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Title: A Natural History for Young People: Our Animal Friends in Their Native Homes - including mammals, birds and fishes
Author: Humphreys, Phebe Westcott
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Natural History for Young People: Our Animal Friends in Their Native Homes - including mammals, birds and fishes" ***

[Illustration: BROWN OR ALPINE BEARS.]


                   A Natural History for Young People


                           Our Animal Friends

                         IN THEIR Native Homes


                       MAMMALS, BIRDS and FISHES


                     MRS. PHEBE WESTCOTT HUMPHREYS


               Over One Hundred and Fifty Illustrations,
                  including Colored Plates, Half-Tones
                          and Wood Engravings


                             Copyright 1900

                      By PHEBE WESTCOTT HUMPHREYS


This little Volume of Natural History has been prepared to fill a
long-felt want. As a child the author was especially interested in the
study of animals, but met with the usual drawback—nothing could be found
in classified form to meet the requirements of young people, not yet old
enough to take up a college course of study. Natural Histories abounded
in every form and in every language, there were scientific works in
plenty, and numerous books for children, from the fairy tales founded on
animal life to the usual descriptive matter accompanying profuse
illustrations in childish books; but nothing could be found in which the
Mammals, Birds and Fishes, were carefully classified and arranged in the
proper families, and the whole in words of easy reading—discarding
unnecessary scientific words and phrases, and carefully explaining the
necessary ones. It was not until later in school life, when a certain
knowledge of Greek and Latin became necessary in the college-preparatory
course that these scientific works could be really enjoyed. And the
author of this little volume—who was then preparing her first literary
efforts in the intervals of school work—resolved that one of her
earliest books should be a carefully arranged Natural History for Young
People, in which all the desires of her own childhood should be

The immensity of the labor involved in preparing such a work did not
become apparent until once seriously commenced, and French, German,
Greek and Latin dictionaries were called into requisition in order that
every scientific word and classification might be carefully explained.
The best authorities among ancient and modern naturalists have been
consulted; Goldsmith, Jones, Figuier and Brehm have been quoted, and
other English, French and German works, studied and compared. And
although this has been delayed, because of the tedious work required,
and other books for young people, by the same author have been allowed
to precede it, this is finished in time to meet the demands of the small
son of her household, who has reached the age so aptly described by the
well-worn phrase, “An animated interrogation point”—especially in the
direction of Natural History. And filling as it does, the demands of
one, may it meet the desires of the many mothers of inquiring sons and
daughters, and the young people who are eager for such a work, that is
accurate, readable and interesting, and fully up to the present
condition of modern science.

[Illustration: A FAMILY OF TIGERS.]


 PREFACE                                                               5

 OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS                                                   13


 THE TAILLESS APES                                                    17

 Gorilla, Orang Outang, Chimpanzee.

 THE APE MONKEYS                                                      23

 Baboons, Mandrills, Macaques, Wanderoo, Barbary Ape, Bonnet

 THE AMERICAN MONKEYS                                                 27

 The Howlers, The Spider Monkeys, The Weepers.

 THE LEMURS                                                           31

 The Fox-Headed Monkeys.


 PLANTIGRADE CARNIVORA—THE BEAR FAMILY.                               33

 The Brown or Alpine Bear, The Collared Bear, The American Bear,
   The Grizzly Bear, The White or Polar Bear, The Sloth Bear.

 DIGITIGRADE CARNIVORA—THE HYENA FAMILY.                              42

 Spotted Hyena, Striped Hyena, Hunting Hyena.

 THE CAT FAMILY                                                       44

 Wild Cat, Domestic Cats, Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Panther, Jaguar,
   Puma, Ocelot, Lynx, Caracal, Ounce, Serval, Cheetah.

 THE DOG FAMILY                                                       63

 Sporting Dogs, Running Dogs, Pointers, Setters, Newfoundland Dog,
   Esquimau Dog, Mastiffs, Spaniels, Wild Dogs, Hyena Dog, Wolf,
   Jackal, Fox.

 THE WEASEL FAMILY                                                    75

 Ermine, Marten, Otter.

 THE CIVET FAMILY                                                     80

 African Civet, Indian Civet, Mangousts, Genet.

 AMPHIBIOUS CARNIVORA—THE SEAL FAMILY.                                81

 Common Seal, Sea-Elephants, Sea-Lions, The Walrus, or Morse.

 CHEIROPTERA—ANIMALS WITH WINGED HANDS.                               86

 Long-Eared Bats, Long-Nosed Bats, Roussette, Vampires.

 INSECTIVORA—INSECT-EATERS.                                           91

 The Shrews, Water Shrew, Elephant Shrew, The Hedgehogs.


 THE SLOTH FAMILY                                                     94

 Unau, Ai, Armadillos, Ant-Eaters, Pangolins.

 RODENTIA—GNAWING QUADRUPEDS                                          99

 Mice, Rats, Porcupines, Beavers, Squirrels, Prairie Dogs, Hares.

 MARSUPIALIA—POUCHED QUADRUPEDS.                                     111

 Kangaroo, Opossum.


 THE ELEPHANT FAMILY                                                 114

 African Elephant, Asiatic Elephant, Mammoth, Mastodon.

                         ORDINARY PACHYDERMATA.
 The Hippopotamus.                                                   114

 THE TAPIR FAMILY                                                    117

 American Tapir, Indian Tapir.

 THE RHINOCEROS FAMILY                                               118

 One-Horned Rhinoceros, Two-Horned Rhinoceros.

 THE HOG FAMILY                                                      120

 The Wild Boars, The Wart Hog, The Peccaries.

 THE HORSE FAMILY                                                    123

 Horses and Ponies, The Wild Ass, The Domestic Donkey, The Zebra,
 The Quagga, The Dauw.


 THE CAMEL FAMILY                                                    129

 Camel, Dromedary, Llama, Paca, Vicuna.

 THE MUSK DEER                                                       133

                      RUMINANTS WITH HAIRY HORNS.

 The Giraffe.                                                        134

                      RUMINANTS WITH HOLLOW HORNS.

 THE ANTELOPE FAMILY                                                 134

 Chamois, Gazelles, Gnus.

 THE OX FAMILY                                                       141

 Yak, Bison, Buffalo.

 RUMINANTS THAT SHED THEIR HORNS.                                    145

 The Deer Proper, The Reindeer, The Elk or Moose.

                       CETACEA—THE WHALE FAMILY.

 BLOWING OR SPOUTING WHALES.                                         152

 Rorquals, Cachalot, Pot Whale, Dolphin, Porpoise, Narwhal.

 HERBIVOROUS CETACEA                                                 159

 Manatee, Duyong.


 BIRDS OF PREY                                                       166

 THE OWL FAMILY                                                      167

 The Horned Owls, Great Owl, Virginia Eared Owl, Long-Eared Owl,
   Short-Eared Owl, Scops-Eared Owl.

 HORNLESS OWLS                                                       169

 Snow Owls, Barn or Screech Owls, Hawk or Canada Owls, Brown or
   Tawny Owls, Ural, Burrowing and Sparrow Owls.

 THE FALCON FAMILY                                                   169

 Sea-Eagles, Eagles, Stone Eagles, Harpy Eagles, Buzzards.

 THE VULTURE FAMILY                                                  173

 King Vulture, Bearded Griffon, Condor.

                     THE NATATORES—SWIMMING BIRDS.

 THE FAMILY OF DIVERS                                                176

 Great Northern Diver, Penguin, Auk, Grebes.

 DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS                                              182

 Wild and Domestic Ducks, Sea Ducks, Fresh-water Ducks, Wild and
   Domestic Geese, Mute and Whistling Swans, Black Swan of
   Australia, Black-necked Swan.

 THE PELICAN FAMILY                                                  183

 LONG-WINGED SWIMMING BIRDS.                                         190

 Albatros, Petrels, Gulls.

                       GRALLATORES—WADING BIRDS.

 WADERS WITH UNITED TOES                                             195

 Avocet, Stilt Bird.

 WADING-BIRDS WITH LONG BILLS                                        197

 Woodcocks, Snipes, Reed Hens.

 WADING-BIRDS WITH KNIFE-SHAPED BILLS                                199

 Storks, Argala or Adjutant, Marabou, Spoonbill, Cranes.

 WADING-BIRDS WITH COMPRESSED BILLS                                  203

 Curious Types, Flamingo, Frigate.

 THE SHORT-WINGED BIRDS                                              206

 Ostrich, Rhea.

                       SCRANSORES—CLIMBING BIRDS.

 THE PARROT FAMILY                                                   209

 Grey Parrot or Jaco, Green Parrot, Macaw, Parrakeets, Amazonian

 THE COCKATOO FAMILY                                                 214

 Trumpet Cockatoo, Great White Cockatoo, Leadbeater’s Cockatoo,

 THE CUCKOO FAMILY                                                   214

 Trogons, Honey-Guides, Anis, Barbets, Touracos, Plantain-Eaters.

 THE WOODPECKER FAMILY                                               217

 Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers, Spotted Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers.

                      GALLINACEAE—DOMESTIC BIRDS.

 THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY                                                220

 Grey Partridge, California Partridge.

 THE GROUSE FAMILY                                                   222

 Black Grouse, Ruffled Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Heathcock.

 THE PIGEON FAMILY                                                   224

 Crowned Pigeon, Fan-Tailed Pigeon, Wheeling Pigeon, Tumbler
   Pigeon, Carrier Pigeon.

 THE PHEASANT FAMILY                                                 225

 Silver Pheasant, Golden Pheasant.


 HUMMING BIRDS                                                       229

 Sword-bill Humming Bird, Crested Humming Bird.

 KING FISHERS                                                        229

 CROWS                                                               233

 RAVENS                                                              233

 DIPPERS OR WATER WRENS                                              235


                         CARTILAGINOUS FISHES.

 THE LAMPREYS AND EELS                                               239

 Lesser Lamprey, Sea Lamprey, Sand Eels, Electrical Eels, Sea Eel.

 THE FAMILY OF RAIAS OR FLAT-FISH                                    243

 The White Ray, The Lump-Fish, The Torpedo or Cramp-Fish.

 THE SHARK FAMILY                                                    249

 “Man-Eating Sharks,” Dog-Fish, Hammer Heads, Saw-Fish.

 THE STURGEON FAMILY                                                 252

 The Caviare Sturgeon, Huso, or Isinglass Fish, Great Sturgeon,
   Common Sturgeon, Chimaera.

 OSSEOUS, OR BONY FISHES                                             255

 FAMILY OF GLOBE FISH AND COFFERS                                    257

 Globe-Fish, Diodon, Coffers or Ostracions, File-Fish or Balistes.

 PIPE-FISH AND SEA-HORSES                                            258

 THE SOFT-FINNED FISHES                                              259

 Some Curious Specimens, Sea-Snail, Lump-Fish, Echineis.

 FLAT-FISH WITH SOFT FINS                                            260

 The Soles, Turbot, Flounders and Plaice, Halibut and Dab.

 THIRD GROUP OF SOFT-FINNED FISHES                                   261

 Cod, Whiting and Haddock, Pike, Stomias, Chaetodons, Flying-Fish,

 THE SPINY-FINNED FISHES                                             267

 Trigula or Gurnards, Red Gurnards, Flying Gurnards, Sword-Fish,

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

 Brown Bear                                   Colored Plate Frontispiece

 A Family of Tigers                                                    6

 A Battle between the Lion and Tiger                                  12

 Flying Squirrels                                                     16

 Gorillas                                                             17

 Orang-Outang                                                         20

 Chimpanzee                                                           22

 Baboons or Dog Headed Monkeys                                        24

 Mandrill                                                             26

 Bonnet Monkeys                                                       28

 Weeping Monkeys                                                      30

 Lemur or Fox Headed Monkeys                                          31

 Sloth Bear                                                           32

 Grizzly Bear and Buffalos                                            35

 Panther Surprised by a Tree Snake                                    36

 Polar Bear                                                           39

 Striped Hyena                                                        42

 Wild Cats                                                            45

 Angora Cat                                                           46

 Pumas Fighting over Vultures                                         53

 Caracal Defending His Booty from Jackals                             54

 Jaguar                                                               57

 Lynx Attacking Fawn                                                  59

 Esquimaux Dogs                                                       62

 Newfoundland Dog                                                     63

 Hyena Dogs                                                           66

 Wolf                                                                 67

 Jackal                                                               70

 Foxes at Home                                                        72

 Weasels and Ermines                                                  75

 Marten                                                               76

 Otter Fishing for His Dinner                                         78

 Mangousts                                                            79

 Genets                                                               80

 Common Seal                                                          82

 Sea Elephants                                                        83

 Walrus                                                               84

 Long-nosed Bats                                                      85

 Sea Lions in Battle                                                  87

 Whale Attacking Bloodheads                                           88

 Long-eared Bats                                                      89

 The Elephant Shrew                                                   92

 Hedgehogs                                                            93

 Sloths                                                               95

 Armadillos                                                           96

 Ant-Eater or Ant Bear                                                97

 Beavers                                                             100

 Porcupines                                                          103

 Goat Defending His Family from a Lynx                               105

 Bisons in Battle                                                    106

 Village of Prairie Dogs                                             107

 Rabbits                                                             108

 Giant Kangaroos                                                     112

 Elephant in the Jungle                                              115

 Hippopotamus                                                        116

 Indian Tapir                                                        118

 One-horned Rhinoceros                                               119

 Wild Boars                                                          121

 Wart Hogs                                                           122

 Shetland Ponies                                                     124

 Domestic Donkey                                                     125

 Zebras                                                              126

 Dromedary                                                           128

 Camel                                                               130

 Llama                                                               131

 Paca                                                                132

 Giraffe                                                             135

 Gnu                                                                 136

 Gazelles                                                            137

 Mountain Sheep                                                      140

 American Buffalo                                                    142

 Yak                                                                 144

 American Deer                                                       146

 Reindeer                                                            148

 Elk or Moose                                                        149

 Pot Whale                                                           155

 Dolphin                                                             157

 Narwhal                                                             158

 Manatee                                                             160

 Eagle, Colored Plate                                                164

 Tailor Bird                                                         165

 Owls                                                                167

 Harpy or Crested Eagle                                              170

 Buzzards                                                            172

 Eagle Picking up an Ice Fox                                         177

 Falcons Fighting                                                    178

 Penguin                                                             179

 Black Necked Swans                                                  184

 Pelicans                                                            186

 Vulture and Griffin Fighting over Prey                              187

 Condor Capturing Llama                                              188

 Albatros                                                            191

 King Fishers                                                        192

 Reed Hen                                                            193

 Ostrich on Her Nest                                                 194

 Woodcock                                                            198

 Broad-billed Stork of Africa                                        200

 Jabiru                                                              201

 Spoonbill                                                           203

 Amazonian Parrot                                                    210

 Ivory Billed Woodpeckers                                            211

 Heathcocks Fighting                                                 212

 Cockatoos                                                           213

 Toucan                                                              216

 Spotted and Downy Woodpeckers                                       218

 Common Gray Partridge                                               221

 Crowned Pigeon                                                      223

 Golden Pheasants                                                    225

 Sword Bill Humming Bird                                             230

 Crested Humming Birds                                               231

 Crows and Ravens                                                    232

 Dippers or Water Wrens                                              234

 Flying Fish. Colored Plate                                          238

 Sea Eel                                                             242

 White Ray                                                           244

 Lump Fish                                                           245

 Herring Attacked by Whales                                          247

 Diver Battling with a Shark                                         248

 Dog Fish                                                            251

 Sturgeon                                                            253

 Chimaera                                                            255

 Coffer or Ostracion                                                 256

 Diodon                                                              258

 Pipe Fish                                                           259

 Chaetodon                                                           262

 Red Gurnard                                                         267

 Flying Gurnard                                                      268

 Sword Fish Spearing His Prey                                        269

 Archer Fish                                                         271


                          Our Animal Friends.

OUR animal friends are usually supposed to be included in the home pets,
and the domestic animals which are useful to us in so many ways; but
when we learn how closely some of the wildest and fiercest of animals
are of the greatest benefit to mankind, how they resemble us in the
formation of their bodies, and in the care and love for their little
ones, how the many different kinds of animals scattered all over the
world are related to each other, and how they are divided into families,
we will have a more friendly feeling toward all the wonderful creatures
which are often looked upon as the enemies of mankind, and a greater
interest in their habits and lives in their native homes.

In this little volume of Natural History we will not only study our
animal friends as individuals, but will learn of their relationship to
each other, carefully arranged and classified, but much more easily
understood, than the classification found in the numerous great volumes
of encyclopedia of Natural History.

We are always interested in the relatives of our human friends; even
their distant relations living in far off countries soon have a special
interest for us when they are closely connected to our friends, and we
are constantly learning of their manner of living and their doings in
distant lands. In the same manner we find new interest in the fierce
wild animals of other countries when we learn how they are related to
our domestic animals and home pets.

We find that not only the Wild Cats, but the fierce Lions, Tigers,
Panthers, Leopards, Lynxes, Pumas, Jaguars, and many smaller animals,
belong to the same family as our pet Cats. The Wolf, Jackal, Hyena, and
many different kinds of Foxes are all closely related to our good
friends, the Dogs. The Sheep and Cows have some very fierce relations in
distant countries, as the Gnu and Yak and Bison, and also some very
accommodating and useful relations, like the Camel, Dromedary, Llama and
Paca, who are as helpful to their masters and owners as the domestic
animals of this country. We would not suppose at first thought that our
Horses belong to the same family as the Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus,
Elephant, and the Tapir and many smaller animals which are classified
with them, besides the different kinds of Ponies, Donkeys, and the Dauw
and Quagga and Zebra.

It is this classification into families, by the use of Latin words, that
makes the study of Natural History so difficult to many who are
interested in our animal friends, but do not know just how to find out
about them without first wading through quantities of long, hard names,
that seem to have very little use, except to puzzle the reader. As one
of these interested readers recently remarked while delving away at an
encyclopedia to learn something of an animal in which he was especially
interested: “I believe the writer of that article just used all those
big words to show off, and try to make people believe he knows more than
any one else.”

This does seem to be the case at times, but many of these hard Latin
words are often really necessary to make us acquainted with particular
kinds of animals and their families; and we will use only the absolutely
necessary ones in this book, and master them together, with the
different scientific terms explained and made easy to understand, even
in the index. Then after mastering these general terms for dividing
animals into families, the study of scientific works on Natural History
will not be so difficult; for the animals are as carefully classified
here, from the works of famous Naturalists, as in those larger volumes,
although the Latin names are used only when it is necessary to
distinguish different animals that are very much alike, or to divide
them into families.

There is a very good reason for the hard words and sometimes whole
sentences of unpronounceable Greek and Latin, often used to describe a
single little animal—the Greek and Latin language is studied and
understood by scholars of every other language. If the great Naturalist,
Linnaeus, had written in Swedish or German, only a Swede or a German
could have understood his meaning. To talk to a Spaniard or a Frenchman
about a “River Horse,” giving its English name, would not give him any
idea of the animal described, but call it a Hippopotamus (which is
derived from two Greek words meaning horse and river,) and he would at
once understand the nature of the animal.

It is the same with the classification of the different animals. The
English and French and German Naturalists differ in their manner of
arranging into families—according to the formation of the bodies of
various animals, their manner of moving, what they eat, the number of
their teeth, the shape of their feet, etc., but it was from the Latin
and Greek terms that the names of these divisions were taken for all the
different languages in which works of Natural History have been written.
Take the first great division—the Mammalia—and it is found that the term
is used by Naturalists in all languages, and that it comes from the
Latin word mamma, meaning “the breast.” And we find that all animals
grouped under this great class are fed on their mother’s milk while they
are too small to eat the vegetable and animal food on which the father
and mother live. This is very different from the birds who carry the
same food that the father and mother eat (the worms and insects) and
place it in the mouth of the baby bird; and the fowls who teach their
little ones to scratch and pick up their food from the ground. And while
the little ones of the birds and fishes and the smaller orders of
creation develop rapidly and are soon able to take care of themselves,
the babies of some of the larger animals are almost as helpless as human
babies, and feed on their mother’s milk for many months before their
teeth are well formed and they are strong enough for other food. We
often see pictures of Lions and other fierce beasts tearing dead animals
to pieces to feed their little ones, but this is only after their teeth
begin to grow, and like the babies of the human family they are old
enough to feed at the same table and eat the same kind of food as older
members of the family.

Many do not realize what a great number of our animal friends belong to
this great family of Mammals or Mammalia, from the Moles and the Bats to
the huge Mastodons of past ages. Even some of the large water animals
are included in it, like the Seals, the Whales and their numerous
relatives—the Dolphins, Porpoises, Narwhals, etc. The latter are usually
called fishes by those who do not understand this division into orders
and families; they are not fishes, however, but belong to the Water
Mammalia. And in dividing this book into Animals, Birds and Fishes, all
these members of the Whale family will be found where they belong with
the great family of Mammalia.

Then after classifying all Mammals both of land and water under the one
great family, or order, the Latin terms help to sub-divide them into
smaller families, more closely related, in such a manner that all the
readers of different languages may understand the meaning of the words
because of their Greek or Latin origin. Thus we know that a quadruped is
a four footed animal because the term comes from the Latin words
quatuor, four, and pes, pedis, a foot. And the term quadrumane comes
from quatuor, four, and manus, a hand, which makes it easy to understand
that all the animals classified under “Quadrumana” belong to the monkey
family, who have four hands instead of four feet, with regular thumbs
and fingers on the hind hands (which are usually known as feet) as well
as on the front ones. Thus the word Quadrumana distinguishes this whole
four-handed family from the Bimanes, or two-handed family, to which
mankind belongs (making an order by itself) and the Quadrupeds, or the
great four-footed family.

In the same manner the family to which the Horses belong are not only
quadrupeds, but they have very thick skin. They are, therefore,
classified under the term Pachydermata, made up of two Greek words
meaning thick and skin. We often find many of the Mammalia arranged in
orders, or large groups, before being divided and sub-divided into
families and smaller groups. Thus the Dog family and the Cat family are
both included under the order of Carnivora, or carnivorous quadrupeds,
which is derived from the two Latin words caro, carnis, flesh, and
vorare, to devour; and we know that the animals found under this order
prefer a diet of flesh food, and devour other animals in their wild

Thus we might continue with explanations of terms, but it requires only
a few such words and their derivations to make us understand how easy it
is, after all, to keep in mind the main families and orders and groups
under which all the different animals are classified. And we will soon
become so well acquainted with our numerous animal friends in their
native homes, and grouped in their proper families, that we can easily
recognize many of the animals that must be crowded out of a book of this
size. Because we know the meaning of the term used to describe a
particular animal, we can place him in the family to which he belongs,
and then understand something of his life and habits by comparing them
with those of his well-known relatives.

[Illustration: FLYING SQUIRRELS.]

                  Quadrumana—The Four-Handed Mammals.

WE will begin with the Monkey family in learning about our animal
friends, because they resemble mankind more closely than any other
animal. Although Darwin and other Naturalists have spent years of their
lives in tracing the resemblances between the Human and the Monkey
family we had much rather trace the points of difference, for it is not
pleasant to claim a very close relationship to some of the hideous
monsters who make their homes in the dense forests or distant countries.

Although the formation of the body, especially the skull, and the
features, are more like ours, than are those of other animals, the first
great point of difference is their four hands, those of the legs being
formed the same as those of the arm, with thumbs and long flexible
fingers, which enables them to climb trees quickly and swing from branch
to branch with fearless activity, because they can grasp the limbs of
the trees with any one of their four hands. Some of them also use their
tails to assist them in climbing, and the Monkeys are sometimes
classified under the “prehensile tailed” and the “non-prehensile” tailed
according to whether the tails are formed for seizing or grasping the
limbs of the trees. And there is still another family of tailless

But while many of the different Monkeys are very active in trees, in
which they spend the greater part of their time, when in their native
homes, this formation of hands instead of feet on their legs, makes them
very awkward when standing erect or walking. Even in the most man-like
Apes, these hands that serve as feet, are not placed at right angles to
the legs, so as to come flat upon the ground like ours; but when the
legs are extended, the soles nearly face each other, so that, when
erect, the whole weight of the body rests upon the outer edge of the
sole of this strange foot, or as it should be more properly called, the
palm of the hand. In addition to this peculiarity, the legs are bent
inwards to enable them firmly to grasp the boughs of the trees, and this
makes them very awkward when trying to walk upright on the ground.

Their arms are also very much longer than ours, in proportion to the
rest of the body, and in some families the fingers will almost touch the
ground when the large animal is standing erect.

While the majority of the Monkey family have their faces covered with
hair like the rest of the body, others have what are known as “naked
faces,” with only a beard, or a fringe of whiskers about the chin and
throat, and some of these are comically like a human face.

The great family of Quadrumana is divided in various ways by different
Naturalists; but the easiest classification to keep in mind is the
grouping of five distinct Orders, each made up of small families.

The first order—The Tailless Apes—includes the Gorilla, the
Orang-Outang, and the Chimpanzee, and is called by some, Troglodytidae,
from the Greek word troglodytes, meaning one who hides in caverns.
Although this is a peculiarity of these Apes, this does not seem so good
a classification as that given by another Naturalist who calls these the
Anthropomorphous Monkeys because they so closely resemble the human
species; the word Anthropomorphous comes from two Greek words meaning
man and form, and signifies that which has the form of man.

The second order is the Simiadae—The Ape Monkeys—and the term comes from
the Greek word simos, meaning flat-nosed; these have oblong heads and
flat nostrils, and the same number of teeth as man, and many of them
have cheek pouches in which they stow away food for future use. A few of
the Simiadae are without tails, others have tails (of different lengths
in the different families), but none of them have prehensile tails, that
can be used to help them in climbing. All the different families
belonging to this order are natives of the Old World, and the most of
them are found in the forests and the mountainous districts of Western

The third order—Cebidae—includes the American Monkeys; and they are
distinguished from the Monkeys of the Old World by having four more
grinding teeth, making thirty-six in all instead of thirty-two. These
American Monkeys have long tails and no cheek-pouches.

The fourth order—Lemuridae—includes the different Lemurs, and the word
comes from Latin lemur, a sprite, a night-walker, so called from their
habits of roaming about at night.

Some naturalists include in this order the Flying Cat, or Flying Lemur.
Others make a distinct fifth order of this species. Although they
resemble both a weasel and an ape, they have one peculiar formation that
does not belong to either of these; the long slender limbs are connected
by a broad, hairy membrane, which looks like a cloak when folded up, but
which expands and gives the appearance of wings when the animal is
springing from tree to tree.

Although each one of these orders contain many small families, until the
different Monkeys seem numberless, yet they can all be classified in
some one of these groups, and it is not so hard to remember the long
names when we understand the meaning of the words from which they are

                     THE GORILLA—THE STRONGEST APE.

[Illustration: GORILLAS.]

The Gorillas live in the hottest parts of Western Africa, and as their
home is so near the Equator they search out the loneliest and shadiest
parts of the dense African forests, and whenever it is possible they
keep near a running stream. It is called a nomadic animal because it
seldom remains in one place many days together. The reason for this
wandering life, is the difficulty it finds in procuring its favorite
food, which is fruit, seeds, nuts, and banana leaves, the young shoots
of this plant, and the juice, of which it sucks, and other vegetable

Although the Gorilla likes to dwell among the trees, it does not find
this necessary for its happiness, nor does it remain long on the trees
like some other Monkeys who sit and sleep on the branches. In fact it is
always found on the ground except when it climbs a tree to gather fruit
or nuts, and it descends as soon as it has satisfied its hunger. These
enormous animals would be incapable of jumping from branch to branch
like the small Monkeys.

The young Gorillas occasionally sleep on trees for safety, but the
adults rest seated on the ground, their backs against a log or tree,
thus causing the hair on this part to be worn off.

The Gorilla belongs to the family of “Tailless Apes” and although it is
not so large as the Orang-Outang—measuring about five feet in height—it
is very strong. It is called the king of the forests which it inhabits
because of this strength, which is said to be equal to that of the Lion.
The Negroes of Africa never attack it except with firearms, and they are
very proud when they can kill one, because this is very difficult.

The old Gorillas are not fond of company, and usually go about alone or
in couples. The young Gorillas sometimes go about in groups of six or
eight but never in great numbers. Their sense of hearing is very
delicate, and on the approach of the hunter they hurry away with loud
cries, so that it is difficult to get within gun-shot of them.


[Illustration: ORANG-OUTANG.]

This large and hideous species of the Monkey family is sometimes called
the “Wild Man of the Woods.” These animals are somewhat rare, and
limited to a small region. They live in the thick forests covering the
low damp lands in the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Very little is
known of their habits in a wild state, as it is only by accident that
they come out in open places, or where the country is inhabited.

When full grown the Orang measures from six to seven feet in height. His
head is covered with a sort of mane of smooth hair of greyish black
color, and his face is naked, with the exception of a tufted moustache
on the upper lip, and a long thick beard. The nose is flat and the
muzzle very prominent and it is not surprising that some of the
inhabitants of these countries have many strange and superstitious
beliefs concerning this hideous “Wild Man of the Woods.”

Although so little is known of these strange animals in their wild
state, the habits of tame ones have been closely studied, as it is not
difficult to capture them when very young, and they make very
interesting pets while small. One of the most intelligent of these
animals that has yet been known, was brought from Java by Dr. Abel
Clark, and many interesting stories have been told about it.

At Java, this Monkey lived under a tamarind tree, near the Doctor’s
dwelling. There it had made a bed, composed of small interlaced branches
covered with leaves; on this it passed the greater portion of the time,
looking out for the people who carried fruit, and, when they approached,
descending to obtain a share.

When taken on board the vessel, it was secured by an iron chain to a
ring-bolt; but it unfastened itself and ran away, when, finding the
chain trailing behind, an encumbrance, it threw it over its shoulder. As
it released itself in this manner several times, it was decided to allow
it to go at large. It became very familiar with the sailors; it played
with them, and knew how to escape when pursued, for it darted into
inaccessible parts of the rigging.

“At first,” writes Doctor Abel Clark, “it usually slept on one of the
upper yards, after enveloping itself in a sail. In making its bed it
took the greatest care to remove everything that might disturb the
smooth surface of the place on which it intended to lie. After
satisfying its tastes in this part of its domestic arrangements, it lay
down on its back, bringing the sail over the surface of its body.
Frequently to torment it, I have beforehand taken possession of its bed.
In such a case it would endeavor to pull the sail from beneath me, or
try to expel me from its resting-place, and would not rest until it had
succeeded. If the bed proved to be large enough for two, it slept
quietly beside me. When all the sails were unfurled, it searched for
some other couch, often stealing the sailors’ jackets which were hung
out to dry, or robbing some hammock of bed-clothes.

“It willingly ate all kinds of meat, especially raw flesh. It was very
fond of bread, but always preferred fruit when procurable. Its ordinary
beverage at Java was water, but on board its drink was as varied as its
food. Above everything it liked coffee and tea, but it also willingly
took wine.

“One of the sailors was its special friend, and this man shared his
meals with it. I must say, however, that the Orang-Outang sometimes
stole from its benefactor. He taught it to eat with a spoon; and it
might have been seen more than once, tasting its protector’s coffee, and
affecting a serious air, a perfect caricature of human nature.”

                    THE CHIMPANZEE—THE MAN-LIKE APE.

[Illustration: CHIMPANZEE.]

Of all known Monkeys, the Chimpanzee in its habits, its motions and its
intelligence, comes nearest to the human species. In the first place its
arms are not so long as those of the other Monkeys described; they
scarcely reach below the knee when the Chimpanzee is standing erect. And
although it seldom wears a beard like the “Wild Man of the Woods,” its
face and ears and the palms of its hands are entirely without hair,
giving it a much more Human appearance; and in walking, its “hind-hands”
are often planted quite firmly on the ground like our feet, instead of
walking on the sides of them. When walking erect, it is fond of using a
large stick to help support it, and this gives it a manly appearance of
carrying a cane. Another favorite manner of walking is to bend down and
touch its fingers to the ground, then by keeping the legs bent, it
swings itself along by the means of its arms as by a pair of crutches.

The Chimpanzee inhabits the same regions as the Gorilla—the dense
forests of Africa, and another point of resemblance is that the
Chimpanzees live in small troops while they are young, and alone or in
couples in adult life. But unlike the Gorillas they are great climbers
and pass nearly all their time on trees, seeking the fruits which
constitute their food.

There is a kind of Chimpanzee called by the natives “Nshiego-mbouve,”
which builds a kind of leafy nest among the boughs of the loftiest
trees. This nest is composed of small interlaced branches with a tight
roof of leaves. It is fixed with firmly tied bands, and is generally
from six to eight feet in diameter, and presents the form of a dome, an
arrangement which readily throws off the rain.

The Nshiego is distinguished from the ordinary Chimpanzee, by the
absence of hair on its head, and it is sometimes called the Bald



The Baboons and the Mandrills are sometimes placed in separate classes
by Naturalists because of the difference in the length of their tails,
but they both belong to the same family—the Cynocephali, which is
derived from the words cyon, cynos, a dog, and cephale, a head, and
means dog-headed.

In these creatures the teeth and the cheek-pouches, which are similar to
those of the majority of the Monkey family, are combined with a long
nose and the nostrils situated like those of a dog. The Baboons have
longer tails than the Mandrills, and although their forms are very
clumsy, they climb trees easily, and even display much agility when they
are sporting among the branches; yet they seldom select the forest as
their place of residence. They are found almost exclusively in Africa,
although a single species is found in Asia.

The Baboon was known to the ancient Egyptians, on whose monuments it
often appears, and as it symbolized the god Thoth, the inventor of the
alphabet, it was held in great veneration in those days of long ago, and
numerous mummies of this animal have been found in Egyptian burial

The Baboon prefers to walk on all fours like a quadruped, and instead of
living in forests, they choose the mountainous districts, and rocky
places covered with bushes and brush wood. They live in troops, and each
troop takes possession of a certain district, which they defend against
all intruders. If men approach, the alarm is instantly raised, the whole
troop gather together, and endeavor both by their cries and their
actions to drive them away. And if not successful in this they will
attack such visitors with sticks, or throw stones and other missiles at
them. Even firearms will not frighten the Baboons and a troop will not
retreat until many are left dead upon the ground.

If a traveler is unfortunate enough to encounter one of these troops
when alone, he is soon surrounded by numbers of the infuriated beasts,
and literally torn to pieces. Rather than encounter such a death an
Englishman once killed himself by leaping from a cliff, where he had
been hemmed in by a multitude of these ferocious creatures.

Their canine teeth are almost as formidable as those of the Tiger, yet
they are said to live entirely on vegetable diet, and to be so fond of
fruit that they sometimes seriously destroy orchards and gardens.

It is usually during the night that they make their thieving excursions,
and they take great care to ensure the success of their stealing. When
the troop arrives at the scene of action, it divides into three
companies, one enters the orchard or garden, while those of the second
division place themselves as sentinels to give warning of the approach
of danger, while a third division establishes itself in the rear and
forms a long line extending from the other troops to their home in a
neighboring mountain. When all these arrangements are completed, those
who have broken into the orchard or garden throw the produce of their
thieving to the nearest sentinels, who pass it on to those behind, and
thus in a very short time it is handed along the line and stored in a
safe place at the end, until there has been enough secured to make a
feast for the entire troop. While thus engaged, if one of the sentinels
raises a cry of alarm, the whole body will scamper off to their hiding


[Illustration: MANDRILL.]

The Mandrills are distinguished by their very short tails, and by deep
wrinkles on each side of the nose which are often brilliantly colored.
There are two species living in Western Africa which are known as the
Mandrill and the Drill.

The Drill is very much like the Mandrill except that its face is
completely black instead of being striped with color; and it also
inhabits Guinea.

The Mandrill has a very peculiar appearance when the colors of its face
are bright. In some instances the entire face is streaked with bright
red and blue and black bands, and what seems still more curious the
upper part of the thigh is sometimes of a bright red mixed with blue,
giving the Monkey a very peculiar appearance. And what seems even more
strange, these colors are not permanent, but often disappear after or
during disease, and they even change when the animal is strongly

The Mandrill when old is deceitful and malicious. Even when taken quite
young and supposed to be tame, it should not be trusted, for taming does
not seem to improve its character.

Besides these changeable colors that stripe the face and tint the thighs
of the Mandrill, their permanent colors are very bright and striking.
The hair upon its body is a brownish grey, with olive upon the back; the
chin is surrounded by a beard of bright lemon yellow; its cheeks are
either striped or of a brilliant blue, while the nose is red, especially
towards the tip where it becomes scarlet. It would be difficult to find
an animal more gaily decorated and yet so hideous. And as it grows to be
almost as large as a man, it is not surprising that the negroes of the
Guinea coast, where it is commonly found, should have a superstitious
fear of so dangerous a creature.


The Monkeys belonging to the group known as Macaques, or Macacus, nearly
all have tails; some quite long, others short, and still others of
medium length, and Naturalists sometimes divide them into different
groups according to the length of the tail. Others classify in different
ways, making a great many distinct groups or Genus of this particular
tribe of Monkeys, but the three main groups—the Wanderoo, the Barbary
Ape and the Bonnet Monkey—are the most important and include the main
characteristics of all the others.

