Zoo was caught when it was quite young, on one of the islands
in the White Nile. As its mother had gone away to feed, the hunter who
found it picked it up in his arms and ran off with it toward the boat.
The skin of these animals, however, is thickly covered with a kind of
natural oil, and the result was that the little creature was so slippery
that it wriggled out of his arms just as he reached the water's edge,
and plunged into the river. But luckily the boat-hook was lying close
by, and with this he struck at the escaping animal, gaffed it as one
does a fish, and succeeded in capturing it again with nothing more than
a wound in its thick skin, which very soon healed. After a great deal of
trouble it was safely brought to England, and lived in the Zoo for
twenty-nine years.

Another kind of hippopotamus, called the pygmy hippopotamus, is found in
Western Africa. It is a very much smaller animal, being only about as
big as a good-sized pig.


SWINE

Next on our list come the swine, among the most famous of which is the
wild boar.

Until about the middle of the sixteenth century this animal was
plentiful in the British Isles, and it is still found commonly in the
great forests of Europe. It is one of the fiercest and most savage of
animals, for it does not seem to know what fear is, and will attack over
and over again, even after receiving the most severe wounds. And its
tusks are so sharp and powerful that they have been known to rip up the
body of a horse at a single stroke. When removed from the jaw these
tusks are generally about eight or nine inches long.

In India, where wild boars are very plentiful, they generally make their
lair among thick bushes in some marshy district, and often do a great
deal of mischief to cultivated crops in the neighborhood. They are fond
of roots, too, which they grub out of the ground with their snouts, and
in hot summers, when the ponds dry up, they are said to dig in the mud
at the bottom in search of the fish which have buried themselves until
the rainy season. The old boars generally live by themselves, like
"rogue" elephants, but the younger ones and the sows go about together
in droves of fifteen or twenty, all of which, most likely, are members
of the same family.


THE BABIRUSA

This is one of the most curious of the swine. It is found in the islands
of Celebes and Borneo. In the boar of this animal the tusks in both jaws
spring upward, and then curve toward the eyes, so that there is a sort
of fringe, as it were, of tusks all round the face. Sometimes the upper
pairs are thirteen or fourteen inches long, without counting the part
that is buried in the jaw. These, however, are not very useful as
weapons. But very severe wounds can be inflicted by the lower tusks,
although they are a good deal smaller, and an enraged babirusa is a most
formidable foe.

When fully grown, the babirusa stands about three feet six inches in
height in the middle of the back, which is always very much arched. The
color of the skin is dark ashy gray.


THE WART-HOG

The wart-hog, or vlack-vark, which is found in Eastern Africa, is
certainly the ugliest of all the swine. Its head is enormously large in
comparison with its body, the muzzle is very long and broad, under each
eye is a great wart-like lump, with two others a little distance below
it, and on each side of the mouth two great stout tusks spring upward.
Altogether, it would be very hard to imagine a more sullen and
ferocious-looking animal.

It is not nearly so savage as the babirusa, however, and if it is
attacked it nearly always runs away, and tries to take refuge in some
hole in the ground, such as the deserted burrow of an ant-bear. When it
takes to ground in this way, it always turns round just before entering,
and backs in tail foremost. Sometimes, if two or three men stand just
over the burrow and jump heavily up and down in time together, it can be
induced to bolt. But it is advisable to do so with a good deal of
caution, for the animal has a singular way of turning a kind of back
somersault just as it leaves its burrow, which lands it upon the top,
just where the hunters would most likely be standing. And if they
are not very careful one of them at least is almost sure to receive a
slashing cut from the terrible tusks, which will certainly cause a
severe wound, and may even render him a cripple for life.

When it is running away from a pursuer, and wishes to see whether it is
gaining upon him, the wart-hog presents a most ridiculous appearance,
for its neck is so short that it cannot turn its head round to look
behind it. So it lifts its snout straight up into the air instead and
looks over its shoulders. Besides this, it always carries its tail
perfectly stiff and upright.


PECCARIES

In South America, and in Mexico and western Texas, the wild swine are
represented by the peccaries, of which there are two different kinds,
the collared peccary and the less common white-lipped peccary. They are
not very large animals, being only about three feet in length, and
weighing not more than fifty or sixty pounds; but they are nevertheless
very dangerous creatures, for three different reasons.

In the first place, they travel about in packs, sometimes consisting of
thirty or forty animals, which all attack a foe together. In the second
place, although their tusks are not nearly so long as those of the
preceding animals, they are almost as sharp as razors, and can inflict
most terrible wounds. Thirdly, the animals know no fear, and will go on
savagely attacking any enemy, over and over again, until the last of
them is killed. So if a hunter should meet with a herd of peccaries in
the forest, even if he be armed with a gun, his only chance of escape is
to climb into a tree and to stay there till they go away.

When a herd of peccaries is not very large--consisting, perhaps, of only
ten or twelve individuals--they are very fond of taking up their abode
in the hollow trunk of some fallen tree. In this case they can be very
easily destroyed, for one animal is always placed at the entrance to act
as a sentinel; and if a hunter conceals himself in some convenient place
close by, takes careful aim, and shoots the watching peccary dead upon
the spot, the animal behind him will just push out his carcass and take
his place, to be himself shot in like manner. In this way the whole
herd may be killed one after another.

Peccaries will eat almost any kind of food, and though they live as a
rule in the thickest parts of the forests, they will often wander to
long distances in order to feed upon the crops in cultivated ground.
There they sometimes do an immense amount of damage, and as they
generally come during the night, and leave again before daybreak, it is
very difficult to trap or shoot them.



CHAPTER XVIII

EDENTATES, OR TOOTHLESS MAMMALS


The animals which belong to this order are distinguished by having no
front teeth, while some of them have no teeth at all. And in many other
ways they are very curious and interesting creatures.


SLOTHS

The sloths live almost entirely in the trees, scarcely ever descending
to the ground. Not only that, they walk along underneath the branches
instead of upon them, suspending themselves by means of their great
hooked claws. So they actually spend almost the whole of their lives
upside down, with their backs toward the ground!

Yet they manage to travel along from bough to bough and from tree to
tree with some little speed, and when there is a high wind, so that the
branches are blown together, they will often wander for long distances.
And they never seem to get tired, although even during the night they
still hang suspended, just as they do during the day.

Sloths are very odd-looking creatures, and if you were to see one of
them hanging from a bough in its native forests you would find it rather
hard to believe that it was really an animal at all. For it looks much
more like a bundle of twigs overgrown with lichens. And the strange
thing is that it really is covered with lichens, which grow upon its
long, coarse hairs just as they do on the twigs of the trees. These give
the fur of the sloth a curious green appearance, which disappears soon
after death, so that one never sees it in a stuffed specimen in a
museum.

When a sloth is hungry, there is always plenty of food close by, for
it feeds only upon the leaves and fruits and the tender young shoots of
trees. And as there is plenty of moisture in these, it never requires to
drink at all.

There are two different groups of these singular animals, the first
consisting of those which have three toes on the front feet, and the
other of those which have only two. They are only found in the great
forests of Central and South America.


ANT-EATERS

Equally curious, although in quite a different way, are the ant-eaters,
or ant-bears, as they are sometimes called, the largest of which is the
great ant-eater of tropical America.

When fully grown this animal is about four feet long, without counting
the tail, while it is about two feet high at the shoulder. And it has
two strange peculiarities.

In the first place, its head is drawn out into a kind of long, narrow
beak, with the little round nostrils at the very tip. Then its tongue is
very long and worm-like, and is exceedingly sticky, so that when it is
swept to and fro among a number of ants, or other small insects,
hundreds of them adhere to it and are carried into the mouth. This is
the way in which the animal feeds, and if you go to look as the
ant-eater in a zoo you may often see it poke its long tongue down
between the boards at the bottom of its cage and bring up a cockroach
which had vainly been seeking a place of refuge.

The other peculiarity is the enormous size of the tail, the hair of
which is so long that when it is carried over the back it completely
covers the whole of the body, and makes the animal look just like a
haycock.

On its front feet the great ant-eater has very strong curved claws, with
which it tears open the nests of the insects on which it feeds. When it
is walking, of course, these claws are rather in its way, and it is
obliged to tread on the sides of its feet instead of on the soles. But
it manages, nevertheless, to shuffle along with some little speed,
although its movements are very far from being graceful. And sometimes
it uses them as weapons, for while it always tries to hug an enemy with
its powerful forearms and squeeze him to death, the claws often enter
his body and inflict a serious or even a fatal wound.

When a mother ant-eater has a little one to take care of, she always
carries it about on her back, and only allows it to get down just now
and then in order to feed.

There is another kind of ant-eater called the tamandua, which lives in
the trees and has a prehensile tail, just like that of a spider-monkey.
It is much smaller than the great ant-eater, and has a shorter and
stouter head, while its tail is scarcely as bushy as that of a Persian
cat. In color it is yellowish white, with a broad black patch which runs
from the neck to the hind quarters, and then widens out so as to cover
the whole of the flanks. The tip of the snout is also black. The animal,
like the preceding, is a native of tropical America.


THE ARMADILLOS

These are remarkable for having their bodies almost entirely covered by
a kind of natural armor, which consists of several bony plates growing
in the skin. There are three of these plates altogether, one covering
the head and shoulders, another protecting the back, while the third
clothes the hind quarters. And they are fastened together by means of
bony rings, so that when the animal rolls itself into a ball no gap is
left between them. You know what a millepede or thousand-legs looks like
when it rolls itself up, don't you? Well, imagine a thousand-legs as big
as a football, and you will have a very good idea of an armadillo.

These animals do not appear to be in the least inconvenienced by their
singular armor, and are able to run with considerable speed. They are
able to dig very well, too, by means of the large and powerful claws
with which their front feet are furnished, and it is said that if a man
on horseback sees an armadillo running by his side, and leaps to the
ground to secure it, he will nearly always find that it has succeeded in
burying itself before he is able to seize it.

The six-banded armadillo is so called because the horny plate upon its
back is broken up into six separate bands, all of which,
however, are closely linked together by bony rings. Sometimes it is
called the weasel-headed armadillo, because its head is thought to be
rather like that of a weasel. It is about sixteen inches in length,
without including the tail, and is found in Brazil and Paraguay.

The giant armadillo is very much larger, growing to the length of nearly
a yard from the tip of the snout to the root of the tail. It lives in
Brazil and Surinam, and feeds chiefly on ants and termites.

One of the most interesting of these creatures is the odd little
pichiciago, which is only about five inches long, and has a pink shield
upon its back, and fur of snowy white. It is found in the western parts
of the Argentine Republic, in open sandy places, but nowhere seems to be
very plentiful. It digs in a most curious manner. First of all, it
scratches away for a minute or two with its front feet, just to loosen
the soil. Then, supporting itself partly on its front feet and partly on
its tail, it uses the hind feet with the most astonishing rapidity, so
that it sinks down into the ground as if by magic. And, strange to say,
it does not leave its burrow open behind it when it has gone in, but
carefully closes the entrance, ramming the earth hard by means of the
bony shield at the end of its body.


PANGOLINS

Among other animals called ant-eaters are the pangolins, which are more
remarkable still. They are called scaly ant-eaters, because their heads,
bodies, and tails are covered with large, pointed oval scales, which
overlap one another very much like the tiles on the roof of a house.
When they are alarmed they coil themselves up into balls, just as most
of the armadillos do, and their muscles are so wonderfully strong that
it is quite impossible to unroll them.

Seven different kinds of pangolins are known, four of which live in
Africa, and three in Asia. They all feed chiefly upon ants and termites,
which they catch by breaking down the walls of their nests, and licking
up the insects with their long, worm-like tongues as they run about in
confusion. They live either in crevices among rocks, or else in burrows
which they dig for themselves in the ground. Sometimes these burrows are
of very great size, that of the Indian pangolin often running for ten or
twelve feet downward into the ground, and having at the end a
sleeping-chamber at least five or six feet in diameter.

When a pangolin comes to the edge of an overhanging rock, and wishes to
descend to the ground below, it coils itself up into a ball and then
rolls over, alighting on the edges of its scales just as a hedgehog does
upon its spines. In this way it can drop ten or fifteen feet without
receiving any injury.

The different species of pangolin vary a good deal in size, but the
largest of them, the giant pangolin, is between four and five feet long
when fully grown, including the tail.


THE AARD-VARK

This name means earth-pig, and has been given to the animal by the Boers
of South Africa, because in general appearance it is rather like a pig.
But then it has ears like those of a hare, and a muzzle and tongue like
those of an ant-eater, while all its feet are furnished with long and
stout claws. So that altogether it is a very odd-looking creature.

The aard-vark feeds entirely upon termites and ants, and is nearly
always to be found where the nests of those insects are plentiful. It
digs with great rapidity, and is said to be able to burrow into the
ground faster than a man armed with a spade can dig it out. So it has no
difficulty in tearing a hole through the walls of the termites' and
ants' nests, and then it licks out the insects in thousands.

During the daytime the aard-vark is hardly ever to be seen, for it lies
fast asleep in its burrow, which it seldom leaves till after sunset.
Before digging this burrow, it mostly scoops out quite a number of
half-finished ones, scraping a hole two or three feet in depth, and then
leaving it and beginning on another. Why it does this nobody seems to
know.

In former days it was thought that the lion and the elephant were in the
habit of hunting the aard-vark together, the elephant flooding its
burrow, by means of a stream of water from his trunk, and the lion
pouncing upon the animal as it ran out.

When fully grown the aard-vark is rather over six feet in total length,
about one third of which is occupied by the tail. The body is very
heavily and clumsily built, and the back is a good deal arched in the
middle. In color it is yellowish brown, with a tinge of red on the back
and sides, while the lower surface is rather paler.



CHAPTER XIX

THE MARSUPIALS


The last order of mammals is a very curious one, for in most of the
animals which belong to it there is a large pouch on the lower part of
the body of the female, in which she carries her little ones about for
several weeks, or even several months, after they are born. That is why
these creatures are called marsupials, for marsupial means pouched. Even
after the little animals are quite able to take care of themselves they
will hurry back to their mother and jump into her pouch in moments of
danger.

It is quite true that in a good many marsupials this pouch is wanting.
But traces of it are almost always to be found, although sometimes they
are so slight that only a very careful observer would be likely to
notice them.

In earlier days marsupial animals lived in almost all parts of the
world, for there are very few countries in which their fossil remains
have not been discovered. But now they are almost entirely restricted to
Australia, the only exceptions being the opossums, which are found in
America.


KANGAROOS

The largest, and in some respects the most interesting, of the
marsupials are the kangaroos. In some ways they are rather like gigantic
hares. But their front legs are so much smaller than the hinder ones
that they cannot run on all fours, but travel by means of a series of
leaps, skipping about, in fact, instead of running. And besides this
they have very long and stout tails, which serve to support them when
they are sitting upright, and also help them to balance their bodies
when they are leaping.

The male kangaroo, which is often known as the "boomer," or as the "old
man," is very much larger than the female, sometimes attaining to a
total length of eight feet six inches, or even nine feet, nearly half
of which is occupied by the tail. But when he is sitting upright he is
nearly as tall as a tall man. The female is about two feet shorter.

Although it is obliged to hop along instead of running, the kangaroo is
a very swift animal, and can only be run down by fast and powerful dogs.
At every leap it covers about fifteen feet of ground, the distances
between the holes which its great claws make in the ground being as
regular as if they had been marked out with a measuring-tape.

These huge claws are very formidable weapons, and the kangaroo well
knows how to use them. As a rule it is a very timid animal, and when it
is attacked its first idea is always to seek safety in flight. But if it
is driven to bay it takes up its post with its back against a tree, so
that it cannot be approached from behind, and quietly awaits the
onslaught of its enemies. Then, as soon as one of them comes within
reach, it kicks suddenly out with one of its hind feet, delivering its
stroke with such force that the great sharp claw has been known to rip
up the body of a large dog from end to end, and to stretch the poor
beast dying upon the ground. For this reason hounds which are used in
kangaroo-hunting are made to wear collars of twisted steel chain, to
protect them from the stroke of their quarry.

Sometimes, too, when a hunted kangaroo finds that it cannot escape
simply by speed, it will wade into a pool or river, wait till the dogs
swim up to it, and then seize them with its fore limbs one after
another, and hold them under water till they are drowned. Although they
are not large, these front limbs are wonderfully strong, and if even a
powerful man were to be embraced by them he would find it very difficult
to make his escape.

The female kangaroo, however, is not nearly so well able to defend
herself, and sometimes she has been known, when chased by hounds, to lie
down and die simply from fear. But sometimes she escapes by taking a
sudden leap sideways into thick bushes, lying perfectly still until her
pursuers have rushed past her, and then making off in the opposite
direction.

As the mother kangaroo hops about, the head of her little one, or
"joey," as it is called, may often be seen poking out of her pouch. And
she is so clever that if an enemy should appear when the "joey" is
playing on the ground or feeding, she will snatch it up and put it into
her pouch even while she is hopping away, without pausing for a moment
in her retreat.

[Illustration: TYPES OF MARSUPIALS

  1. Australian Sugar Squirrel.       2. American Opossum.
  3. Australian Echidna.              4. Australian Great Kangaroo.
  5. Tasmanian Devil.]


A JOYOUS MEETING

Kangaroos are very affectionate animals, and a touching story is told of
a couple which lived together in captivity. They became the very best of
friends, but when they were sent from Australia to Philadelphia, they
had to travel by different ships. As soon as they were separated, they
became miserable, moping in their cages, refusing to take food, and
calling for each other all day long. "Jack," as the male was called,
reached Philadelphia first, and for a whole week seemed to be constantly
on the watch to see if "Flora," his mate, was coming. At last she
arrived, and both animals at once became madly excited, leaping in their
cages so wildly that at last they were put together, to prevent them
from injuring themselves against the bars. Then they cuddled up against
one another, licked each other with their tongues, and seemed so
overjoyed to meet that the keeper promised that they should never be
parted again.


VARIOUS SPECIES OF KANGAROOS

Kangaroos generally live in droves, sometimes consisting of only a few
animals, sometimes of as many as a hundred and fifty, or even more. But
a "boomer" often lives during the greater part of the year quite alone,
like a "rogue" elephant.

There are at least twenty-three different kinds of kangaroos, the
smaller ones being generally known as wallabies. And these are again
divided into large wallabies and small wallabies.

The large wallabies are also called brush-kangaroos because they live in
the thick brushy jungle, called the bush, which occupies so large a part
of the Australian continent. The biggest of them is really quite a large
animal, for when fully grown it is six feet long, from the tip of the
muzzle to the end of the tail. Some of the small wallabies, however, are
very small, several of them being no bigger than rabbits.

Then there are some of these animals which spend most of their life in
the trees and are called tree-kangaroos. Four of these creatures that
lived for some time in the London Zoo looked very odd as they sat on the
branches with their long tails hanging down behind them. But even when
they were on the floor of their cage one could not possibly mistake them
for ground-kangaroos, for their front limbs were almost as long as their
hind ones.

The best known of these animals is found in Queensland. It spends the
day in sleep, only coming out from its retreat among the foliage when
darkness has set in, and it lives in the very thickest part of the bush,
which is hardly ever visited even by the natives. It does not seem to be
a very good climber, for it is rather slow in its movements, and appears
to be a little afraid of falling; for it clings so tightly to the branch
on which it is resting that it is difficult to force it to loose its
hold.

The natives generally catch this curious kangaroo by climbing the tree
in which it is sleeping, jerking it from its perch by a violent pull at
its tail, and throwing it to the ground to be killed by the dogs below.
But if it reaches the ground unhurt it makes off with great speed,
hopping along with flying leaps like all the other members of the family.


KANGAROO-RATS

These animals, often called potoroos, are quite small, even the largest
of them being scarcely as big as a rabbit. They do not jump so well as
the true kangaroos, and generally run on all fours in a kind of gallop.
But when they are at rest they sit upright on their hind quarters.

One of these animals, known as the brush-tailed bettong, puts its tail
to a most curious use. It makes its nest of grasses and leaves in a
hollow in the ground, and when it is collecting materials for building,
it gathers them up into a bundle, twists the tip of its tail round them,
and then hops swiftly away, holding its little sheaf well away from its
body. It is a most clever little builder, for when it has chosen a
suitable hollow in the ground for its nest, it first of all enlarges it
until it is big enough for its requirements, and then weaves its
materials carefully together until the top of its little home is just on
a level with the herbage growing all round it. And whenever it goes in
or out, it pulls a tuft of grass over the entrance in order to prevent
it from being noticed. So well is the nest concealed, that you might
pass within a few feet and look straight at it without seeing it.

This animal is also sometimes known as the jerboa-kangaroo.


THE SUGAR-SQUIRREL

Among the Australian mammals we find a good many which are really
very much like those found in other parts of the world, and might
easily be mistaken for them if it were not for the presence of the
marsupial pouch. One of these is the curious sugar-squirrel, or
squirrel-petaurist, which is really very much like the flying squirrels
of Asia and North America. It has the skin of the sides and flanks
developed in just the same manner, and uses it in exactly the same way,
leaping from a lofty bough, spreading its limbs at right angles to its
body so that the skin is stretched out between them, and thus contriving
to skim for long distances through the air. And the big, bushy tail
serves partly to help it in keeping its balance, and partly to enable it
to keep a straight course.

During the daytime sugar-squirrels are nearly always asleep in a hollow
tree, or in some other convenient retreat. But as soon as it grows dark
they all come out from their hiding-places and begin to frisk about, and
to leap from tree to tree, with the utmost activity. After a time they
will stop, in order to search for insects, or to feast upon the honey
which they find in the blossoms of the trees. But very shortly they
recommence their gambols, and so they go on, alternately playing and
feeding, till the dawn.

The sugar-squirrel is a very pretty little creature, the fur being
brownish gray above, with a black stripe along the back, and a rich
brown edging to the umbrella-like skin of the sides. The lower parts
of the body are nearly white, and the tail is brown above and white
beneath. In length it is about nineteen or twenty inches, rather more
than half of which is occupied by the tail.


AUSTRALIAN BEAR

There is an animal, much like a small bear, that is often known as the
Australian bear, although its proper name is the koala. When fully grown
it is about as big as a poodle. It has a stoutly built body, very short
legs, large and almost square ears, with a fringe of stiff hairs round
the edges, and no visible tail, while the fur is very thick and woolly.
In color it is ashy gray above and yellowish white under the body.

The koala spends most of its life in the trees. Yet it is not a very
good climber, for its movements are curiously slow, and it always seems
to feel in danger of falling. On the ground it is slower and more
awkward still, for its feet are much more suited for grasping a branch
than for use upon a level surface. But it does not often come down from
the trees unless it wishes to drink, or to vary its diet of leaves and
buds by digging for roots.

When a mother koala has a little one to take care of, she always carries
it about on her back, and even when it is nearly half as big as she is
it may sometimes be seen riding pickaback.

The koala is a very gentle animal, and even when it is captured it
seldom attempts to scratch or bite. But sometimes it gets in a great
passion over nothing at all, and shows its teeth and yells and screams
in such a threatening manner that any one who did not know how harmless
it really is would most likely be afraid of it.

Owing to the fact that it spends so much of its life in the trees, this
animal is sometimes called the Australian monkey; and it is curious to
find that it has pouches in its cheek in which it can store away food,
just as many of the true monkeys have.


THE WOMBAT

The wombat might easily be mistaken for a rodent, for its front teeth
are formed almost exactly like those of the rabbit and the rat. But as
it possesses a marsupial pouch, there can be no doubt of the order it
really belongs to. It is not at all a handsome animal. In fact, it is
fat, awkward, clumsy, and heavy--something like a much overgrown
guinea-pig--and it seems to spend its whole life in eating and sleeping.
It can dig very well, however, and makes deep burrows in the ground,
with a large sleeping-chamber at the end. If in captivity, it will often
make its escape by digging its way out under the walls.

When fully grown the wombat is about three feet in length, and its legs
are so short that its body almost touches the ground as it waddles
awkwardly along. Like the koala, it is very gentle in disposition, and
hardly even struggles when it is captured, although it is subject to
sudden fits of passion. If it is kept as a pet, it soon becomes very
affectionate, and likes to go to sleep on its owner's knees, like a cat.

In color this animal is dark grayish brown. It is found in New South
Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.


THE BANDICOOTS

There are about a dozen different kinds of these very odd-looking
animals. Perhaps we can best describe them by saying that if you can
imagine a rat with a snout drawn out like that of a shrew, very large
ears, three very long toes with still longer claws on each foot,
together with two toes with no claws at all, and a rather short, hairy
tail--then that is what a bandicoot looks like.

Owing to the very odd way in which their feet are formed, bandicoots
cannot run like other animals, but travel along by means of a curious
mixture of running and jumping. They are common in most parts of
Australia--so common, in fact, that they are generally regarded as a
great nuisance. For they do a terrible amount of mischief both in
gardens and in cultivated fields, feeding both upon grain and fruits, as
well as upon the roots and bulbs which they scratch up out of the
ground. During the daytime they are hardly ever seen, for they hide away
in holes in the ground, or in hollow trees, and remain fast asleep till
after sunset. Some of them, however, make nests of dry leaves and
grasses which are so cleverly concealed among the herbage that it is
very difficult to find them.


THE TASMANIAN WOLF

There are certain marsupial animals which look as though they belonged
to the dog and cat tribes. They are called dasyures, and are beasts of
prey. One of these is the Tasmanian wolf, or thylacine, as it is often
called, which is so wolf-like both in appearance and habits that it
fully deserves its name. But you can tell it from the true wolves at a
glance by the dark, zebra-like stripes upon its back, and also by its
long slender tail, which tapers down almost to a point. It is also known
as the zebra-wolf and the tiger-wolf.

The Tasmanian wolf used to be very common indeed, for it was the most
powerful of all the Tasmanian animals, so that it had no natural foes,
while it was very seldom killed by the natives. But when white settlers
came to live in the country they found that it killed so many of their
sheep that it was necessary for them to do all that they could to
destroy it. So numbers of Tasmanian wolves were shot, and numbers more
were caught in traps, and by degrees the animal was driven back, until
now it is only found in wild and rocky districts among the mountains,
which are scarcely ever trodden by the foot of man.

There are very few of the Australian animals which do not fall victims
to this fierce and savage creature. Even kangaroos are killed by it at
times. And it has been known to destroy and devour the echidna, which is
something like a small porcupine. But besides feeding upon living prey,
it will feed heartily upon any carrion that it may find, and will also
prowl about on the sea-shore in search of the various dead animals which
are flung up by the waves.

The Tasmanian wolf is a nocturnal animal, remaining hidden all day long
in some deep recess among the rocks, into which no ray of sunshine can
ever penetrate. It does not like the daylight at all, and seems most
uneasy if it is brought out from its retreat. And, strange to say, it
has a kind of inner eyelid, which it draws across its eyes every moment
or two in order to keep out the light as much as possible.


THE TASMANIAN DEVIL

Just as the Tasmanian wolf is like a dog, so the Tasmanian devil is like
a small bear--and a very wild, fierce, savage bear, too. Its name has
been given to it on account of its disposition, and there is perhaps no
animal which it is so difficult to tame. No matter how kindly it is
treated, it is always sullen and always ferocious. It will fly at the
very hand that gives it food. If you merely look at it as it lies in its
cage, it will dash furiously at the bars with its teeth bared, uttering
yells and screams of passion. You cannot help feeling that it would tear
you to pieces if only it had the chance. And its teeth are so sharp and
its jaws are so powerful, that there are very few dogs which could
overcome it in fair fight.

The Tasmanian devil has its eyes protected just as the Tasmanian wolf
has, and like that animal it is seldom seen abroad by day. It is
extremely mischievous, for night after night it will visit the
hen-roosts and the sheepfolds, not only preying upon the poultry and the
young lambs, but seeming to kill for the very sake of killing. So it has
been almost as greatly persecuted as the Tasmanian wolf, and has
altogether disappeared from many districts where it used to be
plentiful, while in many others it is very seldom found.

In size the Tasmanian devil is about as big as a badger, and in color it
is dull sooty black, with a white collar-like streak on the lower part
of the throat.

Then the larger dasyures may be compared to cats, to which they are just
about equal in size. In Tasmania, indeed, they are called wild cats.
They live in trees, sleeping in hollows in the trunks during the day,
and prowling about in search of prey by night. And they are almost as
mischievous in poultry yards as the Tasmanian devil. But then, on the
other hand, they will learn to catch rats and mice if they are tamed and
trained, just as a cat will.

There are several different kinds of these animals, but they all agree
in having grayish or grayish-brown fur, with a number of white spots on
the sides of the body.


POUCHED MICE

Very pretty and graceful little creatures are these. There are a good
many different kinds of them. They are all small, the largest of them
being no bigger than a half-grown rat, while some of them are not equal
in size even to an ordinary mouse. And as they breed very freely, and
have quite a number of little ones at every birth, they are among the
most plentiful of all the Australian mammals.

Pouched mice always spend much of their time in the trees, where they
seem quite as contented as they do on the ground. They run up and down
the trunk with the greatest activity, scamper along the branches, leap
from one bough to another, and never seem to miss their footing. And
they are continually poking their sharp little muzzles into the cracks
and crevices of the bark in order to search for tiny insects and
spiders. Their habits are not very much like those of mice, and one
cannot help thinking that they ought to be called pouched shrews.


THE MYRMECOBIUS, OR BANDED ANT-EATER

This marsupial ant-eater is found in Southern and Western Australia. It
is a prettily marked little animal of about the same size as a squirrel,
with a pointed snout, a long slender body, and a rather long and bushy
tail. In color it is dark chestnut brown above and white below, while a
number of white stripes run across the hinder part of the back and
loins, beginning just behind the shoulders, and ending a little above
the root of the tail.

The myrmecobius lives principally on the ground. But it is a very good
climber nevertheless, and can ascend trees and run about on the branches
with considerable activity. It feeds on ants and termites, catching them
by means of its long and worm-like tongue, which is so sticky that the
insects adhere to it as soon as they are touched. The marsupial pouch is
almost entirely wanting, so that one might almost be led to
suppose that the animal must be a true ant-eater. But then the
ant-eaters have no teeth at all, while the myrmecobius has no less than
fifty-two, or more than any other mammal with the exception of one or
two members of the whale tribe and the armadillo.

This curious and pretty little animal is very gentle in disposition, and
never seems to bite or scratch even if it is taken prisoner. It makes
its home either in the decaying trunk of a fallen tree, or else in a
hole in the ground.


THE POUCHED MOLE

This, one of the most curious of all the marsupial animals, was quite
unknown until a recent time. In size and shape it is very much like the
common mole, and it has its fore paws armed with enormous claws for
digging in just the same manner. In color it is pale yellow. It has no
outward ears, and its eyes are so tiny, and so deeply buried in the
skin, that it must be almost, if not quite, unable to see with them. And
in front of its snout is an odd kind of shield made of thick, horny
skin, which is evidently intended to protect the face as the animal
forces its way through the ground.

This singular creature lives in sandy districts in the deserts of South
Australia. It appears to burrow through the soil for a few feet, then to
come to the surface and crawl for a little distance, and then to burrow
again. And as it creeps over the sand it leaves three tracks behind it,
one being made by the feet on either side, and the third by the stiff
and stumpy little tail, which appears to be pressed down upon the
ground. These tracks, of course, can only be seen after rain, for in dry
weather the sand very soon falls in upon them, and fills them up.


OPOSSUMS

The next group of the marsupial animals is found, not in Australia, but
in America.

There are several different kinds of opossums, most of which live in the
trees. They are excellent climbers, for they not only have their
hind feet made more like hands, with a thumb-like great toe which
enables them to grasp the branches, but are also the possessors of long
prehensile tails, like those of the spider-monkeys. So powerful is the
tail of an opossum that it can bear the entire weight of the body as the
animal swings from a branch to pluck fruit which would otherwise be out
of its reach.

But opossums do not feed upon fruit alone. Indeed, there are very few
things which they will not eat. They are very fond of maize, or Indian
corn, for example, obtaining it sometimes by climbing up the stems of
the plants, and sometimes by cutting them down close to the ground.
Nuts, too, they devour in great quantities, together with acorns and
berries. Sometimes they dig up roots out of the ground. Then they will
search for birds' nests, and carry off the eggs or the unfledged little
ones. They will pounce upon a rabbit, too, or a young squirrel, and do
not disdain mice, or lizards, or frogs, or even insects. And the farmer
has very good cause for disliking them, for they not only get into his
fields and steal his grain, but find their way into his hen-roosts and
carry off the eggs and the young chickens.

But then they are very easily caught, for they are attracted by any kind
of bait, and will walk into the simplest of traps. Yet in some ways they
are exceedingly cunning. If they are caught, for example, and are
injured in even the slightest degree, they will pretend to be dead, and
will allow themselves to be pulled about, or kicked, or beaten, without
showing any sign of life. Then the moment they think that no one is
looking at them they will rise to their feet and quietly slink away.
From this we get the proverb "playing possum."

During the daytime the opossum is usually fast asleep in its nest, which
is sometimes made by itself, and sometimes is the deserted home of a
squirrel. So it has to be hunted by night.

A moonlight night is always chosen for this purpose, and the animal is
first of all driven into a tree by dogs. One of the hunters then climbs
the tree and shakes it down from the branch to which it is clinging, and
the moment it reaches the ground it is pounced upon and destroyed by the
dogs.

The opossum runs in a very curious manner, moving both limbs of the same
side together.

When the little opossums are born, they are not only blind, like puppies
and kittens, but are quite deaf as well, and do not get their sight and
hearing for some little time. They remain hidden all of their infancy in
the mother's pouch, staying there five or six weeks, and afterward
riding about on her back.

The common opossum is about as big as a cat. But it looks much more like
a very big rat, for its tail is long and scaly. It is found in North
America. In South America there is a different species, called the
crab-eating opossum, because it is so fond of the crabs and crayfishes
which abound in the salt creeks and the great swamps of Brazil. Then
Merian's opossum, in which the marsupial pouch is not developed, has a
most curious way of carrying its young about, for the little ones stand
in a row on their mother's back, with their tiny tails coiled tightly
round hers, to prevent them from falling off. And the yapock opossum
spends most of its life in the water, and lives upon fish, being such an
excellent swimmer that it is able easily to overtake them.

Last of all, we come to two most extraordinary animals, which differ
from all other mammals in the fact that they lay eggs, while in some
parts of their skeletons they closely resemble the reptiles.


THE ECHIDNA

The first of these creatures is called the echidna, and is also known as
the spiny ant-eater. It is from fifteen to nineteen inches in length,
and has the whole upper surface of the head and body covered with a
mixture of stiff hairs and short sharp spines, something like those of a
hedgehog. The head is drawn out into a very long, slender, beak-like
snout, at the tip of which the nostrils are placed, and the tongue is
long and worm-like and very sticky, just as it is in the true
ant-eaters. The feet are furnished with enormous claws, which are used
in tearing open the nests of the insects upon which the animal feeds,
and those of the hind feet, strange to say, are turned backward in
walking, so that they point toward the tail instead of the head.

These claws are also used in digging, and can be used with such effect
that if the animal is surprised when on sandy soil it sinks into the
ground as if by magic. But if the ground is so hard that it
cannot use its claws, it rolls itself up like a hedgehog, and trusts to
its spiny coat for protection.

The common echidna is found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea.
Besides this there is another species, called the three-toed echidna,
which is found in New Guinea only.


THE DUCKBILL

Even more curious still is the duckbill, or duck-billed platypus, which
not only lays eggs like a bird, but resembles a bird in several other
ways as well.

It has a bill, for example, just like that of a duck--broad and flat,
with a number of grooves round the edges. And it feeds by taking a
beakful of mud from the bottom of a pond or ditch, squirting out the mud
itself through the grooves, and then swallowing the grubs and other
small creatures which are left behind.

Then its feet are like those of a duck, the toes being joined together
by webbing, so that they can be used as paddles. And even the tail is
rather like that of a duck, for it is very broad and flat, so that it
can serve as a rudder when the animal is swimming.

This remarkable creature is found in Southern and Eastern Australia, and
also in Tasmania. It is not at all uncommon, but is seldom seen, for it
spends most of its time in the water, or else in its burrow, which is
always made in the bank of a pool or stream. This burrow is generally a
long one, running to a distance of forty or even fifty feet, and
terminates in a large chamber, which is used as a nursery. And it always
has two entrances, one below the surface of the water and one above, so
that if the animal is alarmed in any way it can run in by one door and
out again by the other.

Two eggs are laid by this most curious creature. They measure about
three-quarters of an inch in length, and are enclosed in a tough white
shell. How they are hatched nobody seems quite to know; but when the
little ones first make their appearance they are quite blind and quite
naked, and have hardly any beaks at all.

When fully grown the duckbill is about eighteen inches long from the end
of the snout to the tip of the tail.



BIRDS



CHAPTER XX

BIRDS OF PREY


We have now first to think of the great class of the birds, which are
distinguished from all other living creatures by having their bodies
covered with feathers.

These feathers serve a double purpose.

[Illustration: TYPICAL BIRDS OF PREY.

  1. Red-tailed Buzzard.         2. Sparrow-hawk.
  3. Golden Eagle.               4. Great Horned Owl.]

In the first place, they help to preserve the warmth of the body. Birds
are hot-blooded animals--indeed, their blood is a good deal warmer than
ours--and they often have to fly very fast through very cold air. So,
you see, it is most important that they should be clothed with some sort
of covering which is very warm and at the same time light. And nothing
is warmer, and at the same time lighter, than a coat of feathers.

And then, in the second place, many of these feathers are most useful in
flight. Without them, indeed, a bird could not fly at all. If we want to
keep a tame bird from escaping, we have only to clip its wings, and then
it can no longer raise itself into the air. But it is not only the
feathers of the wings that are used in flight; those of the tail are
employed as well, for they assist in flight, especially in checking
speed, and serve as a rudder, enabling the bird to steer its way through
the air.

Now birds are divided into orders and tribes and families, just as the
mammals are. But scientific men are not quite sure which of the orders
ought to be placed first. Among the birds of prey, however, we find some
of the largest and finest and most powerful of all the feathered race;
so that we cannot do better than place these at the head of our list.

You can always tell a bird of prey by two points in its structure. The
first we find in its beak, which is always very large and
strong, and very sharply hooked. And the second we find in its talons,
which are specially made for seizing and killing the animals upon which
it feeds. Some persons think that an eagle or a hawk kills its victims
with its beak, but that is a great mistake, for the beak is only used
for tearing the flesh from off its bones after it is dead. The real
weapons are the talons, which are so sharp and so strong that they can
be pressed deeply into the vitals of a captured animal and kill it at
once. All the birds of prey, therefore, have very powerful legs and
large feet and claws.


VULTURES--SYMBOLS OF RAPACITY

First among the birds of prey come the vultures. Yet very often, strange
to say, they never kill any prey at all, and the best naturalists
suspect that they should be placed in a class by themselves. They much
prefer to feed on carrion, so that if they can find the dead body of an
animal they will never take the trouble to seek and kill victims for
themselves. When an animal dies in a country in which vultures live,
several of these birds are sure to find its carcass almost immediately.
And in a very short time nothing will be left of it but just the bare
skeleton.

So, you see, these birds are really very useful. They belong to the
great army of nature's dustmen, just like the jackals and the hyenas.
For by destroying these carcasses before they can putrefy, they help to
keep the air pure. In the cities of the Southern United States and of
the tropics our small American vulture, the turkey-buzzard, is really
depended upon as a scavenger.

How vultures find the dead body of an animal is just a little doubtful.
Some naturalists have thought that they find it by means of sight, and
others that they do so by means of smell. It seems almost certain,
however, that when they are hovering high in the air they are really
watching one another; so that when one of them sees a carcass and swoops
down upon it, all the other vultures within sight notice what he is
doing, and come hurrying up for a share in the banquet. This explains
how it is that if an animal is killed when not a vulture is to
be seen, quite a number of these great, strong, ravenous birds will make
their appearance in a very short time.


THE LAMMERGEIER

This is the finest of all the vultures. It is found in Southern Europe,
in Northern Africa, and in Western Asia, and is sometimes as much as
four feet in length from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail,
while its wings may measure more than ten feet across when fully spread.
It is one of the very few vultures which have the head and neck clothed
with feathers. Besides this, a curious tuft of bristle-like hairs covers
the nostrils, while a similar tuft grows just under the base of the
bill. For this reason the bird is sometimes known as the bearded
vulture.

Lammergeiers are generally found among high mountains, where they prey
upon hares and marmots, and even upon rats and mice. They will visit the
flocks, too, which are feeding upon the grassy slopes, and carry off
kids and lambs. Chamois, when formerly they were more plentiful than
now, used to be attacked by them, and their favorite plan was to swoop
down upon them when they were standing on the brink of a precipice,
strike them over into the depths below by a stroke of their powerful
wings, and then descend to feed upon their mangled bodies.

The plumage of the lammergeier is grayish brown above and nearly white
below. The feathers of the neck are white, and there is also a pale
streak running down the middle of those upon the back.

The lammergeier makes a great clumsy nest of sticks, which is sometimes
placed on a ledge of a lofty cliff, and sometimes in the topmost
branches of a very tall tree. Two eggs are laid, which are dirty white
in color, with brownish blotches.


THE CONDOR

The condor is another very large vulture, inhabiting the great mountain
chain of the Andes. There it may be seen soaring high in air,
its keen eyes intently scanning the ground beneath it; and it may fly to
and fro for hours, rising and falling and sweeping round in great
circles, and yet never once flap its wings!

Condors live for the most part on llamas which have died a natural
death, or which have been killed by pumas and only partly devoured; but
two or three of them will unite together, when they are hungry, in order
to kill sheep or cattle.

In color the condor is grayish black, with a ruff of white feathers
round the lower part of the neck. On the head of the male is a large
fleshy wattle. It makes no nest at all, but simply lays its two white
eggs on a rocky ledge high up on the mountainside.

A variety of the condor inhabited Mexico and southern California until
recent years, but has now become almost or quite extinct. It differed
little from that of the Andes in either appearance or habits.


THE SECRETARY-VULTURE

The African secretary-vulture was formerly regarded as a kind of crane,
on account of its long stilt-like legs, and owes its name to the curious
tuft of very long feathers at the back of its head, which cause it to
look rather as though it were carrying a number of quill pens behind its
ears. The two middle feathers of the tail, also, are exceedingly long,
so that when the bird is standing upright their tips almost rest upon
the ground.

The secretary-bird spends its time on the ground, where it wanders over
the plains in pairs, and feeds upon small mammals, lizards, tortoises,
frogs, and locusts. It is also said to kill and devour even large
snakes, but whether it really does so is not quite certain.


EAGLES--SYMBOLS OF POWER

Next to the vultures come the eagles, of which two examples may be
mentioned--the white-headed, or bald eagle and the golden eagle, or
war-eagle as the Indians called it. Both are known in various local
varieties in all parts of the world, and both have been regarded
with admiration by brave men in all ages. The bald eagle is the symbol
of the United States; and its cousin, the white-tailed, is to be seen
along all the coasts of the Old World except the arctic. The American
eagle frequents the shores of both oceans, and of our great lakes and
rivers, because its favorite food is fish, which it obtains mainly by
robbing the industrious fish-hawks.

Of a nobler character, according to our human ideas, is the golden
eagle, and it is also larger, the female--which, in birds of prey,
usually exceeds her mate in size--sometimes measuring nearly three feet
in length and eight or nine feet across her outspread wings. This
magnificent bird may still frequently be seen in the remoter and more
mountainous parts of both continents, but in America is extremely rare
east of the Rocky Mountains and Lake Superior, and in Europe west of the
Swiss and German Alps. This was the eagle which by its bold mien so
impressed the early conquerors of Italy that they chose it to represent
them on their coins and standards, so that it came to be known
throughout a subject world as the Roman Eagle; and its image has
descended to the arms of Italy, Austria, Germany, Russia, and other
nations.

The aerie, or nesting-place, of these grand birds is much the same in
both kinds--a rude heap of sticks sufficiently hollowed on the summit to
hold the brown-blotched eggs, and placed upon a ledge of rocks, or
perhaps in the top of some huge tree. It may serve the purpose of a home
for many years in succession. Eagles have been recorded on both sides of
the Atlantic as using the same aerie for nearly a century without
interruption; and in such cases the structure often becomes of
prodigious size. A nest found in Scotland was nine feet high, five feet
across at the top, and twenty feet in width at the bottom; so that it
was really as big as a good-sized haystack!

Round this nest were the bones of between forty and fifty grouse,
besides those of a number of lambs, rabbits, and hares, which had been
brought there by the parent birds for the use of the young.

Very often a ledge close to the aerie is used as a larder, where the old
birds put their victims as soon as they are caught, and leave
them until they are wanted. When they are hunting the two birds
generally work together, one dashing in among bushes and low herbage,
among which hares, partridges, or other animals are likely to be hiding,
and the other lying in wait to pounce upon them as they rush out in
alarm.


THE OSPREY AND OTHER HAWKS

Not quite as big as the eagles, the fish-hawk, or osprey, is
nevertheless a large bird, for it measures nearly two feet in length and
between five and six feet in spread of wing. It is found in nearly all
parts of the world where civilization is not too destructive of its
privileges, and is numerous on all our great lakes and rivers as well as
by the coast.

The osprey feeds almost entirely upon fish, and may be seen sweeping to
and fro over the water, keenly watching for its victims as they rise to
the surface. When it catches sight of a fish it swoops down upon it,
plunges into the water with a great splashing, and nearly always rises
again a moment or two later with the fish struggling in its talons. But
it does not always succeed in reaching the shore with it, for the
white-headed eagle is also very fond of fish, though it does not like
the trouble of catching them. So it lies in wait for the fish-hawk as it
returns from a fishing expedition, and beats it about the head with its
great wings until it is glad to drop its victim in order to escape, when
the eagle swoops down and catches the morsel before it reaches the
ground.

These great birds may still be seen all along our coasts and beside our
lakes, where they live usually unmolested, although most other hawks are
likely to be shot at by every wandering man and boy with a gun. This
safety is due not only to the belief that they do no particular harm,
but to a feeling, especially along the eastern sea-coast, that it is a
lucky thing to have a pair build their nest near the home of a
fisherman, to whom they are thought to bring good fortune. This nest is
a big structure of sticks which is placed among the branches of a tree
near the water--preferably a tall tree, but sometimes, when these are
not handy, in a low one. Thus at the eastern end of Long Island,
New York, where the ospreys have been protected for many years, their
nests often rest on a small cedar or other tree close to the ground; and
in some places on the coast of New England men have erected little
platforms on the top of poles where the ospreys have made their homes.
All these nests are repaired and occupied year after year, and thus
sometimes grow to be of immense size.


FAMILIAR FALCONS AND HAWKS

If one were to try to describe even half of the great number of
different kinds of falcons and hawks in the world, or even in America,
this book would not be large enough for the purpose. Among those most
often seen in this country are two large, softly plumaged, brown hawks,
with square, barred tails, of the group called buzzards. One is the
red-tailed, another the red-shouldered, and a third the broad-winged,
the several names denoting the specially noticeable features in each
case. All make their homes in the woods, constructing big nests in
trees, and early in the spring laying brown-blotched eggs. These hawks
fly heavily over the fields in search of frogs, small snakes, field-mice
(of which they catch great numbers), and once in a while seize a young
bird which cannot yet fly very well; but mostly they live on mice and
insects. The country people call all of them hen-hawks, and are likely
to shoot them when they can; but in truth they harm the poultry-yard
very little.

The really dangerous "hen-hawks" are two or three much smaller and more
active falcons, such as the Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks. They are
swift and fierce, and will dart down and snatch a bird from its perch or
pick up a small chicken with amazing suddenness and speed. These hawks
are sometimes called kestrels, after a well-known European falcon which
they resemble.


KESTRELS AND OTHER CHICKEN-HAWKS

You may often see one or the other of these hovering high in the air, as
do the English kestrels, about three or four hundred feet from
the ground, and carefully watching for the mice upon which after all
they mainly feed. It has eyes like telescopes, so that as soon as a
mouse pokes its head out of its burrow it catches sight of it, swoops
down upon it, seizes it in its talons, and carries it off to be
devoured. The number of mice which it catches in this way is very large,
and it has been estimated that at least ten thousand of these
destructive little creatures are killed by every kestrel in the course
of every year. So we must look upon the bird as one of the best friends
of the farmer, in spite of the occasional loss of a chicken.

When it cannot find any mice the kestrel will sometimes eat small birds,
and now and then it will feed upon cockchafers and other large insects,
catching them in its claws as they fly, and then passing them up to its
beak.

Kestrels sometimes build in trees and sometimes in towers and old
buildings. But very often they make use of the deserted nest of a magpie
or a crow. From four to six eggs are laid, which are blotched with
reddish brown on a bluish-white ground.

Two near relatives, inhabiting both the old and the new worlds, are the
pigeon-hawk and sparrow-hawk. They are much alike, and their plumage is
more varied in color and pattern than that of other falcons. Both are
rather shy, and not often seen in the open; but are so courageous that
they will sometimes attack large birds, like ducks or grouse. The
handsome sparrow-hawk is best known. It will often dash into a flock of
sparrows and carry one of them off in its talons. It will sometimes
swoop down into a farmyard, too, and snatch up a chicken or a duckling,
while numbers of young pheasants and partridges fall victims to its
ravages. In days of old it was sometimes captured and trained for
hawking, like the merlin and the falcon, and it is said that a single
tame sparrow-hawk would sometimes kill as many as seventy or eighty
quail in a single day.

In Europe sparrow-hawks seldom take the trouble to build a nest of their
own, but nearly always make use of the deserted abode of a crow or
magpie, in which they lay three or four grayish-white eggs marked with a
number of dark-brown spots and blotches; but the American hawks
of this group make their homes in crannies in hollow trees, stuffing the
hole with a warm bed of grass and feathers.


OWLS, THE TERROR OF THE NIGHT

Next in order come those very singular birds which we call owls, and
which are really hawks that fly by night.

The eyes of these birds are very much like those of cats, being formed
in such a way as to take in even the faintest rays of light. Owing to
this fact owls can see on very dark nights, and can fly with as much
certainty and catch their prey with as much ease as other birds can in
the daylight. Moreover the prominence of their eyes, in the middle of
the great feathery disks, enables them to see in almost every direction
without turning the head.

This is very important, for wild animals are always alarmed by motion,
while they hardly ever notice creatures which keep perfectly still. If
you sit or stand for a while without moving even a finger, rabbits and
squirrels will often come quite close to you, and never seem to see you
at all. But at your very first movement they will take fright and
scamper away. So if an owl had to be constantly turning its head from
side to side in order to look for prey, its victims would certainly see
it, and would make good their escape. But as its eyes are set in the
middle of those great feathery circles, and turn easily in their
sockets, there is no need for it to do so, for it can look out in almost
every direction without moving its head in the least.

There are a good many different kinds of owls, several of which are
found in both continents. There is the long-eared owl, for instance,
which has two rather long feathery tufts upon its head; and there is the
short-eared owl, which has short ones. As a rule, these tufts lie flat
upon the head. But when the bird is excited they stand upright, and give
it a very odd appearance. Then there is the brown owl, which utters that
mournful hooting sound which one so often hears by night in wooded
districts.

Very often as one is walking along a country lane in the evening one of
these birds sweeps suddenly by and disappears into the darkness.
It is busy searching for mice, and the number which it catches must be
very great. For it has been found that when a pair of these birds have
little ones, they bring a mouse to them about once in every quarter of
an hour all through the night! And, besides that, their own appetites
have to be satisfied; and owls seem always to be hungry.

One day the late Lord Lilford, one of the foremost British
ornithologists of his time, tried to see how many mice a barn-owl really
could swallow. So he caught one of these birds and put it in a cage, and
gave it seven mice one after the other. Six of these it gulped down
without any hesitation; but though it tried hard to swallow the seventh
it could not quite manage to do so, and for about twenty minutes the
tail of the mouse was dangling from a corner of its beak. At last,
however, the tail disappeared; and three hours later the owl was
actually hungry again, and ate four more mice!

None of the owls ever digest the bones and feathers or hair of their
prey; but these materials get packed into balls in the stomach, and
after a time are coughed up and thrown away. Very often large quantities
of these "pellets" are found in hollow trees in which owls have been
roosting, more than a bushel having been taken from a single tree, and
by examining them one may learn the character of the bird's daily fare.
The birds do not make a nest, but lay their eggs on a heap of these
pellets instead; and they have an odd way of laying them at intervals,
so that sometimes half-fledged little ones, newly hatched little ones,
and freshly laid eggs may all be found together.

When the young owls are waiting for their parents to return with a
mouse, they always get very much excited and make most odd noises,
something like loud hisses followed by loud snores. And when at last one
of the old birds returns with a mouse in its talons the outcry grows
louder than ever.

One of the oddest members of the family is the burrowing owl, or
coquimbo, as the South American form is known. This inhabits only the
open plains of Western North America and Southern South America, and as
it can find no trees or rocky niches in which to nest, it scratches out
shallow burrows in little banks of earth, or takes possession of
the deserted burrows of some digging animal. It is therefore a constant
citizen of the "towns" of the prairie-dogs of the North and viscachas of
the South, where numbers of burrowing owls may sometimes be seen, some
hunting about for beetles and grasshoppers, on which they chiefly feed,
and others sitting at the entrances of the burrows and surveying the
surrounding country. They are not at all timid, and if a man approaches
them they will remain where they are until he is quite close, bobbing up
and down from time to time as though they were politely bowing to him.
If he continues to walk toward them they will rise into the air, fly two
or three times round his head, screaming loudly as they do so, and then
settle down on another mound a few yards away and bow to him again. But
if he walks round them instead they will turn their heads to look after
him, without moving their bodies, until one would almost think that they
would twist them off altogether.

When neither prairie-dogs nor viscachas live in the neighborhood, these
queer little owls will sometimes take up their quarters in the burrow of
a wolf, a fox, or a badger. They make a very rough nest of grass and
feathers, in which they lay from six to eleven white eggs.



CHAPTER XXI

CUCKOOS, NIGHTJARS, HUMMING-BIRDS, WOODPECKERS, AND TOUCANS


In Europe the cuckoo is one of the most familiar and well-known birds,
and every one recognizes its note, and regards it as a sure sign that
summer is near. The bird usually reaches England about the second week
in April, and very soon after that time the cock bird may be heard
uttering his cry, which is one of the most familiar sounds of the
country, until two months later. Then the bird's voice breaks, and after
crying "cuck-cuck-cuck-oo" for a few days, instead of the simple
"cuckoo," he becomes quite dumb, and is quite unable to utter his note
again until the following spring.

This cuckoo is famous for its singular habit of placing its egg in the
nest of some other bird, instead of making a nest of its own. The hen
bird seems, first of all, to lay her egg on the ground; then, picking it
up in her beak, she flies off to look for a suitable nest in which to
put it. Having found one, she waits her opportunity, when the occupant
is absent, and then slips in the egg and flies away. The owner of the
nest, strange to say, hardly ever seems to notice when she comes back
that there is a strange egg among her own, although very often it is not
in the least like them in color and markings. So before very long a
young cuckoo is hatched out, together with her own little ones. Then on
the very day of its birth the cuckoo seems to make up its mind that
before long there will be no room in the nest for any one but itself,
and actually pushes all its little foster brothers and sisters over the
side, one after the other! And, strange to say, the mother bird does not
seem to mind, but just gives all the food which her own young would have
eaten to the cuckoo, and takes the greatest care of it in every way
until it is able to fly.

The cuckoo family is a large and varied one, with representatives in all
parts of the world, and few of them show this extraordinary disposition
to impose upon their neighbors, though all are careless home-makers. In
the United States we have two kinds of cuckoos, the black-billed and the
yellow-billed, which have much the same slim form and plain yet elegant
dress as their European cousin, but a different note, uttering a loud
rattling cry instead of the soft _cuck-oo_; and both of these make
nests, lay eggs in them, and rear their young as faithfully as other
birds. The nests, however, are merely loose platforms of twigs set among
the branches of some small tree, through which, often, the greenish-blue
eggs are distinctly visible.


NIGHTJARS

The nightjars are another world-wide family, with great similarity in
both appearance and habit among its members. All are nocturnal, have big
heads, large eyes, and very small beaks, although the mouth opens very
wide. They hunt their food by night, resting during the day in shady
forests or caves; and like owls they have plumage so plainly brown and
gray, and so soft, that their flight is noiseless and almost invisible.
The name--which refers to its jarring cry, which is more or less
characteristic of the whole family--was given first to the British
species, which is often called fern-owl in England. Late in the evening
you may often hear it uttering its curious note--"chur-r-r-r-r-r"--which
sometimes goes on without any break for three or four minutes.

This continuous calling is one of the most characteristic things about
our American nightjar, the whippoorwill, whose loud, musical cry is
heard in summer from almost every hillside in the land, during the
dusk of evening or morning or when the woods are whitened with
moonlight; and sometimes two or three birds will sing against one
another, as if in jealous rivalry, repeating the call several hundred
times without a pause. In the Western United States, and in tropical
America, are several kinds of whippoorwills; and in the Southern
States a bigger cousin which calls its name loudly through the
darkness--_chuck-will's-widow_. More nearly deserving the name
nightjar, however, is our night-hawk, or bullbat, which is often seen
flying swiftly about, high in the air, even before sunset, uttering
a hoarse scream, or a queer-booming note, as it rushes, open-mouth,
after unlucky insects.

All the birds of this group are insect catchers and eaters, and their
mouths, which have only a tiny pretence of a beak, open exceedingly
wide, so that they may scoop in a dozen little flies at once, or seize
and swallow a great moth. Then the tongue is exceedingly sticky, like
that of an ant-eater; besides this, the sides of the beak are fringed
with long, stiff bristles. So, when the bird catches an insect, its
victim nearly always sticks firmly to its tongue, while, if it should
break away from that, the bristles act just like a cage, and prevent it
from escaping.

The nightjars make no nest at all, but lay their eggs in a small hollow
in the ground, generally under the shelter of a fern, or a tuft of
bramble or heather. These eggs are never more than two in number, and
are grayish white in color, mottled and marbled with gray and buff.


SWIFTS

In these arrangements and habits the nightjars show how nearly they are
related to the very differently appearing chimney-swifts, which look so
much like swallows that we often call them chimney-swallows, but this is
wrong. Before this country was inhabited by white men, the swifts dwelt
in companies in hollow trees, but as fast as the settlers built houses
and chimneys the swifts left the trees and made their homes in the
chimneys, where they fasten to the bricks little shelf-shaped nests
composed of their glue-like saliva and bits of twigs. In the East Indies
a kind of swift makes such a nest wholly out of its saliva, which
hardens into a whitish material like isinglass. This is fastened against
the wall or roof of some cave by the sea, and the Malays and Chinese
gather these nests at the peril of their lives, where they are built in
hundreds in dark caverns, and sell them as delicacies to be made into
bird's-nest soup.

The swift feeds upon flies and small beetles, which it catches
in the air, and on any fine summer's day you may see it hawking for
prey. It well deserves its name, for it dashes through the air with most
wonderful speed, and is said to be able to fly at the rate of two
hundred miles an hour! And as it flies it keeps twisting and turning
after the fashion of a bat, and is evidently snapping up insect after
insect as it goes.

Yet, strange to say, the bird never seems to be tired. It is often on
the wing before three o'clock in the morning, and is still darting about
as actively as ever after sunset.

[Illustration: FOUR HANDSOME BIRDS.

  1. American Pileated Woodpecker, or Logcock.    2. European Roller.
  3. European Kingfisher.                         4. European Jay.]


HUMMING-BIRDS

Although they are not very much like swifts, the humming-birds are
closely related to them, and have powers of flight which are really
almost as wonderful. Indeed, if you alarm one of these birds when it is
hovering over a flower, it will dart away with such astonishing speed
that it is almost impossible for the eye to follow its course. And even
while it is hovering the wings vibrate so rapidly that you cannot see
them, all that is visible being a faint blur on either side of the body.

These exquisite little birds are found in Central and South America, in
the West Indies, and in the warmer parts of the United States. Several
very beautiful species are known west of the Rocky Mountains, but only
one, the ruby-throat, visits the Eastern States. As a rule they are most
beautifully colored, their plumage shining with metallic gold, and
copper, and bronze, and purple, and crimson, and blue, and green.

Sometimes, too--for there are a great many different species--there is a
ruff round the neck, or long tufts upon the head; or perhaps two of the
tail-feathers may be produced until they are longer than the head and
body and the rest of the tail put together.

As a rule, the beaks of humming-birds are very long, in order that they
may be poked into flowers in search of any insects which may be lying
hidden within them. And the bird will hover over a bush, and move on
from one blossom to another, until every one has been thoroughly
explored.

The nests of humming-birds are nearly always very small and
cup-shaped, and are made of little bits of lichen and moss neatly
fastened together with the silken threads of certain spiders. Only two
eggs are laid, which are quite white, and so tiny that it seems
impossible that a bird could be hatched out of them. At least five
hundred kinds of these beautiful little birds have already been
discovered.