                             THE WANDEROO.

The Wanderoo is commonly found in the island of Ceylon. These Monkeys
have cheek pouches like the others of this family. They do not grow much
larger than an English Spaniel Dog and are of a grey color with black
faces and great white beards reaching from ear to ear, making them look
like old men. They do very little mischief, keeping in the woods, and
eating only leaves and buds of trees; but when they are tamed they can
be taught to eat anything.

The other Monkeys have great respect for this species, looking upon them
as their superiors; and they are usually considered by mankind to be
much more intelligent than the rest of the Monkey race.

                            THE BARBARY APE.

The Barbary Ape is the only Monkey found in Europe, and differs from
almost all others belonging to the Macaques, in being without a tail.
When full grown it is from three to four feet high. Its general color is
olive green and grey; the face is of a dirty flesh color, with brown
spots, very much wrinkled, and surrounded with dirty grey hair.

It usually goes on all fours. The young animals are very intelligent and
gentle, and they are well known throughout Europe as objects of
exhibition and amusement.

The Barbary Apes prefer to live in rocky places and on the mountains. In
their native home they live upon pine cones, chestnuts, figs, melons,
nuts and vegetables which they carry off from gardens near their homes,
although great care is taken to exclude these mischievous animals. While
they are committing their thefts, two or three mount to the summits of
the trees, and of the highest rocks to keep watch, and as soon as these
sentinels see any one, or hear a noise, they utter a cry of warning, and
immediately the whole troop take to flight, carrying off whatever they
have been able to lay their hands on.

                          THE BONNET MACAQUES.

[Illustration: BONNET MONKEYS.]

The Bonnet Monkey is frequently caught for exhibition. It is about the
size of a large cat, greenish grey above and white below, with a long
tail. The face is naked and wrinkled; the hair of the crown is long and
dark, and spreads in all directions, lying upon the surface of the head
like hair in a scalp-wig. On this account the animal is sometimes called
the Scalp Monkey.

In its native country the Bonnet Monkey is almost as much venerated as
the Hoonuman in Bengal, and although it does great injury to fields and
gardens, the natives forbid any one to kill it. Or if this has been done
through mistake, they demand from the culprit enough money to pay for a
grand funeral.

When young, the Bonnet Monkey is very amusing as a pet, performing all
his tricks with a comical gravity. When two or three are kept together,
they are constantly hugging and nursing each other. When a Monkey of
this kind has no companions of its own species, it will make friends
with some other animal, and will often pet and hug a kitten with great
gravity and all the fondness of a child, at a great risk of choking it.
When full-grown, however, the behavior of the Bonnet Monkey changes, and
it becomes sullen and savage and spiteful.

                         THE AMERICAN MONKEYS.

There are several queer families of American Monkeys that make their
home in Brazil, Peru and on the banks of the Amazon and the Orinoco.
Further South, and along the western part of South America are found
many of the small Monkeys with long tails like those we usually see in
this country patiently following the street organs and making trade for
their Italian masters. The most of these are intelligent, affectionate
little fellows, and are more in demand for taming than the Monkeys of
Africa, or even those of the smaller families found in Asia and Europe.

Nearly all of the American Monkeys have long tails, and some find them a
great help in climbing; these are usually classed as the Prehensile
tailed Monkeys, and the Non-prehensile tailed Monkeys are those who do
not make any use of their long tails in grasping the limbs of the trees,
etc., in climbing. Very few of the American Monkeys have cheek-pouches
and their nostrils are placed on the sides of the nose, instead of
beneath it, giving them a very different appearance from the Apes,
Baboons, etc., found in Africa. The different kinds of American Monkeys
are usually divided into several families with the usual long hard Latin
names to distinguish them, but as these names mean simply, the Howlers,
the Spider Monkeys, the Weepers, etc., we will use only their English
names in describing them.

                          THE HOWLING MONKEYS.

The Monkeys belonging to the family of Howlers are remarkable on account
of the formation of their throat, which causes their voice to be hoarse
and loud and very disagreeable. Although they are scarcely two feet in
height, these Monkeys have the most powerful voice of any known animal.
When gathered in troops they make the great forests re-echo with their
tumult, which carries terror even to the bravest man when heard for the
first time. Travelers compare this noise to the creaking of a great
multitude of carts whose wheels and axle-trees need greasing; and with
all this creaking and grinding noise there is a sound like the rolling
of a drum.

Every day, morning and evening, the Howlers assemble in the forests, and
one of their number, taking his station upon a lofty tree, makes a sign
with his hands, as though inviting the others to sit around him. He then
begins a sort of discourse, in a voice so loud and harsh that any one
might suppose that they were all screaming together, although one only
is thus employed; when this one leaves off, he gives a signal to the
others, who immediately set up a cry in full chorus, until their leader
commands silence, and is instantly obeyed. The first speaker, or rather
howler, then begins again, and it is only after several repetitions of
this that they cease from their discordant yellings.

These Monkeys live in large troops and only frequent the highest trees,
from which they rarely come down. They leap from branch to branch with
wonderful agility, and, contrary to the habits of most Quadrumana, seem
to prefer those parts of the forests which are in the vicinity of rivers
or swamps. They live almost entirely upon the fruits and foliage of the
trees around them, and are said occasionally to catch and eat insects.
The whole race is remarkably sullen, lazy, heavy and of disagreeable
nature; they are tamed with difficulty. And it is not often that this is
attempted, for even if they were good-natured and intelligent, they
would not make desirable pets on account of their voice.

                          THE SPIDER MONKEYS.

These curious little Monkeys are found in nearly all parts of South
America, and they live in troops, making their homes in trees. They feed
on the insects which are usually found in great quantities in many of
the South American trees, and occasionally they will descend to the
ground, in search of small Fish and Molluscs which they find in the mud
on the banks of the rivers. It is said that they even venture on the
beds of the rivers when the water is low, and capture the oysters, and
they are very quick in learning how to open the shells and take out the

These Monkeys are distinguished by their fine silky hair, their strong
tails, which they use in climbing and in swinging themselves from limb
to limb, and the fact that they have no thumbs; but only the four
fingers on each hand. This peculiarity has given them the Greek name by
which the family is usually classified which means imperfect, but the
name Spider Monkey has been given to them because of their long, slender
limbs and their slow, queer manner of walking, which sometimes gives
them the appearance of huge spiders.

                          THE WEEPING MONKEYS.

[Illustration: WEEPING MONKEYS.]

The Weeping Monkeys are smaller, but not so slim as the Spider Monkeys.
They live in the forests of Guinea and Brazil, and flock together in
great troops. They will eat snails and small Birds when they can get
them, but their principal food is the abundance of fruits found among
the trees where they make their home.

They generally keep on the topmost branches of the highest trees to keep
out of the way of the Serpents, of which they are very much afraid. Even
when tamed and brought to this country, the sight of the most harmless
Snake will fill them with terror.

These Monkeys are called weepers from their plaintive cry. Usually their
voice is soft; when excited or angry it becomes loud and pitiful; when
teased it keeps up a kind of plaintive wailing, which has given it its
name of Weeping Monkey, although they have also been called Musk Monkeys
at times, because of their musky odor.

These Monkeys have short round heads with the skull projecting
backwards, and many of them have their faces bordered with long hair;
others have long hair on top of the head, and in one species, called the
Horned Monkey, this hair forms two black tufts, having the appearance of

All the Weeping Monkeys are gentle and easily tamed, and perform many
amusing tricks, such as firing off a gun, and sweeping with a small
broom. They will break a nut between two stones when it is too strong to
be cracked with their teeth, and show many signs of unusual



Some very curious animals are found in the Lemur family. The Sloth
Monkeys, the Indris, the Aye-Ayes and the ugly big-eyed Tarsier, are all
related to the Lemurs, and some look more like fairy-tale monsters than
harmless, timid, little animals of the Monkey family.

What are known as the “Lemurs proper,” or the Fox-Headed Monkeys, are
the best known of this family. Their hair is thick, soft and woolly,
their ears short and velvety, and their tails long and bushy. They have
very large eyes, and queer hands with flattened nails.

Nearly all the different members of the Lemur family live in Madagascar
and the surrounding islands. They like to live in companies or troops
among the trees, and their food is mainly the fruits of these trees; but
they will also eagerly catch and devour insects. They are very sociable
animals, and like to collect in numerous bands; and they sleep in the
highest parts of the trees where no harm can come to them.

                   Carnivora—Flesh-Eating Quadrupeds.

[Illustration: SLOTH BEAR.]

THE Carnivorous animals form the largest and most powerful family of
Mammals that live on the land; and in this family are also included many
water Mammals. Although this extensive family contains animals that are
very different in size and form, yet they are all alike in their
flesh-eating habits, in possessing strong sharp claws, and three kinds
of teeth, the incisors, molars and canines; the latter being sharp and
powerful fangs used for seizing and holding their struggling prey.

Although the animals of this family are all flesh-eaters, and all prefer
this diet, there are some members that live partially on vegetable food,
especially when flesh diet is scarce, and this fact is sometimes used to
help divide the large family into smaller groups. There is also a great
difference in the manner of walking. Some of the animals place the
entire sole of the foot upon the ground, from the heel to the toes, so
that the soles of the feet are without hair; but the greater number have
their heel so much raised that they walk only on their toes; and in
these, the part corresponding to the sole is hairy (like that of the
cat) and is sometimes mistaken for the leg of the animal.

To the first of these divisions the term Plantigrade has been applied.
The word means stepping on the sole, and comes from planta, the sole;
and gradior, to step. To the latter division the name Digitigrade is
given, which means stepping on the toes, and comes from digitus, a
finger, or toe, and gradior, to step.

There is still another important division to this great family, known as
the Amphibious Carnivora, which includes the Seals, Sea-Lions, etc.,
which are capable of living both on the land and in the water.

This is the simplest and most easily remembered of all the divisions of
the great order of Carnivorous animals. Some Naturalists object to it as
not being clearly defined, and divide the Carnivora into six great
families. First the Mustelidae, or Weasel family; second, the Hyena
family; third, the Felidae, or Cat family; fourth, the Canidae, or Dog
family; fifth, the Viverridae or Civet family; and sixth the Ursidae or
Bear family.

These six families are then sub-divided into many smaller families, and
the Amphibia are grouped by themselves instead of being included among
the Carnivora—although they are flesh eaters, and this seems to be their
proper place.

For easy grouping we will cling to the old method of classifying all the
Carnivorous animals under the three main orders of Plantigrade,
Digitigrade, and Amphibious Carnivora.


The Bears form the most important family of the “Plantigrade Carnivora.”
The sole of the foot is very wide, and the whole surface touches the
ground in walking. They are very strong and can easily crush a man to
death in their arms. Different members of the family live in various
parts of the globe. They eat almost any kind of food, and many of them
prefer a vegetable diet; very few of them will kill a man or an animal
simply for the sake of food, unless necessity compels them. But they
will defend themselves vigorously when attacked, and in spite of their
heaviness and their slow motions, they prove very quick and fierce at
such times. They can easily overtake a man in running, and most of them
climb trees easily.

Bears can stand upright on their hind legs longer than almost any other
animal, and they usually take this position when they fight.

In eating, Bears sit down like Dogs, and taking up the food in their
paws raise it to their mouths.

When caught young, the Bear may be easily tamed, and its gentle nature
enables it to learn many amusing tricks, but it will not often show off
these tricks without first expressing its unwillingness by deep
growling, and it often gets very angry during the training.

The best known varieties of Bears are the Brown Bear of Europe, the
Grizzly and the Black Bear of America, the Syrian Bear, the White or
Polar Bear, the Sloth Bear and Malay Bear and the Bornean Bear.

Although their native homes are in America, Europe and Asia (it is
uncertain whether any exist in Africa) they are mainly found in the
northern regions as they do not like the heat; and when they are found
in temperate or warm climates, they generally live in the lofty mountain

                       THE BROWN OR ALPINE BEAR.

                          (See Frontispiece.)

The Brown Bear leads a lonely life in the dark pine forests, and the
deep gorges or on the highest mountain ridges. It makes its den in
caverns, on clefts of the rocks, or in the hollow of some giant old
tree. It generally sleeps during the day and seeks its food at night. It
feeds on the nuts of the beech, and many kinds of wild fruits and
berries, preferring those that are slightly sour, and also seeds,
vegetables and roots. It is very fond of honey, strawberries and grapes
and will travel many miles to procure these delicacies, and it is
especially fond of a swarm of ants, which it likes on account of their
acid taste.

In the lofty region in which it lives, when all these kinds of food
fail, it makes its way down to some of the lower valleys, and ravages
the fields of wheat, oats, etc., and any flesh food that it may find,
especially a carcass of some dead animal. When very hungry it will often
go many miles from home to seek its vegetable or to kill its animal food
if necessary, but at dawn it never fails to return to its own home.

This Bear is very cautious, and if it gets into trouble it is not
because of want of care. It has very keen sight and smell and hearing,
and whenever it goes into a new neighborhood to search for food, it will
first climb to the top of some small tree, and explore the surrounding
space, both by sight and smell. It very seldom enters a trap, and if it
finds a carcass, it will examine it very carefully before attempting to
drag it away and eat it.

When it becomes necessary to kill animals for food, it prefers a sheep
or a goat. It will seldom attack cows, although it has been known to lay
in wait for these near their drinking places, and when it has sprung on
the back of one, it seizes it by the nape of the neck, biting and
tearing it until it bleeds to death. Then, after devouring part of it,
the Bear carries off the remainder.

The Brown Bear is an easy tempered animal, and is cruel only from
necessity. It is happy and comic in its ways. But when it is attacked or
wounded or suddenly disturbed in its sleep, or when its cubs are in
peril, this bear becomes a dangerous foe.


The Collared Bear and the American Black Bear are somewhat peculiar in
their nature and habits.

The Ringed, Collared, or Siberian Bear owes its name to a large white
ring which surrounds its shoulders and fades away on the chest. The
Siberian Bear is much more formidable than the European variety. In the
gloomy and cold countries which it inhabits, the vegetation is not
sufficient to satisfy its appetite; it must therefore, fall back upon
some kind of animal food. It will also feed on fish, which it catches
cleverly, and on carcasses thrown on the seashore. It hunts the
Reindeer, and will often attack man. The inhabitants of Kamtschatka wage
a war of extermination against this animal.

The American Black Bear, on the contrary, is naturally one of the least
offensive animals. It has little taste for flesh. Even when hungry, if a
choice is offered between animal food and fruit, it does not hesitate in
selecting the vegetable substance. It swims well, and is fond of fish,
which it catches skillfully. It seldom attacks man, unless it is hunted;
as a rule, it prefers seeking safety in flight. It principally makes its
abode in the hollows of firs and pines, selecting the holes which are
the highest. Under these circumstances, the Americans capture it by
setting fire to the foot of the tree. This animal is hunted with great
activity, not only to put an end to its depredations in the corn-fields,
but also for the sake of its flesh, fat, and fur; the latter is used for
many purposes. The hams of the American Bear, when salted and smoked,
have a high reputation both in the United States and Europe.

                   THE GRIZZLY, OR “FEROCIOUS BEAR.”

[Illustration: Grizzly Bear and Buffaloes.]

The Grizzly Bear is a native of North America, and has been found near
61 degrees north latitude, and as far as Mexico to the south. It is
exceedingly formidable on account of its great strength and ferocity. It
overpowers even the American Bison, and has been seen to drag along a
carcass a thousand pounds in weight.

These bears vary considerably in color; the young are darker than the
older specimens. The feet are armed with long curved claws, those on the
fore-feet being larger than the hind ones. The Grizzly Bear can dig with
ease, and is able when young to ascend trees.

It usually inhabits swampy, well-covered spots among trees and bushes,
and here it makes its lair. It prowls forth both by night and day, and
is more carnivorous than the Black Bear, but in the latter part of
summer seeks eagerly for the fruits which then abound; it prefers,
however, the flesh of animals, and will partially bury a carcass for
future supply, after having feasted upon its best parts.

Townsend, in the “Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains,”
gives the following account of an adventure with a Grizzly Bear on a
small stream running down a valley covered with quagmires:

“As we approached our encampment near a small grove of willows on the
margin of the river, a tremendous Grizzly Bear rushed out upon us. Our
horses ran wildly in every direction, snorting with terror, and became
nearly unmanageable. Several balls were instantly fired into him, but
they only seemed to increase his fury. After spending a moment in
rending each wound (their invariable practice), he selected the person
who happened to be nearest, and darted after him, but before he
proceeded far he was sure to be stopped again by a ball from another

“In this way he was driven about among us for fifteen minutes, at times
so near some of the horses that he received several severe kicks from
them. One of the pack-horses was fastened upon by the brute, and in the
terrified animal’s efforts to escape the dreaded gripe, the pack and
saddle were broken to pieces and disengaged. One of our mules also gave
him a kick in the head, which sent him rolling to the bottom. Here he
was finally brought to a stand. The poor animal was now so surrounded by
enemies, that he was completely bewildered. He raised himself upon his
hind-feet, standing almost erect, his mouth partly open; and from his
protruding tongue the blood fell in fast drops. While in this position
he received about six more balls, each of which made him reel. At last,
in complete desperation, he rushed into the water and swam several yards
with astonishing strength and agility, the guns cracking at him
constantly. But he was not to proceed far. Just then, Richardson, who
had been absent, rode up, and fixed his deadly aim upon him, fired a
ball into the back of his head, which killed him instantly.

“The strength of four men was required to drag the ferocious brute from
the water; upon examining his body, he was found completely riddled;
there did not appear to be four inches of his shaggy person, from the
hips upward, that had not received a ball. There must have been at least
thirty shots made at him, and probably few missed him; yet such was his
tenacity of life that I have no doubt he would have succeeded in
crossing the river, but for the last shot in the brain. He would
probably weigh at the least six hundred pounds, and was about the height
of an ordinary steer. The spread of the foot laterally was ten inches,
and the claws measured seven inches in length. This animal was
remarkably lean. When in good condition he would doubtless much exceed
in weight the estimate given.”

When driven by hunger, the Grizzly Bear is especially fierce and daring
in seeking his prey, and (as our illustration shows on page 35) will
even approach a herd of Buffalo and attack a straying calf. He has
fallen upon this young Buffalo which has foolishly wandered apart from
the herd, and thrown him down. Directly will the Grizzly tear his prey
upon whose body his powerful fore paws are placed, when he is
interrupted in an unwelcome manner. The anguished bellowing and bleating
of the fallen animal have been heard by the distant feeding herd, and
the old Buffalos come immediately, their great, clumsy, heavy bodies
storming along with startling swiftness to punish the Bear for his
bloody deed. He sees that he must for the time being postpone his feast
and prepare to protect himself against the approaching attacking party
of whom especially the foremost steer, with colossal head sunk low, jaws
foaming and tail thrown up, presents a vivid picture of ungovernable
strength and fury. The outcome of the battle can not be doubtful to us.
Although the Grizzly could easily capture a single Buffalo, his great
strength can avail nothing against the whole herd of these great
animals. The Bear, who is a swift runner, must either seek safety in
flight, or find his end under the horns of his opponents.

                       THE WHITE, OR POLAR BEAR.

[Illustration: POLAR BEARS.]

The Polar Bear is a very distinct species, easily recognized by its
long, flat head, as well as by the white color and smoothness of its
fur. It is an inhabitant of the frozen shores of the northern
hemispheres, and semi-aquatic in its habits, swimming and diving with
the utmost ease and facility, for the purpose of capturing Seals, young
Whales and Fish, upon which it principally feeds; nevertheless, even
this animal is not altogether carnivorous, but feeds greedily on
vegetable substances whenever they can be procured.

The Seal, however, is his favorite food; and Captain Lyon, in the
following passage, describes the mode in which he captures this animal:
“The Bear, on seeing his intended prey, gets quietly into the water and
swims to the leeward of him, from whence, by frequent short dives, he
silently makes his approaches, and so arranges the distance that, at the
last dive, he comes to the spot where the Seal is lying. If the poor
animal attempts to escape by rolling into the water, he falls into the
Bear’s clutches; if, on the contrary, he lies still, his destroyer makes
a powerful spring, kills him on the ice, and devours him at his

The Polar Bear is seldom seen far inland, but frequents the fields of
ice, and swims to icebergs—often at a great distance from the shore.
Captain Sabine saw one half-way between the north and south shores of
Barrow’s Straits, although there was no ice within sight.

The Polar Bear is found further north than any other quadruped, having
been seen by Captain Parry beyond 82 degrees north latitude.

In illustration of the affection of the mother Bear for her young,
Captain Scoresby relates the following anecdote: “A mother Bear with her
two cubs were pursued on the ice by some of the men, and were so closely
approached as to alarm the mother for the safety of her offspring.

“Finding that they could not advance with the desired speed, she used
various artifices to urge them forward, but without success. Determined
to save them if possible, she ran to one of her cubs, placed her nose
under it, and threw it forward as far as possible; then going to the
other, she performed the same action, and repeated it frequently until
she had thus conveyed them to a considerable distance. The young Bears
seemed perfectly conscious of their mother’s intention; for, as soon as
they recovered their feet after being thrown forward, they immediately
ran on in the proper direction, and when the mother came up to renew the
effort, the little rogues uniformly placed themselves across her path,
that they might feel the full advantage of the force exerted for their

Doubtless, much of the ferocity of the Polar Bear is to be attributed to
the barrenness of the regions which it inhabits, the absence of
vegetation obliging it to attack animals to supply its craving appetite.
Its domain includes all those solitudes which surround the arctic
pole—Greenland, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, &c. Over these vast ice-fields
it reigns supreme.

In the summer time, when the White Bears betake themselves to the
forests farther inland, they attack the Mammals which are natives of
these regions, especially Reindeer.

Most mariners who have been detained by the ice in the polar seas have
had frequent encounters with White Bears. Instances have been known in
which they pursued them into their vessels, even endeavoring to make
their way into cabins at night through the port-holes.

The White Bear is terrible in its attack. Accustomed, as it is, to meet
with little or no resistance, and not even suspecting danger, it rushes
upon Man with a blind fury and determination too often fatal in their

It is not an uncommon thing for White Bears to drift out to sea on
floating icebergs, when they become reduced to the most frightful
distress from hunger. Fatally confined to their icy raft, and utterly
devoid of all means of subsistence, they ultimately attack and devour
one another.

The White or Polar Bear often attains a length of nine feet. Its huge
limbs and powerful claws are developed in fitting proportion to the
massive body; and the soles of its feet are clad with hair, enabling it
to tread with safety on the slippery ice floes, where it finds a home.
Purely carnivorous in its diet, the Polar Bear subsists chiefly on the
Seals it contrives to trap by watching their breathing holes patiently
for hours, or it may be for days together. The fur is of a dirty-white
hue, inclining towards a yellowish-brown tint in the young. When the
Seals are scarce, these Bears will welcome the carcase of a Whale which
has floated beyond the recall of the whaler.

The instinct which prompts the Esquimau to feed upon a fatty diet rich
in carbon, by way of providing in his body a heat-producing basis, also
leads the Bear to choose his food in the fat and blubber of the Seals
and Walruses of his seas. Dr. Robert Brown, in his remarks in the
“Mammals of Greenland,” tells us that he has seen upwards of twenty
Polar Bears feeding on the huge inflated carcase of a Whale in Pond’s
Bay, on the western shores of Davis’s Strait.

The Polar Bear is hunted by the Esquimau chiefly by means of Dogs. Its
flesh, however, is not very desirable. In fact, some parts of the body
of the Polar Bear, such as the liver, are said to possess poisonous
qualities. Scoresby relates cases of illness, and even death, which have
followed upon eating the liver of this animal.

The “nennok,” as the Esquimau terms the Polar Bear, is unusually
regarded as a fierce and predatory animal. When irritated, or at bay,
and when pressed by hunger, this Bear, like every other animal, will
become dangerous. It does not grip or “hug” its enemy, but bites him.

                      THE LABIATED, OR SLOTH BEAR.

This strange specimen of the Bear family differs from all the others by
its extended lips, and a tongue of remarkable length. It is a native of
India and feeds mainly on vegetables.

The Sloth Bear is often classed with the Borean and Malay Bears, which
are natives of Malacca and the Borean Isles, and which climb trees
readily and feed chiefly on fruits. These are all alike in their desire
for vegetable diet and will not eat flesh except when forced to it, and
they are all easily tamed and soon learn numerous tricks.

These Bears are sometimes made prisoners in rather a ludicrous manner.
The natives fill a little barrel with honey and brandy, and lay it in
some place to which the Bear often resorts. The attraction of the sweet
liquor is so great, that Mr. Bruin not only indulges himself, but often
brings Mrs. B. and all the little B.’s to partake of the delicacy; the
whole party eat and drink till the spirit does its work; they then caper
and dance about for a time, as if demented, and at length fall asleep,
and become an easy prey to their captors.


The Hyenas are often grouped with the Cat family, as they have many
points of resemblance (particularly the rough tongue) and prowl and
seize their prey in much the same manner. But the Hyenas differ from all
the members of the Cat family in having the fore legs longer than the
hind ones, giving them a shambling gait and a strange, sneaking
appearance. They have large heads, and their jaws are very powerful, and
able to lift easily a prey of great weight. Their coat is very thick,
and forms a kind of flowing mane along the ridge of the spine. Their
claws are short and stout, and are more useful for digging than tearing
their prey. Dreadful tales have been told of the Hyenas, and their
unclean habits; how they rob the grave yards and devour the dead bodies,
and how they prefer decaying animals, to killing their prey and eating
it while fresh. But they accomplish a good work in one direction, even
if it does fill us with disgust. They perform the same service among
quadrupeds that the Vulture does among birds.

In the cities and villages of Africa, in which the care of the public
roads is often left to chance for their cleaning, the Hyenas are in the
habit of removing all the decaying substances, which would otherwise
soon cause diseases by decaying in the hot burning African sun. The
Hyena even eats all the bones of the carcasses on which they feed.

The Hyenas are not so fierce as is usually supposed. If they can find
sufficient decaying matter to satisfy their hunger, they will seldom
attack living prey, and they will never attack mankind except in cases
of great necessity, but they have been known to break down the walls
which the inhabitants of African villages erect around their homes and
kill and drag off the cattle.

                           THE STRIPED HYENA.

[Illustration: STRIPED HYENA.]

The Striped Hyena is of a grey color, marked with upright stripes of
brown or black. It has a thick mane which extends along the whole length
of the neck, and down the center of the back. This mane stands erect
when the animal is very angry. This Hyena is about the size of a large

                           THE SPOTTED HYENA.

The Spotted Hyena, and an animal very much like it which is some times
called the Aard Wolf, and the “Hunting Hyena,” all belong to this
family, but there is very little difference in their forms or their
manner of living. The Spotted Hyena, which is called by the colonists of
the Cape of Good Hope the Tiger Wolf, is most commonly met with in
Southern Africa, where its appetite for living prey, as well as for
carrion, causes it to be justly regarded as a very dangerous neighbor;
indeed, as we learn from the reports of travelers, it seems to be
especially fond of attacking children, and many harrowing tales might be
told of the fiend-like deeds of which it is guilty.

“To show clearly the preference of the Spotted Hyena for human flesh,”
says Steedman, “it will be necessary to observe that the Mambookies
build their houses in the form of bee-hives, and tolerably large, often
eighteen or twenty feet in diameter; at the higher or back part of the
house, the floor is raised until within three or four feet of the front,
where it suddenly terminates, leaving an area from thence to the wall,
in which every night the calves are tied, to protect them from storms or
wild beasts. Now, it would be natural to suppose that should the Hyena
enter, he would seize the first object for his prey, especially as the
natives always lie with the fire at their feet; but notwithstanding
this, the practice of this animal has been in every instance to pass by
the calves in the area, and even the fire, and take the children from
under the mother’s caress; and this in such a gentle and cautious manner
that the parent has been unconscious of her loss until the cries of the
poor little innocent have reached her from without, when hopelessly a
prisoner in the jaws of the monster.”

                          THE HUNTING HYENAS.

The Hunting Hyena was first described by Mr. Burchell. It is smaller and
of a more slender shape than either the Striped or the Spotted Hyena;
the ground color of its body is sandy, shaded with darker hair, varied
with irregular blotches of black, and spots of white. In its teeth it
resembles the Dog; but, on the other hand, it approaches the Hyenas in
having only four toes on each foot.

Mr. Burchell was fortunate in bringing home a living specimen, which he
kept chained up for more than a year. At first it was so ferocious that
no one attempted to tame it; but at length its manners became softened,
and it used to play with a Dog chained up in the same yard; yet still
the man who fed it never dared to venture his hand within its reach. Mr.
Burchell informs us that in a wild state this animal hunts in packs;
though in general it hunts at night, it frequently pursues its prey by
day, and as it is very fleet, none but the swiftest animals can escape
it. Sheep and oxen are particularly objects of its attacks, the first
openly, the latter only by surprising them in their sleep and suddenly
biting off their tails, a mode of attack for which the wide gape and
great strength of its jaws are peculiarly adapted. This species is found
throughout Africa.

                            THE CAT FAMILY.

All the different animals of this great family are alike in having
short, powerful jaws armed with sharp teeth, and a rough bristling
tongue, which feels like a rasp when it is drawn across the bare
skin—wounding by mere licking; in their manner of walking on their toes,
and in several other characteristics. The fiercest beasts of all the
carnivorous animals are found in the Felidae family, which includes
three groups—the Cat tribe, the Lynx and the Hunting Leopard. The Cat
tribe includes, in the Old World, the Lion, Tiger, Panther, Leopard,
Ounce, Serval, and Wild and Domestic Cats. In the New World are found
the Domestic Cats, the Jaguar, Puma and Ocelot.

All these animals in the wild state prefer to feed on living victims,
devouring their prey as they kill it. Although the various animals
belonging to this great family differ much in size, they are all alike
in their mode of attacking and killing their victims. They usually take
them by surprise, for they do not have so much courage as people
sometimes think. Crouched in some hidden retreat, they silently and
patiently await their prey; and as soon as within reach, they spring
upon it from behind, without allowing time for escape or defence.

                        WILD AND DOMESTIC CATS.

[Illustration: WILD CATS.]

It is usual to place the Lion at the head of this great Felidae family,
which takes its name from the Latin felis, a cat; but it seems more
appropriate to first describe the Wild and Domestic Cats, as these
particular feline members have given the great family its name.

The Wild Cat is a reddish brown animal, marked with more or less
distinct black stripes and spots.

Its length is about two feet. It does not differ in its habits from the
larger members of this family. It climbs trees with agility, and feeds
on Birds, Squirrels, Hares, Rabbits, &c. At one time it was very common
in France and Scotland. It is found in nearly the whole of Europe, and a
large portion of Asia.

There ought to be ranged beside the Wild Cat a multitude of species,
which are only separated from it by differences in the color of the fur
and length of hair, and which are its representatives in the countries
it does not inhabit. Such are the Pampas Cat, the Bengal Cat, the
Neptaul, the Egyptian Cat, the Serval Cat, the Caffir Cat, indigenous to
the Cape, &c.

Certain authors are inclined to believe that the numerous varieties of
the Domestic Cat have descended from the Wild Cat, and the Egyptian Cat.
However this may be, there exist several kinds of well-characterised
Domestic Cats. Such are the Spanish Cat, the Chartreuse Cat, the Red Cat
of Tobolsk, the Angora Cat, the most highly prized of home pets, the
Chinese Cat with pendant ears, and the tailless Malay Cat. The tails of
Wild Cats terminate in an abrupt thick point, while the tails of
Domestic Cats taper to a finer point.

The Domestic Cat is one of those few animals which has remained in a
state of independence in its domesticity; it lives with Man, but still
is not reduced to servitude. If it renders service, it is simply for its
own interest to do so. That disinterestedness which distinguishes the
Dog we do not find in the Cat. Whatever Buffon and others may have said,
it is capable of affection; this attachment is only manifested by
infrequent caresses, not by devotion. Has a Cat ever been known to
defend its master? It has been said that it is more attached to
localities than persons; yet we know of numerous exceptions to this.

[Illustration: ANGORA CAT.]

No animal is more savage than the Cat when threatened by punishment or
danger. For when it sees no chance of escape, it defends itself with
energy that cannot be surpassed. So long as its enemy keeps at a
respectful distance, it confines itself to a passive resistance,
watching, however, for the slightest indication of hostility, and
holding itself ready for every emergency. Should its adversary advance
to seize it, with wonderful activity it strikes with its claws, at the
same time expressing anger with its voice. It nearly always comes off
victorious, unless over-matched, for its agility renders escape almost

The Cat is less an enemy of the Dog than is generally believed. When
unacquainted with one another, they have little sympathy in common; but
when associated for a length of time they become good friends. Then they
lick each other, sleep with each other, and understand making mutual
concessions, which enable them to live in peace; in short, the most
perfect harmony frequently reigns between them.

                      THE LION—THE KING OF BEASTS.

The Lion has been called the “King of Beasts” from most ancient times,
and this is a very appropriate title, if we consider the impression we
usually have of this animal when viewed for the first time. He carries
his head high and walks with a slowness which may well pass for majesty.
He always appears calm and dignified and conscious of his strength. The
bushy and magnificent mane which overshadows his head and neck gives an
added grandeur to his appearance.

Some adult Lions have attained a length of nearly ten feet, from the tip
of the nose to the root of the tail; but usually they do not exceed six
or seven feet. With the exception of the mane and a tuft of hair at the
tip of the tail, the coat of the Lion is entirely smooth, and of a tawny
color. The mane, which gives this great “King of the Beasts” such a
lordly appearance, is missing in his mate, who has a smooth neck and a
smaller head, and is generally in proportion about one-fourth as large.
The mother Lion is at her fiercest when her little ones are threatened
with danger; at other times she shows very little of the Lion nature
except when pressed by hunger.

The Lion has also been called the “Lord of the Forest,” but this is not
an appropriate title, as he does not prefer the forest for a home. He
lives in desert arid plains, lightly covered with shrubby vegetation or
tracts of low brushwood. In India he prowls along the borders of rivers,
and makes his lair in the jungles.

The Lion slumbers during the day in his retreat, and as night comes on
he prowls abroad in search of prey. This is not because his eyes are
unfitted to see in the daytime—like those of the majority of “night
prowlers”—but he seems to think it prudent to keep at home until
evening. When the first shadows of twilight appear, he enters upon his
campaign. If there is a pool in the vicinity of his haunt, he places
himself in ambush on the edge of it, with the hope of securing a victim
among the Antelopes, Gazelles, Giraffes, Zebras, Buffaloes, &c., which
are led thither to slake their thirst. These animals, well aware of this
habit of their enemy, will not approach a pond without extreme caution.
If one, however, places itself within reach of their terrible foe, its
fate is generally sealed. One enormous bound enables the Lion to spring
on its back, and one blow with his paw breaks its back. If the Lion
misses his aim, he does not endeavor to continue a useless pursuit, well
knowing that he cannot compete in speed with the children of the plains.
He therefore skulks back into his hiding-place, to lie in ambush until
some more fortunate chance presents itself, or complete night-fall shuts
out all hope of success.

The Lion, however, is not disposed to remain long with an empty stomach.
Then it is that he approaches Man’s habitations, with the hope of
surprising the domestic animals. Fences ten feet in height form no
obstacle to him, for he will bound over such with ease, when, falling
into the midst of the herd, he seizes the nearest.

The amount of strength which he manifests under circumstances similar to
these is really extraordinary. A Lion has been known, at the Cape of
Good Hope, to carry off a small Cow as a Cat would a Mouse, and, with
the burden, leap a wide ditch. It is almost impossible to conceive the
muscular force necessary to jump a fence several feet high when carrying
a load of several hundred-weight.

The audacity of the Lion increases in proportion to his requirement.
When he has exhausted all means of procuring subsistence, and when he
can no longer put off the cravings of hunger, he sets no limit to his
aggressions, and will brave every danger rather than perish by famine.
In open day he will then proceed to where the herds of Oxen and Sheep
pasture, entirely disregarding Shepherds and Dogs. At such times he has
been known to carry his rashness so far as to attack a drove of
Buffaloes—an action which is all the bolder as a single one, unless it
is taken by surprise, is well able to defend itself.

The Lion seems to delight in the tempests of wind and rain, so common in
Southern Africa; his voice mingles with the thunder, and adds to the
terror of the timid animals, on whom he then boldly advances. He
usually, however, waits in ambush, or creeps insidiously towards his
victim, which with a bound and a rush he dashes to the earth.

“In South Africa,” says Capt. Burton, “the Lion is seldom seen, unless
surprised asleep in his lair of thicket; during my journey I saw but
one, although at times his roaring was heard at night. Except in
darkness or during violent storms, which excite the fiercer Carnivora,
he is a timid animal, much less feared by the people than the angry and
agile Leopard. When encountered in the daytime, he stands a second or
two gazing; then turns slowly round and walks as slowly away for a dozen
paces, looking over his shoulder; he then begins to trot, and when he
thinks himself out of sight bounds like a Greyhound.”