WOODPECKERS

North America has a large population of woodpeckers, including
the biggest and finest one in the world. This is the great
ivory-bill--twenty inches in length, and jet-black, with white
wing-tips, a grand scarlet topknot, and a beak like an ivory pickax. It
used to be abundant all over the Southern States, but now is nearly
extinct. Almost as fine, and still frequently seen all over the eastern
parts of the United States and Canada, is the similar but smaller
logcock, or pileated woodpecker, as it is named in the books, whose
shrill scream may be heard half a mile.

Most of our familiar woodpeckers, however, are much smaller, and their
plumage is a checker of black and white. Everywhere common in town, as
well as among the farmlands, are three or four species, of which the
most often seen, and the smallest, is the downy woodpecker, which gets
its name from the broad stripe of soft white feathers up and down the
middle of its back. It is not so large as a sparrow, and haunts the
woods, the farmer's orchards, the shade-trees along the rural roads or
beside the streets of our villages, and often makes itself a welcome
visitor to the city parks and gardens. From morning till night, and all
the year round, it scrambles up and down the trunks of the trees and
round and round their branches, cleverly finding and dragging out
insects or their young concealed under the scales of the bark; and
though it digs many pits none is deep enough to injure the tree, as the
only woodpecker which digs deep enough to do harm is the yellow-bellied
one, which appears only in the spring, going far north to breed, and
which country people call the sapsucker. The downy and its relatives, on
the other hand, are doing good every day. Especially welcome is this
active little visitor in winter, often with such small companions as the
chickadee and nuthatch, when birds, or any other sort of living
things are scarce, and we are longing for their return.

If you sit down for awhile at the foot of a tree, and keep very still
indeed, without moving even so much as a finger, it will very likely
come and sit on the trunk of another tree close by and begin to peck
away with its long, sharp beak in search of insects.

How it makes the chips fly! Its beak is just like a chisel, and when the
bird finds that a beetle or a grub has burrowed into the trunk, it does
not take very long to dig it out. And it also has an extremely odd
tongue, which is very long and slender, and very sticky, and has a
curious tip. By means of this tongue the bird can often drag an insect
out of its burrow without being obliged to dig right down to it.

Sometimes woodpeckers make a most amusing mistake. They hear the humming
of a telegraph wire, and think that it must be caused by insects living
in the posts. So they set to work with the utmost energy to dig them
out, and are so diligent and so persevering that they have often been
known to cut a big hole right through a telegraph post before finding
out that there were no insects there after all!

There is another thing that we wish you especially to notice about the
woodpecker, and that is the way in which it is enabled to sit on an
upright tree-trunk for a long time without getting tired. The fact is
that it really sits on its own tail, which serves as a kind of
camp-stool! If you look at a woodpecker's tail you will find that the
feathers are very short and very stiff, and that they are bent downward.
When the bird perches on the trunk of a tree the tips of these feathers
rest upon the bark and prop it up, so that there is very little strain
upon the muscles of the feet and legs.

Downy, after the manner of its kind, uses its chisel-beak to form a deep
and safe home in some old tree or stump, and often has enough confidence
in its friends of the village or farm to choose a tall fence-post; and
therein it deposits its pure white eggs and shelters its babies.
Moreover, Papa Downy often digs near by a more shallow tunnel for
himself, where he spends the night in safety and comfort as his mate is
doing in her own snug chamber.

The hairy woodpecker is very similar to the downy in dress, but one-half
larger, and by no means so numerous or familiar. There are several
northern and far-western kinds of checkered woodpecker such as the
three-toed, the arctic and others, but their habits are very similar,
and we may pass them by to speak of two species more notable in every
way.


THE REDHEAD AND THE FLICKER

The redhead is most strikingly colored, for its whole head and neck are
scarlet, its shoulders and back black, its wing-quills and rump white,
and the tail black. It is a fairly large bird and a bold one, though
like all woodpeckers it will slip around to the other side of the tree
when it hears your step, and then peep out with comical caution to see
whether you are dangerous. If you keep quiet it is likely soon to
scuttle back and go on hammering, making the chips fly and the forest
ring with its busy search after some buried grub. The Indians made a
good deal of use of the scarlet feathers of this bird; and it is always
a tempting mark for the wandering gunner, so that it is no wonder it is
becoming rare in thickly settled regions.

A much less handsome but more numerous woodpecker in all parts of the
country is the golden-winged, or flicker, or high-hole, for it goes by
many names among the boys who love to trace it to its nesting-hole in
some tall stub, and take, if they can, the pearly eggs that lie on a bed
of chips in the bottom of the cavity. This nesting-hole, with its
accurately round doorway and hall, goes straight into the tree-trunk for
two inches or so, and then turns downward sometimes to the depth of a
foot. This large woodpecker is not black and white, like most of the
others, but wears a dress of greenish brown with wing-quills that look
just as though they were gilded, and a small bonnet of red on the back
of its head where there is no crest. In fact, the flicker is a queer
sort of woodpecker generally, for it spends quite as much time in fields
and gardens as in the woods, and much of this on the ground in search of
insects--mostly ants.

Woodpeckers are noisy birds, both in their hammering and in
their rough cries, and this one is perhaps the noisiest of all; but its
call is so joyous that one cannot hear it without a sense of cheer.


TOUCANS

We now come to a group of really extraordinary birds. They are found in
the forests of Central and South America, and are chiefly remarkable for
their beaks, which in the first place are so enormous that they look as
if they had been intended for birds at least six times as big, and in
the second place are most gaudily colored. It is not very easy to
describe them, because there are a good many kinds of toucans, and each
has its bill differently colored. In one the beak is partly orange and
partly black, with a lilac base. In another it is light green, with the
tip and edges of the most brilliant scarlet. In a third it is half
scarlet and half bright yellow; while in a fourth it is creamy white
with a broad streak of crimson running along the middle; and in a fifth
is a most singular mixture of orange and blue and chocolate brown and
white.

Owing to the great size of their bills these birds are most ungainly in
appearance, and one cannot help wondering how they manage to hold up
their heads. But in reality these huge beaks are not at all heavy, for
instead of being made of solid horn, the whole of the interior is broken
up into cells, the divisions between which are no thicker than paper--a
structure which gives them not only great lightness but great strength.

Toucans live chiefly in the trees, and spend most of their time in the
topmost branches, where they are fond of gathering together in large
flocks. They are very noisy birds, for they not only utter hoarse cries
and loud yells in chorus, but have a way of clattering their beaks
together as well. Owing to this habit the natives of South America
sometimes call them "preacher-birds."

When they go to sleep toucans double their tails over upon their backs,
just as though they had hinges at the base, and bury their great beaks
among the feathers of their shoulders. The consequence is that they do
not look like toucans at all, or even like birds, and seem to be
mere bundles of loose feathers.


HORNBILLS

These are more extraordinary still, some of them having beaks so
enormous that they look as if they had been meant for birds twelve times
instead of only six times as big as themselves. And the strangest thing
of all is that upon the upper part is a great horny helmet, which in
some cases is quite as large as the beak itself. In the
rhinoceros-hornbill, indeed, the beak and helmet together are pretty
nearly as big as the body.

Both beak and helmet, however, except in one species, are made just like
the bills of the toucans, so that in spite of their enormous size they
are not at all heavy. But _why_ they should be so big is more than
we can tell you.

Hornbills are found in many parts of both Africa and Asia, and most of
them live in the trees. They nearly always hop from one branch to
another until they reach the very topmost boughs, where they will sit
for hours together, occasionally uttering a series of loud, roaring
cries, which can be heard for a very long distance. And when they fly
they keep opening and closing their beaks, and so making an odd
clattering noise which generally puzzles travelers very much when they
hear it for the first time.

There are two kinds of hornbills which live on the ground. One of these
is found in South Africa, and the Kafirs have a curious idea about it,
due to the fact that after death its body smells very nasty. They think
that if one of these birds is killed and thrown into a river it will
make the stream feel ill, and that a heavy fall of rain will take place
in order that the carcass may be washed into the sea! So in times of
drought they always try to kill a ground-hornbill and fling it into the
nearest river.

When one of these birds discovers a snake, its cries bring others to the
place, and then, it is said, three or four attack the snake and kill it.
Their plan is to advance upon it sideways with their wings spread out,
and to irritate it with the tips of the feathers until it
strikes. Then they all peck it together before it can recover itself,
and nearly always succeed in killing it in a very short time.


THE HOOPOE

This is another odd-looking bird; but instead of having a horny helmet
like the hornbills, it has a crest of very long feathers. These
feathers, which can be raised or lowered at will, are tawny brown in
color, with black tips, just before which is a streak of white. The body
is grayish brown above and nearly white below, and the wings and tail
are black, barred with white.

The real home of the bird is in the sandy deserts of Northern Africa and
Southern Asia. There its plumage harmonizes so well with the color of
the soil that it is very difficult to see it, and it is said that when a
hawk appears the hoopoe only has to flatten its body against the sand
and remain perfectly still, when it is quite sure to be overlooked by
its enemy.

The hoopoe utters its cry in a very curious manner. First it puffs out
the sides of its neck, and then it hammers its beak three times upon the
ground. Each time that it does so some of the air in its throat escapes,
and the result is a noise like the syllable "hoo" three times repeated.


AN ARAB LEGEND

The Arabs have an odd legend about the hoopoe. One day, so the quaint
old story runs, King Solomon was traveling through the desert, and was
much oppressed by the heat of the sun, till a large flock of hoopoes
came and flew just above his head, so as to protect him from its rays.
At the close of the day the grateful monarch wished to know how he could
reward them for their kindness, and the foolish birds asked that crowns
of gold might grow upon their heads. Their request was granted, and for
a few days they admired themselves immensely, and spent most of their
time in gazing at their reflections in pools of water. Very soon,
however, great numbers of them were snared by the fowlers for the sake
of their valuable ornaments, and it seemed as though in a short
time not one would be left alive. So at last the survivors went back to
King Solomon, and begged that their golden crowns might be taken away.
Once more the king listened to their petition, and gave them crowns of
feathers instead, and that is how hoopoes come to have crests upon their
heads.


KINGFISHERS

One of the most beautiful birds of our country is the kingfisher, which
is deep blue with white markings, and a chestnut band across the breast.
Upon its head is borne a high crest, like a crown. As you walk along the
banks of a stream, you may often see them darting through the air, and
looking almost like streaks of colored light. And if you sit down and
keep perfectly still for a little while you may, perhaps, see one of
them fishing. It perches on a branch overhanging the water, and waits
patiently till a fish passes underneath. Then suddenly it drops into the
water like a stone, splashes about for a moment or two, and then returns
to its perch with its victim struggling in its beak.

The kingfisher digs a deep hole into the face of some earthen bank or
cliff, and at the inner end hollows out a little cave where it lays
several pure white eggs, with almost nothing but a few fishbones for a
nest.

A good many different kinds of kingfishers are found in various parts of
the world, one of them, which lives in Australia, being known as the
laughing jackass, on account of its singular cry. Everywhere there are
birds of brilliant plumage, and in some places they have been almost
wholly destroyed for the wicked purpose of getting feathers to use as
ornaments on ladies' hats.



CHAPTER XXII

CROWS, BIRDS OF PARADISE, AND FINCHES


The crow tribe contains several most interesting birds, first among
which stands the raven, a bird once known in all the northern parts of
the world, but now exceedingly rare in the United States except in the
far West. Even in the mountainous districts of Scotland it is not nearly
so common as it was, for it is so fond of killing weak and sickly lambs
that the shepherds trap or shoot it whenever they have an opportunity,
and the gamekeepers dislike it quite as much, because of the numbers of
hares, rabbits, partridges, and grouse that fall victims to its terrible
beak.

Ravens have often been tamed, and have even learned to talk almost as
well as parrots. But they are exceedingly mischievous birds, and, in
addition, are only too ready to peck any one who comes near them with
the full force of their sharp and powerful bills; so that they cannot be
at all recommended as pets.

The nest of the raven is a rather clumsy structure of sticks, and is
nearly always placed in the upper branches of a very tall tree. When the
young birds are nearly fledged, they often tumble out of the nest, and
are found by the shepherds fluttering helplessly about on the ground.
Most of the ravens which are kept in captivity have been caught in this
way.


THE AMERICAN CROW

The various crows of the world are like small ravens--jet-black,
sometimes marked with white; but our familiar American crow is wholly
black. These birds are fond of gathering into flocks, which sometimes
are very large; and they are sociable, liking to spend the night
roosting in some favorite grove in great companies. When near the sea,
or some large river or lake, the crows go down to the shore every
morning, and spend most of the day on or near the beach, where
they pick up most of their food. Crows, however, will eat almost
anything edible except grain; and the great European carrion-crow is
almost a bird of prey, for like the raven it feeds chiefly on the flesh
of dead animals. But it also preys upon such creatures as rabbits,
hares, mice, frogs, and lizards, while it will also search for the nests
of game birds and poultry, and carry off the eggs and the young.
Sometimes, too, it will visit the seashore, and feast upon the crabs,
limpets, and mussels which it finds among the rocks at low water. In
order to crack the shells of these creatures, it is said sometimes to
carry them up into the air and drop them upon a rock.


ROOKS

Except that it places its rude, stick-built nest in scattered trees,
each pair by itself, instead of in a company, our American crow is
closely similar to the English rooks about which so much is said in
books about Great Britain. Everybody in England knows the rook by sight,
and everybody is familiar with the rookeries in which a number of these
birds nest together year after year. Indeed, they use the same nests
over and over again, just putting them into proper order shortly before
the eggs are laid.

The scene when building operations begin is always a lively one, and all
day long the birds are very busy. But oddly enough, they never seem to
know when the winter is really over, and when a thaw comes after two or
three frosty days in December, or even earlier, they get as excited as
possible, setting to work and gathering sticks, and evidently thinking
that spring is beginning!

Rooks have very strict rules when they are building. For one rook to
steal a stick from another rook's nest, for example, is a very serious
crime, and sometimes is punished even with death. And young birds are
not allowed to build in a tree outside the rookery, their nest being at
once pulled to pieces by the older ones if they attempt to do so.

Crows of all kinds are extremely useful birds, for they devour enormous
quantities of mischievous grubs, more especially those which live at the
roots of cultivated plants, where other birds cannot get at them.
And you may often see them following the plow, and picking up their
victims in scores. Thus they more than pay the farmer for the stalks of
young corn or grain which they sometimes pull up in the spring.


THE JACKDAW

Another famous European bird, taking a part in many familiar stories and
poems, is the jackdaw. It is a smaller bird than the rook, and is
generally found near houses, being very fond of nesting in church
towers, or in old ruins. But very often a colony of jackdaws will settle
in a lofty cliff, and build on rocky ledges far beyond the reach of even
the boldest climber.

The jackdaw is easily tamed, and is a very interesting bird when kept as
a pet, soon learning to talk almost as well as a parrot. But it is
dreadfully mischievous, and if it finds any small glittering object is
almost sure to carry it off and hide it. Sometimes, too, it will play
very amusing tricks. We knew a tame jackdaw once which lived in a very
large garden. One day the butcher's cart drove up, and the butcher went
round to the kitchen entrance to take the orders. No sooner had he
disappeared than the jackdaw flew up on the box, and called out, "Gee
up!" Off started the horse at once, and if the gardener had not happened
to meet the cart as it was passing out of the gate, with only the
jackdaw inside, the butcher would certainly have been obliged to walk
all the way home.

The nest of the jackdaw, like that of the rook, is built of sticks, and
is lined with hay, wool, and feathers. It generally contains five eggs,
which are bluish green, spotted with gray and brown.


THE JAY

What a beautiful bird the jay is! And how very seldom one gets a really
good view of it! For it is one of the shyest of all birds, and never
allows itself to be seen if it can possibly help it. And the very moment
that it catches sight of one it flies off with a terrified squall which
can often be heard from nearly half a mile away.

Other birds do not at all like the jay, for it is very fond of visiting
their nests and stealing the eggs. It will carry off young birds, too,
and devour them, and many a young partridge and pheasant falls victim to
its appetite. But it also eats caterpillars, moths, beetles, and other
insects, as well as fruit and berries; while sometimes it will visit a
kitchen garden early in the morning, and feast heartily on the young
peas.

Our common Eastern American jay is light blue, with pretty white
markings; while in the far West and in the tropics are many kinds which
are rich dark blue or green; the European jay, however, is more varied.
In general color it is light reddish brown. On either wing is a patch of
azure blue banded with black, while the head is decorated with a crest
of gray feathers, with black spots, which can be raised and lowered at
will. Nearly all jays have tall crests. The quill-feathers of the wings
and tail are black.


THE MAGPIE

Another famous member of this family is the magpie, which occurs in both
Europe and America, and may be recognized by its glossy black and white
plumage, its long tail, and its curious dipping flight. It is found in
most parts of the British Isles, but never wanders far away from the
shelter of large woods, where it knows that it is much safer from the
attacks of hawks than in the open country.

The magpie is as mischievous out of doors as the jay, and as mischievous
indoors as the jackdaw; so that it cannot be said to bear a very good
character. But at any rate it makes a very amusing little pet, even if
it does steal any small object that it can carry away, and hide it in
some hoard of its own. But with a little careful instruction it soon
learns to talk quite well. In Europe, consequently, many tame magpies
are to be seen; but not so often in the United States.

The nest of the magpie cannot be mistaken for that of any other bird,
for although it is made of sticks, like that of the jackdaw and the jay,
it is always domed above, and has the entrance at the side. It is
generally situated in a thorn or a pine tree, although now and
then the birds will build in a low bush quite close to the ground. There
are generally from five to seven eggs, which are bluish white in color,
blotched and dotted with brown.


BIRDS OF PARADISE

Next in order to the crows, jays, and magpies come these. They include
some of the most beautiful of all the feathered race. They are nearly
all found in New Guinea and the Papuan islands, and there are altogether
about fifty different kinds.

One of the most beautiful is the king bird of paradise, which it is very
difficult to describe in words. The upper part of the body is rich
chestnut, with a bloom of purple, the lower part pure white, and across
the breast runs a band of golden green, which deepens into blackish
brown, while the upper part of the head and neck is pale straw-color.
Most exquisite of all, however, are the great masses of long, slender,
drooping plumes, which spring from either side of the body under the
wings. These plumes are nearly two feet long, and are golden yellow,
darkening toward the tips into pale brown. This exquisite plumage is
only found in the cock bird, the hen being of a dull brown color all
over, without any plumes at all; and the birds have now become extremely
scarce because killed so incessantly for the cruel purpose of getting
their feathers to put on hats!

Very little is known about the habits of birds of paradise, for few
people ever have the opportunity of seeing them in their native forests,
and they are almost unknown in zoölogical gardens because they usually
die almost immediately when placed in captivity in a strange country.


BOWER-BIRDS

The bower-birds of Australia owe their name to their singular habit of
making bowers in which to play! These bowers are built of sticks and
long pieces of grass, arranged in such a way that they meet at
the top so as to form a kind of avenue, and are often three feet long.
Stranger still, they are ornamented with stones, brightly colored
shells, and the blue tail-feathers of parrakeets, which the birds
carefully fasten up among the sticks, evidently in order to make the
bower look pretty. Then, when it is finished, they run through it, round
and round, over and over again, chasing one another, and seeming to
enjoy their game immensely.

There is one of these birds, found in Papua, which builds a hut about
two feet high instead of a bower, and then makes a sort of garden in
front of it. This garden is decorated with bright-colored flowers and
berries, and as soon as they fade the bird throws them away and puts
fresh ones in their place! It is called the gardener-bird.


THE STARLING

This bird is almost as well known as the sparrow in Europe. You may see
it on the lawn, every now and then plunging its beak into the ground,
and pulling out a grub or a worm; and it is fond of building a great
untidy-looking nest in water-pipes and other places where it is not
wanted. It is beginning to be well known also in America, for colonies
are established near New York City.

Starlings in Europe often travel about the country in great flocks,
which frequently consist of several thousand birds. Sometimes, too,
several of these flocks join together at night, and then separate again
next morning. We have seen a little copse so full of roosting starlings
that every branch of every tree was occupied from end to end, while
thousands more kept flying in, and trying to turn the first comers off
their perches! And they made so much noise that we could hear them
chattering and quarreling when we were more than a mile away.

Each flight of starlings seems to have its leader whose orders are
instantly obeyed, for every bird in the whole flock swerves, and wheels,
and turns at the same moment--a maneuver seen equally in the vast
migratory flocks of red-winged blackbirds which gather in autumn on
every American marsh and are gradually spreading inland. A few
years hence the bird may be seen all over the United States.

Starlings are useful birds, although they certainly steal a great deal
of fruit; for if it were not for their labors--together with those of
certain other birds--our corn and vegetable crops would certainly be
destroyed by the mischievous grubs which live at the roots. So we ought
to look on the fruit which starlings take as wages paid them for their
work.

[Illustration: FINCHES AND WEAVER-BIRDS.

  1. European Yellowhammer.           2. African Weaver-Bird (Male).
  3. African Weaver-Bird (Female).    4. European Goldfinch.
  5. Stonechat.]


FINCHES

We now come to the great group of the finches, which can easily be
recognized by their short, stout, strong beaks.

This is one of the most extensive families of birds, for it includes,
besides the finches properly so called, all the sparrows, grosbeaks,
buntings, and seed-eaters of the world, together with many other similar
birds known by various names. The small robust size, and especially the
cone-shaped beak, suitable for cracking seeds, or tearing the husks of
fruit to pieces, are the badges of the family. Sometimes this beak is
big and strong, as in our northern rose-breasted, or the southern
cardinal grosbeak, or the British bullfinch; sometimes small and
slender, as in the sparrows, such as our pretty visitor to the garden
lilacs and rose-bushes, the chipping-bird; sometimes queerly out of
shape, as in the crossbills, where the lower half, or mandible, of the
bill does not meet the upper one squarely at the tip, but the points
cross past one another. These birds dwell in the northern evergreen
forests, and subsist almost wholly on the seeds of the pine and spruce,
which they twist out from beneath the tough scales of the cones with
remarkable skill, apparently using the crossed bill like a pair of
pliers.

These birds come south in winter, when their bright reddish coats and
fearless ways are enjoyed by everybody. The farm children in Germany
hear pretty stories about them, one of which is that the twist in the
bill was caused by one of these birds injuring it in kindly trying to
pull out the nails by which Jesus was fastened to the cross; so their
name "cross-bill" may be thought of in two ways.


SPARROWS

Every roadside and field has its sparrows--brown, streaked birds which
usually keep near the ground and feed upon the seeds of grasses and
weeds, yet pick up innumerable insects, as do all the others of their
busy tribe. These sparrows make their nests mostly on the ground; but
most of the finches, rightly so called, nest in bushes and trees. All
the sparrows have pleasant voices, and most of them are fair singers,
while some excel in that accomplishment. Our song-sparrow, fox-sparrow,
the whitethroat and others are among the best of American singing birds.

It has been said that these plain brown birds have been granted the gift
of voice to make up for lack of ornament; but this explanation doesn't
seem to amount to much, for if it were true we ought to find the richly
dressed birds songless. That this is not the case in this family, at
least, is plain when we remember that our finches--and it is equally
true of foreign ones--include some of the most brilliantly colored birds
we have, such as the goldfinch, the purple finch, the indigo-bird, the
exquisite blue and red nonpareil of Louisiana, and many others, all of
which are capital musicians.

Some of these finches are among our most highly prized cage-birds, such
as the European bullfinch, which not only sings prettily when wild, but
if caught young can be trained to learn several tunes, and between
whiles pipes and chirrups gaily. The goldfinch, linnet, waxbill, and
several others belong to this interesting tribe.


CANARIES

Canaries, too, are finches, and are plentiful in the islands from which
they take their name. But if you were to see them in their own home you
would hardly recognize them; for a wild canary that is yellow all over
is hardly ever seen. Our cage-canaries, in fact, are an artificial
breed, the natural color of the plumage being olive green, marked with
black and yellow. Neither would you recognize the song of the wild
birds, which is not nearly so powerful nor so varied as that of the
feathered pets which we all know so well.

Now and then talking canaries have been known, which had learned to
utter a number of different words quite distinctly.


THE SKYLARK

No bird is more celebrated than the skylark, which has inspired
countless poems. It is a plain brown little bird, like one of our
field-sparrows; and would attract little attention were it not for the
sweetly clear and varied music of its joyous song as it mounts higher
and higher in the air, till at last it looks a mere speck in the sky.
For nearly eight months in the year it sings, and one can scarcely take
a ramble in the country without seeing and hearing it. A small colony of
skylarks dwells on Long Island, in the edge of Brooklyn, N.Y., where the
song may be heard by many a person who cannot go to Europe to listen to
it.

The skylark builds upon the ground, in some little hollow, and its nest
is so well hidden that one scarcely ever finds it. It is made of dry
grass, leaves, and hair, and contains four or five yellowish-gray eggs
speckled with brown.



CHAPTER XXIII

WAGTAILS, SHRIKES, THRUSHES, ETC.


One can scarcely walk along the banks of a British stream in spring or
summer without noticing a pretty and graceful bird, sometimes running
along near the edge of the water, and stopping every now and then to
pick off an insect from the herbage, and sometimes rising into the air
to catch a fly or gnat. And one can easily understand why the name
wagtail has been given to it, for no matter whether it is flying or
running, its tail is never still. Sometimes, too, it may be seen in a
damp meadow, or even on a lawn in a garden; and where one wagtail is,
others are sure to be not very far off.

The nest of this bird is usually placed in a hole in a river-bank, or
else among the spreading roots of a tree. It is made of dry grass,
withered leaves, and moss, and is lined with hair, wool, or feathers.

This description applies excellently to a little American bird, known as
the water-thrush, although it is not a true thrush, but one of the
warblers, of which a great many sorts, some very beautiful, are seen in
our woods in the spring, on their way north; but just a few appear to
remain with us all the year round.


THE CREEPER

Running about on the trunks and branches of trees, and looking very much
like a feathered mouse, you may often see the creeper. It is about as
big as a wren, and has a long, slender, and slightly curved beak, which
it is constantly poking into the cracks and crevices of the bark in
search of insects. It always begins its quest low down on the trunk, and
works its way gradually upward, peering into every little cranny, and
seldom remaining still for a single moment. The larger boughs are
examined in just the same way, and when the bird has reached the top of
the tree it flies down to another and begins again, and so on all
through the day. And in order to prevent it from getting tired, it has a
short, stiff tail like that of the woodpecker, which serves as a kind of
camp-stool, and supports the weight of the body.

The nest of this quaint little bird is nearly always placed in a hole in
a tree-trunk. It is made of roots, twigs, fragments of bark, and grass,
and is lined with wool and feathers. From six to nine eggs are laid,
which are white in color, prettily spotted with yellowish red.

[Illustration: AMERICAN INSECT-EATING SONG-BIRDS

  1. Chimney Swift.    2. Barn Swallow.    3. Wood Thrush.
  4. Red-eyed Vireo.    5. Chestnut-sided Warbler.
  6. Maryland Yellow-throat.    7. Redstart.    8. Phoebe Pewee.
  9. Black-throated Green Warbler.    10. King-bird.
  11. Cedar Waxwing.    12. Oven-bird.    13. Bluebird.

All adult males.]


THE NUTHATCH

This is another bird that one may often see running about on the trunk
of a tree. It is shaped rather like a wren, but is a little bigger than
a sparrow, and has a bluish-gray head and back, a white throat and
breast. It has the curious habit of keeping head downward almost
continuously as it works.

The European nuthatch is very fond of nuts, which it cracks in a most
curious way. First of all, it wedges a nut firmly in some crevice in the
bark of a tree. Then, taking up its stand on the trunk just above, it
deals blow after blow on the nut with its stout little beak, swinging
itself up into the air every time that it does so and giving a flap with
its wings, so as to add force to its stroke. It turns itself into a kind
of live pickax, and after a very few blows the nutshell is split open,
and the clever little bird is able to get at the kernel; but our
American nuthatch seems to have forgotten this habit, if it ever had it,
and lives almost wholly on insects.

The nuthatch makes its nest in a hole in a tree, and it is generally
composed of small pieces of soft bark, lined with dry leaves. When the
mother bird is sitting on her eggs, which are white in color, spotted
with pink, she will peck most savagely at any enemy which may try to
enter, hissing as she does so, just like a snake.


TITMICE

These birds can be seen almost everywhere, and very pretty and
attractive little birds they are as they run about on the trunks and
branches of trees, not seeming to mind in the least whether they are
perching on a bough, or hanging upside down underneath it. And all the
while they are searching every little chink and cranny in order to see
whether any small insects are hiding within it.

It is a very good plan in winter to take a marrow-bone, or a little
network bag with a lump of suet in it, and hang it from the branch of a
tree for the titmice. Day after day the little birds will visit it,
clinging to it in all sorts of positions, and pecking vigorously away at
the suspended dainty. And they will like a cocoanut which has been cut
in half almost as well.

Several other kinds of titmice are also found in the British Isles, of
which the great tit, the cole-tit, and the blue tit are plentiful almost
everywhere. They are all very much alike in habits, and they all build
in holes in trees, making their nests of moss, hair, wool, and feathers,
and laying six or eight white eggs, prettily speckled with light red.

Titmice abound in all northern countries and, we have several American
species, one of which, the merry, courageous little black-capped
chickadee, is known by both eye and ear to every one who takes any
notice of birds. In the Southern States another familiar one is the
peto, or crested chickadee, who, when he lifts his pointed gray cap,
reminds one of a tiny jay. The Rocky Mountain region and Pacific coast
have several other kinds--all delightful. Our titmice all make their
nests in holes in trees and stumps, usually taking possession of the
last year's home of a woodpecker.

In Europe there is a famous titmouse having a very different method.
This is the long-tailed tit, or bottle-tit, as it is sometimes called,
because its nest is shaped just like a bottle without a neck. It is
sometimes placed in the fork of a branch, but more generally in the
middle of a thick bush, and is made of wool, moss, and spider-silk, and
is lined with quantities of soft downy feathers. And although it is by
no means small it is very easily overlooked, for the clever little birds
cover all the outside with bits of gray lichen, so as to make it look as
much like the surrounding branches as possible.

In this beautiful and cosy nest from ten to twelve eggs are laid, which
are white in color, with just a few very small reddish spots. When the
young birds are nearly fledged they quite fill up their nursery, and you
can actually see the walls swelling out and contracting again as the
little creatures breathe. And how they all manage to keep their long
tails unruffled in those narrow quarters nobody knows at all.

In winter you may often see a whole family of these pretty
birds--father, mother, and ten or a dozen little ones--all flying about
together, for they never separate until the spring.


THE SHRIKE

A notable bird is the shrike, which is also known as the butcher-bird,
owing to a most curious habit. It is a bird of prey, feeding upon all
sorts of small creatures, and it seems to know that though it can catch
plenty of these on warm, sunny days, they will all be hiding away in
their retreats when the weather is cold and rainy. So on a fine, bright
morning it will catch many more victims than it wants at the time, and
put them away in its larder! Sometimes you may find a thorn-bush with
four or five mice, half a dozen unfledged birds, two or three fat
caterpillars, a big beetle or two, and perhaps a bumblebee, all stuck
upon the thorns, like the joints of meat hung up in a butcher's shop.
Then you may be quite sure that you have discovered a butcher-bird's
larder. And by and by, when a cold and wet day comes, and the bird can
catch no prey, it just comes and takes some of these creatures from the
thorns, and so obtains plenty of provisions!

There are two species of shrike in the United States--one which visits
us from the south in summer and the other from the north in winter.


THRUSHES

The thrush family is spread all over the world, and contains some of the
most noted of singing birds. No one can read English poetry, or much of
the classic prose of our language, without meeting with the names of
such birds as the mavis, the blackbird, the blackcap, and especially the
nightingale, all European thrushes; even the English robin, after which
our larger American redbreast is named, is a sort of thrush, closely
related to our dear little bluebird.


THE ROBIN

The robin is a great favorite with the people of Europe, because it is
so very trustful. We have actually seen one of these birds perching on a
man's knee for quite a minute, while it looked about for worms in a plot
of ground which he had just been digging. But it is by no means so
gentle a bird as many people think. In fact, it is a very quarrelsome
bird, for if two cock robins meet they are almost sure to fight, and
very often the battle goes on until one of the two is killed!

A robin once took up his abode in Hereford Cathedral, and seemed to
think that it was his own private property. For one day, when another
robin came in, he was seen chasing it all over the building, and was at
last found sitting triumphantly on its dead body!

You may find the nest of the robin in a hole in a bank or a wall, or
perhaps in the stump of a tree. It is made of dry leaves, roots, grass,
and moss, lined with hair, or wool, and contains either five or six
yellowish-white eggs, spotted with light brown.


THE NIGHTINGALE

Perhaps no bird in the world is so famous as a songster as the
nightingale, largely because of its habit of singing in the night, for
its music is not preëminent above that of several other thrushes. The
nightingale spends the winter in Africa, returning to Central
Europe in April, and after that in the warmer parts of Great Britain and
the continent it may be heard every night for weeks, especially when the
moon shines; and sometimes nearly all day as well.

If one passes near a bush in which a nightingale is singing, it is worth
while to stop and to whistle a few low notes. The bird imagines that it
is being challenged by another nightingale, and begins to sing louder
than before. Then it stops and listens; and if one whistles a few notes
more it becomes very much excited, and comes closer and closer, singing
all the time, till at last it finds out how it has been taken in. And
then it begins to scold, chattering away in the greatest indignation at
having been deceived!

Only the cock nightingale sings, and even he is only able to do so for a
few weeks. For very soon after the eggs are hatched his voice breaks,
just as that of the cuckoo does, and the only note which he is able to
utter until spring comes round again is a harsh whistle, followed by a
hoarse croak.

The nest of the nightingale is placed on the ground under a low bush,
and is made almost entirely of dead leaves. It contains either four or
five eggs, which are dark olive brown all over.


NORTH AMERICAN THRUSHES

There is a long list of thrushes among our North American birds, and
some of them will compare well as songsters with any of the woodland
choristers of the world. The voice of our red-breasted robin carols
sweetly enough in the spring; but he is far excelled a little later in
the season by the wood-thrush, the hermit-thrush, the veery and certain
others which come from the south when the weather becomes warm. Some of
these species, as the hermit and its relatives, pass on into Northern
Canada to make their nests and rear their young; but fortunately
others--and among them queens of song--remain with us in the United
States all summer.

Of these the most commonly seen and heard is that richest of woodland
musicians, the wood-thrush, whose serenely beautiful song, in four
parts, separated by brief pauses, floats to our ears from
orchard and grove and shady roadside as the quiet of the summer evening
draws on, and we begin to enjoy the coolness and peace of the twilight.

This eloquent thrush is reddish brown or bright cinnamon above,
brightest on the head; and white below, thickly ornamented with rounded
black spots in lines from throat to thighs. It is the least shy of all
the thrushes except the robin, yet gracefully modest in its demeanor. It
constructs its nest on the low horizontal limb of some tree, always with
the peculiarity that its foundation is a layer of old sear leaves and
that black, thread-like rootlets are a favorite material for the walls.
The eggs are unspotted blue, smaller and lighter than the greenish
treasures in the mud-built cabin of the robin.

Next in point of numbers, though not so often recognized, as the
wood-thrush is the oliveback, which is distinctly olive in color on the
back and flanks, and whose buffy underparts are unspotted save across
the breast. This species is highly variable, so that those of the
Pacific coast differ considerably from those of the Atlantic side of the
continent.

The same is true of the hermit-thrush, which is heard only in the more
northern half of the continent in spring, when its rich, indescribable
fluting perhaps deserves the prize of superiority over all other
American bird-musicians.

The veery, or Wilson's tawny thrush, is also noted for its song, which
has an extraordinary bell-like quality which excites first curiosity and
then admiration.

The group of birds to which the thrushes belong is a very large one, and
includes many smaller and variously colored birds, among which are such
familiar American friends as the brown thrasher and its many cousins of
the Southwest; the saucy, mewing, catbird--a frequenter of every garden
and blackberry thicket in the land; those busybodies the wrens, and many
others.


WRENS

One would not at first glance connect the great long-tailed brown
thrasher with the tiny garden-wren which stuffs a hole in one of
the barn timbers or a crevice in a broken tree with a mass of twigs
surrounding a soft little bed for the red-sprinkled eggs; but when you
closely compare the shape of bill and feet, and their general form and
manners, the resemblance becomes more plain. Then you are not surprised
to find the rough nest and speckled eggs of the big thrasher and the
tiny wren much alike, and to find a resemblance in their songs, much as
they differ in loudness.

Wrens have a curious way of beginning to build nests, and leaving them
half finished. These are sometimes supposed to be the work of the male
bird alone, and are called cocks' nests; and certainly the cock does not
seem to take any part in building the true nest, for he simply sits on a
branch close by and sings, while the hen does all the work. Perhaps he
is lazy; or perhaps she thinks that she can build much better than he
can, and so will not let him help her. And therefore it may be that he
makes these cocks' nests just to show her what he can do. But as wrens
are very timid birds, and will often desert their nest if one even puts
one's finger inside, it seems rather more likely that they are nests
which the birds have left unfinished because they thought that some
enemy had discovered them.


THE DIPPER

Not unlike a very big wren with a white throat and breast is the curious
and interesting dipper, well known to dwellers in the Rocky Mountains
and the ranges west of them. It is never found far from water, and you
may often see it perched upon a stone in the shallows of a river,
bobbing up and down every now and then just as though it were making a
courtesy. And every time that it does so it gives a quick little jerk to
its tail, just as the wren does. It also makes a nest of moss, somewhat
like that of the wren, which is placed in a hole in the bank of a
stream, or often in a crevice of the rocks behind a cascade. It feeds on
insects and water-shrimps, etc., and you may often see it busily hunting
for the little beetles which are hiding among the moss on the large
stones in the bed of a stream, where it actually walks on the bottom. It
can swim and dive perfectly well, and keeps itself beneath the
surface by flapping with its wings, while it searches for grubs in the
mud at the bottom of the water. The dipper has a very bright and gay
little song, and always seems happy, and busy, and active.


SWALLOWS AND MARTINS

Swallows and martins form a very distinct group of small birds well
known to everybody, for no one can help noticing them as they sail
through the air in swift graceful circles or skim low over the water in
constant pursuit of the tiny flies which form their fare, and are so
small that vast numbers must be caught. Familiar, too, is their coming
in the spring, when they are welcomed as the special sign of returning
pleasant weather after the season of cold storms; and in autumn we
cannot but notice them gathering in large flocks along the telegraph
lines or over the marshes, preparatory to departing to their winter
retreat in the tropics.

These characteristics, as well as their appearance--slender,
long-winged, dark-colored--belong to the swallows and martins all over
the world; and they are alike in all countries in their fearless
fondness for making close acquaintance with mankind when he dwells in
settled homes.


COMMON SWALLOWS

Naturally, these birds are inhabitants of caves and rocky cliffs, or of
hollow trees; but, like the swifts, the moment a man builds a house or
barn in Europe, or Asia, or South America, there certain swallows are
sure to come to live with him, just as they do around our village and
farm houses in North America. Hence the English people call their common
species house-swallow, and we give the name barn-swallow to our similar
one. This is the very common species with the long, deeply forked tail,
which sets its nest of mud and straw on the beams of our barns or
plasters it against the walls or roof, always _inside_ the
building. Almost equally widespread and numerous is another barn-loving
kind, distinguished by its short square tail and its habit of
forming bulb-shaped nests wholly of mud, and of placing them in rows
_outside_ the building, close up under the eaves. These last are
better known as eaves-swallows.

[Illustration: GAUDY TROPICAL BIRDS

  1. Ara; Macaw.        2. Rose-Crested Cockatoo.    3. Senegal Parrot.
         4. Mexican Toucan.                5. African Hornbill.]


WELL-KNOWN MARTINS

Martin is a name applied to various swallows, but with us it denotes the
big purple one which in the warmer parts of the country gladly takes
possession of the pretty bird-houses which many persons set on poles in
their gardens.

Another smaller, sooty-brown martin, is the sand-martin, or
bank-swallow, which differs from all the rest in placing its eggs on a
little bed of straw and feathers at the end of a long burrow which it
bores into the face of a cliff of earth beside some river, where usually
a large company live as happy neighbors. This species is one of the few
birds known almost all over the world.



CHAPTER XXIV

PARROTS, PIGEONS, PEA-FOWL, PHEASANTS, ETC.


The members of the parrot family are very interesting birds; in the
first place because they are generally so gaily colored, in the second
place because they are so easily tamed, and in the third place because
many of them are such capital talkers. They nearly all spend the greater
part of their lives in the trees, and if you look at their feet you will
see that the first and fourth toes are turned backward while the second
and third are directed forward. This gives the birds a great power of
grasp, and helps them in climbing.

At least five hundred different kinds of these birds have been
discovered in different parts of the world, but we shall only be able to
tell you about a few of them. Let us take first a parrot, then a
parrakeet, then a cockatoo, then a macaw, and then a love-bird, as
representing the various groups.


THE GRAY PARROT

We take this parrot because it is the one which we see most often in
cages. It comes from Central Africa, and, like most parrots, is
generally seen in large flocks, which fly about together. During the
daytime these birds often travel long distances in search of food, which
consists chiefly of fruits and nuts, but in the evening they always
return to their regular roosting-places.

This parrot makes no nest at all, but just lays its eggs in a hole in
the trunk of a tree. Both birds sit in turns, and if danger threatens
they will defend their eggs or their little ones with the greatest
courage. And if they seem to be getting the worst of the fight, it is
said that the rest of the flock will come to their rescue, and will
nearly always succeed in driving the enemy away.

When they are kept as pets gray parrots nearly always learn to talk
well, and sometimes make such suitable remarks that it really almost
seems as if they must understand what they say. That they live to a very
great age appears certain from the fact that they have sometimes been
kept in captivity for seventy or eighty years.


PARRAKEETS

These birds are found in the hotter parts of Africa, Asia, and
Australia, being very plentiful, for instance, in the forests of India.
Perhaps the best known of them is the East Indian ring-necked parrakeet,
which is green in color, the male having a red ring round his neck, with
a black ring underneath it. The length of the bird is about seventeen
inches, of which almost exactly half is taken up by the tail.

These parrakeets are dreadfully mischievous birds, for they visit both
fields and gardens, and devour enormous quantities of grain and fruit.
You can easily understand how much harm four or five hundred of them can
do in a short time, and flocks of this size are often seen, while
sometimes they are even larger still. They have regular roosting-places,
to which they always return at night; and they lay their three or four
white eggs in holes in trees.


COCKATOOS

Cockatoos may easily be recognized by their feathery crests, which they
can raise and lower at will. We will take the sulphur-crested cockatoo
as our example.

This favorite cage-bird comes from Australia, where it is found in
enormous flocks. Fancy seeing a thousand cockatoos flying about
together! And fancy what it must be to listen to their screams! Yet a
flock of this size is not at all uncommon. The birds are not as
plentiful as they used to be, however, for they did so much mischief in
the grain-fields that the planters shot them in large numbers; often,
indeed, a field would be so full of cockatoos that from a little
distance it looked as though it were deeply covered with snow.

As talkers cockatoos are not nearly so clever as parrots, but they soon
learn to imitate all kinds of sounds, such as the barking of dogs, the
mewing of cats, the cackling of fowls, and the gobbling of turkeys.
Unfortunately, however, they are very fond of screaming, and make a
terrible outcry if they are annoyed in any way, so that they are apt to
be rather a nuisance if they are kept as pets.


MACAWS

The macaws are large and handsome birds, their plumage being nearly
always very brightly and even gaudily colored. In the red and blue
macaw, for instance, which is one of the best known, the general color
is bright vermilion red, with a patch of yellow feathers on the upper
part of each wing. Then the lower part of the back, together with the
quills of the wings and the outside feathers of the tail, is blue, while
the central tail-feathers are scarlet with blue tips. But even this is
not all, for underneath the wings and tail are golden red, varied by
patches of yellow feathers tipped with green. This magnificent bird is
nearly three feet long, two-thirds of that length being occupied by the
tail.

Macaws are found in large flocks in the great forests of tropical
America, where they may be seen sometimes flying high in air, and
sometimes sitting on the topmost branches of the tallest trees. Their
cries can be heard from a very long distance away.

Macaws are just as mischievous in the cornfields as parrots and
cockatoos are in other parts of the world, and are much more difficult
to kill; for some, before settling down to feed, post sentinels in the
tops of tall trees near by, and steadily watchful, they give the alarm
as soon as they see the slightest sign of danger.

Macaws lay their eggs in holes in tree-trunks, as parrots do, and are
said to enlarge the holes to suit their requirements by means of their
powerful beaks. They are not very wise birds, however, for when they are
sitting they often leave their long tails projecting out of the hole, to
be seen by every passer-by!


LOVE-BIRDS

Of all the birds which belong to the parrot family the love-birds are
the smallest, being little bigger than finches. Seven different kinds
are known, all found in Africa south of the Desert of Sahara.

These pretty little creatures are called love-birds because they seem so
very fond of one another. If two or three are kept in a cage together,
they always snuggle up as closely as possible, and will sit side by side
for hours, perfectly happy in each other's company. And often, if one of
a couple dies, the other will pine away in a short time and die too,
apparently from sorrow.

In a wild state love-birds are generally seen in small flocks which fly
very rapidly, and constantly utter their sharp screaming cry. They do
not seem to make any nests for themselves, but make use of those of
other birds instead. Whether they turn out the rightful owners, however,
or merely take possession of nests which have been deserted, nobody
seems to know.


PIGEONS

We shall only be able to tell you about two members of the great pigeon
family, the first of which shall be the wood-pigeon, or ring-dove, which
is interesting as the wild original that has given us our domestic
pigeons, so many varieties of which have been produced by fanciers.

This is a very common bird in almost all parts of the British Isles, and
one can scarcely walk through a wood without startling it from its
retreat in the thick foliage of some tall tree, or ramble through the
fields without seeing at least one flock on its way to its
feeding-grounds. Unfortunately, it does a good deal of mischief, for it
has a most enormous appetite, and carries off immense quantities of
grain from the cornfields. Just to give you some idea of the amount of
food that it will eat, we may mention that no less than eight hundred
grains of wheat have been taken from the crop of a single wood-pigeon,
six hundred peas from that of another, and one hundred and eighty
beechnuts from that of a third; while one naturalist tells us that the
bird will sometimes pack away enough turnip-tops to fill a pint measure
when they are well shaken up!

Our American turtle-dove, or mourning-dove, is much like this but nobody
minds the few bits of grain it picks up. On the other hand, the
wood-pigeon devours great quantities of the seeds of weeds; so although
it is mischievous in one way, it is useful in another.

The nest of the wood-pigeon, which is mostly placed in the upper
branches of a tall tree, is very clumsily made. Indeed, it is very
little more than a platform of sticks, which are often so loosely put
together, that as you look up from below you can see the eggs through
the gaps between them! There are never more than two eggs, which are
perfectly white.


THE PASSENGER-PIGEON

The passenger-pigeon, or wild pigeon of North America, is remarkable for
two reasons.

In the first place, it is (or rather, used to be) found in the most
astonishing numbers. Flocks of these birds _many miles in length_
have often been seen, while large tracts of forest were once so thronged
with their nests that all the smaller branches and many of the larger
ones were broken down. Fancy what that means when a nesting-place is
thirty miles long and several miles broad, while as many as a hundred
nests may be found in a single tree!

In the second place, the bird is renowned as a traveler. That is why it
is called the passenger-pigeon. All over the length and breadth of the
country a few years ago these vast flocks would fly, coming no man knows
whence, going no man knows whither, roosting just for one night in one
place, and passing on again early next morning. The flocks are not so
large as they were, however, for many millions of the birds have been
destroyed; and as these pigeons never lay more than two eggs, they do
not multiply very fast. In fact, this pigeon is already a rare bird.


PEACOCKS

What a magnificent bird the peacock is, with his great train raised and
spread, so as to show off all the beautiful eye-like markings! And
how _very_ proud of it he seems as he struts about to be admired,
as though knowing quite well that everybody is looking at him!

People sometimes speak of this train as the "tail." But it really
consists of those feathers which are called the tail-coverts, the true
tail lying underneath it, and serving to support it when it is spread.

Peacocks are natives of Asia, and are found most commonly, perhaps, in
India, where flocks of thirty or forty may often be seen, and one
traveler tells us that he once saw quite fifteen hundred of these
splendid birds all together! They are sometimes caught in a very curious
way. The hunter rides up quietly to within a short distance of them as
they are feeding on the ground, and then suddenly dashes at them at full
speed. Of course they at once rise into the air, and just as they are
passing out of reach he strikes at one of them with a very long whip,
which coils round its neck like a lasso. Then all that he has to do is
to pull it down to the ground.

In some parts of India, however, these birds are regarded by the natives
as sacred, and no one is allowed to kill them, or even to take them
alive.

[Illustration: AMERICAN GAME BIRDS

  1. Wood-duck.    2. Pheasant.    3. Green-winged Teal.
  4. Yellow-legs; Tattler.    5. Widgeon Duck.    6. Canvas-back.
  7. Canada Grouse.    8. Blue-winged Teal.    9. Quail; Bobwhite.
  10. Wood-cock.    11. Virginia Rail.    12. Common Snipe.]


TURKEYS

Everybody takes an interest in the turkey--more especially at
Thanksgiving and Christmas time!--and many people think that it comes
from the country of Turkey, but this is quite a mistake, for it is a
native of North America, in many parts of which it is still found in
great abundance. The domesticated turkey probably arose from the Mexican
variety rather than from the more familiar wild turkey of the Northern
States.

Some of the flocks seem to consist of cock birds only, and others of
hens and young, the reason being that the cocks are very fierce and
quarrelsome birds, and will attack and even kill the young ones if they
have an opportunity. Until long after her little ones are fledged,
indeed, the mother turkey has to take the greatest care of them; for not
only are they in constant danger from their unnatural father, but all
kinds of other enemies, such as foxes, lynxes, and horned owls,
have to be guarded against as well. So she keeps them nearly always
under cover, and when at last they are big enough to be taken for a
little ramble, she never brings them back to the nest by the path by
which they left it.

Turkeys often travel for very long distances. When they come to a broad
river they perch in the upper branches of the tallest trees they can
find, and then fly across together at a given signal. They are not very
strong on the wing, and usually some of them fall into the water. But by
spreading out their tails and paddling hard they generally manage to
make their way to shore.


PHEASANTS

The pheasant is a native of Southeastern Europe and Asia Minor; but it
has lived in Western Europe for so long that it is fully entitled to
rank among British birds. It has so many enemies, however, that if it
were not carefully preserved it would very soon disappear.

Pheasants nearly always live in woods, though they often venture out
into the open fields to search for food, which consists of acorns,
grain, beechnuts, seeds, and small insects. During the winter, however,
they have to be fed, or they would be very likely to die from
starvation.

These birds do not make a regular nest, the hen merely scratching a
slight hollow in the ground, and there laying her ten to fourteen
olive-brown eggs. When she is sitting it is difficult to see her, for
her light-brown mottled plumage looks just like the dead leaves among
which she is resting, and even the sharpest eye might often pass her by.


THE RED GROUSE

This bird is remarkable for two reasons. The first is, that it is found
only in the British Isles, and not in any other part of the world; and
the second is, that it varies so very greatly in color. Sometimes it is
almost entirely black, sometimes it is reddish chestnut, and
sometimes nearly all the feathers are broadly tipped with white.

The red grouse is found on moors and mountainsides wherever there is
plenty of heath or heather, and where it can obtain the whortleberries,
cranberries, and tender shoots of cotton-grass and sedge upon which it
feeds. And though it has many natural enemies, such as hawks and crows,
foxes and stoats, and while it is shot in thousands by sportsmen, it
never seems to decrease in abundance.

As a general rule the grouse does not fly much, but runs with great
swiftness among the heather. It makes a very rough nest of straws and
twigs in a hollow in the ground, and often sits so closely on its eggs
that it may almost be trodden on before it will move. When the little
ones are hatched they seem to know without being taught how to conceal
themselves in moments of danger, and if they cannot find cover will
flatten themselves against the ground, where they look so much like
stones that even the sharp eye of a hawk will pass them by.

[Illustration: FOUR GREAT GAME-BIRDS.

  1. American Wild Turkey.        2. European Great Bustard.
  3. European Blackcock.          4. South American Chaha.]


PARTRIDGES

Partridges, of which our quail is an example, are found almost
everywhere, being carefully protected in most countries for purposes of
sport; and they lay so many eggs that they are scarcely likely to become
less plentiful. Few nests contain less than ten eggs, while fifteen or
even more are frequently laid; and instances have been recorded in which
as many as thirty-three eggs have been found in a single nest, but in
these cases two birds have most likely laid together. The mother bird
sits very closely--so closely, indeed, that when she has nested in a
meadow and the grass is being mown, she often fails to move out of the
way of the scythe in time, and is found lying on the ground with her
head cut off after the reapers have passed by.

When the little ones are hatched, both parents go about with them, and
the covey, as it is called, keeps together all through the autumn and
winter.



CHAPTER XXV

OSTRICHES, HERONS, CRANES, IBISES, ETC.


The ostrich is a very remarkable bird indeed.

In the first place, it is by far the largest of all living birds, for a
full-grown male ostrich is taller than a very tall man. Then its head is
somewhat like that of a camel, and its neck like that of a giraffe--very
long and slender, with scarcely any feathers on it. Next, its wings are
so small that they cannot be used for flight. All that an ostrich does
with its wings, indeed, is to spread them out when it is running, so
that they may help it in keeping its balance. And, finally, its legs are
as stout and as strong as those of a horse, while it has only two toes
on each foot.

Ostriches live in the great desert plains of Africa, where they are
mostly found in small flocks. Although they cannot fly, they can run
with very great speed, and in fair chase will distance even a swift
horse. But for some strange reason they always run in circles, so that
all that a hunter has to do is to notice whether they are swerving to
the right or to the left, and then to gallop across and cut them off.

When an ostrich is running at full speed it takes most wonderful
strides, its toes scarcely touching the ground as it dashes along. By
careful measurement, indeed, it has been found that there is sometimes a
distance of no less than twenty-eight feet between its footmarks!

The ostrich is rather a formidable bird, for it can kick forward with
terrific force. But if a man lies down when attacked by one he is fairly
safe, for the kick cannot be properly delivered at a height of less than
three feet. Or if he has a forked stick he can hold the bird back by
pressing the fork against its neck.

Ostriches' eggs are so large that one of them will make a good meal for
eight men. The bird does not make a nest, but scoops out a hollow in the
sand about three feet across and a foot deep, and then arranges
its eggs in it, each egg standing upright, and being lightly covered
with sand. Twenty eggs or more are often hatched together, and in
addition to these the bird generally lays a number round the edges of
the hole, which appear to serve as food for the young. During the day
the hen sits, the cock taking her place by night.

The appetite of the ostrich is proverbial, and it would really be
difficult to say what an ostrich will not swallow. Stones, coins,
bunches of keys, tobacco-pipes, newspapers done up for post, brickbats,
old shoes, and tenpenny nails have all been taken from its crop; and it
seems to be very seldom indeed that any of these things disagree with
it! Its natural food, however, consists chiefly of wild melons, which
also supply it with all the moisture that it needs.

Ostriches are very valuable to man, on account of the beautiful plumes
which are obtained from the male. These birds are therefore kept in
great numbers in ostrich-farms so that the plumes may be regularly cut
once in every year. As this does not destroy the bird, it is proper to
make use of these beautiful feathers as ornaments.


THE EMU

In Australia the place of the ostrich is taken by the emu. It is a
smaller bird, however, though a full-grown hen--which is bigger than the
cock--is often six feet in height. And it has three toes upon each foot
instead of two.

The emu was formerly very common in many parts of Australia, but it has
been so terribly persecuted that it is fast becoming exceedingly scarce.
It is generally hunted with dogs, which are trained to spring at the
neck, so as to be out of reach of the terrible feet. For the emu does
not kick forward, as ostriches do, but strikes sideways and backward,
like a cow.

The emu only lays six or seven eggs, which are of a beautiful dark-green
color, without any markings at all. They are laid in a hollow scooped in
the ground. During the nesting-season the female bird utters a loud
booming sound, which is due to a very curious pouch in the throat.


RHEAS

There are also several ostrich-like birds in South America which are
known as rheas. They inhabit the Argentine plains, and are not nearly so
large as the ostrich and the emu, but are quite as swift of foot, so
that it is not at all easy for a man mounted on even a fast horse to
overtake them. They are generally hunted with the bolas which is a long
cord with a heavy ball as each end, and is flung at the bird in such a
manner as to wind round its neck and hold it prisoner.

Rheas always lay their eggs in hollows in the ground, and the number of
eggs in a nest seems to vary from twenty to twenty-four. The male bird,
apparently, sits upon them, the hen taking no part in the task of
hatching them out. Neither does she seem to take any care of the little
birds when at last they make their appearance, for they always travel
about with the cock.


CASSOWARIES

Of these there are a good many kinds. They are formed like the ostrich
and the emu, but have shorter necks, which are sometimes wattled and are
marked with patches of brilliant red and blue and green. The legs are
stout and the feet are perfectly enormous. But their most striking
feature is an odd bony crest upon the top of the head, which is covered
with naked skin.

Cassowaries are found only in Australia, New Guinea, Ceram, and some of
the neighboring islands, and, unlike all the preceding birds, are
dwellers in the forest. They are so shy that they are very seldom seen,
so that we do not know very much about their habits. The Australian
natives, however, often keep them in captivity, and treat them almost as
we treat poultry. But they are rather dangerous creatures, for they can
kick very hard with their great, strong feet, and are very ready to
attack any one who is a stranger to them.

Cassowaries only lay from three to five eggs, and it seems that the
cock bird alone sits on them, and that he also takes care of the little
ones after they are hatched.


KIWIS

More curious still are the kiwis of New Zealand, whose wings are so very
small, and so completely concealed under the feathers of the body, that
practically they may be said to have none at all. Besides this, the beak
is so long and slender that it reminds one of that of a woodcock or a
snipe. The nostrils are placed at the very tip of this beak, which the
bird appears to use by plunging it deeply into soft ground, and then
smelling for worms.

When it finds a worm it seems to coax rather than to pull it out of the
ground, and then throws up its head and swallows it whole.

Kiwis have several times been brought to the London Zoo, but hardly any
one ever saw them, for all day long they were fast asleep among their
straw. If the keeper took them out and woke them they would just yawn
once or twice, opening their beaks to the widest possible extent, and
then fall fast asleep again.

After dark, however, these birds become very lively, and will run with
such speed that even a dog can scarcely overtake them. This shows that
their natural habit is to go abroad and seek their food during the
night.

The egg of the kiwi is enormously large. Indeed, it is almost a quarter
of the size of the bird itself, and when two eggs have been laid and the
bird is sitting on them, the ends project beyond the feathers on either
side of its body.


BUSTARDS

The bustards also are able to run very well, and unlike the birds
belonging to the ostrich family, they are also able to fly.

The finest of these birds is the great bustard, which until about the
year 1840 was found wild in Great Britain. The cock is between three and
four feet in height, and the head and body together are nearly
four feet long, while when the wings are fully spread they measure quite
eight feet from tip to tip. The hen is a good deal smaller.

The great bustard lives in wild, open plains, and is so extremely wary
that it is almost impossible to approach within gunshot. Except during
the nesting season it is found in small flocks, and both by day and by
night two of the party act as sentinels and stand always on the watch,
ready to give the alarm at the first sign of danger. They have
wonderfully sharp sight, and will detect a man long before they can be
seen by him. Almost the only way to shoot them, indeed, is to dig a pit
in the ground and hide inside it, covered over with branches, until they
pass by.

These magnificent birds are now found chiefly in the steppes of Eastern
Europe and Asia, where they feed upon seeds and grain, and also upon
insects and even upon small animals. They lay two or three eggs in a
hollow in the ground, in which sometimes, but not always, they place a
few grass-stems by way of a nest.


CRANES

Another tall and stately bird is the crane. It is found in one or
another species in all quarters of the world, living on plains and
marshes, coming north to breed, and retiring southward again during the
winter.

Cranes generally travel about in flocks, which nearly always fly in the
form of a wedge, each bird having its long legs stretched stiffly out
behind it. Each flock is under the guidance of a leader, and the birds
are most careful when they alight to do so in some open place where they
can see for a long distance in every direction, so as to guard against
the danger of being surprised by an enemy.

Cranes are generally to be seen in marshy districts, where they can find
plenty of frogs, newts, and worms. But sometimes they will make their
way to a newly sown field and dig up all the grain. Their nests are
generally placed on the ground, among osiers or in reed-beds, though now
and then they will build on the very top of an old ruin. The little
brown crane of the western plains is the most familiar American species.

The crowned crane, which is found in Northern and Western Africa, is a
very odd-looking bird, for it has a large bunch of upright golden
feathers on the top of its head, and a scarlet wattle on the throat.
From a little distance it really looks as if it were wearing a bright
yellow bonnet, tied with a bow of scarlet ribbon under its chin!


LAPWINGS

The European lapwing, known to every one by the familiar reference in
Tennyson's "Locksley Hall," represents the world-wide family of plovers.
They are beautiful birds with their black and white plumage and the tuft
of long feathers at the back of the head, and very often one may see
hundreds or even thousands of them together. Early in the spring one may
find their four long, pointed eggs, which are olive brown in color,
spotted and blotched with brownish black, and are always laid in a
little hollow in the bare ground with their small ends inward in the
form of a cross. But somehow or other, although they are quite large
eggs, it is very difficult to see them, and you might pass close by a
dozen nests, and even look straight at them, and yet never notice the
eggs at all.

Often, when some one happens to find a hen lapwing sitting on her eggs,
she will pretend to be wounded, and will flap and tumble along the
ground in the hope of making the intruder chase her, and so of leading
him away from her nest.

Sportsmen know of many other plovers, such as the golden, the ringneck,
the killdee, or killdeer, and several more, both American and foreign.


THE CURLEW

This is another plains-bird common to both continents, which may often
be noticed on moors or in marshes during the summer, or on the sea-coast
in the winter. But generally one only sees it in the distance, for it
is extremely wary, and takes to flight at the very slightest alarm.

All through the winter months curlews live in flocks, and one may hear
them uttering their mournful cries in chorus together. But early in the
spring they separate, and each pair selects some little hollow in the
ground which may serve as a nest. In this they lay four pear-shaped
eggs, which are olive green in color, spotted with gray and brown. When
the eggs are hatched the parents take the greatest care of their little
ones, and often if any one comes too near the nest they will fly round
and round his head in the most excited manner, and do their very best to
drive him away.

In color the curlew is pale brown above, with darker spots and streaks,
and grayish white beneath. Its total length is about twenty-four inches,
and the beak is long and slender, with a downward curve.


RUFFS

The ruff, a relative of the curlew, is remarkable for three reasons. In
the first place, during the breeding-season, the male bird has a great
frill or ruff of long feathers round his neck, which he can raise and
lower at will. In the next place, two male ruffs are never colored
alike, while sometimes they look so wholly different that it is quite
hard to believe that they can really belong to the same species. And, in
the third place, they are so dreadfully quarrelsome when the
nesting-season begins, that two male ruffs can never meet without
fighting. More than that, they actually have regular fighting-places, to
which numbers of the birds resort when they want to settle their
quarrels! But although they fight very savagely, they never seem to do
each other much harm.

Ruffs are hardly known in America, except in Alaska, but at one time
they were very common in the marshy parts of England.


THE WOODCOCK

The woodcock is a bird of wooded swamps. It is valued by sportsmen,
because difficult to shoot and delicate to eat. They lay their eggs in
a hollow in the ground, which they line with dry grass and leaves. When
the mother bird is sitting it is almost impossible to see her, for she
nearly always nests among dead ferns, which are of exactly the same hues
as her own plumage. Generally, indeed, it is her eyes that are noticed,
and if she only had the sense to keep them shut she would probably never
be detected at all.

Woodcocks are hardly ever seen unless they are disturbed, for they hide
during the daytime in thick bushes in woods, and only come out to feed
in the evening. Their food consists chiefly of worms, which they pull
out of soft, muddy ground by means of their long, slender beaks.

If two male woodcocks meet during the nesting-season they almost always
quarrel, and will fight nearly as savagely as ruffs.


THE SNIPE

In appearance and habits the snipe is something like the woodcock, but
it is considerably smaller, and is found in damp, marshy ground instead
of in woods. When it is flushed it flies away for a few yards quite
straight, and then begins to twist and turn about in a most
extraordinary way, changing the direction of its flight at almost every
yard. In consequence of this habit it is not at all an easy bird to
shoot.

The male snipe is very fond of rising to a great height in the air, and
there uttering his curious cry of "chick! chick! chick-a!" over and over
again. At the same time he also makes a strange drumming sound, which
seems to be caused in some way by the motion of the wings, as it is only
produced while he is "stooping" down toward the ground.

The snipe generally nests in the middle of a tussock of coarse grass or
rushes, where it lays four buff or olive-green eggs marked with
dark-brown blotches.


THE HERON

One of our finest American birds is the heron, which you may often see
flying high in the air, with its long legs stretched stiffly out
behind it. And sometimes you may see it standing quite motionless in
the shallower parts of a stream, watching for the fishes on which it
feeds. After a time it will slowly stoop, plunge its long beak into the
water, and draw it out again with a minnow, or a perch, or a frog
struggling in its grip. Then it holds its beak almost upright, gives a
gobble and a gulp--and the fish or the frog disappears!

The heron feeds largely on frogs, mice, insects, and worms, as well as
upon fishes. And more than once it has been known to capture and swallow
a small snake.

Herons build their nests in the upper branches of tall trees, making
them of sticks and twigs, lined with grass and roots. A number of these
birds generally nest together in the same clump of trees, just as rooks
do, and in each nest are laid either three or four bluish-green eggs,
without any markings at all.

If a heron is attacked, it uses its long, dagger-like beak with great
readiness, and always tries to strike at the eyes of its enemy. Herons
are of many kinds, the great blue one being the finest of the tribe.


STORKS

The stork is found in most parts of Europe, and also in Asia and
Northern Africa, but no stork lives in America.

When storks are migrating, they fly in great flocks, which sometimes
consist of many thousand birds. As soon as they arrive, they spread
themselves over the country, being especially fond of marshy districts,
where they can find plenty of frogs, toads, lizards, and the other small
creatures upon which they feed. But they also devour large quantities of
the offal which they find in the streets of the villages and towns.

In Holland and Germany storks breed in great numbers. Their nests, which
are usually placed on the tops of chimneys, are little more than clumsy
piles of sticks, and as fresh sticks are added every year, they
gradually get bigger and bigger until at last they reach a very great
size. From three to five pure white eggs are laid, and the young birds
remain in the nest until they are well able to fly.


THE IBIS

Very much like storks in some ways are the ibises, which are found in
many parts of Asia, Africa, and America. They are generally found in
flocks, which live in marshes or on the banks of rivers and lakes, where
they spend most of their time dabbling in the water with their long
beaks in search of food.

One of these birds was worshiped by the Egyptians of old, who treated it
with the greatest reverence during life, and carefully embalmed its body
when it died. For this reason it is known as the sacred ibis, and in
every large art museum you may see ibis mummies, which were taken from
the tombs of the kings. In color this bird is snowy white, with a black
head and neck, and long black plumes on the hinder part of the back. You
may generally see it in a zoo, together with the beautiful scarlet ibis,
whose plumage is bright red in color, with black tips to the wings.



CHAPTER XXVI

SWIMMING BIRDS


In the birds belonging to this group the feet are webbed, so that they
may be used as paddles. And some of them are very curious indeed.


FLAMINGO

First of all, there is the well-known red and white flamingo, which is
quite an extraordinary bird, for it has extremely long, stilt-like legs,
and an extremely long, snake-like neck, which it can twist and coil
about as easily as if it were just a piece of rope. There is no part of
its body which a flamingo cannot reach with its beak, so that it can
preen its feathers quite easily. And when it wants to feed it wades into
the water, bends down its long neck, turns its head upside down, so that
its forehead rests upon the bottom, and scoops up great mouthfuls of
mud. Then, by means of the grooves at the sides of the bill, it gets rid
of the mud, while all the grubs, etc., which were lying buried in it,
are left behind to be swallowed.

The nest of the flamingo is a cone-shaped heap of mud, sometimes as much
as two feet high, with a little hollow at the top to contain eggs.
Thousands of these birds nest together, and when they are sitting they
look just like a great rosy-white cloud resting upon the ground. And if
they are startled and fly away, their nests look as though hundreds of
children had been making big sand-pies on the beach and neatly arranging
them in rows. But such a sight as this can now be seen only in some
almost inaccessible tropical islands, for these birds have been greatly
persecuted by feather-hunters and others, and are rare everywhere near
civilization. They used to be common in Florida and all about the Gulf
of Mexico, where now only a few exist.

Flamingoes are found in the warmer parts of all the great continents
except Australia. Nine different kinds are known, some of which stand
well over six feet in height.


GEESE, SWANS, AND DUCKS

Of wild geese there are at least forty species, which are found in
almost all parts of the world.

The graylag goose which breeds in the British Isles, seems to be the
ancestor of the domestic geese that we see in every farmyard. It lives
in flocks, which frequent marshes, lakes, and boggy moors during the
greater part of the year, but often visit the sea-coast in winter.
Sometimes, too, they may be seen near the mouth of a great river. They
are very shy birds, and when sportsmen wish to shoot them they have to
resort to all kinds of tricks in order to approach them without being
seen.

When wild geese fly, they generally do so in the form of a half-opened
pair of compasses, with the angle in front. But now and then they may be
seen in the air in an irregular wavy line. As they fly they make a
curious "gaggling" cry, which can be heard from a very long distance.

The nest of this goose is made of grass and flags, and is generally
placed at the base of a tussock of coarse grass. It usually contains six
plain white eggs.

Swans, too, are found wild in many parts of the world, and used to be
almost as numerous as ducks or geese both on the inland lakes and along
the coasts of the United States, but now have become rare and shy. All
the species breed in the arctic regions, and appear among us only on
their migrations in spring and fall.

Swans are most graceful birds in the water, and as their limbs are set
very far back they can swim with great ease. But for the same reason
they are very clumsy upon dry ground, and waddle along in the most
awkward way, seeming to find it very difficult to keep their balance.
All those in our parks are tame; but during the nesting-season the male
swan generally becomes very savage, and will attack any one who ventures
too near to his nest. And as a single stroke from his wing is
sufficient to break a man's arm, he is apt to be dangerous when
unfriendly.

The nest of the swan is a very large structure of reeds, rushes, and
grass, and is generally placed quite close to the water's edge. It
contains six or seven large greenish-white eggs.

A great many kinds of duck are known, but we can only mention the common
wild duck, which still visits rivers and lakes every winter in
considerable numbers, a few of which remain to breed.

The male duck is called the mallard, and from October till May he is a
very handsome bird, with a dark-green head and neck, a white collar
round the lower part of his throat, brownish-gray wings, chestnut-brown
breast, and white hinder parts. But when he moults he puts off this
beautiful plumage, and for the next five months is mottled all over with
brown and gray, just like his mate.

Wild ducks are found chiefly in marshes and fens, and on the borders of
rivers and lakes. But when they come over in the autumn they often spend
the daytime out at sea resting on the water. They make their nests of
grass, lined with down from the mother bird's own breast; and the little
ones are able to swim as soon as they leave the egg-shell. When they are
about half grown they sometimes use their wings in diving, and you may
see them flapping their way along beneath the surface, and really flying
under water.


CORMORANTS

In Great Britain, due to its northern latitude, cormorants are commonly
seen where the coast is high and rocky; but in America they are less
often visible because they dwell mainly in the far north. They are very
odd birds. Sitting on rocks which overhang the water, every now and then
one will drop into the sea, splash about for a moment or two, and then
return to his perch. Then you may be quite sure that he has caught and
swallowed a fish. Sometimes you may see them swimming along with their
heads under water, watching for victims in the depths below.

Cormorants are famous for their big appetites--perhaps it would be more
correct to say for their horrible greediness, for they will go on eating
till they simply cannot swallow another morsel, and yet will try hard to
catch every fish that comes near them. The little ones feed in a most
extraordinary way, for they actually poke their heads down their
mother's throat, and take as much food as they want from her crop!

When these birds really feel that they have had enough to eat, they sit
upon a rock for an hour or two while they digest their dinners. They
also take this opportunity to dry their wings, and spread them out to
the fullest extent on either side, so that they look very much like rows
of black clothes hung out to dry!

In China cormorants are often trained to catch fish for their masters, a
strap being fastened round the lower part of the neck to prevent them
from swallowing their victims. They were formerly used in England in
just the same way.


PELICANS

More curious still are their cousins the pelicans, which have a pouch of
naked parchment-like skin under their long bills, capable of holding
quite two gallons of water. This pouch, as a rule, is folded closely up
under the beak, but when the bird is fishing, it packs victim after
victim into it until it is quite full, when it really looks almost half
as big as the body.

In this way pelicans carry back food for their hungry little ones. But
on their way they are sometimes robbed, for there is a kind of large
hawk which is very fond of eating fishes, but is not at all fond of the
trouble of catching them. So he waits till he sees a pelican returning
home from a fishing expedition, and then dashes at it, and begins to
beat it about the head with his wings. The poor frightened pelican,
thinking that it is about to be killed, opens its beak to scream. This,
of course, is just what the hawk wants, and snatching a fish out of the
pelican's pouch, he flies off with it in triumph.

Pelicans are very plentiful in many parts of the world, and are often
seen in vast flocks. We have two kinds in the United States and
Canada--the white and the brown. Both are more numerous on the marshes
and around the shallow lakes of the northwestern plains than anywhere
else, because they have been driven from their former coast-resorts. All
the birds in a flock will sometimes go out fishing together. Arranging
themselves in a great semicircle, about a yard apart, they all paddle
slowly forward, and in this way will drive a great shoal of fish into
shallow water, where they may be snapped up without difficulty.


SEA-GULLS

These you know very well by sight, for they are common on all parts of
our coasts, and on many of our lakes, while numbers of them may be seen
even on the ornamental waters in the parks of New York and other
seaboard cities. In stormy weather, too, they often fly inland, and
sometimes great numbers of them may be seen in newly plowed fields,
hunting for worms and insects. Most of them go north for the
breeding-season, some visiting certain islands and rocky cliffs in
immense numbers, and making their nests of seaweed; while others, like
the black-headed gull, and the ringbill nest in marshes, merely
trampling down the broken tops of sedges and reeds, and so forming a
slight hollow in which to lay the eggs.

At least fifty different kinds of gulls are known. But many of them are
very difficult to distinguish, for their summer plumage may be quite
unlike that with which they are clothed during the winter, while the
young birds are not marked like their parents till they are two or even
three years old. Those which are most common on the Atlantic coast are
two or three kinds of herring-gulls, which formerly bred in great
numbers on all our sandy shores and islets, but now have been driven to
quieter regions in the far north. On the western plains, around certain
shallow lakes, live great colonies of ring-billed and other small gulls,
breeding in the extensive marshes.

Flying to and fro over the sea, or over a large inland lake, you may
sometimes see a number of birds which look like gulls, but are much
smaller, and have long, forked tails like swallows. These are terns,
or sea-swallows, as they are often called, and are most elegant and
graceful in their movements, gliding and sweeping through the air, and
twisting and turning with the most wonderful swiftness and ease. They
are summer visitors only, coming to us in May and flying south again in
September, and they breed on flat shores, generally laying their two or
three eggs in a small hollow in the shingle. They feed on small fishes
and shrimps, and also on the sandhoppers and the various insects which
are so plentiful upon the beach.

[Illustration: AMERICAN WADING BIRDS.

  1. Great White Egret.         2. Sandhill Crane.
  3. Great Blue Heron.          4. Whooping Crane.
  5. White Pelican (Male).      6. Snow Goose.]


GUILLEMOTS

Very common are guillemots on some coasts where there are sea-fronting
cliffs, and freedom from disturbance. Thus they abound along the shores
of Labrador and Greenland, and many varieties are to be found along the
northern coasts of Alaska, and about the borders of the Arctic sea,
often thronging in great numbers together with puffins, kittiwakes,
petrels, and gannets, each kind occupying separate parts of the cliffs
and living on friendly terms with their neighbors.

Guillemots feed entirely upon fishes, which they chase under water,
using both their wings and feet, just as dabchicks do. They do not make
any nest, but lay a single egg on a bare ledge of rock which is often
only a very few inches wide. One would think that this egg would be in
great danger of being knocked over the edge. But it is very large at one
end and very much pointed at the other, so that if it is struck it only
rolls round and round. In color it is green or blue, blotched and
streaked with black.


THE ALBATROSS

One of the largest of all the sea-birds is the albatross, which is found
chiefly in the tropical seas. When the wings are fully spread, they
sometimes measure nearly twelve feet from tip to tip. Yet the entire
weight of the bird is not more than sixteen or seventeen pounds. It
often remains at sea for weeks or months together, sometimes remaining
in the air all through the night as well as all through the day, and
following ships for hundreds of miles in order to feed upon the refuse
which is thrown overboard. Its appetite is enormous, for it has been
known to gulp down a great piece of whale's blubber, weighing between
three and four pounds, and then to return almost immediately for more!

Great numbers of albatrosses nest together on uninhabited islands, each
pair scooping together a quantity of clay, grass, and sedge, which they
arrange in a conical heap about ten or twelve inches high, with a little
hollow at the top. Only a single egg is laid, which is quite white, and
is rather larger than that of a goose.


THE PUFFIN AND THE PENGUIN

Two most curious birds must be mentioned in conclusion. The first of
these is the puffin, which is found plentifully in one or another
species on all northern coasts where there are bold cliffs. An odder and
more quaint-looking bird it would be difficult to imagine, for it has a
beak quite large enough for a bird six times its size, while that beak,
which is banded with bright crimson, gray, and brilliant yellow, looks
just as if it had been stuck on with glue! More than that, it does not
appear to fit very well; so that altogether, with its short, squat body
and stout little legs, the puffin is by no means a graceful bird. It is
often known as the sea-parrot.

On dry land, the puffin is very awkward, and can only waddle along
slowly and clumsily. But it is a good swimmer and diver, and can chase
and overtake small fishes with the greatest of ease. It is also able to
fly very well, and takes long journeys over the sea when it comes to us
in the spring, and again when it goes southward in the autumn. It makes
no nest, but finds a cranny, digs out a hole in the face of a cliff to
the depth of about three feet, and lays a single grayish-white egg at
the end of the hole.

Odder still is the penguin, whose wings are but little more than
flippers, with scales on their upper edges instead of feathers! It
cannot fly, of course; but it uses its wings for two purposes. For if it
is frightened upon land it throws itself down on its breast and
scuttles along on all fours, just as though its wings were legs, and if
it wants to chase a fish in the sea it swims with them, just as though
they were paddles.

There are a good many different kinds of penguins, all of which are
found in the southern hemisphere. On some of the islands in the Pacific
and Antarctic oceans they are found in immense numbers, and have a
curious way of standing side by side upon the shore in long rows, with
their flippers hanging down on either side of their bodies. From a
distance, indeed, they might almost be mistaken for lines of soldiers
standing at attention. When the breeding-season begins they become very
busy, picking up stones, carrying them about with a great deal of fuss,
and then carefully arranging them in position, every now and then
turning their beaks up to the sky, waving their flippers, and making a
curious gobbling noise. If a sitting hen leaves her nest for a little,
all the other hens become greatly excited, and peck at her as she passes
by in order to drive her back again, croaking loudly in chorus, and
evidently feeling extremely indignant with her for neglecting her
duties.

When these odd birds are sitting on a ledge of ice, and want to get down
into the sea, they often throw themselves upon their breasts, and
"toboggan" down the slope into the water!



REPTILES



CHAPTER XXVII

TORTOISES, TURTLES, AND LIZARDS


We now come to the cold-blooded animals, which are divided into three
classes. First we have the reptiles, whose hearts are formed of three
chambers, and which breathe air by means of lungs. Next come the
amphibians, which are like the reptiles in many ways, but which have to
pass through a tadpole stage before they reach the perfect form. And,
thirdly, there are the fishes, whose hearts are divided into two
chambers only, and which breathe water by means of gills.


TORTOISES AND TURTLES

At the head of the reptiles stand the tortoises and turtles, whose
bodies are shut up in a kind of horny box, which we generally call the
shell. In reality, however, it is not a shell at all; for the upper
part, which we call the carapace, is a development of the spine and the
ribs, while the lower part, which is known as the plastron, is a
development of the breast-bone. These animals, in fact, have part of
their skeletons inside their bodies and part outside; so that they are
really shut up in their own bones!

The so-called shell of a tortoise or a turtle is always very hard and
strong, so that you can stand upon quite a small tortoise without
hurting it in the least and in most cases the head and legs can be
tucked away inside it, so that the animal is safely protected from
almost every foe.

None of the turtles and tortoises have any teeth. But the edges of their
jaws are so sharp and horny that they can often inflict a very severe
bite. Some of the larger turtles, indeed, could snap off the fingers of
a man's hand as easily as you could bite through a carrot!

[Illustration: TYPES OF WATER-BIRDS

  1. Mandarin Duck.    2. Penguin.    3. Heron.    4. Pelican.
              5. Bittern.    6. Flamingo.    7. Crane.]


LAND-TORTOISES

The most famous of all the tortoises is the common land-tortoise, or
Greek tortoise, which is found in many parts of the south of Europe, and
also in Asia Minor. This is the animal which is so often kept as a pet,
and about which so much pleasant literary interest has gathered. It does
not grow to any great size, but will live in a garden for many years,
crawling about by night as well as by day. Early in the autumn it buries
itself underground, and falls into a deep sleep, from which it does not
awake until the spring.

This tortoise is a vegetable-feeder, and is very fond of lettuce leaves,
more especially when they are quite crisp and fresh, so that it can
easily nip them to pieces with its sharp jaws. If they are rather old
and stringy, it will hold them down with its front feet while it tears
them asunder. And if you keep one of these animals as a pet, and want to
give it a great treat, there is nothing that it likes better than a
little milk. It is amusing to see how it drinks, for it first scoops up
a little milk in its lower jaw, just as if it were using a spoon, and
then holds up its head in order that the liquid may trickle down its
throat.

There are a good many other kinds of land-tortoises, some of which grow
to a very great size. The largest of all comes from the Galapagos
Islands, and is quite a giant; for some of them are more than four feet
long, and weigh between eight and nine hundred pounds! These huge
creatures, however, are now nearly extinct.


TURTLES

The turtles are distinguished from the tortoises by the structure of
their feet, which are flattened out in such a way as to serve as paddles
in the water. For this reason these reptiles hardly ever come upon land
except when they want to lay their eggs; and they can swim so
well that they are often met with many hundreds of miles out at sea.

One of the best known of these creatures is the hawksbill turtle, which
is so called because its mouth is shaped just like the beak of a hawk.
The carapace is made up of thirteen large scales, which overlap one
another for about a third of their length, just like the slates on the
roof of a house.

These scales are very valuable, for the best tortoise-shell is obtained
from them. When they are first taken from the animal they do not look
like tortoise-shell at all, for they are dull and crumpled and brittle.
But after they have been boiled, and steamed, and pressed for some hours
they quite change their character, and become so soft that they can
easily be molded into any required shape.

The eggs of this turtle are laid in a hole which the mother scrapes in
the sand, and are hatched by the heat of the sun. As soon as the little
turtles make their appearance they hurry off as fast as they can toward
the water. But they are very good to eat, and a number of hungry animals
and birds are always on the lookout for them, so that a very great many
are snapped up and devoured before they can plunge into the waves.

The famous turtle soup, which is considered so great a dainty, is made
from the flesh of the green turtle, which is found most plentifully off
the island of Ascension and in the West Indies. It grows to a great
size, for it is often four feet six inches in length and three feet in
breadth, while it may weigh nearly three-quarters of a ton. Of course it
is not at all easy to capture such big creatures. But they are generally
pursued when they come on shore to lay their eggs, and are turned over
on their backs by means of a lever. They are then perfectly helpless,
and can be left lying where they are until a number of others have been
overturned in the same way, when they are lifted into a boat one by one,
and are taken on board ship. There they thrive quite well if a pail of
water is thrown over them two or three times a day, and are generally in
very good condition when they reach this country.

It is said that if one of these turtles has once begun to lay her eggs
in the sand, nothing will induce her to pause in her task until she has
finished it, and that even if the eggs are taken away from her as fast
as she lays them, she will still go steadily on just as if she were
undisturbed.


CROCODILES AND ALLIGATORS

Of course you know what these huge creatures are like. They are just
enormous lizards, fifteen, or twenty, or even thirty feet long, with
very short legs, and very clumsy bodies, and very long tails. And their
great jaws are armed with rows of most terrible teeth.

But what is the difference between crocodiles and alligators? Well, in
some ways they are certainly very much alike; but you can always tell
them by the shape of their heads, for the muzzle of a crocodile is
always narrowed just behind the nostrils, while that of an alligator is
not. And in the crocodiles the fourth lower tooth fits into a notch in
the edge of the upper jaw, so that you can distinctly see it even when
the mouth is closed.

All these creatures live in the water, and spend a great deal of their
time lying motionless on the surface, when they look like floating logs.
One would think that they were fast asleep. But woe betide any animal
which comes to drink from the bank close by, for one of the great
reptiles instantly dives, swims swiftly along under water, and knocks it
into the stream by a blow from its mighty tail.

There is scarcely any animal which does not fall a victim at times to
these giant lizards. And as soon as the unfortunate creature is knocked
into the water it is dragged beneath the surface, and held there until
it is drowned. You would think that the reptiles themselves would be
drowned, wouldn't you, as they have to remain submerged for many minutes
with their jaws widely opened? But they have a very curious valve at the
back of the throat, and as soon as the mouth is opened this closes so
tightly that not even the tiniest drop of water can find its way down
the throat.

Both crocodiles and alligators swim with very great speed by waving
their powerful tails from side to side in the water. They can run, too,
with some little pace upon land. But it is very easy to avoid them, for
the bones of their necks are made in such a way that they cannot turn
their heads, and all that one has to do if pursued is to spring suddenly
to one side. But of course it is necessary to avoid the stroke of the
tail.

The crocodiles always lay their eggs in the sand on the bank of a river.
The eggs are about as big as those of a goose, and are generally buried
at a depth of a couple of feet. The mother reptile always sleeps on the
top of the nest, and it is said that when the little ones are ready to
hatch out they utter a curious little cry. The mother hears this, and
scoops away the sand under which they are buried, in order that they may
have no difficulty in making their escape.

Crocodiles are found in the warmer parts of Africa, Asia, America, and
Australia, and in some of the larger rivers are very plentiful. Just now
and then they venture down into the sea. Alligators, which also are
known as caymans and jacares, are only found in America and place their
eggs in holes dug in the mud or earth beside the water. In the colder
parts of the range they burrow under the mud of the banks and spend the
winter in sleep.


THE LIZARDS

Lizards look at first glance like diminutive alligators, because most of
them have long-jawed heads, short legs wide apart, and long tails; but
really they are near relatives of the snakes, for not only their
internal structure but the coat of scales is snake-like; but an
important difference is that the jaws of the lizard are firmly hinged to
a solid skull, while the bones of the skull of the snake, including
those of the jaws, are connected by elastic cartilages which enable them
to spread apart and permit the swallowing of a mouthful astonishingly
large. But the lizards have no need of such a convenience, for they
subsist almost wholly on insects, or else are vegetable-eaters. Lizards
are almost entirely denizens of the tropics, and seem to rejoice in the
fiercest heat. They will lie contentedly in the desert at noonday on
rocks so hot that they would blister your hand if you touched them.
Therefore few are to be found in Europe or North America, except in the
extreme south.


THE BLINDWORM

Two or three small kinds are to be found in the south of England, one of
which is curious as representing a tribe, largely represented in other
parts of the world, of legless burrowing lizards, which look much like
little snakes, for none of them are more than ten or twelve inches long,
while they are of the thickness of a lead-pencil. They look so shiny and
serpent-like that many people are afraid of them.

But the blindworm, or slowworm, as this creature is called, is perfectly
harmless. It cannot bite you, for its teeth are far too tiny to pierce
the skin; and it cannot sting you, because it has no sting. There is its
odd little forked tongue, of course, which is always darting in and out
of its mouth, just like that of a snake. But this tongue is only a
feeler. Whenever a blindworm comes to an object it does not quite
understand, it touches it gently all over with the tip of its tongue,
just as we might touch it with the tips of our fingers.

Notwithstanding its name, the blindworm has a pair of very good, though
rather small, beady black eyes; and, of course, it is not a worm.

During the daytime the blindworm mostly lies hidden under a large stone;
and on turning such a stone over, one may sometimes find two or three of
these lizards all coiled up together. But in the evening they leave
their hiding-places, and go out to search for the tiny white slugs on
which they feed.

When it is suddenly startled the blindworm sometimes behaves in a very
odd way. It stiffens its body, gives a kind of shudder and a twist, and
actually snaps off its own tail! Then the tail begins to writhe about on
the ground, wriggling and curling and even leaping up into the air in
the most curious manner; and while you are watching its antics, the
blindworm creeps away into some place of safety. You would think that it
must suffer a great deal of pain from this extraordinary injury,
wouldn't you, and that the blindworm would feel it quite as much as a
man would feel if his leg were cut off? But it does not seem to suffer
at all; and stranger still, a new tail very soon begins to grow
in the place of the old one, so that in the course of a very few weeks
the lizard is just as perfect as it was before!


SKINKS

These are queer little lizards with four short legs and very stumpy
tails, which are found in many parts of Africa and Asia. They live in
sandy deserts, and are rather slow in their movements as a rule. But if
a fly should settle anywhere near them they will dart upon it with the
most surprising quickness, and will hardly ever fail to capture it. And
if they are alarmed they will burrow into the sand so rapidly that they
really seem to sink into it just as if it were water. In a very few
seconds, indeed, they will bury themselves to a depth of at least two or
three feet.

In olden days skinks were very much used in medicine, and the powder
obtained from their dried bodies was thought to be a certain cure for
many diseases! It does not seem a very nice idea, yet even to this day
skinks are used for the same purpose in Eastern countries.

There are several different kinds of these curious lizards, of which the
common skink, found in Northern Africa, is the best known. It is about
three inches and a half in length, and is yellowish brown in color, with
a number of darker bands on the sides of the body.


GECKOS

Odder still are the geckos, which have their toes swollen out at the
tips into round sucker-like pads, by means of which they can climb a
wall or a pane of glass with the greatest ease, or even walk about like
flies on the ceiling. They are very fond of getting into houses,
generally remaining hidden in some dark corner during the day, but
coming out toward evening to search for insects, and continually
uttering their curious little cry of "geck-geck-geck-o."

People used to be very much afraid of geckos, some thinking
that they could squirt out poison from the pads of their toes which
would act like the sting of a nettle, and others declaring that their
teeth were so sharp and strong that they could pierce even a sheet of
steel! But the real fact is that these lizards are perfectly harmless,
and cannot injure any living creature except the insects upon which they
feed. When they take up their quarters in a house they soon become
extremely tame, and will even climb up on the dinner-table to be fed.

Geckos are found in almost all hot countries of the Old World, and
nearly three hundred different kinds have been found altogether.


IGUANAS

American lizards are almost wholly members of the numerous iguana
family, which takes its name from the big examples found from Mexico
down into Brazil. The commonly known one when fully grown will measure
four feet from the tip of its blunt, top-shaped head to the end of its
long tapering tail. It looks rather forbidding, for a row of sharp
spikes runs right along its back, while under its chin is a great
dewlap. Yet it is not quite so terrible as it seems, for though it will
bite fiercely if it is driven to bay, and use its long tail like the
lash of a whip, it will always run away if it can, and will either climb
into the topmost boughs of a tree, or plunge into a stream and swim
away.

This reptile is a very good swimmer, driving itself rapidly through the
water by waving its long tail from side to side, just like a crocodile
or an alligator. And it can dive beneath the surface and remain at the
bottom for a very long time without coming up to breathe.

Iguanas live chiefly among the branches of trees which overhang the
water. Their flesh is very good to eat, for it is as tender as the
breast of a young chicken. Their eggs, too, which they bury in the sand
on the river-bank, are often used as food, and it is said that, no
matter how long they may be boiled, they never become hard.


VARIOUS AMERICAN LIZARDS

The hot open plains which stretch from central Texas westward to the
Pacific Ocean, and northward in Utah and Nevada, abound in a great
variety of small lizards, none more than eighteen inches or so in
length. Some are fat and short-tailed, some slender and swift, with
tails like whiplashes. Some have gay colors and the power of changing
them more or less, while others are dull of hue and uninteresting or
repulsive to look at. Mostly they are insect-eaters, but some subsist
upon plants; and one of the latter is the big fat one known in southern
California as the "alderman."

Another strange one is the broad, flat creature so frequently seen all
over the Southwest, and called horned toad, on account of its shape and
habit of sitting on its squat legs, with its tail tucked sideways out of
sight. It is covered almost all over with long and sharp spikes. Those
on its head, which are directed backward, are the longest; and from
these it gets its name of horned toad. But those on the back are very
nearly as long, while there are several rows upon the tail as well. Yet
it is perfectly harmless, for even when it is caught for the first time
it never seems to use either its spikes or its teeth.

But it has another peculiarity which it sometimes uses as a means of
defence, and that is a very strange one indeed. It actually squirts out
little jets of blood from its eyes! That seems impossible, doesn't it?
Yet there is no doubt at all about it, for when these lizards have been
kept in captivity, and have been rather roughly handled, they have been
known to squirt several drops of blood at a time to a distance of twelve
or fifteen inches! Yet nobody seems to know how they do it.


THE GILA MONSTER

This same region, however, contains a poisonous lizard--the only kind of
lizard in the world known to have sacs of venom in the mouth. This venom
enters any wound made by the animal's biting with certain teeth, and
acts upon the animal bitten like snake-poison. This is a
sluggish, round-headed, short-tailed creature which dwells in the sandy
plains along the Mexican boundary, and is called the Gila monster, or,
scientifically, the _Heloderma_. Its scales are rounded, so that
this lizard looks as if dressed in pebbled goatskin; and its colors are
black and yellow, in irregular blotches. The hunters and sheep-herders
are more afraid of it than need be, for it is sleepy and will never use
its poisonous teeth without great provocation, so that it is only
necessary to leave it alone in order to escape any harm.


THE FRILLED LIZARD

This lizard is a native of Australia, and has round its neck a kind of
frill, or ruff, from six to eight inches in diameter! As a rule this
frill is folded round the throat, so that from a little distance one
would scarcely notice it. But as soon as the reptile is excited or
alarmed it spreads it out, sits on its hinder legs and its tail, raises
its head and body, and shows its teeth, just as if it were going to fly
at its enemy. This is only pretence, however, for though the lizard
grows to a length of nearly three feet, it is quite harmless.

Another very curious habit which this lizard has is that of walking
upright on its hind legs, in the attitude of a dog when "begging." It
will even run in this position, and most odd it then looks. It is a
capital climber, and spends most of its life in the trees, to which it
always tries to escape when it thinks itself in danger. In color the
frilled lizard is yellowish brown mottled with black.


THE CHAMELEON

Strangest of all strange lizards, however, is the chameleon. In the
first place, this lizard has a very long tongue, which it can dart out
to a really wonderful distance from its mouth. This tongue looks very
much like a worm, and is exceedingly sticky, so that all that a
chameleon has to do when it sees a fly settling near it is to dart out
its tongue and touch it with the tip. Then the fly adheres to
it, and is carried back into the mouth so quickly that it is almost
impossible to see what becomes of it. In this way it can catch a fly at
a distance of fully six inches.

Then the chameleon has most extraordinary eyes. They are about as big as
peas; but instead of having lids which move up and down, as ours do,
they are entirely covered by the lids with the exception of just a tiny
round space in the middle. The lizard sees, in fact, through a hole in
the middle of its eyelid. That is strange enough; but what is stranger
still is that the animal can move its eyes in different directions at
the same time. They are hardly ever still for a single moment. But
instead of moving together, like those of all other animals, one may be
looking upward toward the sky and the other downward toward the ground;
or the right eye may be peering forward in front of the nose while the
left one is glancing backward toward the tail! Indeed, it would be very
difficult to find an odder sight than that of a chameleon when it is
moving its eyes about. They really look just as if they belonged to two
different animals.

But the most wonderful fact of all about the chameleon is that it can
change its color whenever it chooses.

How it does so no one quite knows. But the very same animal which is
brown all over as it sits upon a branch will become green all over if
you put it among leaves. The last thing at night, probably, you will
find that it is gray. Next day, perhaps, brown spots will appear upon
its body, and pinkish stripes upon its sides. And occasionally it may be
violet, and sometimes yellow, and sometimes nearly black. So that if you
were to go and look at a chameleon, and then go and look at it again
half an hour afterward, you might very likely take it for a wholly
different animal!

Then the chameleon has very odd habits. If it is annoyed, for example,
it puffs out its body in the most extraordinary way till it is nearly
double its ordinary size and its skin is stretched almost as tight as
the parchment of a drum. When it is caught it hisses like a snake. And
really it must be the very laziest creature on earth. If it lifts a foot
into the air it will often wait for quite a minute before it puts it
down again, and for two or even three minutes more before it
takes a second step. Then it always has to rest for some little time
after uncoiling its tail from a branch, while when it coils it round
another it stops and rests again. It will hardly travel two yards, in
fact, in a day.

Chameleons are found in many parts of Africa and Asia, and also in
Southeastern Europe.



CHAPTER XXVIII

SNAKES


There are a great many different kinds of snakes; but before we read
about some of them, we must tell you some thing about the wonderful way
in which their bodies are made.

In the first place, then, remember that snakes have a very large number
of those sections or pieces forming the spine which we call vertebræ. We
ourselves have only thirty-three of these little parts when we begin
life, and twenty-six afterward; this difference in number being caused
by the fact that five of the joints very soon unite into a bony mass at
the lower end, which we call sacrum, while four more unite into another,
which we call the coccyx. But some snakes have hundreds of these
vertebræ. The boas, for example, have no less than three hundred and
four!

In the next place, remember that all these vertebræ are fastened
together by what we call ball-and-socket joints. That is, there is a
round knob at the back of each vertebra which fits into a socket in
front of the vertebra behind it. This gives to the spine of a snake
great strength, for a vertebra cannot be forced out of its place without
breaking the vertebra behind it. And it also allows the spine to be
curled and twisted about in almost any direction; so that a snake can
easily coil up its body like a spring, or even tie it into a knot.

Then, remember that a snake has a great many ribs. We have twelve pairs
of these important bones, most of which are jointed to the breast-bone
in front. But a snake may have as many as two hundred and fifty-two
pairs of ribs, while it has no breast-bone at all; so that the tips of
all the ribs are free. And every rib is fastened to a vertebra of the
spine by a ball-and-socket joint, just like those which fasten the
vertebræ themselves together. Besides this, there are no less than five
separate sets of muscles connected with the ribs, so that the snake can
move those bones about quite easily.

It is really by means of its ribs that a snake is able to glide over the
ground. If you were to look at the under side of a snake's body, you
would see that the scales are quite different from those on the upper
part. On the back and sides the scales are quite small, and are almost
oval, or oblong; but on the abdomen they are very long and very narrow,
and are set crosswise like the laths of a Venetian blind.

[Illustration: CHARACTERISTIC FORMS AND MARKINGS OF AMERICAN BIRDS' EGGS

  SEA-FOWL:--13. Guillemot.    14. Tern.    21. Skimmer.
  WATER-FOWL:--9, 16. Ducks, WADERS.    7. Heron.    11. Gallinule.
  12. Snowy Plover.    23. Stilt Sandpiper.    24. Ring Plover.
  GAME-BIRDS:--6. Partridge.    19. Ptarmigan.
  BIRDS OF PREY:--3. Owl.    17. Buzzard-hawk.    20. Falcon
  CUCKOOS:--8. Cuckoo.    10. Roadrunner.
  SONG-BIRDS:--1. Mockingbird.    2. Towhee Finch.    4. Sparrow.
  5. Oriole.    15. Blackbird (grakle).    18. Flycatcher.
  22. Rosbin (Thrush).    25. Woodhouse's Jay.]

Now the tips of every pair of ribs in a snake's body are fastened to one
of these long abdominal scales in such a manner that when the snake
moves the ribs forward the edge of the scale is raised--very much as you
can raise the laths of the Venetian blind by pulling the cord at the
side; and the snake travels by moving forward its ribs in turn, and
catching hold of the ground with the edges of the scales, using first
the ribs of one side and then of the other.

When a snake is crawling, however, it does not curve its body into
upright loops as inaccurate pictures sometimes represent, but keeps it
pressed flat upon the ground, so that the scales may be able easily to
take hold of any little roughness upon the surface. And when it climbs a
tree it does not twine its body round and round the trunk, but crawls
straight up it, just as it crawls along the ground.

The mouth of a snake is very curiously made. We are not speaking now of
the fangs of the poisonous serpents; we will tell you about these by and
by. But remember that the mouth must be made in a very strange way, in
order to allow these creatures to swallow their victims, which are often
a good deal larger round than their own throats.

It sounds impossible, yet the snake can swallow an animal larger in
diameter than its own throat, because the bones of its jaws, instead of
being firmly fastened together as ours are, can be forced a long way
apart, so as to make room for the carcass to pass.

Besides this, it has no less than six separate jaw-bones, four in the
upper part of the mouth and two in the lower, every one of which is set
with sharp, hooked teeth; and the points of these teeth are directed
toward the throat. Now every one of these jaw-bones can be moved
backward and forward at will. So when a snake wishes to swallow
the body of a victim, it first of all seizes it in its mouth, and then
pushes one of the jaw-bones forward and takes a firm hold with the
teeth. Then it pushes another forward, and then a third, and then a
fourth; and so it goes on, each time taking a fresh hold with the hooked
teeth, till at last the carcass is forced into the mouth. Then the bones
separate, so as to make plenty of room for it to pass, and the alternate
action of the jaws goes on as before till the carcass is forced into the
throat. And then the flesh of the throat, which is very elastic,
stretches out too, till before very long the carcass disappears
altogether.

Then the eyes of snakes are made in a very curious way, for the eyelids,
which are quite transparent, do not open and shut as ours do, but cover
the eyes altogether. So a snake cannot blink; and it looks at you
_through_ its own eyelids, which are very much like little
spectacle-glasses fastened into the skin!

When a snake throws off its skin, which it always does once in a year,
and sometimes oftener, the eyelids are thrown off with it, and a pair of
new ones are found lying below all ready to take their place. Just while
this is happening (and it may take a day or two) the creature is trying
to look through a double layer of eye-coverings, and can see very poorly
until the outer one slips off. This is the explanation of the popular
saying that snakes are blind in August (the usual skin-changing time).


HARMLESS SNAKES

All serpents may properly enough be divided into two sections--the
non-poisonous ones, which are "harmless," so far as their bite is
concerned; and the poisonous ones, which inject a more or less deadly
venom into wounds made by certain long weapon-teeth called fangs.

Let us consider first, for a moment, the harmless ones. The great
majority of them--of the common snakes of the whole world--belong to a
single family called colubers; and this family far outnumbers all other
serpents. Most of its members are of small size; few exceed two yards in
length, one of the exceptions being our handsome king-snake of Texas and
westward, which is a variety of the northern milk-snake. All are
slender, agile, sometimes remarkably swift, with small heads, tapering
and unarmed tails, and little or no means of defence, although some of
them make such a show of fighting that they terrify many an enemy into
leaving them alone.

To this great family belong our various blacksnakes, or blue racers,
which occasionally are more than six feet long, and are among the worst
robbers of birds' nests, eating both eggs and young, and the mother bird
as well if it is small, and is not quick enough in seeking to escape.
This is the snake about which stories of so-called _fascination_
are told; we do not think there is much truth in them, but that the bird
is simply reckless in her efforts to drive away the robber, and flies
too near its darting jaws. The blacksnakes are exceedingly swift runners
and agile climbers. Another excellent climber is the slender greensnake,
which is so near the color of the leaves that it will not be noticed
easily as it hangs in loops upon the branches of a bush, waiting quietly
for some insect to come within reach. Most of our snakes, however, spend
their time mainly on the ground, searching about the grass, among the
tussocks of a swamp, or amid dense thickets, after frogs, toads,
tadpoles, ground-nesting birds, mice, and especially insects, which last
form the principal food of the smaller kinds. Among these probably the
most often seen are the striped garter-snakes which abound in meadows
and about haystacks and old barns, where they search holes and corners
for mice and beetles. The warm, soft soil of old barnyards is a favorite
place for the laying of their eggs by snakes, most of which bury them in
such places and leave them to be hatched by the warmth of the sunshine.
Nearly every pond, marsh, and slow stream abounds also in water-snakes,
which are ugly in disposition as well as in color, and feed mainly on
fishes, both dead and alive. Of this kind is the only snake to be found
in England except the viper.

Perhaps the most curious of the colubrine snakes is the egg-eating snake
of South Africa. It is quite a small snake, not more than two feet long,
and scarcely thicker in body than a man's little finger; yet it will
swallow pigeons' eggs quite easily, and, if it is very hungry indeed,
will dispose of a hen's egg! This, of course, is owing to the way in
which the bones of the mouth are made. But if you were to watch one of
these snakes as it was eating an egg, you would see a very strange thing
happen. The egg would pass down the throat, and for a few inches you
would be able to watch its outline as it moved along toward the stomach.
Then, quite suddenly, the swelling would disappear! The fact is this.
About thirty of the vertebræ have each a long, slender spine springing
from the lower surface, and the tips of these spines pass through the
upper part of the throat and project inside it, just like a row of
little teeth in the wrong place. Just as the egg, while it is being
swallowed, comes against these teeth, the snake contracts the muscles of
its throat. The result is that the teeth pierce the egg from end to end
and cut it in two. Then the contents flow onward down the throat, while
the two halves of the shell, nearly always packed one inside the other,
are shortly afterward spit out of the mouth.


PYTHONS

The pythons are very formidable snakes, not because they are
venomous--for they have no poison-fangs--but owing to their immense size
and strength. When fully grown they may measure as much as thirty feet
in length, while their bodies are as big round as a man's thigh; and
even when they are only half as long they are still most dangerous
creatures, for they could crush a man to death in two or three minutes.

When a python attacks, it seizes its victim with its jaws, flings its
coils one over another around it, and then squeezes so hard that in a
very few minutes the bones fly into splinters, and the body is reduced
to pulp. And a large python can swallow a half-grown sheep or a
good-sized dog without any difficulty at all.

After the snake has swallowed its victim it becomes very drowsy, and
often sleeps heavily for several days.

Another very curious fact with regard to the python is that it actually
hatches its eggs by the warmth of its own body. It first collects the
eggs into a little pile, and then coils itself round them, after which
it remains perfectly still for nearly two months. During the whole of
that time its bodily heat is much greater than usual, and at last the
egg-shells split, and out from each comes a baby python. A fortnight or
so later they change their skins, and then are quite large and strong
enough to kill and swallow small birds.

Pythons inhabit nearly all the hotter parts of Africa, Asia, and
Australia, and are sometimes known as rock-snakes, on account of their
living much in rocky places.


BOAS

The boas, one kind of which, the boa-constrictor, has long been famous
among monsters, are much like the pythons, but are found only in
tropical America and in Madagascar, and spend the greater part of their
lives in the trees. They are quite as large as the pythons, and quite as
formidable. It is said, indeed, that the anaconda, which is the largest
of all, sometimes reaches a length of forty feet; and there is a stuffed
skin, twenty-nine feet long, in the Natural History Museum at South
Kensington, London. One can easily imagine what a terrible enemy such a
snake as this would be, and how helpless even a strong man would find
himself when wrapped in its mighty coils!

The anaconda is very fond of lying in the water with only just its head
raised above the surface, and there waiting for some animal to swim
within reach. But most of the boas lie in wait for their prey on one of
the lower branches of a tree, in readiness to strike at any small
creature that may pass beneath.

Some years ago a most singular accident happened in the reptile house at
the London Zoo. Two boas, one eleven feet long and the other nine feet,
were living in the same cage, and always seemed on the very best of
terms. One night a couple of pigeons--one for each snake--were put into
the cage, and the house was shut up as usual. Next morning, however,
when the keeper opened it, the smaller snake had disappeared, and there
was no hole in the cage through which it could possibly have escaped. At
first the keeper was puzzled; but soon he noticed that the larger
serpent was not coiled up as usual, but was lying stretched out
straight upon the ground. Then he understood what had happened. The big
snake had swallowed the smaller one during the night, although it was
only two feet shorter than itself!

Most likely both snakes had seized the same pigeon at the same moment.
Before very long, of course, their jaws would have met in the middle.
Now when one of these big snakes has once seized its victim it cannot
let go, because of the way in which its jaws and teeth are made, but
must go on trying to swallow it. So, you see, when the jaws of the two
snakes met in the middle of the pigeon neither could give the bird up to
the other, because neither could withdraw its teeth, and the larger one,
in fact, could not help swallowing the smaller! And since that time two
or three other accidents of the same character have been prevented only
by the constant watchfulness of the keeper.


POISONOUS SNAKES

In all these reptiles the poison-fangs are two in number, and are
situated in the upper jaw. They are very sharp indeed, and are almost as
brittle as glass. So while they are not in use they are folded back out
of harm's way upon the roof of the mouth. But if by chance they should
be broken, there are three or four other pairs lying ready for use
behind them which will quickly grow forward to take their place.

Generally there is a tiny hole just under the tip of the fang, which
opens into a narrow passage running right through the center. But in
some snakes there is only a groove outside the fang. In either case,
however, the muscles which surround the poison-bag are arranged in such
a way that as soon as the snake strikes its victim a drop of poison is
squirted down each of the fangs, and so into the wound.


VIPERS

The only poisonous snake found in Europe is the viper, or adder. It is
not by any means a large snake, for it is seldom more than twelve or
fourteen inches long. It has a zigzag chain of black, lozenge-shaped
markings all the way along its back.

Vipers are generally found on heathy commons and moors, and are very
fond of lying on a patch of bare, sandy ground, and enjoying the warmth
of the sun. They never attempt to bite unless they are interfered with,
but always try to crawl away, if alarmed, into a place of safety. Their
poison is not strong enough to kill a man, unless he happens to be in a
very bad state of health at the time when he is bitten; but it would be
quite sufficient to cause the bitten limb to swell up to double its
size, and to lead to a great deal of suffering and sickness.


COBRAS

Far more deadly is the bite of the cobra, which is found plentifully in
India. Any one who is bitten by this formidable snake is almost sure to
die within two or three hours.

The upper part of a cobra's neck is widened out into what is called the
hood, which can be spread out or folded up at will by the action of the
ribs. On the upper part of this hood is a dark mark, which looks almost
exactly like a pair of spectacles. When a cobra is about to strike it
always raises its head and neck and spreads this hood before darting at
its foe.

In many parts of India cobras are caught and tamed by men who are called
snake-charmers, and who sometimes capture them by playing an odd tune
upon a sort of wooden pipe. This music seems to fascinate the snake,
which comes out of its hole, rears up its head and neck, and begins to
sway slowly from side to side. Then, still playing, the charmer moves
his right hand very slowly indeed until it is just behind the snake's
head, when he suddenly grasps the reptile round the neck. It is now, of
course, quite helpless, and is quickly transferred to his bag.

Many charmers carry cobras about with them, which they handle quite
freely. But in these cases the poison fangs have been carefully
extracted, so as to render the reptiles harmless.

Cobras are very fond of eggs, and if they can find a rat-hole which
opens into a hen-house they will often take advantage of it in order to
rob the nests. But sometimes, when they have swallowed several eggs, and
the hole happens to be a small one, they cannot crawl out again, and are
found and killed when the house is opened in the morning.


THE PUFF-ADDER

Quite as deadly is the puff-adder, of Africa, which has a way of lying
almost buried in the sand, so that it is not easily seen; and if it is
disturbed it does not crawl away, as most poisonous snakes will do, but
remains quite still, merely drawing back its head in order to strike.
When fully grown it is about six feet long, and its poison is so deadly
that even a horse has been known to die within two or three hours of
being bitten.

This snake is called the puff-adder because it draws in a very deep
breath when it is annoyed or irritated, and puffs out its whole body to
nearly double its proper size. It then allows the air to escape
gradually, with a kind of sighing noise, draws in another deep breath,
and so on over and over again.


PIT-VIPERS

Australia, also, has some snakes whose bite is very deadly; and in
general the tropics abound in these dangerous reptiles. This is as true
of America as elsewhere, but all the American venomous serpents are of a
kind peculiar to this continent, called pit-vipers. Some of them have
rattles at the end of the tail and some lack this appendage, but all are
much alike. Certain of the most dreaded, such as the fer-de-lance and
the bushmaster, belong to the West Indies and Northern South America;
but really the worst of the whole bad lot, because of its great size and
sullen ferocity, is the huge diamondback rattlesnake of the Southern
States. It is in some cases longer and heavier than any other known
venomous snake; and its bite, if the wound is well poisoned, means
almost immediate paralysis and death.


RATTLESNAKES

Several different species of rattlesnakes are scattered over the United
States, and in some places, as on the hot dry plains of the Southwest,
and in the arid mountains of Utah and California, are numerous enough to
be troublesome. The cutting away of forests, draining of swamps, and
cultivation of prairies, soon destroy these pests in thickly settled
regions; but where rocky hills occur they linger for a long time,
because the breaks and little caves among the ledges offer them secure
retreats, winter homes where they sleep in safety, and proper nurseries
for the young, which are not produced from eggs, as in the coluber
family, but are born alive.

The rattles from which these serpents take their name, are a number of
hollow, horny, button-like structures at the tip of the tail, which
rattle together, with a peculiar humming sound, when the creature shakes
its tail, as it is sure to do when disturbed or angry. It thus gives a
warning to the man who might not have noticed the sluggish creature in
his path in time to jump aside. Not all of the tribe have a rattle,
however; and one of the reasons why our water-moccasin and copperhead
are so much dreaded is that they possess no rattle, and therefore sound
no "keep-off" warning.

All our American venomous snakes are too heavy and slow to climb trees.
They get their prey--mice, gophers, snakes, etc.--by going to a place
where it is likely to be running about, and then patiently waiting until
something comes within striking distance.



CHAPTER XXIX

AMPHIBIANS


You will remember that the amphibians are distinguished from the true
reptiles by having to pass through a tadpole stage before they obtain
their perfect form. A good example is the frog, which in one kind or
another exists in all parts of the earth except the very coldest. No
doubt, you have often seen great masses of its jelly-like spawn floating
on the surface of ponds early in the spring; and you must have wondered
how such small creatures as frogs could possibly lay such enormous
batches of eggs.

But the fact is that when these eggs are first laid they are very tiny.
Each egg is only about as big as a small pin's head. Instead of having
shells, however, they are covered with a very elastic skin, while at the
same time they soak up water. So, as soon as they pass into the pond
they begin to swell, and very soon each egg is as big as a good-sized
pea.


TADPOLE AND FROG

In the middle of each egg is a round black spot, which increases in size
every day. This is the future tadpole, and after a time the egg-skin
splits, and out it tumbles into the water.

It is an odd-looking creature--just a big round head with a tiny pair of
gills and a little wavy tail, and nothing else at all. But it manages to
swim by wagging its tail, and it feeds on the tiny scraps of decaying
matter which are always floating about in the water of the pond. Before
long a little pair of legs begin to show themselves just at the base of
the tail. A few days later another pair begin to grow in front of them.
Then, by slow degrees, the tail passes back into the substance of the
body, and so do the gills, while lungs are developed and nostrils are
opened. And by the time that all these changes have taken place the
tadpole has ceased to be a tadpole and has turned into a frog.

It leaves the water now and lives upon land, feeding upon small insects,
which it catches in a most curious way. Its tongue is turned, as it
were, the wrong way round; for the root is just inside the lips, while
the tip is down the throat. Besides this, the tongue is very elastic and
very sticky. So the animal catches its victims just as the chameleon
does, flicking out its tongue at them and just touching them with the
tip, to which they adhere. And as the tongue is drawn back into the
mouth it pokes them down the throat; so that frogs do not even have to
take the trouble of swallowing their dinner.

If you look at a frog's hind feet, you will notice that the toes are
joined together by webbing. This allows them to be used in the water as
well as upon dry land. It is generally said that frogs swim. But if you
watch them in the water you will see at once that they do not really
swim at all, but leap along, just as they leap along the ground. And
each leap carries them through the water for some little distance.


TOADS

In some ways toads are like frogs; but you can tell them at once by
their rough, dry skins, which are covered with warts like glands. And
they crawl over the ground, instead of leaping as frogs do. They are
very common almost everywhere, and you may often find them hiding under
logs or large stones during the daytime.

Toads do not lay their eggs in great masses, as frogs do, but arrange
them in strings about four feet long and an eighth of an inch wide. Each
of these strings consists of two rows of eggs fastened side by side
together. The tadpoles are very much like those of the frog, the chief
difference being that they are rather smaller and blacker.


NEWTS

All through their lives newts keep their tails, instead of losing them
when they cease to be tadpoles.

You can find newts in plenty all through spring and summer by
fishing with a small net in any weedy pond; but you will find that they
are not all alike. Some have wavy crests running all along their backs;
others have none; and some are brightly colored while others are plain
olive green all over. Often in the woods in certain parts of the United
States you will meet with little newts traveling about on the damp old
leaves; and they are very conspicuous because of their brilliant
vermilion color. These are young green newts which come out of the
water, live ashore for a year or so in the red suit, and then go back to
the water and a green coat.

Newts lay their eggs in a very curious manner. They do not fasten them
together in great batches, like the frog, or in long, narrow strings,
like the toad. They lay them one by one. And the mother newt takes each
egg as she lays it, places it in the middle of the narrow leaf of some
water-plant, and then twists the leaf neatly round it with her little
fore feet, so as to wrap it up in a kind of parcel! The tadpole which
hatches out of this egg is very much like that of a toad or a frog; but
the front legs are the first to appear, instead of the hind legs, while
the tail, of course, does not pass back into the substance of the body.

Newts swim with their tails, and very pretty and graceful they look as
they move through the water. When they cease to be tadpoles, of course,
they breathe air, just as toads and frogs do, and have to come up to the
surface every two or three minutes to obtain it. And as long as they
live in the pond they feed upon grubs and worms and tiny water-insects.


SALAMANDERS

The curious creatures known as salamanders are related to the newts, and
begin their lives in just the same way. But after they have ceased to be
tadpoles they only visit the water for two or three weeks in the spring.

The most celebrated member of this group is the spotted salamander,
which is found in Central and Southern Europe, and also in Algeria and
Syria. When fully grown it is about eight inches long, and may be known
at once by the two rows of large yellow blotches which run down from
the back of its head, right along its body, to the very tip of its tail.

In days of old it was thought that the salamander had the power of
walking through fire without being burnt! And it was also supposed, if
it were attacked, to spring upon its enemy, bite out a piece of his
flesh, and then spit fire into the wound! As a matter of fact it is
almost harmless, and may be picked up and handled without the slightest
danger. But the glands on its skin, like those on the toad's head and
back, contain a rather poisonous fluid, which is squirted out if they
are squeezed. So that if a dog were to pick up a salamander he would be
quite sure to drop it again very quickly, and would most likely foam at
the mouth for some little time.

Salamanders are very slow and timid creatures, and generally spend the
whole of the day concealed in some crevice, or in the hollow trunk of a
tree, or perhaps under a large stone. They feed upon slugs and small
insects.

There are several kinds in North America, some of which, as the
hellbender, are a foot or more in length.

The giant salamander, which is sometimes nearly a yard long, is found in
the rivers of China and Japan, and spends the whole of its life in the
water. It feeds chiefly upon fishes.


THE AXOLOTL

This is one of the most singular of all the amphibians. It is found in
North America. Sometimes it develops into its perfect form, and
sometimes it remains a tadpole all its life, and yet lays eggs just as
though it were adult!

In the lakes of the southern Rocky Mountains the life of this creature
is just like that of any other batrachian. That is, it is hatched out of
the egg as a tadpole, grows first one pair of legs and then another,
loses its gills by degrees, and at last appears in a lizard-like form,
leaving the water and living upon dry land. But in the lake which
surrounds the city of Mexico it never becomes anything more than a big
tadpole, keeps its gills throughout its life, and does not leave the
water at all.


THE OLM

The olm, or proteus, is found only in the underground lakes of Carniola
and one or two other parts of Central Europe. It is about a foot long
when fully grown, and has a slender, snake-like body, with a pair of
tiny legs just behind the head, and another pair at the base of the
tail. It is perfectly blind, the eyes being hidden under the skin, and
yet cannot bear light. For if it is kept in captivity it will always
hide in the darkest corner that it can find. And it has been known to
live in confinement for five years without once taking any food.

What the habits of this extraordinary animal are in nature no one knows,
as it has never been found except in these underground lakes.

In color the olm is pinkish gray, with bright-red gills, and there are
from twenty-four to twenty-seven grooves upon either side of its body.



FISHES



CHAPTER XXX

FRESH-WATER FISHES


The lowest class of the vertebrate animals consists of the fishes. These
are easily distinguished. Some of the reptiles, it is true, are very
fish-like. But then they have three chambers in their hearts, while the
true fishes only have two. Then fishes never have limbs, the place of
which is taken by fins; and further, they breathe water by means of
gills. There are other differences as well; but these are quite
sufficient to show us that reptiles and fishes cannot possibly be
mistaken for one another.

Between the two, however, come several very curious creatures, which
seem to be partly reptiles and partly fishes; for they have four slender
members which hardly seem to be legs, though they cannot possibly be
described as fins, while they possess not only gills but lungs as well.


THE MUD-FISH

One of these is the odd mud-fish of the African rivers. In general
appearance this animal looks something like an eel, and it grows to a
length of about three feet. Its four long ray-like limbs seem to be
quite useless to it, and it swims by means of its tail, along the upper
part of which runs a narrow fin. It is a creature of prey, feeding upon
other fishes, and when food is plentiful, it just takes one bite out of
the lower part of their bodies and no more.