If attacked, however, he will show fight as the following experience,
not likely to be often repeated, will testify: “Being about thirty yards
off the foe,” says Dr. Livingstone, “I took a good aim at his body,
through the bush, and fired both barrels into it. The men then called
out: ‘He is shot! he is shot!’ Others cried: ‘He has been shot by
another man, too; let us go to him!’ I did not see any one else shoot at
him; but I saw the Lion’s tail erected in anger behind the bush and,
turning to the people, said: ‘Stop a little till I load again.’ When in
the act of ramming down the bullets, I heard a shout. Starting and
looking half round, I saw the Lion just in the act of springing upon me.
I was upon a little height. He caught my shoulder as he sprang, and we
both came to the ground below together. Growling horribly close to my
ear, he shook me as a Terrier Dog does a Rat. The shock produced a
stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a Mouse after the first
shake of the Cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess, in which there was no
sense of pain or feeling of terror. It was like what patients partially
under the influence of chloroform describe, who see all the operation,
but feel not the knife. This singular condition was not the result of
any mental process. The shake annihilated fear, and allowed no sense of
horror in looking round at the beast. This peculiar state is probably
produced in all animals killed by the Carnivora, and, if so, is a
merciful provision by our Creator for lessening the pain of death.
Turning round to relieve myself of the weight, as he had one paw on the
back of my head, I saw his eyes directed to Mebalwe, who was trying to
shoot him at the distance of fifteen yards. His gun, a flint one, missed
fire in both barrels. The Lion immediately left me, and attacking
Mebalwe, bit his thigh. Another man, whose life I had saved before,
after he had been tossed by a Buffalo, attempted to spear the Lion while
he was biting Mebalwe. He left Mebalwe and caught this man by the
shoulder; but at that moment the bullets he had received had taken
effect, and he fell down dead. The whole was the work of a few moments,
and must have been his paroxysm of dying rage. In order to take out the
charm from him, the Bakatla, on the following day, made a huge bonfire
over the carcass, which they declared to be that of the largest Lion
they had ever seen. Besides crunching the bone into splinters, he left
eleven teeth-wounds in the upper part of my arm.”

Dr. Livingstone says: “The same feeling which has induced the modern
painter to caricature the Lion, has led the sentimentalist to consider
the Lion’s roar the most terrific of all earthly sounds. We hear of the
majestic roar of the king of beasts. It is, indeed, well calculated to
inspire fear, if you hear it in combination with the tremendously loud
thunder of that country, on a night so pitchy dark that every flash of
the intensely vivid lightning leaves you with the impression of
stone-blindness, while the rain pours down so fast that your fire goes
out, leaving you without the protection of even a tree, or the chance of
your gun going off. But when you are in a comfortable house or wagon,
the case is very different, and you hear the roar of the Lion without
any awe or alarm.

“The silly Ostrich makes a noise as loud, yet it never was feared by
man. To talk of the majestic roar of the Lion is mere majestic twaddle.
On my mentioning this fact some years ago, the assertion was doubted; so
I have been careful ever since to inquire the opinions of Europeans who
had heard both, if they could detect any difference between the roar of
a Lion and that of an Ostrich. The invariable answer was that they could
not, when the animal was at a distance. The natives assert that they can
detect a variation between the commencement of the noise of each. There
is, it must be admitted, a considerable difference between the singing
noise of a Lion when full, and his deep gruff voice when hungry. In
general, the Lion’s voice seems to come deeper from the chest than that
of the Ostrich; but to this day I can distinguish between them with
certainty only by knowing that the Ostrich roars by day and the Lion by

“Attempts to deprive the Lion of his prey are of frequent occurrence in
the interior of Africa. Indeed, it is no unusual thing to find a number
of natives residing near such pools of water as are frequented by
Antelopes, other wild animals, and their constant attendant, the Lion,
subsisting almost altogether in this way, or on carcasses which the Lion
has not had time to devour before the return of day, when it is his
habit to return to his lair.”

Mr. Anderson mentions, as a remarkable circumstance connected with a
Rhinoceros hunt, that “While following the trail of the animal, we came
to a spot where one or two Lions, probably taking advantage of his
crippled condition, had evidently attacked him, and, after a desperate
scuffle, had been compelled to retreat. This is the only instance I know
of Lions daring to attack a Rhinoceros, though I have seen it stated in
print that they will not only assail, but can master the horned

In former times Lions were numerous even in Europe. According to
Herodotus, Aristotle, and Pausanias, they were abundant in Macedonia,
Thrace, and Thessaly; but for centuries in these countries they have
been unknown. Arabia, Syria, and Babylonia used also to contain large
numbers. In Arabia and on the confines of Persia and India at the
present date they are scarce.

We may form some idea of their number in ancient times by the quantity
absorbed annually in the combats which were so much in favor with the
Romans. In a very brief interval, Sylla had slaughtered a hundred Lions,
Pompey six hundred, and Caesar four hundred.

In this age the Lion is rarely met with except in Africa, where every
day its numbers are diminishing, and from whence it will soon completely
disappear if the present rate of slaughter is continued. Our
grand-children probably will know the Lion only from our descriptions.

Several varieties of the Lion are distinguished. The most ferocious is
the Brown Lion of the Cape. In the same neighborhood lives another, much
less dangerous, the Yellow Cape Lion. After these we may enumerate the
Lion of Senegal, the Barbary Lion, and the Lion of Persia and Arabia.

                               THE TIGER.

The Tiger is as high on the limbs as the Lion; but it is more slender,
active, and stealthy, closely resembling, in figure and movements, the
domestic Cat, which serves as the type of the entire genus. Its coat is
very handsome, being of a yellowish fawn color above and a pure white
beneath; everywhere irregularly striped by brown transverse bands. Its
tail, which is very long, is ringed with black, and contributes not a
little to its beauty. It has also white around the eyes, on the jaws,
and on the back of each ear.

The Tiger is peculiar to Asia. It inhabits Java, Sumatra, a great part
of Hindostan, China, and even Southern Siberia as far north as the banks
of the river Obi.

The Tiger makes its lair in jungles or densely wooded districts
bordering on water-courses. Like the Lion, it has a den, to which it
retires for rest; from whence it steals forth, secretes itself in a wood
on the borders of a frequented path, and there, concealed from every
eye, awaits its victim. The moment it sees the object of its desire, its
eyes flash, and its whole bearing manifests a savage joy; it allows the
unsuspecting prey to draw near, and when it is sufficiently close,
springs upon it with tremendous velocity. If it scents prey from a
distance, it glides through the high grass with the undulating movements
of the serpent, almost impossible to be detected by the human eye.

The Tiger has for a long time borne a reputation for cruelty, as little
deserved as that for generosity which has been given the Lion. The old
Naturalists pretended that the Tiger gloried in shedding blood, and that
it never saw a living creature without desiring to destroy it. Nothing
can be more untrue. The Tiger does not kill for the pleasure of killing;
it kills only to appease its hunger. In doing this, it only conforms to
the necessities of its nature; but when it has fed, it does not exhibit
any blood-thirsty propensity, but simply defends itself when threatened
or attacked.

Tigers will occasionally take to water. In the Sunderbunds especially
they are often seen swimming across the various rivers, which form
innumerable islands, inhabited only by wild beasts. Invariably, the
fore-paw is the Tiger’s instrument of destruction. Most people imagine
that if a Tiger were deprived of his claws and teeth he would be
rendered harmless; but this is an error; the weight of the limb is the
real cause of the mischief, for the claws are rarely extended. When the
Tiger strikes his victim, the operation is similar to that of a hammer,
the Tiger raising his paw and bringing it down with such force as not
only to stun a common-sized Bullock, but often to crush the bones of the

Williamson gives an amusing account of the mode by which Tigers are
captured in Oude: “The track of the Tiger being ascertained, which,
though not invariably the same, may yet be sufficiently known for the
purpose, the peasants collect a quantity of the leaves of the prouss,
which are like those of the sycamore, and are common in most underwoods,
as they form the larger portion of most of the jungles of India. These
leaves are smeared with a species of bird-lime, made by bruising the
berries of an indigenous tree; they are then strewed, with the gluten
uppermost, near to that shady spot to which it is understood the Tiger
usually resorts during the noontide heats.

“If by chance the animal should tread on one of the smeared leaves, his
fate may be considered as decided. He commences by shaking his paw, with
the view to removing the adhesive incumbrance, but finding no relief
from that expedient, he rubs the nuisance against his face with the same
intention, by which means his eyes, ears, &c., become sticky, and cause
such uneasiness as occasions him to roll perhaps among many more of the
smeared leaves, till at length he becomes completely enveloped, and is
deprived of sight. In this situation he may be compared to a man who has
been tarred and feathered. The anxiety produced by this strange and
novel predicament soon shows itself in dreadful howlings, which serve to
call the watchful peasants, who in this state find no difficulty in
shooting the mottled object of their detestation.”

                              THE LEOPARD.

The Leopard is smaller and more active than the Tiger and larger than
the Panther. It is arboreal in its habits and finds in the spots or
rosettes which decorate its tawny skin a provision highly favorable to
concealment among the foliage, wherein it lurks, until some passing
animal approaches sufficiently near to enable it to spring upon its
unsuspecting prey.

The activity of the Leopard is almost beyond belief. Mr. Andersson,
speaking of his Dogs, says: “They were, I conjectured, from their
steady, unbroken, deep bay, close upon the haunches of their enemy, yet
I could not see distinctly either the Dogs or the object of the pursuit,
when all at once a magnificent Leopard sprang right before me, from the
topmost branches of a tall acacia, clearing with a single bound all his
fierce assailants. I was so astounded at the magnitude of the
leap—without having witnessed it one can hardly form a notion of the
distance oversprung—that, looking first at the tree, and then at the
spot on which the beautiful beast had alighted, I could not withdraw my
eyes from the scene of its exploit.”

From the propensity of the Leopard to ascend trees, especially when
pursued, it has in India obtained the name of the lackree-bang or
Tree-tiger. “Leopards,” says Mr. Williamson, “will not ascend trees
which have not some underwood growing near them; their usual haunts are
found in those close woods of which the intervals are grown up with
thorns, etc., and especially where there are old trees with low boughs,
favoring their access to the more shady parts of the foliage.

“The royal Tiger will not touch anything but of its own killing, but
Leopards are not quite so fastidious, and may be allured by the scent of
meat. I have heard this doubted; but the following fact, which occurred
while the corps to which I was then attached was at Hazary-bhang, in the
Ram-ghur country, puts the matter out of doubt. The sergeant-major of
our battalion had killed an Ox for his winter provision, and had hooked
up the joints within his hut, which was on the right flank of the line,
close to the grenadier bell of arms. The sentry stationed there gave the
alarm that some large animal had entered the hut, in which there were
several apartments. A light was brought, and numbers crowded the place,
but nothing could be seen for awhile. All were about to retire, when it
was discovered that a Leopard was clinging to the thatch with his claws,
just above where the meat was hanging. No sooner did the animal perceive
that he was discovered than he quitted his hold, springing suddenly
down, and darted through the doorway, clawing several as he passed, and
giving the poor sentry in particular a scratch in the face which laid
him up for several weeks.”

“Nightly,” says Sir W. C. Harris, “may his low half-smothered growl be
heard as he prowls round the fold; and in spite of the baying troops of
Watch Dogs that are maintained for the protection of the flock, he not
unfrequently contrives to purloin mutton. Viewed in his wild state, few
animals can surpass the lurking Leopard in point of beauty, his
brilliant orange and white skin, which shines like silk, being richly
studded with open rosettes, sometimes of the most intense sable, at
others disposed as if a Cat had been walking over him with her paws
tarred. Nor is he less distinguished for elegance and grace. His every
motion easy and flexible in the highest degree, he bounds among the
rocks and woods with an agility truly amazing; now stealing along the
ground with the silence of a Snake—now crouching with his fore-paws
extended, and his spotted head laid between them, while his chequered
tail twitches impatiently, and his pale eyes glare mischievously upon
his unsuspecting victim.”

                              THE PANTHER.

[Illustration: Panther Surprised by Tree Snake.]

The Panther is a pretty animal, about three feet in length, not
including the tail, and is distinguished from the preceding Felidae by
its deep yellowish-brown coat, speckled with numerous spots. These
spots, quite black on the head, are disposed in a rose-like fashion over
the other parts of the body, being formed of five or six little black
patches grouped in a circular manner around a piece which is of the same
color as the ground of the coat. For a long time, and even sometimes
now-a-days, the Panther has been frequently confounded with the Leopard,
to which certainly it bears a great resemblance. From this error has
arisen grave contradictions as to its history, and much uncertainty with
regard to the limits of its natural locality.

It appears to be demonstrated, however, that the veritable Panther is
not found in Africa, but only in India, Japan, and the neighboring
islands, such as Java, Sumatra, &c. The island of Java possesses a
variety which is completely black. This is the famous Black Panther, the
terror of Java and Sumatra.

The Panther ascends trees with agility, into which it pursues Monkeys
and other climbing animals. It is a ferocious and untamable animal, and
inhabits only the wildest forests. No Carnivore, not even the Tiger, is
more unconquerable, and its pursuit is proportionably dangerous. It
rarely attacks Man without being provoked; but it is irritated at the
merest trifle, and its anger is manifested by the lightning rapidity of
its onset, which invariably results in the speedy death of the imprudent
being who has aroused its fury. Its power, nimbleness, and stealth
surpass anything that can be imagined; and it is these qualities which
render it so dangerous.

Notwithstanding its ferocity when wild, the Panther is easily tamed when
captured young and is then as mild and affectionate as a Dog.

The Panther is especially fond of young Birds, but is frequently
disappointed in his search by finding that a Snake has preceded him and
secured the prize, as illustrated. During his rovings, the Panther
espies a nest and begins at once to climb the bough on which it is built
just as the father Bird returns with food for the Birds. At the sight of
the fearful enemy near his nest, he utters a series of low pitiful
shrieks. The mate answers him from the distance and comes flying swiftly
towards him. But the Panther does not allow himself to be turned from
his purpose; on the contrary, the parents’ alarm makes him feel assured
that the nest contains a prize for him. Meanwhile the Snake’s rest has
become disturbed during the clamor and just as the Panther raises his
head to peer into the nest, the head of the Snake with wide open jaws
shoots hissing upon him. He falls backward startled! He shares the
abhorrence of many animals for the Snake, and also fears its sharp bite.
One moment he hesitates as to whether to give up the hoped-for prize,
then slowly retreats.

The Panther not only climbs the trees to secure the Birds and small
climbing animals, but lurking in concealment among the foliage it
springs upon the Antelopes or other large game which happens to approach
its hiding place.

A tame Panther in the possession of Mrs. Bowdich was left at liberty to
go where he pleased, and a boy was appointed to prevent him from
intruding into the apartments of the officers. His keeper, however,
generally passed his watch in sleeping, and Sai, as the Panther was
called, roamed at large. On one occasion Sai found his servant sitting
on the step of the door, upright, but fast asleep, when he lifted his
paw, gave him a blow on the side of the head, which laid him flat, and
then stood wagging his tail as if conscious of the mischief he had
committed. He became exceedingly attached to the governor, and followed
him everywhere, like a Dog. His favorite station was at a window of the
sitting-room, which overlooked the whole town. There, standing on his
hind-legs, his fore-paws resting on the ledge of the window, and his
chin laid between them, he appeared to amuse himself with what was
passing underneath. The children also stood with him at the window, and
one day, finding his presence an incumbrance, and that they could not
get their chairs close, they united their efforts to pull him down by
the tail. He one day missed the governor, who, being in the hall,
surrounded by black people, was hidden from view, Sai wandered in search
of him, and having at length found him seated writing at a table, the
Panther immediately sprang from the door on to his neck, put his head
close to the governors, rubbed his head upon his shoulder, and tried to
evince his happiness.

When on board a ship at anchor in the river Gaboon, an Orang-Outang was
brought for sale, and lived three days on board. “I shall never,” writes
Mrs. Bowdich, “forget the uncontrollable rage of the one, or the agony
of the other, at this meeting. The Orang was about three feet high, and
very powerful in proportion to his size, so that when he fled with
extraordinary rapidity from the Panther to the farther end of the deck,
neither men nor things remained upright when they opposed his progress;
there he took refuge in a sail, and although generally obedient to the
voice of his master, force was necessary to make him quit the shelter of
its folds. As to the Panther, his back rose in an arch, his tail was
elevated and perfectly stiff, his eyes flashed, and as he howled he
showed his huge teeth; then, as if forgetting the bars before him, he
tried to spring on the Orang, to tear him to atoms.”

                              THE JAGUAR.

[Illustration: JAGUAR.]

The Jaguar is the Leopard of the American forests, and nearly approaches
to the Tiger of India in strength and daring. The Jaguar may be
distinguished from the Leopard by a bold streak or two of black
extending across the chest from shoulder to shoulder. The rosettes on
the body are very large, open and rather angular, with a central spot or
two in each, and a central chain of black dashes extends along the
spine. The size of the Jaguar varies, but usually exceeds that of the
Leopard. Its form is more robust and less agile and graceful. The limbs
are short, but exceedingly thick and muscular, the head square and
larger, and the tail comparatively shorter. The Jaguar is the most
formidable of all the American members of the Cat family. It prefers the
marshy and wooded districts of the warmer latitudes, and haunts the vast
forest along the larger rivers. He climbs and swims with equal facility,
and preys on the larger domestic quadrupeds, on Peccaries and Monkeys,
and also on Tortoises and Fishes. Sonnini saw the scratches left on the
smooth bark of a tree without branches forty feet high. Humboldt heard
the Jaguar’s yell from the tops of the trees, followed by the sharp,
shrill, long whistle of the terrified Monkeys, as they seemed to flee.
It takes Birds in their nests and Fish in the shallows and makes havoc
in some districts among Horses, Cattle and Sheep.

The Jaguar is also called the American Tiger; it is the largest
carnivorous animal of the New World. It almost equals the Tiger in size,
as well as in blood-thirstiness; it measures nearly seven feet from the
end of the nose to the root of the tail. It is not Zebra-striped like
the Tiger, but spotted in the same manner as the Panther. Its markings
are most numerous on the head, thighs, legs and back, but always
irregular in shape. The ground color of the coat is of a bright tawny
hue above, and white beneath. The Jaguar is spread over nearly the whole
of South America and of the warmer parts of North America. It inhabits
the great forests traversed by rivers, and actively pursues various
aquatic Mammals. Like the Tiger, it swims with ease and passes the day
in inaction among the islets of the great lagoons and rivers. In the
evening it seeks its food, and levies a heavy tribute on the immense
herds of wild Cattle and Horses that graze in the Pampas of the Plata.
With a single blow of its paw it breaks the back-bone of its victims.

At the setting and rising of the sun it gives utterance to two cries,
which are well known to the natives and to hunters. It is by this means
that it announces to living nature the commencement and the termination
of its feeding operations, and thus excites terror or joy. In certain
parts of South America, Jaguars were so numerous, that, according to
Azara, in the seventeenth century, two thousand were killed every year
at Paraguay. At the present time many are yet to be found in that
region, although their numbers are considerably diminished.

                          THE PUMA OR COUGAR.

[Illustration: Pumas Fighting over Vultures.]

The Puma or Cougar, formerly improperly called the American Lion, is an
animal about four and a half feet long, and of an uniform fawn color
without any spots. It inhabits Paraguay, Brazil, Guiana, Mexico and the
United States. It has the general appearance of a Lioness, without
possessing its dimensions.

This animal is alike remarkable for stealth and agility. It makes great
ravages among the herds, and differs from the other Cats, in slaying
numerous victims before it commences to feed. To carry off the smaller
domestic animals, it visits human habitations during the night. It
prefers living in the open country, yet it climbs trees; its agility is
such, that at one bound it can ascend upwards of twenty feet.

The Puma is easily tamed, when it knows its master, and receives his
caresses with pleasure. No inconvenience results from allowing it to run
at liberty. The celebrated English actor, Kean, had a Puma which
followed him like a Dog, and kept close to him in the most crowded

                              THE OCELOT.

The Ocelot, one of the most beautiful of the Cat family, is a little
more than three feet in length. The color of its fur is a greyish fawn,
marked with large spots of a bright fawn, edged with black. Its habits
are entirely nocturnal; it feeds on Monkeys, Rodents and Birds, climbing
the trees in their pursuit with great swiftness. It is found in various
parts of North and South America.

Like the Puma, it rapidly becomes attached to Man. Azara has seen one
which, although it enjoyed the greatest liberty, would never leave its

                              THE LYNXES.

The animals belonging to the Lynx family differ from the other Felidae
in their longer coat, their shorter tail, and their ears, which are
terminated by a tuft of hair. A great number of varieties of Lynx are
known, as well in the Old as in the New World. The principal ones,
however, are the European Lynx, the Canada Lynx and the Caracal.

                           THE EUROPEAN LYNX.

The European Lynx is well known in the great forests of Northern Europe
and in Asia; it is also found in some of the Alps and Pyrenees, as well
as in the Sierras of Spain. This animal measures from thirty to
thirty-six inches, not including the tail, which is four inches long.
The upper parts of its body are of a bright red color, with small brown
spots, while the under parts are white. On each side of its face it has
an addition of white hairs, which resemble whiskers.

The name of “Loup-cervier” sometimes given to it, probably originated
from its howling like a Wolf during the night. It nimbly climbs trees in
pursuit of prey. Martens, Ermines, Hares and Rabbits are its favorite
food. It does not, however, eat the flesh of larger victims, unless its
hunger is extreme; but generally is satisfied by sucking out the brain.

Taken young, it becomes accustomed to captivity, and is fond of being
caressed, but it will return to its wild life if opportunity offers, so
really never becomes attached to its master. It is an extremely cleanly
animal, and, like the Cat, passes a large portion of its time in washing
and cleansing its fur.

The European Lynx is not much smaller than the Wolf, and is said to be
rather shy than bold, never attacking Man except in self-defence, and
using his claws as his principal weapons. This animal frequents
mountainous and thickly-wooded districts, and confines himself to a
limited hunting ground, not hunting in a pack, but usually in pairs, the
mother being frequently followed by her young ones. The Lynx usually
reposes during the day in such a position as to perceive either the
approach of danger or of prey, going forth at twilight or early dawn to
seek for food. Mr. Lloyd tells us that if the Lynx fails in his spring,
he does not pursue his prey to any great distance, but slinks back to
his retreat, in proof whereof he relates the following anecdote: “Some
years ago, while a peasant was occupied with agricultural labors in the
spring, he observed that some Sheep feeding in the distance shied when
passing near a boulder on the hill-side. Inclination for the green
grass, however, having at length got the better of their fears, they
once more approached the spot, when out dashed a large Lynx from his
ambush, and made several bounds towards them; but as the poor creatures
had the start of him, they were so fortunate as to escape his clutches.
Seeing that his efforts were fruitless, the beast now turned about and
retreated to his hiding place, which the peasant observing, he hastened
home for his gun, and stealthily approaching the spot, shot him while in
his lair.”

                            THE CANADA LYNX.

[Illustration: LYNX ATTACKING FAWN.]

The Canada Lynx in size and coloring closely resembles the European
species last mentioned. It is about three feet in length, besides the
tail, which measures from four to five inches. It is retired in its
habits, keeping away even from the dwellings of the first settlers in
the forests. Its fine long fur enables it to resist the cold of the high
latitudes in which it lives. It is found north of the Great Lakes, as
far southward as the Middle States, and occasionally near the sea coast.

When alarmed or pursued, the Canada Lynx leaps or bounds rapidly in a
straight direction from danger, and takes to a tree when hard pressed by
Dogs. It is very strong, and possessing remarkably large and powerful
fore-legs and claws, is able to climb trees of any size; and can leap
from a considerable height to the ground without seeming to feel the
jar, alighting on all four feet at the same instant, ready for flight or
for battle.

The food of the Canada Lynx consists principally of Birds and small
quadrupeds. Occasionally it may carry off some small live stock of the
farmer, but it usually prefers such game as may be met with in the
depths of the forest in which it lurks.

                              THE CARACAL.

[Illustration: Caracal Defending His Booty from Jackals.]

The Caracal is about the size of the European Lynx. Its fur is red
above, without spots, and its chest is fawn colored, speckled with
brown. It is the Lynx of the ancients, and inhabits the north and east
of Africa, Arabia and Persia. Its habits differ very little from those
of the Lynx. It always retains, when in captivity, its savage
disposition and a great desire for liberty.

The Caracal lies in wait for young Antelope and overpowers them without
special exertion, tearing with his sharp teeth the artery of the throat.
The dexterous hunter seldom enjoys his prey in peace for, as all large
animals of prey pursue the small, so the bold, intruding Jackal presses
him from all sides, waiting his chance to snatch part whenever possible.
Our illustration shows such a scene. The Jackal generally has a bad time
in a combat with the Caracal. The Caracal has never yet been tamed in
any menagerie. Even the Arabs of the Soudan fear him. In the
illustration he has been aggravated to the highest pitch by the attacks
of the Jackal. With his long bushy ears lying flat, lips drawn backward
and one sharp, pointed claw raised, he stands ready to strike and bite.
Several of the Jackals have already felt his weapons. Despite this they
howl and press around him until he has had his fill and leaves the rest
of his meat for the persistent beggars.

The Caracal is said to occasionally hunt in packs like Wild Dogs. But
this is uncommon; they usually hunt singly or in companies of two or
three, creeping towards their victim and springing suddenly upon it.

In captivity, Caracals are very irritable, and sometimes display great
ferocity. Dr. Charleton saw one kill and destroy a Hound in a moment,
although the poor creature defended itself to the uttermost. They retire
to a corner of their den, crouching sullenly, and resenting every
attempt at familiarity; when irritated, the ears are laid close to the
head, the eyes glare with malignant fury, the teeth are displayed, and
they utter a hiss not unlike that of a Cat, and quite different from the
growl of a Lion or Tiger. In their wild state they avoid man, but are
dangerous foes when hard pressed or wounded.

                         THE OUNCE AND SERVAL.

These are two members of the Cat family that seem but little known.

In size, the Ounce is between the Panther and Leopard. The color of its
coat is not yellow, but grey, and its spots are much more irregular than
on these animals. It is a native of Asia.

The Serval is also named the Cat-pard or Tiger Cat. It is only about
thirty inches long. It is found in the forests of Southern Africa; also
in Abyssinia and Algeria. It lives on small animals, particularly
Monkeys and Rodents. Its savage nature cannot be changed by taming. Its
fur, which is varied with bars and black spots on a buff ground, is
quite valuable.

                              THE CHEETAH.

The Cheetah or Hunting Leopard forms the transition between the Cat and
Dog families. By its physical organization and its character it belongs,
in fact, to both these classes. It has weak, non-retractile claws, which
are unfitted for tearing purposes; but in its teeth it unmistakably
shows its affinity to the Cat family. Its limbs are also longer, and the
body more slender than that of the Cats, from whence results a greater
aptitude for hunting. Its tail is curled over on itself at the
extremity, a disposition very common in Dogs, but which is not observed
in the Cats. Its mildness, obedient temper, and attachment when tame,
naturally define its place on the confines of the Feline and the Canine

The Hunting Leopard inhabits Southern Asia and various parts of Africa.
It is about four feet in length, and twenty-six inches in height. Its
fur is very elegant, being a bright fawn color above, perfectly white
beneath, and everywhere interspersed with black spots. The tail is
barred with twelve alternately white and black rings. A quantity of
hair, longer than on other parts of the body, grows on the back of the
head and neck, forming a scanty mane.

The Cheetah seizes its prey by a succession of bounds remarkable for
their rapidity. In India and Persia has been adopted the habit of
training it to hunt certain animals, its natural docility allowing it to
be readily trained for this service. The custom of employing the Cheetah
for hunting goes back to a very remote period, for the Arab Rhazes speak
of it in the tenth century.

In Mongolia the following is the method of conducting this sport. The
sportsmen start off on horseback, carrying the Cheetah either on a
Horse, or in a carriage specially constructed for the purpose. The
animal is chained, and its eyes blindfolded. The places which Gazelles
frequent are sought out. As soon as one is perceived, the hunters stop,
the Cheetah is unfastened, and its eyes unbandaged and the game is
pointed out to it. Immediately, under cover of the high vegetation and
brushwood, the beast glides off in pursuit, taking advantage, with
unequalled tact, of the slightest breaks in the ground to conceal its
movements. When it considers that it is sufficiently near its victim, it
suddenly shows itself, dashes on with terrible impetuosity, springs on
the prey after a succession of prodigious bounds and immediately pulls
it to the ground.

Its master, who has followed the events of the chase, then enters upon
the scene. To detach it from its victim, he throws it a piece of flesh,
speaks gently to it, and caresses it; after which he again covers its
eyes, and replaces it on the saddle or in its conveyance, while the
assistants carry off the prey.

This kind of hunting is very popular in Mongolia, and a well-trained
Hunting Leopard attains an extraordinary price among the inhabitants.

In captivity, the Cheetah is familiar, gentle and playful, becoming
greatly attached to those who are kind to it. When pleased it purs; and
mews like a Cat when in distress.

                            THE DOG FAMILY.

[Illustration: ESQUIMAU DOGS.]

The many different kinds of Dogs that are spread over the entire surface
of the globe, with the Wolves, Jackals and Foxes, and their numerous
smaller relatives are all grouped under the family of Canidae, which is
derived from the Latin word Canis, meaning a Dog. All the members of
this family are digitigrade. Though they walk on their toes, like the
members of the Felidae, or Cat family, their claws are neither sharp nor
retractile like those of the Cat and they cannot serve either for attack
or defence.

Nearly all the members of this family have long tails, more or less
clothed with hair, and their tongue is smooth, and in this respect
different from the Cats.

[Illustration: NEWFOUNDLAND DOG.]

They are the most intelligent of the Carnivora. Their senses,
particularly that of smell, are strongly developed.

Some Naturalists claim that the Dog is a tamed Wolf, others that he is a
well-educated Jackal, but there can be little doubt that he constitutes
a genus set apart for the service of mankind, although there are such
numerous varieties of domestic Dogs. It is impossible to discover in
which of the past ages, the Dog became the servant of Man. The oldest
traditions and the most ancient history show us the Dog as the friend
and the servant of mankind.

Volumes might be written relating stories of which Dogs are the heroes.
Every day in ordinary life we see something of this kind, and which,
although of such frequent occurrence, is none the less curious. As
examples of the past we might call to memory the Dog of Ulysses, the
model of fidelity; the Dog of Montargis, the vanquisher of crime; of
Munito, the brilliant player of dominoes. It is not necessary to mention
the Newfoundland Dog and the Dog of Mount St. Bernard, as preservers of
human life; their wonderful exploits are too well known to require
special instances as examples. Nor is it necessary to speak of the
numberless instances of intelligent Dogs going for provisions for their
masters, and serving them in curious ways—like the shoe-black’s Dog, who
was trained to plant his muddy paws on the best polished boots, so as to
bring more business to his master, the man of the brush. We should never
come to an end if we attempted to tell of all the exploits of this
valuable companion of man.

It is also useless to attempt to mention all the various species of Dogs
that are found scattered over all the inhabited parts of the world; but
certain varieties may be divided into classes. The Sporting Dogs, for
instance, are usually divided into two classes—the Running Dogs or
Hounds, and the Setters or Pointers. The first follow rapidly on a track
or scent, howling and crying all the way, and only stop when they have
captured or lost their game. The second follow silently on the trail of
the game, and only stop pursuing it when the scent announces that they
are close to the object of their search. It is then that they are said
to be pointing or setting. Setters generally lie down and wait for the
sportsman, while the Pointers stand.

Among the Running Dogs might be mentioned the Greyhound, the Hounds of
Saintonge and of Poitou, English Foxhounds, Harriers and Beagles,
Turnspits, Bull-dogs, Mastiffs, etc. The principal sporting Dogs are the
Pointers, Setters, Land Spaniels and Water Spaniels.

It is almost impossible to class all the different kinds of Dogs in
groups, with the many races and sub-races now existing. Some Naturalists
have divided all these different varieties into three classes—the
Matins, the Spaniels, and the Mastiffs, and although this method may
have its faults, it also has the advantage of being easy to remember and
sufficient for practical use.

It is among the Matins that the largest-sized Dogs are found. The
ordinary Matin—the great Danish Dog—is as large as a good-sized Donkey;
under this class are also found the Spotted Danish Dog, the Little
Danish Dog, the different varieties of Greyhounds, the Pyrenean
Shephard’s Dog, the Alpine Dog, and the St. Bernard Dog.

The Spaniels comprise the Wolf Dog, the Chinese Dog, the Siberian Dog,
the Esquimaux Dog—the two latter being used to draw sledges across the
snow—the French and English Spaniels, and what is classed as the Small
Spaniel, including a great number of varieties of “Lap Dogs,” which are
the favorite home pets, in spite of the fact that they are particularly
remarkable for their ugliness, and their small size. The principal
Lap-dogs are the King Charles, Cocker, Blenheim, Small Poodle and the
Small White Dog of Cuba, or Havanese Dog, etc. Then we come to the
Turnspits, with straight and crooked legs; the St. Domingo Dog; the
large Water Spaniel—the most faithful and intelligent of all dogs; the
Little Water Spaniel, Poodle, Newfoundland Dog; Stag, Fox and Hare
Hounds; Bloodhounds, Pointers and Setters.

Among the Mastiffs are placed the Great Dog or English Mastiff, an
animal that is very courageous, and a great fighter; the Thibit Mastiff,
the Small Mastiff, the Pug, the Bull-dog, the Terrier, and Bull Terrier,
the Turkish Dog, remarkable for its almost naked skin, and last of all,
our common Cur Dog, with no distinct characteristics.

Then we have a class of Dogs distinct from these friends and servants of
mankind. These live either entirely wild or half-wild, and are scattered
over various parts of the globe. These are the Dingo, or New Holland
Dog, which is very destructive to domestic animals, and even to cattle;
the Dhale, or East Indian Dog, which in packs, pursues Deer, Gazelles,
etc., and which, when collected in troops, does not fear to fight with
the Lion or Tiger; the Wild Dog of Sumatra; the Cape of Good Hope Dog
and the Maroon Dog of America.

                             THE HYENA DOG.

[Illustration: HYENA DOGS.]

The Hyena Dog might be classed with these wild and half-wild Dogs,
although it is usually given a distinct genus. As the name indicates, it
has several points of resemblance with the Hyena. This Dog inhabits
South Africa. It is about the size of a Wolf, but not so strong as that
animal. Its coat is of a deep gray color speckled with spots of various
colors. It has large pointed ears and the tail is long and bushy.
Although like the Hyena, it is very fond of putrid flesh, the Hyena Dog
also feeds on living prey, especially Gazelles, Antelopes, etc. To
pursue and capture these, the Hyena Dogs collect in troops, which are
sometimes very numerous, and under the direction of a chief, they hunt
with an intelligence unsurpassed by the best pack of Hounds. When the
game is taken they divide it equally, but if any of the larger
Carnivorous animals approach to take a share in the feast, they all
unite against the intruder. Even Leopards and Lions have been driven off
by a troop of these fierce Hyena Dogs.

                         THE DESTRUCTIVE WOLF.

[Illustration: WOLF.]

Wherever the Wolf is found it is especially dreaded by the owners of
flocks and herds, and it is considered the most destructive quadruped
met with in Europe. Both in their habits and their physical structure
they are very closely related to the Dog. The sense of smell in the Wolf
is very acute, but its speed is not great. It wearies out its victim by
untiring perseverance and when in full chase it persistently follows the
track of the fugitive.

The Wolf is found throughout the whole of Europe, excepting Great
Britain and the neighboring islands, where it has been exterminated. It
also inhabits the cold and temperate regions of Asia and America. In
some natural excavation situated in the woods, the Wolf takes up its
abode. From here it steals forth at night to prey upon all the weaker
animal life.

Among the varieties of the Common Wolf, it is necessary to mention the
Black Wolf, which inhabits the North of Europe, and the Black Wolves of
the Himalayas; the Dusky Wolf and the Prairie Wolf, which lives in
troops on the great plains of North America; the Red Wolf, which leads a
solitary life on the pampas of La Plata and in Texas and Mexico; lastly,
the Mexican Wolf or Coyotte, and the Java Wolf. In the glacial regions
of the two continents, White Wolves are found.

Although our Domestic Dogs and Wolves in a wild state are deadly
enemies, yet when Wolves are captured quite young and tamed, they often
become quite friendly with the Dogs of the home, and they are even
considered safe playmates of the children in some instances, although
they are rather treacherous, and probably few mothers would consider
them safe. Yet a lady mentioned by Mr. Lloyd in this “Scandinavian
Adventures” tells of a pet Wolf which she found trustworthy. “This Wolf
became so faithful and attached that when we took a walk about the
estate, and he was with us, he would crouch beside us when we rested,
and would not allow anyone to approach nearer than about twenty paces;
for if they came closer he would growl and show his teeth. When I called
him he would lick my hand, at the same time always keeping his eyes
fastened on the intruder. He went about the house and in the kitchen in
the same manner as a Dog, and was much attached to the children, whom he
would lick and play with. This continued until he was five months old.
He had his kennel in the lower yard near the gate, and in the
winter-time when the peasants came with charcoal, he would leap on to
the stone fence, where he would wag his tail and whine until they came
up to him and patted him. At such times he was always desirous of
searching their pockets, that he might ascertain if they had anything
good to eat about them. The men became so accustomed to this that they
used to amuse themselves by putting a piece of bread in their coat
pockets to let him find it out, and he ate all that they gave him.
Besides this, he ate three bowls of food daily. It was remarkable that
our Dogs used to eat with him out of the same bowl, but if any strange
animal attempted to share the food with him, he would soon show anger.”