In summer the rivers in which it lives often dry up altogether, and the
mud at the bottom is baked as hard as a brick by the rays of the sun.
So, as soon as the water begins to get shallow, the animal
burrows deep down into the mud, curls itself up like a fried whiting,
and falls fast asleep for several months, just as hedgehogs and dormice
do during the winter in cold countries. Then, when the rainy season
comes and the rivers fill up again, it comes out from its retreat and
swims about as before. It is from this habit that it gets its name of
mud-fish.

Now we come to the true fishes; and perhaps our best plan will be to
read about some of the fresh-water fishes first, and afterward about
some of those which live in the sea.


STICKLEBACKS

Let us begin with a little fish which is very common in almost every
pond, but is nevertheless very curious and very interesting. When fully
grown, the stickleback is about three inches long, and you can tell it
at once by the sharp spines on its back, which it can raise and lower at
will. It uses these spines in fighting. For the male sticklebacks, at
any rate, are most quarrelsome little creatures, and for several weeks
during the early part of the summer they are constantly engaged in
battle.

At this season of the year they are really beautiful little fishes, for
the upper parts of their bodies are bright blue and the lower part rich
crimson, while their heads become pale drab, and their eyes bright
green! And apparently they are very jealous of one another, for two male
sticklebacks in their summer dress never seem able to meet without
fighting. Raising their spines, they dash at one another over and over
again with the utmost fury, each doing his best to swim underneath the
other and cut his body open. When one of them is beaten he evidently
feels quite ashamed of himself, for he goes and hides in some dark
corner where nobody can see him. And, strange to say, as soon as he
loses the battle his beautiful colors begin to fade, and in a very few
hours they disappear altogether.

About the beginning of June, all the male sticklebacks which have not
been beaten set to work to build nests. These nests are shaped like
little tubs with no tops or bottoms, and they are made of tiny scraps of
grass and cut reed and dead leaf, neatly woven together. As soon as they
are finished the female sticklebacks lay their eggs in them.
Then the males get inside, and watch over the eggs until they hatch.

[Illustration: NORTH AMERICAN FOOD AND GAME FISHES]


PERCHES

Another very handsome fresh-water fish is the perch, which is plentiful
in almost every river and lake in the warmer parts of the whole world.
In color it is rich greenish brown above and yellowish white below, with
from five to seven upright dark bands on either side of its body, while
the upper fins are brown and the lower ones and the tail bright red.

The front fin on the back of the perch, which can be raised or lowered
at will, is really a very formidable weapon, for it consists of a row of
very sharp spines projecting for some little distance beyond the
membrane which joins them together. Even the pike is afraid of these
spines, and it is said that although he will seize any other fresh-water
fish without a moment's hesitation, he will never venture to attack a
perch.

Early in the month of May the mother perch lays her eggs, which she
fastens in long bands to the leaves of water-plants. Their number is
very great, over 280,000 having been taken from quite a small perch of
only about half a pound in weight!

The climbing perch of India, notwithstanding its name, is not a true
perch, but belongs to quite a different family. It is famous for its
power of leaving the water and traveling for a considerable distance
over dry land. It does this in the hot season if the stream in which it
is living dries up; and if you were to live in certain parts of India
you might perhaps meet quite a number of these fishes shuffling across
the road by means of their lower fins, and making their way as fast as
possible toward the nearest river!

But how do they manage to remain out of the water for so long?

Well, the fact is that fishes can live for a long time out of the water
if their gills are kept moist. In some fishes, such as the herring, this
is not possible, because their gills are made in such a way that they
become dry almost immediately. But the climbing perch has a kind of
cistern in its head, just above the gill-chambers, which
contains quite a quantity of water. And while the fish is traveling over
land this water passes down, drop by drop, to the gills, and keeps them
constantly damp.

When this fish has been kept in an earthenware vessel, without any water
at all, it has been known to live for nearly a week!


THE CARP

Another fish which will live for quite a long time out of the water is
the carp, which has often been conveyed for long distances packed in wet
moss.

This fine fish is a native of the Old World, where it is found both in
rivers and lakes, but prefers still waters with a soft muddy bottom, in
which it can grovel with its snout in search of food. During the winter,
too, it often buries itself completely in the mud, and there hibernates,
remaining perfectly torpid until the return of warmer weather. It is not
at all an easy fish to catch, for it is so wary that it will refuse to
touch any bait in which it thinks that a hook may be concealed. And if
the stream in which it is living is dragged with a net, it just burrows
down into the mud at the bottom and allows the net to pass over it.

Owing to this crafty and cunning nature, the carp has often been called
the fresh-water fox.

The carp is a very handsome fish, being olive brown above, with a tinge
of gold, while the lower parts are yellowish white. It sometimes weighs
as much as twenty-five pounds, and has been known to lay more than
700,000 eggs! It is domesticated in many parts of North America and
other countries.


THE BARBEL

Found in many Old World rivers, the barbel may be known at once by the
four long fleshy organs which hang down from the nose and the corners of
the mouth. These organs are called barbules, and may possibly be of some
help to the fish when it is grubbing in the soft mud in search of the
small creatures upon which it feeds. It spends hours in doing this, and
a hungry barbel is sometimes so much occupied in its task that a swimmer
has dived down to the bottom of the river and caught it with his
hands. From this curious way of feeding, and its great greediness, the
barbel has sometimes been called the fresh-water pig.

In color this fish is greenish brown above, yellowish green on the sides
of the body, and white underneath. When fully grown it weighs from ten
to twelve pounds.


THE ROACH

This is one of the prettiest of the European fresh-water fishes, which
is found in many lakes and streams. The upper part of the head and back
are grayish green, with a kind of blue gloss, which gradually becomes
paler on the sides till it passes into the silvery white of the lower
surface. The fins and the tail are bright red.

The roach does not grow to a very great size, for it seldom weighs more
than two pounds. It lives in large shoals, and in clear water several
hundred may often be seen swimming about together.


THE PIKE

One of the largest and quite the fiercest of the British fresh-water
fishes is the pike, which is found both in lakes and rivers. In America
we have no pike proper, but in some of the great western lakes a very
large relative of similar habits known as the maskinonge; and our
pickerels are only small pikes. Wonderful tales are told of the ferocity
of the pike. He does not seem to know what fear is, and his muscular
power is so great, and the rows of teeth with which his jaws are
furnished are so sharp and strong, that he is really a most formidable
foe. All other fresh-water fishes are afraid of him, while he gobbles up
water-birds of all kinds, and water-mice, and frogs, and even worms and
insects. And no matter how much food he eats, he never seems to be
satisfied.

When the pike is hungry, he generally hides under an overhanging bank,
or among weeds, and there waits for his victims to pass by.

The young pike is generally known as the jack, and when only five inches
long has been known to catch and devour a gudgeon almost as big as
itself. With such a voracious appetite, it is not surprising that the
fish grows very fast, and for a long time it increases in weight at the
rate of about four pounds in every year. How long it continues to grow
nobody quite knows; but pike of thirty-five or forty pounds have often
been taken, and there have been records of examples even larger still.

In color the pike is olive brown, marked with green and yellow.


TROUT

Perhaps the greatest favorite of all anglers is the trout, which, in one
or more of its various species, is to be caught in almost every swift
stream and highland lake throughout the temperate zone, except where the
race has been destroyed by too persistent fishing. This happens
everywhere near civilization, unless protective laws regulate the times
and places where fishing may be done. Similar laws are required to save
many other kinds of fishes from quick destruction at the hands of the
thoughtless and selfish, and they should be honestly obeyed and
supported in spite of their occasionally interfering with amusement.

Trout are graceful in form and richly colored, most of them having
arrangements of bright spots and gaily tinted fins. The common trouts of
Europe and the eastern half of the United States and Canada are much
alike; but in the Rocky and other mountains of the western shore of our
continent others quite different are scattered from the Plains to the
Pacific. One of the most interesting and beautiful of these, the
rainbow-trout, has been brought into the East, and has made itself at
home in many lakes and rivers of the Northern States and Canada.

The trout is an extremely active fish, and when it is hooked it tries
its very hardest to break away, dashing to and fro, leaping, twisting,
and fighting, and often giving the angler a great deal of trouble before
he can bring it in. In small streams it seldom grows to any great size,
but in some of the Scottish lochs and lakes of Maine trout weighing
fifteen or even twenty pounds are often taken. It is sometimes
considered, however, that these belong to a different species.


THE SALMON

More famous even than the trout is the salmon, the largest and finest of
all our fresh-water fishes, which often reaches a weight of forty-five
or fifty pounds, and sometimes grows to still greater size.

It is hardly correct, however, to speak of it as a fresh-water fish, for
although salmon are nearly always caught in rivers, they spend a
considerable part of their lives in the sea.

Salmon are of two kinds--the Atlantic and the Pacific species; and the
life-history of each is a very curious one.

During the winter the parent fishes of the Atlantic salmon, which used
to be exceedingly numerous in all our northern rivers emptying into the
Atlantic, and still haunt the rivers of Northeastern Canada, and of
Scotland, make their way as far up a clear and gravelly river as they
possibly can, till they find a suitable place in which to lay their
eggs. The mother then scoops a hole at the bottom of the stream, in
which she deposits her eggs in batches, carefully covering up each batch
as she does so. At this time both parents are in very poor condition,
and the males are known to anglers as "kelts." For a time they remain in
the river, feeding ravenously. Then in March or April they travel down
the river and pass into the sea, where they stay for three or four
months, after which they ascend the river again, as before.

Meanwhile the eggs remain buried in the gravel for about four months. At
the end of that time the little fishes hatch out, and immediately hide
themselves for about a fortnight under a rock or a large stone. You
would never know what they were if you were to see them, for they look
much more like tadpoles than fishes; and each has a little bag of
nourishment underneath its body on which it lives. When this is
exhausted they leave their retreat and feed upon small insects, growing
very rapidly, until in about a month's time they are four inches long.
They are now called parr and have a row of dark stripes upon
their sides, and in this condition they remain for at least a year.
Their color then changes, the stripes disappearing, and the whole body
becoming covered with bright silvery scales.

The little fishes are now known as smolts, and, like their parents; they
make their way down the river and pass into the sea. There they remain
until the autumn, when they ascend the river again. By this time they
have grown considerably, weighing perhaps five or six pounds, and are
called grilse. And it is not until they have visited the sea again in
the following year that they are termed salmon.

When salmon are ascending a river and come to a waterfall, they climb it
by leaping into the air and so springing into the stream above the fall,
trying over and over again until they succeed. When the fall is too high
to be climbed in this way, the owners of the river often make a kind of
water staircase by the side of it, so that the fishes can leap up one
stair at a time. This is called a salmon-ladder.


NORTH PACIFIC SALMON

Now this description would not at all fit the case of the salmon which
live in the North Pacific and ascend the rivers of California, British
Columbia, and Alaska, and of Siberia and Japan on the other side of the
ocean. These are the salmon which supply the whole country, and many
other countries, with their pink flesh, boiled, and sealed in cans, so
that it may be sent long distances and kept many months without
spoiling. Every spring and summer, at different times according to the
locality and the species--there are five kinds of importance, caught for
the trade--vast numbers of them enter the mouths of the rivers and begin
to make their way up-stream in their effort to reach the shallow head
waters of each river, and of every one of its tributaries. It is at this
time that they are caught by spearing, netting, and various
contrivances; but laws prevent any general obstruction which would
altogether stop the advance of the host, so that while tens of thousands
are taken great numbers escape and pass on, as it is necessary they
should do in order to lay eggs and so keep up the race.

This takes place far up at the heads of the streams in the foothills of
the mountains; and having deposited the spawn, late in summer, the spent
fish begin to drift down stream again. But all this time they have been
eating nothing, they are worn with the long struggle against the rapids,
often wounded by sharp rocks, and are good for nothing to catch or eat.
In fact, so fagged out and weak are they that all of them die before any
reach the mouth of the river. It is a strange fact that of all the vast
host of salmon which each summer climb the rivers not a single one gets
back to the sea.

A year later, however, the young hatched from the eggs which were left
behind them at the heads of the streams swim down the rivers and enter
the ocean. There they remain, probably not very far from land, for two
or three years, feeding and growing until they are of full size and
strength; and each season a class of them, having reached the right age
and condition to spawn, force their way up to the spawning-grounds, to
leave their eggs and then die, as did their parents before them.


EELS

The only other fresh-water fishes which we can notice are the eels,
which look more like snakes than fishes, for they have long slender
bodies, with a pair of tiny fins just behind the head, a long one
running along the back and tail, like a crest, and another, equally
long, under the body. And they are clothed with a smooth, slimy skin
instead of with scales.

These curious creatures live in ponds and even in ditches as well as in
rivers, and are very plentiful in all parts of the northern hemisphere.
During the daytime, although they will sometimes bask at the surface in
the warm sunshine, they generally lie buried in the mud at the bottom of
the water, coming out soon after sunset to feed. And when the weather is
damp, so that their gills are kept moist as they wriggle through the
herbage, they will often leave the water and travel for some little
distance overland.

They frequently do this when they are traveling toward the sea.
For it is a strange fact that, although they are fresh-water fishes,
eels both begin and end their lives in the sea.

In the first place, the eggs are laid in the sea--generally quite close
to the mouth of a river. When the little elvers, as the young eels are
called, hatch out, they make their way up the river in immense shoals.
In the English river Severn, for instance, several tons of elvers are
often caught in a single day; and about thirty million elvers go to the
ton! After being pressed into cakes and fried, these little creatures
are used for food; but they are so rich that one cannot eat very many at
once.

When they have traveled far enough up the river, most of the elvers
which have escaped capture make their way to different streams and pools
and ditches, and there remain until their growth is completed. They then
begin to journey back to the sea, and when they reach it they lay eggs
in their turn. After this, apparently, they die.

In the rivers of South America a most wonderful eel is found which has
the power of killing its victims by means of an electric shock,
wherefore it is called the electric eel. The electricity is produced and
stored up in two large organs inside the body, but how it is discharged
nobody knows. If the fish is touched it merely gives a slight shudder.
But the shock is so severe that quite a large fish can be killed by it,
while a man's arm would be numbed for a moment right up to the shoulder.


LAMPREYS

The lamprey, which is found plentifully in many northern rivers, is very
much like an eel in appearance. But it has no side fins, and instead of
possessing jaws, it has a round mouth used for sucking, and resembling
that of a leech; and on either side of its neck it has a row of seven
round holes, through which water passes to the breathing-organs.

Lampreys seem to spend the greater part of their lives in the sea, but
always come up the rivers to spawn. They lay their eggs in a hollow in
the bed of the stream, which they make by dragging away stone after
stone till the hole is sufficiently deep. Very often a large
number of lampreys combine for this purpose, and make quite a big hole,
in which they all lay their eggs together.

The length of the lamprey is generally from fifteen to eighteen inches,
and its color is olive brown.



CHAPTER XXXI

SALT-WATER FISHES


We now come to the fishes of the sea; and at the head of these we may
place the sharks.

These savage and voracious creatures are found in all oceans, the larger
ones wandering very widely, while the smaller ones are restricted to
limited parts of the sea. Among the latter are the various small sharks
called dogfish, from eighteen inches to six feet long, found on both
sides of the North Atlantic. Though small, and harmless to man, the
dogfish really is a shark, and for its size is very formidable, being
able easily to fight and kill fishes quite as large as itself.

It is called the dogfish because it follows shoals of fish in the water,
just as a wild dog will follow the animals on which it preys upon dry
land.

When you are staying at the seaside you may sometimes find the dead body
of a dogfish lying on the beach, where it has been flung by a very high
wave. And you will notice how coarse and rough its skin is. This skin is
often used for covering the handles of swords, as it gives such an
excellent grip; and also for putting on the sides of match-boxes instead
of sandpaper.

But even if you do not find the dogfish itself lying on the beach, you
may often find its eggs, which are very curious little objects. They are
something like oblong horny purses, of a yellowish-brown color, with a
long twisted appendage at each corner, very much like the tendrils of a
vine. By means of these the egg is anchored down to the weeds at the
bottom of the sea, and they hold so firmly that they are hardly ever
torn away, except during a violent storm.

At each end of this singular egg is a narrow slit, through which water
can pass to the gills of the little fish which is lying inside it. And
one end of the egg is made in such a manner that when the fish is ready
to hatch it can easily push its way out.


THE BLUE SHARK

A much larger and more dangerous fish, which often visits northern seas,
is the blue shark, which sometimes grows to a length of fifteen or
sixteen feet. It does not often attack human beings, however, but is
very destructive in our fisheries, snatching away fishes which have been
hooked, and even swimming along the outside of the nets as they are
being drawn in, and biting great holes through them, in order to get at
the pilchards or herrings within. So the fishermen always kill a blue
shark if they have the chance of doing so, and sometimes destroy eight
or ten in a single day.

But it is not very easily caught, for if it is hooked it will often bite
the line asunder, and if it cannot do this will roll round and round in
the water coiling the line round its body, when it will snap with a
sudden jerk. Even when it is caught, the blue shark is not killed
without much difficulty, for it thrashes its great powerful tail about
in such a manner that it cannot be approached without danger. So the
first thing that the fishermen always try to do when it is captured is
to chop off its tail with an ax.

The color of this shark is slaty blue above and white beneath.


THE WHITE SHARK

Even larger and more dangerous still, the great white shark, or
Rondeleti's shark, is one of the most formidable creatures that roam the
seas. It often grows to a length of thirty-five or even forty feet, and
weighs ten or twelve tons, while one snap of its huge jaws will shear
off a man's legs or cut his body in two.

This enormous fish is found in all the warmer parts of the sea; and in
general sharks, and especially the large ones, belong to the tropical
rather than to the colder seas.


THE HAMMERHEAD

A huge and much-to-be-dreaded creature, of curious appearance, this fish
has its head formed just like that of a hammer, the eyes being
placed at each end of the projecting lobes. It grows to a length of
fifteen or sixteen feet, and is very fierce and savage, attacking human
beings without the least hesitation. It is nearly always found in the
tropical seas, but has been several times captured off the coasts of New
England.


THE THRESHER

Growing to a length of ten or twelve feet, the thresher is a remarkable
shark. It is common in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It
feeds chiefly upon herrings, darting into the midst of a shoal and
snapping them up in hundreds.

What it is specially famous for, however, is its habit of attacking
whales. For this purpose several threshers will unite together, leap up
into the air, and strike tremendous blows with their long tails upon the
whale's body as they fall back into the sea. This naturally terrifies
the whale, and he dives under water in order to escape from his
tormentors. Knowing that he must very soon rise again, however, they
wait for his reappearance, and then attack him again in the same way.
This happens again and again, until he is quite worn out by his
exertions, and by the impossibility of remaining long enough at the
surface to breathe properly. Then if any swordfishes happen to be in the
neighborhood, they come and attack him too, driving their long swords
deep into his body. Before long the whale is dead, and both threshers
and swordfishes are tearing great strips of flesh from the carcass and
greedily devouring them.


SAW-FISHES

Next to the sharks come the saw-fishes, which have the upper jaw drawn
out into the form of a long, narrow beak, set on either side with a row
of large, pointed teeth. So it really looks very much indeed like a saw.
The fish uses this curious weapon by dashing into the midst of a shoal
of smaller fishes and striking them right and left with its saw. In this
way it is sure to disable a good many, which it then swallows leisurely
one after the other.

Saw-fishes are found in all the warmer seas, and sometimes grow to a
length of fifteen or twenty feet.


RAYS

The rays have broad flattened bodies, and very long and slender tails.
In consequence of this structure they cannot swim by means of their
tails, as nearly all other fishes do, but travel slowly through the
water by waving their side fins, after the manner of soles and
flounders.

One of the best known of these fishes is the skate, which when fully
grown sometimes measures as much as six feet in length from the snout to
the tip of the tail, and five feet in width of body. As it cannot swim
fast enough to overtake other fishes, it preys chiefly upon crabs,
lobsters, and shell-bearing mollusks, which it finds on the bottom and
is able easily to crunch up, shells and all.

The eggs of this fish may be found in great numbers on the sea-shore.
They are very much like those of the dogfish, but are nearly black in
color, and instead of a long twisted tendril at each corner, they only
have a blunt projection about an inch long. They remind one, in fact, of
a hand-barrow, and consequently the fishermen often call them
"skate-barrows."

In color, the skate is grayish brown above and grayish white beneath.

Another very curious ray is the torpedo, which is an electric fish,
having a kind of electric battery inside its body, from which a very
powerful shock can be discharged at will. This battery, in appearance,
is something like a honeycomb, consisting of a number of six-sided
columns, which run from the skin of the back to that of the lower
surface of the body. Each of these columns is divided into a number of
cells, or chambers, by thin walls of membrane; and each cell contains a
liquid which seems to consist chiefly of salt and water.

The electricity produced and stored up in these organs seems to be
discharged along four great nerves, which run from the battery up to the
brain. The shock is sufficiently strong to kill a duck; and not only has
an electric bell been rung by it, but an electric spark has been
actually obtained. And when five persons held one another's hands, and
the person at each end laid his finger upon the torpedo, every one of
the five persons felt the shock.

Even more formidable, though in quite a different way, is the sting-ray.
At the base of its long whip-like tail this fish has a bony spine set
with sharp teeth, like a saw; and its favorite mode of attack is to coil
this tail round the body of its victim and then to drive the spine into
his flesh, working it backward and forward in such a manner as to cause
a very serious wound always followed by severe inflammation.

Some of the rays in the warmer seas grow to a very great size; indeed, a
ray measuring over eighteen feet in length has more than once been
captured. They are dangerous creatures to meddle with, for a fish of
this size is quite strong enough to overturn a boat, while if a man were
once seized by one of them, he would have very little chance of escape.

These huge creatures are generally known as devil-fish.


THE STURGEON

This fish belongs to quite a different group, which may be distinguished
by two points. In the first place, its skeleton is made not of bone, but
of gristle; and in the second place, five rows of shield-like bony
plates run along the back and sides of the body, forming a kind of
natural armor.

The sturgeon is often eight or nine feet long, and weighs three or four
hundred pounds. It spends most of its life in the sea, but ascends the
rivers in order to spawn, like the salmon. It is not so common as
formerly in American waters, although sturgeon are taken in nearly all
our larger rivers from time to time; but in some parts of Europe, and
especially in Russia, it is very plentiful.

Caviare is made from the sturgeon's roe. The membranes which separate
the eggs from one another are all removed, and the eggs are then salted
and pressed into small barrels, being afterward eaten as a kind of
preserve.

The best isinglass is made from the sturgeon's swimming-bladder,
which has so much gelatine in it that, if a small quantity is dissolved
in a hundred times as much boiling water, it will form a stiff jelly
when it is cold.

The sturgeon's flesh is very good to eat, for it is not only
well-flavored, but is so firm and solid that it is almost like beef.

In England the sturgeon is known as a "royal" fish, because, in days of
old, when one of these fish was caught in an English river, it was
always kept for the table of the king; and even now, if a sturgeon is
captured in that part of the Thames which is under the control of the
Lord Mayor of London, it belongs by right to the Crown.


THE BEAKED CHÆTODON

A great many fishes are very odd to look at, and this is one of the
oddest. Imagine a fish with an almost circular flattened body, with five
brown bands edged with white running round it, huge round eyes, enormous
triangular fins both above and below the body, a broad tail, which looks
as if it were tied in by a piece of ribbon at the base, and a mouth
drawn out into a long slender beak! And this fish has a habit which is
even odder still, for when it sees an insect sitting on a leaf which
overhangs the margin of the sea, it takes careful aim, squirts a drop of
water at it from out of its long beak, and nearly always succeeds in
knocking it into the water below!

This fish lives in the Indian and Polynesian seas, and is sometimes kept
as a pet by the Japanese, who amuse themselves by fastening a fly to the
end of a piece of stick and holding it over the bowl in which the fish
is living, in order to see it knocked off its perch by a pellet of
water.


THE COD

Throughout the northern seas the cod is found, and in some parts it is
taken in immense numbers. The largest and finest of all, which sometimes
weigh more than one hundred pounds, come from the banks, or shallows in
the sea, off the shores of Newfoundland, but very fine ones have been
taken elsewhere; and extensive cod-fisheries are maintained in
the North Pacific, near Alaska.

Cod are mostly captured by means of long lines, each about forty fathoms
in length, to which a number of smaller lines are fastened at intervals.
The hooks are placed on the side lines, and are generally baited with
whelks, and then the long lines, or trawls, as the fishermen call them,
are anchored in shallow parts of the sea where codfishes, halibut, and
the like abound. Each boat carries about eight miles of these lines,
with nearly five thousand hooks, so that the work of baiting, lowering,
and raising them is very heavy indeed. The fishing takes place in the
winter, and the boats are generally out in all weathers for several
months at a time.

One would think that with so many boats engaged in cod-fishing, each
with so many miles of line, nearly all the cod in the sea would soon be
caught. But to offset this, a single cod in a single year will often lay
eight or nine million eggs, so that notwithstanding the immense number
of these fishes which are taken, they still seem as plentiful as ever.


FLATFISH

The so-called flatfishes, such as the sole, the plaice, the flounder,
and the dab, form an interesting group. Although we call them "flat," we
ought really to call them "thin," because what we always consider as the
back of a sole is really one of its sides, and what seems to be the
lower surface is the other side.

The explanation is this: when these fishes are quite small, they swim
upright in the water, just as other fishes do, and drive themselves
along by means of their tails. But when they are about a month old a
strong desire comes over them to go and lie down on the mud at the
bottom of the sea, and then three remarkable things happen.

First their color changes. Up till now, both sides of their bodies have
been nearly white. But if a white fish were to lie down on dark-brown
mud, of course it would very easily be seen, and most likely would very
soon be devoured by one of its many enemies. So as soon as the
little fish lies down at the bottom of the water its upper surface
begins to grow darker, and before very long it exactly resembles the hue
of the surrounding mud. Or if the fish should lie upon sand, as the
plaice does, then its upper surface becomes colored like the sand. So as
long as it keeps still its enemies may pass quite close to it without
noticing it.

The next thing that happens is that the little fish changes its way of
swimming. Hitherto it has driven itself through the water by means of
its tail; now it uses what were formerly its upper and lower fins, but
have now been turned into side fins. And by a very graceful waving
movement of these fins it winds its way, as it were, through the water.

But the third change is the strangest of the three. One of the eyes
would now seem to be useless, since it is on the lower surface of the
head as the fish lies on the sea-bottom, and would be completely buried
in the mud. But as soon as the fish goes and lies down at the bottom of
the sea, this eye actually begins to travel along the lower surface of
the head, till at last it works its way round and settles down by the
side of the other!

If you look at the flounders the next time you pass by a fish-market,
you will observe that both eyes are placed quite close together above
the same corner of the mouth. That is because the lower eye traveled
round the head till it found a resting-place by the side of the other.

In habits, all these fishes are very much alike. They are found in
almost all seas, except those of the polar regions, and in most parts of
the world are exceedingly plentiful, and everywhere form a cheap and
excellent food.


THE SWORDFISH

A very odd-looking creature is this. It abounds in the Atlantic and also
in the Mediterranean. Its chase affords one of the finest summer sports
to be enjoyed along the south coast of New England, where it is taken by
spearing from swift sailboats.

In this fish the upper jaw, which has hardly any teeth in it, is drawn
out into a long, slender, pointed beak. With this "sword" the
fish impales its victims, which are often of considerable size; but how
it gets them off its beak again in order to eat them nobody seems to
know.

This fish sometimes drives its way through the water with such
tremendous force that it has been known to pierce the planking of a boat
with its sword, which it had to snap short off in order to release
itself.

In the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, London, there is part
of a beam taken from the hull of a ship, into which one of these fishes
had driven its sword to a depth of twenty-two inches.


MACKEREL

One of the best known of all the salt-water fishes is the mackerel. This
fish lives in enormous shoals, which are always traveling from place to
place, and visit the same parts of our coasts at about the same season
in every year. Sometimes they are caught in most extraordinary numbers,
so that they can be purchased at very small prices. In some cases,
indeed, the catch has been so heavy that it has been found quite
impossible to draw in the nets, which had to be allowed to sink to the
bottom with the fishes still in them.

These nets are generally made with rather large meshes, not quite wide
enough to allow the fishes to swim through. When the mackerel are caught
they try to force their way through the meshes, but find that they
cannot do so. They then attempt to back out. In doing this, however, the
thin twine of which the net is made is almost sure to become entangled
with their gill-covers, so that they are held prisoners until the net is
lifted from the water.

When fully grown the mackerel is about sixteen inches long, and weighs
perhaps two pounds.


SUCKING-FISHES

Of the sucking-fishes, or remoras, there are about a dozen different
kinds, distinguished by the odd sucker-like disk on the upper
part of the head, by means of which they can attach themselves firmly to
any object to which they wish to cling. They often fasten themselves in
this manner to the hulls of ships, and also to the bodies of sharks and
the shells of turtles, and so are carried for long distances without any
exertion of their own.

So firmly do these odd little fishes cling, that it is most difficult to
remove them without injuring them, and the sharks and turtles have no
means of forcing them to loose their hold.

It is a very odd fact that the coloring of the sucking-fishes is just
the opposite of that which we find in almost all other fishes. Instead
of the upper surface being dark it is light, and instead of the lower
surface being light it is dark. But when one of these fishes is clinging
to a shark it is the lower surface which is seen, not the upper one; for
_that_ is pressed against the body of the shark; and in order to
prevent its enemies from seeing and eating it, the lower parts of its
body are colored just like the skin of the shark.


WEEVERS

Strange little fishes are the weevers, two kinds of which are found on
the coast of Europe.

Both are highly poisonous, a prick from the spines of the upper fin or
the gill-cover being almost as serious as the sting of a scorpion. The
poison lies in a deep double groove on each spine, and as the fishes
have a habit of burying themselves in the sand at the bottom of shallow
water, with only just the sharp spines projecting, they are rather apt
to be trodden upon by bathers.

Accordingly, when a fisherman catches a weever-fish he always cuts off
its back fin and the spines of its gill-covers at once; while in France
and Spain he is compelled to do so by law.


THE ANGLER

The angler, or all-mouth, is the name of a hideous creature--about five
feet long when fully grown--with a huge mouth, a great broad body shaped
very much like that of a seal, two big round eyes which look almost
straight up into the water above, and a row of long, slender
spines on the back instead of the usual fins. The first of these spines
has a broad, tufted, glittering tip, used for a most singular purpose.

It is a creature of prey, feeding entirely upon other fishes; and it has
a most enormous appetite, which is hardly ever satisfied. But, at the
same time, it is so slow in its movements that if it were to try to
chase its victims it would never get anything to eat. It seems to know
perfectly well, however, that fishes are very inquisitive creatures, and
that they are always greatly attracted by any object that glitters. So
when it feels hungry it lies down at the bottom of the sea, stirs the
mud gently up with its side fins, so as to conceal itself from view, and
dangles the glittering spine up and down in front of its open mouth.
Before very long some passing fish is sure to come swimming up to see
what this strange object can possibly be; and then the angler just gives
one snap with its great jaws, and that fish is seen no more.

Just to show you how successful it is in its fishing, we may tell you
that from the body of a single angler no less than seventy-five herrings
have been taken, while another had swallowed twenty-five flounders and a
John-dory!

There is another kind of angler which lives down at the bottom of the
deep sea, where it is always perfectly dark. There, of course, a
glittering spine would be useless, for the other fishes would not be
able to see it. So this angler has a spine which shines at the tip like
a firefly, so that it can be seen from a considerable distance as the
fish dangles it up and down!


GURNARDS

These, too, are remarkable fishes, having square heads, which look ever
so much too big for their bodies, and the first three rays of their
pectoral or breast fins made like fingers. These breast-fins are used
like fingers, too, for they serve as organs of touch, while the fish
also walks with them along the sand at the bottom of the sea.

At least forty different kinds of gurnards have been discovered, but
nearly all dwell along foreign coasts. The handsomest of these, perhaps,
is the red gurnard, which grows to a length of twelve or
fourteen inches, and is bright red above and silvery white below.


FLYING FISHES

Though objects of never-ending interest to every one who journeys
through the warmer seas, flying fishes do not really fly. They merely
skim for long distances through the air, just as the flying squirrel and
the flying dragon do; but instead of having a broad parachute-like
membrane to buoy them up, they are supported in the air by the pectoral
or breast fins, which are very large. These fins do not beat the air,
like the wings of a bird. They merely support the body. And the power of
the so-called flight is due to a stroke of the tail just as the fish
leaves the water.

The reason why these fishes take their long leaps through the air
appears to be that they are much persecuted by other fishes, bigger and
stronger than themselves, and that they know quite well that they will
be overtaken if they remain in the water. They do not usually rise to a
height of more than a few feet above the surface, and the greatest
distance to which they can travel without falling back into the water
seems to be about two hundred yards. Whether they can alter the
direction of their course while they are in the air is uncertain. Some
observers say that they can, while others declare that they cannot. But
it is possible that they may sometimes do so by just touching the crest
of a wave with their tails.

Flying fishes are found in all the warmer parts of the sea, and are very
common in the Mediterranean and the West Indies.


THE HERRING

Like the mackerel, the herring is one of those fishes which live in vast
shoals and are of great value as a cheap and nutritious food. These
shoals consist of millions upon millions of fishes, and when they are
swimming near the surface of the sea their presence can generally be
detected by the numbers of sea-birds which follow them and devour them
in countless thousands. Whales, too, often follow the shoal for
days together, and sharks and many other big fishes do the same. Yet
nothing seems to lessen their numbers.

These shoals generally appear in the same parts of the sea, year after
year, at the same season. But sometimes the herring will desert their
favorite haunts without any apparent cause. During spring and early
summer they remain in deep water; but in June and July they come in
nearer the coast in order to spawn.


GOBIES

There are still several very curious and interesting fishes about which
we should like to tell you; and among these are the gobies. Many
different kinds of these odd little creatures are found in different
parts of the world other than North America; but perhaps the best known
of all is the black goby, which is very common off British coasts. You
can often catch it by fishing with a small net in the pools which are
left among the rocks as the tide goes out. And if you look into these
pools from above, you may often see it clinging to the rocks round the
margin. It does this by means of the fins on the lower part of its body,
which are made in such a manner that when they are placed side by side
together they form a kind of sucker. And if you keep the fish in an
aquarium, it has an odd way of suddenly darting at the side of the tank,
clinging to it with its fins, and staring at you through the glass.

Some of the gobies make nests in which to bring up their little ones,
just as the sticklebacks do. One of them, the spotted goby, which is
found rather commonly in the lower reaches of the Thames, nearly always
takes one of the shells of a cockle for this purpose. First it turns the
shell upside down; then it scoops out the sand from beneath it, and
smears the surface of the hollow with slime from its own body; and then
it piles loose sand over the shell, so as to keep it in position.
Lastly, it makes a little tunnel by which to enter the nest from
outside. This work is always performed by the male. When the nest is
quite finished the female comes and lays her eggs in it, after
which the male keeps guard over them until they hatch, about eight or
nine days later.


MUD-SKIPPERS

More curious still are these fishes, which are found on the coasts of
the tropical seas, and often make their way for some little distance up
the estuaries of rivers. They have singular eyes, which are set on the
upper surface of the head, and can be poked out to some little distance
and drawn back again in the oddest way. And besides that, these eyes
have eyelids. Then the lower fins are made just like those of the
gobies, but with an even greater power of clinging, so that the fish can
climb by means of them. Often these queer little creatures leave the sea
altogether and skip about on the muddy shore, or even climb up the
trunks of the trees which overhang the water. Sometimes they will rest
for quite a long time on the spreading roots, snapping at the flies and
other small insects which come within reach. They do not look like
fishes at all as they do so. They look much more like rather big
tadpoles. And if they are suddenly startled they go hopping and skipping
back into the water, not diving at once, but leaping along over the
surface, very much as a flat stone does when thrown sideways from the
hand.

Some of these fishes were kept for some time at the London Zoo, and when
they were out of the water they had an odd way of lying at full length
and raising their heads and the front part of their bodies by means of
their lower fins, so that they reminded one very much of a man with his
elbows resting upon the table.


PIPE-FISHES

The pipe-fish has its mouth drawn out into a very long snout, so that it
forms a kind of tube; the body is sixteen or eighteen inches long, yet
scarcely stouter than an ordinary drawing-pencil; and the only fin,
besides a small one on the back, is a tiny one at the very tip of the
tail. Besides this, the whole head and body are covered with bony
plates, which form a kind of coat of mail. And the fish is even
odder in habits than in appearance, for when the eggs are laid they are
put into a pouch in the lower part of the body of the male, and are kept
there until they hatch! It is even said that after the little ones are
hatched and are able to swim about in the water, they will return into
the pouch of the parent in moments of danger, just as young kangaroos
will into that of their mother. But this does not seem to have been
proved.

Pipe-fishes are not uncommon on our coasts, and you may often find them
in the pools among the rocks when the tide is out. They swim half erect
in the water, and if you watch them carefully you may see them poking
their long snout-like mouths in among the seaweeds in search of food,
standing on their heads among the eel-grass, in which position they are
hard to see, or blowing furrows in the sand at the bottom of the pool in
order to turn out any small creatures which may be lying hidden in it.


THE SEA-HORSE

Closely related to the pipe-fish is the sea-horse, which reminds one of
the knight in a set of chessmen. It has a long and slender tail, which
is prehensile, like that of a spider-monkey; and by means of this organ
the fish anchors itself firmly down to the stems of seaweeds, or to any
small object which may be floating on the surface of the water.

The eyes of this fish can be moved independently of each other, like
those of a chameleon; and if you keep one of these creatures in a bowl
of sea-water and watch it for a few minutes, you will find it hard to
believe that it is not purposely "making faces" at you!

The male sea-horse, like the male pipe-fish, has a pouch underneath his
body, in which the eggs are placed as soon as they are laid, and are
kept until they hatch.

The sea-horse swims by means of a single fin on its back, which acts on
the water very much like the screw of a steamboat. Just at the back of
its head are two more fins, and when these are thrown forward they look
like the ears of a horse, increasing the queer resemblance of
its long head to that of a pony.

Sea-horses are found in most of the warmer seas, and in summer float
north with the Gulf Stream, so that they are frequently seen near New
England.


CONGERS

Just as there are eels which live in the fresh water, so there are eels
which live in the sea. These are known as congers, and very often they
grow to a great size. A conger eight feet long is by no means uncommon;
and a fish of this length will weigh at least one hundred pounds.

Congers generally live in rather shallow water off a rocky coast, where
there are plenty of nooks and crevices in which they can hide during the
daytime. It is rather curious to find that those which live in muddy
places are nearly always dark brown or black in color, while those which
lie upon sand are light-colored, and sometimes almost white.

These eels are generally caught by means of long lines, which are set at
intervals with short "snoods" just like those which are used in catching
cod. The hooks are generally baited with pilchards, or else with pieces
of the long arms of cuttles. When the congers are lifted on board the
scene is usually an exciting one, for they are very powerful and active,
and go twisting and writhing about in the most extraordinary manner,
slapping vigorously on all sides with their long tails. These tails,
too, to some extent, are prehensile, and sometimes the fishes will seize
the gunwale of the boat, and then, with a sudden effort, pull themselves
over the side and drop back into the water. As soon as they are lifted
on board, the fishermen always try to stun them by a heavy blow on the
lower side of the body, after which, of course, they can be easily
killed.

Congers feed, as a rule, upon mollusks, which we wrongly call
shell-fish, devouring them shells and all. They will also eat small
fishes, however, and sometimes they are cannibals; for inside the body
of one of these fishes a young conger was found that was three feet in
length!


AMPHIOXUS, OR LANCELET

In this we see a creature so curiously formed that a good many
naturalists have doubted whether it ought to be ranked among the fishes
at all. For in appearance it is much more like a slug; and it has no
skull, and no brain, and no bones, and no eyes, and no gills, and no
heart! It has a fin running along its back, however, and although it has
no spine, it possesses a spinal cord. So it is considered as the very
lowest of all the fishes, and as a kind of link between the animals with
bones and those without them.

This strange little creature is about two inches and a half long when
fully grown, and is so transparent that one can almost see through its
body. It is very active, and can wriggle and twist about in the water,
or on the mud, with considerable speed. It spends most of its life
concealed under large stones, or lying almost buried in the muddy sand
at the bottom of the sea. And it seems to feed upon those minute atoms
of decaying animal and vegetable matter which are always floating about
in countless millions in the waters of the sea.



INVERTEBRATES



CHAPTER XXXII

INSECTS


We now come to the second of the two great divisions of the animal
kingdom, namely, the invertebrates, which includes all those creatures
which have no bones. This division in its turn consists of a good many
classes, just as that of the vertebrates does; and among these is that
of the insects, the peculiarity of which is that they must pass through
three stages of development before they reach their perfect form,
namely: first the egg; then the grub, or caterpillar; and then the
chrysalis, or pupa.

You can easily tell an insect when you see it by remembering one or two
simple rules.

In the first place, its body is always divided into three principal
parts, which are known as the head; the thorax, or chest; and the hind
body.

In the second place, it always has six legs. Spiders have eight legs.
Centipedes and millepedes have many legs. But an insect never has more
nor less than six. And each of these limbs is made up of a thigh, a
lower leg, and a foot; while the foot itself has from two to five little
joints, the last of which usually has a pair of tiny claws at the tip.

Besides these, there are several other ways in which insects differ from
the rest of the vertebrates. We need only tell you about one of them,
however, and that is that in some form or other they always have four
wings. Sometimes, it is true, you cannot see these wings. That is
because they are not developed and cannot be used for flying. But still
they are there, and by means of the microscope it is almost always easy
to detect them.

These wings, however, take all sorts of forms. The wings of a butterfly,
for example, are very different from those of a beetle or a bee; and
because of these differences in the wings, insects are divisible into
several smaller groups, which we call orders.


BEETLES

First comes the order of the beetles. These are called
_Coleoptera_, or sheath-winged insects, because their front wings,
instead of being formed for flight, are turned into horny or leathery
sheaths, or elytra, which cover up and protect the lower pair while not
in use.

At least 150,000 different kinds of beetles have already been discovered
in various parts of the world, of which America possesses tens of
thousands; and probably quite as many more remain to be distinguished.
Of these we can only mention a few of the most interesting.

The tiger-beetles are so called because they are such fierce and
voracious insects, spending most of their time in chasing and devouring
other insects. The commonest of them is about half an inch long, and is
bright green above and coppery below. You may often see it darting about
in the hot sunshine, and if you try to catch it you will generally find
that it flies away as quickly as a bluebottle.

Ground-beetles are common in gardens. One often seen is about an inch
long, and is deep black in color, with a narrow band of violet running
round the outer edge of its wing-cases. This, too, is a creature of
prey. It cannot hurt you; but if you pick it up it will make your
fingers smell very nasty. For it can pour out from its mouth a drop or
two of a dark-brown liquid which has a horrible odor.

Then there are a good many beetles which live in streams and ponds, and
are called water-beetles in consequence. They can swim and dive very
well, and are also able to fly. Almost every night they go for long
journeys through the air. And when they want to go back into the pond
they hover above it for a moment, fold their wings, and drop into the
water with a splash. Only sometimes they fly over the roof of a
greenhouse, and mistake that for a pond; and then you can imagine the
result!

The cocktails are beetles with short wing-cases and very long, slender
bodies, which they carry turned up at the rear end. Some of them are
quite large, like the ugly black "coach-horse," but many are very small.
Indeed, most of the "flies" which get into one's eyes on warm sunny days
in England are really tiny cocktail beetles, and the reason why they
make one's eyes smart so dreadfully is that they pour out a little drop
of an evil-smelling liquid from their mouths, just like the purple
ground-beetle.


SCAVENGERS

The burying-beetles are so called because they bury dead animals. Have
you ever wondered why we so seldom find a dead mouse or a dead bird,
although these creatures must die in thousands every day? One reason is
that as soon as they are dead a couple of "scavengers" are almost sure
to come and bury them. They are big black beetles, sometimes with two
broad yellow stripes across their wing-cases, and they dig by means of
their heads, scooping out the earth from under the carcass till it has
sunk well below the surface of the ground. Then they lay their eggs in
it, come up to the surface, shovel back the earth till the dead body is
quite covered over, and then fly away. And when the eggs hatch, the
little grubs which come out from them feed upon the carcass.

Among the largest beetles are those called stag-beetles because the jaws
of the male look very much like the horns of a stag. Those of the female
are much smaller, but are so sharp and strong that they can really give
a rather severe bite. These occur in various parts of the world, and are
fond of flying slowly about on a warm summer evening, generally about
twenty or thirty feet from the ground.

The cockchafer is common everywhere in spring, and if you shake a young
birch-tree, or a hazel-bush, three or four of the great clumsy insects
will very likely come tumbling down. They are rather more than an inch
long, very stoutly and heavily built, and are chestnut brown in
color, while their bodies are drawn out into a kind of point behind. The
grubs of these beetles live underground, and do a great deal of mischief
in fields and gardens, for they feed upon the roots of the plants, and
very soon kill them.

Dor-beetles, too, are very common everywhere. You may often see them
flying round and round in great circles on warm summer evenings, making
a loud humming noise as they do so. They often blunder in at open
windows, attracted by the lamplight, and children are afraid of them,
but they can do no harm. If you catch one you will find that it is
nearly black. You will also see that its front legs are broad and
strong, and that they are set with a row of stout horny teeth. With
these legs the beetle digs, using them with such address that in the
course of an hour or two it will sink a hole in the ground ten or twelve
inches deep, in order to lay its eggs at the bottom.

The famous Scarabæus of Egypt, which in days of old some of the people
of that country used to revere, because they thought it a symbol of
immortality, is really a kind of dor-beetle.


SKIPJACKS AND GLOWWORMS

Skipjacks, too, are beetles. You may know them by their long, narrow,
glossy bodies, and by the fact that the head is hidden under the thorax,
so that you can hardly see it from above. One very odd thing about them
is that they are constantly losing their footing and rolling over on
their backs; and their bodies are so shiny, and their legs are so short,
that when they do so they cannot get up again in the ordinary manner.
But after lying still for a moment they arch themselves into the form of
a bow, resting only upon their heads and the very tips of their tails,
and suddenly spring into the air, making an odd clicking noise as they
do so. And as they fall they turn half round, and so alight upon their
feet. For this reason they are often known as click-beetles.

These insects are the parents of the well-known wireworms, which often
do such mischief in our fields and gardens, living underground
for three or even four years, and feeding upon the roots of the crops,
and of such bushes as the currant.

Then the glowworm is a beetle. Perhaps you may have seen its little pale
green lamp shining in the grass on a summer evening. The light comes
from a liquid inside the hind part of the body, the skin of which is
transparent, and forms a kind of window, so that it can shine through;
and the insect has the power of turning on its light and shutting it off
at will. The lamp of the female beetle is very much brighter than that
of the male, and while the male has both wing-cases and wings, and can
fly very well indeed, those of the female are so small that one can
hardly see them. Indeed, she looks much more like a grub than a beetle.


DEATHWATCHES AND OIL-BEETLES

Deathwatches are small brown beetles which burrow into dead wood and
call to one another by tapping with their horny heads. You may often
hear them if you happen to be lying awake at night in a room in which
there is old woodwork; and in former days people were silly enough to
think that when this sound was heard it was a sign that somebody in the
house was going to die! That is why these beetles are called
deathwatches. They are quite small, and are brown in color, with rather
long feelers and legs.

Crawling on grassy banks in the warm sunshine on bright spring days, you
may often see a number of oil-beetles. These are large bluish-black
insects which have an odd habit, if you pick them up, of squeezing out
little drops of a yellow oily liquid from the joints of their legs! This
oil has a pungent smell, and no doubt prevents birds, etc., from eating
them. You will notice that the female beetles have enormous hind bodies,
which they can hardly drag along over the ground. This is because they
contain such a very large number of eggs, thirty thousand often being
laid by a single beetle. She places them in batches in holes in the
ground, and very soon afterward they hatch, and odd-looking little grubs
with six long legs come out of them. No sooner have they left the
egg-shells than these tiny creatures hunt about for a flower
with sweet juices, which is likely to be visited by a wild bee. When
they find one, they climb up the stem and hide among the petals. Then,
when the bee comes, they spring upon it and cling to its hairy body, and
so are carried back to its nest, where they feed upon the food which the
bee had stored up for its little ones.


WEEVILS AND OTHER BEETLES

A great many beetles have a long beak in front of the head, with the
jaws at the very tip. These are called weevils, and many of them are
very mischievous. Grain of various kinds, for example, is destroyed in
enormous quantities by the wheat-weevil and the rice-weevil, while the
nut-weevil is the cause of those "bad" nuts which no doubt most of you
know only too well. The mother beetle bores a hole through the shell of
the nut while it is small, and the little grub which hatches out from
the egg she leaves inside it feeds upon the kernel, leaving nothing
behind but a quantity of evil-tasting black dust.

One of the handsomest of European insects is the musk-beetle, which you
may often find sunning itself on the trunks and leaves of willow-trees
in England in July. Often you can smell it long before you find it, for
it gives out a strong odor much like that of musk. This beetle is
sometimes nearly an inch and a half long, with long legs and still
longer waving black feelers. In color it is rich golden green with a
tinge of copper. But if you put one of its wing-cases under the
microscope, it looks like a piece of green velvet studded all over with
diamonds, and rubies, and sapphires, and emeralds, and topazes, which
seem to turn into one another with every change of light.

The grub of this beetle lives inside the trunks of dying willow-trees,
and feeds upon the solid wood.

Then there are the turnip-fleas, little black beetles with a yellow
stripe on each wing-case, which skip about just as fleas do, by means of
their hind legs. They are only too common in turnip-fields, and often do
most serious mischief, nibbling off the seed-leaves of the young plants
as soon as they push their way above the surface of the ground,
and so destroying the greater part or even the whole of the crop.

And, lastly, there are the ladybirds, common everywhere. But perhaps you
did not know that they are among the most useful of insects. The fact is
that both as grubs and as perfect insects they live upon the green
blight, or greenfly, an aphis which is terribly mischievous in fields
and gardens, and destroy it in thousands of thousands. Indeed, if it
were not for ladybirds, and for one or two other insects which help them
in their task, we should find it quite impossible to grow certain crops
at all.

[Illustration: INSECTS INJURIOUS TO AMERICAN MAPLE TREES.

  BORING BEETLE (Plagionotus): 1, place where egg was laid; 2, borer
  or grub in September from egg laid same season; 3, nearly fully
  grown borer; 4, adult beetle (black and yellow); 5, hole through
  which beetle escaped from its chrysalis in the burrow; 6, dust of
  borings packed in a burrow.

  MAPLE-TREE PRUNER (Elaphidium): 7, 7a, grubs or borers in burrows;
  8, pupa; 9, beetle (brown).

  COTTONY SCALE (Pulvinaria): 10, active young (pink); 11, adult
  female scales, each concealing many eggs under the woolly mass; 12,
  leaf with young scale-insects on its under side.]


EUPLEXOPTERA

Next after the beetles comes the order of the _Euplexoptera_, which
means beautifully folded wings. This order contains the earwigs. We do
not know much about these insects in the United States; but they are so
constantly spoken of in books about England, where they are numerous,
that it will be well to describe them.

Perhaps you did not know that earwigs have wings; and certainly one does
not often see these beetles flying. But nevertheless they have very
large and powerful wings, only, during the daytime, while they are not
being used, these organs are folded away in the most beautiful manner
under the tiny wing-cases. By night, however, earwigs often fly; and
when they settle, they fold up their wings most cleverly by means of the
horny pincers at the tail-end of their bodies, and then pull the
wing-cases down over them!

That is the real use of the pincers, although the earwig is able to give
quite a smart pinch with them if it is interfered with.

Another very curious fact about the earwig is that the mother insect
heaps her eggs together into a little pile, and sits over them until
they are hatched. If you turn over large stones early in the spring you
may often find a mother earwig watching over her eggs in this odd
manner, and she will allow herself to be torn in pieces rather than
desert her charge.


ORTHOPTERA

Next comes this order, the name of which means straight-winged insects,
so-called from the way in which the wings are folded. This order
contains many very well-known insects.

There is the cockroach, for example, which is so common and so
mischievous in our houses. It is often called the black beetle, although
it is not a beetle at all, and is not black, but dark reddish brown. It
is remarkable  for several reasons. One is that while the male has large
wing-cases and broad, powerful wings, those of the female are very small
indeed, so that she cannot possibly fly. And another is that the eggs
are laid in a kind of horny purse, about a quarter of an inch long, with
a sort of clasp on one side. These little purses are hidden away in all
sorts of dark corners, and if you open one you will find two rows of
little eggs inside it, arranged rather like the peas in a pod.

The crickets, too, belong to this order.

Of course you have often heard the big black cricket chirping merrily
away in the fields; and in Europe they have a kind called the
house-cricket, which comes into the house, and is often spoken of as
"the cricket on the hearth" in the kitchen. It is not correct, however,
to speak of the "note" or "song" of this insect, for it is not produced
in the throat at all, but is caused by rubbing one of the wing-cases
upon the other. You will notice, on looking at a cricket, that in each
wing-case there is a kind of stout horny rib, which starts from a
thickened spot in the middle. Now in the right wing-case this rib is
notched, like a file, and when it is rubbed sharply upon the other the
loud chirping noise is produced.

The feelers of the cricket are very long and slender, and at the end of
the body of the male are two long hairy bristles, which seem almost like
a second pair of feelers, warning the insect of danger approaching from
behind. At the end of the body of the female is a long spear-like organ,
with a spoon-like tip. This is called the ovipositor, and by means of it
the eggs are laid in holes punched in the soil.

Crickets have large wings, and fly rather like the woodpeckers, rising
and falling in the air at every stroke.

Another kind of cricket lives in holes in the ground, which it digs by
means of its front legs. These limbs are formed almost exactly like the
fore feet of the mole, and for this reason the insect is known as the
mole-cricket. It is generally found in sandy fields, and scoops out a
chamber almost as big as a hen's egg at the end of its burrow, in which
to lay its eggs and where it lies, showing only its jaws and great front
legs until some small creature comes near upon which it may pounce for
food.


GRASSHOPPERS

Right here has come a mixing up of names between the English, as spoken
and written in Great Britain, and that used in the United States. When
an Englishman speaks of a grasshopper he means the related insect which
we call a cicada, or katydid, and this _we_ call a locust; but when
_he_ says "locust" he refers to what _we_ call "grasshopper."
We suspect he is nearer right than we are, who have unfortunately fallen
in with the mistake of some ignorant early settler. At any rate the
locusts of which we read in the Bible, and in books of travel in desert
regions, are all of the same race as our grasshoppers. None of the
cicada tribe could ever do so much damage.

Grasshoppers (to stick to our own name) abound in all warm countries,
especially in those which in summer, at least, are hot and dry, such as
Egypt, or Syria, or parts of India. They feed exclusively on leaves,
blades of grass, and the like, and are strong fliers; and in countries
that are favorable to them, where they are always very plentiful,
certain species sometimes become excessively abundant, and then spread
over the land, and swarm away to neighboring countries, in such immense
numbers that they devour every green leaf and every blade of grass, or
spear of grain, until they leave the ground as bare as if it had been
swept by fire.

Nor is this the worst, for wherever they go the females push
quantities of eggs down into the ground. The following summer these eggs
hatch, and the devastation of the previous year is repeated, for where
before dense clouds of flying grasshoppers descended from the sky, now
enormous armies of grubs march over the ground, climb all the plants and
bushes, and devour all that has newly sprung up.

Millions may be killed by fire or other means, but it has little effect,
and the farmers and grazers of a region so visited are all but
ruined--perhaps wholly so.

When, in the last century, men began to settle on the prairies of the
far West, they met this plague; and between 1870 and 1880 the gardens
and farms and young orchards of Kansas, Nebraska, and other western
districts, were ruined again and again. The government sent out several
of the wisest entomologists it could employ to study the insects, and
they found that these destructive red-legged grasshoppers had their home
in the dry foothills of the Rocky Mountains, especially toward the
north. They learned a great deal about the habits of the insects, and
reported that there seemed no remedy just at hand; but that the more the
West was settled and cultivated, the more grass and other food would be
provided for the grasshoppers, so that they would not have to make those
wide flights, and the more the plowing of the land and burning of
rubbish would destroy their eggs, so that gradually the pest would
become less and less, until finally it would cease to be troublesome.
This has turned out to be true, and already the fear of grasshoppers has
departed. The same thing is taking place in Egypt and some other
improving countries, which no longer suffer from the plague of locusts
as they used to do.

The wonderful walking-stick and the leaf-insects also belong to this
order. They are so marvelously like the objects after which they are
named that as long as they keep still it is almost impossible to see
them. They seem to know this perfectly well, and will remain for hours
together without moving, waiting for some unwary insect to come within
reach, for they are among the insects of prey. They are found in all the
warmer parts of the world.

Equally curious, too, is the praying-mantis, which also is very much
like a leaf. It has very long front legs, with a row of sharp teeth
running along their inner margin, and when it is hungry it holds these
limbs over its head, in very much the attitude of prayer. That is why it
is called the praying-mantis. Then when an insect comes within reach it
strikes at it, and seizes it between the upper and lower parts of these
limbs, so that the long spike-like teeth enter its body and hold it in a
grip from which there is no escape. These occur in various parts of the
world, including the warmer parts of America.


DRAGON-FLIES AND MAY-FLIES

The dragon-flies belong to another division of the _Orthoptera_.
You must know these insects very well by sight, with their long slender
bodies and their broad gauzy wings; for they are common in almost all
parts of the country, and you can hardly go for a ramble on a sunny day
in summer or autumn without seeing them in numbers. There are a good
many different kinds. Some have yellow bodies, some blue ones, and some
red ones, and the loveliest of all perhaps are the graceful demoiselles,
whose wings are rich metallic purple. You may sometimes see these
beautiful insects flitting to and fro over streams and ditches.

All the dragon-flies spend the earlier part of their lives in the water.
The grubs are very curious creatures and catch their prey in a curious
way. Underneath the head is an organ called the mask. This consists of
two horny joints, which fold upon one another while not in use. At the
end of the second joint is a pair of great sickle-shaped jaws, and when
the grub sees a victim it swims quietly underneath it, unfolds the mask,
reaches up, and seizes it with the jaws. Then it folds the mask again,
and by so doing drags the prisoner down against the true jaws, by means
of which it is leisurely devoured.

This grub swims, too, in a singular manner. At the end of its body you
will notice a short sharp spike. Now this spike really consists of five
points, which can be opened out into the form of a star; and in the
center of this star is a small round hole, which is really the entrance
to a tube running right through the middle of the body. And the
grub swims by filling this tube with water, and then squirting it out
again with all its force, so that the escaping jet pushes, as it were,
against the surrounding water, and drives the insect swiftly forward by
the recoil.

Dragon-flies are voracious, and always seem to be hungry. They feed
entirely upon other insects, and spend almost all their time in chasing
and devouring them.

The May-fly, or June-fly, also belongs to this order. One sometimes sees
it in thousands, dancing, as it were, up and down in the air toward
evening on warm spring days, in the neighborhood of water. You can
always tell this insect by the three long thread-like bristles at the
end of its body.

Most people think that this insect only lives for a single day. This,
however, is not strictly true, for in damp weather many May-flies live
for three or four days. Before they become perfect flies, however, they
have lived for nearly two years in the muddy banks of rivers and ponds,
in the form of long slender-bodied grubs. These grubs always make their
burrows with two entrances, in the form of the letter U turned sideways,
so that they can easily leave them without having to turn round.


TERMITES

The most wonderful of all the insects which belong to this order,
however, are the termites. Often these creatures are known as white
ants, and although they are not really ants, they are certainly very
much like them. In Africa they make marvelous nests of clay, which are
often twelve or fourteen feet high, and are so very large that a church,
a parsonage, and a schoolroom have been built of clay slabs cut from the
walls of a single termites' nest! These nests are made up of a wonderful
series of chambers and galleries, and in the middle is the royal cell,
in which the "king" and "queen" live. For in every termites' nest there
is one perfect male and one perfect female, which are treated with very
great respect, and have a kind of palace, as it were, all to themselves.
And the rest of the insects in the nest are either imperfect
males, which are called soldiers, or imperfect females, which are called
workers.

The "king" is quite a handsome and graceful insect, with broad and
powerful wings; and the "queen," at first, is very much like him. But
they never take more than one flight in the air, and as soon as that is
over they actually break off their own wings close to their bodies! Then
they burrow into the ground and begin to form a nest. Before long, the
workers build the palace for the royal couple; and as soon as they have
been shut up inside it the body of the queen swells to a most enormous
size, so that she can no longer walk at all. This is because of the vast
number of eggs, developing within her body, which she at once begins to
lay at the rate of many thousands in a single day. As fast as she lays
them they are carried off by the workers, which also take care of the
little grubs that hatch out from them, just as bees do.

The duty of the soldiers, as their name implies, is simply to fight, and
if a hole is broken in the side of the nest they hurry to the spot at
once, and begin to snap with their jaws at the foe. And these jaws are
so sharp and so powerful that they can really give a very smart bite.
The workers are a good deal smaller, and they have to build the nest and
keep it in repair, to find food for the grubs, and take care of them,
and wash them, and feed them, and do everything else that is necessary
for the welfare of the colony.

The grubs of these insects are fed upon dead wood, which is generally
obtained from the trunks and branches of trees. But termites are
sometimes very troublesome in houses, for they will devour the woodwork
and the furniture and the books, leaving nothing but a thin shell of
wood or paper behind them.

There are a good many different kinds of these wonderful insects, and
they are found in warm countries in all parts of the world.

The North American termites do not build great clay hills or houses
above ground, but some species make extensive galleries beneath the
surface, while others hollow out a dead stump, or the dying branch of a
tree, or even an old fence-post or telegraph pole, until it becomes a
mere sponge, with a thin outside shell.


NEUROPTERA

The _Neuroptera_, or nerve-winged insects, form an order whose
wings are divided up by horny nerves, or nervures, into such numbers of
tiny cells, that they look as if they were made of the most delicate
lace.

The caddis-flies belong to this order--brownish insects with long
thread-like feelers and broad wings, which are folded tentwise over the
body when they are not being used. They are very common near ponds and
streams, in which they pass the earlier part of their lives, living down
at the bottom in most curious cases, which cover them entirely up with
the exception of their heads.

These cases are made of all sorts of materials. Some caddis-grubs merely
fasten two dead leaves together, face to face, and live between them.
Others make a kind of tube out of grains of sand, or tiny stones, or
little bits of cut reed, all neatly stuck together with a kind of glue
which resists the action of water. But the oddest case of all is made of
tiny living water-snails, and you may sometimes see fifteen or twenty
little snails all trying to crawl in different directions, while the
grub is unconcernedly pulling them along in another!

The grubs never leave these cases, but drag them about with them
wherever they go. And when they find that their odd little homes are
becoming too small, they just cut off a little piece at the end and add
a little piece on in front, rather larger in diameter. And so they
always manage to keep their homes of exactly the proper size.

Most likely, too, you have heard of the ant-lion fly, which is a rather
large fly with a slender body and four long narrow wings, and is found
in many parts of the south of Europe, as well as in America. But the
interest lies in the grub, or "ant-lion" proper, which has a most
singular way of catching its insect victims. It digs a funnel-shaped pit
in the sand, about three inches in diameter and two inches deep, by
means of its front legs and its head. Then it almost buries itself at
the bottom, and lies in wait to snap up any ants or other small insects
which may be unfortunate enough to fall in. And if by any chance they
should escape its terrible jaws and try to clamber up the sides, it
jerks up a quantity of sand at them, and brings them rolling down again
to the bottom, so that they may be seized a second time.

A relation of the ant-lion is called the lacewing fly, and is a pretty
pale-green insect with most delicate gauzy wings, over which, if you
look at them in a good light, all the colors of the rainbow seem to be
playing; and its eyes glow so brightly with ruby light that one can
scarcely help wondering if a little red lamp is burning inside its head.
You may often see it sitting on a fence on a warm summer day, or
flitting slowly to and fro in the evening.

This fly lays its eggs in clusters on a twig, or the surface of a leaf,
each egg being fastened to the tip of a slender thread-like stalk. The
result is that they do not look like eggs at all; they look much more
like a little tuft of moss. When they hatch, a number of queer little
grubs come out, which at once begin to wander about in search of the
little greenfly insects upon which they feed. And when they have sucked
their victims dry, they always fasten the empty skins upon their own
backs, till at last they are covered over so completely that you cannot
see them at all!



CHAPTER XXXIII

INSECTS (Continued)


We now come to a very large and important order of insects indeed--that
of the _Hymenoptera_. This name means membrane-winged, and has been
given to them because their wings are made of a transparent membrane
stretched upon a light horny framework. It is not a very good name,
however, for many insects which do not belong to this order at all have
their wings made in just the same way. All the _Hymenoptera_,
however, have the upper and lower wings fastened together during flight
by a row of tiny hooks, which are set on the front margin of the lower
pair, and fit into a fold on the lower margin of the upper ones.


BEES

The bees belong to this order, and most wonderful insects they are--so
wonderful, indeed, that a big book might easily be written about them.
They are divided into two groups, namely, social bees and solitary bees.

The social bees are those which live together in nests; and our first
example, of course, must be the hive-bee.

In every beehive there are three kinds of bees. First, there are the
drones, which you can easily tell by their stoutly built bodies and
their very large eyes. They are the idlers of the hive, doing no work at
all, and sleeping for about twenty hours out of every twenty-four. For
six or eight weeks they live only to enjoy themselves. But at last the
other bees become tired of providing food for them. So they drive them
all down to the bottom of the hive and sting them to death one after
another. And that is the end of the drones.

Next comes the queen, the mistress of the hive. You can easily recognize
her, too, for her body is much longer and more slender than that
of the other bees, and her folded wings are always crossed at the tips.
The other bees treat her with the greatest respect, never, for example,
turning their backs toward her. And wherever she goes a number of them
bear her company, forming a circle round her, in readiness to feed her,
or lick her with their tongues, or do anything else for her that she may
happen to want. Her chief business is to lay eggs; and she often lays
two or three hundred in the course of a single day.

Lastly, there are the workers. There are many thousands of these, and
they have to do all the work of the hive, making wax and honey, building
the combs, and feeding and tending the young.

The comb is made of six-sided cells, and is double, two sets of cells
being placed back to back. Some of these cells are used for storing up
honey. But a great many of them are nurseries, so to speak, in which the
grubs are brought up. These grubs are quite helpless, and the nurse-bees
have to come and put food into their mouths several times a day.

Fastened to the outside of the combs, there are always several cells of
quite a different shape. They are almost like pears in form, with the
smaller ends downward. These are the royal nurseries in which the queen
grubs are brought up.

Bees feed their little ones with a curious kind of jelly, made partly of
honey and partly of the pollen of flowers. This is called bee-bread; and
it is rather strange to find that one kind of bee-bread is given to the
grubs of the drones and the workers, while quite a different kind is
given to those of the queens.

You will want, of course, to know something about the sting of the
bee--though perhaps you already know enough of the pain it can give!
This is a soft organ, enclosed in a horny sheath, with a number of
little barbs at the tip. When a bee stings us, it is often unable to
draw the sting out again, because of these barbs. So it is left behind
in the wound, and its loss injures the body of the insect so severely
that the bee very soon dies. The poison is stored up in a little bag at
the base of the sting, which is arranged in such a way that when the
sting is used a tiny drop of poison is forced through it, and so enters
the wound.

Then, no doubt, you would like to know how bees make honey; but
that neither we nor any one can tell you. All we know is, that the bee
sweeps out the sweet juices of flowers with its odd brush-like tongue
and swallows them; that they pass into a little bag just inside the hind
part of its body, which we call the honey-bag; and that by the time the
bee reaches the hive they have been turned into honey. But how or why
the change takes place no one knows at all.

Bumblebees, or humblebees, are also social bees; but their nests are not
quite as wonderful as those of the hive-bee, and their combs are not so
cleverly made.

One of these bees is called the carder, and you may sometimes find its
nest in a hollow in a bank. But it is not at all easy to see, for the
bee covers over the hollow with a kind of roof, which is made of moss
and lined with wax. And this looks so like the surrounding earth that
even the sharpest eye may often pass it by. When this roof is finished,
the bee makes a kind of tunnel, eight or ten inches long and about half
an inch in diameter, to serve as an entrance; and this is built of moss
and lined with wax in just the same way.

On a warm sunny day in spring you may often see one of these bees flying
up and down a grassy bank searching for a suitable burrow in which to
build. Then you may be quite sure that she is a queen. For among
bumblebees the drones and workers die early in the autumn, and only the
queens live through the winter.

Solitary bees are very common almost everywhere, and you may find their
nests in all sorts of odd places. One kind of solitary bee, for example,
builds in empty snail-shells, and another in small hollows like
keyholes. A third gnaws out a burrow in the decaying trunk of an old
tree, or in the timbers of a barn or house-porch and makes a number of
thimble-shaped cells out of little semicircular bits of rose-leaf, which
it cuts out with its scissor-like jaws. Haven't you noticed how often
the leaves of rose-bushes are chipped round the edges, quite large
pieces being frequently cut away? Well, that is the work of the
leaf-cutter bee, as this insect is called, and very often not a single
leaf on a bush is left untouched.

But the commonest of all the solitary bees burrows into the
ground. As you walk along the pathway through a meadow in spring, you
may often see a round hole in the ground, just about large enough to
admit an ordinary drawing-pencil. That is the entrance to the burrow of
a solitary bee; and if you could follow the tunnel down into the ground
you would find that it was about eight or ten inches deep, and that at
the bottom were four round cells. In each of these cells the bee lays an
egg. Then it fills the cells with flies, or spiders, and caterpillars,
or beetles, for the little grubs to feed upon when they hatch out. For
solitary bees do not nurse their little ones, as social bees do, and
feed them several times a day. But at the same time the grubs are quite
helpless, and cannot possibly go to look for food for themselves. So the
mother bee has to store up sufficient to last them until the time comes
for them to spin their cocoons and pass into the chrysalis state. These
are only a few examples of a large number of interesting ways in which
the solitary bees in various parts of the world provide for their young.


WASPS

Wasps make nests which are almost as wonderful as those of the hive-bee.
That of the common yellow-jacket wasp is generally placed in a hole in
the ground, or in a cavity under a stone, and is made of a substance
very much like coarse paper, which the wasps manufacture by chewing wood
into a kind of pulp. You may often see them sitting on a fence, or on
the trunk of a dead tree, busily engaged in scraping off shreds of wood
for this purpose. When the nest is finished it is often as big as a
football, and of very much the same shape; and inside it are several
stories, as it were, of cells placed one above another, and supported by
little pillars of the same paper-like material. These cells are
six-sided, like those of the hive-bee, but they are squared off at the
ends, instead of being produced into pointed caps, and they always have
their mouths downward. In a large nest there may be several thousands of
these cells, and very often three generations of grubs are brought up in
them, one after the other.

The hornet, which is really a kind of big wasp, makes its nest in just
the same way, but places it on a beam in an out-house, or in a hole
which the sparrows have made in the thatched roof of a house, or in a
hollow tree, or perhaps hangs it in the open air to the bough of a tree.


ANTS

Even more wonderful than bees and wasps are the ants, which sometimes do
such extraordinary things that we are almost afraid to tell you about
them, for fear that you might not believe us. There are ants, for
example, which actually take other ants prisoners and make them act as
slaves, forcing them to do all the work of the nest, which they are too
lazy to do themselves; and there are ants which keep large armies,
sometimes more than one hundred thousand strong; and there are many ants
which harvest grain and store it away in underground barns! Many ants,
too, keep little beetles in their nests as pets, and fondle and caress
them just as one might pat a dog, or stroke a favorite cat. They even
allow them to ride on their backs; while, if the nest is opened, the
first thing they think of is the safety of their pets which they pick up
at once and hide away in some place of safety, even before they carry
off their own eggs and young. They also pet tiny crickets and small
white wood-lice in just the same way.

Then ants have little "cows" of their own, which they "milk" regularly
every day. These are the greenfly or aphis insects which do so much harm
in our gardens and fields, plunging their beaks into the tender shoots
and fresh green leaves of the plants, and sucking up their sap
unceasingly. And as fast as they do so they pour the sap out again
through two little tubes in their backs, in the form of a thin, sticky,
very sweet liquid which we call honeydew. Now the ants are very fond of
this liquid, and if you watch the greenfly insects which are almost
always so plentiful on rose-bushes, you may see the ants come and tap
them with their feelers. Then the little creatures will pour out a small
quantity of honeydew from the tubes on their backs, which the ants will
lick up. That is the way in which ants milk their little cows,
and they are so fond of the honeydew that they will carry large numbers
of these aphides into their nests and keep them, like a herd of cattle,
all through the winter, so that they may never be without a supply of
their favorite beverage!

Ants, like bees and wasps, almost always consist of drones, queens, and
workers. Only the drones and queens have wings, and these are seldom
seen until the end of August. But then they make their appearance in
vast swarms, which are sometimes so dense that from a little distance
the insects really look like a column of smoke. They only take one short
flight, however, and when this is over they come down to the ground and
snap off their wings close to their bodies, just as termites do.

One of the most curious of all these insects is the parasol-ant, of
South America, which makes enormous dome-shaped nests of clay. But as
the clay will not bind properly by itself, the insects work little
pieces of green leaf up with it. These pieces of leaf are generally
obtained from an orange plantation, perhaps half a mile distant. And
when the ants are returning from their expedition, each holds its little
piece of leaf over its head as it marches along, just as if it were
carrying a tiny green parasol!

Another very famous ant is the African driver, which owes its name to
the way its vast armies drive every living creature before them.
Insects, reptiles, antelopes, monkeys, even man himself, must give way
before the advancing hosts of the drivers; for it is certain death to
stand in their path.


SAW-FLIES

The saw-flies also belong to the order of the _Hymenoptera_. These
flies are so called because the female insects have two little saws at
the end of the body, which work in turns, one being pushed forward as
the other is drawn back. With these they cut little grooves in the bark
of twigs, or in the midribs of leaves, in which they place their eggs by
means of the ovipositor between the saws.

Some of these insects are extremely mischievous. The grub of the
turnip saw-fly, for instance, often destroys whole fields of turnips,
while the currant saw-fly is equally destructive to currants and
gooseberries. One often sees bushes which it has entirely stripped of
their leaves.

You may always know a saw-fly grub by the fact that it has no less than
twenty-two legs--three pairs of true legs on the front part of the body,
and eight pairs of false legs, or prolegs, as they are often called, on
the hinder part.

There is one little family of saw-flies, however, which are quite unlike
all the rest, for instead of having saws at the ends of their bodies,
they have long boring instruments, very much like brad-awls. With these
they bore deep holes in the trunks of fir-trees, in order to place their
eggs at the bottom; and the grubs feed, when they hatch out, on the
solid wood.

These insects are known as horn-tailed saw-flies, and one, which is very
common in pine woods, is very large, sometimes measuring an inch and a
half from the head to the tip of the tail, and very nearly three inches
across the wings, while the boring tool is fully an inch long. It is a
very handsome insect, and looks rather like a hornet, the head and
thorax being deep glossy black and the hind body bright yellow, with a
broad black belt round the middle. The feelers are also yellow, and the
legs are partly yellow and partly black.


GALL-FLIES

Another group of the _Hymenoptera_ consists of the gall-flies.
These are all small insects, which lay their eggs in little holes which
they bore in roots, twigs, and the ribs and nervures of leaves. In each
hole, together with the egg, they place a tiny drop of an irritating
liquid, which causes a swelling to take place, on the substance of which
the little grub feeds. Sometimes these galls, as they are called, take
most curious forms. The pretty red and white oak-apples of course you
know; and no doubt, too, you have often found the hard, woody,
marble-shaped galls which are so common on the twigs of the same tree.
Then some galls look like bunches of currants, and some look like
scales, and some look like pieces of sponge. And if you cut one
of them open you will find perhaps one little grub, or perhaps several,
curled up inside them.

[Illustration: LEAF-EATING INSECTS OF SHADE-TREES.

  TUSSOCK MOTH: 1, caterpillar (black and yellow, head red); 2, male
  moth (mottled gray); 3, wingless female laying eggs on her recently
  vacated cocoon; 4, cocoons; 5, cast skins of young caterpillars; 6,
  work of youth caterpillars under the surface of a leaf; 7, male
  pupa; 8, branch girdled by caterpillar; 9, broken end of girdled
  twig.

  FOREST TENT-CATERPILLAR: 10, female moth (buff); 11, male moth
  (rust-red); 12, egg-belt; 13, fully grown caterpillar, or
  "maple-worm" (dull blue, red-streaked); 14, cocoon in leaf; 15,
  pupa; 16, cast skins.]


ICHNEUMON-FLIES

This is the last group of _Hymenoptera_ that we can mention. These
insects lay their eggs in the bodies of caterpillars or chrysalids, and
sometimes in those of spiders, boring holes to receive them by means of
their little sting-like ovipositors. Before long the eggs hatch, and the
little grubs at once begin to feed upon the flesh of their victims. For
some little time, strange to say, the unfortunate creature seems to
suffer no pain, or even discomfort, but goes on feeding and growing just
as before, although hundreds of hungry little grubs may be nibbling away
inside it. Sooner or later, however, it dies; and then the little grubs
spin cocoons and turn to chrysalids, out of which other little flies
appear in due course, just like the parents.

Millions of caterpillars are destroyed by these little flies every year.
Out of every hundred of those which do so much damage to our cabbages
and cauliflowers, for example, at least ninety are sure to be "stung."
Indeed, if it were not for ichneumon-flies we should find it quite
impossible to grow any crops at all, for they would all be eaten up by
caterpillars.


LEPIDOPTERA

Next we come to the butterflies and moths, which are called
_Lepidoptera_, or scale-winged insects, because their wings are
covered with thousands upon thousands of tiny scales. If you catch a
butterfly, a kind of mealy dust comes off upon your fingers, and if you
look at a little of this dust through a microscope, you find that it
consists simply of little scales, of all sorts of shapes. Some are like
battledores, and some like masons' trowels, and they are nearly always
most beautifully sculptured and chiseled. These scales lie upon the wing
in rows, which overlap one another like the slates on the roof of a
house. And sometimes there are several millions on the wings of a single
insect.


BUTTERFLIES

It is possible here, of course, to mention only a few of the most
striking forms of butterflies, out of the many hundreds of species
counted as North American. It may be said that these insects are much
alike in general features all round the northern half of the globe, the
same families being represented, so that, at first glance, European or
Asiatic examples of such butterflies as the great yellow, black-striped
swallowtail seem the same as American examples.

Among the handsomest of all northern butterflies is the purple emperor,
which you may sometimes see flying round the tops of the tallest trees
in large woods in the south of England. Far commoner, however, are the
large, small, and green-veined whites, whose caterpillars are so
destructive to cabbages; the scarlet admiral, with broad streaks of
vermilion across its glossy black wings; the peacock, with its four
eye-like blue spots on a russet ground; the tortoise-shells, mottled
with yellow and brown and black; and the pretty little blues, which one
may see in almost every meadow from the middle of May till the end of
September. Then there are the brimstone, with its pale yellow wings,
which with the blues dance along the roadways in little whirling
companies all summer; the meadow-brown and the large heath, to be seen
in thousands in every hayfield; the small heath and the small copper,
even more plentiful still; the fritillaries, some of which live in
woods, and some on downs, and some in marshy meadows; the pretty
orange-tip, with pure white wings tipped with yellow; and the odd little
skippers, which flit merrily about grassy banks in the warm sunshine in
May and again in August--besides several others, which are so scarce or
so local that hardly anybody ever sees them.


MOTHS

You can easily tell moths from butterflies by looking at their antennæ,
or feelers, which have no knobs at the tips, as those of
butterflies have. Their number also is very great, and we can mention
only a few of the most remarkable.

First among these is the splendid death's-head sphinx, or hawk, the
largest of all the insects, which sometimes measures five inches from
tip to tip of its wings when they are fully spread. It owes its name to
the curious patch of light-brown hairs on its thorax, which looks just
like a skull. The caterpillar is a huge yellowish creature, often nearly
six inches long, with a blue horn at the end of its body, and seven blue
stripes, edged with white, on either side. It lives in potato-fields,
hiding underground by day and coming out at night to feed upon the
leaves. And it is an odd fact that both the caterpillar and the perfect
insect have the power of squeaking rather loudly. The moth appears in
October.

The humming-bird hawk-moth flies by day, and you may often see it
hovering over flowers in the garden, with its long trunk poked down into
a blossom in order to suck up the sweet juices. As it does so it makes
quite a loud humming noise with its wings, like the little bird from
which it takes its name. And sometimes you may see a bee-hawk, which has
transparent wings, hovering in front of rhododendron blossoms in just
the same way.

The swifts fly between sunset and dark, and the largest of them is very
curious indeed. For although it has glossy white wings, so that one can
see it quite clearly in the dusk, it will suddenly disappear. The fact
is that although its wings are white above they are yellowish brown
below; so that when it suddenly settles, and folds them over its back,
it at once becomes invisible.

The goat-moths are large, heavily built insects, with brownish-gray
wings marked with a number of very short upright dark streaks. The
caterpillar is a great reddish-brown creature with a broad chocolate
band running down its back. It lives for three years in the trunks of
various trees, and then spins a silken cocoon in which to turn to a
chrysalis.

Tiger-moths have brown fore wings streaked with white, scarlet hind
wings with bluish-black spots, and bright scarlet body. The caterpillar,
which is very common in gardens, is generally called the woolly
bear, because of the long brown hairs which cover its body.

Very beautiful indeed are the burnets, which have dark-green front
wings, with either five or six large red spots, and crimson hind wings,
edged with black. You may often see them resting on flowers and
grass-stems by the roadside in the hot sunshine. And in some parts of
the country the cinnabar-moth is almost equally plentiful. You can
recognize it at once by the crimson hind wings, and by the streak and
the two spots of the same color on the front ones. The caterpillar,
which is bright orange in color, with black rings round its body, feeds
upon ragwort.


THE CURIOUS VAPORER

The vaporer-moth is very common toward the end of summer, and even in
London one may often see it dashing about in the hot sunshine with a
strange jerky flight. But one only sees the male, which is a bright
brownish-yellow insect measuring about an inch across the wings; for the
female is much more like a grub than a perfect insect, and has wings so
small that they are hardly visible. Of course she cannot fly; and her
body is so big and clumsy that she cannot even walk. So she spends her
life clinging to the outside of the cocoon in which she passed the
chrysalis state, and covers it all over with her little round white
eggs. And when she has laid the last of these she falls to the ground
and dies.

Very handsome indeed is the emperor-moth, which has a big eye-like spot
in the middle of each wing, something like those of the
peacock-butterfly. But its caterpillar is even more beautiful still, for
its body is of the loveliest grass-green color, sprinkled all over with
little pink tubercles, each of which is enclosed in a ring of black, and
has a tuft of glossy black hairs sprouting from it. This caterpillar
feeds on bramble and heather, and when it reaches its full size it spins
a light-brown cocoon among the leaves of its food-plant, and then turns
to a chrysalis, from which the perfect moth hatches out in the following
April.

Very often one finds caterpillars which look just like little bits of
stick, and which walk in a most curious fashion by hunching up
their backs into loops, and then stretching them out again, just as if
they were measuring the ground. These caterpillars are called loopers,
and they turn into moths with large broad wings and very slender bodies.

There are a great many kinds of these moths. One, called the
swallowtail, may often be found hiding among ivy in July. It has large
wings of a pale-yellow color, with little tails upon the hinder pair.
Then there are the sulphur, a smaller insect with wings of a brighter
yellow; the emeralds, of the most delicate green; the magpie, which has
wings of the purest white, marked with streaks of orange and numbers of
almost square black spots and blotches; and many others far too numerous
to mention. If you ever shake a bush in summer-time you may see quite a
dozen of them flying away to seek for some fresh hiding-place.

Then there is a large moth known as the puss, because it is colored
rather like a brindled gray cat. The caterpillar is bright green, with a
big hump in the middle of its body, and two long thread-like organs at
the end of its tail, with which it will sometimes pretend to be able to
sting you. But in reality it is perfectly harmless. You may often find
it feeding on the leaves of willow-trees in August, and when it is fully
fed it spins a hard, oval cocoon in a crack in the bark. And there are
three smaller moths belonging to the same family, which are known as
kittens!

Another very large group of moths is that of the _Noctuæ_, or
night-fliers. But we so seldom see these unless we go out specially to
look for them that we shall pass them by without further mention.


HOMOPTERA

The next order is that of the _Homoptera_, or same-winged insects,
which are so called because their upper and lower wings are just alike.

The froghoppers all belong to this order. Do you know them? They are
little brown or gray insects, sometimes marked or marbled with white,
which carry their wings folded tentwise over their backs, and hop about
with really wonderful activity. It has been calculated that if a
man of ordinary height could leap as well as a froghopper, in proportion
to his greater size, he would be able to cover nearly a quarter of a
mile at a single jump!

But if you do not know the froghoppers by sight you must at any rate
know something of their grubs; for these are the creatures which cause
the cuckoo-spit of which one sees so much during the early summer. Very
often the weeds and long grass in a meadow, or by the roadside, are
almost covered with the odd little masses of froth, so that one's feet
get quite wet as one walks through the herbage. And in the middle of
each mass is a fat little grub, which is sucking up the sap of the plant
upon which it is resting, and pouring it out again in frothy bubbles.

The mischievous little aphides, or greenfly insects, also belong to this
order. There are many different kinds, some of which do terrible damage
to hops and corn and all sorts of cultivated plants. We have already
mentioned these when describing the habits of ants, and you will
recollect that they have sharp little beaks, which they thrust into
young shoots and tender leaves in order to suck up the sap; and that as
fast as they do so they pour it out again through two little tubes upon
their backs in the form of the thin, sweet, and very sticky liquid which
we call honeydew. You will remember, too, how fond ants are of this
liquid, and how they "milk" the tiny insects just as if they were little
cows.

So, you see, the aphides injure plants in two ways. First, they draw off
all their sap, which is really their life-blood; and then they drop this
sticky honeydew on to the leaves below, and choke up the little holes by
means of which they breathe. And the worst of it is that these insects
multiply so rapidly. Where there is one to-day there will be five and
twenty to-morrow; and two days later there will be five and twenty times
five and twenty; and two days later still there will be five and twenty
times five and twenty times five and twenty! Indeed, if it were not for
ladybirds and lacewing flies and one or two other insects which feed
upon aphides, every green leaf would be destroyed by them in a few
months' time.

A very curious fact about these insects is that as long as they
can find plenty of food they do not grow any wings. But as soon as the
sap becomes scanty or thin, wings make their appearance, so that they
can fly away and seek for better food elsewhere.


HETEROPTERA

The order of the _Homoptera_, or same-winged insects, is followed
by that of the _Heteroptera_, or different-winged insects, in which
that part of the wings nearest to the body is hard and leathery, while
the rest is softer and thinner, and is generally almost transparent.
Some of these live upon land, while others spend most of their lives in
the water.

The curious bishop's-miters belong to the former group. There are a good
many kinds, and some of them are very common. You may see them sitting
upon flowers, or resting upon raspberries and blackberries in the
sunshine. But although they are sometimes very pretty, we do not advise
you to handle them, for they have the power of pouring out a liquid
which will make your fingers smell very nasty indeed. And you should be
most careful not to eat any fruit on which they have been resting, for
they leave a horrible flavor behind them, which is even worse than the
smell.

Among those which live in the water there are several most interesting
insects. There are the water-striders, for example, which you can see
running about on the surface of any pond, and which look like
narrow-bodied long-legged spiders. But you will notice that they only
have six legs, whereas true spiders always have eight. They skim about
on the water by means of the middle and hinder limbs, the front pair
being used in catching prey. And when they have caught a victim they
suck its juices through their sharp little beaks.

Then there is the water-boatman, which always swims on its back. The
reason why it does so is that when its body is in that position it is
shaped just like a boat, while its long hind legs serve as a pair of
oars. So the little insect really rows itself through the water. On a
bright sunny day you may often see it resting on the surface of a pond,
with its hind legs thrown forward in readiness for a stroke. And
if even your shadow falls upon it, or it feels the vibration of a heavy
footstep, it will dive down in a moment to some hiding-place among the
weeds.

If you ever catch a water-boatman, be careful how you handle it, or it
will give your finger a very painful prick with its sharp beak.

The water-scorpion, too, is very curious. It is a flat, oval insect, of
a dirty-brown color, which looks very much like a piece of dead leaf. It
seems to know this quite well, for when it is hungry it always hides
among dead leaves down at the bottom of the water, and keeps perfectly
still. Then the other insects do not notice it, and as soon as one of
them comes within reach it seizes it with its great jaw-like front legs,
and plunges its beak into its body.

This insect is called the water-scorpion because it has a long spike at
the end of its body, which looks something like a scorpion's sting. It
is really a breathing-tube, however, the top of which is poked just
above the surface of the water while the insect is lying at the bottom,
so as to enable it to breathe quite easily.


APHANIPTERA

The order of the _Aphaniptera_, or unseen-winged insects, is a very
small one, consisting only of the fleas. The name has been given to them
because their wings are so tiny that, even with the microscope, they can
hardly be seen at all.

There are a good many different kinds of fleas, all of which suck the
blood of animals through their sharp little beaks. Some of them are able
to leap to a really wonderful distance, by means of their powerful hind
legs. And they are so wonderfully strong that if a man were equally
powerful, in proportion to his greater size, he would easily be able to
drag a wagon which a pair of cart-horses could scarcely move!


DIPTERA

The last order of insects is that of the _Diptera_, or two-winged
flies, which seem to have two wings only instead of four. But if you
look at them closely, you will see a pair of little knob-like
organs just where the hind wings ought to be. And these little organs,
which we call balancers, are really the hind wings in a very much
altered form.

Although they are so tiny, and look so useless, these balancers are used
in some way during flight; for if they are damaged or lost the insect
can no longer balance itself or direct its course in the air.


THE MOSQUITO

The mosquito is a troublesome insect which most of us know only too
well; for there are very few of us who have not suffered from the wounds
caused by its beak. Its life-history is very interesting. The eggs,
which are shaped just like tiny skittles, are laid in the water, and the
mother gnat fastens them cleverly together in such a way that they form
a little boat, which floats on the surface. After a time a little door
opens at the bottom of each egg, and a tiny grub tumbles out into the
water. It is a very odd-looking little creature, with a very small head,
a very big thorax, and a very long tail; and it mostly floats in the
water with its head downward, and the tip of its tail resting just above
the surface.

These grubs feed on the little scraps of decaying matter which are
always floating in the water of the pond, and they wriggle their way
about in the strangest manner, by first doubling up their bodies and
then stretching them out, over and over again. After a time they throw
off their skins and change to chrysalids, and out of this, a few days
later, the perfect gnats make their appearance.

The mosquito is a gnat that has many relatives, some very troublesome,
like the black fly. Some gnats have very big bushy feelers, just like
big plumes. These are the males, and you need not be afraid of them, for
they have no beaks and cannot bite.


CRANE-FLY AND DRONE-FLY

Then there is the crane-fly, whose balancers you can see quite easily.
This insect lays it eggs in the ground, and the grubs which
hatch out from them are called leather-jackets, because their skins are
so very tough. They feed upon the roots of grass, and sometimes do a
great deal of mischief in pastures. Indeed, if it were not for such
birds as the crow and meadow-lark, which destroy them in enormous
numbers, we should find it almost impossible to grow any grass at all.

The drone-fly really does look rather like a bee; but it only has two
wings instead of four, while its body is much more stoutly built, and it
has no sting, so that you need not be in the least afraid of it. You may
often see it sitting on flowers on sunny days in autumn, and it is
especially fond of those of the ragwort.

The grub of this fly spends its whole life buried head downward in the
mud at the bottom of some shallow pool--thick, black mud, which is
largely made up of decaying leaves--and never comes out of it even to
breathe. But at the end of its body it has a long tube, the tip of which
rests just above the surface of the water, so that it can draw down as
much air as it requires. And this tube is made something like a
telescope, so that if a heavy fall of rain should raise the level of the
water, all that the grub has to do is to push out another joint, when it
can breathe just as easily as before. This grub is often known as the
rat-tailed maggot.


HAWK-FLIES, ETC.

As you walk through a wood in summer, you may often see a black and
yellow fly hovering in mid-air. If you move, it darts away so swiftly
that the eye cannot follow its flight. But if you stop, and remain
perfectly still, it will come back again in a moment or two, and hover
just as before.

This is a hawk-fly, and it is very useful, for the mother insect always
lays her eggs on twigs and leaves which are swarming with aphides. On
these insects the grubs feed, so that as soon as they hatch out they
find themselves surrounded with prey, and destroy the little insects in
great numbers.

The house-fly and the bluebottle fly also belong to the order of the
_Diptera_. They are not very pleasant insects, but while they are
grubs they are really most useful, for they feed upon all sorts
of decaying substances. And another insect, called the flesh-fly, is
even more useful still, for it is the parent of from sixteen to twenty
thousand grubs: so that if even a single fly finds the carcass of a
small animal and leaves her eggs upon it, the little ones that soon
hatch out will devour it in a very short time. In a few days all these
grubs turn into perfect flies, and in their turn become the parents of
thousands of grubs: so that it has been said that three of these flies
could devour a dead ox as fast as a lion could!

The last insect that we can mention is a brown and gray fly known as the
warble. It is very troublesome indeed to cattle, for the mother fly lays
her eggs upon their backs. Then as soon as the grubs hatch, they burrow
underneath the skin of the poor animals, and form large swellings there,
in which they spend the whole of their lives. When they are fully fed
they wriggle out through a hole in the hide, drop to the ground, burrow
into it, and turn to chrysalids, from which the perfect flies appear a
few months later.



CHAPTER XXXIV

SPIDERS AND SCORPIONS


Most people think that spiders are insects. But this is a very great
mistake, for they are just about as unlike insects as they can possibly
be.

Insects, for example, always have distinct heads. But spiders never do,
for their heads are so sunk and lost in their chests that you cannot
possibly tell where the one leaves off and the other begins. So that
spiders have their bodies divided into two parts only instead of into
three, as is always the case in the insects.

Then insects always have six legs; spiders always have eight. Insects
have wings; spiders have none. Insects have feelers; spiders have none.
Insects nearly always have a great many eyes, which are six-sided;
spiders never have more than eight eyes, which are round. And while
insects may have biting jaws, or sucking jaws, or a trunk, or a beak,
spiders always have poison-fangs, which no insect ever possesses.

So you see that as far as the outside of their bodies is concerned,
spiders are very different indeed from insects. And the differences
inside the body are just as great. Insects have no hearts, the only
blood-vessel in their bodies being one long tube which runs along the
back; but spiders have quite a big heart, and a good many arteries as
well. Insects have no lungs, but breathe by means of slender tubes which
run to every part of the body; but spiders have quite big lungs, in
which the blood is purified just as it is in our own. Insects have no
brains, but only bunches of nerves in different parts of their bodies;
but spiders have quite big brains. And besides this, while all insects
which spin silk produce it through their mouths, spiders always do so by
means of organs at the very end of the body. So that inside, as well as
outside, there is hardly any respect in which spiders and insects really
resemble one another.

The silk-organs of a spider are very wonderful indeed. Remember, in the
first place, that the silk, as long as it remains in the body of the
spider, is a liquid--a kind of thick gum, which is produced and stored
up in six long narrow bags, or glands. Then if you look at the end of a
spider's body through a good strong magnifying-glass--or, better still,
through a microscope--you will see several little projections, which we
call spinnerets. Now each of these spinnerets is covered with hundreds
of tinier projections still, every one of which has an extremely small
hole in the middle. And all these holes communicate, by means of very
slender tubes, with one of the silk-glands.

So what a spider does when it wants to spin its line is to squeeze a
little drop of silk into one of the spinnerets. It then just touches the
object to which the line is to be fastened, and draws its body away. And
as it does so a delicate thread comes out from every one of the
projections on the spinneret; and all these threads unite together into
one stout cord. That is why a spider's thread is so strong. It really
consists of several hundred separate threads all firmly fastened
together. And if the spider wants to spin a stronger line still, it can
unite all the threads coming from several spinnerets into one, so as to
make a very stout cord indeed.

Spiders use this silk for all sorts of different purposes. In the first
place, they use it for snaring insects.


THE GARDEN-SPIDER

Let us take for an example, the web of the common garden-spider. It is
to be seen in every garden, resting in the middle of its web; and you
may always recognize it by the white cross upon its back. But I don't
suppose that you have ever seen it spinning its net. For it always does
so very early in the morning, generally beginning before sunrise, so
that it may be quite ready for use as soon as the insects begin to fly.

First of all, the spider makes a kind of outer framework of very strong
silken cords, and fastens it firmly in position by stout guy-ropes of
the same material. Next, she carries a thread right across the
middle and fixes it down on either side. Then, starting from the center,
she carries thread after thread to the margin, carefully testing the
strength of each by giving it two or three smart pulls, and fastening it
firmly down. When she has finished this part of her task, the web looks
like a badly shaped wheel.

The next thing that the spider does is to spin a little silken platform
in the middle of her web to sit upon. And as soon as she has done this
she begins to spin the spiral thread. Beginning from the center, she
goes round and round and round, fastening the thread down every time
that it crosses one of the straight cords--the spokes, as it were, of
the wheel--until at last the web is finished. Then she goes to the
little platform in the middle, and there remains, upside down, waiting
for an insect to blunder into her net.

By and by, perhaps, a bluebottle fly does so. Then she shakes the web
violently for a few moments, so as to entangle it more thoroughly,
rushes down upon it, seizes it, and plunges her fangs into its body. But
if she catches a wasp or a bee she nearly always cuts it carefully out,
drops it to the ground, and then patches up the hole in her web. For she
knows perfectly well that wasps and bees can sting!

Would you like to know why it is that flies stick to the web as soon as
they touch it? The microscope shows us. All the way along, the spiral
thread is set with very tiny drops of liquid gum. So tiny are these
drops indeed, that there are between eighty and ninety thousand of them
in a large web! And would you like to know why it is that the spider
does not stick to the web as the flies do? Well, the fact is that only
the spiral thread is set with these little gummy drops, and that as the
spider runs about over her web she is most careful to place her feet
only on the straight threads, and never on the spiral line. Other
spiders, however, snare their prey in quite a different way.


THE MARMIGNATTO

This small spider, found on our western plains, is remarkable for
feeding on large insects, such as grasshoppers and field-crickets, which
it catches in an ingenious manner. It stretches a few silken threads
across a narrow path way, quite close to the ground, along which these
insects are likely to pass, and lies in wait just opposite until a
grasshopper or a cricket approaches. When it comes to the threads the
insect is sure to get at least one of its feet entangled. Then it stops,
and tries to shake itself free. The only result of its struggles, of
course, is that its other feet become entangled too; and while it is
struggling the marmignatto springs upon its back, fastens a silken
thread to it, springs down again, and fastens the other end to a
grass-stem close by. Over and over again it does this, and before very
long the unfortunate insect is firmly fastened down by hundreds of
threads, and is quite unable to break free, or even to move one of its
legs. Then the spider leaps upon its back once more, plunges its fangs
into its body, and proceeds to suck its blood.


HUNTING-SPIDERS

Perhaps you may have seen little hairy black spiders, with white
markings upon the upper part of their bodies, running about in an odd
jerky way on sunny fences and walls. These are called hunting-spiders,
because they hunt their prey instead of snaring it. You may see them
gradually creeping up to a fly, so slowly that they hardly seem to move,
and then suddenly leaping upon it when they are about two inches away.
Then spider and fly, locked in one another's embrace, go falling toward
the ground together. But they never reach it, for wherever a
hunting-spider goes it always trails a rope of silk behind it, and
fastens it down at intervals. So when it springs from the fence it is
brought up at once by its own thread, and swings in the air till its
victim is dead. Then it just climbs up its thread, and so gets back to
the fence.


BIRD-SPIDERS

These great spiders of the tropics hunt for prey in much the same way.
Only instead of catching flies on walls they prowl about the
branches of trees in search of small birds, springing upon them when
they are roosting at night, and killing them almost immediately by a
smart bite from their venomous fangs. These spiders, of course, are very
large. Indeed, the body of a full-grown bird-spider is as big as a man's
fist, while its great hairy legs cover nearly a square foot of ground
when they are fully spread out.


TRAP-DOOR SPIDERS

These famous spiders are found more or less commonly in all warm
countries. They all live in tunnels in the ground, which they dig by
means of their fangs; and as they do not want the situation of their
nest to be discovered, they carry the earth away to a little distance as
fast as they dig it up, and carefully hide it. Very often the hole which
they dig in this way is eighteen inches or two feet deep. And at the
bottom it always turns sideways for an inch or two, so that the general
shape of the burrow is very much like that of a stocking.

This hole is always dug in the side of a bank, so that when there is a
heavy fall of rain the water may run away without flooding it.

When the burrow is finished, the spider lines it throughout with two
sheets of silk. The outer sheet, which comes next to the earth, is
rather coarse in texture, and is quite waterproof, in order to keep the
tunnel dry. The inner one is very much finer and softer, so that the
little home may be as comfortable as possible.

As soon as the lining process is completed, the spider sets to work on
the trap-door. This she makes in the cleverest manner possible. First
she measures the doorway most carefully by the aid of her feelers. Then
she spins a thin silken pad of exactly the same size and shape. This is
sticky on the top, like the spiral thread of the web of the
garden-spider: and she sprinkles it all over with very small scraps of
earth. Upon this she fastens another silken pad, which she sprinkles
with earth in the same way. And then comes another and then another, and
so on till the door is sufficiently thick. Finally, she fastens it in
position by means of a hinge, which is also made of silk; and
she always places this hinge on the upper side of the doorway, so that
the door may fall down behind her by its own weight whenever she leaves
the burrow. She is rather a lazy creature, you see, and does not want to
have the trouble of shutting the door for herself! And if she left it
open, every passer-by would find out where she had made her home.

The door always fits most wonderfully into its place, and the spider
carefully covers the top with little bits of moss and small scraps of
earth and stone, so as to make it exactly like the surface of the ground
all round it. Indeed, unless one happens to see the spider push it open,
it is almost impossible to find it.

When one of these spiders is in her burrow, she always fastens about
half a dozen silken threads to the inner side of the door, carries them
down to the bottom, and sits with one of her feet resting upon each. No
one can then try to force her door open without her knowledge, and as
soon as she feels the least pull upon the threads she rushes up the
burrow, clings to the walls with her hind feet, seizes the door with her
front ones, and pulls it downward with all her might. And if the door is
forced open in spite of her efforts, she slips into a sort of side
tunnel which she always makes near the top of her burrow, and stays
there until the danger is past.


THE RAFT-SPIDER

There are several spiders which live on or in the water. One of these is
the raft-spider, which is found in the fen districts of England. If you
should happen to meet with it you can recognize it at once, for all
round the upper part of its body is a narrow band of yellow, and inside
this is a row of small white spots.

This spider is about an inch long, and owes its name to the fact that it
actually makes a little raft on which to go out searching for
water-insects. Collecting together a quantity of little bits of leaf and
cut grass and reeds, it fastens them firmly together with silken
threads, just as shipwrecked sailors might lash planks together with
ropes in order to escape from a sinking vessel. In this way it makes a
small floating platform, perhaps a couple of inches in diameter.
When the raft is finished, the spider gets upon it, pushes off from the
shore, and allows the current to carry it along. By and by, perhaps, it
catches sight of some water-insect floating at the surface, or of a
drowning fly which has fallen into the stream. Then it leaves its raft,
runs along over the surface of the water, seizes its victim, and carries
it back to the raft to be devoured. And if it should be alarmed, or
think itself in danger, it gets under the raft and clings to the lower
surface, so that it cannot be seen from above.


THE WATER-SPIDER

More curious still is the water-spider, which actually makes its nest
under water. This spider, which is almost black in color, and has a very
hairy body and legs, is common in ponds and canals, and spends almost
the whole of its life beneath the water. Its little silken nest is
shaped like a thimble, with the mouth downward, and is placed among
weeds, to which it is firmly fastened down by guy-ropes, also of silk.
And when it is finished the spider fills it with air. She does this in a
most curious manner. Rising to the surface, she turns upside down, pokes
her long hind legs out of the water, and crosses the tips. Then she
dives again, carrying down a big bubble of air between these hairy legs
and her equally hairy body as she does so. She next gets exactly
underneath the entrance to her nest and separates her legs. The result
is, of course, that the air-bubble floats up and occupies the upper
part. Another bubble is now brought down in the same way, and so the
spider goes on, fetching bubble after bubble, until at last her little
nest is completely filled with air. Then she gets inside it, and watches
for the grubs of water-insects to swim by.

In this wonderful nest the spider lays her eggs and brings up her
family. When the little ones have been hatched, of course, the air in
the nest very soon becomes too impure to breathe. Then the little
spiders cling tightly to the walls, while the mother gets outside and
tilts the whole nest sideways, so that all the exhausted air floats up
in one big bubble to the surface. Then she pulls the nest back into
position, hurries up to the top of the water and brings down a
bubble of air, and then another, and so on until the nest is filled with
air all over again.

If you ever catch one of these spiders, and keep it for awhile in a jar
of water with a little piece of water-weed, you may see it spinning its
wonderful nest, and filling it with air, perhaps half a dozen times a
day.


GOSSAMERS

Before we leave the spiders altogether, we must tell you something about
the wonderful little creatures called gossamers. These are really the
young of a good many different kinds of spiders. It often happens, of
course, that several families, with perhaps five or six hundred little
ones in each, are all living quite close to one another. The result is
that there is not sufficient food for them all. So they make up their
minds to go out into the world and seek their fortunes; and this is how
they do it.

Choosing a warm, sunny morning in the early part of the autumn, all the
little spiders climb the nearest bush, and each one makes its way to the
very tip of a leaf. Then, clinging firmly to its hold, it begins to pour
out a very slender thread of silk from one of its spinnerets. You know
that on warm, sunny days the air near the ground soon becomes heated and
rises, as hot air always does; and in rising it carries up these
delicate gossamer-threads, as they are called, with it. Still the little
spiders hold on, and pour out their lines, till at last each has several
feet of thread rising straight up into the air above it. Then suddenly
they all let go, and are carried up into the air at the ends of their
own threads. So they go on, up and up and up, till at last they meet a
gentle breeze, which carries them along with it. So, perhaps, they
travel for thirty, forty, or fifty miles, or even farther still. And
when at last they make up their minds to descend, all that they have to
do is to roll up the threads which have been supporting them, and down
they come floating gently back to earth. One good name for them is
ballooning spiders.

Haven't you sometimes found on a warm autumn morning that all the trees
and bushes, and even the grass and low plants, are quite covered
with threads of silk? The next time you see such a sight look carefully,
and you will find that on every thread a little baby spider is sitting.
Then you may be quite sure that all these little spiders set out early
in the morning to seek their fortunes, and that, borne up by their
slender threads, they have traveled for many long miles through the air.


SCORPIONS

These formidable creatures are closely related to the spiders. They are
found in all warm countries, with the exception of New Zealand, and may
easily be known by two facts. In the first place, in front of the legs
they have a pair of great, strong claws, which look very much like those
of a crab. And in the second place, the last five joints of the body are
narrowed into a long, slender tail, at the end of which is a claw-like
sting. When they attack an enemy, or seize a victim, they grasp it with
the claws, turn the tail over the back, and force the sting into its
body. And the poison which is introduced into the wound is so powerful
that the sting of a large scorpion is almost as severe as the bite of an
adder.

During the daytime scorpions hide away under stones and logs, or in
crevices in the ground, or perhaps under the loose bark of dead trees.
But very soon after sunset they come out from their retreats and prowl
about all night long in search of insects; and it is at such times that
they invade camps and houses, get into shoes, etc., and persons get
stung unless they are very careful.


CENTIPEDES AND MILLEPEDES

One can easily recognize centipedes by the great number of their feet.
The name centipede, indeed, means hundred-footed. None of these
creatures, however, have exactly a hundred limbs. Some only have fifteen
pairs of legs; some have as many as one hundred and twenty-one pairs.
But whether they be many or few, the number of pairs is always odd.

Another very curious fact about centipedes is that they have no
less than four pairs of jaws. But the fourth pair take the form of
fangs, which are very stout and strong, and very much curved, while at
their base, just inside the head, is a little bag of poison. In the
northern centipedes, which are quite small, the fangs are not large
enough, nor the poison sufficiently strong, to cause a serious wound.
But some of the tropical species, which grow to the length of nearly a
foot, are quite as venomous as the largest scorpions.

The food of these creatures consists chiefly of worms and insects. But
the larger ones will kill lizards, and even mice, and have been known to
prey upon victims actually larger than themselves.

The eggs of centipedes are laid in little clusters on the ground in some
dark, damp nook, and when they have all been deposited the mother
centipede coils herself round them, and there remains guarding them
until they hatch.

Millepedes, in some ways, are very much like centipedes; but they only
have two pairs of jaws instead of four, and they are nearly all
vegetable-feeders. The long, smooth, and slender _Julus_ millepedes
are plentiful in every garden. And in tropical countries they sometimes
grow to a length of six inches. Even the largest, however, are perfectly
harmless, for they have no poison-fangs as the centipedes have, and the
only way in which they ever attempt to defend themselves is by pouring
out a small drop or two of a fluid which smells rather nasty, and no
doubt protects them from the attacks of birds.



CHAPTER XXXV

CRUSTACEANS


We now come to a very important class of animals, which includes the
crabs, the lobsters, the shrimps, and the prawns. These creatures,
together with the mollusks, are often called shell-fish, although the
"shell" of a crab is not in the least like the shell of an oyster, for
example, or like that of a whelk, or a snail. It is only a sort of crust
upon the skin, made chiefly of carbonate of lime. That is why these
animals are called _crust_aceans; and instead of growing, like true
shells, this coat never increases in size at all.

But crabs and lobsters grow? Yes: but not as other animals do, a little
every day. They only grow, as a rule, once a year; and they get a whole
twelvemonth's growth into about two days!

When, in warm weather, the proper time approaches, they hide away in
some crevice among the rocks, where none of their enemies are likely to
find them. This is because they are going to throw off their so-called
shells; and they know that when these are gone they will be deprived of
their natural armor, and of their weapons too, and so will be quite at
the mercy even of foes much smaller than themselves. Then a very strange
thing happens. Part of their flesh actually turns to water! Sometimes,
if you happen to take up a crab in a fish-market, and shake it, you will
hear water swishing about inside it. This is a "watery" crab, and is not
good to eat; for it was just about to change its "shell" when it was
caught. A good deal of its flesh has actually turned to water.

Now this always happens a few days before the "shell" is thrown off; and
the animal wriggles and twists about inside it, in order to loosen the
attachments which bind it to its body. It also rubs its feelers against
its legs, and its legs against one another, in order to loosen their
hard coverings in the same way. This goes on, perhaps, for three or four
days. Then, suddenly, the "shell" splits across, and the animal,
with a tremendous effort, springs right out of it, while the "shell"
closes up again, and looks just as it did before. One might really think
that there were two crabs instead of only one.

For some little time the animal now lies perfectly still. It is
exhausted by its efforts, and its muscles are so cramped that they feel
quite hard to the touch. This cramp soon passes off, however; and then
at once the animal begins to grow. It grows very fast. Indeed, you can
almost _see_ it grow, for a whole year's increase in size has to
take place in about forty-eight hours. Then a fresh crust is gradually
formed upon the skin, and two or three days later the animal is once
more clad in a coat of mail, and is ready to leave its retreat and face
its enemies. For a whole twelvemonth after this it grows no bigger. But
at the end of that time the process is repeated, and so on, year after
year, until at last the animal reaches its full size.


FORMS OF CRUSTACEANS

The bodies of the crustacean animals are made up of a number of rings,
or segments, like those of the insects. But there are always twenty of
these rings, instead of thirteen; six forming the head, while there are
eight in the thorax and six in the hind body.

Then--again like the insects--crustaceans have feelers, or antennæ, upon
their heads. You can see these very well indeed in a lobster or a
shrimp. But instead of having one pair of these organs, as insects have,
they always possess two pairs. And it is rather curious to find that at
the base of the front pair there are two little organs which seem to be
ears, specially formed for hearing in the water, while at the base of
the second pair are two other little organs which seem to serve as a
nose, specially made for smelling in the water.

And--once more like the insects--crustaceans have to pass through
several different forms before they reach the perfect state. They are
hatched in the first place from eggs, which the mother animal carries
about with her for some little time firmly fastened to the hairs
of the swimmerets, which we find under the hind part of her body. You
will often find a shrimp with quite a large bunch of these eggs; and if
you look at them carefully with a good strong magnifying-glass, you will
see that they are all glued down to hairs.

Inside each of these eggs an odd little creature is formed, which is
called the nauplius. Sometimes it is hatched while still in that state,
and swims about through the water. But in almost all the higher
crustaceans a change takes place before it leaves the egg, and it
appears at last in the form of a zoëa.

This is a kind of crustacean caterpillar, and a very odd little creature
it is. A great naturalist once described it as an animal "with goggle
eyes, a hawk's beak, a scorpion's tail, a rhinoceros' horn, and a body
fringed with legs, yet hardly bigger than a grain of sand!" Certainly it
does not look in the least like the crab, or lobster, or shrimp into
which it is going, by and by, to turn. And it swims in the oddest way
possible, by turning endless somersaults in the water!

These zoëas are sometimes found in immense shoals, the surface of the
sea being quite thick with them for miles. And they are useful little
creatures, for they feed on the tiny scraps of decaying matter which are
always floating about in the sea, just as tadpoles and gnat-grubs do in
ponds, thus helping to keep the water pure. But a very great number of
them are devoured by whales. For when whalebone-whales are hungry, they
swim with open mouths through a shoal of these little creatures, and
then strain them out of the water by means of the whalebone fringe which
hangs down from the upper jaw.

After a time the zoëa throws off its skin and appears in quite a
different form. It is now called a megalopa, or big-eyed creature,
because it has very large eyes, which are usually set on foot-stalks,
and project to quite a long distance from the sides of the head. And as
the zoëa is a kind of crustacean caterpillar, so the megalopa is a kind
of crustacean chrysalis. It generally has a long, slender body, made up
of several joints. And it swims by flapping this to and fro in the
water.


CRABS

First among the crustaceans come the crabs, of which there are a great
many different kinds. They are distinguished by having the tail tucked
under the body, and firmly soldered, so to speak, to the "shell" on
either side.

You can find several kinds of these creatures by hunting among the rocks
on the sea-shore when the tide is out. There is the common shore-crab,
for example, which is green in color. It is generally to be found hiding
under masses of growing seaweed. But sometimes you may see it prowling
about in search of prey. It is wonderfully active, and will even pounce
upon the sandhoppers as they go skipping about, just as a hunting-spider
will pounce upon flies, seldom or never missing its aim. It will catch
flies, too, leaping upon them when they settle, and shutting them up, as
it were, in a kind of cage formed by its legs. Then it pokes one claw
carefully into this cage, seizes the prisoners, pulls them to pieces,
and pokes the fragments into its mouth.

Swimming about in the pools, too, you may often find a fiddler-crab,
which is so called because its movements in the water rather remind one
of a man who is playing the violin. You will find that its hind legs are
very much flattened, and are fringed with stiff hairs, so that they may
be used as oars. In fact, the animal rows itself through the water. Both
these crabs, sad to say, are cannibals, and are always ready to attack
and devour their own kind.

Then there is the edible crab, or blue crab, which is common on many
parts of our coasts. The edible crab of Europe is somewhat different.
You are not likely to meet with the larger examples, which live in
deeper water. But even the smaller ones can give a very sharp nip with
their great claws, and you will find it as well to be very careful in
handling them. The best plan is to seize them with the thumb and finger
just behind these claws, then they are perfectly harmless. The larger
crabs, which sometimes weigh as much as twelve pounds, are extremely
powerful, and in more than one case a man has been killed by
them, having been seized by the wrist as he was groping among the rocks,
and held in a grip from which he could not break away until he was
drowned by the rising tide.

These crabs are captured by means of crab-pots, made of basketwork,
which have the entrance so formed that while the crabs can easily enter,
they cannot possibly get out again. These pots are baited with pieces of
fresh fish, and are then weighted with stones, and lowered to the bottom
of the sea among the rocks, at a depth of from three to about twenty
fathoms. They are also caught on lines baited with meat. No hook is
needed, for the crab clings to the meat till it reaches the surface of
the water, when it must be flung into the boat or somehow captured
quickly, before it has time to let go and sink.

Some crabs live on dry land, sometimes at a distance of two or three
miles from the sea, which they only visit at intervals. Among these are
the famous calling-crabs, found in many of the warmer parts of the
world. These crabs obtain their name from the fact that one of the great
claws of the male is very much larger than the other. So big is it,
indeed, that it has to be held aloft over the body when the animal is
running, in order to prevent it from losing its balance and toppling
over. And as soon as the crab begins to move this huge claw is jerked up
and down, just as if the creature were "calling," or beckoning, to its
companions. The calling-crabs live in burrows in the sand, which are
often placed as close to one another as those in a rabbit-warren.


HERMIT-CRABS

Next we come to those small, curious creatures known as hermit-crabs,
which form a kind of connecting link between the crabs and the lobsters,
for their tails, instead of being firmly soldered down underneath their
bodies, are quite free.

But the odd thing about these animals is that their tails have no shelly
covering. The front part of the body is protected by a coat of mail,
just as it is in all the other crabs; but the hind part is quite bare
and soft. The consequence is that a hermit-crab is always very
nervous indeed about his tail. He is dreadfully afraid that one of his
many enemies may creep up behind, and bite it when he is not looking. So
he always tucks it away in an empty shell like that of a whelk or a
sea-snail, which he drags about with him wherever he goes!

You may often find these curious crabs by hunting for them in the pools
among the rocks at low water. The crab always sits just inside the
entrance of the shell, which he closes and guards with one of his great
claws. And if you try to pull him out, you will find that you are quite
unable to do so, for he has a pair of strong pincers at the end of his
body, by which he holds the shell so firmly that you can tear him in two
without forcing him to loose his grip.

Sometimes you will find that a sea-anemone has fastened itself to the
edge of a shell in which a hermit-crab is living. This is a great
advantage to the crab; for while there are many fishes which would be
quite ready to crunch him up, shell and all, no fish will ever meddle
with a sea-anemone. So as long as the anemone remains on his shell he is
perfectly safe.

And this plan is also a great advantage to the anemone, which is sure to
get plenty of food without any trouble. For when the crab finds the dead
body of some small creature, and begins to pull it to pieces, a quantity
of small fragments is sure to float upward in the water. And the anemone
catches them with its spreading tentacles and feeds upon them.


THE ROBBER-CRAB

One of the most extraordinary crustaceans is this, which is found in
many of the islands in the Indian Ocean. It is like the hermit-crabs in
some ways, but the tail is covered with shelly plates, just like the
rest of the body; and instead of living in shells in the sea, it lives
in deep burrows on dry land.

But the oddest thing of all with regard to this crab is its food. What
do you think it feeds upon? Cocoanuts! That seems impossible, doesn't
it? One would imagine that the crab could never get the nuts open. But
it manages in this way: First of all, it pulls away the fibers from that
end of the nut at which the three eyeholes are situated. With
one of its stout claws it then hammers away at one of these till it
breaks its way through. And finally, after allowing the milk to run
away, it pokes its hind claws, which are very slender indeed, through
the opening and picks out the white fleshy part of the nut a little
piece at a time.

It is said, too, that this crab sometimes opens a nut by poking the
smaller joint of one of its claws into the hole, and then striking it
over and over again upon a big stone.

The burrow of the robber-crab is rather a deep one, and is nearly always
situated beneath the roots of a tree. And at the end of the burrow is a
large chamber, in which the crab piles up a quantity of cocoanut fiber
to serve as a bed.


LOBSTERS

Of course you know the lobster very well by sight; and perhaps you know
that until it is boiled it is black, not red. But do you know how it
swims? If so, you know that it has two different ways of swimming. When
it is not in a hurry it swims slowly forward by means of its swimmerets,
of which it has five pairs under the hinder part of its body. But if it
is startled or alarmed it swims swiftly backward by means of its tail.

If you look at a lobster's tail, you will see that it is very broad and
flat, and that on either side of it are two plates, which are quite as
flat, and, if anything, are rather broader. So, when these are spread,
the tail looks like a fan. And the animal swims by first stretching out
its body almost straight, and then doubling it suddenly with all its
force. As it does so, the tail and the tail-plates spread out, and act
very much like a broad oar. And the result is that the lobster darts
swiftly backward through the water. Shrimps and prawns swim in exactly
the same way.

Lobsters are very quarrelsome creatures, and are constantly fighting;
and it very often happens that in these battles they pull off one
another's limbs. They seem to feel very little pain, however, from such
an injury, and before very long new legs begin to grow in place of the
old ones, so that in course of time the wounded creatures are as perfect
as ever.

Sometimes lobsters will throw off their limbs when they are not attacked
at all. They do so, for example, if they are suddenly frightened; and it
is said that if a heavy gun is fired near the surface of the water,
every lobster for a long way round will shed its great claws in alarm.

You will notice, on looking at a lobster, that one of the great claws is
a good deal smaller than the other; and sometimes people think that this
is a new claw which is growing in place of one that has been lost, and
that it has not yet reached its full size. This, however, is a mistake,
for one of the claws is always much bigger than the other; and the
reason is that they are used for different purposes. The larger claw is
intended as a weapon, and with this the lobster fights. But the smaller
one is chiefly employed as a kind of anchor, by means of which the
animal can cling to the weeds or rocks at the bottom of the sea.

Lobsters are caught in pots made of basketwork, just as crabs are. But
they are not nearly so dainty as crabs, and do not mind whether the bait
is fresh or putrid. They are always very much attracted, too, by any
object that glitters, and many a lobster has been lured to its death
merely by one or two oyster-shells hung up inside the pot in such a
manner as to show the shining pearly interior.


CRAYFISH

The crayfish is a kind of fresh-water lobster, which is found commonly
in many parts of the world, and numerously in the central and southern
parts of the United States. Most species hide all day long under the
projecting edges of big stones, or in holes in the bank, only coming out
after nightfall to search for food. The British crayfish is said to be
particularly fond of the deserted burrow of a water-vole, and as it sits
inside it always guards the entrance with its great claws, striking
fiercely at any enemy which may be bold enough to come within reach.