“At one time,” says Mr. Lloyd, “I had serious thoughts of training a
fine Wolf in my possession as a pointer, but was deterred, owing to the
liking she exhibited for the neighbor’s pigs. She was chained in a
little enclosure, just in front of my window, into which these animals,
when the gate was left open, ordinarily found their way. The devices the
Wolf employed to get them into her power were very amusing. When she saw
a Pig in the vicinity of the kennel she, evidently with the purpose of
putting him off his guard, would throw herself on her side or back, wag
her tail most lovingly, and look innocence personified. And this amiable
demeanor would continue until the grunter was beguiled within the length
of her tether, when in the twinkling of an eye the prey was clutched.

“When the Wolf is hungry, everything is game that comes to his net. In
the Gulf of Bothnia he often preys upon Seals. When that sea is frozen
over, or partially so, as is generally the case soon after the turn of
the year, he roams its icy surface in search of the young of the Gray
Seal, which at that season breeds among the hummocks in great numbers;
and finding this an easy way of procuring sustenance, he remains on the
ice until it breaks up in the spring. It not unfrequently happens,
however, that during storms large fields of ice, on which numbers of
Wolves are congregated, break loose from the shore or the land-ice; in
this case, as soon as the beasts perceive their danger, but see no
possibility of escape, they rush to and fro, keeping up the while a most
woeful howling, heard frequently at a great distance until they are
swallowed up by the waves.”

The vision and hearing, but more particularly the sense of smell in the
Wolf, are very fully developed. These faculties are of great service in
enabling it to obtain food and avoid danger.

When suffering from hunger it loses all caution, and becomes a scourge
to the farmers’ flocks and a source of danger even to Man. In broad
daylight, under such circumstances, without being seen, it will draw
near a flock of Sheep, eluding the vigilance of the dogs, it will dart
forward, seize a victim that it has singled out, and bear it off with
such velocity as often to defy pursuit. This exploit accomplished, it
returns time after time to the scene of its previous success, until
destroyed or driven from the neighborhood.

When it succeeds in obtaining entrance to a sheepfold, the havoc it
commits is fearful, for it makes a general massacre among the inmates.
The slaughter terminated, it carries away a victim for immediate use. It
afterwards takes a second, third, and fourth, which it conceals in
different places in the neighboring woods. Nor does it return to its
retreat until daybreak, devoting the last moments to secreting its

This craving for slaughter, preceding the act of hiding the carcasses,
rather denotes foresight than ferocity; the Wolf is not, therefore, the
monster of cruelty pictured by Buffon.

The Wolf often destroys Dogs, its most deadly enemy; and resorts to
stratagem the better to accomplish its purpose. Should it see a Puppy
about a farmyard, it approaches, and attracts attention by frisking and
making all kinds of gambols to gain its confidence. When the youngster,
seduced by these overtures, responds to them, and leaves the friendly
shelter of its home, it is immediately overpowered, and carried off.
Against a vigorous Dog, capable of defending itself with success, the
stratagem is different. Two Wolves arrange between themselves the
following plan:—One shows itself to the hoped-for-victim, and endeavors
to make the Dog follow its track into an ambuscade, where the second
Wolf is concealed. Both suddenly assail it at once, and through their
combination obtain an easy victory.

Under ordinary circumstances the Wolf does not molest Man, but even
flies from his presence. In cases of extreme hunger, on the contrary, it
attacks him, looking out for an unguarded moment in order to take him
unawares. If the Man is on horseback or accompanied by a Dog, its first
efforts are directed against the quadrupeds.

During the winter, when the ground is covered with snow, in the great
plains of Germany, in the vast steppes of Russia and Poland, Wolves are
most dangerous. “Hunger drives the Wolf from the wood,” says a proverb.
Allied in immense troops they range the country in every direction, and
become a terrible scourge.

In those plains of Siberia that are infested by Wolves a sledge journey
is far from agreeable, for frequently a band of these ferocious brutes
persistently follow travelers. If the sledge stops for only a second,
the Men and Horses are lost; safety exists only in flight. The struggle
on such occasions is fearful. The Horses, mad with terror, seem to have
wings. The Wolves follow on their track, their eyes flashing with fire.
It is a terrible situation to be placed in to behold these black
spectres tearing across the surface of the white shroud of snow,
thirsting for your blood. From time to time a report is heard; a Wolf
falls. More audacious than the others, the victim had tried to climb the
sledge, and one of the travelers has shot it. This incident gives some
advantage to the fugitives; for the carnivorous troop halt for a few
seconds to devour the body of their companion.

Wolves are not hunted with Hounds that run by scent, for it would only
be possible to overtake them with Greyhounds, as they are endowed with
great speed and endurance. The method generally adopted for their
destruction is to post the hunters around the covers which a Wolf
frequents. These measures being taken, the grizzly marauder is started
by Bloodhounds, specially trained for the purpose. The Wolf dashes past
the sportsmen, either successfully running the gauntlet or getting shot.

                              THE JACKAL.

[Illustration: JACKAL.]

The Jackal, five or six varieties of which are known, is common to the
whole of Africa, all the warm regions of Asia, and to portions of
Southern Europe. It is about the same length as the Fox, but stands a
little taller. Its coat is of a greyish-yellow color above, and white
beneath; its tail is tipped with black at the extremity.

Jackals live together in troops, which are sometimes composed of more
than a hundred individuals. Although their eyes are adapted for seeing
in daylight, they usually sleep during the day, and do not go abroad
until night to seek their food. To keep together they are constantly
howling, and their voice is sad, loud and unmusical. Their voracity and
audacity are unparallelled. They enter habitations, when opportunity
presents itself, and sweep off everything eatable they can reach;
devouring even boots, Horse harness and other articles made of leather.
In the desert they follow the caravans, prowl all night around their
encampment, and endeavor to carry off anything chance may throw in their
way. After the start of the caravan they rush upon the deserted
halting-place, greedily fighting for all the refuse. Captain Williamson
tells us that “Mr. Kinloch, who kept a famous pack of Hounds, having
chased a Jackal into a jungle, found it necessary to call off his Dogs,
in consequence of an immense herd of Jackals, which had suddenly
collected on hearing the cries of their brother, which the Hounds were
worrying. They were so numerous that not only the Dogs were defeated,
but the Jackals rushed out of cover in pursuit of them; and when Mr.
Kinloch and his party rode up to whip them off, their Horses were bit,
and it was not without difficulty that a retreat was effected. The pack
was found to have suffered so severely as not to be able to take the
field for several weeks.

“The Jackal is very watchful. He will wait at your door, and will enter
your house, and avail himself of the smallest opening for enterprise; he
will rob your roost, and steal Kids, Lambs, Pigs and sometimes even take
a Pup from its sleepy mother; he will strip a larder or pick the bones
of a carcass, all with equal avidity. It is curious to see them
fighting, almost within reach of your stick, to reach the expected

“Both Jackals and Foxes sham death to admiration. After having been
almost pulled to pieces by Dogs and left to all appearance lifeless,
they sometimes gradually cock their ears, then look askance at the
retiring enemy, and when they think themselves unobserved, steal under a
bank, and thus skulk along till they find themselves safe, when, setting
off at a trot or a canter, they make the best of their way to some place
of security.”

                               THE FOXES.

[Illustration: FOXES AT HOME.]

These animals are distinguished from Wolves and Dogs by their longer and
more bushy tail, and by their elongated and more pointed muzzle. They
have a most offensive odor; and dig holes in the ground, wherein they
reside and rear their young. They live upon Birds and other animals, but
never attack any but such as have no power of resistance. The cunning of
the Fox has always furnished a subject fertile in amusing anecdotes.
Their attachment to their young is well illustrated in the following
little narrative extracted from Mr. Lloyd’s “Scandinavian Adventures:”

“A Fox having slaughtered a whole flock of Goslings, M. Drougge, to whom
they belonged, resolved to attack her and her cubs in their ‘earth.’
This, however, was so deep that night set in before any satisfaction
could be obtained. Some days after, on revisiting the kula (or ‘earth’),
it was found deserted, but, after some search, five cubs were found in a
newly-made retreat, and deposited in an old hen-house belonging to the
Lansmann, from whence, however, the mother nearly released them during
the succeeding night; for in the morning the building was found
undermined, and the half-rotten floor nearly bitten through. The cubs
were now removed to an unoccupied room in the dwelling-house itself; and
even here, by burrowing under the foundations of the building, as she
was discovered to be doing during the two following nights, her attempts
to free the prisoners were renewed. But the matter did not rest here;
for one night shortly after, a continuous noise was heard in the attic,
where, in consequence, the Lansmann proceeded to ascertain the cause of
the disturbance. On his way up the stairs he was startled by an animal
apparently resembling a Dog, running hastily past his legs, to which
circumstance he at the time paid little attention; but as, when he
reached the attic, he found everything quiet, he returned to his bed
again. On the following morning, however, it was discovered that the Fox
had been the cause of the uproar; for, with the intention of getting
access to her cubs, she had been endeavoring to make an aperture in the
chimney, and it then became perfectly clear that it was the Fox herself
which, in her hurry to escape, had nearly upset the Lansmann, while
mounting the steps the night before. The room below, in which the cubs
were confined, was now examined, but they were nowhere to be seen. At
length, however, their cries were heard in the flue of the stove, the
whole of which structure it was necessary to take down before they could
be extricated.”

                            THE FENNEC FOX.

The Fennec Fox is a remarkable little animal found in Nubia and other
parts of Northern Africa, where it resides in burrows excavated in the
sand. Its body, head included, does not measure more than thirteen
inches in length, while its tail, which is very bushy, is about eight
inches long. Its head is narrow, with a pointed muzzle. Its eyes are
large, and the iris of a deep blue color; the sides of its face are
margined by long thick whiskers, while its enormous ears, which are very
broad at the base, erect, and pointed, give a very singular appearance.
The hair covering the body is of a pale fawn or cream color, shading
into white beneath.

Bruce describes the Fennec as being a white Weasel. He had several of
these successively in his possession, and says: “They were all known by
the name of Fennec, and no other, and said to inhabit the date villages,
where they build their nests upon trees.” Of one, which he kept, he
tells us: “Though his favorite food seemed to be dates or sweet fruit,
yet I observed he was very fond of eggs. Pigeons’ eggs and small Birds’
eggs were first brought him, which he devoured with great avidity, but
he did not seem to know how to manage the egg of a hen; when broken for
him, however, he seemed to eat it with the same eagerness as the others.
When he was hungry, he would eat bread, especially with honey or sugar.
It was observable that a Bird, whether confined in a cage near him or
flying across a room, engrossed his whole attention. He followed it with
his eyes wherever it went, nor was he at this time to be diverted by
placing biscuit before him, and it was obvious, by the great interest he
seemed to take in its motions, that he was accustomed to watch for
victories over it, either for his pleasure or his food. He seemed very
much alarmed at the approach of a Cat, and endeavored to hide himself,
but showed no symptom of preparing for any defence. He suffered himself,
not without some difficulty, to be handled in the day, when he seemed
rather inclined to sleep, but was exceedingly restless when night came,
always endeavoring to make his escape, and though he did not attempt the
wire, yet with his sharp teeth he soon mastered the wood of any common

                            THE COMMON FOX.

The Common Fox is still found throughout Europe. For ages past it has
had a reputation for cunning, which has given it great notoriety. “As
cunning as a Fox” is one of the most common adages in the languages of

The Fox never attacks animals capable of resistance. In the twilight it
ventures out in quest of its prey, when it wanders silently around the
country, prowling about the covers and hedges, hoping to surprise Birds,
Rabbits or Hares, its usual prey.

If it fails to secure such delicate food, however, it will eat Field
Mice, Lizards, Frogs, &c. It does not dislike certain fruits, and it is
especially fond of grapes. To domestic Fowls it is terribly destructive.
When during its nightly prowling the crow of a Cock strikes its ear, it
turns at once in the direction of the welcome sound. It wanders around
the poultry yard, examining and observing all the weak points by which
an entrance might be gained. When at last successful in reaching the
Hen-roost, a reckless carnage among its occupants is made, and this not
so much to satisfy a craving for blood as to provide store for the
future. With this object, one by one the victims are carried off, and
concealed in the woods or its den.

If all efforts to enter the Hen-roost are unsuccessful, then Reynard
undertakes to ruin it in detail, and to slay in one or more months those
which he cannot kill in a day. With this intention he installs himself
on the margin of a wood, close to the farm, and anxiously watches every
movement of the poultry. If his prey wander into the fields, his
attentions are doubled; seizing the moment when the Watch-dog is out of
sight, he creeps towards them, draws near his victim without being seen,
seizes, strangles and carries it off. When these manoeuvres have once
succeeded, they are repeated till the poultry yard is empty.

The following story, narrated to me by an old woodman, also illustrates
their cunning. Two Foxes, located in a neighborhood where Hares
abounded, adopted an ingenious plan for capturing them. One of them lay
in ambush on the side of a road; the other started the quarry and
pursued it with ardor, with the object of driving the game into the road
guarded by his associate. From time to time, by an occasional bark, the
associate in ambush was notified how the chase was succeeding. When a
Hare was driven into the road it was immediately pounced on, and both
Foxes devoured it in thorough good fellowship. Nevertheless, it
sometimes happened that the Fox who kept watch miscalculated his spring,
and the Hare escaped. When, as though puzzled at his want of skill, he
resumed his post, jumped on to the road, and several times repeated the
movement. His comrade arriving in the middle of this exercise, was not
slow to comprehend its meaning, and irritated at being fatigued to no
purpose, chastised his clumsy associate; but a tussle of a few minutes
sufficed to expend the bad humor, and they were ready to try again.

The adult Fox is also assisted by its young in procuring food when they
become old enough. Some observers say that these family excursions are
undertaken for the education of the cubs. When on a hunt to obtain
aquatic Birds, among the reeds and rushes that margin the borders of
lakes and rivers, Foxes always proceed with extreme caution, and take
especial care not to become unnecessarily wet.

One of the most frequent tricks of the Fox, and which shows an unusual
amount of intelligence, consists in simulating death when surprised by
the hunters, and there is no hope of safety by flight. It may then be
handled, kicked about in every direction, even lifted by the tail, hung
up in the air, or carried thrown over one’s shoulder, without showing
the slightest sign of life. But as soon as released, and opportunity for
escape offers, it will hurry away to the great amazement of those so
cleverly fooled.

The Fox most frequently inhabits a burrow or “earth,” which it excavates
among stones, rocks, or under the trunk of a tree, at the edge of a
wood; at other times it digs its subterraneous retreat on cultivated
land; always it is careful to have it on an elevated slope, so as to be
protected against rain and inundations.

At times it appropriates the burrow of a Rabbit or Badger, and
re-arranges it to suit itself.

Its dwelling it divides into three parts: The first part is the place
from whence it examines the neighborhood before coming out, and from
where it watches for a favorable moment to escape its persecutors, when
pursuit has driven it home. Then comes the store-room, a place with
several outlets, where the provisions are stored away. Lastly, behind
the store-room, quite at the bottom of the burrow, is the den, the
sleeping chamber and real habitation of the animal. The Fox seldom
regularly inhabits its burrow, except when rearing young. After that
period it generally sleeps in a cover, near a spot where it thinks
plunder is to be had, sometimes at a distance from its burrow.

                           THE WEASEL FAMILY.

[Illustration: WEASELS AND ERMINES.]

The Weasels and their many small relatives—the Ermines, Martens, Otters
and many others—are usually classed with the Dog and Cat families and
the Civets and Hyenas, under the second great division of the
flesh-eating animals or those that walk on their toes; known as the
Digitigrade Carnivora.

The fierce little Weasel, which is taken as a type of the whole Weasel
family is the smallest of all the carnivorous animals. It does not often
measure more than six inches in length. It is found all over the
temperate part of Europe, although the most of its relatives prefer the
cold climate of the far North. Its boldness and courage are wonderful,
and it will often seize and kill animals very much larger than itself.

A Weasel has even been seen to attack an Eagle, and after allowing
himself to be carried high into the air, he has succeeded after a long,
hard fight in biting through the throat of the Eagle. Then both fall to
the ground, and the Eagle dies, although the Weasel is not hurt, except
the wounds in his skin made by the Eagle’s talons, which soon heal.

Of all the animals belonging to this family, the Weasel is most easily
tamed, and it soon shows a great affection for its master.

                              THE ERMINE.

This little animal is very much like the Weasel in size and form, but it
usually prefers a colder climate, and makes its home in the northern
regions of Sweden, Norway, Russia, Siberia and Arctic America. These
animals do not often measure more than ten inches in length (not
including the tail) but their skins are very valuable. They bring a high
price, and a very important trade in them is carried on. In summer, the
Ermine is of a beautiful brown color above and white below, while the
tail is tipped with black. In winter the whole coat becomes a brilliant
white, with sometimes a slightly yellow tinge, the tip of the tail
remaining black. This is the season in which the fur is most valuable.

                              THE MARTENS.


There are three species of Marten that make their home in Europe and
Western Asia—the Pine Marten, the Sable and the Beech or Stone Marten.
These all have large, open ears, and long bushy tails, and they live
principally upon the trees, where, creeping from branch to branch, they
hunt the small Birds and Squirrels. They are usually found in the gloom
of dense forests.

The Beech or Stone Marten is found in all parts of Europe, not only in
the woods, but often in thick hedges and vineyards wherever there is
shelter for it to creep along and hunt its prey. It will often make its
home near a farm house and destroy with great fury the small domestic

The Sable is eagerly sought after on account of its fur. Its home is in
the northern part of Europe, in the coldest parts of Russia and Siberia.
The Turks, Russians and Chinese are the principal purchasers of their
skins, and they distribute them in trade, far and wide, through Europe
and Asia. The winter coat of the Sable is almost black and very close,
and is much more valuable than when the animal is in summer dress.

The Russian exiles in Siberia hunt the Sable, and when in search of this
animal they are exposed to the perils of famine, climate and wild

The Pine Marten is found in Northern Europe and North America. It owes
its name to its supposed preference for the cones of the pine tree, as
the Beech Marten is thought to select the fruit of the beech. The Pine
Marten is of considerable size; its color yellowish, blended in some
parts with a blackish tint; head lighter; throat yellow; tail long,
bushy, and pointed. The fur varies in different individuals, both in
color and fineness.

This animal lurks in the thick woods, where its prey—Squirrels, Mice,
Birds and their eggs—abound. It feeds likewise on Insects, Fish and the
smaller Reptiles, and also on berries, nuts and honey. It is active and
sprightly, and we are told by Dr. Godman that the Pine Marten frequently
has his den in the hollows of trees, but very commonly takes possession
of the nest of some industrious Squirrel, which it enlarges to suit its
convenience, after putting the builder to death.

These animals are caught for the sake of their fur, which is, however,
inferior to that of the Sable Marten. A Partridge’s head with the
feathers is the best bait for the log traps in which this animal is
taken. It often destroys the hoards of meat and fish laid up by the
natives, when they have accidentally left a crevice by which it can

The Marten, when its retreat is cut off, shows its teeth, sets up its
hair, arches its back, and makes a hissing noise like a cat. It will
seize a dog by the nose, and bite so hard that, unless the latter is
accustomed to the fight, it allows the animal to escape.

It may be easily tamed, and it soon acquires an attachment to its
master, but it never becomes docile. Its flesh is occasionally eaten,
though it is not prized by the Indians.

                              THE OTTERS.


The Otters prefer to live in or near the water, and they are formed to
find great enjoyment in this life. Their webbed feet, their slender
shape and flattened head make them very active in darting through the
water for their prey. They are usually found along the edges of lakes,
rivers and streams, where they either dig out a burrow communicating
with the water, or make their home in some natural crevice near the bank
of the stream. They feed principally upon fish, and they cause a great
deal of trouble in the waters near their home, as they are not satisfied
with killing simply to satisfy their hunger, but often hunt and kill the
Fish, etc., simply for the sake of killing.

Unlike the most of the Weasel family, the Otters will eat vegetables,
although they prefer an animal diet. The skin of the Otter has always
been a fur of great value, for it is soft, close and durable. The coat
of this animal, like that of the Beaver and almost all of the aquatic
Mammals, is composed of two layers—the one next to the skin formed of
short, fine, downy hair; the other, which grows through it, is more
glossy, longer and coarser.

Otters are found in all parts of the world, but they are most plentiful
in Europe and America. The Common Otter measures about two feet and a
quarter from the tip of the nose to the tail—which is from twelve to
fifteen inches in length. The usual color of the fur is brown, shading
to darker tints.

In Kamschatka and on the coasts of the North Pacific Ocean, there exists
a species of Otter, which differs from all other species in the softness
and brilliancy of its fur, and its living almost entirely in the water.
It measures more than a yard in length and is very mild in disposition.
The skins of the Sea Otters are very high in price, and are increasing
in value, as these animals are becoming very scarce.

                           THE CIVET FAMILY.

The Civets are the best known of the family classed as the Viverridae
which comprises not only the two kinds of Civets—the African and the
Indian Civet—but the Mangousts, the Genets and many small relatives. The
Civets are the largest of this family, although they are not often
larger than a Fox. For many years they were very popular, because of the
perfume which they furnish and which bears their name. This is secreted
in small glands which pour it into a double pouch. Since musk has become
better known, the use of the Civet has been less popular, but at one
time it formed a valuable article of trade. Each year Africa and India
exported to Europe large quantities which was used in medicine and

The Indian Civet inhabits not only the Indian Continent, but also the
neighboring islands. It differs from the African Civet in having a
longer and rougher coat. Both are fawn-colored, marked with stripes or
brown spots.

                             THE MANGOUSTS.

[Illustration: MANGOUSTS.]

These are small animals found in the warmest parts of Africa and Asia.
They have a low body, but are very rapid in their movements, and their
legs are so short, they have the appearance of crawling rapidly along
the ground instead of running. Their tail is long and thick at the root,
and their skin is silky and marked with colored rings.

The Mangousts make their home in marshy places where there are plenty of
Reptiles. They prefer these to any other food, although they attack
small animals and Birds. They also search for the eggs of Reptiles, and
such Birds as build on the ground. They sometimes manage to get into
poultry yards, when, like the Ferrets and Weasels, they kill all that
can be found, only eating their brains and drinking their blood.

                              THE GENETS.

[Illustration: GENETS.]

The Genets are handsomer little animals than others of this family.
Their silky fur, speckled with black spots on a fawn-colored ground, has
a very pretty appearance, and is an object of considerable trade.

The Common Genet is found in the south of France and Spain, and
throughout the African Continent, and makes its home in low grounds near
the rivers. The claws of the Genets are retractile, that is, capable of
being drawn back, like those of the Cat. These animals are very
successful in hunting Rats and Mice, and they also climb trees and hunt
for young Birds.

                         AMPHIBIOUS CARNIVORA.

The Seals, Walruses, Sea-Elephants and Sea-Lions, etc., are grouped in a
family known as the Amphibious Carnivora—or the flesh-eating animals
that live both on the land and in the water. Some Naturalists object to
this classification, and say that the word Amphibia should only be
applied to the Batrachians—like the Frogs and the Reptiles that can
breath either in the water by means of gills, or in the air by means of

But this expression has been altered from its true meaning, and what are
now called Amphibia, are the animals like the Seals, etc., which are
organized for living in the water, but which can, with difficulty move
about on the land.

Very curious animals are found in the Seal family. Their bodies are long
and cylinder-shaped, with many of the characteristics of the Fishes; and
their limbs are converted into fins by being provided with broad
connecting webs. The fur of these various animals is composed of a
woolly compact coat, the thickness and fineness of which increases with
the severity of the climate they inhabit; and which is covered by rather
coarse hairs lubricated with oil, the object of which is to prevent the
water from penetrating to the skin. A thick layer of fat protects the
body against cold, especially in the species which inhabit the frigid

The Seal family live in numerous troops, and feed on Fishes, Mollusks,
Crustaceans, etc. They are famous divers, and although they must come to
the surface to breathe, they can remain a long time under water. This is
explained by a peculiarity in their circulation. They are provided with
reservoirs in which the blood accumulates while the lungs are inactive;
and the animal is not suffocated while under water, because suffocation
only comes from the stoppage of circulation as soon as the breathing is
suspended, and in this case the circulation continues all the time the
animal is under water; and it is only when the blood overruns these
reservoirs that it is necessary for them to return to the surface of the
water to breathe.

Owing to this precaution of nature the Amphibia can wander freely about
in the depths of the ocean in search of their food.

As their members are badly fitted for locomotion on land, the Amphibia
only leave the water when they want to sleep, or while their babies are
very young, and feed on the mother’s milk. But these clumsy little
fellows soon grow strong enough to dive to the bottom of the ocean with
their mother, and search for food among the small Fishes, etc.

The Amphibia do not live in very warm regions, and they increase more
and more in number in proportion as one advances towards the poles. They
are found on the coasts of Europe—in the North Seas, the British Channel
and the Mediterranean; and in southern latitudes of the Pacific, along
the coast of Southern Chili and upon the shores of New Zealand.

                            THE COMMON SEAL.

[Illustration: COMMON SEAL.]

The Common Seal, a species frequently seen upon our northern coasts,
measures from three to five feet in length, and is of a yellowish grey
color, spotted with patches of brown. These animals are met with in
greater numbers as we approach the Arctic seas, and afford the principal
means of support to the Esquimaux of Labrador, and the inhabitants of
the coast of Greenland.

“The Seal,” says Mr. Low, “swims with vast rapidity, and before a gale
of wind is full of frolic, jumping and tumbling about, sometimes wholly
throwing itself above water, performing many awkward gambols, and at
last retiring to a rock or cavern, of which it keeps possession till the
storm is over.

“Seals seem to have a great deal of curiosity; if people are passing in
boats, they often come quite close up to the boat, and stare at them,
following for a long time together. The church of Hay, in Orkney, is
situated near a small sandy bay, much frequented by these creatures, and
I observed when the bell rang for divine service, all the creatures
within hearing swam directly for the shore, and kept looking about them
as if surprised rather than frightened, and in this manner continued to
wonder as long as the bell rang.”

They are exceedingly docile and intelligent, and when tamed will be
quite friendly with the Esquimaux Dogs and spend much of their time with
them on the icy shore.

                             THE SEA-LIONS.

[Illustration: Sea Lions in Battle.]

The Seals belonging to this group differ from the others in having
prominent external ears. The fingers of the front flippers are nearly
stiff and immovable, while those of the hind pair are considerably
extended by a web, and supported by small flattened claws.

The Sea-Lion, or Maned Seal, is an animal of gigantic size, measuring
from fifteen to twenty feet in length, or even more; it is of a dull
tawny color, and the neck of the male is covered with a sort of mane,
composed of hair considerably longer and more crisp than that which
covers the rest of the body. These formidable creatures are extensively
distributed along the coasts of the Pacific ocean, more especially in
the vicinity of the Straits of Magellan, and the neighboring islands.
After choosing their home, the Sea-Lions will fight fiercely for the
rights of possession, and, as illustrated on page 87; this is probably
one of the most interesting and clumsy battles that can well be

                           THE SEA-ELEPHANTS.

[Illustration: SEA ELEPHANTS.]

The appearance of the Seals belonging to this group are very curious.
The head is broad and short, with a tuft of bristles over each eye. The
upper lip is longer than the lower; the nostrils are wrinkled, and can
be blown up into a crest. The whiskers are very long; the fore-feet are
rather small and oblong, with five elongated claws.

The Sea-Elephant is very numerous in the southern latitudes of the
Pacific, more especially upon the coasts of Terra del Fuego and Chili,
as well as upon the shores of New Zealand. The full-grown creature
measures eighteen to twenty feet in length, and from the abundance of
oil obtained from its carcass, is the subject of important fisheries.

                          THE WALRUS OR MORSE.

[Illustration: WALRUS.]

These enormous animals closely resemble seals, both in the shape of
their body and the structure of their limbs, but are distinguished by
the shape of their head, and by the enormous tusks which project from
their upper jaw. These remarkable weapons sometimes measure two feet in
length, and are of proportionate thickness. The great size of the bones
of the face required for holding these teeth renders their appearance
peculiarly striking, their nostrils being pushed so far upwards that,
instead of being situated at the extremity of the snout, they are placed
near the top of the head.

Their food seems to consist of sea-weed (which they detach from the soil
by means of these tusks, which act like garden rakes), as well as of
animal substances. They frequently measure from twenty to twenty-five
feet in length, and a full-sized Bull Walrus, weighing three thousand
pounds, will yield six hundred pounds of blubber, from which excellent
oil is procured. Its hide is used for harness, shoe soles, and the
rigging of ships, as well as for the manufacture of glue.


FOR a long time these curious little animals puzzled the Naturalists.
Aristotle defined them as Birds with wings of skin. After him, Pliny and
other Naturalists fell into the same error of classifying them with the
Birds; but after many centuries the different characters that fix the
rank of these animals in the scale of created beings are well known, and
they are placed where they belong, in the great family of Mammals, and
classed as the Cheiroptera, or animals with winged-hands—as the word
Cheiroptera comes from two Greek words meaning wing and hand.

All the fingers of the hand (with the exception of the thumb, which is
short, has a nail, and is quite free) are immoderately long, and united
by means of a transparent membrane which is without hair. This membrane
covers also the arm and forearm, and is simply a prolongation of the
skin of the flanks, composed of two very thin layers. It also extends
down the hind legs, where it is more or less developed, according to the
species; but it never reaches the toes of the feet, which are short and
have nails.

It is owing to this membranous sail that Bats direct their course
through the air in the same manner as Birds. When they are at rest they
fold their wings around them, covering their bodies as if in a mantle,
similar to our closing an umbrella to diminish its volume when it is no
longer required. This comparison is still more exact when we note that
the curiously long fingers of the animal perfectly correspond to the
ribs or rods of the umbrella.

Bats do not descend to the ground if it can possibly be helped, for they
are very awkward and slow in attempting to walk along the ground; and
besides this, when on the ground they find themselves in a very
inconvenient position to resume their flight. Their case is then almost
the same as that of high-soaring Birds, which, full of grace and
assurance aloft, are compelled to resort to the most painful efforts to
ascend again from low levels.

The Bats are classed as nocturnal animals, as they hunt their prey at
night, and spend the day in caverns, lofts, church spires and old ruins,
or the trunks of trees. Their eyes, although small, are organized for
seeing, not in complete darkness but in the twilight, or in the feeble
light of the moon and stars.

                          THE LONG-EARED BATS.

[Illustration: LONG EARED BATS.]

The Long-eared Bat is one of the most interesting of the whole race. Its
ears are twice as long as its head, and very nearly as long as the body,
being an inch and a half from the base to the point. Within these large
ears are what are known as the lesser ears, which are fine and
transparent, and can be expanded and contracted by their owner to
produce a beautiful feathery appearance, or festoon-like foldings.

This Bat measures about eighteen inches from tip to tip of its expanded

                          THE LONG-NOSED BATS.

[Illustration: LONG NOSED BATS.]

There are several varieties of these Bats having a long nose and
Fox-like face. The best known is commonly called Roussette by the
French, because of its being generally of a red or brown color; and
Kalony, or Flying Fox, by the English. It is the largest of the Bat
family. There are some which attain the size of a Squirrel, and
sometimes measure four feet across the wings.

The animals belonging to this family inhabit Africa, Asia and the
Oceanic Islands.

                             THE VAMPIRES.

The Vampires are the most dreaded of the Bat family. They are
characterized by two nasal leaves situated above the upper lip.
Wonderful tales have been told of their appetite for blood, and although
their power of sucking the blood of the larger animals has been
exaggerated, the tales concerning them are by no means devoid of
foundation, neither are we surprised that such spectral visitants should
have received the once terrible name of “vampire,” by which they are

Mr. Gardner, during his travels in the interior of Brazil, stopped at
Riachao. He says:

“For several nights before we reached this place, the Horses were
greatly annoyed by Bats, which are very numerous on this sierra, where
they inhabit the caves in the limestone rocks; during the night we
remained at Riachao the whole of my troop suffered more from their
attacks than they had done before on any previous occasion. All
exhibited one or more streams of clotted blood on their shoulders and
backs, which had run from the wounds made by these animals, and from
which they had sucked their fill of blood.

“When a small sore exists on the back of a Horse, they always prefer
making an incision in that place. The owner of the house where we
stopped informed me he was not able to rear Cattle here, on account of
the destruction made by the Bats among the Calves, so that he was
obliged to keep them at a distance, in a lower part of the country; even
the Pigs were not able to escape their attacks.”

These singular creatures, which are productive of so much annoyance, are
peculiar to the continent of America, being distributed over the immense
extent of territory between Paraguay and the Isthmus of Darien. Their
tongue, which is capable of considerable extension, is furnished at its
extremity with papillae, which appear to be so arranged as to form an
organ of suction, and their lips have also tubercles symmetrically
arranged. These are the organs by which they draw the life-blood both
from man and beast. These animals are the famous Vampires of which
various travellers have given such wonderful accounts.

Gardner says: “The molar teeth of the true Vampire, or Spectre Bat, are
of the most carnivorous character, the first being short and almost
plain, the others sharp and cutting, and terminating in two or three
points. Their rough tongue has been supposed to be the instrument
employed for abrading the skin, so as to enable them more readily to
abstract the blood; but Zoologists are now agreed that such supposition
is altogether groundless. Having carefully examined in many cases the
wounds thus made on Horses, Mules, Pigs and other animals, observations
that have been confirmed by information received from the inhabitants of
the northern parts of Brazil, I am led to believe that the puncture the
Vampire makes in the skin of animals is effected by the sharp hooked
nail of its thumb, and that from the wound thus made it abstracts the
blood by the suctorial powers of its lips and tongue. That these animals
attack men is certain, for I have frequently been shown the scars of
their punctures in the toes of many who had suffered from their attacks,
but I never met with a recent case. They grow to a large size, and I
have killed some that measure two feet between the tips of the wings.”

A very similar account of the Vampires is given by Humboldt:

“Our great Dog was bitten, or as the Indians say, stung at the point of
the nose by some enormous Bats that hovered round our hammocks. The
Dog’s wound was very small and round, and though he uttered a plaintive
cry when he felt himself bitten, it was not from pain, but because he
was frightened at the sight of the Bats, which came out from beneath our
hammocks. These accidents are much more rare than is believed even in
the country itself. In the course of several years, notwithstanding we
slept so often in the open air, in climates where Vampire Bats and other
species are so common, we were never wounded. Besides, the puncture is
in no way dangerous, and in general causes so little pain that it often
does not awaken the person till after the Bat has withdrawn.”


THE quadrupeds which compose this small but numerous group live
principally upon insects, and have their molar teeth studded with sharp
points. The habits of the different families are extremely varied. Some
for instance, like the Hedgehog, seek their food on the ground, while
others like the Tupaia, hunt for it on trees. The Moles, on the other
hand, find their subsistence deep in the soil, and live entirely under
the ground; while the Desmans, and some species of the Shrew Mice live
in or near the water.

The Insect-eaters are usually divided into three families—the various
kinds of Moles, which are too well known to require special description;
the Shrew Mice and their numerous small relatives, including the Water,
the Oared and the Elephant Shrew, the Desmans, etc.; and the
Hedgehogs—including the Long-eared and the Common Hedgehog, the Tupaia,
and other members of this curious prickly family.

                              THE SHREWS.

The Common Shrew is a pretty little creature, remarkable for its square
tail, which is about two-thirds as long as the body. It lives in
meadows, and has been falsely accused by the ignorant of causing by its
bite a disease in Horses, and even of witchcraft. The truth seems to be
that the Shrew has a strong and peculiar odor, which is very repugnant
to Cats; they drive away and kill the Shrew Mouse, but never eat it. It
is apparently this circumstance that has been the origin of the
prejudice against the supposed venomous bite of this animal, and of the
danger of its attacking Cattle, as well as Horses. It is, however,
neither venomous nor capable of biting, for it cannot open its mouth
sufficiently wide to seize the double thickness of an animal’s skin,
which is especially necessary in biting; and the Horse malady attributed
by the ignorant to the bite of the Shrew Mouse is a swelling which
proceeds from an internal cause, and has nothing to do with the bite, or
rather puncture, of this little creature. Its usual abodes, especially
in winter, are hay-lofts, stables and barns attached to farm yards; it
lives upon insects and decayed animal substances.

                           THE WATER-SHREWS.

These little animals are slightly larger than the real Shrews, which
they very much resemble, and from which they are further distinguishable
by the facility with which they swim and dive, owing to the fringed
condition of their feet.