One, at least, of the American kinds sinks its own burrows, in the form
of round holes in the soil of damp meadows. These holes go down to
water, which the animal cannot live long away from; and a part of the
soil dug out is piled about the mouth of the hole in a little
tower or chimney, sometimes several inches high.

In Europe crayfish are eaten and regarded as a delicacy when properly
cooked; and there is no reason why the American ones should not be
equally good, but they are rarely if ever used as food by us. The flesh
tastes like that of the lobster, but is more tender.


SHRIMPS AND PRAWNS

These are really only tiny lobsters, and if you examine them carefully
you will find that their bodies are made in exactly the same way. They
swim, too, by means of their tails, and dart about so swiftly that it is
almost impossible to follow their movements. You may often find them in
numbers in the pools which are left among the rocks by the retreating
tide. But as they are almost colorless until they are boiled, it is very
difficult to see them, and they look just like shadows darting to and
fro in the water.

You can easily tell a prawn from a shrimp, for the beak which projects
in front of its head is covered with sharp points, which are almost
exactly like the teeth of a saw. It feeds upon the bodies of the various
small creatures which die by millions every day. In this way it helps to
keep the water of the sea pure. It feeds in a curious way, tearing off
tiny scraps of flesh with the little pincers at the tips of the second
pair of legs, and poking them into its mouth one after another. The
sides of these limbs are covered with hairs, so that they form little
brushes; and with these the prawn carefully cleans its body and limbs,
rubbing off every little speck of dirt which may happen to cling to
them.


SANDHOPPERS

You can hardly walk along a sand shore when the tide is rising without
seeing sandhoppers leaping and twisting about in thousands. If you turn
over a bunch of seaweed which has been flung up by the waves just above
high-water mark, you are almost sure to find forty or fifty of
these odd little creatures hiding under it. In some ways they are rather
like shrimps. But they differ from them in having their eyes set on the
head itself, instead of on little foot-stalks projecting from it. And
they have no carapace, or shelly shield, covering the middle part of the
body.

How do these creatures hop? By first doubling up their bodies, and then
straightening them out again with a kind of jerk. It is exactly
opposite, in fact, to the way in which shrimps and lobsters swim.

Sandhoppers do not follow the retreating tide, but bury themselves in
the sand very soon after the waves have ceased to break over them. Even
when the surface of the sand is quite dry you can find their burrows by
stamping with your foot, when a number of little round holes will
suddenly open all round you.

These creatures have wonderfully sharp little teeth, and if you allowed
a swarm of them to rest for a little while on your handkerchief you
would most likely find that it was full of tiny holes when you took it
up. They will eat almost anything, either animal or vegetable, and are
quite as useful as the shrimps and prawns in helping to keep the
sea-water pure. But they have a great many enemies, for sea-birds,
land-birds, crabs, and all sorts of other creatures, destroy them
literally in millions.


THE FRESH-WATER SHRIMP

This shrimp is very much like the sandhopper in some ways. You may find
it in numbers in almost any small stream or rivulet. It hides under
stones, or in little crevices in the bank, darting out now and then to
seize one of the tiny creatures upon which it feeds, and then hurrying
back with it to its retreat. When it is in the water it travels along by
a series of jerks; sometimes swimming with its back uppermost, and
sometimes on one side. But if it is placed on dry ground it is perfectly
helpless, for its legs are not nearly strong enough to carry it, and the
only result of its struggles is to turn it round and round in a
screw-like manner without forcing it forward at all.


WOODLICE

These odd little creatures are really crustaceans, although they belong
to quite a different group from that about which you have just been
reading. They simply swarm in all damp places. Under logs, in heaps of
decaying leaves, and under the bark of dead trees, they are always
extremely plentiful, and you may also find them in hundreds in cellars
and outhouses. There are several different kinds, one of which rolls
itself up into a ball when it is touched or alarmed. This is called the
pill-woodlouse, or pill-armadillo. Another one is remarkable for the
fact that the mother carries her little ones about with her in a pouch
underneath her body for some little time after they are born.


BARNACLES

You would hardly think that barnacles were crustaceans, would you? Yet
they are; though certainly they are very unlike any of those about which
we have been telling. You can find them in countless thousands upon the
rocks which are left bare by the tide at low water, and very often the
hulls of ships are so covered with them that the vessels have to be
taken into dry dock and thoroughly cleaned before they are fit to start
upon a voyage.

These animals fasten themselves down to their hold by a kind of
foot-stalk, which is firmly attached by a very strong cement. The upper
part of the body becomes covered with a shell, consisting of several
pieces, or valves; and between these, six odd little limbs can be poked
out at will. These limbs are very hairy, and are always waving about, so
as to sweep into the mouth any tiny scraps of food which may be floating
in the water.

There are a great many kinds of barnacles, some of which look very much
like acorns, and grow to a considerable size. These are known as
acorn-barnacles. And there is another, shaped rather like a piece of
round tube, which burrows into the skin of whales, in which it spends
all the remainder of its life! Sometimes it bores its way down
so far that it actually reaches the blubber.

The young of these strange creatures pass through several
transformations, just like those of the lobster and the crab. First,
there is a nauplius, then a zoëa, and then a megalopa, all of which swim
freely about in the water, never fastening themselves down until they
are ready to pass into the perfect form.



CHAPTER XXXVI

SEA-URCHINS, STARFISHES, AND SEA-CUCUMBERS


Next in order to the crustaceans comes a group of animals which live in
the sea, and which are known as echinoderms, which simply means
spiny-skins. This group includes the sea-urchins, the starfishes, and
the sea-cucumbers.

[Illustration: LIFE ON THE SEA-BOTTOM.

  1. Sticklebacks.    2. Carp.    3, 5, 6, 13, 17. Sea-Anemones.
  4. Shrimps.    7. Prawn.    8. Fiddler Crab.    9. Starfish.
  10. Sea-horses.    11. Edible Mussels.    12. Serpula Worm.
  14. Hermit-Crab in Whelk's Shell.    15. Sea-urchins.    16. Rock Crab.
  18. Polyzoan (Flustra).    19. Corallines (Gorgonia).]


SEA-URCHINS

You can find a good many of these creatures when you go to the seaside,
by hunting about on the beach at low water. In some places on rocky
coasts sea-urchins are very common. Sometimes they are known as
sea-eggs, and in many countries they are actually boiled and eaten as
food, just as we eat the eggs of fowls and ducks. And their shells are
so thickly covered with spines that they look just like little hedgehogs
which have rolled themselves up into balls.

When the animal is alive it can move these spines at will, each of them
being fastened to the shell by a ball-and-socket joint, just like those
which we described to you when we were telling about the vertebræ of the
snakes. But after it has been dead for a few days they are nearly always
knocked off by the action of the waves, so that the shell is left quite
smooth and bare.

By means of these spines a sea-urchin can bury itself in the sand at the
bottom of the sea in a very short time, only just a little funnel-shaped
pit being left to show where it is hiding. And in some of the larger
kinds they are really formidable weapons, for they grow to a length of
eight or ten inches, and are so sharp and strong that they can actually
pierce the sole of a stout shoe. Besides this, they have poison-glands
connected with them, so that they can easily inflict a really serious
wound.

In the shell of a sea-urchin are a number of little holes, through which
the animal pokes out most curious sucker-like feet when it wants
to climb about over the rocks. By means of the suckers on the upper part
of the shell it often clings to small stones, which it sometimes gathers
up in such numbers as to conceal itself entirely from sight.

Just inside the mouth of the urchin are five very large chisel-like
teeth. These are formed just like the front teeth of the rodent animals,
and grow as fast as they are worn away.

Sea-urchins are not numerous on the Atlantic shores of North America,
because these shores are not rocky except in the cold north. One small
flat kind, however, occurs in the deep waters off this coast, and its
cases are often cast up on the beaches and are called sand-dollars. On
the Pacific coast, however, sea-urchins are common and well known; and
the Indians of the northwest coast boil them and eat them greedily.


STARFISHES

More plentiful on both coasts, and extremely numerous and harmful in all
the bays and sounds from Florida to Maine, are the starfishes, or
fivefingers, as the oystermen call them. But although they are so
abundant, very few people seem to know what curious creatures they are.

The starfish has hundreds of little sucker-like feet, just like those of
the sea-urchin. You cannot see these, as a rule, because the starfish
keeps them tucked away inside its skin. But when it wants to use them it
can poke them out in a moment.

If you want to look at these odd little feet, the best way to do so is
to take a live starfish, put it at the bottom of a pool of sea-water,
and then wait patiently for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. By the
end of that time you are almost sure to see that the animal is slowly
moving. Then snatch it out of the water, turn it upside down, and you
will see hundreds of little white objects waving about on the lower
surface of its body. These are its feet, and if you look at them through
a good strong magnifying-glass, you will see that they are shaped just
like wine-glasses, each having a kind of fleshy cup at the end of a
slender stem. And at the end of the cup is the sucker.

In the very middle of the lower part of the body of a starfish is its
mouth. This is generally rather large, for the animal feeds chiefly on
shell-bearing animals which it swallows whole, shells and all. Then,
when it has digested the bodies of its victims, it turns their empty
shells out again through its mouth. That is an odd way of feeding, isn't
it? But sometimes it feeds in an odder way still, for when it finds a
creature which is too big to be swallowed, it will actually turn its own
digestive organs out of its mouth, wrap them round its victim, hold them
there until it is digested, and then drag them in again and go off to
look for another victim!

Starfishes eat a great many oysters in this way. So many do they destroy,
indeed, that they are the very worst foes with which oyster-fishers have
to deal, and the damage done by them in one single oyster-bed on the
coast of North America is estimated at no less than fifty thousand
dollars every year.

There are a great many different kinds of starfishes. One, for example,
has twelve rays instead of five, and looks very much like a live
sunflower. This is called the sun-star. Another has its five rays all
joined together by webbing, very much like the toes on a duck's foot,
and is known as the bird's-foot star. It is a very handsome creature,
for while the greater part of its body is bright yellow, it has a broad
band of crimson running all the way round the outer margin, and another
stripe of the same color down the outer edges of each ray, while the
membrane between them is fringed with yellow hairs. But you are not very
likely to find it, for it lives in rather deep water, and is hardly ever
caught except by means of that useful net which is called a dredge.

Odder by far than any of these, however, are the brittle-stars, which
owe their name to their extraordinary habit of breaking themselves to
pieces! They nearly always do this if they are touched or alarmed. In
fact, they are so ready to do so that it is very difficult indeed to
obtain a perfect brittle-star for a museum. The creature just gives a
kind of shudder, and its five rays all drop off and break up into little
pieces, all that is left of the animal being just the central disk. But
it does not appear to suffer any pain, and loses hardly any blood.
And before very long new rays grow in the place of the old ones,
so that in a few weeks' time the starfish is just as perfect as ever!

The brittle-stars have five very long and very slender rays, which are
generally fringed on either side with yellow hairs. And these rays are
hardly ever still, but twist and writhe and curl about so actively that
they really look almost like so many centipedes! It is by no means so
numerous as the fivefinger, and is so easily broken that it is hard to
find a whole one on the beach.

Very curious, too, is the basket-star, which at first sight does not
look like a starfish at all. The reason is that, close to its body, each
of the five rays divides into two. Then each of the branches divides
into two again, and each of those into two more, and so on over and over
again, till sometimes there are more than eighty thousand little arms
altogether!

The basket-star catches its prey by means of these wonderful rays, which
it wraps all round it in the form of a circular basket. It is not at all
a common creature, and is only found in deep water.

But perhaps the oddest of all these creatures is the rosy feather-star,
which actually grows on a stalk while it is young, and looks just like a
flower with its petals spread. The stalk, which is fastened down to a
rock at the bottom of the sea, is made up of a great number of tiny
joints, and grows longer and longer. And when it reaches its full length
the animal breaks itself free and swims away, leaving the stem behind.

The rosy feather-star lives in rather deep water, from which it is
sometimes brought up by means of the dredge. It can crawl about on the
ground by means of its sucker-like feet, and can swim through the water
with some little speed. And very often, to save itself trouble, it will
cling by means of its rays to a piece of floating wood, and allow itself
to be carried for long distances by the waves.

In Great Britain these may often be found near shore, but the American
feather-stars all live in very deep water. They are all that remain of a
large class of such animals which abounded in the very ancient seas,
whose fossil remains are called stone-lilies.


SEA-CUCUMBERS

These are really relations of the starfishes, although they do not look
in the least like them; for they closely resemble the vegetable after
which they are named. In front of the slit at one end of the body,
however, which serves as a mouth, there is a feathery tuft. This
consists of delicate little tentacles, or feelers, by means of which the
animal fishes for its food, and which can be drawn back inside the body
when it is not hungry. And if it were not for this tuft one really might
almost mistake the animal for a grayish-white cucumber.

We saw just now that the brittle-star breaks off its own rays at the
slightest alarm. But the sea-cucumber, in this way, is even odder still,
for if it eats anything which disagrees with it, as it sometimes does,
it turns all its digestive organs out of its mouth, cuts them off, and
allows them to float away! Then for three or four months it is very
little else than a bag of empty skin, with just a slit at one end and a
tuft in front of it. But at the end of that time new digestive organs
begin to grow in the place of the old ones, and very soon the
sea-cucumber is as perfect as ever!

Isn't that a remarkable way of curing indigestion?

Some of the sea-cucumbers grow to a very great size. One indeed, when
fully grown, is nearly six feet long. And in China they are largely used
as food, under the name of trepang, and are looked upon as a great
dainty.



CHAPTER XXXVII

MOLLUSKS


The class of the mollusks is a very large one, for at least fifty
thousand different kinds of these creatures are already known, while new
ones are constantly being discovered. They may be described as
soft-bodied, boneless animals, which are enclosed in a tough muscular
skin called the mantle. And they are divided into five orders, the first
of which includes the singular creatures known as squids, or cuttles.

You may sometimes find these animals hiding in the pools which are left
among the rocks when the tide goes out; and you can recognize them at
once by the long, fleshy tentacles, or arms, which spring from the upper
part of the head. Some of them have ten of these arms, and are called
decapods; the rest have only eight and are known as octopods. And the
lower surface of each arm is furnished with a row of circular suckers,
the grip of which is so powerful that the tentacle may even be torn in
two without causing it to release its hold. Indeed, if quite a small
cuttle were to seize you with one of its arms, you would not find it at
all easy to make it let go again without killing it.

The cuttles employ these suckers for two purposes. In the first place,
they use them in walking. When a cuttle is crawling along at the bottom
of the sea it pushes one or two tentacles forward, takes firm hold of a
rock or a large stone with the suckers underneath them, pulls up the
body, and then thrusts them forward again. And in the second place, they
use them in catching their prey. Quite large victims are often seized by
cuttles, and when once the deadly suckers have fastened upon them there
is no hope of escape. In spite of their struggles one tentacle after
another comes closing in, till they are completely surrounded by the
long, slimy arms, soft almost as jelly, yet strong as steel. Then they
are pushed down against the sharp, strong beak, by which they are
quickly torn in pieces.

On the upper part of the head of the cuttle there is another
curious organ known as the siphon, which consists of two tubes lying
side by side together, like the barrels of a double-barreled gun. This
organ is used in three different ways.

First, it is used in breathing. The cuttles, like the fishes, breathe
water, by means of gills. These gills lie inside the head, and the water
passes down to them through one of the siphon-tubes, and then out again
through the other.

Next, it is used in swimming. When cuttles are not in a hurry they crawl
along by means of their long tentacles, as we told you just now. But if
they are startled, or alarmed in any way, they fold all their tentacles
together in a straight line, fill both the siphon-tubes with water, and
then squirt it out again as hard as they possibly can. The result is, of
course, that they are driven rapidly backward by the recoil, just like
the dragonfly grub, of which we have read.

But the third use of the siphon-tubes is the most curious. If you
discover a small cuttle hiding in a rock-pool, you will very likely find
that the water all round it suddenly grows dark as night, just as if a
quantity of ink had been poured into it. The fact is this. Inside its
body the cuttle has a bag filled with a quantity of a deep-black liquid
called sepia. This bag is surrounded by strong bands of muscle, and
opens into the siphon-tubes. So, you see, when the animal suddenly
contracts the muscular bands, the sepia is squirted out through the
siphon into the water, which is immediately darkened for some little
distance all round. And under cover of the darkness the animal escapes.

The eggs of the cuttle are laid in a very curious way, for they are
fastened by little stalks to a stem of seaweed, so that they look very
much like a bunch of grapes. Fishermen, indeed, nearly always speak of
them as "sea-grapes."

The cuttles which are found in the British seas are always quite small.
But in some parts of the ocean these creatures grow to a giant size.
Fragments of the tentacles of an enormous cuttle, for instance, have
been found lying on the coast of Newfoundland; and by careful
calculation it was shown that if the animal to which they belonged had
stretched them out at right angles to its body, they would actually have
measured more than eighty feet from tip to tip!

These huge creatures seem to form the principal food of the
spermaceti-whale.


THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS

This animal is a near relation of the cuttles. It lives in a shell,
which cannot increase in size. The mollusk itself grows, however, and
soon becomes too big to live in its home; so it forms a second and
larger compartment outside the first one. Time after time this happens,
till at last the shell consists of about thirty-six chambers, only the
outside one being inhabited by the nautilus.

This shell is often more than a foot in diameter. But if you were to see
it when it is first taken out of the sea you would never think that it
was a shell at all. Indeed it looks much more like a big shapeless lump
of blubber, for the animal covers it entirely with its muscular mantle,
so that the shell itself is completely concealed.

Very little is known of the habits of the chambered nautilus, for it
lives at the bottom of the sea, at a depth of two or three hundred
fathoms. It is found in various parts of the Indian and Pacific oceans.


GASTROPODS

A great many well-known creatures belong to this large group, first upon
the list being the slugs. We need not describe these animals, but
perhaps you will be surprised to hear that they have shells! These
shells are very small, however, and are entirely covered over by the
mantle, so that they cannot be seen unless the body is dissected.

Slugs have the most wonderful power of stretching out and drawing up
their bodies. You may see one of these creatures crawling about on a
damp evening, and measuring fully five inches in length. But at the
slightest touch it begins to contract, and in a few seconds it is just a
shapeless lump, scarcely half as long as it was before. The odd little
tentacles are drawn back into the head, and the head is drawn back into
the body so that if you did not happen to know what it was you
might easily mistake it for a pebble.

On the right-hand side of a slug's body, as it crawls along, you will
notice a rather large and almost round hole. This is the entrance to the
breathing-organs, which lie just behind the head and underneath the
mantle.

During the daytime slugs remain in hiding, lying behind the loose bark
of dead trees, or under logs and large stones, or in heaps of decaying
leaves. And if the weather is very hot and dry they do not come out even
at night, for they very soon die if they are deprived of moisture. But
on warm, damp evenings they travel for long distances in search of food,
which is almost entirely of a vegetable character. In Europe every
gardener knows what injury they do to gardens there, but in America the
slugs are practically harmless.

A good many different kinds of slugs are found in Great Britain. The
largest of all is the great gray slug, which often grows to a length of
more than six inches. Then the black slug is very common in many parts
of the country. It is not always black, however, for one may often find
examples which are brown, or yellow, or gray, or even white. The milky
slug, which has a thick creamy slime, is plentiful everywhere. And
sometimes one may dig up a very curious slug--testacella--which feeds on
earthworms, and follows them down to the very bottom of their burrows.
When the weather is cold, this slug makes a kind of cocoon of earth and
slime, and lies fast asleep inside it, often for many months at a time.


SNAILS

In many ways snails are very much like slugs, but they have a shell
large enough to contain the entire body when the animal withdraws inside
it. Several hundred different kinds of snails are found in North
America, and many more in other parts of the world, varying in size from
that of a small pinhead to that of a big walnut. Some are exceedingly
numerous, others so rare and singular in their living-places that they
are highly prized by conchologists. All snails lay eggs, usually in damp
soil; and if you will turn over an old log in the woods in
summer, you will be almost certain to find some of the minute shining
globules. When winter draws near all the snails go into hiding, and they
have a most curious way of closing the entrances to their shells by
making little doors across them, composed partly of slime and partly of
very small fragments of earth. This is in order to prevent the frosty
air from getting in and killing them. But it would never do, of course,
to keep all the air out, for in that case they would be unable to
breathe. So they always leave a tiny hole in the middle of each door,
through which just enough air can pass to prevent them from being
suffocated.

Among the largest of all is the edible snail, which is largely used for
food in many parts of Europe and is imported into the United States and
pickled, to be eaten by those who like this delicacy.

Most of the gastropod mollusks, however, live in the water, some
inhabiting ponds and streams, while others dwell in the sea.

In almost every brook and every ditch, for example, you may find
water-snails of different kinds. Some are quite flat, and some are
conical and pointed. Some are as large as land-snails, and some are so
tiny that they are almost always overlooked. Most of them feed upon
decaying leaves, and they have an odd way of traveling by floating
upside down at the surface of the water, each with its broad fleshy
"foot" expanded, so as to convert themselves into tiny boats. You may
sometimes see quite a fleet of these little creatures being carried
along by the stream. But if you throw a stone into the water they all
sink down to the bottom at once, and do not resume their journey until
many hours or even days afterward.

The eggs of this snail are laid in long jelly-like ribbons, which are
generally fastened either to the stems and leaves of water-plants, or
under the edges of large stones lying at the bottom of the stream. A
very large number of gastropods live in the sea. One of the best known
of these is the whelk, of which one reads in all books of English
natural history. On almost every sandy and shingly beach, in Western
Europe, one may find it lying about in hundreds; and even in large
inland towns one often sees whelks for sale, both in fishmongers'
shops and on barrows at the corners of the streets. Its eggs are
one of the curiosities of the sea-beach--small, yellowish-white objects
about the size of peas, made of tough, parchment-like skin, and fastened
together in bundles about as big as cricket-balls. You may often find
these bundles on the shore in dozens; and most likely you will wonder
how the whelk ever managed to lay a batch of eggs a good deal bigger
than itself.

But the fact is that the eggs of the whelk are just like those of the
frog. When they are first laid they are very tiny; but the tough skin of
which they are made is very elastic, so that it will stretch almost like
a piece of india-rubber. Besides this, it has the curious property of
allowing water to soak in from the outside, but not to pass out again.
So as soon as the eggs are dropped into the sea they begin to swell, and
before very long they are quite twenty or thirty times as large as they
were when they were first laid.

We do not have these whelks in North America, but we have a variety of
small gastropods, whose shells are sometimes rough and coiled in a
spiral form, sometimes round like land-snails, and of various sizes. One
of them is the purpura, which has many ribs, and broad dark and light
stripes running spirally. The purpura of the Mediterranean is famous for
the purple dye obtained from its body; but our species yields such a dye
also in small quantity. This was the dye anciently known as Tyrian
purple. It is contained in a little bag behind the throat, which holds
just one small drop of liquid, and no more. And if you were to see it
you would never think that it was dye at all, for it looks only like
rather yellowish water. But if it is squeezed out on a sheet of white
paper, and laid in the sunshine, it very soon begins to change color.
First it becomes green, then blue, and then purple. And it is really the
dye which the ancient Romans valued so highly that no one who did not
belong to the royal family was allowed to dress in purple raiment.


BORERS

In many parts of our eastern coast occur in great numbers two or three
kinds of small, rough, spiral gastropods, called borers by the
fishermen, who hate them because of the great number of oysters they
kill. Each of these spends its whole life in seeking and devouring other
shell-bearing mollusks. It kills and eats these in a very curious way.
Like all the gastropods, it possesses what we call a tooth-ribbon--that
is, a narrow strip of very tough gristle in its mouth; set with row upon
row of sharp, notched, flinty teeth. There are some times more than six
thousand of these teeth, and although they are so small that they cannot
be seen without the aid of a powerful microscope, they are nevertheless
very formidable. For every tooth is hooked, with the points of the hook
directed toward the throat.

The tooth-ribbon is used in this way: When a borer meets with a victim,
it fastens itself to it by means of its fleshy, muscular "foot." Then it
bores a round hole through its shell, as neatly as if it had been
pierced by a drill. And then it pokes the tooth-ribbon down into the
body of the creature inside, and draws it back again. As it does so, of
course the hooked teeth tear away little bits of the victim's flesh. The
borer swallows these, and then pokes down its tooth-ribbon once more.
And so it goes on, over and over again, until the shell of its victim
has been completely emptied, when it goes off to look for another.


PERIWINKLES

These are common on rocky parts of the coast, and you may find them
crawling about on the weed-covered rocks in thousands when the tide is
out. They have tooth-ribbons just like that of the borer, but they do
not use them in the same way, for they feed only upon seaweeds. And they
are remarkable for having the foot divided by a kind of groove, which
runs right down the middle. When a periwinkle crawls, it moves first one
side of this foot forward, and then the other side, so that although it
has no legs it may really almost be said to walk.


THE COWRY

One of the prettiest of the gastropod shells, is that of the cowry, in
some parts of Africa used as money. It would seem strange to
earn one's living just by picking up money on the sea-shore, wouldn't
it? And perhaps you might think that every one who lived near those
parts of the coast where cowries are found must be very well off. But
then sixteen hundred of these shells are only worth about a quarter of a
dollar, so that you would have to hunt for a very long while and stoop a
great many times in order to obtain sufficient even to buy food. And it
must be very awkward to have to carry several sacks of money when one
goes out marketing! Many of them, however, are extremely beautiful.


LIMPETS

Commoner still are the limpets, which you may find in thousands clinging
to the rocks that are left bare when the tide goes out. They fasten
themselves down by means of the broad, fleshy foot, which acts as a big
sucker. And so firmly do they hold that it is almost impossible to pull
them away.

After a time, the edges of a limpet's shell cut a circular groove in the
rock to which it clings, so that even the sea-birds cannot drive their
beaks underneath and force it from its hold. And though, when the tide
is up, the mollusk will wander to a distance of two or even three feet
in search of food, it always seems to return to its resting-place before
the retreating waves again leave the rock uncovered.


AMPHINEURANS

This order of mollusks contains the curious creatures which are known as
chitons. These may be described as sea-armadillos, for they are covered
with a kind of shelly armor, consisting of a series of plates, and can
roll themselves up into balls, in order to protect themselves from the
attacks of their enemies.

One of these mollusks is called the prickly chiton, because it is
covered all over with sharp spines, like a hedgehog. It grows to a
length of nearly six inches. But long before it reaches its full size
the spines are rubbed off, so that a large example of this
creature is nearly always perfectly bare. The chitons live among muddy
rocks at low-water mark, and are not common outside the tropics or in
shallow water.

The order of the amphineurans is quite a small one, and so is that of
the scaphopods, which consists only of the tooth-shells, which are very
common on the sandy coasts of the Northern Pacific, and look rather like
very tiny elephants' tusks. The Indians of the Puget Sound region used
to string them as ornaments, and valued them highly.


BIVALVES

The order of the bivalves is a very large and important one. All these
creatures have their shells made of two parts, or valves, which are
fastened together by means of a hinge. They have no heads, and the
mantle forms a kind of flap on either side of the body. They are found
both in fresh and salt water. Every one knows the "fresh-water clams,"
or mussels, which abound in our lakes and rivers. In the central and
southern parts of the United States they are exceedingly numerous and of
many kinds, some rough, others smooth. All are lined with
mother-of-pearl, and pretty buttons and other ornaments are made from
them. Moreover, pearls are very frequently discovered inside their
shells, and sometimes they are of great value.


THE PEARL-OYSTER

Pearls are obtained chiefly, however, from the pearl-oyster, which is
found in warm seas in many parts of the world, the principal fisheries
being in Ceylon, the Persian Gulf, the South Sea Islands, and off the
northeast coast of Australia. They are deposited by the mantle, and it
is most likely that they are really due to a grain of sand, which has
lodged inside the shell and set up irritation. Indeed, it has been found
that if small objects, such as tiny stones, are forced between the
valves of one of these oysters, they become covered with layers of pearl
in a very short time. The best mother-of-pearl is also obtained from the
shells of the pearl-oyster.


OYSTERS

The ordinary oyster belongs to another family of bivalves, in which one
part of the shell is a good deal larger than the other.

The early life of this mollusk is very curious. The spawn is known as
spat, and is produced in enormous quantities. This spat looks at first
like very fine gray dust, and remains for some little time within the
shells of the parent. But one day in early summer the oyster opens its
valves a little way, and squirts it out like a cloud into the water. For
a few weeks the little oysters are able to swim, and they generally
travel backward and forward with the tide. But after a while they attach
themselves to some object at the bottom of the water, and there they
remain without moving any more for the rest of their lives.

One would think that, since a family of oysters is so enormously large,
these creatures must be the most plentiful mollusks in the sea. But by
far the larger number are destroyed by other creatures before they are
able to settle down; while even after that they have a great many
enemies. We have already told you how mischievous starfishes are in the
oyster-beds. Then borers and dog-whelks are almost equally troublesome,
and besides these there is a curious kind of sponge, called the cliona,
which burrows into the shells of the mollusk and gradually destroys
them, sometimes actually causing them to fall to pieces.


BLACK MUSSELS

Two or three kinds of black mussels live in vast numbers on almost all
coasts, clinging to rocks and submerged timber. The way in which a
mussel fastens itself to its hold is very curious, for instead of
turning the whole of the foot into a big sucker, as the limpet does, it
spins a number of very strong threads from that part which lies nearest
to the hinge; and every one of these threads is separately fastened to
the support, so that the creature is moored down, as it were, by a kind
of cable. These threads are known as the byssus, and hold so firmly that
it is not at all easy to pull them away. Some of these mussels
are good to eat, but are not as much used in the United States as in
Europe.


THE COCKLE

This is another very well-known bivalve. Its heart-shaped shells,
covered with low ridges, you must know by sight. It is one of the
burrowing mollusks, spending its life buried in sandy mud. It is
especially common at the mouths of large rivers, where enormous
quantities are collected to serve as human food. And its large muscular
foot is not only used in digging, but also enables it to leap to a
considerable height. It is to this family that the quahog or hard clam
of our markets belongs.


RAZOR-SHELLS

These, too, are inhabitants of the mud, and if you want to find their
burrows all that you have to do is to visit a patch of sandy mud when
the tide is out, and stand quietly watching it. Before long you are sure
to see a little jet of water spurt out of the mud to a height of three
or four inches. Now this water has been squirted out of the siphon-tubes
of a razor-shell, and if you walk to the spot, treading very carefully,
you will find a tiny hole in the mud. This is the entrance to the
burrow, and if you want to get the animal out, the best way to do so is
to drop a little salt down the hole. For it is a very strange fact that
although the razor cannot live in mud at the bottom of fresh water, it
does not like pure salt at all, and is sure to come up to the surface
and try to get rid of it. But if you fail to seize it at once it will
retreat to the very bottom of its burrow, and no amount of salt will
persuade it to come up again. The soft clam, which is sold in our
markets in such enormous quantities, is a near relative of the razor.


THE PIDDOCK

One of the most wonderful of all the bivalves is the piddock, as it is a
boring mollusk, living buried in the solid chalk or limestone.
If you should examine the rocks which are left bare at low water along
the shore of the Mediterranean, or some other warm sea, you would often
find that they are pierced by numbers of rather large round holes. These
are the entrances to the burrows of piddocks; and if you could split the
rock open you would find several of these creatures lying in their
tunnels.

Sometimes, when they are boring, their burrows become choked up behind
them with the material which they have scraped away. Then they just
squirt out a jet of water from their siphon-tubes, and so wash the
passage clear.

It is really owing to the work of the piddocks that chalk and limestone
cliffs are so much cut away by the sea. The waves by themselves can do
very little in this way. For when they wash up against the face of the
cliff they leave the spores of seaweeds behind them; and these very soon
grow and cover the whole surface with a mantle of living green, which
almost entirely prevents the cliff from being worn away. But the
piddocks drive their burrows into the rock just below the surface of the
water, boring backward and forward till it is completely honeycombed by
their tunnels, which only have just the thinnest of walls left between
them. Then the sea washes into the burrows, and breaks these walls down,
so that the whole foundation of the cliff is cut away. Very soon, of
course, there is a landslip, and hundreds of tons of chalk or limestone,
as the case may be, come falling down. Then the piddocks begin working
again a little farther back, and the process is repeated; and so on over
and over again.

On many parts of the south coast of England long stretches of rocks run
ever so far out into the sea, and are only partly left bare at low
water. Those rocks were once the bases of cliffs, which the piddocks and
the waves together have cut away. And it even seems almost certain that
the Strait of Dover was cut in this manner, and that if it had not been
for the labors of the piddocks, carried on day after day for thousands
upon thousands of years, Great Britain even now would not be an island,
but would still form part of the continent of Europe, as we know that it
did in ages long gone by!


THE TEREDO

There is a bivalve mollusk which burrows into submerged timber, such as
the hulls of wooden ships, or the beams of piers and jetties. This is
called the teredo, or ship-worm, and certainly it does look much more
like a worm than a mollusk, for it has a cylinder-shaped body something
like a foot in length, with a forked tail, while the shell only covers
just a little part at one end. How it burrows into the wood nobody quite
knows. It is generally supposed to do so by means of the foot. But in a
very short time it will honeycomb a great beam of timber with its
burrows, which it always lines with a kind of shelly deposit, weakening
it to such a degree that at last it gives way beneath the slightest
pressure.

Like a great many other mollusks, the teredo passes through a kind of
caterpillar stage before it reaches its perfect form. While it is in
this condition it is able to swim freely about in the water, and looks
rather like a very tiny hedgehog, being almost globular in shape, and
covered all over with short projecting hairs. It is by means of the
action of these hairs upon the water that it is able to swim.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

ANNELIDS AND COELENTERATES


The important class of the annelids contains those creatures which we
generally call worms. There are a great many of these, but we shall only
be able to mention one or two.


THE COMMON EARTHWORM

This worm is really a most interesting as well as a most useful animal.
The way in which it crawls is decidedly curious. On the lower part of
every one of the rings of which its body is made up, with the sole
exception of the head, are four pairs of short, stiff, little bristles,
projecting outward from the skin. The worm really hitches itself along
by means of these bristles. First it takes hold of the ground with those
underneath the front rings, then it draws up its body and takes hold
with those underneath the hind ones, and then it pushes its head forward
and repeats the process; and so on, over and over again.

If you take a worm and pass it between your finger and thumb from the
tail-end toward the head, you can feel these little bristles quite
easily.

A worm does not often leave its burrow, however, but generally keeps the
tip of its body just inside the entrance, so that it can retreat in a
moment in case of danger.

Worms make their burrows in a very odd manner, for they actually eat
their way down into the ground, swallowing mouthful after mouthful of
earth until their bodies can contain no more. Meanwhile they have been
absorbing nourishment from this soil; but presently they come up to the
surface and pour out the mold which they have swallowed in the form of
what we call a worm-cast, after which they go down again and swallow
more, and so on until the burrow is sufficiently deep.

You will be surprised, we think, to hear how much earth is swallowed by
the worms in this way. Just think of it. Every year, in every acre of
agricultural land all over the country, worms bring up from below, on an
average, and spread over the surface in the form of worm-casts, no less
than fourteen tons of earth, or about seven large cartloads!

This is why worms are such useful creatures. They are always, as it
were, digging and plowing the soil. After a time the earth at the
surface becomes exhausted. Nearly all the nourishment is sucked out of
it by the roots of the plants. But the worms are always bringing up
fresh, rich, unused soil from below, and spreading it over the surface
in the form of what farmers call a top-dressing. They are doing, in
fact, exactly what we do when we dig our gardens or plow our
fields--burying the used-up soil that it may rest, and bringing up fresh
mold to take its place.

But, besides turning the soil over, they manure it; for almost every
night from early spring to late autumn worms are busy dragging down
leaves into their burrows. With some of these leaves they line their
tunnels, with some they close the entrances, and on some they feed. And
most of them decay before very long and turn into leaf-mold, which is
just about the very best manure that there is. So you see, the worms do
not merely turn the soil over, they enrich it as well, and help very
largely indeed to keep it in such a condition that plants can continue
to grow in it.


THE LUGWORM

The similar lugworm lives in sandy mud on the sea-shore; and when the
tide is out you may often see its casts in thousands. It is very largely
used by fishermen as bait. When it is carefully washed it is really
quite a handsome creature, for sometimes it is deep crimson in color,
and sometimes dark green, while on its back are twenty-six little
scarlet tufts, arranged in pairs, which are really the gills by which
the worm breathes.

The burrows of the lugworm are not quite like those of the earthworm,
for as its tunnels through the sand it pours out a kind of glue-like
liquid, which very soon hardens and lines the walls, so as to form a
kind of tube and prevent the sides from falling in.


THE TEREBELLA

This worm forms very much stronger tubes. It is common on many parts of
our coasts. But it is not very easily found, for at the slightest alarm
it retreats to the very bottom of its burrow, which nearly always runs
under large stones and rocks.

The terebella makes its tube by means of the little feelers, or
tentacles, which spring from the front part of its body. These have a
most wonderful power of grasp, and one after another little grains of
sand are seized by them, and carefully arranged in position. And when
the tube is quite finished, the animal constructs a little tuft of sandy
threads, so to speak, round the entrance, which you may often see in the
pools left among the rocks by the retreating tide.


THE SEA-MOUSE

Looking far more like a hairy slug than a worm, the sea-mouse also
belongs to the class of the annelids. You can easily find this creature
by hunting in muddy pools among the rocks just above low-water mark; and
most likely you will consider it as one of the dingiest and most
unattractive-looking animals that you have ever seen. But if you rinse
it two or three times over in clean water till every atom of mud has
been washed out of its bristly coat, you may change your opinion. For
now you will see all the colors of the rainbow playing over it--crimson,
purple, orange, blue, and vivid green--just as if every hair were a
prism. It would be difficult, indeed, to find any creature more
beautiful in the waters of the sea. This bristly coat is really a kind
of filter, which strains out the mud from the water that passes to the
gills.


LEECHES

Leeches, too, are annelids, living in fresh water instead of salt water.
They are famous for their blood-sucking habits, and when we examine
their mouths through a microscope we find that they are provided with
three sets of very small saw-like teeth, which are set in the form of a
triangle. When a leech wants to suck the blood of an animal, it fastens
itself to the skin of its victim by means of its sucker-like lips, and
then saws out a tiny triangular piece of skin. That is why it is so
difficult to stop the bleeding after a leech has bitten one. An actual
hole is left in the skin, which does not heal over for some little time.
And a great deal of blood is generally taken by the leech itself, which
will go on sucking away until its body is stretched out to at least
double its former size.

That is rather a big meal to take, isn't it? But then such meals come
very seldom. Indeed, when a leech has once gorged itself thoroughly with
blood, it will often take no more food at all for a whole year
afterward!

Leeches lay their eggs in little masses, called cocoons, which they
place in the clay-banks of the pools in which they live. In each of
these cocoons there are from six to sixteen eggs.

We now come to the last great class of animals about which we shall be
able to tell you--that of the coelenterates. It contains three most
interesting groups of creatures.


JELLYFISHES

You may have seen plenty of jellyfishes if at any time you have been
staying at the seaside, for they are often flung up on the beach by the
retreating tide. But if you were to go and look for them two or three
hours after seeing them, on a bright sunny day, you would find that they
had disappeared. All that would be left of them would be a number of
ring-like marks in the sand, with just a few threads of animal matter in
the middle of each. The reason would be that they had evaporated! That
sounds rather strange, doesn't it? But the fact is that the greater part
of the body of a jellyfish is nothing but water! It is quite
true that if you cut it in half the water does not run away. But then
that is equally true of a cucumber; and cucumbers, too, are made almost
entirely of water. The reason is the same in both cases. The water is
contained in a very large number of tiny cells; and when you cut either
the animal or the vegetable across, only a few of these cells are
divided, and only a small quantity of the water escapes.

Round the edge of the disk of a jellyfish which has just been flung up
by the waves you will find a number of long, slender threads. These are
its fishing-lines, with which it captures its prey, and they are made in
a very curious manner. All the way along they are set with a double row
of very tiny cells, in each of which is coiled up an extremely sharp and
slender dart. These cells are so formed that at the very slightest touch
they fly open, and the little darts spring out; and, besides this, the
darts are poisoned. So as soon as any small creature swims up against
these threads a number of the venomed darts bury themselves in its body,
and the poison acts so quickly that in a very few seconds it is dead.
Then other threads come closing in all round it, and in a very short
time it is forced into the mouth and swallowed.

Some jellyfishes are so poisonous that they are most dangerous even to
man. Only one of these, however, is found in the North Atlantic, almost
all the jellyfishes that one finds lying about on the beach being
perfectly harmless. But if, when you are bathing, you see a
yellowish-brown jellyfish about as big as a soup-plate swimming near you
in the water, be sure to get out of its way as fast as you possibly can;
for if its threads should touch any part of your body, you are almost
sure to be very badly stung. There is very little doubt, indeed, that
many swimmers have been killed by these creatures; while thousands of
unwary bathers have been laid up for days, or even weeks, from the
effects of their poison.


SEA-ANEMONES

What beautiful creatures are these--just like flowers growing under the
sea! Some are like dahlias, some like chrysanthemums, and some
like daisies, of all shades of crimson, and purple, and orange, and
green, and it is very hard to believe that they are really living
animals.

The tentacles of these creatures, which look so like the petals of
flowers, are set with little cells containing poisoned darts, just like
the fishing-threads of the jellyfishes. They can be spread out or drawn
back into the body at will, and when they have all been withdrawn the
anemone seems to be nothing more than a shapeless lump of colored jelly.

Anemones spend the greater part of their lives clinging to the surface
of a rock at the bottom of the water, the broad base of the body acting
just like a big sucker. They can crawl about, however, at will, and
sometimes they will rise to the surface of the sea, turn upside down,
hollow their bodies into the form of little boats, and then float away,
perhaps for quite a long distance.

But few sea-anemones are seen on our eastern coast, because, except in
the cool north, there are few rocks. On the warmer and rockier shores of
California and northward, however, these lovely creatures occur in great
variety.


CORALS

Last upon our list come those most wonderful little creatures which are
known as corals.

These are often called coral insects, but that is a great mistake. For
they have nothing to do with insects at all, and are as different from
them in every way as they can possibly be. They are properly called
polyps, and we can best describe them, perhaps as very small
sea-anemones. But they have one property which the anemones do not
possess, namely, the power of extracting lime out of the sea-water and
building it up round themselves in the form of coral.

These creatures may be roughly divided into two groups, the one
consisting of the simple corals, which only live together in very small
numbers, and the other of the reef-builders, which live in vast
colonies, and build up masses of coral of enormous size. The latter are
by far the more interesting, and the way in which they build up
immense banks of coral is very wonderful indeed.

Remember, first of all, that these animals multiply in two different
ways--sometimes by eggs, and sometimes by little buds, so to speak,
which grow out of the body of the parent. The polyps which hatch out
from eggs swim about for some little time quite freely. But after a few
days they fasten themselves down to the surface of a submerged rock, and
after that they never move again. Other polyps soon come and settle down
by them, and before very long there will be thousands upon thousands of
the little animals all growing, as it were, close together, and all
gradually building up coral underneath and round the margins of their
bodies.

When they reach their full size they begin to multiply by "budding."
Baby polyps sprout out all over their bodies, and these, instead of
swimming about for a few days like those which are hatched from eggs,
remain fixed where they are for the whole of their lives. Then they, in
their turn, begin to deposit coral, and as they have nowhere else to put
it they place it on the bodies of their parents, which before very long
are completely covered in. Now, you see, there is a second layer of
coral on the top of the first. Then in due course of time a third layer
is formed upon the second, and a fourth layer upon the third, each
generation being built in by the one that comes after it, till at last
the coral bank rises above the surface of the water. Then the work has
to stop; for these little creatures cannot live unless the waves can
constantly break over them. But although the bank cannot be raised
higher it can still be extended on all sides; and so the little polyps
go working on, year after year, till at last the results of their labor
are almost too wonderful to realize.


CORAL BANKS

These coral banks take three different forms.

First, there are the fringing reefs. These are great banks of coral
surrounding the shores of a tropical island, or running for long
distances on the coasts of the mainland. The island of Mauritius, for
example, is entirely surrounded by a fringing reef. These reefs
often spread out for miles into the sea, and they are only broken here
and there by narrow passages, where some river or stream is flowing out.
For the polyps cannot live in fresh water.

Next, there are barrier reefs. These are great walls of coral at a
distance from the shore, with deep water between the two. For the polyps
are unable to work at a greater depth than about thirty fathoms, or one
hundred and eighty feet, below the surface; and it often happens that
while there is deep water close to the shores of a tropical island,
there is shallow water farther out. In such a case the polyps have to
build out at sea, instead of close into the land, and there is a kind of
moat between the coral bank and the shore. In this case the bank is
called a barrier reef, and sometimes it is of enormous size. The Great
Barrier Reef, for instance, runs for no less than 1250 miles along the
northeast coast of Australia.

Then, thirdly, there are coral islands, or atolls. There are thousands
of these wonderful islands in the Pacific and the Indian oceans, and
others are still being slowly pushed up out of the sea. They always take
the form of more or less circular rings, in the center of which is a
lake of sea-water called a lagoon. The coral bank of which they consist
is seldom more than a few hundred feet wide, but sometimes the islands
are very large indeed. The biggest of all is ninety miles long and sixty
miles broad, while several others are not very much smaller. Soon after
they rise to the surface of the sea a kind of soil is deposited upon
them, made up partly of powdered coral, ground up by the action of the
waves, and partly of decaying vegetable matter which has been flung up
on them. Then sea-birds bring mud upon their feet from the mainland, or
from another island at a distance, and leave some of it behind them when
they settle down to rest; and in that mud are seeds of plants, which
soon begin to sprout and grow. So in a very few years the island is
covered with low vegetation. Then one day, perhaps, a floating cocoanut
is flung up, and that, too, takes root and grows, so that in course of
time there is a palm-tree. Other palm-trees, of course, follow; and the
result is that the first glimpse which a traveler gets of a coral island
is nearly always that of a row of palm-trees upon the horizon.

The simple corals live in almost all parts of the ocean. Some of them
are occasionally dredged up off our coasts, and can live in very cold
water. But the reef-builders are only found in warm seas, and are never
found working far outside the boundaries of the tropics.

How wonderful it seems that tiny creatures such as these polyps, which
really do not appear to be much more than little lumps of living jelly,
should be able to build up these vast masses of coral from out of the
depths of the sea! One cannot help wondering what the results of their
work will be if the world should last for a few thousand years longer.
It would really seem that by that time the tropical seas will be choked
up with coral islands, and the lagoons inside them will be filled up
with coral too; so that not merely islands, but continents, will have
been raised from the ocean by some of the smallest and weakest and most
insignificant of all living animals!

[Illustration: NORTH AMERICAN SEED-EATING SONG-BIRDS

  1. Scarlet Tanager, or Black-winged Redbird.    2. Song Sparrow.
  3. Baltimore Oriole.    4. Rose-breasted Grosbeak.    5. Cowbird.
  6. Cardinal Grosbeak.    7. Purple Finch.    8. Indigo Finch.

All are adult males.]



WALKS WITH A NATURALIST

Suggestions for Teacher and Pupil in Nature Study


I

SPRING

Let us suppose that we are taking four country walks together, and
trying to use, in actual experience in the field, the information we
have been reading. The first shall be in the spring, the second in
summer, the third when autumn leaves are falling, and the last in
midwinter. We will go along the field-path, follow the lane through the
woods to the creek, then down the stream to the road, and so homeward.

There is plenty to be seen, this bright spring morning. The birds are
very busy, of course, for they have nests to build, and eggs to lay, and
little ones to take care of; so they are hard at work from the very
first thing in the morning till the very last thing at night. Almost
every sparrow that we see has a feather or a piece of straw in its beak,
and the robin which has just flown out of that tree with a terrified
squall has already finished building, and was most likely sitting upon
her eggs. Yes, there is her nest, you see, right on the lowest limb,
with four greenish blue eggs.

See that catbird, all lead-color, with a black cap. See her dodge into
that bush just beyond us. It is just the place for her nest; and, sure
enough, here it is. It is a rough affair, but she mews as pitifully at
us as if it were the finest of homes, and half a dozen other birds are
already screaming their sympathy. Let us just look at the eggs, and
remember that they are a deep polished green, and then walk on, for the
poor mother is very unhappy. We have no use for the eggs, and it
would be shameful to rob her; and, besides, we should thus destroy the
coming lives of four catbirds, who will be too useful as insect-hunters
in our gardens to be wasted.

This path is dusty, and we notice a great many pinhole doors of the
little black ants. The ants are running in and out of them, and if we
should carefully dig up the ground we would find a labyrinth of narrow
passages, here and there widening into chambers, and so learn that these
tiny holes are entrances to an ant-city whose streets are all subways.

Here are some larger ants--three times as big--a regular procession of
them going and coming out from under that half-buried stone, winding
through the grass, and then trotting up and down this tree-trunk. A lot
of them go out along that low limb. Let us climb upon the fence, and try
to see what it is that attracts them. Ah! This is the secret. Clustered
thickly on the bark are hundreds of minute green creatures, smaller than
pinheads. They are busily sucking the sap from the bark, and seem to
interest the ants greatly, for they are stroking these bark-lice
(aphids) with their feelers, and if we had a magnifying-glass we could
see that they were licking up a honey-like liquid which oozes out of two
short tubes on the back of each aphid.

A little distance beyond the ant's apple-tree a young maple stretches
one of its branches out to the sunlight just above our heads, where the
sharp eyes which young naturalists must keep wide open when they walk
abroad will notice a bird's nest hung under the shelter of its broad
outermost leaves. It is one of the loveliest nests in the world. A slim,
graceful, olive-green little bird glides out from beneath the
maple-leaves as we approach, perches near by and watches us silently.
Though she does not mew and scream as did the catbird, she is just as
anxious, you may be sure. Be easy, dear little vireo--for we know your
name--we shall not ruin your home. Let us pull the branch gently down a
little. Now we can see that the nest is a round hammock, woven of
grapevine bark and spider-web, and hung by its edges. It seems too
fragile to hold the weight of the mother, slight as she is; and in it
are three white eggs with a circle of pink and purple dots around their
larger ends. But here is also a fourth egg, much larger, grayish
white, and speckled all over with brown.

That is the egg of the cowbird, a sort of purple, brown-headed blackbird
which you may almost always see in pastures where there are cattle. The
cowbirds, like the European cuckoos, never build any nests of their own,
but put their eggs into those of other birds, and leave them to be
hatched. And they are very fond of choosing the nest of a vireo. One
would think that the mother would notice at once that a strange egg had
been placed in her nest, and would throw it out. But she never seems to
do so, but sits on the cowbird egg as well as on her own, so that in
course of time she hatches out three or four little vireos and one young
cowbird. Then what do you think the stranger does? Why, as soon as the
mother vireo goes out to look for caterpillars for food, it begins to
wriggle underneath the other little birds, and soon shoves them out of
the nest, one after another. Still more strange is it, that when the
vireo comes back she never seems to care that her own little ones are
all lying dead on the ground below, but gives all the food that they
would have eaten to the cowbird. And the greedy cowbird eats it all!
Until it is fledged she feeds it in this way, and takes the greatest
care of it, and even after it has left the nest and is able to fly about
she will come and put caterpillars into its beak.

Look at the trunk of this tree. Why has so much of the bark fallen away
from the wood? And what is this curious pattern engraved, as it were,
upon the wood--a broad groove running downward, and a number of smaller
grooves branching out from this on each side?

Ah! that is the work of a very odd little beetle, with a black head and
reddish-brown wing-cases. About eighteen months ago, probably, a mother
beetle came flying along, settled on the tree, and bored a hole through
the bark, just big enough for her to pass through. Then she began to
burrow downward between the bark and the wood, cutting the central
groove which you see in the pattern. As she did so she kept on laying
eggs, first on one side of the groove and then on the other, in the
short branch-tunnels, which she cut out as she went along. In this way
she laid, perhaps, eighty or ninety eggs altogether. When the last had
been laid she turned round, climbed up her burrow again, passed into the
hole by which she came in, and--died in it! And by so doing she blocked
up her burrow with her dead body, and so prevented centipedes and other
hungry creatures from getting in and eating up her eggs.

Early in the following spring all the eggs hatched, and out came a
number of hungry little grubs with hard, horny heads and strong, sharp
little jaws. Every one of these grubs at once began to make a burrow of
its own, boring away at right angles to the groove made by the mother
beetle, and cutting away the fibers which bind the bark to the wood. The
consequence was, of course, that by the time they were fully grown quite
a big piece of bark had been cut away. And very likely if we were to
come and look at the tree again in two years' time we should find that
the whole of the trunk had been completely stripped.

"Then these little beetles are very mischievous?" Oh, no, they are not;
for they never touch a healthy tree. They only attack those trees which
are sickly or diseased.

Here we are on the banks of the stream. Let us make our way home by the
path which lies beside it.

Ah! Did you see that flash of blue and white and orange that went
darting by, almost like a streak of many-colored light, sounding a loud
rattling call as he flew? It was a kingfisher, and if we stand quite
still for a minute or two, without moving so much as a finger, we shall
very likely see him again. Yes, there he is, sitting on that branch
overhanging the stream, and peering down into the water beneath. He is
watching for little fishes, upon which he feeds. There, he has caught
sight of one, and down he drops into the water, splashes about for a
moment or two, and then rises with a minnow in his beak. Back he flies
to his perch, slaps the little fish against the branch once or twice to
kill it, jerks it up into the air, catches it head foremost as it falls,
and then swallows it with one big gulp. A moment later he is peering
down into the water again on the lookout for another.

That hole in the face of the steep bank across the stream is the doorway
of the kingfisher's home. If we could get there, and should try to dig
it, we would find it a hard task; for from that round door a tunnel runs
into the ground probably six or eight feet, and ends in a
chamber where lie half a dozen pure white eggs, resting upon the bones
of fishes and scraps of every sort, which make a very ill-smelling place
for the young kingfishers to be born in; but they do not mind that.

The butterfly that has just floated by is a small tortoise-shell, and it
has lived through the winter, which kills nearly all of the butterfly
tribe. That is why its wings are faded and chipped, for it had six or
eight weeks of active life before it hid itself away, last of all, in a
hollow tree, and entered upon a six-months' slumber. Sometimes, on a
warmer day than usual, these and certain other butterflies will be
roused up, and will flutter about in the sunshine, so that now and then
you may capture a tortoise-shell even in the Christmas holidays.

The warm May sunshine is enticing out many a minute insect--gnats and
flies especially. Dancing companies of small sulphur yellow and other
companies of blue butterflies whirl about one another over the rapidly
growing grass.

Have you noticed among the May flowers how many are yellow? There are
dandelions, and yellow violets, and the modest fivefinger low in the
herbage, while above them tower great tufts of wild mustard and indigo,
the buttercups, the marsh-marigold, and many another.

The frogs and toads are less noisy than a month ago, and one sees fewer
masses and strings of eggs in the roadside ditches than in April; but in
their place the pools swarm with tadpoles, and it will be well worth
your while to keep watch of their growth. Try to find out what they eat,
and what eats them. Observe when the tail begins to disappear, and how
it is lost; when the legs begin to appear, and which pair first shows
itself. You may learn a lot of interesting facts about frogs and toads
before the summer is done, if you are diligent.

In this stream are a few turtles. Can you tell when and where they lay
their eggs? Keep careful watch of the little sandy beaches, and perhaps
you may see one digging a hole in which to bury her set of sixty or so,
leaving the sun to supply a better warmth than she could give them.

May is a month of activity for snakes. They have thrown off the
stiffness and drowsiness of their long winter torpidity, and, grown
thin after five months of fasting, are running about in search of food.
Let the frogs and toads, the beetles and young ground-sparrows and
mice--also weak from their winter trials--take heed, for the swift
blacksnake or sly garter, or rapacious water-snake will seize them
before they have time to squeal!

The water in the stream is still cool, but the fishes are struggling up
the current, pickerel are spawning in the weedy shallows, and among the
pebbles of the bottom a host of young creatures are beginning to grow
vigorous.

None among them is more active than the larval caddis-flies, or
case-worms, as anglers call them. Here is a caddis-fly now, its gauzy
wings folded tentwise over its back. All its earlier life was spent in
the water, and when it was a grub it lived in a very curious case, which
it made by cutting up a rush into short lengths, and sticking them
together by means of a kind of natural glue. When once a caddis-grub has
made one of these cases it never gets out of it again, but drags it
about wherever it goes. And if you try to pull it out you will find that
you cannot do so without killing it. For at the end of its body it has a
pair of strong little pincers, with which it holds on so firmly and so
doggedly to its case that you might actually pull it in two without
forcing it to loose its hold.

There are different kinds of caddis-flies, however, and the grub of one
kind fastens grains of sand together to make a case, while that of
another sticks two dead leaves face to face, and lives between them.

It would be an interesting task for a boy or girl to see how many
different kinds of caddis-flies, judging by their cases, lived in the
stream, and to keep them alive in an aquarium, and watch their behavior
and changes.


II

SUMMER

A walk in midsummer is a stroll through what seems a quiet world
compared with the noise and brightness of May. Then every leaf was green
and crisp, every bird in full song, and the world seemed to have
an air of gay youth, like a vigorous boy or girl full of eagerness and
activity.

Now as July draws toward its end the eagerness has subsided and the
year, like a lad grown a little older and more serious, has settled down
to regular work. Had our walk been taken before breakfast, we should
have heard no end of birds singing, it is true; but about the time the
dew dried from the grass most of them ceased their music. One reason,
besides the noonday heat, is that they are too busy to sing, for the
husband and father--and he is the singer of the family--must now help
his mate feed her young. We fear, however, he is not a very good
provider after the fledglings quit the nest, leaving most of their
support and schooling to the mother. At this season one may often come
upon and watch a little family group of this kind, and perhaps we may do
so.

Meanwhile let us sit down for a moment on this grassy bank--not too near
that fence-post, for do you not see twined about it that vine with the
reddish hairy stem, and the shining leaves in groups of threes? That is
the poison-ivy, which may cause an itching rash to break out upon your
skin if you touch it. You must learn to recognize and avoid this
"ivy"--which is not a true ivy, but a kind of climbing sumach--before
you go poking around in the fields, or you will be sorry. Do you notice
the delicious beeswax-like odor in the air? That comes from the big
yellow branches of blossoms on another and perfectly harmless kind of
sumach--that scraggly sort of bush just beyond the fence.

See how the bees are humming about it--some of them honey-bees from a
farmer's hive, others big bumblebees and small burrowing kinds. All are
in search of the minute drops of sweet liquid which each of the tiny
flowers in the blossom-head contains, and which turns into honey after
it has been carried a little while in the insect's crop, or lower part
of the throat, where it lodges. Then it is suitable to be really
swallowed, or to be coughed up and fed to the young bees at home, or
stored away in the cells of such bees as store up honey, for many wild
bees do not make such stores.

Besides its nectar, however, every flower contains a quantity of small
particles, like dust, which are produced in the heads of the little
thread-like interior parts of the blossom called the stamens; and in
order that the flower shall turn to a seed it is needful that some
grains of this dust, or pollen, shall fall upon another hollow part
called the pistil, and so pass down into its base. It is much better
that the pollen of one flower shall get into the pistil of another than
into its own. The wind manages this to some extent--especially for the
grasses--by shaking or blowing the loose pollen out of one flower and
into another.

But the bees help this process greatly, and so may be said to pay for
the sweets they use. Watch this one buzzing in front of that clump of
jewelweed. Suddenly the loud humming ceases, and the bee crowds herself
into the hanging, bell-like blossom, searching for the nectar. Now she
is backing slowly out, and you may see how her furry body is
half-powdered with yellow dust. That is pollen; and when she dives into
another "jewel" she will brush some of it off against the pistil there,
which is right in her way, and is very glad to accept her gift. So the
bees and other insects humming about the flowers in this hot sunshine
are not only getting their living but helping the plants to keep
vigorous and produce lots of healthy seed.

Now let us move on. The sky is filled with swallows. There are the
fork-tailed ones that make their nests inside the barn; the
square-tailed ones that form their curious bottle-shaped nests of mud on
the outside, under the eaves; and the purple martins that live in our
bird-house in the garden. They are darting and dashing and skimming
about in mid-air as though they did not know what it is to be tired; and
if only they were a little closer we should see that every one of them
has its mouth wide open. The reason is that these birds have very sticky
tongues, and that all the time they are in the air they are chasing
flying insects, bothersome gnats and mosquitoes among the rest. As soon
as one of these insects is touched by the tongue, it sticks to it. Then,
without swallowing it, the bird tucks it away in the upper part of its
throat, and goes off to hunt for another. After a time it has quite a
ball of little bugs packed away in this curious manner, and can carry no
more; so it flies off to its nest, and divides them among its little
ones.

Do you see that small olive-green bird sitting very erect on that
fence-post? There--it suddenly springs into the air, flutters up and
down for just half a moment, and then returns to the post. It is a
flycatcher, and for hours together it will go on catching insects just
in that same way. As it alights it tells us its name, calling
_Phoe-e-be, Phoe-e-be_ in a sad sort of voice, though there is
no reason to think it is sorrowful at all. If we should go down to that
bridge over the stream in the valley we would find its solid nest of
moss and mud among the stones of one of the piers.

The woodland path is not so good a place for birds as are more open
spaces; but one hears here the distant cooing of a dove, the
_chip-chur-r-r_ shout of the scarlet tanager, as red as fire
everywhere except on its black wings and tail, and often the tapping of
a woodpecker. There is one at work now on that tall dead stub. If you
want to see him you must keep perfectly still, for if he notices that he
is watched he begins to think some harm may follow, and either flies
away or stops work, scrambling around the trunk and peering out from
behind it with one eye to see what you mean to do next. See how firmly
he clings to the trunk. If you were close enough you could see that two
of the large-clawed toes at the end of his short strong legs and feet
were straight forward and two straight backward; and that he is also
propping himself up by means of his short stiff little tail, which is
bent inward, and really serves as a kind of natural camp-stool! Now he
is pecking away at the bark with his strong chisel-like beak, and making
the chips fly in all directions. Most likely the grub of some burrowing
beetle is lying hidden in the wood below, and he is trying to dig it
out. But he will not have to dig down to the very bottom of its tunnel,
for he has a very long slender tongue with a brush-like tip; and this
tip is very sticky. And with this, after he has enlarged the mouth of
the burrow, he will lick out the little grub which is lying hidden away
within it.

Now let us make our way to the path by the side of the stream.

What a number of galls there are on these oak-trees--some on the leaves,
some hanging down from the twigs in clusters, like currants, and some
growing on the twigs themselves! Do you know what causes them?

Well, a very tiny fly pricks a hole in a leaf, or a young shoot, by
means of a kind of sharp sting at the end of her body, and in that hole
she places an egg, together with a very small drop of a peculiar liquid.
This liquid has an irritating effect on the leaf, or twig, and causes a
swelling to grow; and when this has reached its full size, and become
what we call a gall, a little grub hatches out of the egg, and begins to
feed upon it. Sometimes there are several grubs in one gall. If we were
to cut one of those large red and white "oak-apples" to pieces, probably
we should find as many as a dozen, each lying curled up in a hollow
which it had eaten out.

If a naturalist had to choose some one place in which to carry on his
outdoor studies, he could find none better than the course of a small
rural river, and a year's work would not exhaust it. Just now, in
midsummer, he would be most interested in the nesting of the sunfish and
minnows. Let us steal quietly to the brink, where the turf forms a
little bank, a foot or so high, to which the bottom slopes up in clear
sand and gravel, with here and there a clump of bulrushes. Let us lie
down and scan this bottom through the clear water rippling gently by,
keeping very quiet, so as not to alarm any fishes which may swim near,
for they are the very fellows we wish to see.

Here comes a little one--a common shiner--no, a golden one--stealing
cautiously toward an open space. A much smaller fish--not so big as your
little finger--shoots past him and stops as suddenly as if it had run
against a wall, then an instant later is off again so swiftly you can
hardly see it move. No wonder it is called Johnny Darter! Meanwhile the
shiner, a minnow in a scale-armor of burnished gold, moves slowly on.
Where is he aiming? Ah! look over there. Do you see that low ring of
sand, about as large as a dinner-plate, running about some clear gravel,
as though the plate were strewn with small pebbles?

That is a nest of a sunfish; and look! did you see the swoop of that
gray shadow from the bulrushes? The shiner turned and fled like a bright
streak through the water; and now the gray shadow is poised over the
dish-like nest, and we see that it is the blue-eared sunfish, or
"punkin-seed," as you say the boys call it when they go a-fishing.

See how with its breast-fins it fans the gravel among which its eggs are
lying. They are so small and transparent that we cannot see them, but
they are there, and must be kept clean. So the fish stirs the water and
the current sweeps away everything which may have lodged there while the
owner was away for a few minutes. But he never goes far, for he must
guard his treasures against enemies like the shiner and other fishes,
salamanders, water-bugs, and the like, which would eat them if they
dared.

Butterflies innumerable greet us and dance along the roadside, as if to
see us safely home. Many are small and yellow, or white and yellow, with
handsomely bordered wings, and they are greatly interested in the
clover. Then we see plenty of little blues, very regular in outline, and
with them various coppers, distinguished by their orange and brown
colors, each with a coppery tinge and set off by black markings. The
hair-streaks are brown, too, with delicate stripes for ornaments on the
lower surface, which are shown neatly when the wings are closed upright
above the back. Did you know this was one of the distinctive marks of a
butterfly? A moth never holds its wings on high in that fashion.

But it is the larger butterflies that first catch the eye, such as the
monarch and the viceroy, the fritillaries, fox-red and black, with
trimmings of silver; the red admiral, and other anglewings, beautiful in
outline as well as in colors; the delicately pretty meadow-browns, and
the magnificent swallowtails and mourning-cloaks.

Don't you think it would be interesting and delightful to study these
exquisite creatures?


III

AUTUMN

It is a bright warm day in October; and once more, as we go for our
ramble, everything seems changed. The autumn flowers are blooming, the
autumn tints are in the leaves; and again there are different animals,
and different birds, and different insects almost everywhere around us.

We hardly take ten steps before there is a sudden commotion in a clump
of tall grass by the path, and a red-backed mouse leaps almost over our
toes and dives down a little hole which otherwise we should not have
noticed. Doubtless he carried a mouthful of grass-seeds to add to his
granary under ground. All over the country mice and gophers and
squirrels are doing the same thing. There's a big gray squirrel, now,
scratching a hole in the ground as busily as a terrier who thinks he
smells a mole. Suddenly he stops, drops a hickory-nut into the little
grave, paws the dirt and leaves over it, pats them down, and canters
away. All day he is burying nuts so that when, next winter, the trees
are bare, he may dig them up and feed upon their meat. Sometimes he
doesn't need to, or forgets, and then a tree may spring up. Many a fine
hickory or chestnut was planted in this way by squirrels.

[Illustration: CHICKADEE AND WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH.]

What is that red squirrel doing under the chestnut-tree by the side of
the lane? He is hard at work collecting chestnuts, stuffing his big
cheeks with them and carrying them away to hide for use next winter. He
seems to realize that although he will sleep in his bed under the stone
fence almost the whole time from Thanksgiving to Easter, he will wake up
now and then, on warm days, and will feel dreadfully hungry. But then
there will be little to be found in the way of food. So he is now
gathering nuts and acorns and dry mushrooms, and hiding them away so as
to be prepared. Some he puts in a hole in the trunk of a tree, others in
crevices in the stone wall; others he takes into his hole underground,
where his cousin, the saucy chipmunk, stores all of _his_ savings.

Notice how the pretty little animal uses his bushy tail as he scampers
along a branch. Do you see that he holds it stretched out behind him,
and keeps on turning it slightly first to one side and then to the
other? The fact is that it helps him to keep his balance. When a man
walks upon the tight rope he generally carries in his hands a long pole,
which is weighted at each end with lead. Then if he feels that he is
losing his balance, he can almost always recover it again by tilting up
his pole. The squirrel's tail serves _him_ as a sort of
balancing-pole, and by turning it a little bit to one side, or a little
bit to the other, he can run along the slenderest branches at full speed
without any danger of falling.

Everywhere we go we hear the whirring of grasshoppers, the chirping of
black crickets, and the shrill declarations of the katydids. A blind man
who could not see the scarlet of the maples, the deep crimson and purple
of sumachs, the pepperidge and the blackberry thickets, or the golden
glow in the birches as the sunlight strikes through them, would know the
season of the year by the sounds.

How do the insects make their noise--for one can hardly call it singing?
That will be a good subject for you to look up in your books. The air is
filled with the droning and humming of other insects; how are these
sounds produced?

We notice the insect-noises more, perhaps, because other animals are so
quiet. It is rare to hear the croak of a frog, or the piping of a
tree-toad or the note of a bird. What has become of the birds? When we
see a few they are in flocks, and seem very intent on traveling
somewhere. The truth is they are gathering in companies and journeying
away to the south, where winter, with its cold and snow and hunger,
cannot follow them. Next spring they will come back again, to spend the
summer with us.

Only those birds remain which can live upon seeds, or pick up rough fare
along the sea-shore. A band of small winged friends are flitting about
among the weeds ahead of us. Do you not know them? Look closely. Aren't
the canary-like form and black wings familiar? You would say they were
goldfinches if they were more yellow, wouldn't you? Now you see that
that is what they are, but in an olive dress. The fact is that all birds
molt their feathers twice a year. In spring the new feathers come out in
bright colors, and in autumn there worn gay coats are lost, and feathers
of duller hue take their place. Thus the brilliant yellow and black
goldfinch of summer becomes a quiet Quaker in winter. Such a change is
very advantageous to the birds--how, you may study out for yourselves.

Butterflies are scarce, too, but these have died, not run away, as the
birds are doing. One sees a good many sluggish caterpillars, however;
and sharp eyes may begin to find cocoons hanging from the bushes, or
tucked into crevices of bark, or plastered against rocks and the boards
of old fences. If you were to keep account of all the different kinds
you could find, you would soon have a long list; and if you were to
learn how to keep them properly and care for the butterflies and moths
which will come out of them in the spring, you could start an admirable
cabinet.

Here is a patch of milkweed. Examine each plant thoroughly because there
may be a gift for you hidden among the leaves. You have found "something
pretty," you say? What is it like? "Like a green thimble, with rows of
gold buttons on it." That is a pretty accurate description; only your
thimble is closed at the top, where it hangs by a short thread, and it
is heavy and alive, for it is the lovely chrysalis of the milkweed
butterfly. Next summer you must learn the appearance of that species,
which you can easily do, for it is one of our largest and commonest
ones.

Where the milkweeds grow you are pretty sure to see also masses of
goldenrod, and towering high above them the great, flowering pillars of
joepye-weed. Such clumps are good hunting-places for autumnal insects.
There gather the soldier-beetles, brilliant in uniforms of yellow and
black. They are sometimes so numerous as to bend down the plants by
their weight, and are in constant motion, crawling about the blossoms,
or flying from spray to spray. Here, too, come locust-boring beetles,
black with a line of yellow V's on the back, whose eggs are laid in the
soft inner bark of locust-trees; and fat short-winged blister-beetles,
or oil-beetles, which leave such a bad odor on the hands when touched.
This is due to an acrid oil which oozes out of the joints of the
beetle's legs when it is handled and thinks itself in danger. It is a
protection, for it both smells and tastes so nasty that no bird will
ever attempt to eat an oil-beetle. And its body is so very big because
it lays such an enormous number of eggs. How many eggs do you think an
oil-beetle will lay? Why, something like thirty thousand! She lays them
in batches in little holes in the ground, and a few days afterward a
tiny little grub hatches out of each egg, and begins to hunt about for
some flower that bees are likely to visit. When it finds one, it climbs
up the stem, hides among the petals, and waits. Then as soon as a bee
settles upon the flower it springs upon her and clings to her hairy
body. The bee is very busy collecting nectar and pollen, and the grub is
very tiny; so she never seems to notice that the long-legged little
creature is clinging to her, and carries it back with her to her nest.
Then the grub lets go, and proceeds to eat all the "bee-bread" which the
bee had stored up so carefully for her own little ones.

How is it that all the trees, bushes, and plants are covered with
threads of spider's silk, which often annoys us by getting on our hands
or faces? Let us help you to an answer. This is the time of year when
spiders are most numerous and most active; and many a spider trails
behind it a thread of gossamer wherever it goes, and leaves it there. On
many of the plants, bushes, trees, and fences you may see, if you look
closely, very small spiders resting. Those little spiders have been
taking a journey through the air--a sort of balloon trip. During the
summer a number of spiders, all living near one another, had big
families--a hundred or more in each. Perhaps you noticed in July and
August spiders dragging about large white bundles: they were packets of
eggs from which the young hatched. So many coming into the world
together made it difficult to find food. So, one by one, the little
spiders climbed low bushes or tall plants, and perched themselves on the
tips of the topmost leaves. Then each poured out from the end of its
body a slender thread of silk, which floated straight up in the warm air
rising from the heated ground.

At last each little spider had seven or eight feet of thread rising up
into the air above it. Then suddenly it loosed its hold of the leaf, and
mounted into the air at the end of its own thread, higher, and higher,
and higher, till it had risen several hundreds of feet into the air.
Then it met a gentle breeze traveling slowly overhead, and traveled
along with it, mile after mile, still resting on its thread. And when it
wanted to come down, all that it had to do was to roll up the thread
till there was not quite enough left to support it, and so it came
floating gently down to the ground below. Then, having no more use for
the thread, it broke loose from it and left it lying like a fallen
telegraph wire across the tops of the bushes and fences and other
things, where our faces brush against it.

What a pretty green fly this is sitting upon the fence, with delicate
gauzy wings looking like the most delicate lacework!

Yes, that is a lacewing fly. Just notice what wonderful eyes it has.
They look like little globes of crimson fire, and it is quite difficult
to believe that a tiny lamp is not alight inside the head. This fly lays
its eggs in a most curious way. Settling on a twig, she pours out a drop
of a kind of thick gum from the end of her body. Then, jerking her body
suddenly upward, she draws out this gum into a slender thread, which
hardens as soon as it comes into contact with the air; and just as she
lets go she fastens an egg to the tip. She then lays another egg in the
same manner, and then another, and then another, and so she goes on till
she has laid quite a little cluster of eggs--perhaps ninety or a hundred
altogether. You would not think that they were eggs if you were to see
them. You would be almost sure to think that the little cluster was a
tuft of moss. Indeed, for a great many years even botanists thought that
these eggs were a kind of moss, and put pictures of them in books of
botany accordingly!

Look at these odd little black and white spiders. How jerkily they run;
never moving more than an inch or so at a time, then stopping to rest,
and then generally darting off again in a different direction. They are
hunting-spiders, and are so called because they hunt for insects instead
of trying to catch them in a web. You may see one of these spiders
"stalking" a fly very much as a cat creeps up to a bird, and then
suddenly springing upon it and leaping into the air with its victim firm
in its grip.

Slowly the days grow shorter, the rains come more frequently, flowers
wither, and the herbage shrivels. Insects die off, the birds one by one
disappear quietly, or gather in flocks to journey southward, and the
woods grow quiet and gray.


IV

WINTER

As we look out of the window on a landscape of snow, or of half-bare
earth, frozen roads, and leafless trees, the world seems lifeless. But
one who starts out for a walk, anxious to discover whether all nature is
really dead, will soon find that it is very much alive, though much of
it is buried in slumber. Let us test it.

As we take the well-accustomed path we cannot but contrast the bareness
and silence with the activity and color and cheerful noise about us when
a few weeks ago we strolled this way. The thought saddens and
discourages us a little, when suddenly there comes to our ears

    "_Chick-chick-a-dee-dee!_ Saucy note,
    Out of sound heart and merry throat,
    As if it said: 'Good day, good sir!
    Fine afternoon, old passenger!
    Happy to meet you in these places
    Where January brings few faces.'"

There is the singer--half a dozen of them in fact--fluffy little gray,
black-capped birds not much bigger than a man's thumb, dodging busily
about the limbs of that old apple-tree, swinging with desperate clutch
at the tip of a twig, hanging head downward to get at a morsel on the
under side of the bough, and chattering all the time as though cold
weather were no hardship at all.

What do they find to eat? Keep your eyes on one, and see if you cannot
guess. He is pecking here and there at the bark, and swallowing
something so minute we cannot recognize it. But do you not remember how,
last summer, we watched the procession of ants climbing this very tree
to get honey from a "herd" of aphids on the branches? Those bark-lice
are still there, each hidden under a sort of scale, like a winter
blanket; and it is these that the chickadees are pulling off and eating.
It takes a great many of them to make a meal, and the birds must keep
very busy. Perhaps that is one reason why they seem so happy. A busy
person is usually a cheerful one.

When you meet a winter group of these merry tomtits it is well to wait
quietly for a little while, since you are pretty sure to find others
following them. There! do you hear that sharp tapping? Turn your head
and you will see a small woodpecker with its checkered black and white
coat, and a broad white stripe down the back, hewing away at the thick
bark of that oak. He is tremendously in earnest, and let us hope he
finds a good fat grub.

Gliding down the next tree-trunk comes something which for an instant we
take for a mouse--it is so bluish and furtive; but it is a bird--a
nuthatch--which has a straight slender bill almost like a woodpecker's,
and which digs into the cracks and crannies for eggs and hiding grubs of
small insects, now and then smashing a thin-shelled acorn for the wormy
meal it contains, or tearing to pieces the fuzzy cocoon of a
tussock-moth. It has an odd habit of working almost always head
downward, and now and then lifts its head and squeaks out a sharp
_nee-nee-nee_, as though it said "Never-mind-me. 'Tain't cold!"

Quite likely on the next tree a brown creeper--sedate brown little lady
of a bird--is gliding about the trunk, very daintily picking and
searching with her long slender and curving beak for similar hidden
food. She is a dear little creature.

Even prettier are the kinglets that often form one of this little
company of winter workers. They are the smallest of all American birds
except the hummers, and are olive green with tiny crowns of gold and
rubies, as one might say. They have the activity and nimbleness of the
chickadees, and toward spring cheer us with a brilliant song. These
lovely pygmies are cousins of the wrens; and one may sometimes see
flitting about the brush a real wren, which in summer flies away to the
far north, letting us hear for a few days in March, before he leaves,
specimens of the exquisite song with which he will make the Canadian
woods ring when next June he meets his mate and builds his nest among
the great pines and spruces.

Most of our birds, you know, flee southward, when cold weather
approaches, but some, like the crow, many birds of prey, as hawks and
owls, some game-birds, such as Bob White and the grouse, several of the
seed-eating sparrow tribe, and some others, such as the little fellows
we have been watching, stay with us, because they find plenty of food.
If we should go out every day of the winter we could make a long list of
these by the time All Fools' day came around. To it might be added a
goodly list of birds whose proper home is in Northern Canada, but which
in midwinter come south to a country which is less snowy if not less
cold. The snowbirds, with their satiny feet and ivory bills, dressed
like gentlemen in lead-colored coats and white vests, to which you toss
crumbs from the breakfast table every morning, are in this class.
Doubtless we shall see others as we turn down the wooded lane that leads
to the creek.

Here among these bushes is a good place to look for cocoons of moths and
butterflies. One is pretty sure to see at once a few of those of the big
Promethea moth folded within a large leaf, the stem of which is lashed
by silk threads to its twig so that it will not fall or be blown away.
Very likely on the same bush will hang a similar big cocoon, but this
one fastened all along the under side of the twig, so that it is
hammock-shaped. Search about among the heaped-up leaves beneath the
bush, and you may find the cocoons of the great Polyphemus silkworm-moth
and of that exquisite pale-green luna-moth which flits like a ghost to
our lighted windows on summer nights.

But these are the giants of their race. Hundreds of smaller cocoons and
chrysalids--papery, fuzzy, leathery, or naked and varnished to keep out
the damp, may be discovered in the crevices of the old fence, upon and
beneath the rough bark of trees, rolled up in leaves little and big, and
buried in the ground, where the moles hunt for them when the ground is
not frozen too hard, and the skunks dig them up.

How about the moles and the skunks? Well, the moles are by no means as
active as in summer, though they move around somewhat under the frozen
layer of top-soil, in search of the earthworms which have been driven
deep down by the frost. As for the skunks, they, like the woodchucks,
the chipmunks, and the red squirrels, are deeply sleeping in underground
beds; but plenty of four-foots are wide awake. See how that gray
squirrel is making the snow fly as he paws his way down to the nut he
buried three months ago! Only the tip of the plume of his tail waves
above the drift.

Do you see that double row of holes punched in the snow? Every country
boy knows them as the track of a rabbit, and would tell you how fast the
rabbit was going. But what embroidered on the glistening snow-sheet this
lovely chain that extends wavily from this tree to that stone wall? A
weasel. Little cares he for cold, in his white ermine coat; and many's
the careless sparrow, and snugly tucked-in mouse that falls to his quick
spring and sharp white teeth. The weasel's nearest cousin, the mink, is
working for his living, too, these winter days, haunting the warm
spring-holes in hope of catching eels or other fish. Perhaps we shall
see some signs of his work along the creek.

And now we have come to the end of the last of our rambles. But don't
think that we have seen nearly all that there is to be seen. If we had
been able to spend a little more time in the fields, or the lane, or the
wood, or on the banks of the stream, we should have noticed a great many
more animals and birds and reptiles and insects, quite as curious and
quite as interesting as any of those which we have met with. And if we
had taken a dozen rambles together instead of only four, each time we
should have found fresh creatures to look at, and fresh marvels to
wonder at, and fresh beauties to admire. For wherever we go nature
always has something new to show us; and the world is full of wonderful
sights for every one who has eyes to see.



NATURE-STUDY AT THE SEASIDE


Introduction

Many very curious and interesting creatures are to be found on the
seashore, and we dare say you would like to know something about them.
So let us take, in thought, four rambles along the shore together. First
we will go for a stroll on the sandy beach, which is left quite dry for
some little time when the tide goes down. Next, we will pay a visit to
the stretches of mud just above low-tide mark, left bare in the coves
for perhaps a couple of hours twice each day. For our third ramble we
will wander about among the rocks, and examine the creatures which are
crawling about on them, or burrowing into them, or hiding underneath the
great masses of seaweed with which they are covered. And then, lastly,
we will search in the pools which lie between the rocks, where we shall
probably find some of the most interesting animals of all.

We will suppose that these walks are on our Atlantic coast, for we have
not time now to explore the shores of the Pacific and describe its
animals, many of which are very different from those of the Eastern
coast.


I

ALONG THE SANDY BEACH

As all the coast of the United States south of New York, and Cape Cod
and Long Island besides, are formed of soil and pebbles ground off the
tops and sides of the Appalachian ranges of mountains, the ocean beaches
and the bottom of the sea near shore are all of sand, constantly swept
by currents, and moved by storms. On such a plain of shifting sand not
many plants or animals can live save those which are able to swim or to
bury themselves; and not nearly so long a list can be made as among the
rocks which give root-hold and shelter, or where the bottom is muddy, as
we shall see later; yet a walk will enable us to find a good many things
about which you ought to know something.

Here, for instance, are a lot of shells, the hard outer coats of the
soft boneless creatures we call mollusks, such as you know very well on
land as snails. When you have filled your little basket, if we asked you
to sort them into two kinds, you would be almost sure to put those which
consist of two pieces, attached together, into one pile, and those which
are in one solid piece, and more or less twisted like a snail, into the
other. This would mark a real division, for the first heap would have
the clam-like mollusks which we call bivalves, and the second would have
those coiled gastropod mollusks that we may call sea-snails.

The bivalves scattered along the beach are all dead and mostly broken,
for they have been washed up from muddy places; but many of the
sea-snails may be found alive and belong here on the sand, and so we may
look first at them.

Here is a big one to begin with which the southern fishermen call a
conch and the northern oystermen a winkle. It is shaped like a pear, and
pushing out of its shell a very tough muscular part of its body called
the foot, it plows along in the sand, or even burrows into it, small end
first, searching for food, which consists of animal matter, either dead
or alive. It finds this by its sense of smell, and when it comes to it,
thrusts out of its head, near the forward end of the foot, a long
ribbon-like tongue, covered with hundreds of minute flinty teeth, and
rasps away the flesh. Winkles are numerous everywhere and are of great
service in devouring dead fish, etc., which would pollute the water; but
they also eat a great quantity of oysters, as we shall see presently.
You will find two kinds, and should note how their shells differ.

Very likely you will find among the long rows of dead eel-grass and
drift-stuff marking the reach of high tides a twisted string of most
curious objects, each about as big as a cent, feeling as if made
of yellow paper and strung together like a necklace on a stiff cord.
These are the eggs of a conch, or more truly, the egg-cases, for in each
cent-like capsule was placed an egg. You can prove it by opening some of
them. In the dry ones you will probably find only dead young shells,
hardly bigger than pin-heads, which have hatched from the eggs; but now
and then you may pick up a soft and elastic set, and in these, which are
alive, or have only lately been torn from the weeds in deep water and
thrown upon the beach, you will find much larger baby conchs, which by
and by would have found a way out and begun to travel about.

We have already picked up several different sorts of slender, twisted
sea-snails of small size, and a few as big as a walnut and almost as
round, save for the circular opening out of which the animal pushes its
foot. His name is Natica, and he is one of the worst foes of the clam,
whose shell he bores. Here, half buried in the wet sand at the edge of
the gentle surf, is a living one, and we can see the grooved trail
behind him showing where he has traveled. We will pick him up, and see
how hastily he shrinks back into the armor of his shell, and shuts his
door with a plate growing upon the tip-end of his foot. All these
sea-snails have such a plate, sometimes thin and horny like this one,
sometimes thick and shell-like; and if you try to pry it away you will
have to tear it to pieces, for the frightened animal will not let go its
strong hold. He knows better than to open his door and let you pick him
out. Even if you did you would have to tear his body out piecemeal, for
he would by no means uncoil it from around the central post of his house
and let himself be dragged out whole. This door is a good protection,
then, against the claws of crabs and the nibbling teeth of fishes and
various small parasites which would like to get at him. It is called an
operculum.

Just lift up some of that seaweed and stuff which the waves have piled
up. Why, the sand underneath it is simply alive with sandhoppers,
besides various jumping and crawling insects, sand-bugs, spiders, etc.
But the sandhoppers are most numerous--there must be a hundred, all
skipping about so actively that it is quite difficult to follow their
movements. They were feeding upon the seaweed, and their sharp
little jaws are so powerful that if you were to tie up a few sandhoppers
in your handkerchief and carry them home, you would be almost sure to
find that they had nibbled a number of little holes in it by the time
that you got there! But surely such little creatures as sandhoppers
cannot do very much good, even by eating decaying seaweed. Ah! but there
are so many of them! Wherever the shore is sandy they live in thousands,
and even in millions. If you walk along the edge of the sea, sometimes,
when the tide is rising, you will see them skipping about in such vast
numbers that the air looks as if it were filled with a kind of mist for
a foot or eighteen inches from the ground. And though many of the
shore-birds feed upon them, and some of the land-birds do so, too, and
the shore-crabs eat a very great many, yet their numbers never seem to
grow less.

These sandhoppers are small cousins of the crabs with which we shall get
acquainted when we go to the mud-flat; and a search would find many
others, such as beach-fleas of various kinds. Here and there are strange
grooves, and--look! one of them is growing longer under our very eyes.
Dig away the sand just ahead of it, and see what you can find. There it
is--a small ivory-like creature, about twice as big as a pumpkin-seed.
It is a sand-bug, or hippa, and it burrows along just under the surface,
searching for minute particles of food among the grains and letting the
sand fall in behind it, for it does not mean to make a tunnel.

One of the waste objects you tossed aside was a piece of wood which the
waves have flung up, and which no doubt once formed part of a wrecked
vessel.

"And I don't wonder!" some one exclaims, "if all the timbers were as
rotten as that!"

The bit of timber is certainly ruined--but what has happened to it? It
is full of long round burrows, each about big enough to admit a
lead-pencil, and so close together that the walls between them are very
little thicker than paper; and every burrow seems to be lined with a
kind of glaze.

That is the work of a curious creature known the world over as the
ship-worm, which often does a great deal of mischief by burrowing into
the hulls of ships and the timbers supporting wharfs and harbor-side
buildings. It has a soft round body no bigger than a piece of stout
string, and often nearly a foot in length. But it is really a
shell-bearing mollusk, like the cockle and the clam. And if you were to
look closely at the fore end of its body you would see its bivalve
shells, although they are so very small that they might easily be
mistaken for jaws.

When first this animal hatches from the egg it is not in the least like
its parents. It is just a little round-bodied creature covered almost
all over with hairs, by waving which up and down it manages to swim
about in the water. But it does not keep its shape very long, for if you
were to look at it about thirty-six hours later you would find that it
was oval instead of round. Twenty-four hours later still it would be
almost triangular, while next day it would be almost round again. And so
it would go on changing its form day after day, till at last it fastened
itself down by its fleshy foot to a piece of sunken timber and began to
burrow in it. And then at last it would take the form of its parents.
The birth and growth of most of the bivalves is similar to this; and it
must be remembered that these changing larval forms are hardly large
enough to see.

Another timber-destroyer all along the New England coast is the gribble,
a crustacean related to the sandhoppers, which is not bigger than a
grain of wheat, and looks like a pill-bug. It devours wood wherever it
finds it under water, and will gradually honeycomb and weaken until they
fall to pieces the bases of piles, boat-stairs, and other timbers under
water which are not sheathed with copper or filled with creosote.
Therefore it is much hated.

A sandy beach is not the place for crabs in general, but there is one
kind which we ought to find here. There is one now, but one might wager
something that you can't discover it in its hiding-place unless shown to
you. Do you see those two little round objects on short stems sticking
half an inch out of the sand by that old winkle-shell? Yes? Well, please
go and get one or both of them. What! is it alive? some sort of crab,
buried in the sand? All right--pick it up, but look out it doesn't nip
you! Those claws are powerful, for with them the crabs must seize and
firmly hold struggling, slippery fish and other animals, until it can
subdue and eat them. Notice how the hind legs are flattened into strong
paddles to enable it to swim swiftly upon its prey. In spite of these
fierce qualities we call this one a lady-crab, because of its richly
ornamented costume--greenish yellow profusely marked with purple rings.
It spends most of its time crawling or swimming in the sea where the
bottom is sandy and the water shallow, but now and then comes ashore and
buries itself in the dry sand, all but its stalked eyes, as we found
this one.

A smaller, lighter-colored, and more square-bodied cousin of this
crustacean, called the ghost-crab, is very common on southern beaches,
where it digs slanting burrows deeply into the sand. Prof. A. G. Mayer
tells us that it is a scavenger, feeding on dead animals, and also
catching and eating beach-fleas. It is at night that they are most
active. "As they flit rapidly about in the moonlight their popular name
of ghost-crab seems remarkably appropriate. As one approaches they dash
off with great rapidity, and will often rush into the water, although
the gray snappers are swimming close along the shore in order to devour
them."

What have you found now? It appears to be a horseshoe-shaped skillet, or
frying-pan, made of brown parchment, with a long spike loosely hinged to
one side for a handle, and a big crab lying on its back in the pan. No
wonder you are surprised. The first white men who came to this country
were equally so, for nothing of the sort is to be seen in any other part
of the world, except in the Malayan islands. If we search we are likely
to find one alive and creeping about, and then we shall see that the
skillet is a broad shield covering the back of an animal, and that what
we thought was the crab inside it, is its body and legs. When you come
to study natural history more deeply you will learn many very
interesting things about this strange inhabitant of our beaches, which
is known as a horseshoe-crab, or king-crab, and also as limulus. It is
the sole remnant of a great tribe of sea-animals called trilobites,
which became extinct ages ago.

One more curiosity must be mentioned before we quit this first short
walk upon the open beach--what the fishermen call the mermaid's-purse,
of which, see, you have found several.

It is an egg, but you never would have suspected it, would you? Examine
it. It is about two inches long, and made of a hard, black, leathery
substance, and at each of the four corners there is a little projection
about an inch in length. It is the empty egg of a skate--a fish of the
shark tribe with a broad, flat body and a long whip-like tail--from
which one of these curious fishes has just escaped. How do you think it
got out of the egg when the time came for it to be hatched? Just look at
this empty case, and you will see. At one end there is a slit running
across it almost from one side to the other, made in such a manner that
the little fish could easily push its way out, while none of its enemies
could push their way in. So the baby skate lay in its cradle in safety
till the time came for it to pass out into the sea.

But here is an egg made in just the same way, with one little
difference. Instead of having a short straight projection at each
corner, it has a long, coiled, twisted one, much like the tendril of a
grapevine. That is the egg of one of the small sharks called dogfish,
which are so called because they swim about in parties or packs of fifty
or sixty together, driving herring and other fishes before them, as dogs
drive deer. The skin of a dogfish is as rough as a piece of sandpaper.

When the eggs of this fish are first laid, the twisted projections at
the ends coil themselves round the stems of weeds growing at the bottom
of the sea, and hold them so firmly that they cannot be washed away; and
at each end there is a small hole, so that a current of water may always
flow through this egg-case and over the little fish inside--something of
just as much importance to it as is a supply of air to a land-baby.


II

SEARCHING THE SHORE AT LOW TIDE

The shore of the eastern United States, at least south of New York, is
formed of a line of long narrow islets whose outer beaches, and the
sea-floor for miles out, are pure sand. They support very little life,
as has been said. Behind them, however, are shallow bays and sounds, in
which the water, though salt, is usually warm and still; mud gathers
upon the sand, and eel-grass and other water-weeds grow in abundance.
Here is excellent ground for naturalists, old or young, and in a single
walk you can discover enough to surprise you greatly. We must go when
the tide is low, and it will be a good idea to take our rubber boots, so
that we may not be afraid of the wet mud. We will also take a small
spade or strong trowel, and some boxes and bottles.

What a lot of clam-shells are lying about the shore! There are two
kinds, the soft clam and the hard clam; but none of them are alive.

How is this? We have already learned, you will remember, that the clams
are bivalves; that is, the shell is in two pieces, hinged together by an
elastic ligament over the back, and covering each side of the animal.
The soft body is attached to each shell by a strong muscle, by which the
creature can pull the shells tight together, and so cover itself
completely. When it wishes, however, it lets the shells spring open
somewhat, so that it may put out from between their lower edges its
muscular "foot," and perhaps move about, while out of the front end it
stretches a double-barreled tube, called its siphon. Down one of the
tubes is sucked a stream of water which not only bathes the animal's
gills, or breathing organs, but carries minute floating particles of
food into its stomach, after which the waste water is forced out of the
other tube.

Now you will understand what we shall see, and are ready for the answer
to our question. You never find live clams crawling about the sand,
because they live buried in the mud.

Now let us put on our boots and look about on the surface of the wet
mud. Do you see ahead of us those little jets of water come spouting up
into the air as if squirted out of tiny syringes? Every one of these
little jets is thrown up by a soft clam, which lies perhaps several
inches deep in the mud, with its siphon stretched up to the surface and
held full of water, waiting for the tide to come in and refresh it. When
it feels the jarring of our footsteps it squirts the water out; and
you must dig deep and fast if you want to catch it. This is what those
men are doing out there on the flat--digging out clams with long spades,
and filling their baskets for market. Thousands of little ones lie in
the mud, not yet big enough to eat.

The soft clam is a shapeless sort of mollusk, with a thin chalky shell,
not at all pretty; but the hard clam, or quahog, is thick-shelled and
regular in outline; and in an end-on view takes the shape of an ace of
hearts, like the Venus-shell, or the cockle, which is so commonly eaten
in Europe. This species likes much deeper water than the soft clam, and
is gathered mostly from boats, by a kind of rake; but we shall no doubt
find a few up here. Do you see that scratch in the mud? It looks like a
trail, and there at the end is the traveler himself, standing upright in
the mud like a half-buried wedge.

This shows another difference between the two clams; for while the soft
clams and their relatives, such as the pretty razor-fish, and the "old
maid" of English bays, never leave the burrow where they begin life, the
quahogs slowly wander about all the time. As for the scallops, they
fairly skip and jump.

What are scallops? Well, we shall hardly see much of them, for they live
in deep water; but their half-shells are to be seen cast up everywhere,
for they also are bivalves. Our common ones are usually about the size
of a silver dollar, and fan-shaped, the thin shell ribbed like the
sticks of a fan, and the margin crinkled, and they are variously
colored, but mostly in tints of reddish and yellow.

Several small bivalves and sea-snails may be added to our collection
from this uncovered bay-bottom, and here and there spaces are fairly
sprinkled with little blackish fellows about the size of hazelnuts. When
we have gathered a handful we shall find we can sort out three or four
kinds.

A very curious denizen of the tide-flats of our Southern States is the
pinna, a large bivalve with thin horny shells shaped like a slightly
opened fan, which lies deeply buried, point down. The edges of its shell
come just at the surface, and are exceedingly sharp, so that barefooted
persons have to be very careful how they step where pinnas are common,
as on the Gulf coast of Florida, and it is no wonder the people there
call them razor-fish. Lying there in the mud, with its shells parted,
and a current of water always sucking down what we may call its throat,
it forms a regular trap for little fishes and other small creatures. The
instant one swims between the shells, they close and the unfortunate
curiosity-seeker finds himself in a prison from which there is no escape.

When a young pinna settles down in its place it at once anchors itself
to some rock or fixed thing below it by throwing out from near its
lower, narrow end a bunch of very strong threads, which hold it down so
firmly that it takes a very hard pull to tear them away. This
anchor-cable is called a byssus.

A short distance from us a narrow stream wriggles through the salt
marsh, and we can get into a rough little boat and paddle down toward
that old wharf whose weedy piles are covered with interesting things,
which we may examine now that the ebbing tide has left them uncovered
for a few hours. The peaty banks, with their growth of harsh salt-grass
and algæ, will keep our eyes busy as we float along the black and
winding creek.

Now we shall get acquainted with some of the crabs. Look sharply down
into the water and you will see the large "blue" crabs which we buy in
the market, and eat, swimming near the bottom or crawling over the mud
near the banks. There is one, now. He doesn't look very blue, nor very
appetizing, does he? His back is brown and muddy, to be sure; but his
big claws and lower plates have much more blue upon them than has any of
the other large crabs, and so he gets the distinguishing name.

But, you say, you have heard of "hard-shell" and "soft-shell" crabs, and
want to know the difference? It is simply a difference of condition. If
you will turn to page 397, you will find described that extraordinary
process by which crabs grow, by throwing off their stiff old skins and
expanding to fill the elastic new one which has formed underneath.
Before this change, the creature is a "hard-shell" in fishermen's
language, and just afterward, when he is large and tender, he is
naturally a "soft-shell"; and then is the time to eat him.

Notice how the black masses of peat along the banks are honeycombed with
holes, as if somebody had been pushing down the point of his umbrella.
They are the homes of little fiddler-crabs, which scuttle into them by
the hundred as we approach, and then creep up to peer out after we have
passed by, and make sure it is safe to go abroad again. In other holes
live two other sorts of burrowing crabs. One is the little mud-crab
(_Panopæus_), which is a peaceful cousin of the fiddler; and the
other is the sand-crab (_Ocypoda_) whose peculiarity it is to be
perfectly sand-colored, so that it is almost impossible to see him until
he moves; consequently he is commonly found only in the sandy places.

As we float nearer to the mouth of our winding creek, we begin to notice
bunches of mussel-shells, clinging closer to each other than grapes in a
bunch; and when we try to pick one up we find it quite immovable. In
fact, they are anchored to the roots of the grasses, and to each other,
by a bunch of byssus threads from each mussel, like those of the pinna;
and these threads are so strong that they can hold the mussels firm
against the beating of the waves, so that a shore which is thickly
covered with mussels is safe from wearing away. You may see an example
of this in the tideway at the mouth of this very creek, and masses of
mussels strengthen the supports of that wharf we are approaching. If you
were to go near the town of Bideford, England, you would see a bridge of
twenty-four arches, which runs across the Torridge River close to the
place where it joins the Taw. Now that bridge is held together by
clusters of mussels! The force of the stream is so great, that if mortar
is used to repair the bridge it is very soon washed away. So from time
to time large boat-loads of mussels are taken to the spot and shot into
the water, and they fasten themselves so firmly to the bridge by means
of their byssus threads, that they actually hold together the stones of
which it is built!

These binding mussels are mostly of the smooth, dark-blue sort which are
found on both sides of the Atlantic, and in Europe are gathered and
eaten. When our people become a little wiser and more economical, we
also will take advantage of this great stock of excellent food right at
our doors.

But in the bunches which are scratching the side of the boat as we glide
along close to the bank are some which are much larger, though smooth,
like the edible mussels. They are an American species. Then here and
there in peat you may see a sort whose shell is rough, with ridges
spreading out toward the large end, and these you may call
horse-mussels.

Now we have got down to the boat-landing toward which we have been
lazily drifting, and we will twist the chain around one of the piles
that support it, and stop long enough to take a look at one of them.
Most of the time each pile is under water, and therefore is overgrown
with a thick "fur" of plants and animals.

You will see that most of this fur consists of seaweeds, but their
leaves are often the resting-place of several sorts of lowly animals.
Indeed, you must look sharp to make sure whether some of the feathery
tufts that droop from a dank old post, or spray out so beautifully in
the ripples at its foot, are plants or animals. We will not talk about
that just now, but wait till we take our excursion to the rocky shore,
where we shall find barnacles and corallines and sea-mats and polyps
bigger and better than here.

But do you see between those green fronds that roundish yellow object
about as big as a filbert? Touch it gently. Did you see tiny jets of
water squirt out of two little nozzles on its surface? That gives it the
name of sea-squirt. Into one of the nozzles, when the tide comes over
it, is constantly sucked a current of sea-water which passes into a
stomach-like cavity, where the minute particles of food in the water are
caught and digested; then the water passes on through another cavity
where the blood receives its oxygen, as in our lungs or a crab's or
fish's gills, and then rushes out. So this little object is a real
animal, with heart, blood, stomach, and something in the way of
nerves--enough, at any rate, to feel your touch, shrink, and squirt out
all the water in its bag-like body.

There are a good many kinds and forms of these ascidians, as naturalists
call them, some larger, some waving about on the summit of stalks like
lily-buds, and some clustered into colonies grown together, which form
bands around the stems of plants, or make masses called "sea-pork" by
the fishermen, or float in chains, by millions, on the surface of the
open sea.

Here, too, are small red and yellow sponges; some coarse little
sea-anemones, etc.; and wandering over the whole, feeding upon one or
another of these, and cleaning the polyps and polyzoans off the algæ,
are a sort of marine daddy-long-legs, called no-body crabs, because they
seem all legs and look crab-like.

It isn't very sweet-smelling under this damp old wharf, where the rising
tide is beginning to bathe the piles, and one after another plants and
animals are expanding as they feel the refreshment of the water around
them; and we will move away as soon as we have dug a few things out of
the mud, soon be hidden by the tide.

Let us run the bow of our boat up on that soft black slope, and see what
we can find by leaning over the side. Just look at this hairy object,
for instance, which has been left by the retreating waves. It seems like
a big brown slug covered with bristles and is not very pleasant to
handle; but you needn't be afraid of it, and you mustn't be squeamish.
Just dip up some water in that pail, and rinse it till you have washed
every scrap of mud from its bristly coat, and then look at it in the
sunlight. Do you think it is dull and dingy now? Did you ever see a more
beautiful creature? This animal is called the sea-mouse, although really
it is a kind of sea-worm and if you will turn back to page 429 you will
find it described. The reason why its coat is always so dirty is that
the bristly hairs which cover it act as a sort of filter, and strain out
the mud from the water which is passing to the gills. But these hairs
have another use as well. Each one is really a sort of slender spear,
with a barbed tip, the edges being set with a number of sharp little
points, all directed backward, forming a capital protection from such
creatures as the fishes, a great many of which would be glad to feed
upon sea-mice if it were not for their coating of spines.

Do you see those twisted little coils of muddy sand scattered about on
the mud? Those are the casts of lugworms, which are made in the same way
as the casts of earthworms seen in our garden-paths on damp mornings;
in fact, these lugs are just marine earthworms (see page 427), and like
them eat their way down into the mud, swallowing mouthful after mouthful
for the sake of nourishing particles in it, and then voiding the useless
remainder.

Perhaps you wonder how it is that the burrows of the lugworms remain
open. Why doesn't the mud close in behind the animal? The fact is that
the worm is always pouring out from its skin a sticky slime which
quickly becomes quite hard and firm. And this binds the sandy mud
together as the worm forces its way down, and forms a kind of lining to
its burrow, just like the brickwork with which we line our railway
tunnels.

You would scarcely suspect what interesting and often beautiful worms
lie buried in the mud or muddy sand of sea-beaches and salt marshes.
They occur elsewhere, too, as upon weedy rocks, while a great many kinds
dwell upon or within the bodies or coverings of other animals, from
whales to periwinkles and crabs.

Most of the beach-worms belong to the highest class of the tribe, called
annelids because their bodies are made up of ring-like segments (a
little ring in Latin is _annellus_), as you can easily see by
examining one of the angleworms you dig in the garden for fish-bait. The
red lugworm, or "red thread," as it is often called, is another plain
example of this structure.

Digging down by low-water mark we are likely to unearth one or more of
the ribbon-worms which, when they are large, seem rather terrible. Their
bodies are flat, so that when they swim they move through the water like
a floating ribbon, and they have been found five or ten feet long and as
wide as your palm. Such big ones are rare, however, and we are more
likely to have to deal with one two or three feet long and less than an
inch broad. They are active creatures, burrowing into and through the
mud in search of other worms upon which they feed, and which they seize
by thrusting out a sticky proboscis. There is also a smaller one, pink
in color, while the bigger species is yellowish.

Though we may not dig up a ribbon, we are pretty sure to turn out a
nereis, or clam-worm, as the fishermen call it--a reddish creature a
foot or two long, looking like a centipede, for there is a pair of
minute feet on each ring, and every foot is feathered with a gill. This
also is a ravenous enemy of all other worms or animals it can overcome;
and young clams, limpets, starfish, and other protected creatures must
be thankful for their armor when it comes crawling near them. Its rich
green and salmon coat has no charm in their eyes, you may be sure. But
the nereis itself must have its fears, for it is not only hunted by
ribbon-worms, by a big active annelid called "four-jawed," and by
winkles and dog-whelks, but is well liked by various fishes; and, last
misfortune of all, it is constantly sought by fishermen for bait. In
spite of all this, clam-worms of all kinds remain immensely numerous all
along the coast. On calm summer nights they leave their burrows, swim up
to the surface at high tide, and cast out vast numbers of eggs, from
which presently hatch little pear-shaped larvæ, which swim about a short
time, when the few that have survived settle down, change to the
worm-like form, and burrow into the mud.

When we come to explore the rocky places, and peer into the still pools
left by the ebb-tide among the reefs and boulders, we shall make the
acquaintance of some other worms that display themselves in such places
as in a natural aquarium.


III

ON THE ROCKY LEDGES

There are practically no rocks on our Southeastern coast, so that we
must imagine ourselves now somewhere in New England--let us say on the
southern shore of Rhode Island. All along the north side of Long Island
Sound, about Buzzards and Narragansett bays, and then from Boston Harbor
right up to Labrador, the shore is rock, with many headlands, reefs, and
islets, separated by shallow coves or by swift tidal runways. This is
good hunting-ground for the seaside naturalist, and one visit to the
space left uncovered at low tide will be no more than a glance at what
might easily keep us busy and interested a whole summer through.

As the water ebbs away, the tops of the ledges and boulders emerge like
the hairy heads of some sea-monsters, for they are mostly overgrown with
long tresses of olive-brown rockweed and green ribbons of sea-cabbage,
(_Ulva_), which trail, wet and shining, down their sides. Step
carefully, for it is all extremely slippery. Do you hear that continual
popping under your feet? That means that you are crushing the little
bladder-like swellings strung like big beads on the stems of the
rockweed. They are filled with air, and keep the long and heavy stems
and leaves of the weed afloat, as you may see if you look down where it
is swishing back and forth in the lapping waves. These plants must be
exceedingly strong to resist the pulling and pounding of the surf in a
storm; and their power to keep afloat by means of these gas-filled
"bladders" is of assistance, not only in enabling them to hold together,
but to form a breakwater which protects the rocks and ledges they cover
from being beaten to pieces by the surf.

Underneath and upon these masses of seaweed hide a great quantity and
variety of small plant and animal life, some of which we shall be able
to find and study, though a large part of it requires more thorough work
than we have time for, and the aid of a microscope.

But first let us look at some of the bare places, where there is no
seaweed. Here is a black rock with white patches of rough little things
growing upon it by the hundred. They are not mollusks, however, but
rock-barnacles (see page 407), which English boys call acorn-shells.
They are small and distant cousins of the crabs.

The story of these barnacles is a very curious one. When first they
hatch from the eggs which older barnacles have cast out into the sea,
they are not in the least like their parents, but are queer little
round-bodied creatures, smaller than pin-heads, with six feathery legs
by which they paddle about, one round black eye, and two feelers. Every
two or three days they throw off their skins, as caterpillars do, and
appear in the new ones which have formed underneath; and every time they
do this they change their shape, so that sometimes they are round, and
sometimes oblong, and sometimes almost triangular!

At last they reach their full size. Then they cling with their feelers
to the first rock, log, or other hard thing they come to, and pour out a
drop or two of a very strong cement, which hardens around them and
fastens them firmly down. After this they never move again; but a day or
two later they change their skins once more, and appear as perfect
acorn-shells.

Now look at one of them carefully through this magnifying-glass. Do you
see that there is a little hole in the top of the shell, which is made
of several pieces? That is the hole through which the animal inside
fishes for food. If you were to watch it when the rocks are thinly
covered with water, you would see that it kept poking out a net-like
scoop, and then drawing it in again. This net really consists of the
hairy legs; and as they wave to and fro in the water they collect the
tiny scraps of decaying matter on which the little creature feeds. They
also bear the gills by which the barnacle refreshes its blood.

You must be very careful not to knock your hand against these shells
when you are hunting about among the rocks, for their edges are so sharp
that they cut almost like knives.

"Another sort of barnacle," you say you have found? No: there _are_
other sorts--the strange goose-barnacle, for instance, which attaches
itself to the bottoms of ships--but what you have found is one of the
limpets, and that is not a crustacean, but a gastropod mollusk. It is
shaped like a tiny rough mountain, or rather like a volcano, for you see
there is a hole in its summit; and we call it the keyhole limpet on
account of the shape of that hole. Pick it up. Oh! you can't, eh? Of
course not. Pull and push as hard as you like, you won't be able to move
it, nor can the heaviest waves wash it off.

Would you like to know why?

Well, the reason is that a limpet clings to a rock by turning the whole
lower surface of its body into one big sucker; it presses it tightly
against the rock and then lifts the middle part. The consequence is that
a chamber is formed in which there is nothing at all--no water, not even
air; and, as happens when you lift a brick with a small leather sucker,
the weight of the atmosphere presses down upon it so strongly
that no force you can bring to bear will pull it off.

However, a limpet is not gripping the rock all the time with such vigor;
he would literally be tired to death, and starved to death, too, if he
didn't ease up most of the time. It is only when he is alarmed by a
touch that he clamps down. If you want to get him free, just wait till
he loosens up, then hit him a sudden sharp blow on one side with a stick
or stone, and knock him off. Then you will be able to examine the soft
body and see how he is built.

Limpets are vegetable-feeders, and when the water is still, or absent,
they creep slowly about the rock, nibbling the tiny vegetation on its
surface. Another interesting fact in limpet-life is told on page 421.

Another kind of limpet is very common on those rocky shores, which is
shaped somewhat like a loose round-toed slipper or a French
_sabot_. This is the slipper-limpet, or half-deck, as fishermen
call it.

On the lower rocks near the water, and hidden in among the wet seaweeds,
lie many small spiral gastropods which we call periwinkles. Two of the
commonest kinds are littorinas, marked with fine lines and colors in
various ways. Another, reddish with chestnut bands, is named
_Lacuna_; and you may pick up several kinds of small blackish ones,
such as _Bittium_, or of light-colored ones, as _Rissoa_,
which is prettily mottled; while numerous in some places is the
purple-shell or _Purpura_, which is interesting because it belongs
to the European shores as well as to ours, and because from it the
ancients gathered some of their purple dye, although another mollusk
(the murex) furnished most of it. But in old times the coast people,
both of old England and New England, obtained from this little mollusk
an indelible violet ink with which to mark their clothes.

Would you like to see a little of this dye?

Very well, you can easily do so. Look! Hold the purpura over this sheet
of white paper, and give the animal a little poke with the head of a
pin. There! It has squirted out a drop of liquid upon the paper. It does
not look much like purple dye, does it? It looks very much more like
curdled milk. But lay it in the sunshine and notice what
happens. Do you see? It is turning yellow. Now a blue tinge is creeping,
as it were, into the yellow, and turning it to green. The blue gets
stronger and stronger, till the green disappears. And at last a crimson
tinge creeps into the blue, and turns it to purple.

Another curious thing about the purpura is the way in which it lays its
eggs. It fastens them down to the surface of the rock by little stalks,
so that they look like tiny egg-cups with eggs inside them; therefore
when these eggs hatch, several little purpura come out of each cup.

All the small periwinkles feed upon the algæ, but with the purpura,
which seems to live mainly on young barnacles, we come to a lot of
flesh-eaters--small mollusks of prey, as we might say.

There are several spiral sorts, mostly from one to two inches long,
whitish and heavily ribbed, which are sometimes called dog-whelks; but
the worst one, which lives by thousands on the beds of planted oysters
scattered all along the shore of Long Island Sound, is known to the
oystermen as the drill, or borer. It is particularly fond of the flesh
of oysters, and cares nothing for their shells, as it carries in its
mouth a drilling instrument (see page 419) by which it can bore a round
hole through the poor oyster's armor. In this way it destroys many
thousands of dollars' worth of valuable oysters every year.

It was pretty certain we should find a starfish down near low-water
mark, and here is a fine one.

Starfishes are among the oddest of sea-animals; for one reason, because
they have so many legs. Perhaps you did not know they had any legs at
all; certainly you can see none when you pick up a dead specimen on the
beach. The fact is that a starfish keeps its legs inside its body, where
there are a lot of organs protected by its hard, limy hide; and when it
wants to use them it pokes them out through little holes on its under or
grooved side, and fills them with water.

You would like to see its legs, no doubt. Very well; you shall. This
starfish is still alive: we can easily see that, for when we pick it up
its rays stand stiffly out; but if it were dead they would be quite soft
and flabby, and would hang down. So we will put it into a shallow pool
of clear sea-water, and see what happens. There! did you notice that it
moved one of its rays? See, the one in front is being slowly pushed
forward. Now the rays behind are being drawn up; and now that they have
taken a fresh hold the front one is being pushed forward again. The
starfish is really walking! What will it do when it comes to a stone?
Why, walk over it! What will it do when it comes to rock? Why, climb up
it! Now take the starfish out of the water. Turn it over on its back.
There! do you see? On the lower surface of every ray are hundreds of
little fleshy objects waving about in the air. Those are its "feet," or
at least its means of walking; and each has a sort of cup at the end
which acts as a sucker. By means of these the starfish can cling tightly
to the surface of a stone. So by using first the little sucker-legs on
one or two of its rays, and then those on the others, the starfish is
able to crawl about quite easily.

The starfishes live upon animal food--mainly other mollusks, which they
kill in a very curious manner. When, in crawling about, they come upon a
whelk or clam or oyster, they creep over it and clasp it in their five
arms in a murderous embrace from which there is no escape. Even if the
creature can move off, its captor clings to it with its hundreds of tiny
suckers, and rides along with it like that Old Man of the Sea in
Sindbad's story.

Now if you look again at our specimen you will see on its under side, a
small pit in the center of its body, closed by five points. This is the
mouth, and the points are sharp. As soon as the starfish has a grip upon
its victim the mouth opens and there is gradually pushed out a strong
membrane which is the creature's great loose stomach. This envelops the
animal, shell and all, or as much of it as possible, and soon begins
actually to digest the flesh. When the meal is finished the starfish
draws back its stomach and leaves only the empty shell of its prey.

These voracious starfish are a worse enemy to the cultivated oysters
than are the drills; and, having an abundance of food on the thickly
planted beds, they become extremely numerous, so that it costs the
owners of the beds much money each year to gather them off the beds by
means of a sort of great rake called the tangles. Otherwise the oysters
would soon be wholly destroyed. The men used simply to tear to pieces
what they caught and throw them overboard again; but they soon learned
that this was worse than useless, because each half, or even a single
arm, would not only go on living but would reproduce all the missing
parts; so that in trying to kill one starfish they had brought to life
two or perhaps even five, which was very discouraging. Nowadays,
therefore, all captured starfishes are brought ashore and left there,
and often are made use of by being ground up with oyster-shells,
fish-bones, etc., into an excellent fertilizer.

What is that greenish-gray object covered all over with spikes? It is
clinging in a little hollow of the rock, half hidden in seaweed of the
same color.

Ah! that is a sea-urchin, and although it looks so very unlike them it
is really a kind of first cousin to the starfishes. Here is a dead one
from which the spines have been knocked off. Just look at it carefully,
and you will see that it is very much like a starfish rolled up into a
ball. See, you can trace the five rays quite easily, and if you look at
it through a strong magnifying-glass you will find that its surface is
pierced in hundreds of places with tiny holes through which it can poke
out little sucker-feet, just as the starfishes do.

Look again at the shell from which the spines have been knocked away. Do
you see that it is covered all over with little pimples? Now on every
one of these pimples a spine was fastened by a kind of ball-and-socket
joint, the pimple being the ball, and the socket lying inside the base
of the spine; and by means of special muscles the animal could move the
spines about, just as though it were a kind of hedgehog. In fact, this
is the reason why it is called sea-urchin, for urchin is an old name for
hedgehog. So, when a sea-urchin crawls about, it does so partly with its
sucker-feet, and partly with its spines as well.

Sometimes, however, these creatures use their sucker-feet for quite a
different purpose. They poke them out as far as they can from among
their spines, and then take hold of little stones, small pieces of
broken shell, and other bits of rubbish which they find at the bottom
of the sea, and cling to them very tightly. The consequence is that you
cannot see the animal at all, for it is quite concealed by this curious
covering, and unless you were to take it out of the water, you would
never have the least idea what it really was.

Now look at the mouth of this spiky sea-urchin. You will find it in the
very middle of the lower part of the body. Do you see what great teeth
it has? There are five of them arranged in a circle as in the mouth of a
starfish, and they are made in just the same way as the front teeth of a
rat or a rabbit, that is, they never stop growing all through the life
of the animal, so that as fast as they are worn away from above they are
pushed up from below, and thus always keep just the proper length and
sharpness.

Sea-urchins are rather few and small along the shores of southern New
England, but more numerous northward, and on rocky bottoms offshore. On
the offshore bottom there lives also a queer sort whose shells are often
cast up and are well known to the children as sand-dollars.

These are about the size and shape of one of mother's cookies, and are
covered with a stiff brown fur of short spines. On one side--the under
one--is the little mouth, and around it the faint outlines of five
radiating arms, each sketched, as it were, by a double row of
"pin-pricks" where the almost invisible feet are pushed out. These
sand-dollars are creeping about at the bottom in myriads where the water
is a few fathoms deep; and storms cast up thousands upon the beaches or
into the tide-pools, where very likely we may find some in the course of
our next visit to the ocean-side.


IV

BETWEEN TIDE-MARKS

We must start early on our walk today, as soon as the tide falls away
from the piece of rocky shore we have in mind, so that we may have
plenty of time; for the field which we have left until the last is
the richest the seaside naturalist has to explore.

As the sea sinks away it uncovers not only the weedy ledges which we
studied the other day, but also spaces between them of low rocks and
loose stones half sunk in mud and sand. There is much to interest the
botanist, too, but he will have to look out for himself. We have more
than enough to do to look after the animals.

Many dead shells are lying about, showing the various species of
shell-fish which inhabit this shore or the waters of the offing. Some of
them we already know, and others we can never expect to get alive except
by dredging. Such are the scallops, which rarely come up as far as
low-water mark, in spite of their wandering habits; and the jingleshells
or goldshells, although these, like the young oysters to which they are
closely related, may usually be found clinging to stones, where they
seem swollen scales or "blisters" of thin amber, or gold-colored horn.
There is one--let us examine it. We can't pick it off, or even pry it
off; but when we slip a knife-blade slowly beneath it, it comes loose,
and we discover that this queer creature is a bivalve mollusk looking
(and tasting) like an oyster, and with a small flat shell underneath the
bulging top one. In this undershell is a large hole, through which
passes a stout stony stalk which anchors this creature as firmly as an
oyster is fixed by the cementing of its undershell to whatever it has
attached itself when young.

The jingleshells are extremely numerous all along the coast south of
Cape Cod, wherever the water is no more than about seventy feet deep,
especially in Long Island Sound; and the oystermen gather them from the
beaches and from their dredgings, and scatter their shells over the
floor of the sound as "seats" for young oysters. They are especially
useful for this purpose because they are so slight and brittle that
when, as often happens, two or three minute oyster-larvæ settle down on
one of these shells, they will, as they grow, break it apart by the
strain, and then each oyster, relieved from the crowding of its mates,
will form a round, nicely shaped shell instead of a narrow or misshapen
one, and consequently be more valuable when it comes to be dredged up,
after a couple of years or so, and offered for sale.

This rough space between tide-marks is a fine place for crabs. We have
seen some of these creatures already, elsewhere; and our book (see
Chapter XXXV) has already instructed us as to the general
characteristics of crustaceans. Here, scrambling about the ledges just
under water, are big rock and Jonah crabs, but not so many of them as
you might see in Maine. Both are eaten when "soft-shells," but are not
so good as the blue crab. Here, too, are lively and pugnacious fiddlers
and some green or stone crabs, wonderfully active little creatures,
which in England are sent to market, but on this side of the ocean are
used only for bait.