The Water-shrew frequents fresh, clear streams and ponds, constructing
in their banks long winding burrows, terminating in a chamber lined with
moss and grass. “When born they are,” Mr. Austen tells us, “curious
pinky-white little creatures, but very unlike their parents.” A small
colony of these Shrews frequently inhabit the same spot, and towards the
cool of the evening may be observed searching for food, and sporting
with each other in the water; now hiding behind stones or large leaves,
as if to elude their companions, and then darting out to engage in a
general skirmishing chase, diving and swimming with the greatest
activity, and occasionally taking a plunge into their holes. By
constantly traversing the same ground, in going and returning from their
burrows, they gradually tread down a path among the grass and herbage,
by which their presence may readily be discovered by an experienced eye.
When under water, their fur is covered with multitudes of tiny
air-bubbles that shine like silver and have a beautiful effect when seen
against the dark surface of the body.

                          THE ELEPHANT SHREW.

[Illustration: THE ELEPHANT SHREW.]

This little creature has received its name from its long nose which
somewhat resembles the trunk of the Elephant on a small scale. This
species is found in South America, where they may be seen in search of
prey among the bushes, retiring quickly to their burrows when they find
themselves observed. They are leaping animals, and love to sit erect,
basking in the full heat of the sun.

                             THE HEDGEHOGS.

[Illustration: HEDGEHOGS.]

The Hedgehogs owe their name to the singular texture of their hair,
which consists of real spines, capable of being thrown erect at the will
of the animal. They frequent the woods and hedgerows, living in a burrow
excavated in some bank, wherein it passes the winter in a lethargic
condition. It lives principally upon insects, but does not refuse fruits
and other vegetable substances. Hedgehogs do not stir out during the
day, but they run or walk about the whole night long. They rarely
approach dwellings, and prefer elevated and dry places, although they
are sometimes found in meadows. If laid hold of, they do not try to
escape or defend themselves, either with their mouth or feet, but they
roll themselves up into a ball as soon as touched.

As they sleep during winter, the provisions which they are said by some
to accumulate during the summer would be useless to them. They do not
eat much, and pass a considerable time without food.

Their flesh is sometimes eaten by the gipsy race, who envelope the
carcass in soft clay, and then roast it among the heaped fuel of their


THIS order is usually known as the Edentata, which means animals which
are toothless; and yet this does not infer that all the animals included
in this group are completely devoid of teeth, although this really is
the case with several species—but in the majority of these animals only
the incisors are missing, so that there is an empty space in the front
of their jaws.

All the animals of this group have their limbs terminated by very strong
claws, which are used for climbing or scratching. Some of these animals
instead of being clothed with hair, are covered with scales—a
peculiarity which adds to the strangeness of their appearance; they are
all rather clumsy in form, slow in their motions and possessed of very
little intelligence.

Their habits and manner of feeding differ much in the various
families—some living on vegetables, others on animal substances; some
burrowing in holes, others living on trees. All are natives of the warm
regions, both of the Old and New World; and the larger number of them
are found in South America. They never attain great size, the largest
species measuring about three feet in length, not including the tail.

The Edentata, or Toothless Quadrupeds, include five families—the Sloths,
Armadillos, Ant-eaters, Aard-vark and Pangolins.

                           THE SLOTH FAMILY.

[Illustration: SLOTHS.]

The Sloths are a strange kind of animal, which, from their more
prominent characteristics and climbing habits, were for a long time
classed among the Monkeys. When they are examined on the ground they
appear deformed and incapable of active motion, for they can only move
with extreme slowness. This peculiarity is the origin of their name. In
fact, their fore-legs are so much longer than the hind ones, that in
walking they are obliged to drag themselves along on their knees.

But if we follow its motions on a tree, in the midst of those conditions
of existence which are natural to it, the Sloth leaves on our mind a
very different impression. We then recognize that there is in them no
want of harmony, and that they, like every other creature, possess the
means of protecting themselves from the attacks of their enemies. They
embrace the branches with their strong arms, and bury in the bark the
enormous claws which terminate their four limbs.

As the last joint of their toes is movable, they can bend them to a
certain extent, and thus convert their claws into powerful hooks, which
enable them to hang on trees. Hidden in the densest foliage, they browse
at their ease on all that surrounds them; or, firmly fixed by three of
their legs, they use the fourth to gather the fruit and convey it to
their mouths. Their coat is harsh, abundant and long; and they have
neither tail nor any visible external ear. They are natives of the
forests of South America; the two best known being the Unau and the Ai,
which are found in Guiana, Brazil, Peru and Columbia.

                            THE ARMADILLOS.

[Illustration: ARMADILLOS.]

This family is remarkable for the very peculiar nature of their coat,
which, at first sight, might lead to their being taken for Reptiles.
Instead of being clad in hair, like other Mammals, they have the upper
part of the head, the top and sides of the body and the tail protected
by a scaly covering, very hard in its nature. This covering is composed
of a number of bony plates, arranged in parallel rows and of various
shapes; it is not separate from the skin, but forms a very curious
modification of it. On the head, and fore-part of the body, these plates
are firmly fixed to one another; but on the middle of the back they are
possessed of a certain amount of mobility, so as to move one over the
other. In this way, the animal has the power of executing various
bending and stretching movements, for instance, of rolling itself up
into a ball whenever it is attacked.

When pursued it makes hastily for its burrow, but if unable to gain it,
or to dig a temporary retreat, it partially rolls itself into a ball,
and allows itself to be turned about by its enemy without attempting to
move. The Armadillo, we are told, in Nicaragua is kept not only by the
people of the ranches, but by the inhabitants of some of the little
towns, to free their houses from ants, which it can follow by scent.
When searching for ants about a house, the animal puts out its tongue
and licks the ants into its mouth from around the posts on which the
houses are raised a little above the ground. It has been known to dig
down under the floors, and remain absent for three or four weeks at a
time. They are said to dig down in a straight direction when they
discover a subterranean colony of ants, without beginning at the mouth
or entrance of the ant-hole. They are very persevering when in pursuit
of ants; and while they turn up light soil with the snout, keep the
tongue busy taking the insects. The burrows of this Armadillo are
several feet long, winding and generally dug at an angle of 45 degrees.
The South American negroes, however, dig them up from their holes,
whither they have been driven by Dogs. Their flesh is considered very
delicate, and is roasted in the shell.

                            THE ANT-EATERS.

[Illustration: ANT-EATER OR ANT BEAR.]

The Ant-eaters feed upon a variety of insects. They are specially
organized for procuring this food. Completely destitute of teeth, the
head is terminated by an elongated tube, which encloses a very long
tongue, something like a worm. This slender tongue, being darted into
the ant-hills, all the interstices where the insects take refuge yield
numerous victims, which adhere to it through the gummy secretion with
which it is covered. The Ant-eaters are armed with sharp claws, useful
both as instruments for scratching and weapons of defence.

The most remarkable species is the Great Ant-eater, the largest of the
family. It grows to more than a yard and a half in length, from the tip
of its long nose to its tail. Its coat is rough, abundant and of a dark
color. The tail, covered with very long and extremely bushy hair, has
the power of being raised like a plume, and is more than a yard in
length. The strength of this animal is so great that it can defend
itself successfully against the ferocious Jaguar, which it either hugs,
like a Bear, or tears to pieces with its formidable claws.

It lives in damp forests in which its insect food is most abundant.

There are two other species of the Ant-eater, which live more or less on
trees and enjoy, on this account, one of the characteristics which are
peculiar to American Monkeys—that of grasping branches firmly with the
tail, a portion of which is bare of hair underneath, and capable of
being twisted round any object. These species are the Tamandua, an
Ant-eater about three feet long, which divides its time between the
ground and the thick foliage of trees; and the Little, or Two-toed
Ant-eater, so called because it has only two toes, instead of four, on
the front feet. This latter species is a native of Brazil and Guiana. It
but seldom descends to the ground, and is not much larger than a Rat.

                             THE PANGOLINS.

The Pangolins are also Ant-eaters, but the peculiar nature of the
covering of their bodies will not allow them to be classed with the
preceding family. The hair of their coat is glued together so as to form
large scales, inserted in the skin in nearly the same way as the nails
of a Man, and lapping one over the other, like the slates of a roof.
From their strong resemblance to Reptiles, the name Scaly Lizard has
been applied to these creatures.

The Pangolin (from the Javanese word Pangoeling, meaning to roll into a
ball) have short legs, furnished with stout claws; they are devoid of
any external ear and have no trace of teeth. Their method of feeding is
exactly the same as that of the Ant-eaters; but their head, although
elongated in shape, is not quite so long, and their tongue is less

They dwell in forests, where they dig burrows, or lodge in the hollow of
trees. When they are attacked, they roll themselves into a ball, like
the Armadillo; at the same time their scales are erected, forming an
impregnable buckler. This family possesses several species.

The Pangolins are of medium size; they never exceed a yard in length.
They are natives of the Old World exclusively; India and the Malay
Isles, the south of China, and a great part of Africa, are the regions
in which they are usually found.

Although the animals look at first sight like curious, heavy-bodied
Lizards, they have warm blood, and nourish their young like the rest of
the Mammalia. The Pangolin lives in burrows in the earth, or sometimes
in the large hollows of colossal trees which have fallen to the ground.
The burrows are usually made in light soil on the slope of a hill. There
are two holes to each gallery: One for entrance, and another for exit.
This is quite necessary on account of the animal being quite incapable
of curving its body sideways, so that it cannot turn itself in its

The bodies of Pangolins are very flexible vertically—that is, they can
roll themselves up into a ball, and coil and uncoil themselves very
readily—but they cannot turn round within the confined limits of their

“In hunting them,” says M. Du Chaillu, “we had first to ascertain by the
foot-marks, or more readily by the marks left by the trail of the tail,
which was the entrance and which the exit of the burrow, and then making
a trap at one end, drive them out by the smoke of a fire at the other,
afterwards securing them with ropes.

“Their flesh is good eating. Those I captured were very lean, but I was
informed by the natives that they are sometimes very fat.”

                      RODENTIA—GNAWING QUADRUPEDS.

THE order of animals to which the well known and widely distributed Rats
and Mice belong, is a very large one, including animals that are
adapted, according to the genus, either for running, jumping, climbing,
flying or swimming. They are armed with sharp claws, enabling them to
climb trees or burrow in the earth. But the special characteristic of
all the animals of this group, is that they possess only two kinds of
teeth—incisors and molars. The incisors, two in number, in front of each
jaw, are very remarkable. Their office is to cut, as with shears, roots
and branches, and they are wonderfully constructed for this purpose.
These teeth are long, stout and curved, and being covered with enamel on
their front face only, they wear away more behind than in front; and by
rubbing one against the other naturally form a bevelled edge. They
therefore keep a hard edge that is always sharp-cutting, ready for
sawing through or gnawing tough substances.

Another strange thing about these teeth is that they always keep the
same length, notwithstanding their continual wear. The fact is, they
have no roots, and grow from the base in the same proportion as they are
worn away at the top.

Many of the Gnawing Quadrupeds have their hind limbs much larger than
the front ones, so that they leap rather than walk, giving them the
appearance of the Kangaroo and others belonging to the Marsupial family.
The animals of the Rodent order feed mainly on seeds, fruit, leaves,
grasses and occasionally on roots and bark. Some of them, however, such
as the Rat, are omnivorous, and will even eat flesh.

A great number of the Rodents have their bodies covered with fine, soft
and prettily-colored hair. For instance, the small Grey Squirrel and the
Chinchilla both furnish furs of value; and the coats of the Beaver and
the Rabbit are used in some of our manufactures.

The Rodents are not usually divided into very distinct families, as
their natural characteristics are not clearly marked. In the family of
Rats and Mice a large number may be grouped. These form the Mus species,
from the Latin, Mus, meaning Mouse or Rat. The most of the members of
this family are too well known to require more than mere mention. This
family includes besides what are known as the Rats and Mice proper, the
Field Rats and Mice, the Dormice, Ondatras, Musquash or Musk Rats,
Lemmings, Hamster Rats and Jerboa Rats.

Grouped with the Chinchillas we find the Lagotis, the Viscacha, and the
Ctenomys. Then come the Porcupine family, the family of Ground Hogs,
Guinea Pigs and the Agoutis. The Beavers and the extensive Squirrel
family are then followed by the Marmots and Woodchucks, the Prairie
Dogs, and the large family of Hares and Rabbits.

                              THE BEAVERS.

[Illustration: BEAVERS.]

These animals, which are celebrated all over the world for their
industrious habits and their intelligence, do not possess a very
pleasing appearance. The thick-set shape of the large head, small eyes,
cloven upper lip which shows its powerful incisors, the long and wide
tail, flattened like a spatula and covered with scales—combine to give
the animal an awkward appearance. The hind feet are larger than the
fore, and are fully webbed.

The Common Beaver is an aquatic animal; the structure of its feet and
tail enables it to swim with perfect facility. As these animals live
principally upon the bark of trees and other hard substances, their
front teeth are excessively strong, and by their assistance they are
enabled to cut down trees of considerable size, to be used in the
construction of the curious edifices for the erection of which they have
been long celebrated. Their mode of building, as adopted by the Beaver
of America, is described by Hearne with great exactness.

“The situation chosen is various where the Beavers are numerous. They
tenant lakes, rivers and creeks, especially the two latter for the sake
of the current, of which they avail themselves in the transportation of
materials. They also choose such parts as have a depth of water beyond
the freezing power to congeal at the bottom. In small rivers or creeks
in which the water is liable to be drained off when the back supplies
are dried up by the frost, they are led by instinct to make a dam quite
across the river, at a convenient distance from their houses, thus
artificially procuring a deep body of water in which to build.

“The dam varies in shape; where the current is gentle it is carried out
straight, but where rapid it is bowed, presenting a convexity to the
current. The materials used are drift wood, green willows, birch and
poplar, if they can be secured, and also mud and stones. These are
intermixed without order, the only aim being to carry out the work with
a regular sweep, and to make the whole of equal strength.

“Old dams by frequent repairing become a solid bank, capable of
resisting a great force of water and ice; and as the willows, poplars
and birches take root and shoot up, they form by degrees a sort of thick
hedgerow, often of considerable height. Of the same materials the houses
themselves are built, and in size proportionate to the number of their
respective inhabitants, which seldom exceeds four old and six or eight
young ones. The houses, however, are ruder in structure than the dam,
the only aim being to have a dry place to lie upon, and perhaps feed in.

“When the houses are large it often happens that they are divided by
partitions into two or three, or even more compartments, which have in
general no communication except by water; such may be called double or
treble houses rather than houses divided. Each compartment is inhabited
by its own possessors, who know their own door, and have no connection
with their neighbors, more than a friendly intercourse and joining with
them in the necessary labor of building.

“So far are the Beavers from driving stakes, as some have said, into the
ground when building, that they lay most of the wood crosswise, and
nearly horizontal, without any order than that of leaving a cavity in
the middle, and when any unnecessary branches project they cut them off
with their chisel-like teeth and throw them in among the rest to prevent
the mud from falling in; with this is mixed mud and stones, and the
whole compacted together. The bank affords them the mud, or the bottom
of the creek, and they carry it, as well as the stones, under their
throat, by the aid of their fore-paws; the wood they drag along with
their teeth.

“They always work during the night, and have been known during a single
night to have accumulated as much mud as amounted to some thousands of
their little handfuls. Every fall they cover the outsides of their
houses with fresh mud, and as late in the autumn as possible, even when
the frost has set in, as by this means it soon becomes frozen as hard as
a stone, and prevents their most formidable enemy, the Wolverine, or
Glutton, from disturbing them during the winter. In laying on this coat
of mud, they do not make use of their broad flat tails, as has been
asserted—a mistake which has arisen from their habit of giving a flap
with the tail when plunging from the outside of the house into the
water, and when they are startled, as well as at other times. The
houses, when completed, are dome-shaped, with walls several feet thick.”

                         THE PORCUPINE FAMILY.

[Illustration: PORCUPINES.]

The Porcupines are singular animals, endowed with a very peculiar
faculty, that of causing their body, which is covered with quills, to
bristle up, and thus forming for themselves a formidable armor. The
small family of Porcupines is divided into four genera—Porcupines
proper, the Brush-Tailed Porcupine, the Canadian Porcupine and the
Prehensile Porcupines.

                           COMMON PORCUPINES.

The species often called the Crested Porcupine, inhabits Italy, Greece,
Spain, Northern Africa, and different parts of Asia. We shall describe
it, which will serve to characterize the whole genus.

This Porcupine is one of the largest Rodents; its average length exceeds
twenty-four inches. The principal features are very powerful upper
incisors, short thick toes, furnished with strong claws, a large head,
small eyes, short ears, a slightly split mouth, and thick-set shape,
combined with an awkward and clumsy gait.

The body of this animal is covered with pointed quills from eight to
nine inches long. By means of the action of an enormous muscle, which
moves at the will of the animal, these can bristle up and radiate in all
directions. The tail is rudimentary, and is not, like the back, covered
with quills, but with entirely hollow, white tubes, which produce a
sharp sound when they clash together. The muzzle is furnished with long
and strong whiskers; the head and neck are covered with flexible hair,
which is not prickly, but is susceptible of standing on end.

Under ordinary circumstances, the quills of the Porcupine lie close down
on its body, and no one would suppose that at a moment’s warning they
could become formidable weapons. But let anger or fear seize upon the
animal, and a whole forest of bayonets spring up. If assailed, the
Porcupine turns its back to the enemy, and places its head between its
fore-paws, at the same time uttering a hollow grunting noise. If the
assailant will not be intimidated, the Porcupine endeavors to thrust its
quills against the body of the foe. The wounds thus inflicted are much
to be dreaded; for not only are they difficult and tedious to cure, but
frequently the detached barbs adhering in the flesh are almost
impossible to extract.

The Porcupine is a shy, solitary and nocturnal animal. It inhabits
unfrequented localities, and hollows out deep burrows with several
entrances. At night it comes forth to procure its food, which consists
of herbs and fruit.

The flesh of the Porcupine is good food, with somewhat the flavor of
pork. It is, doubtless this similarity, and also the grunting noise
which it makes, to which it owes its name of Porcupine, as they were
originally called Porcus Spinatus, or “Prickly Pigs.”

                      THE BRUSH-TAILED PORCUPINE.

The Sunda Islands possess a species of Porcupine which is distinguished
from the preceding by a long tail. This is the Malacca Porcupine, or
Brush-tailed Porcupine. It is smaller than the common species, and is
found in Sumatra, Java and Malacca.

                        THE CANADIAN PORCUPINE.

America also possesses some species of Porcupines. The most remarkable
is the Urson, or Canadian Porcupine, which is found north of the 46th
degree of latitude. It is as large as the European species, and it
inhabits pine forests, feeding principally on the bark of trees, and its
den is hollowed out underneath their roots. When attacked, it draws its
legs beneath its body, sets up its quills, and lashes around with its

The Indians hunt it for the sake of its flesh, which is good, and also
for its skin, from which they make caps, after having plucked out the
quills, which are used by them for pins.


Prehensile Porcupines are characterised by a partly bare, prehensile
tail, and hooked and sharply-pointed claws, which enable them to climb
trees. Their quills are not long, and are frequently hidden under their
hair. They have a depressed forehead, and not a prominent one, like that
of common Porcupines. They are principally met with in South America.

                          THE SQUIRREL FAMILY.

The Squirrels are pretty little animals, distinguished by their graceful
forms and bushy tails. The Common Squirrel lives in tree-tops and feeds
upon fruit and nuts. During the fine summer nights the voices of the
Squirrels may be heard, as they chase each other in the tops of the
trees. They appear to dislike the heat of the sun, and remain during the
day in their nests, coming out in the evening to play and to feed. The
nest is warm, neat and impervious to rain; it is generally placed in the
fork of a tree. They construct it by interlacing twigs with moss,
pressing and treading on their work to make it firm and capacious, that
their little ones may repose in safety. The only opening to this nest is
at the top, just sufficiently wide to allow the Squirrel to pass in and
out; above the aperture is a kind of conical roof, which completely
shelters it, and allows no rain to enter the nest.

At the commencement of winter the coat of the Squirrel is renewed, the
hair being redder than that which falls off. They comb and smooth
themselves with their paws and teeth, and are very neat.

                            GREY SQUIRRELS.

“The Grey Squirrels of North America,” says Audubon, “migrate in
prodigious numbers, crossing large rivers by swimming with their tails
extended on the water, and traverse immense tracts of country where food
is most abundant. During these migrations they are destroyed in vast
numbers. Their flesh is very white and delicate, and affords excellent
eating when the animal is young.”

                         THE FLYING SQUIRRELS.

The Flying Squirrels are so called from having the skin of the sides
spread out between the fore and hind legs, so as to constitute a sort of
parachute, whereby there are enabled to sail through the air to some
distance, and thus take prodigious leaps from tree to tree.

The Flying Squirrels are gregarious, traveling from one tree to another
in companies of ten or twelve together. They will fly from sixty to
eighty yards from one tree to another. They cannot rise in their flight,
nor keep in a horizontal line, but descend gradually, so that in
proportion to the distance the tree they intend to fly to is from them,
so much the higher they mount on the tree they fly from; that they may
reach some part of the tree, even the lowest part, rather than fall to
the ground, which exposes them to peril. But having once recovered the
trunk of a tree, no animal seems nimble enough to take them. Their food
is that of other Squirrels, including nuts, acorns, pine-seeds, berries,

                       MARMOTS AND PRAIRIE DOGS.

[Illustration: PRAIRIE DOGS.]

Between the lively, graceful, well-proportioned Squirrels and the
Marmots, with their squat bodies and sluggish movements, there is a
great difference. Yet, notwithstanding this, the Marmots are allied to
the Squirrel.

The Marmots are characterised by very long, powerful incisors, strong
claws, indicating burrowing habits, and by a tail of medium length,
somewhat thickly garnished with hair. They have short limbs, and from
that results the slowness of movement peculiar to them.

The Marmots inhabit different chains of mountains in Europe, Asia and
North America. They have nearly all the same habits; so that it will
suffice if we speak of the common species, the only one, in fact, which
has been well studied.

The Common Marmot lives on the high peaks of the Swiss and Savoy Alps,
in the vicinity of the glaciers. It forms small societies, composed of
two or three families, and digs out burrows on the slopes exposed to the
sun. These burrows have the form of the letter Y; the galleries are so
very narrow that it is with difficulty the human hand can be inserted
into them. At the extremity of one of these oblique shafts is found a
spacious chamber of an oval form, in which the proprietors rest and

The Marmots in a state of nature live exclusively on herbage. They crop
off the shortest grass with wonderful rapidity. During fine weather they
love to stretch themselves out, frisk, play or bask in the rays of the
sun. Remarkable for caution, they never leave their retreats without
taking the greatest precaution; the old venturing first, after carefully
inspecting the neighborhood, then the others following. Feeding,
playing, or basking, they lose nothing of their vigilance, for as soon
as one has the slightest suspicion of danger, it utters a sharp bark of
warning, which is quickly repeated by those near it, and in an instant
the whole band rush into their burrow, or fly towards some place of

After the Alpine Marmot, we may mention the Quebec Marmot, the Maryland
Marmot, or Woodchuck, which is peculiar to various parts of North
America, and the Bobac or Poland Marmot.

The Prairie Dog is an allied species, which lives in extensive
communities in the wild prairies of North America; their villages, as
the hunters term their burrows, extending sometimes many miles in
length. They owe their name to the supposed resemblance of their warning
cry to the bark of small Dog.

                           HARES AND RABBITS.

[Illustration: RABBITS.]

The animals composing this family have twenty-two molar teeth, formed of
vertical layers joined to each other; the ears are very large and
funnel-shaped, covered with hair externally, almost nude internally; the
upper lip cleft; the tail is short, furry and ordinarily elevated; the
hind feet are much longer than those in front, and are provided with
five toes, while the fore feet have only four; the claws are but little
developed; the feet are entirely covered with hair, above as well as

It would be superfluous to describe the Hare in detail; the animal is
too well known to render it necessary. As, however, it might be
confounded with the Rabbit, which it much resembles, it may be remarked
that the Hare has the ears and the thighs longer, the body more slender,
the head finer, and the coat of a deeper fawn color.

The Hare inhabits hilly or level regions, forest or field; but it is
most frequently found in flat or slightly elevated districts. It does
not burrow, but chooses a form or seat, the situation of which varies
with the season. In summer it is on the hillocks exposed to the north,
in the shade of heaths or vines; in winter, it is found in sheltered
places facing the south. It is often found crouched in a furrow between
two ridges of earth, which have the same color as its coat, so that it
does not attract attention.

During the daytime, the Hare does not generally stir from its retreat;
but as soon as the sun approaches the horizon it goes forth to seek
food—consisting of herbs, roots and leaves. It is very fond of aromatic
plants, such as thyme, sage and parsley. It is also partial to the bark
of some varieties of trees.

No animal has so many enemies as the Hare. Snares and traps are set for
it by poachers. Foxes, Birds of Prey, and sportsmen, aided by Dogs, are
all its persecutors.

To guard itself against so many perils, the poor creature has ears
endowed with extraordinary mobility, and which catch the faintest sounds
from a great distance; four agile and very muscular limbs, which rapidly
traverse space, and transport their owner quickly from its pursuers. In
a word, its defence consists in perceiving danger and fleeing from it.

The Rabbit is closely allied to the Hare in its form and external
aspect, the two differ greatly in habits. The Rabbit lives in societies,
and retires into burrows. It is not found on the open plain, but chooses
for its home places where there are hillocks and woody banks. Like the
Hare, the Rabbit has not a preference for day; but towards evening it
comes forth and gambols about in the glades or nibbles the dewy herbage.

It has also, like the Hare, many enemies, and to escape them it takes
refuge in its subterranean dwelling. As it has not the speed of the
Hare, it would be rapidly overtaken by Dogs if it trusted to its powers
of flight. Its fear or anger is expressed in a singular fashion, namely,
by striking the ground with its hind foot; some say it does this to warn
its fellows of danger.

Besides our well known Wild Rabbits, many fine species have been
imported from different countries and trained as pets.

The Wild Rabbit, also called the Warren Rabbit, is said to be a native
of Africa, from whence it passed into Spain, then into France and Italy,
and successively into all the warm and temperate parts of Europe and

Among the different breeds of domestic Rabbits must be mentioned the
Angora Rabbit, originally derived from Asia Minor. Like the Cats and
Goats bearing the same name, it is celebrated for the length and
fineness of its hair. It is bred for its fur, which is of value.

Not only is the flesh and the hair of the Rabbit utilized, but its skin
is also employed in the manufacture of gelatine.

The domestic Rabbit is, therefore, a valuable animal. Not so the wild
Rabbit, for, by its rapid multiplication, its burrowing habits, and its
herbivorous tastes, it is to the agriculturist a veritable scourge. For
this reason it is hunted with perseverance, ferrets being frequently
employed in some countries to drive it from the depths of its warren.

                    THE PICAS AND THE CALLING HARES.

These Rodents differ from the Hares and Rabbits in having ears of
moderate length, and in the nearly equal development of all their limbs.
They are principally inhabitants of Siberia and the north of Europe;
their voice is sharp and piercing, and they are destitute of any tail;
they are all of small size, none of them exceeding the dimensions of a
large Rat.

The Pica is about the size of a Guinea Pig, and covered with
yellowish-red hair. It inhabits the loftiest summits of mountains, and
employs itself, during the summer, in collecting and drying a supply of
herbage for winter use. The heaps of hay thus accumulated are of
extraordinary dimensions, sometimes measuring as much as six or seven
feet in height, and are invaluable to the hunters of Sables, affording
fodder for their Horses at a period when no other provender is

The Calling Hare inhabits the southeastern parts of Russia, and the
slopes of the Ural mountains, and also the western side of the Atlantic
chain. The head is long; the ears large, short, and rounded; there is no
tail. There are twenty molar teeth, five on either side of each jaw. The
body is only six inches in length. The fur is of a greenish-brown color,
hoary underneath.


A CURIOUS pouch, or fur bag, in which they carry their babies while they
are still too young to run about by themselves is the distinguishing
feature of the members of this group of animals. The name of the order,
Marsupialia, comes from the Latin, marsupium, meaning a pouch or bag.

When these babies are born they are the most helpless of all young
animals, as they are not fully developed, and the mother places them in
this pouch where they remain, like Birds in a nest, until they are
strong enough to run about by themselves; and for a long time after
that, they make use of this pouch, by hiding in it in times of danger or
when the mother is escaping from an enemy; and the little ones could not
keep up with her unless carried in this pouch.

There are several different animals that belong to this family of
Pouched Quadrupeds, like the Wombats, Bandicoots, Phalangers, Dasyures,
etc., but the most important are the Kangaroos and the Opossums.

                          THE KANGAROO FAMILY.

[Illustration: GIANT KANGAROOS.]

The Kangaroos vary in size, some being, when erect, as tall as a Man,
while others are not so large as a Rabbit. They are remarkable for the
small size of their fore-legs in proportion to their hind ones, and the
slender make of the fore parts of their body. When eating, their
fore-feet are placed on the ground, but they usually sit upright,
resting entirely on the hind-feet and tail, with the body slightly bent

There are a few species, however, in which the body is in better
proportion. In the Tree Kangaroos of New Guinea, for instance, the tail
is very bushy, and the fore-legs almost as long as the hind ones.

The Great Kangaroo inhabits New South Wales, and Southern and Western
Australia. It lives on low grassy hills and plains in the open parts of
the country, feeding upon the low bushes and herbage, and sheltering
itself in the high grass during the heat of the day.

The Jerboa Kangaroo is so called on account of the length and
slenderness of its hind-legs similar to those of the Jerboa Rats.

“Like other members of this family, the Jerboa,” says Mr. Gould,
“constructs a thick grassy nest, which is placed in a hollow, scratched
in the ground for its reception, so that when completed it is only level
with the surrounding grass, which it so closely resembles that, without
a careful survey, it may be passed unnoticed.

“The site chosen for the nest is the foot of a bush, or any large tuft
of grass. During the day it is generally tenanted by one, and sometimes
by a pair of these little creatures, which, lying coiled in the centre,
are perfectly concealed from view. There being no apparent outlet, it
would seem that after they have crept in, they drag the grass completely
over the entrance, when the whole is so like the surrounding herbage
that it is scarcely perceptible. The natives, however, rarely pass
without detecting it, and almost invariably kill the sleeping inmates,
by dashing their tomahawks or heavy clubs at the nest.

“The most curious circumstance connected with the history of the Jerboa
Kangaroo is the mode in which it collects the grasses for its nest,
carrying them with its tail, which is strongly prehensile; and, as may
be easily imagined, their appearance when leaping towards their nests,
with their tails loaded with grasses, is exceedingly grotesque and

“The usual resorts of the Jerboa Kangaroo are low grassy hills and dry
ridges, thickly intersected with trees and bushes. It is a nocturnal
animal, lying curled up in the shape of a ball during the day, and going
forth as night approaches in search of food, which consists of grasses
and roots; the latter being procured by scratching and burrowing, for
which its fore-claws are admirably adapted. When startled from its nest,
it bounds with amazing rapidity, and always seeks the shelter of a
hollow tree, a small hole in a rock, or some similar place of refuge.”

                             THE OPOSSUMS.

The Opossums were the first Marsupial Quadrupeds known to Naturalists.
They are peculiar to the American continent. They have fifty teeth.
Their tongue is rough, and their tail, which is partially denuded of
hair, prehensile.

The Virginian Opossum is found in Southern States. It destroys poultry
of which it sucks the blood, but does not eat the flesh. It feeds on
roots and fruits, climbing the trees, and suspending itself by the tail
from the branches; in this position it swings itself to and fro, and by
catching hold of the neighboring branches, passes from tree to tree. It
hunts after Birds and their nests, and when pursued, feigns to be dead,
and will endure great torture without showing any sign of vitality.

The Opossum excavates a burrow near a thicket not far distant from the
abode of Man, and sleeps there during the whole day. While the sun
shines it does not see clearly, and therefore feeds and plays during the
night. Although its mode of life resembles that of the Fox and the
Polecat, it is much less cruel, and has also inferior means of defence.
It runs badly, and although its jaws are large, they are not strong.

“The Opossum,” says Audubon, “is fond of secluding itself during the
day, although it by no means confines its predatory rangings to the
night. Like many other quadrupeds which feed principally upon flesh, it
is both frugivorous and herbivorous, and when very hard pressed by
hunger, it seizes various kinds of insects and reptiles. Its gait when
traveling, and when it supposes itself unobserved, is altogether
ambling—in other words, it, like a young foal, moves the two legs of one
side forward at once. Its movements are rather slow, and as it walks or
ambles along, its curious prehensile tail is carried just above the
ground, and its rounded ears are directed forwards.”

There are several species of Opossum found in South America, but none in
the Antilles or the West Indies.

Their method of hunting their prey is interesting. An Opossum is seen
slowly and cautiously trudging along over the melting snow, by the side
of an unfrequented pond, nosing as it goes for the fare its ravenous
appetite prefers. Now it has come upon the fresh track of a Grouse or
Hare, and it raises its snout and snuffs the keen air. It stops and
seems at a loss in what direction to go, for the object of its pursuit
has taken a considerable leap or has cut backwards, before the Opossum
entered its track. It raises itself up, stands for a while on its
hind-feet, looks around, sniffs the air, and then proceeds. But now at
the foot of a noble tree, it comes to a full stand. It walks round the
base of the large trunk, over the snow-covered roots, and among them
finds an aperture, which it at once enters. Several minutes elapse, when
it re-appears, dragging along a Squirrel, already deprived of life; with
this in its mouth it begins to ascend the tree. Slowly it climbs; the
first fork does not seem to suit it, for perhaps it thinks that it might
be there too openly exposed to the view of some wily foe, and so it
proceeds, until it gains a cluster of branches intertwined with
grape-vines; and there composing itself, it twists its tail round one of
the twigs, and with its sharp teeth demolishes the unlucky Squirrel,
which it holds all the while in its fore-paws.


ALL the animals of this great order are classified under the name
Pachydermata, which is derived from two Greek words meaning
thick-skinned. In nearly all of them the toes are rendered motionless by
a horny covering which surrounds them, called a hoof, which blunts them
to the sense of touch; and the form of this hoof helps to divide the
order into families. There are three divisions in the Pachydermata—the
Elephant family, known as the Proboscidae (from the Latin word
proboscis, meaning a trunk); the family of ordinary Pachydermata,
including the Hippopotamus, Rhinoceros, Hyrax, Tapir, Wild Boar,
Phacocheres and Peccari; and the family of Solipedes, the name of which
is derived from the Latin words solus, alone, and pes, pedis, a foot,
and includes the animals with undivided hoofs, like the Horse, the
Donkey, Hemionus, Daw, Zebra and Quagga.

                          THE ELEPHANT FAMILY.

[Illustration: ELEPHANT.]

The Elephants are the largest animals that live on the earth, as the
Whales are the largest that live in the water. And it is said that if
size and strength conferred the right of dominion, these two creatures
would be able to divide between them the empire of the world.

The proportions of the Elephant are clumsy, its body is thick and bulky,
its gait heavy and awkward, but its general appearance is imposing and
noble. These giants of creation have three especially remarkable
features, their enormous development of skull; their curious trunk,
which is in reality a marvellous nasal organ which performs the duties
of arm and hand; and their great tusks, which are nothing but their
incisive teeth wonderfully elongated.

These tusks protect the trunk, which curls up between them when the
animal traverses woods in which there are many thorns, prickles and
thick underbrush. The Elephant also uses them for putting aside and
holding down branches, when, with its trunk it plucks off the tops of
leafy boughs. The ivory obtained from the tusks of the Elephant is
remarkable for the fineness of its grain, whiteness, hardness, and the
beautiful polish that can be given to it.

Under the feet is a sort of callous sole, thick enough to prevent the
hoofs from touching the ground, and the toes remain encrusted and hidden
under thick skin.

The Elephants live in the hottest parts of Africa and Asia, spending the
greater part of their time in the swamps and forests. Their food
consists mainly of herbs, fruit and grains.

For a long time it was asserted that Elephants could not lie down, and
that they always slept standing. It is true that among Elephants as
among Horses, are found some that can sleep standing, and only rarely
lie down; but generally they sleep lying on their side, like the
majority of quadrupeds.

The African Elephant has a head much rounder and less broad than the
Asiatic Elephant. Its ears are very much longer and its tusks are
generally stronger.

African Elephants live like those of India, in troops more or less
numerous; yet they are sometimes found alone—these are called rovers or

To these should be added the extinct species of the Elephant family, the
famous Mammoth of the far north—a carcass of which was found under the
ice in Siberia in 1799, and the wonderful Mastodon of Ohio. The bony
remains of the Mastodon are found in America and in Central Europe. The
tusks of the Mastodon have been found to be almost straight, while those
of the Mammoth are curved round until they nearly form a circle.

                           THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.

[Illustration: HIPPOPOTAMUS.]

The Hippopotamus is an enormous animal. After the Elephant and the
Rhinoceros, it is the largest of terrestrial Mammalia. Its head is very
bulky and its mouth extends very nearly from eye to eye. All who have
seen in the menagaries this monstrous mouth opening for a little piece
of bread, have been surprised at the frightful appearance of this living
gulf, armed with enormous teeth. When it is shut, the upper lip descends
in front and on the sides, like an enormous blobber lip which covers the
extremity of the lower jaw, and partly hides the underlip; but on the
sides it is the lower lip which stands up. The nostrils, which are in
front of the muzzle, are surrounded by a muscular apparatus, which
closes them hermetically when the animal is under water.