Still more comical and interesting is one of the spider-crabs, which may
be called thornback. It has a little body, but very long legs, so that a
big male thornback might cover eighteen inches in the stretch of its
legs.

Do you see how long his great claws are, and how his back is covered all
over with tiny hooked spines? It is quite easy to understand why the
name of thornback was given to him. But how is it that all those tufts
of seaweed are growing on the upper part of the shell?

Well, the answer is a very odd one. The crab planted them there himself!
The fact is that when he is lying down at the bottom of a pool he does
not want to be seen, for fear that the animals upon which he preys
should take alarm, and escape before he can catch them. So he actually
pulls up a number of little sprigs of seaweed, and plants them on his
back one after the other, pressing the roots down with his claws till at
last they are held quite firmly by the little hooked spines with which
his shell is covered! Then as long as he keeps quite still he is
perfectly invisible, and his victims may even crawl over him without
suspecting that they are in any danger.

Stranger still, if a thornback crab which has covered his back with
seaweeds should be placed in a tank in which sponges are growing, he
will soon find out that he is not nearly so well hidden as he would like
to be, and will get very uneasy. Before long he will discover what the
reason is, and will actually pull all the sea weed off his shell, and
plant sponges on it instead.

Here, too, scampering and rattling about among the pebbles, are lots of
hermit-crabs, dragging after them the shells in which they have
ensconced their soft hind bodies, as is described on page 402. And under
the stones--turn them over and you will see--are dozens of strange
little half-transparent creatures which you might easily believe were
insects, but which really are diminutive cousins of the crabs and
crayfish named amphipods and isopods, and so forth. You may find under
some stone one of the tubes made by a certain species, composed of
grains of sand glued together by sticky threads much like spiders' silk.
These minute crustaceans exist in vast multitudes near the surface of
the ocean at certain seasons, and form the principal food of the
whalebone-whales, which gulp them down wholesale. Some of them, also,
are parasitic on fishes.

But what is the curious little creature clinging flat upon this rock
among the weeds? It looks like some sort of pill-bug half an inch long,
doesn't it?

Ah! that is a chiton. It is really a kind of shell-bearing mollusk, like
the whelk and the periwinkle; only instead of having its shell made all
in one piece, it has eight shelly plates on its back, which overlap one
another just like the slates on the roof of a house. Just touch it with
your finger. There! Do you see? It has rolled itself up into a ball,
just like those pill-millepedes which you may find in the garden. It
always does this if it is frightened. And its shell is so stout and hard
that as long as it is rolled up it is quite safe from nearly all its
enemies.

If you were to hunt about among the rocks quite close to the water's
edge when the tide is at its lowest, you would most likely meet with a
number of chitons, and you would be surprised to find how much they vary
in color. Some are ashy gray all over; but a great many are streaked and
spotted with brown, and pink, and orange, and lilac, and white. But the
strangest thing of all about chitons--there are far larger ones in the
warmer parts of the world--is that some of them have nearly twelve
thousand eyes scattered about all over their shells!

But we are lingering too long by the way, for our real destination
to-day is that fine pool over there. It is a basin among the ledges,
filled with quiet sea-water left by the retreat of the tide,
half-floored with sandy mud, and its edges fringed with feathery
seaweeds, corallines, and hydroids. Here is a capital home for the
little folk of the sea, where there is always fresh clear water, but
where only a part of the time do the surges pound, and then never with
full force; furthermore, a wall of rocks protects the nook, and enemies
can rarely enter to destroy the peaceful society.

In warmer parts of the coast, as in the Gulf of Mexico, or upon the
Pacific coast, or most of all in some of the tropical islands which now
belong to the United States, such a pool would be brilliantly carpeted
with sponges, sea-anemones, coral-polyps and corallines, of which you
may read on pages 431 to 435. The water of the North Atlantic, and the
winters of its American coast, are too cold, however, to allow any but a
very few hardy species of these lowly sea-flowers to grow in our pool;
but there are quite enough to keep us busy during the hour or two left
before the returning tide creeps over the jagged rim of the basin and
drives us away.

Here, for instance, is half an oyster-shell looking as if it had been
bored full of holes with bird-shot. It could hardly have been any boy's
target though; for, see, we can find many such fragments. There is one
under water. Take it out and you will find every one of the hundreds of
little pits filled with a yellow spongy material. It is real sponge,
called the boring-sponge, because it riddles all sorts of old shells
until they fall to pieces. This is a good thing, for then they are
gradually ground to powder and dissolved in the water, and so help to
keep it supplied with the lime needed by living animals for their
shells.

But other sponges help in this work. One is a brilliant crimson, and
spreads a velvety mantle over the shell, from which rise branches as big
as your fingers. We may probably discover among others here the pretty
urn-sponges, like clusters of yellow or gray goblets about half an inch
high. On the reefs of the Gulf coast of Florida, you know, several sorts
of sponges grow to great size and are gathered and prepared for use--a
trade which furnishes employment to hundreds of men.

But this clear pool holds more beautiful things than sponges. If we are
fortunate we may find a sea-anemone. Do not fancy from its name that it
looks anything like the pretty pink and white anemones that delight you
in the woods in the spring. It does, indeed, look something like a
clove-pink, or some sorts of chrysanthemum, when it is fully expanded,
yet it is not a flower at all, but a true animal.

Its body is shaped like a barrel, or sometimes more like a tube, with a
large throat leading into a big stomach which is held in position in the
center of the body by six partitions radiating like the spokes of a
wheel from the stomach to the tough outer skin. Between these are other
shorter partitions extending inward from the skin, but not reaching the
stomach.

This is the type of structure in the polyp family, which the
sea-anemones represent; and the stony coral-polyps are built on the same
plan, only there the outer wall and the radiating inside partitions
become hardened plates of lime as the animal grows, and form, when many
grow into a solid mass, the immense coral reefs described on page 433.

The New England coast has several small sea-anemones, and one handsome
one, sometimes as big as a teacup, a few of which dwell in our pool.
Just come, very quietly, over to this side, and gaze down through the
clear water upon that reddish block of stone. Do you not see that large
brown tuft, quivering and moving like a chrysanthemum each petal of
which was alive? That is the brown sea-anemone; but some specimens show
much brighter tints.

Ah!--did you notice how that minnow turned and fairly flew as he felt a
touch of one of those waving petals? No wonder he was in such a hurry to
escape from its clutches, since he knew quite well that the grasp of
those arms means death. For every one of them is set with scores and
scores of tiny oval cells, made in such a way that they spring open at
the slightest touch. And inside each cell is a slender poisoned dart,
which leaps out as soon as it is opened.

So, if the minnow had waited a few minutes longer hundreds of these
little darts would have buried themselves in the soft parts of his body
and stung him to death, and then the anemone would have swallowed him!

Now just touch the anemone with the tip of your finger. You need not be
afraid to do so, for its little poisoned darts are not nearly strong
enough to pierce your skin. There! do you see how its arms at once come
closing in? It seems to be pushing them right down into the very middle
of its body. Now they have entirely disappeared, and you cannot see them
at all. The animal looks just like a shapeless lump of jelly.

Yes, it always does that when it is frightened, and also if it is left
high and dry when the tide goes out. And when it catches a good-sized
victim and swallows it, it generally remains closed up for at least a
couple of days.

Now let us tell you another curious thing about the anemone. It looks as
if it were growing out of the rock, doesn't it? If you try to push it
loose, you will probably kill it before you succeed. Yet it can release
it's sucker-like grip, and move about if it wishes to. This is only one
of many very interesting things to be learned about these lovely
creatures.

And here is another very beautiful thing which you must not miss. One
would think the dark rock under the water had blossomed out into a small
bed of filmy bluish pinks, only what you see is even more delicate and
feathery. That is a patch of true corals; and it is most fortunate it
was found here, for it is rarely seen, except when brought up in a
dredge from water several fathoms deep.

Now let us see whether we cannot find some of the tube-worms which in
feathery beauty are rivals of even the anemones and coral-polyps. Look
down to the very bottom of the pool. Do you see that bunch of long,
twisted tubes, which seem to be fastened to one of those big stones?

They are made by a very common sea-worm called the serpula, or
shell-worm, for they are quite as often found attached to shells as to
stones. This worm never leaves the tube it forms about it out of the
limy mucus thrown out of its skin, so that it has no use for feet;
consequently these have become simply a row of bristles along its sides,
by which the animal can hitch itself up and down, or forward and
backward, within its case. Sometimes it may want to draw itself
back into its tube very quickly, to save its head being bitten off by
some fish or ravenous worm. So along its back it has a row of between
thirteen and fourteen thousand little hooked teeth, with which it can
take a firm hold of the lining of its tunnel. And if it is suddenly
alarmed it just raises these teeth, and then jerks itself back into its
tunnel with such wonderful speed that you can scarcely see what has
become of it.

Now let us lift the bundle of tubes out of the water, and examine them a
little more closely. Do you see that each one is closed, just a little
way below the entrance, by a kind of scarlet stopper? That shows that
the worm inside is alive. The stopper is shaped just like a tiny cork,
and whenever the serpula retreats into its tube it pulls this odd little
stopper in after it, and so prevents any of its enemies from getting in
and devouring it, just as gastropods close the aperture of their shells
with the operculum.

If you were to put this bunch of tubes back into the water and watch it
carefully for an hour or so, you would most likely see all the stoppers
come out, one after another; and a few moments later you would see a
bright scarlet tuft projecting out of the mouth of each tube. These
tufts are the gills, by means of which the serpulas breathe. But at the
slightest alarm the tufts would all disappear, and in less than a second
every tube would be tightly corked up again, just as before.

On the Gulf coast of Florida, and throughout the West Indies, lives a
larger relative of the serpula called "sea-flower," which secretes its
tube upon the surface of large coral-heads, so that the tube becomes
covered by the coral, leaving the opening still at the surface. "This
opening," says Dr. Mayer, "is protected by a sharp spine, and is closed
by the operculum of the worm when it withdraws its gills. When expanded
these gills resemble a beautiful pink or purple passion-flower, about
three-quarters of an inch wide."

In such pools, and in the mud among the stones near low-tide mark, lie
buried several kinds of worms which poke their heads up into the water
above them when the tide comes in, and expand tufts of pink, or crimson,
or yellow gills and tentacles, the latter used to catch minute
floating food--mainly the microscopic larvæ of various mollusks, worms,
etc.--and also, in some cases, to drag to them the grains of sand out of
which they construct their tubes. One of these is the fringed worm
(_Cirratulus_) whose gills are like long orange-colored threads;
and another the similar "blood-spot" (_Polycirrus_) whose great
cluster of crimson tentacles about the mouth looks like a clot of blood
on the sand. More often turned out by the naturalist's spade, however,
is the tufted worm (_Amphitrite_) which dwells in a house made by
itself, by taking a number of good-sized grains of sand, and sticking
them together by means of a kind of glue which it pours out of its
mouth, and which very soon "sets" and becomes quite hard, even though it
is under water. This glue is so tough and strong that you can take the
tube and give it quite a smart pull without tearing or hurting it in the
least. And when the tube is finished Amphitrite makes that little fringe
round the entrance by taking a number of very tiny grains and fastening
them together in the form of threads.

There is one in this nook of our pool, now; and you may see the three
pairs of blood-red tentacles which, with many pale yellow ones, the worm
has thrust out into the clear water, breathing by means of some (the
gills), and with the others capturing the invisible creatures upon which
it mainly feeds.

The tubes of these worms usually run for several inches down into the
sandy mud at the bottom of the pool, and are often carried down under
the rocks, or big stones. So you will not find it very easy to dig them
up. And if you startle Amphitrite herself, she will always wriggle at
once down to the very bottom of her tubular fortress.

There! our four rambles are over, and although we have met with a great
many interesting creatures, we have not seen nearly all that there is to
be seen, either on the beach, or in the mud, or on the rocks, or in the
pools which lie among them. But all the curiosities of the seashore may
be found by those who have patience and know how to use their eyes.



OUR WICKED WASTE OF LIFE

A Plea to Women for Consistency


One of the most puzzling things in life is why almost all our mothers
and sisters and aunts and "dear teachers" continue to trim their hats
with feathers.

They give their boys and girls books about birds, and teach love of
nature in the schools, and sing and march on Bird Day, and pay money to
missionaries to convert South Sea Islanders from wearing feather
head-dresses, and then go down-town and buy bird-skins to deck their own
heads! This confuses the boys and girls a good deal. How, they ask, can
a mother preach against cruelty and vanity to her children when she
continues to load her hat and theirs with feathers every one of which
represents a crime against the laws of both God and man? The reason why
lawmakers find it so difficult to enforce protective legislation is that
the women demand dead birds, careless whether of useful species or not,
no matter by what gory slaughter and violated laws obtained, as
ministers to their vanity--and the law be hanged!

They will even wear these evidences of cruelty and crime to church, and
listen unabashed to exhortations and prayers which others think ought to
shrivel them with shame. A recent writer in "Hampton's Magazine"
describes his impressions of a scene of this kind in a Chicago church,
whose preacher that morning had chosen Christian gentleness as his
theme. This writer indulgently believes that the bird-bedecked listeners
"did not know at what a cost, not in life alone, but in hard dollars and
cents, they, and other persons equally careless and equally reckless,
were securing the transient satisfaction of their immediate desires."
And he expresses himself as "equally sure that, if they did know, they
would never again appear in public so savagely adorned."

We are sorry to be obliged to disagree with him. If they do not know, it
is because they do not read and listen, and few American women, gentle
or simple, are chargeable with negligence in that respect. The officers
of the Audubon Societies, who have been laboring for years as vigorously
as they know how, tell us there is no lack of information; but that, in
general, women don't care, and can't be made to care what hat-birds cost
either themselves or the country so long as they are "in style."
Apparently the only way to stop the ruin of our bird-life is for the
general government to prohibit absolutely both import and export of any
kind of bird-skins or feathers (except of the ostrich) intended or
liable to be used in millinery; and for the States to stamp out dealing
in feather trimmings by a prohibitive licensing tax. Appeals to the
women are useless. The only way is to attack the trade.

Nevertheless, let us make one more effort. Here are four cardinal facts,
for instance, relating to the aigrettes, or "ospreys" which you covet,
showing what they cost:

(1) Aigrettes are produced only by white herons, and only during the
breeding-season; therefore (2) the parent birds must be shot in order to
obtain the plumes; hence (3) the young birds in the nests must starve,
in consequence of the death of the parents; consequently (4) all
statements that the plumes are manufactured or are gathered after being
molted by the adult birds are false.

Here is a picture of how they are got, and it can be verified by
photographs:

"Notwithstanding the extreme heat and the myriads of mosquitos, I
determined to revisit the locality during my holidays, in order to
obtain one picture only--namely, that of a white crane, or egret,
feeding its young. When near the place, I could see some large patches
of white, either floating in the water or reclining on the fallen trees
in the vicinity of the egrets' rookery. This set me speculating as to
the cause of this unusual sight. As I drew nearer, what a spectacle met
my gaze--a sight that made my blood fairly boil with indignation. There,
strewn on the floating water-weed, and also on adjacent logs, were at
least fifty carcasses of large white and smaller plumed egrets--nearly
one-third of the rookery, perhaps more--the birds having been shot off
their nests containing young. What a holocaust! Plundered for their
plumes. What a monument of human callousness! There were fifty birds
ruthlessly destroyed, besides their young (about two hundred) left to
die of starvation! This last fact was betokened by at least seventy
carcasses of the nestlings, which had become so weak that their legs had
refused to support them, and they had fallen from the nests into the
water below, and had been miserably drowned; while, in the trees above,
the remainder of the parentless young ones could be seen staggering in
the nests, some of them falling with a splash into the water, as their
waning strength left them too exhausted to hold up any longer, while
others simply stretched themselves out on the nest and so expired.
Others, again, were seen trying in vain to attract the attention of
passing egrets, which were flying with food in their bills to feed their
own young, and it was a pitiful sight indeed to see these starvelings
with outstretched necks and gaping bills imploring the passing birds to
feed them. What a sickening sight!"

A like gruesome story is given by William L. Finley, agent of the
National Association of Audubon Societies, after he had explored the
region about Lake Malheur, Oregon, where formerly thousands of white
herons bred, but now none are to be found--all absolutely exterminated
by plume-hunters. In Florida an agent of this Association was lately
murdered while trying to defend a rookery from plume-hunters.

Every aigrette--and almost every other wild-bird's feather you
wear--represents a broken law, and in buying it you become a voluntary
partner in crime.

The manufacturing milliners and dealers realize this, and consequently
resort to all sorts of lies and disguises and subterfuges, which your
buying encourages, for it sustains the bloody business of the illegal
feather-hunters. Some dealers assert that none but imported feathers are
now sold by them. This is not true, but if it were, the wearing of them
is wrong, not only because it encourages the devastation of other
countries, but also because it keeps up the general fashion. The same
may be said in answer to the plea of the milliner that her ornaments
were "made up" of chicken-feathers. You can't be sure of that, and you
are setting a harmful example.

"Here, of course," remarks Reginald W. Kauffman, in the illuminative
"Hampton's" article already quoted, "is involved merely a question of
individual ethics, but if the trifling life of a bird is a matter of
small moment even to the gentler sex--so long as the eyes of that sex
are not outraged by an actual sight of the bloody slaughter--at least a
matter of very great moment is the fact that the rise in the price of
your foodstuffs, the yearly increase in your market-bill, is the direct
result of those feathers in your bonnet, those plumes upon your
daughter's hat....

"Difficult as the figures are to get, such as may be acquired are
appalling. Surely you cannot read them and remain unmoved. England, by
importing the bird of paradise at the rate of six thousand a year, has
practically exterminated that species. In four months one London house
disposed of eight hundred thousand East and West Indian bird-skins; the
United States alone sends to the British Isles four hundred thousand
humming-birds every twelve months, which helps bring the English grand
total up to thirty million birds a year.

"And we keep a comfortable figure for home consumption. In one year a
single Chicago dealer has been known to handle 32,000 humming-birds in
one consignment, 32,000 gulls, and the wings of 300,000 other birds. In
all, the National Audubon Association puts our total at about
150,000,000 birds a year. The European continent repeats this, and so
you have the women of the 'civilized' world, with the omission of our
South American cousins, wearing 300,000,000 birds every year.

"Legislation is here, as always, powerless in the face of fashionable
womankind."

Another point of view is that of good taste. A single large feather or a
shapely wing--in themselves beautiful objects and well adapted to
decorative effect--may be so applied as really to adorn a lady's hat, or
a man's for that matter, very pleasingly; and if it is the trophy of the
skill of some friend, obtained in fair sport, it may embody a delightful
sentiment as well. It was in this simple, wasteful, and unobjectionable
manner that feathers were originally employed as trimmings. But fierce
trade competition among milliners catering to the foolish cry for
"novelties" regardless of becomingness in any sense, has developed
absurdities of head-gear which often make their wearers utterly
ridiculous.

What possible justification in art or common sense is there in setting a
dead animal on a hat? If any can be found, surely the effigy should be
lifelike and not some horrible travesty. If ribbons and flowers are not
enough ornaments to set off pretty faces, why not wind shining
snake-skins about the crown of the hat; or utilize our resplendent moths
and beetles as trimmings? They are elegant in form and color, varied,
preservable, and by no means costly. Moreover, the general destruction
which would follow the entry of such a fashion would reduce the insect
enemies of our crops and garden-plants--but women seem to care nothing
about that aspect of the case.

"The insects kill the crops," remarks Kauffman, "the birds kill the
insects, and we--for the most part in order to trim your hats for
you--kill the birds. A study of the government reports will show that
crop losses from insects are rarely less than 10 per cent. and sometimes
as high as 50."


We may now turn to another phase of our subject--the waste of game,
fur-bearing animals, and other useful or beautiful creatures.

When Europeans first came to this continent the bison and elk roamed
everywhere west of the Blue Ridge. By the middle of the nineteenth
century all had disappeared east of the Great Plains, as completely as
had the salmon which used to throng in our eastern rivers. And here, a
few years later, both were almost utterly destroyed by wretched
pot-hunters.

The moose, elk, antelope, mountain sheep and goats, beaver, sea-otter,
and many other game and fur animals of North America have also suffered
so terribly under relentless persecution that they now are found only in
small numbers in very remote places. The sea-otter, of which at the
beginning of the nineteenth century more than 15,000 were killed every
year, has become so scarce that its coat, in good condition, is now
worth $1,000 to the hunter.

The horrible stories of the butchery of the fur-seals and the
passenger-pigeon need not be recited. The building up of great cities
made a market for game and fish, and coincident therewith the
market-hunter and the market-fisherman came into existence. Under these
conditions the destruction went on merrily, until, in the early
eighties, observant sportsmen and naturalists began to realize that
extermination threatened such game-birds as the prairie-chicken, the
quail, the ruffed grouse, the wood-duck, the canvasback duck, and even
the well-known mallard and teal.

"Coincident with this great hegira to the woods," we are told by G. O.
Shields, in a late number of "Collier's Weekly," "there appeared on the
scene a type of man that has become known and recognized everywhere as
the American game-hog. This depraved creature developed a fondness for
killing every living thing he could find, whether edible or not, or
whether he needed it for food or not. All he cared for was to kill,
kill, kill. He loved to stop a beautiful animal in its flight and put it
to death, or to see a bird double up in the air and fall with
shot-pellets through its body.

"The competition became so strong between these game-hogs that they got
to challenging one another to combats in the field, and contests were
arranged weeks ahead, large stakes being deposited on the result.... The
nineteenth-century 'side-hunt' became a feature of many rural districts.

"Is it any wonder, then, that decent men came to rebel against this
savage slaughter? Good sportsmen, naturalists, and laymen became so
disgusted with it that they went before their legislatures and demanded
that it be stopped. Laws were accordingly enacted in many States ... and
recently legislation for the preservation of the game has become a
science, and a few men are devoting their best thought and their best
energies to it.

"But the game-hog and the fish-hog bid defiance to all game-laws,
written and unwritten. No State employs enough game-wardens to police
all of its territory, so the ravaging of the wild went on."

To the correction of this evil no one has contributed more energetically
than Mr. Shields and some other editors of periodicals devoted to
field-sports and recreation. They have given the game-hog so disgraceful
a notoriety, and have brought down upon his head such scorn from decent
sportsmen, that he has been largely suppressed.

Here, too, mothers, wives, and sisters, are largely at fault; but they
may plead ignorance much more plausibly than in the case of their own
sins of hat-trimming. Why should they applaud useless slaughter,
dictated by vanity and blood-lust, in the men over whom they have
influence? Is it a manly or an admirable thing?

These ignorant and thoughtless women have still time to repent and force
their men-folks to behave like gentlemen. There is still game enough to
bring about a revival of plenty for all reasonable sportsmen of the next
generation as well as this. There are laws enough, too, to protect it,
but between the ignorance of the legislators and their fear of offending
the very game-butchers against whom the laws are directed (who
unfortunately have votes), they will not appropriate the money necessary
to provide game-wardens and other means of enforcing the laws properly.
Here is where the influence of every fair-minded woman and patriotic man
can be tellingly exerted. Show the lawmakers that the good opinion of
the decent half of the community is better worth having than that of the
meaner half; and see that _your_ men-folks are not in the latter
class.

When you have done this, let your boys understand the position they must
take on this subject if they wish to be regarded as "true sportsmen,"
not to say gentlemen. Their training should begin early. Little boys are
fond of bean-shooters--a forked stick, or "crutch," with a rubber band
hurling a bean or a pebble. Insist that they do not use it for knocking
over birds.

All boys, also, pass through a season of "collecting specimens," when
they are enthusiastic toward preparing a cabinet of natural history.
Encourage them to do so, but without taking life, or robbing birds'
nests. Give them an opera-glass instead of a shotgun. Show them how they
can learn more, and get more amusement, by watching the bird family in
its home than by arranging dead shells on a string or in a box. (Watch
the birds yourself a while, and then see how you feel about your hat!)
There is no scientific need or excuse, nowadays, for private collections
of the skins or eggs of birds, and the stopping of all birds'-nesting is
of the utmost importance for the same reasons as the stoppage of
millinery murder; and both are the immediate duty of all parents.

Nor must there be forgotten, in considering this matter, the disastrous
effect of recklessness as to waste and suffering on the mind of the
game-hog, the birds'-nester, and the aigrette-wearer. Cruelty cannot be
practiced without crushing and blighting the best insects. As Burns
says:

    "It hardens a' within
    And petrifies the feeling"

A child that is cruel to animals, disdainful of their sufferings when in
pursuit of his pleasure, cannot be trusted to be kind to a younger
sister, a weaker companion, or a valued pet. Cruelty is a vice of the
basest and most cowardly--a mark of the savage and criminal. Let the
mother remember this, not only in her precepts, but in the example she
gives her children. "Even the birds of the air," wrote the German critic
Harnisch, "bear an accusation to their Creator against those who with
wanton cruelty, destroy helpless innocence."



LIST OF BEST BOOKS FOR YOUNG NATURALISTS

  * In many cases the authors mentioned have written
    other books equally interesting and procurable.


  ABBOTT, C. C.*                           _Days out of Doors_

  BAKER, SIR S.*                  _Wild Beasts and their Ways_

  BASKETT, J. N.                    _The Story of the Fishes_

  BASKETT, J. N.   _The Story of the Reptiles and Batrachians_

  BATES, W. H.            _The Naturalist on the River Amazon_

  BEEBE, W. C.*                                     _The Bird_

  BIGNELL, EFFIE       _A Quintette of Gray Coats (Squirrels)_

  BLATCHLEY, W. S.*                          _A Nature Wooing_

  BULLEN, F. T.*                  _Denizens of the Great Deep_

  BURROUGHS, JOHN*           _Squirrels and other Fur-bearers_

  BURROUGHS, JOHN                                 _Wake Robin_

  CHAPMAN AND REED                  _Color Key to N. A. Birds_

  COMSTOCK, J. H.*                               _Insect Life_

  CRAM, W. E.                _Little Beasts of Wood and Field_

  DAMON, N. E.                                 _Ocean Wonders_

  DARWIN, CHARLES*                     _A Naturalist's Voyage_

  ECKSTROM, MRS. F. H.*                        _The Bird Book_

  EGGELING AND EHRENBERG            _The Fresh-Water Aquarium_

  EMERTON, E. S.                                     _Spiders_

  GIBSON, W. H.*             _Blossom Hosts and Insect Guests_

  GIBSON, W. H.                                   _Sharp Eyes_

  HOLDER, F. C.*                     _Along the Florida Reefs_

  HOLLAND, W. J.                          _The Butterfly Book_

  HOLLAND, W. J.                               _The Moth Book_

  HORNADAY, W. T.*                  _American Natural History_

  HOWARD, L. O.*                             _The Insect Book_

  HUDSON, W. H.                                _British Birds_

  HUDSON, W. H.                       _Idle Days in Patagonia_

  HUDSON, W. H.                   _The Naturalist in La Plata_

  INGERSOLL, ERNEST*                         _Life of Mammals_

  INGERSOLL, ERNEST                      _The Wit of the Wild_

  INGERSOLL, ERNEST           _Wild Life of Orchard and Field_

  KELLOGG, VERNON                           _American Insects_

  KEYSER, L. S.                         _Birds of the Rockies_

  LOTTRIDGE, S. A.            _Animal Snap Shots and How Made_

  LUCAS, F. A.                           _Animals of the Past_

  MATTHEWS, S.*                _Familiar Life of the Roadside_

  MERRIAM, FLORENCE*                   _A-birding on a Bronco_

  MILLER, MRS. O. T.*             _Little Brothers of the Air_

  MORLEY, MARY W.                             _The Bee People_

  MORLEY, MARY W.                       _Wasps and their Ways_

  OSWALD, FELIX                          _Zoölogical Sketches_

  PACKARD, A. S.                     _Half-hours with Insects_

  PORTER, J. H.                                  _Wild Beasts_

  REED, C. A.                     _North American Birds' Eggs_

  ROBINSON, R.*                 _New England Fields and Woods_

  ROOSEVELT, THEODORE*                 _The Wilderness Hunter_

  SAMUELS, E.                           _Birds of New England_

  SCUDDER, S. H.                        _Everyday Butterflies_

  SHARPE, D. L.*                         _Wild Life near Home_

  STANDARD LIBRARY OF NATURAL HISTORY               (5 vols.)

  STANDARD (OR RIVERSIDE) NATURAL HISTORY           (6 vols.)

  STONE AND CRAM                             _American Animals_

  TODD, ADA J.                              _The Vacation Club_

  TORREY, B.*                                  _Everyday Birds_

  WATERTON, C.*                   _Wanderings in South America_

  WHITE, GILBERT                  _Natural History of Selborne_

  WILSON, ALEX      _American Ornithology_ (_Brewer's Edition_)

  WOOD, J. G.*                            _Homes without Hands_

  WRIGHT, MRS. M. O.*                              _Bird-craft_

  WRIGHT, MRS. M. O.                    _Four-footed Americans_



INDEX


  A

  Aard-vark, 216
  Aard-wolf, 74
  Acorn-barnacles, 407
  Adder, puff, 319
  African elephant, 202
    "  rhinoceros, 204
  Agouti, 152
  Albatross, 296
  Alderman lizard, 307
  Alligators, 302
  American crows, 254
    "  eagle, 236
    "  foxes, 88
    "  lizards, 307
    "  monkeys, 16
    "  tapirs, 206
  Amphineurans, 421
  Amphioxus, 353
  Anaconda, 316
  Anemones, sea-, 431
  Angler, 346
  Ant-bears, 213
  Ant-eaters, 213
    "  banded, 227
    "  great, 213
    "  scaly, 215
    "  spiny, 230
  Antelopes, 174
  Ant-lion, 367
  Ants, 373
    "  driver, 374
    "  parasol, 374
  Aoudad, 165
  Apes, 1
    "  Barbary, 15
  Aphides, 381
  Arabian baboon, 11
    "  camel, 190
  Arctic fox, 86
  Argali, 162
  Armadillos, 214
    "  giant, 215
    "  pichiciago, 215
    "  six-banded, 214
  Arui, 165
  Asses, wild, 193
  Aswail, 108
  Aurochs, 159
  Australian bear, 223
  Axolotl, 324
  Aye-aye, 24


  B

  Babirusa, 209
  Baboons, 7
    "  Arabian, 7
    "  chacma, 7
    "  drill, 9
    "  gelada, 10
    "  mandrill, 9
  Bactrian camel, 191
  Badger, 97
  Bald chimpanzee, 3
  Banded ant-eater, 227
  Bandicoots, 224
  Barbary ape, 15
  Barbel, 329
  Barnacles, 407
    "  acorn, 407
  Barn-owl, 241
  Bats, 26
    "  flying foxes, 31
    "  horseshoe, 29
    "  kalong, 32
    "  pipistrelle, 29
    "  vampire, 30
  Beaked chætodon, 34
  Bear-cat, 110
  Bears, 102
    "  ant, 213
    "  aswail, 108
    "  Australian, 223
    "  black, 107
    "  brown, 103
    "  grizzly, 106
    "  polar, 102
    "  sea, 118
    "  sloth, 108
    "  sun, 108
    "  white, 102
  Beavers, 142
  Bees, 369
    "  bumble-, 371
    "  carder, 371
    "  hive, 369
    "  leaf-cutter, 371
    "  social, 369
    "  solitary, 371
  Beetles, 355
    "  burying, 356
    "  coach-horse, 356
    "  dor, 357
    "  ground, 355
    "  musk, 359
    "  oil, 358
    "  soldier, 449
    "  stag, 356
    "  tiger, 355
    "  water, 355
  Beluga, 129
  Bettong, brush-tailed, 221
  Bighorn sheep, 163
  Binturong, 71
  Bird, butcher, 266
    "  humming, 246
    "  love, 276
  Birds, bower, 258
  Bird's-foot starfish, 411
  Birds of paradise, 258
  Bird-spiders, 390
  Bishop's-miters, 382
  Bison, 158
  Bivalves, 422
  Black-backed jackal, 85
  Black bear, 107
  Blackbird, 267
  Blackcap, 267
  Blackfish, 131
  Black goby, 349
  Black mussels, 423
  Black rat, 148
  Black saki, 19
  Black slug, 417
  Black-tailed deer, 187
  Blindworm, 304
  Bluebottle fly, 385
  Blue shark, 338
  Blue tit, 265
  Boa-constrictor, 316
  Boar, wild, 208
  Boatman, water, 382
  Bobcat, 62
  Borers, 419
  Bosch-katte, 60
  Bottle-nosed dolphin, 133
  Bottle-nosed whales, 125
  Bottle-tit, 265
  Bower-birds, 258
  Brindled gnu, 178
  Brittle-stars, 411
  Brockets, 188
  Brown bear, 103
  Brown hyena, 77
  Brown owl, 240
  Brown rat, 148
  Brown thrasher, 269
  Brush-kangaroo, 220
  Brush-tailed bettong, 221
  Buansuah, 78
  Buffalo, American, 158
    "  Cape, 159
    "  Indian, 159
  Bullbat, 245
  Bullfinch, 261
  Bumblebees, 371
  Bunting, 260
  Burchell's zebra, 192
  Burrowing owl, 241
  Burying-beetle, 356
  Bush-cat, 60
  Bustards, 284
  Butcher-bird, 266
  Butterflies, 377, 440, 446
  Buzzards, 238


  C

  Cachalot, 124
  Caddis-flies, 367, 441
  Caffre cat, 62
  California sea-lion, 117
  Calling-crabs, 401
  Camels, 189
    "  Arabian, 190
    "  Bactrian, 191
    "  dromedary, 190
  Canada lynx, 65
  Canaries, 261
  Cape buffalo, 159
  Capybara, 152
  Caracal, 63
  Carder-bee, 371
  Caribou, 182
  Carp, 329
  Carrion-crow, 255
  Cassowaries, 283
  Cat, Caffre, 62
    "  Egyptian, 61
    "  jungle, 63
    "  marbled, 59
    "  tiger, 61
    "  wild-, 62
  Catbird, 269, 437
  Cats, larger, 47
    "  smaller, 60
  Caymans, 303
  Centipedes, 395
  Chacma, 7
  Chætodon, beaked, 34
  Chambered nautilus, 416
  Chameleon, 308
  Chamois, 174
  Chaus, 63
  Chetah, 65
  Chimpanzees, 1
    "  bald, 3
    "  common, 2
  Chinchilla, 151
  Chipmunk, 140
  Chipping-bird, 260
  Chitons, 421
    "  prickly, 421
  Cicada, 362
  Civets, 68
    "  Indian, 70
    "  palm, 70
  Climbing perch, 328
  Clouded leopard, 58
    "  tiger, 58
  Coach-horse beetle, 356
  Coati, 111
  Cobras, 318
  Cockatoos, 274
  Cockchafer, 356
  Cockle, 424
  Cockroach, 361
  Cod, 342
  Cole-tit, 265
  Colubers, 313
  Colugo, 33
  Condor, 234
  Congers, 352
  Cony, 154
  Coquimbo, 241
  Coral banks, 433
  Corals, 432
  Cormorants, 293
  Cougar, 57
  Couxia, 19
  Cowbird, 438
  Cowry, 420
  Coyotes, 83
  Crab-eating dog, 80
    "  macaque, 15
    "  opossum, 230
  Crabs, 397, 400
    "  blue, 400
    "  calling, 401
    "  common shore, 400
    "  edible, 400
    "  fiddler, 400
    "  hermit, 401
    "  robber, 402
  Crane-fly, 384
  Cranes, 285
    "  brown, 286
    "  crowned, 286
  Crayfish, 404
  Creeper, 263
  Crested seal, 119
  Crickets, 361, 448
    "  house-, 361
    "  mole, 362
  Crocodiles, 302
  Crossbills, 260
  Crows, American, 254
    "  carrion, 255
  Crowned crane, 286
  Cuckoos, 243
  Cucumbers, sea, 413
  Curlew, 286
  Currant saw-fly, 375
  Cuttles, 414


  D

  Dab, 343
  Dasyures, 225
  Death's-head sphinx-moth, 378
  Deathwatches, 358
  Deer, 181
    "  American, 185
    "  black-tailed, 187
    "  brocket, 188
    "  caribou, 182
    "  elk, 183
    "  fallow, 184
    "  marsh, 187
    "  moose, 183
    "  mule, 186
    "  pampas, 187
    "  pudu, 188
    "  red, 184
    "  rein-, 181
    "  roebuck, 185
    "  wapiti, 187
  Desman, 40
    "  Pyrenean, 40
    "  Russian, 40
  Devil, Tasmanian, 226
  Devil-fish, 341
  Dhole, 78
  Diana monkey, 14
  Dingo, 79
  Dipper, 270
  Dog, crab-eating, 80
    "  hunting, 90
    "  hyena, 90
    "  prairie, 141
  Dog-faced monkeys, 7
  Dogfish, 337
  Dogs, 78
  Dolphins, 128
    "  bottle-nosed, 133
    "  common, 133
    "  fresh-water, 132
    "  Gangetic, 132
    "  sea, 133
  Dor-beetle, 357
  Dormouse, 144
  Douroucoulis, 20
  Dove, mourning, 277
    "  turtle, 277
  Dragon-flies, 364
  Drill, 9
  Driver ant, 374
  Dromedary, 190
  Drone-fly, 385
  Duck, wild, 293
  Duckbill, 231
  Duck-billed platypus, 231
  Dugong, 133


  E

  Eagles, 235
    "  American, 236
    "  bald, 236
    "  golden, 236
    "  white-tailed, 236
  Earth-pig, 216
  Earthworm, 427
  Earwigs, 360
  Echidna, 230
    "  common, 231
    "  three-toed, 231
  Edible crab, 400
    "  snail, 418
  Eel, 334
    "  conger, 352
    "  electric, 335
  Egg-eating snake, 314
  Egyptian cat, 61
    "  mongoose, 73
  Eland, 174
  Electric eel, 335
  Elephant, sea, 119
  Elephants, 201
    "  African, 202
    "  Indian, 203
  Elephant-shrew, 39
  Elk, 183, 187
  Emperor-moth, 379
  Emu, 282
  Ermine, 93


  F

  Falcons, 238
  Fallow deer, 184
  Fennec, 89
  Ferret, 94
    "  polecat, 94
  Fiddler-crab, 400
  Field-mouse, 149
  Field-vole, 147
  Finches, 260
    "  purple, 261
  Fin-whales, 127
    "  sharp-nosed, 128
  Fish, black, 131
    "  devil, 341
    "  dog-, 337
    "  flat-, 343
    "  flying, 348
    "  jelly-, 430
    "  mud, 326
    "  pipe, 350
    "  saw, 339
    "  sucking, 345
    "  sword-, 344
  Fish-hawk, 237
  Fivefingers, 410
  Flamingo, 291
  Flatfish, 343
  Fleas, 383
    "  turnip, 359
  Flesh-fly, 386
  Flicker, 249
  Flounder, 343
  Fly, bluebottle, 385
    "  caddis, 367, 441
    "  currant saw, 375
    "  dragon-, 364
    "  drone-, 385
    "  flesh, 386
    "  gall, 375, 445
    "  green-, 360, 381
    "  hawk, 385
    "  horn-tailed saw, 375, 445
    "  house, 385
    "  ichneumon, 376
    "  June, 365
    "  lacewing, 368, 451
    "  May, 365
    "  saw, 374
    "  turnip saw, 375
  Flycatcher, 444
  Flying colugo, 33
    "  fish, 348
    "  foxes, 31
    "  squirrel, 139
  Fossa, 68
  Foumart, 94
  Foxes, 85
    "  American, 88
    "  arctic, 86
    "  flying, 31
  Fox-sparrow, 261
  Fresh-water dolphins, 132
    "  fishes, 326
    "  shrimp, 406
  Frilled lizard, 308
  Fritillaries, 377, 446
  Frog, 321
  Froghoppers, 380
  Fur-seal, 118


  G

  Gall-fly, 375, 445
  Galls, 444
  Gangetic dolphin, 132
  Garden-spiders, 388
  Gastropods, 416
  Gaur, 157
  Geckos, 305
  Geese, 292
  Gelada, 10
  Gemsbok, 176
  Genets, 70
  Giant armadillo, 215
    "  pangolin, 216
    "  salamander, 324
  Gibbons, 5
    "  hoolock, 6
    "  lar, 6
    "  siamang, 6
  Gila monster, 307
  Giraffes, 179
  Glowworm, 358
  Glutton, 96
  Gnats, 384, 440
  Gnus, 177
    "  brindled, 178
    "  white-tailed, 178
  Goat-moth, 378
  Goats, 166
    "  Persian wild, 169
    "  Rocky mountain, 172
  Goby, black, 349
    "  spotted, 349
  Golden eagle, 236
  Goldenrod, 449
  Goldfinch, 261, 448
  Goose, graylag, 292
  Gorilla, 3
  Gossamers, 394
  Grampus, 131
  Grasshoppers, 362, 448
  Graylag goose, 292
  Gray parrot, 273
  Great ant-eater, 213
    "  bustard, 284
    "  gray slug, 417
    "  horseshoe bat, 30
    "  tit, 265
  Greek tortoise, 300
  Greenfly, 360, 381
  Greenland whale, 127
  Green monkey, 13
    "  turtle, 301
  Grévy's zebra, 192
  Grizzly bear, 106
  Grosbeak, 260
  Ground-beetles, 355
  Groundhog, 142
  Grouse, red, 279
  Guanaco, 191
  Guemals, 188
  Guenons, 13
  Guillemots, 296
  Guljar, 163
  Gull, sea, 295
  Gurnards, 347


  H

  Hair-seals, 116
  Hammerhead shark, 338
  Hamster, 145
  Hanuman, 12
  Hares, 154
  Harvest-mouse, 149
  Hawk, fish, 237
  Hawk-flies, 385
  Hawks, 237
    "  chicken, 238
    "  night, 245
    "  pigeon, 239
    "  sparrow, 239
  Hawksbill turtle, 301
  Hazel-mouse, 144
  Hedgehog, 34
  Hermit crab, 401
  Heron, 288
  Herring, 348
  Hippopotamus, 207
    "  pygmy, 208
  Hive-bee, 369
  Hog, sea, 130
    "  wart, 209
  Honey-ratel, 97
  Honey-weasel, 97
  Hooded seal, 119
  Hoolock, 6
  Hoopoe, 252
  Hornbill, 251
    "  rhinoceros, 251
  Horned toad, 307
  Hornet, 373
  Horn-tailed saw-fly, 375
  Horse, 195
    "  river, 207
    "  sea, 120, 351
  Horseshoe bat, great, 30
  House-cricket, 361
  House-fly, 385
  Howlers, 17
  Humblebees, 371
  Humming-bird, 246
    "      "  hawk-moth, 378
  Hunting-dog, 90
  Hunting-leopard, 65
  Hunting-spider, 390
  Hyena-dog, 90
  Hyenas, 75
    "  brown, 77
    "  laughing, 77
    "  spotted, 77
    "  striped, 76
  Hyrax, 205


  I

  Ibex, 169
    "  Nilgiri, 171
  Ibis, 290
    "  sacred, 290
    "  scarlet, 290
  Ichneumon-flies, 376
  Iguanas, 306
  Indian buffalo, 159
    "  civet, 70
    "  elephant, 203
    "  mongoose, 72
    "  pangolin, 216
    "  rhinoceros, 203
  Indigo-bird, 261
  Insect-eaters, 33
  Insects, 354
  Ivory-bill woodpecker, 247
  Ivy, poison, 442


  J

  Jacares, 303
  Jackals, black-backed, 85
    "  common, 84
    "  side-striped, 86
  Jackass, laughing, 253
  Jackdaw, 256
  Jack rabbits, 156
  Jaguar, 56
  Jay, 256
  Jelly fishes, 430
  Jerboa-kangaroo, 222
  Jerboas, 145
  Joepye-weed, 449
  Johnny Darter, 445
  Julus millepede, 396
  Jumping shrew, 39
  June-fly, 365
  Jungle-cat, 63


  K

  Kalan, 101
  Kalong, 32
  Kangaroo-rats, 221
  Kangaroos, 218
    "  brush, 220
    "  jerboa, 222
    "  tree, 221
  Katydid, 362
  Kestrels, 238
  Kholsun, 78
  Killer-whale, 131
  King bird of paradise, 258
  Kingfishers, 253, 439
  Kinkajou, 112
  Kiwis, 284
  Koala, 223
  Kudu, 175


  L

  Lacewing fly, 368, 451
  Ladybirds, 360
  Lammergeier, 234
  Lampreys, 335
  Lancelet, 353
  Land-tortoises, 300
  Langurs, 13
  Lapwings, 286
  Lar gibbon, 6
  Laughing hyena, 77
  Laughing jackass, 253
  Leaf-cutter bee, 371
  Leather-jackets, 385
  Leeches, 430
  Lemmings, 147
  Lemuroids, 23
  Lemurs, 21
    "  ruffed, 22
    "  slender loris, 23
    "  tarsier, 23
  Leopard, 54
    "  clouded, 58
    "  hunting, 65
    "  snow, 55
  Limpets, 421
  Linnet, 261
  Lion, 49
    "  ant, 367
    "  California sea, 117
    "  Patagonian sea, 116
    "  sea, 116
  Lizards, 303
    "  alderman, 307
    "  American, 307
    "  frilled, 308
  Llamas, 191
  Lobsters, 403
  Locust, 362
  Logcock, 247
  Long-eared owl, 240
  Long-tailed tit, 265
  Long-tongued vampire, 30
  Loris, slender, 23
  Love-birds, 276
  Lugworm, 428
  Lynx, 64
    "  Canada, 65
    "  pardine, 65


  M

  Macaques, 14
    "  crab-eating, 15
  Macaws, 275
  Mackerel, 345
  Magot, 15
  Magpie, 257
  Malayan tapir, 206
  Manatees, 133
  Mandrill, 9
  Mangabeys, 14
  Mantis, praying, 363
  Marbled cat, 59
  Marco Polo's sheep, 163
  Margay, 61
  Markhor, 170
  Marmignatto spider, 389
  Marmosets, 21
  Marmots, common, 142
    "  prairie, 142
  Marsupials, 218
  Martens, 95
  Martins, 271
  Mavis, 267
  May-fly, 365
  Meerkats, 73
  Megalopa, 408
  Merian's opossum, 230
  Mice, pouched, 227
  Milkweed, 449
  Milky slug, 417
  Millepede, 395
    "  Julus, 396
  Mole, common, 40
    "  pouched, 228
  Mole, star-nosed, 45
  Mole-cricket, 362
  Mollusks, 414
  Mongoose, Egyptian, 73
    "  Indian, 72
  Monkeys, American, 16
    "  aye-aye, 24
    "  Barbary ape, 15
    "  black saki, 19
    "  couxia, 19
    "  diana, 14
    "  dog-faced, 7
    "  douroucouli, 20
    "  green, 13
    "  guenons, 13
    "  hanuman, 12
    "  howlers, 17
    "  howlers, red, 18
    "  langurs, 13
    "  macaques, 14
    "  magot, 15
    "  mangabeys, 14
    "  marmosets, 21
    "  night, 20
    "  ouakari, 18
    "  proboscis, 11
    "  spider, 16
  Moose, 183
  Morse, 120
  Mosquito, 384
  Moth, 377
    "  bee-hawk, 378
    "  burnet, 379
    "  cinnabar, 379
    "  death's-head sphinx, 378
    "  emerald, 380
    "  emperor, 379
    "  goat, 378
    "  humming-bird hawk, 378
    "  kitten, 380
    "  luna, 454
    "  magpie, 380
    "  Polyphemus, 454
    "  Promethea, 454
    "  puss, 380
    "  sulphur, 380
    "  swallowtail, 380
    "  swift, 378
    "  tiger, 378
    "  vaporer, 379
  Mouflon, European, 161
  Mountain zebra, 192
  Mourning dove, 277
  Mouse, 149, 447
    "  field, 149
    "  harvest, 149
    "  hazel, 144
    "  pouched, 227
    "  sea, 429
  Mud-fish, 326
  Mud-skippers, 350
  Mule-deer, 186
  Musk-beetle, 359
  Musk-ox, 160
  Muskrat, 147
  Musquaw, 108
  Mussels, black, 423
  Myrmecobius, 227


  N

  Narwhal, 128
  Nauplius, 408
  Nautilus, chambered, 416
  Newts, 322
  Night-fliers, 380
  Night-hawk, 245
  Nightingale, 267
  Nightjars, 244
  Night-monkeys, 20
  Noctuæ, 380
  Nuthatch, 264
  Nut-weevil, 359


  O

  Ocelot, 60
  Oil-beetles, 358
  Okapi, 180
  Oliveback, 269
  Olm, 325
  Opossums, 228
    "  common, 230
    "  crab-eating, 230
    "  Merian's, 230
    "  yapock, 230
  Orang-utan, 4
  Osprey, 237
  Ostriches, 281
  Otters, 100
    "  sea, 101
  Ouakari, 18
  Ouistiti, 21
  Ounce, 55
  Owls, barn, 241
    "  brown, 240
    "  burrowing, 241
    "  long-eared, 240
    "  short-eared, 240
  Ox, musk, 160
  Oxen, wild, 157
  Oysters, 423
    "  pearl, 422


  P

  Painter, 58
  Palm-civets, 70
  Panda, 110
  Pangolins, 215
    "  giant, 216
    "  Indian, 216
  Panther, American, 58
    "  or leopard, 54
  Paradise, birds of, 258
    "  king bird of, 258
  Parasol-ant, 374
  Pardine lynx, 65
  Parrakeets, 274
    "  ring-necked, 274
  Parrots, 273
  Partridges, 280
  Passenger-pigeon, 277
  Patagonian sea-lion, 116
  Peacocks, 277
  Pearl-oyster, 422
  Peccaries, 210
  Pelicans, 294
  Penguin, 297
  Pen-tailed tree-shrew, 39
  Perch, 328
    "  climbing, 328
  Periwinkles, 420
  Persian wild goat, 169
  Petaurist, squirrel, 222
  Pheasants, 279
  Phoebe, 444
  Pichiciago, 215
  Piddock, 424
  Pig, earth, 216
  Pigeons, 276
    "  passenger, 277
    "  wood, 276
  Pike, 330
  Pine-marten, 95
  Pipe-fishes, 350
  Pipistrelle, 29
  Pit-vipers, 319
  Plaice, 343
  Platypus, duck-billed, 231
  Poison-ivy, 442
  Polar bear, 102
  Polecat, 94
    "  ferret, 94
  Polyps, 432
  Porcupines, 150
  Porpoise, 130
  Potoroos, 221
  Pouched mice, 227
  Pouched mole, 228
  Prairie-dogs, 141
  Prawns, 405
  Praying-mantis, 363
  Prickly chiton, 421
  Proboscis-monkey, 11
  Pudus, 188
  Puff-adder, 319
  Puffin, 297
  Puma, 57
  Purpura, 419
  Puss-moth, 380
  Pygmy hippopotamus, 208
  Pyrenean desman, 40
  Pythons, 315


  Q

  Quagga, 193


  R

  Rabbits, 154, 455
    "  jack, 156
  Racoons, 110
  Raft-spider, 392
  Rat, black, 148
    "  brown, 148
    "  kangaroo, 221
    "  water, 146
  Ratel, 97
    "  honey, 97
  Rattlesnakes, 320
  Ravens, 254
  Rays, 340
  Razor-shells, 424
  Red and blue macaw, 275
  Red deer, 184
  Red-faced ouakari, 18
  Red grouse, 279
  Red gurnards, 347
  Red howler, 18
  Reindeer, 181
  Rheas, 283
  Rhinoceros, African, 204
    "  common, 204
    "  Indian, 203
  Rhinoceros-hornbill, 251
  Rice-weevil, 359
  Ring-necked parrakeet, 274
  Ring-tailed lemur, 22
  River-horse, 207
  Roach, 330
  Robber-crab, 402
  Robin, 267
  Rock-snakes, 316
  Rocky Mountain goat, 172
  Rodents, 136
  Roebuck, 185
  Rondeleti's shark, 338
  Rooks, 255
  Rorqual, common, 127
    "  lesser, 128
  Rosy feather-starfish, 412
  Ruffed lemur, 22
  Ruffs, 287
  Russian desman, 40


  S

  Sable, 95
  Sacred ibis, 290
  Saki, black, 19
  Salamanders, 323
    "  giant, 324
    "  spotted, 323
  Salmon, 332
    "  North Pacific, 333
  Salt-water fishes, 337
  Sandhoppers, 405
  Saw-fishes, 339
  Saw-flies, 374
  Scaly ant-eater, 215
  Scarabæus, 357
  Scarlet ibis, 290
  Scarlet tanager, 444
  Scavengers, 356
  Scorpion, water, 383
  Scorpions, 395
  Sea-anemones, 431
  Sea-bears, 118
  Sea-cucumbers, 413
  Sea-dolphins, 133
  Sea-elephant, 119
  Sea-gulls, 295
  Sea-hog, 130
  Sea-horse, 120, 351
  Sea-lions, 116
  Sea-mouse, 429
  Sea-otter, 101
  Sea-unicorn, 128
  Sea-urchins, 409
  Seals, 113
    "  common, 115
    "  fur, 118
    "  hair, 116
    "  hooded, or crested, 119
  Secretary-vulture, or secretary-bird, 235
  Serval, 60
  Shark, blue, 338
    "  hammerhead, 338
    "  Rondeleti's, 338
    "  thresher, 339
    "  white, 338
  Sharp-nosed finner, 128
  Sheep, 161
    "  bighorn, 163
    "  Marco Polo's, 163
  Shells, razor, 424
  Shiner, 445
  Ship-worm, 426
  Shore-crab, 400
  Short-eared owl, 240
  Shrews, 36
    "  elephant, 39
    "  jumping, 39
    "  pen-tailed tree, 39
    "  tree, 39
    "  tupaia, 39
    "  water, 37
  Shrike, 266
  Shrimps, 405
    "  fresh-water, 406
  Siamang, 6
  Side-striped jackal, 86
  Sirenians, 133
  Six-banded armadillo, 214
  Skinks, 305
  Skipjacks, 357
  Skippers, mud, 350
  Skunk, 99, 454
  Skylark, 262
  Slender loris, 23
  Sloth-bear, 108
  Sloths, 212
  Slugs, 416
  Snails, 417
    "  edible, 418
    "  water, 418
  Snakes, 311, 440
    "  black-, 314
    "  egg-eating, 314
    "  garter, 314
    "  green-, 314
    "  harmless, 313
    "  king, 313
    "  milk, 314
    "  poisonous, 317
    "  rattle-, 320
    "  rock, 316
    "  water, 314
  Snipe, 288
  Snow-leopard, 55
  Soldier-beetle, 449
  Sole, 343
  Solitary bee, 371
  Sparrow-hawk, 239
  Sparrows, 261, 437
  Sperm or Spermaceti whale, 124
  Spider-monkeys, 16
  Spiders, 387, 450
    "  bird, 390
    "  garden, 388
    "  gossamer, 394
    "  hunting, 390
    "  marmignatto, 389
    "  raft, 392
    "  trap-door, 391
    "  water, 393
  Spiny ant-eater, 230
  Spotted goby, 349
    "  hyena, 77
    "  salamander, 323
  Springbok, 176
  Squids, 414
  Squirrels, 137, 447
    "  chipmunk, 140
    "  flying, 139
    "  gray, 139
    "  sugar, 222
  Stag-beetle, 356
  Starfish, 410
    "  basket, 412
    "  bird's-foot, 411
    "  rosy feather, 412
    "  sun, 411
  Starling, 259
  Star-nosed mole, 45
  Sticklebacks, 327
  Stoat, 93
  Storks, 289
  Striped hyena, 76
  Sturgeon, 341
  Sucking-fishes, 345
  Sugar-squirrel, 222
  Sulphur moth, 380
  Sun-bear, 108
  Sunfish, 445
  Sun-star, 411
  Suricate, 73
  Susu, 132
  Swallows, 271, 443
  Swallowtail moth, 380
  Swans, 292
  Swifts, 245
    "  chimney, 245
  Swine, 208
  Swordfish, 344


  T

  Tadpole, 321, 440
  Taguan, 140
  Tahr, 171
  Tamandua, 214
  Tanager, scarlet, 444
  Tapirs, American, 206
  Tapirs, Malayan, 206
  Tarsier, 23
  Tasmanian devil, 226
    "  wolf, 225
  Tawny thrush, Wilson's, 269
  Terebella, 429
  Teredo, 426
  Termites, 365
  Testacella, 417
  Thousand-legs, 214
  Three-banded douroucouli, 20
  Three-toed echidna, 231
  Thresher-shark, 339
  Thrushes, 267
    "  hermit, 269
    "  North American, 268
    "  oliveback, 269
    "  Wilson's tawny, 269
    "  wood, 268
  Thylacine, 225
  Tiger-beetle, 355
  Tiger-cat, 61
  Tiger-moth, 378
  Tigers, 51
    "  man-eating, 52
    "  tree, 59
  Tiger-wolf, 77
  Tit, blue, 265
    "  bottle, 265
    "  cole, 265
    "  great, 265
    "  long-tailed, 265
  Titmice, 265
  Toads, 322
    "  horned, 307
  Tomtits, 452
  Torpedo, 340
  Tortoises, 299
    "  Greek, 300
    "  land, 300
  Toucans, 250
  Trap-door spider, 391
  Tree-kangaroo, 221
  Tree-shrew, 39
  Trout, 331
  Tupaia, 39
  Turkeys, 278
  Turnip-fleas, 359
  Turnip saw-flies, 375
  Turs, 168
  Turtle-dove, 277
  Turtles, 300, 440
    "  green, 301
    "  hawksbill, 301


  U

  Unicorn, sea, 128
  Urchins, sea, 409
  Urial, 165


  V

  Vampires, 30
  Vaporer-moth, 379
  Veery, 269
  Vipers, 317
    "  pit, 319
  Vireo, 437
  Viscacha, 151
  Vlack-vark, 209
  Vole, field, 147
    "  water, 146
  Vultures, 233
    "  secretary, 235


  W

  Wagtails, 263
  Wah, 110
  Walking-stick, 363
  Wallabies, 220
  Walrus, 120
  Wapiti, 187
  Warblers, 263
  Wart-hog, 209
  Wasps, 372
  Water-beetle, 355
  Water-boatman, 382
  Water-rat, 146
  Water-scorpion, 383
  Water-shrew, 37
  Water-snail, 314
  Water-spider, 393
  Water-striders, 382
  Water-thrush, 263
  Water-vole, 146
  Waxbill, 261
  Weasels, 91, 455
    "  honey, 97
    "  least, 93
    "  New York, 93
  Weevers, 346
  Weevils, nut, 359
    "  rice, 359
    "  wheat, 359
  Whales, 121
    "  bottle-nosed, 125
    "  fin, 127
    "  Greenland, 127
    "  killer, 131
    "  rorqual, 127
    "  sperm, 124
    "  whalebone, 126
    "  white, 129
  Whelk, 418
  Whippoorwill, 244
  White bear, 102
  White shark, 338
  White-tailed gnu, 178
  Whitethroat, 261
  Wild asses, 193
    "  boar, 208
    "  duck, 293
    "  oxen, 157
  Wildcat, 62
  Wildebeests, 177
  Wilson's tawny thrush, 269
  Wireworms, 357
  Wishtonwish, 141
  Wolf, aard, 74
    "  common, 81
    "  coyote, 83
    "  Tasmanian, 225
    "  tiger, 77
  Wolverene, 96
  Wombat, 223
  Woodchuck, 142
  Woodcock, 287
  Woodpecker, 247
    "  flicker, 249
    "  ivory-bill, 247
    "  logcock, 247
    "  redhead, 249
  Woodlice, 407
  Wood-pigeon, 276
  Worm, earth-, 427
    "  lug-, 428
    "  ship, 426
  Wrens, 269


  Y

  Yak, 158
  Yapock opossum, 230


  Z

  Zebra, 192
    "  Burchell's, 192
    "  Grévy's, 192
    "  mountain, 192
  Zoëa, 408


       *       *       *       *       *



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:


1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

2. Passages in bold are indicated by =bold=.

3. In this etext an 'a' with macron is represented as [=a].

4. Certain words use oe ligature in the original.

5. Images have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the closest
paragraph break.

6. The following misprints have been corrected:

    "CHIPMANZEES" corrected to "CHIMPANZEES" (page 1)
    Added missing period after "siamang" (page 6)
    "mountian" corrected to "mountain" (page 8)
    Added missing quotation mark after "water." (page 41)
    "mischevious" corrected to "mischievous" (page 44)
    Added missing period after "Canada Lynx" (facing page 48)
    "mountians" corrected to "mountains" (page 56)
    Added missing quotation mark after 'Jock,' (page 80)
    "yeilded" corrected to "yielded" (page 132)
    Removed partial paragraph indenting from sentence starting
        "Sometimes a rhinoceros...." (page 204)
    "pecarry" corrected to "peccary" (page 210, last paragraph)
    "miliped" corrected to "millepede" (page 214)
    "They will" corrected to "they will" (page 226)
    "noisest" corrected to "noisiest" (page 250)
    Added missing period after "Bluebird" (facing page 264)
    Removed comma from "the mewing, of cats" (page 275