The Hippopotamus inhabits Southern and Eastern Africa; but everything
announces that it will not be long in disappearing before civilization,
that is to say, the sportsman’s gun.

These animals live in troops on the banks of rivers and in their waters.
On land, their gait is clumsy and heavy, for their own enormous weight
tires them; but they are very quick and active in water, where they
lose, by the pressure of the water, a great portion of their weight. And
so they pass all day in the water, in which they swim and dive with
great facility. When swimming they only let the upper surface of their
heads be seen, from the ears to the surface of the nostrils, which
allows them to breathe, to see all round them, and to hear the slightest
noises. In breathing, they spout out noisily, in the form of irregular
jets, such water as has become introduced into their nostrils. This
spouting announces to the hunter the presence of the Hippopotamus.

The Hippopotamus feeds on young stalks of reeds, little boughs, small
shrubs and water plants, also on roots and succulent bulbs.

Its cry is hoarse, but of incredible depth, power and volume. The habits
of this animal are peaceable; its disposition is, in general, mild and
inoffensive; it only turns vicious when it is attacked.

Hippopotamus hunting is performed in different ways. Its enemies
surprise it at night, on its leaving the water, when it comes to browse
in the meadows and the neighboring plains; or attack it by day in the
river, either with harpoons or guns, assailing it when it comes to the
surface to breathe. The unfortunate animal tries to defend itself. In
its sudden action it sometimes overturns the boats containing its
enemies. Occasionally, desperate with rage at being wounded, it tries to
tear the boats to pieces with its formidable tusks. With one bite it
could cut through the middle of the body of a full-grown man.

The natives of Africa hunt the Hippopotamus, first to obtain the ivory
furnished by its tusks—an ivory which, without being so good as that of
the Elephant, is nevertheless very valuable. The skin, or hide, which is
very thick, is also employed in the manufacture of various instruments.
The flesh of the Hippopotamus is sought after in South Africa as a
delicate morsel.

                              THE TAPIRS.

[Illustration: INDIAN TAPIR.]

The American Tapir is of about the size of a small Donkey. Its skin is
of a brown color and nearly naked, its tail of moderate length, its neck
strong and muscular, and crested above with an upright mane. This animal
inhabits swampy localities in the vicinity of rivers, and is peculiar to
the tropical parts of South America, where its flesh is prized by the
inhabitants as affording excellent and wholesome meat.

The Tapir is a solitary animal, resting during the day in the depths of
the forest, and coming forth at night to collect its food, which
consists of fruit, the young shoots of trees, or other vegetables. Its
senses of smell and hearing are very acute and at the slightest alarm it
can make its way with ease “through bush and through briar,” without the
slightest danger of injuring its thick, tough hide. It swims and dives
well, and can remain for some minutes beneath the water without coming
to the surface. The Tapir is peaceable unless attacked, in which case it
defends itself vigorously with its strong teeth.

Tapirs, although common in the Brazilian forests, are scarcely ever
encountered by hunters during the day-time, so that there is little
chance of travelers seeing anything more than the foot-marks of this
largest of the tropical American Mammals. Their flesh is of a very rich
flavor, something between pork and beef. The young are speckled with

The Indian Tapir is larger than the South American Tapir, which it
resembles in the shape of its body. Its hair is short and it has no
mane. It inhabits the forests of the Island of Sumatra and the Peninsula
of Malacca.

                         THE RHINOCEROS FAMILY.

The Rhinoceroses are large animals, having but three toes on each foot.
The bones of the nose are massive and conjoined so as to form a sort of
vault of sufficient strength to support one or two solid horns, which
are adherent to the skin of the face and constitute formidable weapons
either for defence or attack. The structure of these horns is fibrous,
as if they were composed of a mass of hairs glued together.

The natural disposition of these animals is stupid and ferocious. They
inhabit marshes and other damp localities, and live altogether upon
vegetable substances—grass, herbs, or the branches of trees.

There are two species—the One-horned and the Two-horned.

                       THE ONE-HORNED RHINOCEROS.


The One-horned Rhinoceros, as its name imports, has but a single horn,
which is situated upon the middle of the snout; and as this weapon
sometimes measures upwards of two feet in length, tapering gradually
from the base to the point, sharp at its extremity, and slightly curved
towards the back of the animal, it becomes when wielded by its herculean
possessor a very deadly instrument; with which, at a stroke, it rips up
the most powerful assailant, and is a formidable antagonist even to the
Elephant itself.

The skin of this species forms a coat of armor, almost impenetrable by a
musket-ball; it is in some parts nearly an inch in thickness.

The One-horned Rhinoceros is an inhabitant of the East Indies, more
especially of that portion of the country situated beyond the Ganges;
its range, indeed, extends from Bengal to Cochin, China. Slow and
careless in his movements, this animal wanders through his native plains
with a heavy step, carrying his huge head so low that his nose almost
touches the ground, and stopping at intervals, to crop some favorite
plant, or in playfulness to plough up the ground with his horn, throwing
the mud and stones behind him.

                       THE TWO-HORNED RHINOCEROS.

The Two-horned Rhinoceros is a native of Africa. It differs remarkably
from the preceding species, first by the possession of a second horn of
smaller size, situated midway between the larger one and the top of its
head, and secondly because its skin, more supple than that of the
preceding species, is entirely destitute of folds.

Whether from a limited sphere of vision arising from the extraordinary
minuteness of the eyes, which resembling the Pigs in expression, are
placed nearer to the nose than in most other animals; or whether from an
over-weening confidence in its own powers, the Rhinoceros will generally
suffer itself to be approached within even a few yards before
condescending to take the smallest heed of the foe, who is diligently
plotting its destruction. At length, uttering a great blast or snort of
defiance, and lowering its armed muzzle almost to the ground, it charges
on its enemies; and bullets, hardened with tin or quicksilver, are used
to kill it.

                            THE BOAR FAMILY.

The members of this extensive family are distinguished by having four
hoofs upon each foot; but of these the two middle ones are much the
largest, giving the foot much the appearance of being cloven. The lower
incisors slant forward, and the canines project in the shape of long and
formidable tusks. Their muzzle is prolonged into a snout of peculiar
conformation—its margin being dilated and highly sensitive. Its use is
to turn up the earth in search of roots, in which operation these
animals seem guided by their sense of smell. They eat nearly all sorts
of vegetable matter, and may be said to be omnivorous; even flesh not
being rejected by their accommodating appetite.

To this family belong the Hogs Proper, the Peccaries, the Wart Hog and
the Babiroussas.

                             THE WILD BOAR.

[Illustration: WILD BOARS.]

The Wild Boar, supposed to be the stock from which all our domesticated
Pigs take their origin, is very different in its habits from the swinish
multitudes with which it is looked upon as nearly related; his long
prismatic tusks, curving outwards and slightly upwards on each side of
his mouth, are weapons which he knows full well how to wield; and from
the strength of his neck and the activity of his movements, by their
assistance he is enabled to repel the attacks of all ordinary foes.

The chase of the wild Boar has been from remote antiquity one of the
most dangerous of field-sports, for when once at bay, the furious
creature attacks indiscriminately Men, Dogs and Horses, ripping them
with his tusks, and often inflicting frightful wounds upon his

In India, Boar-hunting is a favorite amusement. The hunters are always
armed with javelins, which they throw at the animal as he runs away or
rushes to the charge. His assaults are frequently so furious that the
Horses will not stand the shock, or if they do are often thrown down and
severely injured.

                             THE WART HOGS.

[Illustration: WART HOGS.]

The Wart Hogs, which resemble the true Hogs, are distinguished from them
by the structure of their molar teeth. A fleshy excrescence hangs down
on each side of their cheeks, which gives them a repulsive appearance.
There are several species to be found in Africa, of which country they
are natives. They are very courageous, and possessed of immense
strength. Their habits are similar to those of the Wild Boar. The Cape
Wart Hog, found at the Cape of Good Hope, is probably the best known.

                             THE PECCARIES.

The Peccaries are animals which are peculiar to America. They resemble
the common Pig in their general shape and in their teeth, but their
canine tusks do not project from the mouth, and they have no tail.

The Collared Peccary is eaten in South America, and is considered a
wholesome article of food. The White-lipped Peccary, which is found in
Guiana, is larger and more strongly built than the others.

                           THE HORSE FAMILY.

[Illustration: SHETLAND PONIES.]

This includes all quadrupeds that have but a single toe or hoof on each
foot—the Horse, the Domestic Ass (or Donkey), the Hemionus (or
Dshikketee), the Dauw (or Peechi), the Zebra and the Quagga.

The subjection of the Horse to Man may be traced back to the most
primitive date. Moses recommends the Hebrews to have no dread in war of
the Horses of their enemies. We read in the Book of Kings (I Kings iv,
26) that “Solomon had 40,000 stalls for his Horses, and 12,000
horsemen.” According to the same book, these Horses were bought in Egypt
and brought into the country of the Hebrews.

The remote period to which we can trace back the Horse being employed as
a domestic animal, renders it very difficult to determine its original
country. Nor is it possible to state where the finest species may be
found. The Arabian Horses have long been famous for their beauty and
intelligence, the English for their racing qualities, the Norman Horses
for their great strength, and the Breton Horses for their hardiness and
good temper. And so on through all the different species of past ages,
we might mention special characteristics for which they were famous; and
in the mixed species which have been brought to this country from time
to time, we find traces of these many good qualities.

It is the same with the smaller races of the Horse family, known as the
Ponies. The various breeds have different characteristics for which they
are noted. But the ones deserving of special mention belong to the race
which are natives of a group of islands situated to the north of
Scotland. These are called Shetland Ponies and are perfect Horses in
miniature. Some of them are scarcely as high as a Newfoundland Dog, yet
they are very strong, and will endure any amount of fatigue and

                     THE WILD AND DOMESTIC DONKEY.

[Illustration: DOMESTIC DONKEY.]

The Ass, or Donkey, like the Horse, is the servant and helper of Man,
but its domestication is of much less ancient date. The wild type of
this animal (known under the names of Kiang, Koulan, Onager, or
Dziggetai) is still a native of many of the Asiatic deserts.

They live together in innumerable droves and travel under the guidance
of a leader, whom they obey with intelligent submission. If they chance
to be attacked by Wolves, they range themselves in a circle, placing the
weaker and younger members in the centre, when they defend themselves so
courageously with their fore-feet and teeth that they almost invariably
come off victorious.

The domestic Donkey carries the heaviest burden in proportion to its
size of all beasts of burden. It costs little or nothing to keep, and
requires very little care. It is especially valuable in rugged
mountainous countries, where its sureness of foot enables it to go where
Horses could not fail to meet with accidents.

In energy, nervous power, and in temperament, the Donkey even surpasses
the Horse; and it has a greater capacity to endure fatigue.

                               THE ZEBRA.

[Illustration: ZEBRAS.]

The Zebra is larger than the Wild Ass, sometimes attaining the size of a
mature Arab Horse. The richness of its coat would suffice to distinguish
this creature from every other species of the same genus. The ground
color is white tinged with yellow, marked with stripes of black and

This elegant animal is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, and probably
the whole of southern, and a part of eastern, Africa. Travelers state
that they have met with it in Congo, Guinea, and Abyssinia. It delights
in mountainous countries, and, although it is less rapid than the Wild
Ass, its paces are so good that the best Horses are alone able to
overtake it.

The Zebra lives in droves, but is very shy in its nature; it is endowed
with powers of sight that enable it to perceive from great distances the
approach of hunters.

                      THE HEMIONUS OR DSHIKKETEE.

The Dshikketee in its shape and proportions seems to occupy a position
intermediate between the Horse and the wild Ass. This indeed is implied
by its name, derived from the Greek word hemionos, meaning half-ass. It
somewhat resembles a Mule, but its legs are more slender and it is more
attractive. Its general color is brown, with black mane and a black
stripe across the shoulders; the tail likewise is terminated by a black

These quadrupeds inhabit the sandy deserts of Asia, especially those of
Mongolia or the plains north of the Himalaya, and live in droves often
consisting of more than a hundred individuals. Enduring and swift, they
are not easily approached, but as both their hides and flesh are much
sought after, they are often caught in traps arranged for the purpose,
or are shot by hundreds lying in ambush near the salt meadows which they
love to frequent. They were said to be as easily broken in as the Horses
reared in our meadows and permitted to run at large till they are four
or five years old.

                              THE QUAGGA.

The Quagga is smaller than the Zebra, and resembles the Horse in general
shape. His head is small, and his ears are short. The color of head,
neck and shoulders is a dark brown, verging on black. The tail is
terminated by a tuft of long hair. It is a native of the plateaux of
Caffraria, and feeds on grasses and shrubs, and lives in droves with the

It is tamed without difficulty. The Dutch colonists were in the habit of
keeping them with their herds, which they defended against the Hyenas.
If one of these formidable carnivora threatened to attack the Cattle,
the domesticated Quagga would attack and beat down the enemy with its
fore-hoofs, trampling it to death.

The geographical range of the Quagga does not appear to extend to the
northward of the river Vaal. The animal was formerly extremely common
within the colony, but vanishing before the strides of civilization, is
now to be found there in very limited numbers, and on the borders only.
Beyond, on those sultry plains which are completely taken possession of
by wild beasts, and may with strict propriety be termed the domains of
savage nature, it occurs in interminable herds. Moving slowly across the
profile of the ocean-like horizon, uttering a shrill barking neigh, of
which its name forms a correct limitation, long files of Quaggas
continually remind the early traveler of a rival caravan on its march.
Bands of many hundreds are thus frequently seen during their migration
from the dreary and desolate plains of some portion of the interior
which has formed their secluded abode, seeking for more luxuriant
pastures where, during the summer months, various herbs and grasses

                               THE DAUW.

The Dauw seems to take a middle place between the Zebra and the Quagga.
It resembles the former in its shape and proportions, and the latter in
the color of its coat.

This quadruped is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, and doubtless of
many of the mountainous districts of Southern Africa. It lives in arid
and desert localities, in droves, and is shy, and difficult to tame.

                     QUADRUPEDS THAT CHEW THE CUD.

THIS order of animals is known as the Ruminantia, or the Ruminant Order,
because all these animals possess the strange power of ruminating, or of
bringing back into their mouth (in order to re-chew it), the food that
they have once swallowed.

This power is owing to a complicated structure of their stomach, which
is divided into several compartments, and which have been considered,
though with some exaggeration, as so many distinct stomachs. The first
and largest of these divisions is the paunch, which occupies a large
portion of the abdomen. The food is here accumulated after being roughly
crushed by the first chewing. After the paunch comes the bonnet or cap
stomach. In this cap the food is gradually moulded into small pellets,
which ascend again into the mouth, by means of a natural movement, and
not a convulsive or irregular one as in other animals; these pellets
then undergo a thorough chewing and mixing with the saliva. Such is
“chewing the cud.”

When the food, thus transformed into a soft and nearly fluid paste
descends again into the stomach, it goes straight into a third intestine
and from this it at length passes into the digesting stomach or

The feet of all these animals terminate in two toes which are joined
together in a bone called the shank. Sometimes also there exists at the
back of the foot two small spurs or toes. In all these animals except
the Camels and Llamas—the hoofs, which entirely cover the last joint of
the two toes on each foot, act side by side on a smooth surface, and
resemble one single but cloven hoof. Thus the origin of the word

The Ruminants are divided in various ways by different Naturalists. Some
are satisfied with the division simply into Horned and Hornless
Ruminants. But the best classification is into the two large families of
the Camels and Common Ruminants. The Camel family includes the Camels
and Dromedaries—the beasts of burden in dessert lands, and the Llama,
etc., the beast of burden among the mountains.

The Common Ruminants are divided into three tribes—those with hairy and
permanent horns, those with hollow-horns, and those that shed their

                           THE CAMEL FAMILY.

[Illustration: CAMEL.]

Most of the modern Naturalists admit two distinct species of the Camel
genus; the Camel proper, which has two humps on its back, and the
Dromedary, which has only one.

The individuals of the Camel genus have a small and strongly-arched
head. Their ears are slightly developed, still their sense of hearing is
excellent. Their eyes, which have oblong and horizontal pupils, are
projecting and gentle in expression, and are protected by a double
eyelid. Their power of sight is very great. Their nostrils are situated
at some distance from the extremity of the upper lip, and, externally,
appear only two simple slits in the skin, which the animal can open or
shut at will. Their upper lip is split down the centre, and the two
halves are susceptible of various and separate movements. These
constitute a very delicate organ of feeling. They are also possessed of
an extremely acute sense of smell.

This remarkable head is carried with a certain degree of nobility and
dignity on a somewhat long neck, which, when the animal moves slowly,
describes a graceful arched curve.

Their peculiar body, made more remarkable by the one or two humps on its
back, is supported on four long legs, which appear slender in comparison
with the mass they bear.

In the Camel proper the color of the coat is chestnut-brown. The hair
grows to a considerable length, and becomes rather curly on the humps
and about the neck. Below the neck it forms a fringe, which descends
over the fore-legs.

                             THE DROMEDARY.

[Illustration: DROMEDARY.]

The Dromedary, which is less massive in form and smaller in size than
the Camel, has a coat of brownish-grey. Its hair is soft, woolly, and
moderately long, more especially about its hump and neck.

The Camel is a native of ancient Bactria. It principally lives in Asia,
where it has been used, from antiquity, for domestic and military
service. In Africa, where it is acclimatised, it has doubtless existed
since the time of the conquest of that country by the Arabs.

The Dromedary is distributed all over a great part of Northern Africa,
and a portion of Asia. It seems originally to have been a native of

The faculty which the Camel possesses of being able to dispense with
drinking for a considerable time, has generally been attributed to the
fact that it carries internally a reservoir of water, which it uses in
case of necessity. Its digestive organs, like those of other Ruminants,
are composed of four different stomachs.

                              THE LLAMAS.

[Illustration: LLAMA.]

The Llamas are to the New World what Camels are to the Old Continent.
They are distinguished from the latter animal by the absence of humps on
their backs; by their two-toed feet only touching the ground at their
extremities; by their soles, which are less flattened; and their shape,
which is more slender and graceful.

There are three species of Llama—the Llama proper, the Paca, and the

The Llama was the only beast of burden made use of by the Peruvians at
the time America was discovered by Europeans, and it exists nowhere else
in a wild state. It is about the height of an under-sized Horse; its
head is small and well set; its coat is coarse, and varies in color from
brown to black; occasionally it is grey, and even white. The hair on its
body is always longer and more shaggy than on its head, neck and legs.

The ancient inhabitants of Peru made use of this species entirely as
beasts of burden and labor; but since the introduction of Horses into
South America their employment has much diminished.

These animals are, however, very useful for the transportation of heavy
weights across the mountains, on account of the wonderful sureness of
their footing. They walk very slowly, and can carry upwards of a hundred
and sixty pounds weight; but they must not be hurried, for if violence
is used to quicken their pace they are certain to fall down, and
refusing to get up, would allow themselves to be beaten to death on the
spot rather than resume their course.

The climate which this animal prefers is that of plateaux, from 10,000
to 11,000 feet above the sea, and in these localities the most numerous
herds of Llamas are to be found. The natives fold the domesticated ones,
like Sheep, in special enclosures near their cabins. At sunrise they are
set at liberty to seek their food. In the evening they return,
frequently escorted by wild Llamas; but these take every precaution to
avoid being captured.

In more ways than one the Llama is most valuable to the inhabitants of
the mountains; for the flesh of the young is good and wholesome food,
their skin produces a leather of value, and their hair is used for
various manufactures.

                               THE PACA.

[Illustration: PACA.]

The Paca inhabits similar localities to the former. It may be recognized
by the development of its hair, which is of a tawny-brown color, very
long, and falling on each side of the body in long locks.

The Paca is gentle and timid, and allows itself to be led about by those
who feed and tend it; but if a stranger attempts to take liberties with
it, it kicks viciously, or ejects its saliva over him. Its food is
similar to that of Sheep; and its wool is very fine, elastic and long.

                              THE VICUNA.

The Vicuna is the smallest species of the Llama genus. It is the same
size as a Sheep, and strongly resembles the Llama, only that its shape
is more elegant. Its legs, which are longer in proportion to the body,
are more slender and better formed; its head is shorter and its forehead
wider. Its eyes are large, intelligent and mild; its throat is of a
yellowish color, while the remainder of its body is brown and white.

The rich fleece of this animal surpasses in fineness and softness any
other wool with which we are acquainted. In order to obtain possession
of the skin the American hunters pursue them even over the steepest
summits of the Andes, when, by driving, they force them into pens,
composed of tightly stretched cords, covered with rags of various
colors, which frighten and prevent the prey attempting to escape. One of
these battues sometimes produces from five hundred to a thousand skins.

                             THE MUSK DEER.

Although it belongs to the Deer family, the little Musk Deer is often
classified with this group because it is without horns, and resembles
the Camel family in its teeth and other characteristics. This is a
graceful little animal, about the size of a half-grown Fawn of our
common Deer. Its tail is very short, and it is covered with hair so
coarse and so brittle that it is almost like bristles, but what
especially distinguishes it, is its pouch filled with the substance so
well known in medicine and perfumery under the name of musk.

The Musk Deer is a native of the mountainous region between Siberia,
China and Thibet.

                         THE HORNED RUMINANTS.

The family of Common Ruminants form a natural group comprehending the
greatest number of Ruminants. The feature which distinguishes the
animals composing it, not only from the Camel family, but also from all
the other Ruminants, is the existence of two horns on the forehead of
the male, and sometimes on the female.

The structure of these horns presents various differences, and has
caused the division of this large and important family into three
tribes, namely, Ruminants with hairy and permanent horns, hollow-horned
Ruminants and Ruminants which shed their horns.


[Illustration: GIRAFFE.]

This tribe consists of a single genus, that of the Giraffe, which has
also but one species.

The height of the Giraffe, the singular proportions of its body, the
beauty of its coat and the peculiarity of its gait, are sufficient to
explain the curiosity which these animals have always excited.

Its long and tapering head is lighted up by two large, animated and
gentle eyes; its forehead is adorned with two horns, which consist of a
porous, bony substance, covered externally with a thick skin and bristly
hair. In the middle of the forehead there is a protuberance of the same
nature as the horns, but wider and shorter. The head of the Giraffe is
supported by a very long neck. Along the neck is a short, thin mane. The
body is short, and the line of the backbone is very sloping. Its
fore-quarters are higher than the hinder—a feature which is observed in
the Hyena. Its legs are most extensively developed, and are terminated
by cloven hoofs. The skin, which is of a very light fawn-color, is
covered with short hair, marked with large triangular or oblong spots of
a darker shade.

Giraffes are only found in Africa, and even there they are not numerous.
They live in families of from twelve to sixteen members. They frequent
the verge of the deserts, and are met with from the northern limits of
Cape Colony to Nubia.

The usual pace of the Giraffe is an amble, that is to say, they move
both their legs on one side at the same time. Their mode of progression
is singular and very ungainly. At the same time as they move their body,
their long neck is stretched forward, giving them a very awkward
appearance. Their long neck enables them to reach with their tongue the
leaves on the tops of high shrubs, which constitute a large part of
their food.

                      RUMINANTS WITH HOLLOW HORNS.

These Ruminants have horns which are covered with an elastic sheath,
something like agglutinated hair; they may be divided into two groups.

To the first group belong the Chamois, Gazelle, Saiga, Nyl-ghau, Gnu and
Bubale. To the second group belong the Common Goat, the Mouflon or Wild
Sheep, the Domestic Sheep and the Ox.

The most remarkable species belonging to the first division all come
under the natural group formerly known by the name of Antelopes. It
comprehends about a hundred species, which live, for the most part, in
Africa. They are generally slender and lightly-made, fleet in running,
of a gentle and timid disposition; they are gregarious, and are
particularly distinguishable by the different shapes of their horns.

We shall glance at the most remarkable genera resulting from the
division of the old general group of Antelopes.

                              THE CHAMOIS.

The chief characteristic of the Chamois is constituted by the smooth
horns which are placed immediately above the orbits. These horns are
almost upright, with a backward tendency, and curved like a hook at the
end. The horns exist in both sexes, and are nearly the same size in
each. The Chamois has a short tail, and no beard.

The European Chamois is about the size of a small Goat. It is covered
with two sorts of hair—one woolly, very abundant, and of a brownish
color; the other, silky, spare and brittle. Its coat is dark brown in
winter and fawn-color in summer; its fine and intelligent head is of a
pale yellow, with a brown stripe down the muzzle and round the eyes. Its
horns are black, short, smooth, and not quite rounded.

This graceful Ruminant inhabits the Pyrenees and Alps, and also some of
the highest points in Greece. But from constant persecution it has
lately become so rare that few people can boast of having been
successful in its pursuit.

The Chamois lives in small herds, in the midst of steep rocks on the
highest mountain summits. With marvelous agility it leaps over ravines,
scales with nimble and sure feet the steepest acclivities, bounds along
the narrowest paths on the edge of the most perilous abysses, and
jumping from rock to rock, will take its stand on the sharpest point,
where there appears hardly room for its feet to rest; and all this is
accomplished with an accuracy of sight, a muscular energy, an elegance
and precision of movement, and a self-possession which are without
equal. From these facts, it can easily be understood that hunting this
nimble and daring animal is an amusement full of danger.

On the approach of winter the Chamois goes from the northern side of the
mountains, to the southern, but it never descends into the plain.

                             THE GAZELLES.

[Illustration: GAZELLES.]

The Gazelles are animals of graceful shape, rather smaller in size than
the Chamois. The horns are twice bent, in the shape of a lyre, and
without sharp edges; the nostrils are generally surrounded by hair.

The eyes of this animal are so beautiful and so soft in expression, its
movements are so elegant and so light, that the Gazelle is used by the
Arab poets as the type of all that is lovely and graceful.

Gazelles proper are the species of this genus which are generally to be
seen in our parks and menageries. Such, for instance, as the Dorcas
Gazelle, which inhabits the large plains and Saharian region of Northern
Africa. It is the same size as a Roe, but its shape is lighter and more

                                THE GNU.

[Illustration: GNU.]

The Gnu, sometimes called the Gnu Antelope, inhabits Southern Africa. It
is about the size of a Donkey, and is curiously formed. Added to its
muscular and thick-set body, it has the muzzle of an Ox, the legs of a
Stag, and the neck, shoulders and rump of a small Horse. Its head is
flattened, and its brown hair is short. On its neck it has a mane of
white, grey and black hair, and under its chin hangs a thick brown
beard. It also has horns, something like those of the Cape Buffalo,
which first bend downwards and then curve in an upward direction. It is
not surprising with such a queer combination, that strange stories were
told of this animal in the past, as it has the appearance of being made
up of various portions of several other animals.

These strangely constructed animals are found in the mountainous
districts to the north of the Cape of Good Hope, and probably throughout
a large portion of Africa. They are very wild, and are swift runners and
may be seen skimming along in single file following one of their number
as a guide.

                               THE GOATS.

These animals differ among themselves to a wonderful extent in their
shape, their color and even in the texture of their fleece. The Goats of
Angora in Cappadocia are provided with a soft and silky clothing. Those
of Thibet have become celebrated for the delicacy of a kind of wool
which grows among their hair, from which Cashmere shawls are
manufactured. In Upper Egypt is a race remarkable for the roughness of
their coat, while the Goats of Guinea and of Judea are distinguished by
the smallness of their dimensions, and by their horns, which are pointed
backwards. But whatever may be the cause of these peculiarities, the
whole race seems to retain the characters derivable from a mountain
origin; they are robust, capricious, and vagabond; they prefer dry hills
and wild localities, where they can procure only the coarsest herbage,
or browse upon the shrubs and bushes. They are likewise very injurious
in forests, where they destroy the young trees by devouring the bark.
Their flesh is strong and rank, so that they are seldom eaten;
nevertheless, their milk is an article of diet, and the Kid, while
young, is tender and nutritious.

                            THE COMMON GOAT.

The Common Goat inhabits wild and mountainous regions in a state of
semi-wildness, seeming to have little regard either for the protection
or the neglect of people resident in its vicinity; but although not
cared for, like its not very distant relative, the Sheep, it is by no
means without its value. The Goat affords milk in considerable
abundance; its hair, though more harsh than wool, is useful in the
manufacture of various kinds of stuffs, and its skin is more valuable
than that of the sheep. The Goat has more intelligence than the Sheep,
and soon becomes familiar and attached; it is light, active, and less
timid than the Sheep; it is capricious and loves to wander, to climb
steep mountains, sleeping frequently on the point of a rock or the edge
of a precipice. It is robust, and will feed on almost any plant. It does
not, like the Sheep, avoid the mid-day heat, but sleeps in the sunshine,
and exposes itself willingly to its full glare. It is not alarmed by
storms, but appears to suffer from a great degree of cold.

                               THE IBEX.

The Ibex combines with the characters of the Goat the agility and
fleetness of the Antelopes. “All readers of natural history,” says
Col. Markham, “are familiar with the wonderful climbing and saltatory
powers of the Ibex; and although they cannot (as has been described in
print) make a spring and hang on by the horns until they gain a
footing, yet in reality for such heavy animals they get over the most
inaccessible-looking places in an almost miraculous manner. Nothing
seems to stop them nor to impede their progress in the least. To see a
flock, after being fired at, take a distant line across country, which
they often do over all sorts of seemingly impassable ground, now along
the naked surface of an almost perpendicular rock, then across a
formidable landslip or an inclined plane of loose stones or sand,
which the slightest touch sets in motion both above and below,
dividing into chasms to which there seems no possible outlet, but
instantly reappearing on the opposite side, never deviating in the
slightest from their course, and at the same time getting over the
ground at the rate of something like fifteen miles an hour, is a sight
not to be easily forgotten.”

The Ibex inhabits the most inaccessible summits of the loftiest
mountains of Europe, Asia and Africa, and may frequently be seen
bounding from rock to rock among the highest peaks of their snow-clad
grandeur, climbing cliffs with the activity of a Bird, and disporting
itself in regions unapproachable by any other quadruped.

                            THE BEZOARGOAT.

[Illustration: Goat Defending His Family from a Lynx.]

There is a striking resemblance in form, the habit of living and
character of the Bezoargoat, (extensively raised in mountainous regions
of Asia Minor, Persia and various islands of Greece) and the Stonebuck
of the Alps. The body of the Bezoargoat is narrow and the limbs high.
The long, strong horns form a uniformly curved arch, and both sexes have
strong beards. The skin is colored reddish gray along the sides of the
neck, growing lighter towards the body. The thigh is white both
underneath and outside. The breast, chin and ridge of the nose is
blackish brown. Their nourishment consists of dry grasses, cedar
needles, leaves and fruits.

The Bezoargoats are very shy and experts in racing and climbing,
venturing the most dangerous leaps with the utmost courage and
dexterity. They are able to brave the greatest dangers. There is,
nevertheless, a source of danger threatening their young from the Eagle,
the Bearded Vulture and the Pardellynx. The Birds of Prey swoop rapidly
and unexpectedly from the heights and carry off the young Kid; but the
Pardellynx steals slyly upon the herd at pasture. This beautiful,
slender, crafty beast of prey, about the size of the Lynx, which is also
abundantly found in the Spanish mountains, eagerly hunts the Bezoargoat.
Through his exceptionally keen sense of sight and hearing, the crafty,
noiseless, sneaking Pardellynx frequently succeeds in stealing upon the
herd and despite their watchfulness attempts to overpower one of the
flock. The illustration on page 105 carries us into the mountain regions
of Taurus. A Pardellynx has crept unnoticed upon a family of grazing
Bezoargoats and has suddenly sprung upon the back of the old Goat,
burying his fangs into the neck of his prize.

                               THE SHEEP.

[Illustration: MOUNTAIN SHEEP.]

The members of this family have horns which, at first directed
backwards, wind spirally forwards; their forehead is generally convex,
and they are without any beard. In other respects they are closely
allied to the Goats.

The Common Sheep, like other animals placed at the disposal of mankind,
presents innumerable varieties in accordance with the breed or climate
to which it may belong. Thus we find in Europe flocks with coarse or
fine wool, of large or of small size, with long horns or with short
horns—some in which the horns are wanting in the females; others in
which they are deficient in both sexes.

The Spanish varieties are distinguished by their fine curly wool and
large spiral horns, which exist in the males only; while the English
breeds are celebrated on account of the length of their fleece and the
delicacy of their mutton.

The Sheep of Southern Russia are remarkable on account of the length of
their tails; while those of India and some parts of Africa are
distinguished by the length of their legs, pendent ears, coarse wool,
and total want of horns in either sex. In Persia, Tartary, and China the
tail of the Sheep appears to be entirely transformed into a double globe
of fat; and those of Syria and Barbary, notwithstanding the length of
their tails, have them loaded with fat, while their wool is intermixed
with coarse hair. Everywhere, however, the Sheep is invaluable to the
human race, and the care of their flocks one of the earliest occupations
of civilized nations.

“This species,” says Buffon, “appears to be preserved only by the
assistance and care of Man; it seems unable to subsist by itself. The
reclaimed Sheep is absolutely without resource and without defence. The
Ram is but weakly armed; its courage is only petulance. The females are
still more timid than the males. It is fear that causes them so often to
assemble in flocks; the slightest noise makes them throw themselves down
headlong or crowd one against the other; and this fear is accompanied
with the greatest stupidity, for they know not how to avoid danger.”

They appear not even to feel the inconveniences of their situation; they
remain obstinately where they are exposed to the rain or snow. In order
to oblige them to change their situation and take a certain road, a
leader is necessary, whose movements they follow at every step. This
leader would himself remain motionless with the rest of the flock, if he
were not driven by the Shepherd or excited by the Sheep-dog, which knows
well how to defend, direct, separate, reassemble them, and communicate
to them all necessary movements.

They are, of all animals, the most stupid and devoid of resources.
Goats, which resemble them in so many other respects, have much more
sense. They know how to guide themselves, they avoid danger, and easily
familiarize themselves with new objects; while the Sheep neither
retreats nor advances, and although it stands in need of assistance,
does not approach Man so willingly as the Goat, besides—a quality which,
in animals, appears to indicate the last degree of timidity or of want
of feeling—it allows its Lamb to be taken away without defending it,
without anger or resistance, or even signifying its grief by a cry
differing from its usual bleat.

Nevertheless, this creature, so helpless and so apathetic, is to mankind
the most valuable of all animals, and of the most immediate and
extensive use. Alone it suffices for his most pressing wants, furnishing
both food and clothing, besides the various uses of the fat, milk, skin,
entrails and bones. Nature has not bestowed anything upon the Sheep that
does not serve for the advantage of the human race.

                             THE OX FAMILY.

[Illustration: Bisons in Battle.]

This family is easily distinguished from the other groups of
Hollow-horned Ruminants. It is composed of large, heavy animals, in
which the skin of the neck is loose and hanging, forming a large fold
called the dew-lap.

There are eight species found in this family—the American Buffalo or
Bison, the Musk Ox, the Cape Buffalo, the European Bison or Auroch, the
Yak, the Jungle Ox, the Common Buffalo of India, and the Common Ox, or
the well known group including our domestic Cattle.

                         THE AMERICAN BUFFALO.

[Illustration: AMERICAN BUFFALO.]

The American Buffalo, commonly known in other countries as the Bison, is
a gigantic species which ranges over the temperate and northern
provinces of the American continent. It is of thick-set shape, and
carries its head low, on a level with its back, while its shoulders are
high. Its head is short and large; its horns are small, lateral, far
apart, black and rounded. Its head, neck, and shoulders are covered with
thick, curly, dark brown hair. Its tail is short, and terminated by a
tuft of long hair.

This immense animal inhabits all parts of North America, especially the
plateaux on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. In the spring,
herds of thousands of Buffaloes, crowded closely together, make their
way up from the south to the north of these vast steppes; in the autumn
they migrate again to the south. When the summer comes, these wild
troops break up, and the Buffaloes separate into couples or small herds.

American Buffaloes are not ferocious in their nature; they seldom attack
Man, but will defend themselves when wounded; they then become
formidable adversaries, for their enormous heads, well furnished with
horns, and their fore-feet, are terrible weapons. In their migrations,
their numbers are so enormous, that as they advance everything that
comes in their way is devastated.

                              THE MUSK OX.

The Musk Ox is much smaller than the Common Ox, and has somewhat the
appearance of an enormous sheep. Its forehead is arched; its mouth
small; its muzzle completely covered with hair; and its horns, which are
very large, are closely united at the base, and bending downwards over
the sides of its head, suddenly turn backwards and upwards at the tips.
Its long and abundant coat is of a dark brown color. It exhales a strong
odor of musk.

This animal, which is a combination of the Ox, Sheep, and Goat, inhabits
North America below the polar circle, and lives in families of from ten
to twenty individuals.

Notwithstanding its apparent heaviness, the Musk Ox climbs over rocks
almost as nimbly as a Goat, and its speed across the rocky, rough,
barren grounds, (its principal habitat) for an animal so clumsy, is
truly astonishing.

                         THE EUROPEAN BUFFALO.

The European Buffalo, or Auroch, is, next to the Elephant, Rhinoceros
and Giraffe, the largest terrestrial Mammals. It is nearly six feet
high. Its horns are large, round and lateral, and its tail is long; the
front of the body, as far as the shoulders, is covered with coarse,
harsh, brown hair; the underneath part of its throat, down to its
breast, is furnished with a long pendulous mane, and the rest of its
body is covered with short black hair.

This animal is the Urus of the ancients. It formerly lived in all the
marshy forests of temperate Europe, even in Great Britain. In the time
of Caesar it was still to be found in Germany, but, from the increase of
Man and his conquests, it has become more and more rare. At the present
time it is only to be found in two provinces of Russia. Very severe
orders have been issued by the Emperor of Russia to prevent the
destruction of these animals, and not one can be killed without his

                           THE CAPE BUFFALO.

The Cape Buffalo is distinguished by its large horns, from all the other
species peculiar to the Old World, the flattened bases of which cover
the top of its head like a helmet, only leaving a triangular space
between them. The horns of this African Ruminant are black, while its
coat is brown. It lives in numerous herds in the thickest forests of
Southern Africa, from the northern limits of Cape Colony as far as

When in the open country it is shy and cautious; but is formidable and
aggressive when hunted in the woods which form its principal retreat.
Buffalo hunting is one of the occupations of the natives of the south of
Africa; and it is not unaccompanied by danger, for it often happens that
the respective characters are inverted, and it is the Buffalo which
chases the hunters.

                                THE YAK.

[Illustration: YAK.]

The Yak, or Horse-tailed Buffalo, has a large tuft of woolly hair on its
head, and a sort of mane on its neck; the underneath part of its body,
particularly around the legs, is covered with very bushy, long, pendent
hair; its tail, which is entirely covered with hair, resembles that of a
horse; while its voice is a low and monotonous sound, which becomes
harsh and discordant when the animal is excited.

It is found undomesticated on the confines of Chinese Tartary. It is
then wild, and dangerous; but when captured and broken in, it proves a
useful servant to the inhabitants of Thibet and the north of China, who
utilize it as we do our Cattle. Its milk is excellent; and its strength
in carrying loads and dragging ploughs and conveyances extraordinary.
But it is with difficulty they are tamed, for their disposition is
always restless and wilful, and subject to fits of bad temper. Its flesh
is highly esteemed, and coarse fabrics are made from its hair.

The tail of this Ruminant has long been valued in the East. Attached to
the end of a lance, with the Mussulmen it is the insignia of the dignity
of Pacha; and, the higher this dignity, the greater is the number of
tails which the possessor of rank has a right to have carried before
him. The Chinese also adorn themselves with the tail of the Yak, dyed
red, by placing it in their caps. It is moreover employed as a switch
for driving away flies.

                             THE JUNGLE OX.

The Jungle Ox very strongly resembles the Common Ox, but its horns are
flattened from front to back, and tend outwards and upwards. These Oxen
are reared in a domestic state in the mountainous countries of the
northeast of India.

                          THE COMMON BUFFALO.

The Common Buffalo appears to be a native of the warm and damp parts of
India and the neighboring isles, from whence it has spread into Persia,
Arabia, the south of Africa, Greece and Italy. It is nearly the same
size as an Ox. Its bulging forehead, which is longer than it is wide,
bears two black horns, turned outwards. Its coat is coarse and scant,
except on its throat and cheeks, and it has a very small dew-lap. It
lives in numerous herds in marshy and low plains, where it delights in
wallowing. It is of a wild and untractable disposition, particularly
towards strangers; and, in order to make use even of those which are the
tamest, the more perfectly to control them, a ring of iron is passed
through their nostrils. In the cultivation of rice that cereal
particularly requiring moist land—their services are most valuable, for
their power of draught, even when immersed to the knees in mud, far
exceeds all other animals in a similar situation.

The Arna, or Wild Buffalo, must be considered as a variety of this
species. Its horns are very large, about five feet long, wrinkled on
their concave side, and flat in front. It is principally found in


[Illustration: AMERICAN DEER.]

The distinctive characteristic of the animals of this group consists in
the texture, shape and manner of growth of their frontal protuberances.
These projections, which are called antlers, and not horns, are bony,
solid, and more or less branching. They do not have the horny casing
which exists in all Hollow-horned Ruminants. They fall off and are
renewed at a certain period every year up to a certain age, and it is
because of this peculiarity that these animals are known as Ruminants
with deciduous horns.

In the full grown animal the antler is composed of a cylindrical or
flattened stem, according to the genus, which is called the brow-antler,
from which branch out at intervals slighter or shorter additions, called
tines or branches. The base of the brow-antler is surrounded by a circle
of small bony excrescences, which afford a passage to the blood vessels
intended to provide for the growth of the antler; these are called

There are various terms used to indicate the growth of the antlers. In
the first place, on the brow of the young animal, two small elevations
or knobs are seen to make their appearance, above each of which there
soon grows a projection of cartilage, which finally assumes a bony

Until they become perfectly hard, these two early sprouts are protected
from any external friction by a kind of velvety skin, which dries up as
soon as the cartilage turns to bone.

The short horns which then adorn its brow take the name of dags. At the
commencement of the third year the dags fall off, but soon after they
are replaced by other and longer ones, which throw out their first
tines; and from this time they are considered as entitled to the name of

The falling off and periodical renewal of these bony projections is
really a very curious phenomenon. It seems as if it ought to take
several years for the horns to regain, as they do, equal or even larger
dimensions than their predecessors; nevertheless, they shoot out all
complete in the space of a few weeks. Still, the explanation of this
fact is simple enough.

The skin which covers the base of the antlers of this animal is
traversed by a large number of blood vessels, which supply the phosphate
of lime necessary to solidify the bony parts. Up to the time when the
antler has acquired the full growth which it is to attain in each year,
this skin continues to receive the requisite flow of blood; it retains,
in fact, its living action. But as soon as the growth is complete, and
it becomes bony, the burrs increase in size, strangulate the vessels,
and stop the flow of the alimentary fluid. This skin then withers and
comes away from the antler, which, thus laid bare and no longer
receiving nourishment, gradually wastes away or decays, and falls off at
the end of a few months, again making its appearance in the approaching

Nearly all the members of this family are remarkable for the elegance of
their shape, the dignity of their attitudes, the grace and vivacity of
their movements, the slenderness of their limbs, and the sustained
rapidity of their flight. They have a very short tail; moderately sized
and pointed ears, and their eyes are clear and full of gentleness.

The coat of Ruminants which shed their horns is generally brown or
fawn-colored. It is composed of short, close and brittle hair, which
assumes a somewhat woolly nature in the inclement regions of the extreme
north, more especially in the winter season.

These Ruminants live in small droves or herds in forests, on mountains
or plains, and feed on leaves, buds, grass, moss, or the bark of trees,
etc. They are distributed over all the surface of the globe, both in the
hottest and coldest climates. The Reindeer and Elk are peculiar to the
northern regions of both continents; but numerous species are, on the
contrary, found in hot and temperate countries.

The family of Ruminants which shed their horns comprehends three
genera—the Reindeer, the Elk, and the Deer proper—all differing in the
shape and size of their antlers.

                             THE REINDEER.

[Illustration: REINDEER.]

The Reindeer is of about the size of the Red Deer, but its legs are
shorter and thicker. The horns, which exist in both sexes, are divided
into several branches; at first they are slender and pointed, but as
they grow they extend, and ultimately terminate in broad and toothed
palmations. The hair of this animal, which is brown in summer, becomes
almost white as winter approaches—a circumstance which accounts for the
idea among the ancients, that the “Tarandus” could assume any color it
thought proper.

The Reindeer is met with only in the extreme north of Europe and of
America. It is more especially a native of Lapland, where it is as
serviceable to the sojourner in those icy regions as the Camel to the
inhabitants of the sandy desert. The Laplanders keep numerous flocks of
them, drive them in summer-time to the mountains of their country, and
in winter cause them to return to the plains, where they use them as
beasts of burden and of draught, eat their flesh, feed their children
with their milk, and clothe themselves with their skins. “These useful
animals,” says Mr. Lloyd, “not only mainly contribute to the
subsistence, but constitute the chief riches of that nomade people.
Without the Reindeer, indeed, the Lapp could hardly contrive to exist in
the dreary region he inhabits, the needful provender being too scanty to
admit of the well-being of other animals, such as Sheep and horned
Cattle, which in more southern countries are made subservient to the
purposes of Man.”

“A large herd of Reindeer,” says Lloyd in his Scandinavian Adventures,
“traversing the open country or the surface of a frozen lake, as the
case may be, when the Lapp is changing his encampment, is a very
magnificent sight. In the front walks a Man leading a Reindeer, or
perhaps the Man quite alone, who only now and then calls to the animals,
which, at a few paces’ distance, faithfully follow where he leads.

“In the first ranks of the herd one commonly sees many noble males, who
proudly elevate their heads, attired with large and branching antlers.
The rest of the herd follow one another in close phalanx. It resembles a
wondrous moving forest, whose innumerably branched crowns, with their
rapid and constantly shifting motion, make the most pleasing impression
on the eye and mind of the spectator.

“The Lapp sometimes calls a great herd of Reindeer a sava, or sea, a
figurative expression, beautiful as faithful; taken, probably, not only
from the immensity of the ocean, but from its surface being in constant
undulatory motion.”

                               THE ELKS.

[Illustration: ELK OR MOOSE.]

The Elk, or Moose Deer, the typical representative of this sub-family,
is an ungainly-looking animal, as large as, or larger than an ordinary
Horse. It seems to be raised on legs of disproportionate height. Its
muzzle is broad and pendulous; its throat swollen, as if it was
afflicted with a goitre; while its hair is rough and of an ashy color of
variable shades. The horn of the Elk is at first dagger-shaped, and then
divided into strips; but at the age of five years, it assumes the shape
of a broad triangular expansion, with prongs upon its outer margin. The
weight of these horns increases with the age of the animal, until they
weigh fifty or sixty pounds, and present as many as fourteen antlers or
projections from each horn.

This animal inhabits the forests of the north, both of the European and
American continents, where it may be seen in small herds, making its way
through the marshy forests. It is an excellent swimmer, and from the
peculiar structure of its hoofs, able to cross marshy ground with great
facility. The sense of smell in the Elk is exceedingly acute; and when
once he scents a pursuer, he darts away with lightning speed, and
usually without a single pause till he is four or five miles away from
the object of his fear. He frequents in summer low and marshy ground,
where water and trees abound; while in winter he resorts to thicker
shelter on higher levels. The Elk feeds chiefly by day, in the summer on
the bark, leaves and small branches of young trees, and various species
of grasses. In the winter he adds to his food the leaves of various
firs, and different kinds of lichens.

                            THE DEER PROPER.

The animals classified under this title include a large number of
species distributed over the warm and temperate regions of both
continents. The animals are remarkable for their grace and agility. The
various species differ somewhat in the shape of their antlers, and the
color of their coat, which is sometimes all of a fawn-colored shade,
sometimes dotted over with white spots during their youth, and sometimes
mottled during the whole of their life. The principal species are the
Common Stag, or Red Deer, the Large Stag of Canada, or Wapiti, the
Virginian Stag, the Axis, the Porcine Deer, the Fallow Deer, and the
Common Roe.

                             THE RED DEER.

The Red Deer is certainly one of the most beautiful of European animals,
owing to the majestic antlers which adorn its head, and its stately and
graceful bearing. This quadruped is about the size of a small Horse. Its
coat, which varies according to the season, changes from light brown in
summer to greyish in winter. It has generally a very gentle and timid
disposition, and dreads the presence of Man, taking flight at the
slightest alarm. On the contrary, when not disturbed, it manifests an
amount of laziness which contrasts strangely with its extraordinary

When arrived at a certain age, and in full possession of all its
strength, the Stag loves solitude, and in localities where possible,
confines itself during the whole summer to thickets and woods, scarcely
coming forth except at night to search for sustenance; this done, it
again retires to the thickest brake, to rest and digest its food. At the
end of autumn it visits the plains, making its way into badly-enclosed
gardens, where it satisfies its appetite with the agriculturist’s
cereals and fruit. If there should not be a sufficiency of the latter on
the ground, the Stag increases the supply by standing upright against
the trunk of the tree, and using its antlers as a pole to knock down
enough to satisfy its appetite.

The favorite food of the Red Deer is grass, leaves, fruits and buds; but
as none of these can be found in winter, it is compelled to eat moss,
heath and lichens. When the ground is covered with snow it will feed
upon the bark of trees. At this season of the year these animals
assemble in numerous herds under the tallest trees of the forest, to
obtain shelter from the north wind, when they crowd closely against one
another for warmth.

The Stag produces every year a new head of horns; and its age is
generally indicated by them. At six years of age it is said to possess a
full head; in the following years, and up to the end of its life, it is
known as a Royal Stag.

                           THE CANADIAN STAG.

A magnificent species of Stag is found in North America, which is called
the Large Stag of Canada, or Wapiti. This animal bears some resemblance
to the Elk. It is easily tamed, and soon becomes used to confinement.
The North American Indians catch it in snares when young, and rear it
with care. At maturity they harness it to their sledges during the
winter, and its powerful frame enables it to draw heavy loads. Its
flesh, which is excellent, forms a large portion of the Red Man’s

                          THE VIRGINIAN DEER.

The Virginian Deer is common in the United States, where it is the
favorite animal of chase. It is larger than the Fallow Deer, and is
excessively abundant in some portions of this country; but so many of
them are annually slaughtered that, before a hundred years are past,
says Audubon, this animal will have become an extraordinary rarity.
Their death is generally accomplished by the hunter stalking on them
unawares, when they are shot; or driving them from cover when their
favorite passes (which are easily distinguished by the experienced) are
guarded by marksmen.


The Indian continent and Malay Islands produce several very remarkable
species of Stags. First let us mention the Samboo, or Aristotle Deer, so
called because it was first described by that celebrated philosopher of
antiquity; then the Axis, a very elegant animal with a fawn-colored coat
speckled with white, and horns furnished with only two branches; and
lastly, the Porcine Deer, which owes its name to its small size and
massive shape. In Bengal, these two last named species are reared in a
domesticated state, and fattened for the table.

                            THE FALLOW DEER.

The Fallow Deer holds a middle place in size between the Red Deer and
the Roe. Its height, at the withers, is little more than ten hands. It
may be easily recognized by its horns, which are round at the base, and
palmated above. Its coat, like that of the Axis, is fawn-colored or
brown, dotted over with white spots, which in summer are very distinctly
marked, but are scarcely perceptible in winter. Its habits differ but
slightly from those of the Red Deer.

The Fallow Deer is found over a large part of Europe, in the north of
Africa and also in Asia Minor.

                            THE COMMON ROE.

The Roe Deer is one of the most elegant and graceful representatives of
this group. It does not measure much more than a yard in length. Its
horns are small, and very simple in their shape. They are composed of a
deeply indented stem, which is straight for the greater part of its
length, and furnished at the top with two branches, forming a fork at
the extremity. Its coat is a uniform fawn-color, the shade of which
varies with the season.

The Roes frequent young woods and thickets in the vicinity of cultivated
ground, where they delight to crop the buds and shoots, thus doing
considerable mischief in plantations. They are timid, intelligent and
gentle; the least unaccustomed noise frightens them. Still, all their
precautions are not sufficient to protect them against the multitude of
huntsmen eager for their capture—an eagerness the more excusable as the
Roe furnishes the finest venison.

                          CETACEA—THE WHALES.

[Illustration: Whale Attacked by Bloodheads.]

THE Whale family, or the Cetacea, are really aquatic animals, although
they resemble Fishes externally. Their whole structure—their lungs
instead of gills for breathing, their heart, and their manner of feeding
their young, all show that they belong to the Mammals. Only, instead of
being organized for living on land, they are better suited for the
water. Some of them reach an enormous size, and are the giants of the
animal kingdom.

Their body, more or less spindle-shaped, is terminated in a tail which
is very broad and forms a fin. This fin or tail is not vertical, as in
Fishes, and it is the principal agent for moving these living masses.

On the back of most of the Cetacea there is another fin, which is merely
a part of the skin. They have no hind fins, and their great front fins
or arms are of little use for locomotion through the water, but serve to
balance their movements.

The skin of the different members of the Whale family is generally quite
hairless, which very rarely happens in the case of other Mammalia. The
largest of other animals are small when compared with many of the
Cetacea. These great creatures swim quite rapidly, however. Because of
the air contained in their chest, and the great quantity of grease with
which their tissues are charged, and the great strength of their tail in
pushing them forward, they move easily through the waves, looking for
the Fish, Molluscs and Crustacea, which they eat in enormous quantities.

The Whale family is first divided into two classes, the Blowing Cetacea,
and the Herbiverous Cetacea. The Herbiverous class includes the Manatees
and the Duyongs who live on the weedy, shallow shores around the islands
and mouths of rivers, and feed on the sea-weed.

The class of Blowing Cetacea includes the Whale proper, the Rorquals and
the great Cachalot or Sperm Whale, in which the head constitutes in
itself one-third, or even one-half of the total length of the creature,
the Whalebone Whale; and a second division containing the Dolphin, the
Porpoise, Narwhal, etc., in which the head is in the usual proportion to
the body.

                      THE WHALE, AND ITS ENEMIES.

We hear surprising stories of the Whales of past ages which measured
from one or two hundred feet in length; and from the skeletons that have
been discovered, it is found that even if they did not reach this great
length, it is probably true, as Goldsmith claims, that they were very
much larger in the past than now. It is the same as with the quadrupeds,
the huge Mastodons, etc., from the skeletons that have been dug up from
time to time it is evident that there must have been terrestrial animals
twice as large as the Elephant, but these, being rivals with mankind for
the large territory required for their existence, must have been
destroyed in the contest. And in the sea, as well as upon land, Man has
destroyed the larger tribes of animals.

The Whale is the largest animal of which we have any certain
information; and the various purposes to which, when taken, its
different parts are converted, have made us well acquainted with its
history. Of the Whale proper, there are no less than seven different
kinds; all distinguished from each other by their external figure or
internal formation. They differ somewhat in their manner of living; the
Fin-fish having a larger swallow than the rest, being more active,
slender and fierce, and living chiefly upon Herrings. However, they are
none of them very voracious; and, if compared to the Cachalot, that
enormous tyrant of the deep, they appear harmless and gentle. The
history of the rest, therefore, may be comprised under that of the Great
Common Greenland Whale, with which we are best acquainted.

The Great Greenland Whale is a large, heavy animal, and the head alone
makes a third of its bulk. It is usually found from sixty to seventy
feet long. The fins on each side are from five to eight feet, composed
of bones and muscles, and sufficiently strong to give the great mass of
body which they move, speed and activity. The tail, which lies flat on
the water, is about twenty-four feet broad, and, when the Whale lies on
one side, its blow is tremendous. The skin is smooth and black, and in
some places marbled with white and yellow; which, running over the
surface, has a very beautiful effect.

The Whale makes use only of the tail to advance itself forward in the
water. This serves as a great oar to push its mass along; and it is
surprising to see with what force and celerity its enormous bulk cuts
through the ocean. The fins are only made use of for turning in the
water, and giving direction to its course. The Mother-whale also makes
use of them, when pursued, to bear off her young, clapping them on her
back, and supporting them, by the fins on each side, from falling.

The outward or scarf skin of the Whale is no thicker than parchment; but
this removed, the real skin appears, of about an inch thick, and
covering the fat or blubber that lies beneath; this is from eight to
twelve inches in thickness; and is, when the Whale is in health, of a
beautiful yellow. The muscles lie beneath; and these, like the flesh of
quadrupeds, are very red and tough.

Nothing can exceed the tenderness of the mother for her young; she
carries it with her wherever she goes, and, when hardest pursued, keeps
it supported between her fins. Even when wounded, she still clasps her
baby; and when she plunges to avoid danger, takes it to the bottom; but
rises sooner than usual, to give it breath again.

It seems astonishing how a shoal of these enormous animals find
subsistence together, when it would seem that the supplying even one
with food would require greater plenty than the ocean could furnish. To
increase our wonder, we not only see them herding together, but usually
find them fatter than any other animals of land or sea. We likewise know
that they cannot swallow large Fishes, as their throat is so narrow,
that a Fish larger than a Herring could not enter. How then do they
subsist and grow so fat? A small insect which is seen floating in those
seas, and which Linnaeus terms the Medusa, is sufficient for this

These insects are black, and of the size of a small bean, and are
sometimes seen floating in clusters on the surface of the water. They
are of a round form, like Snails in a box, but they have wings, which
are so tender that it is scarcely possible to touch them without
breaking. These serve rather for swimming than flying; and the little
animal is called by the Icelanders, the Walfischoas, which signifies the
Whale’s provender. They have the taste of raw muscles, and have the
smell of burnt sugar. These are the food of the Whale, which it is seen
to draw up in great numbers with its huge jaws, and to bruise between
its barbs, which are always found with several of these sticking among

As the Whale is a meek animal, it is not to be wondered that it has many
enemies, willing to take advantage of its disposition, and inaptitude
for combat. There is a small animal, of the Shell-fish kind, called the
Whale-louse, that sticks to its body, as we see shells sticking to the
bottom of a ship. This hides itself chiefly under the fins; and whatever
efforts the great animal makes, it still keeps its hold and lives upon
the fat, which it is provided with instruments to reach.

The Sword-fish, however, is the Whale’s most terrible enemy. “At the
sight of this little animal,” says Anderson, “the Whale seems agitated
in an extraordinary manner; leaping from the water as if with affright.
Wherever it appears, the Whale perceives it at a distance, and flies
from it in the opposite direction. I have been myself,” he continues, “a
spectator of their terrible encounter. The Whale has no instrument of
defence except the tail; with that it endeavors to strike the enemy; and
a single blow taking place, would effectually destroy its adversary; but
the Sword-fish is as active as the other is strong, and easily avoids
the stroke; then bounding into the air, it falls upon its great enemy,
and endeavors, not to pierce with its pointed beak, but to cut with its
toothed edges. The sea all about is soon dyed with blood, proceeding
from the wounds of the Whale, while the enormous animal vainly endeavors
to reach its invader, and strikes with its tail against the surface of
the water, making a report at each blow louder than the noise of a

The Whale has still another deadly enemy—the tribe of Bloodheads, known
as the Wolves of the ocean. This is a species of Whale and, like the
Whale, also belongs to Mammalian animals. Although the Bloodheads in
relation to the enormous Whale may be termed small, they wage war in
troups of five or ten, undaunted and impassionately attacking the huge
monster who usually succumbs to the assault. They, therefore, deserve
the name assigned them by Linneus, “Torment of the Whale.” They are even
more blood-thirsty than the Shark in boldness, killing Seal and smaller
Fish in masses.

The Whale when attacked by these Fish of Prey appears to become at first
paralyzed with fear and hardly makes any effort to defend himself,
although it would hardly benefit him to do so as the Bloodheads are the
swiftest of the Whale family, swimming with extraordinary quickness and
dexterity. The “Wolves of the Sea” encircle the gigantic, clumsy Whale
like a pack of Hounds around a pursued and exhausted Deer. Some of them
attack him at the head and forefins, others attack him from underneath,
while others attack the lips, and when he opens his gigantic mouth,
attempt to slash apart his tongue. Finally the giant becomes angered. He
whips the water with his tail and his front fins with tremendous force,
snorts powerful streams out of the nostrils of his colossal head; dives
under and shoots up in an endeavor to shake off his enemies and to
dispatch them with his fins. Often this terrific combat, as illustrated
on page 88, lasts for a considerable length of time, ending mostly with
the downfall and death of the Whale. The Bloodheads tear him apart in a
horrible manner until death ensues, after which they feast for days with
pleasure on the immense carcass, and then start in search of further

                             THE CACHALOTS.

[Illustration: SPERM WHALE.]

In these Cetaceans the head is of vast size and excessively vaulted, or
arched, especially in front. The upper jaw has no whalebone nor teeth of
any kind, excepting a few rudiments. The lower jaw, which is very narrow
and much elongated, is armed on each side with a lengthy row of teeth of
considerable size and conical shape, the points of which when the mouth
is shut, are received into corresponding depressions in the upper jaw.

The upper region of their prodigious head is made up of vast caverns
filled with an oily fluid, which on cooling becomes solid, constituting
the valuable substance generally known by the name of “spermaceti.” It
is not, however, in the vaults of the head only that this fat is found.
It appears to be distributed through various excavations in the body,
and to be diffused even among the dense mass of blubber which envelopes
the exterior of the animal.

The peculiar odorous substance, so well known under the name of
“ambergris,” is likewise obtained from the Cachalot.

How many species of these monstrous creatures exist in the ocean we
cannot tell, seeing that the observations of the Whale-fishermen are
generally by no means sufficiently precise for the purposes of Natural
History. That which appears to be most frequently met with is the
Great-headed Spermaceti Whale.

This giant of the deep has merely a callous hump upon its back, in place
of a dorsal fin. On each side of its lower jaw are from twenty to
twenty-three large conical teeth. The “blow hole” through which it
respires is a single orifice, situated on the top of the head—not a
double aperture as in most other Cetaceans. The species seems to be
widely distributed, but its range is principally confined to the oceans
south of the Equator.

                         THE WHALEBONE WHALES.

These Whales resemble the Cachalots, both in the vastness of their bulk,
and in the disproportionate size of their head, when compared with their
entire length. Their forehead, however, is considerably flatter than
that of the Spermaceti Whales, and they have no true teeth. Instead of
the usual implements of mastication, their upper jaw, which somewhat
resembles a great boat turned keel upwards, or the roof of a house, has
its under surface densely furnished with plates of a substance called
“whalebone,” consisting of horny plates resembling the blades of
scythes, placed transversely. These becoming thinner towards their
edges, are fringed with a long hair-like border, so that the whole
apparatus forms an immense sieve.

The Whalebone Whale—long considered as the largest animal at present in
existence—according to the testimony of the Rev. Captain Scoresby, seems
rarely, if ever, to exceed seventy feet in length; a size, which,
although prodigious, is exceeded by some other Cetaceans. Its back is
unprovided with a dorsal fin. The blubber, or elastic fat beneath its
skin, which is sometimes several feet in thickness, furnishes immense
quantities of oil, in search of which whole fleets were formerly fitted
out, until the entire race of these Whales has become almost extinct. At
a very recent period these leviathans of the ocean were not uncommonly
met with on the British coast; but generally they have been compelled to
retire for safety to the recesses of the ice-bound coasts of the north,
and even there they are rarely to be encountered, their number appearing
to constantly diminish.

In addition to the large supplies of oil fat, commerce was indebted to
them for the whalebone, formerly so abundant, consisting of broad plates
of that black, flexible, horny substance, sometimes measuring eight or
ten feet in length; and of these a single individual has been known to
furnish eight or nine hundred from each side of the roof of its mouth,
as well as upwards of twenty tons of oil. Notwithstanding its colossal
size, the Whalebone Whale is very harmless, living principally upon the
small animals that crowd the seas to which it resorts, straining them
from the surrounding water by means of its sieve-like mouth.

                             THE DOLPHINS.

[Illustration: DOLPHIN.]

These animals are easily distinguished from the others of the Whale
family by their arched forehead, the beak-like jaws, and the beauty and
elegance of their movements in the water. For many ages the Dolphin has
been noted for its intelligence and docility, its affectionate
disposition being quite as noticeable among the water animals, as that
of the Dog or the Elephant among quadrupeds.

They usually swim in companies, leaping and tumbling over one another
with amusing playfulness. They live principally upon Fishes, which, from
the swiftness of their movements, they have no difficulty in catching.

People have always had a great idea of the strength of the Dolphin, and
at one time it was said of those who attempted to perform
impossibilities, that they “wanted to tie a Dolphin by the tail.” It is
principally with the assistance of this powerful tail that the Dolphin
swims with such rapidity, and that it has gained for itself the title of

When the Dolphins—which go in numerous troops and in certain order—meet
a ship, they follow it, so as to catch the Fish which the refuse thrown
from the ship attracts in quantities. At whatever speed the ship may be,
either sailing or steaming, they keep up with it, and play about among
the waves, bounding, turning over and over, and never tiring of frisking
and tumbling, affording continual amusement to the crew.

Many authors have said that the Dolphin leaps high enough above the
surface of the water to jump on board small vessels. They say that in
this case the animal curves its body round with force, bends its tail
like a bow, and then unbends it, in such a manner as to fly like the
arrow from a bow.

When they saw these animals following their ships, the sailors imagined
that they were accompanying them from an instinct of sociability. They
have even gone so far as to say that these animals have a sort of
affection for seamen, as well as for each other.

                             THE PORPOISES.

The Porpoises differ from the Dolphins in having their snout short and
uniformly rounded, without a beak-like projection. Their teeth are
compressed, sharp-edged, and rounded, their number from twenty-two to
twenty-five in each jaw. Their skin is smooth and shining, black above
and white below, and as they never attain a greater length than four or
five feet from the tip of the muzzle to the extremity of their flat
horizontal tail, they may be regarded as the smallest of the Cetacean
Order. These animals abound in every sea, and many people have witnessed
their unwieldy gambollings, the character of which is by no means badly
expressed by their name (porc-poisson, hog-fishes). They have, in fact,
somewhat the appearance of floating pigs, as they wallow in the trough
of the sea and roll over each other amid the foaming waves.

Their food consists entirely of Fishes, of which they destroy great
quantities. They follow the shoals of Herrings and of Mackerel, and when
pursuing their prey, not unfrequently venture into the estuaries of
rivers, and make excursions up the rivers themselves.

                             THE NARWHALS.

[Illustration: NARWHAL.]

The Narwhals have no teeth, but are furnished with an enormous tusk,
that projects from the upper jaw, and becomes a most formidable weapon.

The Narwhal is an inhabitant of the Arctic seas, where it sometimes
attains a length of from twenty to twenty-five feet. Its skin is
beautifully marbled with brown and white; its muzzle is round, and its
mouth, unlike that of other Cetaceans, is disproportionately small. Its
single tooth, or horn-like tusk, projects from the head in a line with
the body, sometimes to the length of nine or ten feet. It is spirally
twisted, tapering to a point, and as it is composed of the hardest
ivory, is capable not only of transfixing the body of a Whale, but when
impelled by such momentum as is derived from the speed of its ponderous
owner, has been known to penetrate the oaken ribs of a British
man-of-war to the depth of nearly a couple of feet, and probably has
thus caused the loss of many ships incapable of resisting the shock.

                         HERBIVOROUS CETACEANS.

Until a very recent period the animals composing this family were quite
unknown, or perhaps we ought rather to say they were just sufficiently
known to make them the objects of superstition. Seeing that there is in
their general appearance, somewhat of a resemblance to the human form,
the casual glimpses obtained of them at once satisfied their first
discoverers that they were Tritons and Sirens, such as they had read of
in mythological writings, and the belief in the existence of Mermaids
and Mermen was thus at once confirmed.

In the works of Gesner, Aldrovandus and Jonston, the earliest authors
after the renaissance of Natural History in modern times, the figures of
creatures having human bodies joined with the tails of Fishes are
inserted with the utmost faith in their existence.

A more accurate acquaintance with these strange creatures has, however,
revealed to later voyagers that they are merely a race of animals very
closely allied in their organization to Whales, which in form they
closely resemble, while their internal structure shows them to be still
more nearly related to the gigantic Pachyderm Quadrupeds, such as the
Hippopotamus and the Tapir.

The main feature which distinguishes the Herbivorous Cetaceans is their
total want of hind limbs, a circumstance in which they resemble the true
Whales and Dolphins; but in the structure of their nostrils they conform
to the usual arrangement met with in four-footed Mammalia. Instead of
whalebone or the sharp conical teeth of the Dolphins, they are furnished
with broad, flat grinders, wherewith they chew their vegetable food,
which consists principally of the sea-weeds, etc., abundant near the
shores which they frequent. In short, as Buffon well expresses it, these
creatures terminate the list of terrestrial quadrupeds and commence the
history of the population of the sea, or, more correctly, form the
connecting link between the Mammiferous inhabitants of the ocean and
those of the river and the marsh.

This family comprises the Manatees and the Dugongs.

                             THE MANATEES.

[Illustration: MANATEE.]

These animals are distinguished by the arrangement of their teeth and by
certain peculiarities in the structure of their head. The number of
their teeth is considerable, their grinders have roots distinct from the
crown of the tusk, which forms a grinding surface composed of transverse
elevated ridges. The incisor teeth are quite rudimentary. Their only
limbs somewhat resemble hands, and their fingers are provided with
nails, while the fin at their tail is not forked, but single, and of an
oval shape. These creatures seem to be intermediate in their structure
between the Pachyderms and the Cetaceans, seeing that their grinding
teeth very much resemble those of the Tapirs. Three species are known to
Naturalists—one from South America, one from Senegal and one from

                      THE SOUTH AMERICAN MANATEE.

Although the western coasts of Africa were frequented by sailors in very
ancient times, and known to Europeans long before the discovery of the
American continent, the Manatee which is found upon the eastern shores
of America was known to Naturalists before the African species. The
interest aroused by the discovery of a new world attracted enlightened
men, who flocked to its shore, and described its productions; while the
African continent, never having received Europeans but as enemies, was
in turn treated as an enemy’s country, and could only be visited at a
considerable risk.

The name of Manatus is evidently derived from the Spanish word mano, a
hand, or manato, furnished with hands, seeing that the creature seems to
have no arms, little being seen externally but the fingers. Its length
is from eighteen to twenty feet, and it is at least six feet across at
the broadest part of its body, just behind the hands. Its general
appearance is that of a Whale; it has no neck, nor any vestiges of
hinder extremities, but it differs materially from the true Cetaceans in
many points of its structure. Four of its fingers, for instance, are
furnished with nails, and its tail is of an oval shape.

This animal appears to live entirely upon sea-weed, nothing but the
remains of various kinds of fucus having been found in its stomach. The
form of its teeth corresponds with the supposition that this is its only
food, and seeing that it has no incisor teeth, it must necessarily
browse this kind of grass by means of its fleshy lips, which are covered
with stiff hairs. The habits of the Manatee are gentle; it is even
stated to be capable of being to some extent tamed. It associates with
its fellows in herds, which are more or less numerous. The mother
exhibits the greatest affection for her young ones, which are one or two
in number; she carries them in her hands while feeding them, and her
milk is said to be as sweet and well-tasted as that of a cow. The
Manatee frequents the estuaries of the rivers of South America, and even
sometimes ventures to ascend their streams for a short distance. Its
flesh and its fat are both considered delicacies. One is said to
resemble veal, the other bacon, the latter having the additional
recommendation of keeping good for a long period.

                              THE DUGONGS.

The Dugongs were for some time confounded with the Walruses and
Manatees, under the generic name of Trichecus, until Lacepede,
perceiving their distinctive characters, separated them as a distinct
race, to which he applied the name Dugong, thus trying to Latinize their
native appellation. Such Latin as that, however, could not be tolerated
even by Zoologists, and hence Illiger conferred upon them the more
euphonious name of Halicore (daughter of the sea). Although the
organization of the Dugong in its general features resembles that of the
Manatee, there are important differences whereby they are clearly
distinguishable. The molar teeth of the Dugong have no roots, but
present merely a flat surface bordered with enamel; moreover, they are
fewer than in the Manatee, and the Dugong has rudimentary incisors. The
structure of the hands is likewise modified. The fingers of the Dugong
have no nails, and very much resemble the flippers of ordinary
Cetaceans, while the nostrils, instead of opening at the end of the
snout, are approximated to the top of the head, another circumstance by
which the Dugongs seem to be intermediate between the herbivorous and
carnivorous forms of Whale.

The only known species is the Halicore Dugong. These animals live in
societies, in shallow bays near the mouths of rivers, and in narrow arms
of the sea where the depth is only two or three fathoms. In such
situations they find abundance of sea-weed, which seems to constitute
their only nutriment, and which they tear from the rocks by means of
their flexible but powerful and fleshy lips. In the Sunda Isles Dugongs
were formerly numerous, but their flesh is esteemed a dainty, and the
species is now becoming scarce.

The chase after them is carried on during very calm weather, and
generally by night. Their vicinity is detected by the noise they make in
breathing as they lie at the top of the water, when by approaching them
cautiously in a boat, they are easily harpooned. When once the weapon is
fixed, all the efforts of the assailants are directed to getting a rope
round the tail of their victim, and this being accomplished it is quite

The mother and her young, and also the male and his mate, show great
attachment for each other; if one is caught, the capture of the other is
a certainty, as the survivor, totally regardless of danger, gives itself
up to its enemies.



IN the study of our beautiful and interesting friends, the Birds, it is
useless to enter into any prolonged discussion concerning their
structure and their habits in this limited space; we are too eager to
arrange them in their proper families, and learn of the interesting
traits of individuals.

[Illustration: TAILOR BIRD.]

There is one thing worthy of consideration, however, in studying the
Birds as a whole, before taking up individuals; and that is their
wonderful intelligence in the building of their nests and the care of
their young. It is difficult to understand this intelligence as
exhibited in Birds. In the Mammals, whose organization approaches nearer
to our own, we are enabled partly to comprehend their joys and griefs,
but in the case of Birds it is difficult to understand their sensations.

To explain this mystery a word has been invented which proves generally
satisfactory. Thus we call the sentiment which leads the Birds to
perform so many admirable actions, instinct. The tenderness of the
mother for her young for instance—a tenderness so full of delicacy and
foresight, is, we say, only the result of instinct. It is agreed,
however, that this instinct singularly resembles the intelligence called

Take the intelligence that is shown in the majority of Birds in the nest
building. The Tailor bird—an East Indian Bird related to the
Warblers—shows rare intelligence in constructing its nest by stitching
together the leaves of plants; and as we study the individuals of the
different families of Birds we will find numerous instances of this
marvellous quality commonly known as instinct.

Birds have been arranged in groups and families in various ways by
different Naturalists, but the most satisfactory classification is the
division into six great families. First, the Raptores, or Birds of Prey;
second, the Natatores, or Swimming Birds; third, the Grallatores, or
Wading Birds; fourth, the Scransores, or Climbing Birds; fifth, the
Gallinaceae, or Domestic Birds; sixth, the Passerines, or the Sparrow

                             BIRDS OF PREY.

The numerous Birds classified as Raptores, or Birds of Prey, are divided
into two great families—the Owls or Nocturnal Birds of Prey, who hunt
and kill their prey during the night; and the Diurnal Birds of Prey,
including the Falcons, Eagles and the Vultures, who seek their food
during the day.

All the different Birds belonging to this order are characterized by a
strong, hooked and sharp-edged bill, strong legs covered with feathers,
four toes, three in front and one behind, which are usually very
flexible, and provided with strong talons. As their name indicates, they
live by plunder and blood-shedding. They correspond in the class of
Birds with the Carnivora among Mammals. Like them, they live on animals,
either dead or living; like them, too, they possess the strength and
cunning which are necessary to secure their victims.

The Birds of Prey do not possess any of the graces and power of song
which characterize other races of Birds. Their only utterance consists
of harsh cries or strange and plaintive sounds, and it is very seldom
that their plumage is gay or attractive. Destruction is the sole object
of their existence, and they are the terror of the rest of the feathered

They are found over the whole surface of the globe. The larger species
inhabit lofty mountains, or seek a hiding place in solitary cliffs.

                            THE OWL FAMILY.

[Illustration: OWLS.]

The Owls represent the nocturnal Birds of Prey. They are distinguished
by large staring eyes directed straight in front, and surrounded by a
circle of slender and stiff feathers, which by their radiation around
the face form a nearly complete disc. They have short strong bills and
sharp claws for seizing their prey.

With the exception of the Barn Owl, all these nocturnal Birds of Prey
lay eggs of spherical shape. They live in couples, only assembling in
flocks at the time of migrating to a warmer climate. They do not build
any nests but deposit their eggs in the cavities in old trunks of trees
or ruined habitations. None of these Birds come out of their roosting
places during the day, unless they are forced to do so.

For brief and simple classification the Owl family is usually divided
into two groups—the Horned Owls and the Hornless Owls.

                            THE HORNED OWLS.

These are distinguished by two tufts or horns of feathers placed on each
side of their head. They are sub-divided into many species. The five
most important are the Great Owl, Virginian Eared Owl, the Long-eared
Owl, Short-eared Owl, and Scops-eared Owl.

The Great Owl is the most remarkable of the whole family on account of
its size and strength. Its height is on an average of two feet, and it
is known as the king of nocturnal Birds. Its bills and claws are of a
black color, very strong and hooked. Its plumage is brown, with black
spots and dark brown stripes. Its wings when extended, are not less than
five feet across. This bird makes its home among the clefts of rocks on
mountain sides, rarely leaving this elevated ground to descend into the
plain, even when hunting. Its peculiar cry, re-echoing in the silence of
the night, is a source of terror to the rest of the feathered creation.
It feeds upon Rabbits, Moles, Rats and Mice, and even devours Toads,
Frogs and small reptiles. This Owl is the most courageous of the family,
and often fights with the Tawny Eagle. In these fierce fights, both the
Owl and the Eagle are sometimes killed, as they bury their claws so deep
in one another’s flesh that they cannot withdraw them.

The Great Owl is common in Switzerland and Italy and also inhabits Asia.

The Virginian Eared Owl inhabits North America. This bird is nearly the
size of the Great Owl of Europe. It is distinguished from the latter by
a different arrangement of the feathered projections on its head, which,
instead of starting from the ears, take their rise close above the bill.
This bird feeds on young poultry, which it boldly carries off from the
very midst of poultry yards; to the Turkey it is especially destructive.
When other food fails, it feeds on dead fish. If caught when young it is
easily tamed, but as it gets mature its blood-thirsty instincts become
so powerful that it proves a most expensive pet.

                          THE LONG-EARED OWL.

The Long-eared Owl is more sociable than most nocturnal Birds of Prey,
and is often met with in the north of France and England. It is also
found in Asia, Africa and America. It is not large, for it seldom
exceeds fifteen inches in length; nevertheless, it is possessed of great
courage, and attacks successfully Birds and Mammals of considerable
size. Its appetite appears insatiable. The general color varies from
pale to dark brown, marked with dark pencilings. Any nest, even that of
the Squirrel, suits its fancy, in which it lays four or five white eggs.
Although so blood-thirsty, it is easily tamed.

The Short-eared Owl is about a foot in height. The horns of this species
are much shorter than those of the Long-eared Owl. Its length is about
fifteen inches; its plumage is russet, shaded with grey and brown. It
has a black bill and claws, and beautiful yellow eyes. It inhabits
hollows in rocks or dead trees, and old ruined houses, and sometimes
installs itself in nests left vacant by Magpies, Ravens and Buzzards.

This Owl being very fond of Mice, which form its principal food, all
that is necessary to attract it to a snare is to imitate the cry of
those Rodents. It also feeds on Moles, and, in cases of emergency, even
on Frogs, Toads, Leverets and young Rabbits. Its nest has been found in
a Rabbit hole. This Bird displays much courage in the defence of its
young when it thinks them in danger, and does not even fear to attack
Man. Its cry is a kind of low moaning, which it frequently utters during
the night.

The Scops-eared Owl is remarkable for its small size, which does not
exceed that of the Thrush; and for its horns, which are perfectly formed
of a single feather. These Owls are more sociable than the others, and
they are of great service to the farmers in destroying field Mice. Bats
and large insects are also favorite food for these Birds, and when these
are scarce, they will eat Fish, and may then be seen hovering over ponds
and rivers, seizing the Fish when they come to the surface of the water.

                             HORNLESS OWLS.

The Hornless Owls are much like the others with the exception of their
smooth round heads, without any projecting feathers to form curious ears
and horns. There are many species in this group, the principal ones
being the Snow Owls, the Barn or Screech Owls, the Hawk or Canada Owls,
Brown or Tawny Owls, Ural Owls, Burrowing Owls, and Sparrow Owls.

The Barn or Screech Owls are among the best known of the family, as they
are found in nearly all parts of the globe. The White Owl, or Snow Owl,
sometimes called the Harfang, may also be found in all parts of North
America, Europe and Asia. Its plumage is a brilliant white, with some
black spots on the head. This color is well suited to the nature of the
places in which it lives, for it sometimes inhabits the most desolate
solitudes of North America, Newfoundland, Hudson’s Bay, Greenland and
Iceland; and its color harmonizes so well with its surroundings that it
can traverse almost unseen, the immense deserts of snow in search of its

                           THE FALCON FAMILY.

The Falcon tribe form the most important group of the Diurnal Birds of
Prey—or those that hunt during the day. They usually feed on living
animals, also there are some species of this family that will feed like
the Vultures on putrid flesh. The Diurnal Birds of Prey are divided into
three different families—the Falcons, the Vultures and the Serpent

The Falcon family is divided into the Falcons proper, the Eagles, Sea
Eagles, Harpy Eagles, Buzzards, Hawks, Goshawks and Harriers.

Falcons properly so called (from falx a reaping-hook) are the ideal
Birds of Prey. They have a short bill bent from the base with a very
strong tooth on each side of the upper part, with which an indentation
corresponds in the lower portion. The wings of this Bird are long and
pointed, causing its flight to be powerful and rapid. They feed only on
living prey, Birds and small Mammals, and they always hunt on the wing.

                              THE EAGLES.


The Eagles are distinguished from the Falcons proper by their strong
bills which are scalloped and not toothed. Their wings are long and
tails rounded. The Harpy or Crested Eagle is called the model species of
this tribe. It is very large and the most formidable, measuring nearly
five feet from the extremity of the head to that of the tail. Its bill
is more than two inches in length, and its claws and toes are larger and
more robust than the fingers of a man. It is said that the Harpy does
not fear to attack animals of large size and even Men. Two or three
blows from its bill are sufficient to break its victim’s skull. The
Harpy inhabits the great forests situated on the banks of the rivers of
South America. The Indians, who have great admiration for its warlike
qualities, show great respect for this Bird; and they use its long wing
and tail feathers to adorn themselves on state occasions.

                            THE STONE EAGLE.

[Illustration: Eagle Picking up an Ice Fox.]

Anyone who has visited Switzerland has often seen these powerful Birds
swaying majestically over the highest point of the Alps. With widespread
wings they glide along with easy motion. The sharp eye searches the
earth anxiously and discerns the smallest prey from the greatest height.
The Bird descends with slow circling movements and presently drawing his
wings with loud, rustling noise, he darts to the earth like an arrow. He
buries his outstretched fangs into the body of his prey and crushes it
sooner or later, according to its size and power of resistance, without
the use of his bill. After killing his prize, the Eagle spreads himself
out to his full size and gives vent to a triumphant shriek of conscious
victory. The powerful bill then begins the work of annihilation.

He steals smaller and larger animals—Rabbits, Lambs, Kids and Foxes.
Nordmann relates that Stone Eagles have even been known to pounce upon
heavy Swine. Neither are small Children safe from him. Among Birds, his
prey is the Crane, Stork, Duck, Goose, etc., or any large and clumsy
Bird. He does not attack swift Birds.

In the spring they hatch their eggs in a lonely, quiet cliff on the
mountains, locating the nest in a strong tree. No other interloper is
tolerated in the same district. Should any such appear, the male Stone
Eagle advances with loud, angry shrieks. The intruder pauses, startled
for the moment. He does not feel safe in the strange district and
hesitates for a moment as to whether to undertake the combat with the
rightful owner of the district. Soon, however, his boldness overweighs
his better judgment and the powerful Birds circle about each other
seeking to attack a weak spot. They circle nearer and presently with a
bold plunge one swoops down upon his opponent. Each clutches the other
with powerful fangs, making the blood flow and amid the rushing noise of
the flapping wings, furious blows are struck, causing the feathers to
fly in every direction. The combatants gradually sink lower and soon
touch the earth upon which they roll about. Presently the intruder
endeavors to free himself and, bleeding from many wounds, hastens away.
The victor pursues him for a short distance and finally returns to his
mate, who, having been an interested witness of the combat from the
distance, welcomes him with joyful clamor.

The Stone Eagle lays from two to four eggs, about the size of a
Peacock’s, of a greenish white color with brown spots. During the time
their young remain in the nest the parents’ search for prey is
continuous. In one of the nests, Hunter Regg found part of a Fox, a
Prairie Dog and remains of not less than five Rabbits of the Alps.

                             THE SEA EAGLE.

[Illustration: Falcons Fighting.]

The common name of the Sea Eagle—Pygargus—is derived from the Greek word
which means “white tail.” These Birds feed on Fish and aquatic Birds.
They are found along the shores of Europe, Northern Siberia, Asia Minor
and Egypt. A powerful, bold and dangerous Bird of Prey, with a covering
of slate colored and golden brown feathers with light and dark streaks
and bands. Like the Stone Eagle, he pursues every wild animal he can
overpower and besides this, he makes good use of his unfeathered talons
to the terror of the watery inhabitants, in catching Fish with ease. The
Porcupine’s prickly coat is no protection against him, nor the Fox’s
sharp teeth. Neither the precaution of the Wild Goose, nor the readiness
of the Diving Bird in disappearing under the waves, nor the guard of the
faithful Dog and Shepherd over the Lamb. Neither the Fish’s cool
element. All are the prey of the bold robber. He attacks Children, and,
under favorable conditions, even grown persons. His principal
nourishment is Fish and for this reason his aerie is generally near the
seacoast or large inland streams. He does not at all despise carrion and
during the winter regularly haunts fishing places and the regions of
mankind, such as flaying places, slaughter-houses, etc., wherever there
is a possibility of his obtaining booty. In Northern Russia and Siberia,
in the winter, when every river and pond is frozen over, the Sea Eagle
is obliged to exist entirely on land animals, and overcome by hunger
boldly snatches a Fox from the horde (see illustration), soars away with
and kills him; heedless of his struggles and attempt to free himself, by
attacking with his sharp teeth, the fangs and bill grasping him.

                             THE BUZZARDS.

[Illustration: BUZZARDS.]

The Buzzards have long wings and a large head. They do not chase their
prey when it is on the wing, but hide themselves, where they wait until
a victim passes within reach. When thus occupied they will sometimes
remain for several hours perfectly quiet, looking so sleepy and inactive
that their stupidity has become proverbial. This stupid look is partly
due to the weakness of their eyes, which are affected by strong light.

They generally build their nests in the loftiest trees, and occasionally
in thickets of brushwood among the rocks. When frost comes they visit
farm yards and steal poultry, and when pressed by hunger they become
very bold.

                          THE VULTURE FAMILY.

[Illustration: Vulture and Griffin Fighting over Prey.]

The Vultures are the most disgusting of the feathered creation. Like the
Hyena among animals, they rarely attack living prey, but live almost
entirely upon putrid flesh, and after filling themselves with this food
they will remain in a state of stupid torpor until it is digested. Yet
much as we despise them, we must recognize their friendly mission to
mankind, for while the other Birds of Prey are often of use to the
farmers, etc., in killing off the field and barn Mice, and destructive
insects, the Vultures remove all decaying flesh and putrid matter from
the earth that might otherwise breed disease.

The Vultures fly heavily, but mount aloft to great altitudes. They have
wonderful powers of vision. Should a carcass be left on the plain they
immediately see it, and drop down, turning over and over in their hurry
to arrive at the feast.

The Bearded Griffon, Condor, King Vulture, Urubu, Turkey Buzzard,
Fulvous Vulture and Pondicherry Vulture, are the principal species of
the great Vulture family.

                          THE BEARDED GRIFFON.

The Bearded Griffon is the celebrated Lammergeyer, described by some
Naturalist under the name of the Golden Vulture. The Lammergeyer forms,
as the name indicates, an intermediate genus between the Eagles and the
Vultures, having head and eyes like the Vultures and feet and strong
beak like the Eagles. It owes its name—Bearded Griffon—to a tuft of
stiff hair that is under the beak. The loftiest mountains of Europe,
Asia and Africa are its home, and its aerie, which is of great size, is
built among the most inaccessible rocks.

In our illustration, one of these Bearded Griffons or Golden Vultures
has discovered a Common Vulture (sometimes called the Goose Hawk)
feasting upon the carcass of a Pamir-sheep (one of the greatest of the
Sheep species, inhabiting lofty plateaus above the tree limit).

The Vulture at the feast hears the rushing of mighty wings and the
Bearded Griffon, followed by his wife, drops on a neighboring rock.

With spreading wings and wide opened bill, the Bearded Griffon flies on
his opponent to make him relinquish his booty; but the Vulture is not
easily scared off. He is courageous, passionate and artful. With ruffled
plumage, neck drawn in, beak opened to ward off the blow, he awaits the
attack. Suddenly he darts out the long neck quick as a wink and seeks to
give his enemy a blow with his beak. But the other is on his guard, and
the Vulture again takes the waiting attitude. But it will not last long;
the Bearded Griffon rushes on him, and with claws meeting these kings of
the air fight out a mighty battle. It is scarcely to be doubted that the
stronger Bearded Griffon will at last win the victory and divide the
spoil with his wife, while the exhausted and bleeding Vulture flies away
to seek some other supply to satisfy his hunger. So throughout all
nature the bitter fight for existence goes on, and ever the strong must
be overcome by the yet stronger.

                              THE CONDOR.

[Illustration: Condor Capturing Llama.]

As in the Alps and Pyrenees the Vulture and his kin reign and build
their aerie, so in the mountain heights of the South American Andes,
from the equator to the 45 degrees of latitude, the mighty Condor
reigns. He is the most powerful of all Birds of Prey, of whose mode of
living mankind has only been able during the last few years, to obtain
much accurate information. The color of his plumage is black shading
toward dark blue. The centre of the wings are white, head and throat are
almost bare, and the warty skin on both sides of the neck is red. The
red comb on the head and the white silky collar are sufficiently
characteristic of the Condor to distinguish him from other Birds of
these mountains.

The power of flight and swiftness of this Bird is altogether
extraordinary and the keenness of his sight wonderful. He, like the
other Vultures, subsists on carrion. In case of a deficiency in this
direction, he attacks herds of Lambs, Sheep and Calves and among the
various species of Llama infesting his regions he causes great
devastation, wherefore inhabitants of these mountain regions have great
aversion for him and endeavor in every possible manner to entrap and
destroy him. It is astonishing how this Bird, swaying at such tremendous
height that the naked eye can scarcely discern him, can detect carrion,
which has been thrown aside as a bait for him, or the nearness of
wounded animal, and how first one, then others, appear, of whose
presence one has previously had no inkling. When the Condor pursues an
animal, he continues the chase until either the prey, leaping over a
precipice, dashes to pieces, or he pounces upon and crushes it,
battering in its skull with his powerful bill. His principal booty as
previously mentioned, is the swift-footed though defenceless Llama. In
the illustration we see how a powerful Condor has pursued one of the
most useful of domestic animals until he has fallen exhausted, and now
proceeds to kill and consume him. In the distance hovers a comrade with
whom he will be obliged, willingly or otherwise, to share the booty.


The Swimming Birds or Natatores take their name from the Latin natare,
to swim. The toes are united by the extension of webs between them; and
the whole order of Swimming Birds can dive without the body becoming
wet, as their feathers are anointed with an oily liquid furnished by
certain glands in their skin, which renders them impervious to moisture.
This oily substance and the structure of their feathers—which are
smooth, three-cornered, and closely interlaced—cause the water to glide
off their polished surface; while the down beneath the feathers protects
their bodies from the cold of the most severe winters.

The Swimming Birds are very numerous both in species and individuals,
and inhabit all countries. According to some Naturalists these Birds
which frequent the sea constitute one-fourteenth part of all the Birds
on the globe, and the number of species is said to be nearly ten
thousand. They feed on vegetables, insects and Fishes, and build their
nests on the sand, in nooks and crannies of the rocks, or on the margin
of lakes and rivers.

                       THE BLACK-THROATED DIVER.

The Black-throated Diver is small and slender. It floats deep in the
water, and when alarmed, swims at surprising speed, with outstretched
neck and rapid beat of the wings, and little more than its head above
the surface.

It flies high and in a direct course with great rapidity.

Mr. Selby describes an ineffectual pursuit of a pair on Loch Shin, in
Sutherlandshire, which was long persevered in. In this case submersion
frequently took place, which continued for nearly two minutes at a time,
and they generally reappeared at nearly a quarter of a mile distant from
the spot at which they went down. In no instance did he ever see them
attempt to escape by taking wing. When swimming, they are in the
constant habit of dipping their bill in the water with a graceful motion
of the head and neck.

“I may observe,” says this acute ornithologist, “that a visible track
from the water to the nest was made by the female, whose progress on
land is effected by shuffling along upon her belly, propelled from
behind by her legs.”

The Black-throated Diver has the beak and throat black; summit of the
head ashy grey; the breast and the sides of the neck white, with black
spots; the back and rump black; the coverts of the wings with white
spots, and all the lower parts pure white. The Bird, though rare in
England and France, is very common in the north of Europe. It is found
on the lakes of Siberia, of Iceland, in Greenland and Hudson’s Bay, and
sometimes in the Orkney Islands. The women of Lapland make bonnets with
its skin dressed without removing the feathers; but in Norway it is
considered an act of impiety to destroy it, as the different cries which
it utters are said to prognosticate fine weather or rain.

The eggs, of which there are two, sometimes three, in the same nest, are
of a very elongated oval form, three inches in length, two inches in the
greatest girth and of a brownish olive sprinkled with black or
dark-brown spots, and are larger at one end than at the other.

In the spring the Sea-birds assemble in large flocks. In fact certain
localities are chosen year after year, and these are occupied by
innumerable flocks at certain seasons, all of which seem to live
together in perfect harmony.

Some of the families of the Swimming Birds are valuable additions to the
poultry yards. Ducks and Geese furnish delicate and nourishing food; the
Swan is gracefully ornamental on our lakes and ponds. The down of all
the aquatic Birds as an article of commerce is of great value in
northern countries. Their eggs constitute good food, and in many
countries the inhabitants consume them in great quantities.

But their usefulness does not end here. Guano, so eagerly sought for by
the farmer, is the excrement of aquatic Fowls which has accumulated for
ages, until in the South Pacific Ocean it is said to have formed whole
islands; some of them being covered with this valuable agricultural
assistant to the depth of ninety or a hundred yards. This does not seem
so marvellous when it is considered that twenty-five or thirty thousand
Sea-birds sleep on these islands night after night, and that each of
them will yield half a pound of guano daily, which owes its unrivalled
fertilizing power to the ammoniacal salts, phosphate of lime, and
fragments of feathers of which it is composed.

Although the numerous Swimming Birds are alike in having webbed feet and
oily plumage that cannot be saturated with water, they have also many
points of difference which make it necessary to divide them into various
families. For instance, some of the Swimmers are feeble and slow in
their flight, and others cannot even rise from the water as their wings
are so small. On the other hand, there are species which possess
wonderful power of traversing the air, their well-developed wings
enabling them to pass through space with marvellous rapidity. The
Petrels seem to delight in storms and tempests, mingling their cries
with the roar of the waves; and the dread which is experienced by the
mariner at the approach of a gale is unknown to the Sea Gull and
Albatros, for they appear to delight in the warring elements.

Because of these differences in their characteristics, Naturalists have
divided the Swimming Birds in various ways, but the best and the
simplest is the division into four great families. First, the Divers, or
the Sea Birds with thin, short wings; second, the large family to which
the Swan and Ducks and Geese belong; third, the Pelican family; fourth,
the Swimming Birds with long wings.

                         THE FAMILY OF DIVERS.

The most important birds found in this family are the Great Northern
Diver, the Arctic Diver, Penguins, Auks, Grebes, and Guillemots.

All these Birds are distinguished by wings so thin and short as to be
almost useless for flying. They are all habitual divers and tireless
swimmers, using their wings as Fish do their fins. To raise their wings
after taking a down stroke requires much greater effort than a Bird of
flight makes in raising its wings in the air; for this reason the muscle
in the wings of the Diving Birds has an unusually large development to
give them greater strength.

The Divers are inhabitants of northern seas. There they build their
nests on some solitary island and lay two eggs, oblong in shape and
white in color. Fish, particularly the Herring, are their principal
food, and they are such active swimmers and divers that it takes a quick
eye and hand to shoot them.

                       THE GREAT NORTHERN DIVER.

This great Bird has been called a wanderer on the ocean. It is not only
found along the margins of the sea, fishing in the bays and at the river
banks, but is also met with out on the ocean many miles from the shore.
Narrow channels and sandy bays are, however, its favorite resorts; there
it floats, its body deeply submerged in the water. But though swimming
so deep in the water, it can overtake and shoot ahead of all the more
buoyant swimmers.

The Bird is sometimes known as the Loon. It is seldom found on the land,
being ill fitted for walking or flying, and although it is expert in
swimming long distances under water, and when it does come up seldom
exposes more than its neck, it flies rather better than many other
short-winged divers. It flies heavily, in a circle, round those who have
disturbed it in its haunts, its loud and melancholy cry resembling the
howling of a wolf, or the distant scream of a man in distress. When the
“Loon” calls frequently, it is supposed to portend a storm. In the bad
weather which precedes the advent of winter on the northern American
lakes, previous to migration, the wild weird note of the Loon is so
unnatural that the Indians ascribe to it supernatural powers.

                             THE PENGUINS.

[Illustration: PENGUIN.]

The Penguins belong exclusively to cold countries. They live almost
entirely in the water, and although they seldom come ashore, except to
build their nests and lay their eggs, or when driven by squalls or
storms from their favorite element, they do not often swim far from the
land. On the shore they are compelled to sit erect, as their feet are
placed at the extremity of the body—an arrangement which renders them
awkward and heavy when they try to sit or walk. They carry the head very
high and the neck stretched out, while their short winglets are held out
like two short arms. When they sit perched in flocks on some lofty
projecting rock they might be mistaken at a distance for a line of

At certain periods of the year the Penguins assemble on the beach as if
they had planned to meet for deliberation. These assemblies last for a
day or two, and are conducted with an obvious degree of solemnity. When
the meeting results in a decision, they proceed to work with great

Upon a ledge of rock, sufficiently level and of the necessary size, they
trace a square with one of its sides parallel and overlooking the edge
of the water, which is left open for the egress of the colony. Then with
their beaks they proceed to collect all the stones in the neighborhood,
which they heap up outside the lines marked out, to serve them as a wall
to shelter them from the prevailing winds. During the night these
openings are guarded by sentinels.

They afterwards divide the enclosure into smaller squares, each large
enough to receive a certain number of nests, with a passage between each
square. No architect could arrange the plan in a more regular manner.

What is most singular is that the Albatross, a Bird adapted for flight,
associates at this period with these half Fish, half Birds, the
Penguins; so that the nest of an Albatross may be seen next the nest of
a Penguin, and the whole colony, so differently constituted, appear to
live on the best terms of intimacy. Each keeps to its own nest, and if
by chance there is a complaint, it is that some Penguin has robbed the
nest of his neighbor, the Albatross.

Other Sea-birds come to partake of the hospitality of the little
republic. With the permission of the masters of the society, they build
their nests in the vacancies that occur in the squares.

The Penguin lays but one egg, which she only leaves for a few moments
until hatched, the mate taking her place while she seeks her food. The
Penguins are so numerous in the Antarctic seas, that 100,000 eggs have
been collected by the crew of one vessel.

The King Penguin has been described by most Naturalists as a distinct
species. Of this there is little doubt. They abound in the southern
seas. Their short stunted wings, which make them quite incapable of
flying, are reduced to a flat and very short stump, totally destitute of
feathers, being covered with a soft down, having something of the
appearance of hair, which might be taken for scales. Like all the
Penguins, this Bird is an excellent swimmer and diver, and its coating
of down is so dense that it even resist a bullet; it is consequently
difficult to shoot.

Their nests are a very simple construction, for they content themselves
with a hole in the sand deep enough to contain two eggs, but more often

In spite of the limited number of eggs, the quantity of these Birds
found in the south of Patagonia is something marvellous. When sailors
land in these high latitudes they take or kill as many as they choose.
Sir John Narborough says, speaking of those at the Falkland Islands,
that “when the sailors walked among the feathered population to provide
themselves with eggs, they were regarded with sidelong glances.” In many
places the shores were covered with these Birds, and 300 have been taken
within an hour; for generally they make no effort to escape, but stand
quietly by while their companions are being knocked down with sticks.

In another islet, in the Straits of Magellan, Captain Drake’s crew
killed more than 3,000 in one day. These facts are not exaggerated. This
island, when visited by these navigators, probably had never been
pressed previously by a human foot, and the Birds had succeeded each
other from generation to generation in incalculable numbers, hitherto
free from molestation.

The Penguins have no fear of man. Mr. Darwin pleasantly relates an
encounter that he had with one of these Birds on the Falkland Islands.
“One day,” he says, “having placed myself between a Penguin and the
water, I was much amused by the action of the Bird. It was a brave Bird,
and, till reaching the sea, it regularly fought and drove me backwards.
Nothing less than heavy blows would have stopped him. Every inch gained
he kept firmly, standing close before me firm, erect and determined, all
the time rolling his head from side to side in a very odd manner.”

There are many species of Penguins, the handsomest probably being the
Crested Penguin, which is a native of Patagonia, and has a very
conspicuous appearance. These Birds are called by sailors, regardless of
species, Jackass Penguins, from their habit, when on shore, of throwing
their head backwards, and of making a strange loud noise very like the
braying of a Donkey.

This family all defend themselves vigorously with their beaks when an
attempt is made to lay hands on them; and when pursued, they will
pretend to retreat, and return immediately, throwing themselves upon
their assailant. “At other times they will look at you askance,” says
Pernetty, “the head inclined first on one side, then on the other, as if
they were mocking you.” They hold themselves upright on their feet, the
body erect in a perpendicular line with the head. Navigators passing
these islands of the southern seas might suppose that they were densely
inhabited, for the loud roaring voices of these Birds produce a noise
equal to that of a great crowd. The flesh is most unpalatable, but it is
frequently the only resource of ship’s crews who find themselves short
of provisions in these inhospitable regions. However, their eggs have
the redeeming quality of being excellent.

                                THE AUK.

The Auk is a noble Bird, which was once common in our waters, but at
this date scarce even in the Arctic seas; it is but little known. In
habits and mode of life it strongly resembles the Penguins.

                              THE GREBES.

The Grebes have the head small, the neck somewhat elongated, the legs
attached to the abdomen, the tail rudimentary, the tarsi compressed, the
anterior toes united at their base by a membrane. These Birds live on
the sea, but they inhabit fresh water by preference, feeding on small
Fishes, Worms, Molluscs, Insects, and the products of aquatic
vegetation. While they dive and swim admirably, they also fly with
vigorous wing; but they rarely resort to this unless alarmed or when

The nest of the Grebe is usually placed in a tuft of rushes on the edge
of the water. It is composed of large grassy plants roughly interlaced,
and the interior is lined with soft broken grasses delicately arranged.
The eggs vary from three to seven. On shore they cannot walk well, but
creep along in an awkward manner. They are covered with fine, warm down,
so close and lustrous that muffs are made from their breast.

Grebes are inhabitants of the old and new Continents. Among the European
species may be noticed the Crested Grebe, about the size of a Duck,
ornamented with a double black crest; the Horned Grebe, provided with
two long tufts of feathers, in the form of a horn; and the Eared Grebe,
distinguished by its beak, the base of which is depressed, while the
point is raised upwards.

The Crested Grebe is the best known in the United States. These have
been found in limited numbers around the Great Lakes and as far south as

                        DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS.

This family of Swimming Birds are perhaps better known all over the
world than any other large group of Birds. It is unnecessary to describe
the characteristics to make us acquainted with the family, but it may be
well to mention some of the principal types.


The Ducks are of two sorts, either wild or tame. The Wild Ducks comprise
two groups—the Sea Ducks, which feed mostly in salt waters, dive much in
feeding, and have a very broad bill; and the Pond Ducks, which have a
straight and narrow bill; these generally frequent the fresh water, but
pass much of their time on land, feeding on aquatic plants, Insects,
Worms and sometimes Fish.

The first division comprises the Shieldrake, Muscovy Duck, Gadwall,
Shoveller, Pintail, Widgeon, Bimaculated Duck, Garganey and Teal. The
second division includes the Red-crested Duck, Pochard, Ferruginous
Duck, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, and Golden
Eye; while between the two divisions are placed (as possessing some of
the characteristics of each) the Eider Duck, King Duck, Velvet Duck and


Geese in many respects resemble Ducks and Swans, but they are less
aquatic in their habits, often keeping at a distance from large bodies
of water and living in moist meadows and marshes, where they find
herbage and various kinds of seeds on which to feed. They swim very
little and seldom dive. They make their nests on the ground, and lay
from six to eight eggs, which are hatched in a little more than a month.

The Wild Goose, though not very elegant in form, has none of the
awkwardness of the Domestic Goose, which is generally supposed to be
descended from it.

There are very few species of Wild Geese compared with the Ducks. The
Grey-lag Goose, the Canada Goose, Bean Goose, White-fronted Bernicle and
the Black-faced Bernicle form the most distinct species.

Although they are seldom seen on the water during the day, Wild Geese go
every evening to the ponds and rivers in their neighborhoods to pass the
night, so that the Wild Goose visits its aquatic haunts when the Wild
Ducks are leaving them.


[Illustration: BLACK NECKED SWANS.]

Just as the Goose has long been the symbol of awkwardness and stupidity,
so the Swan has been an object of admiration in all ages for its noble
proportions, the graceful curve of its neck and its small and shapely
head. On the water it is the picture of elegant ease. It swims
apparently without effort and with great rapidity. Different species are
found in America, Europe and Asia, and in Australia a black Swan is very

In the wild state it lives on lakes, rivers and sea-coasts of both
hemispheres, feeding on such seeds, leaves, roots, water-insects, Frogs
and Worms as come in its way. In its domestic state, it is the charm and
ornament of our lakes and rivers; but, except in a few instances, it is
only kept for show, as it is jealous and cruel in disposition and not
friendly with domestic fowls.

Both the Mute and the Whistling Swan were celebrated among the ancients;
and the Black Swan of Australia is quite distinct from the white and the
Grey Swans of other countries; and one curious species is pure white
with a black neck, like those of our illustration who are enjoying
themselves in the water, all unconscious of the danger lurking on the
tree-branch above them, although the chattering Parrots seem to be
endeavoring to give them warning.

The Swan, like the Goose, lays from six to eight eggs, of a greenish
white color. It takes them about six weeks to hatch. The baby Swans or
Cygnets are first covered with a grey down, soft and fine like the
yellow down of Goslings. The regular feathers do not appear until the
third year.

                          THE PELICAN FAMILY.

[Illustration: PELICANS.]

All the Birds of the Pelican family are distinguished by having the hind
toe united to the others by a single membrane. Some of the group are
large and heavy Birds, but they are all gifted with powerful wings, and
they are, at the same time, good swimmers. Besides the Pelicans
themselves, we find in this family of Birds, the Tropic Bird, the
Darter, the Gannets and the Cormorants.

The Pelicans are large, heavy aquatic Birds, with great extent of wing
and are excellent swimmers; their haunts are the sea-coast, and the
banks of rivers, lakes, and marshes. Whenever a Fish betrays its
presence by leaping or flashing its glittering scales in the sun, the
Pelican will be seen sailing towards it.

This Bird has an appetite so insatiable and a stomach so capacious that,
in one day it devours as much food as would satisfy six men. The
Egyptians have nicknamed it the River Camel, because it can imbibe at
once more than twenty pints of water. Certainly it only makes two meals
a day; but, oh, what meals they are!

Pelicans often travel in large flocks, visiting the mouths of rivers or
favorite retreats on the sea-coast. When they have made choice of a
suitable fishing place, they arrange themselves in a wide circle, and
begin to beat the water with extended wing, so as to drive the Fish
before them, gradually diminishing the circle as they approach the shore
or some inlet on the coast. In this manner they get all the Fish
together into a small space, when the common feast begins.

After gorging themselves, they retire to the shore, where the process of
digestion follows. Some rest with the neck over the back; others busily
dress and smoothe their plumage, waiting patiently until returning
appetite invites them to fresh exertions. When thus resting,
occasionally one of these Birds empties his well-lined pouch, and
spreads in front of him all the Fish that it contains, in order to feed
upon them at leisure.

In spite of its great size, the Pelican flies easily and to considerable
distances. It does not dive but will occasionally dash down on Fish from
a considerable height, and with such force that it becomes submerged;
but its buoyancy instantly brings it again to the surface. It perches on
trees, but seems to prefer rocks.

The nest is generally formed of coarse, reedy grass, lined with softer
material and placed in the clefts of dry rocks near the water.
Occasionally they will lay in an indentation in the ground which they
have previously roughly lined with blades of grass.

The Pelican is more common in tropical regions than in temperate
climates. They are very numerous in Africa, Siam, Madagascar, the Sunda
Isles, the Philippines; and in the Western Hemisphere they abound from
the Antilles to the northern temperate part of the North American
continent. They haunt the neighborhood of rivers and lakes and the

The best known species are—first, the Crested Pelican; second, the White
Pelican; third, the Brown Pelican; fourth, the Spectacled Pelican.

                          THE CRESTED PELICAN.

The Crested Pelican in common with the White Pelican, inhabits the
southeast of Europe and Africa, and is also found in Hungary, Dalmatia,
Greece, the Crimea, and the Ionian Islands, as well as in Algeria, and,
according to some authors, it is frequently met with in China.

It has white plumage, with the exception that the ends of the feathers
of the back and wings are black. The feathers of the head and upper part
of the neck are twisted up so as to form a large tuft or crest, hence
the name it bears. Its European home is principally the marshes round
the Black Sea.

Of their modes of life travelers in those regions give very interesting

“Nowadays,” says W. H. Simpson, “a solitary individual may be seen
fishing here and there throughout this vicinity; the remnant have
betaken themselves to the neighboring islands. Here, towards the end of
February last, the community constituted a group of seven nests—a sad
falling off from the year before, when thirty-four nests were grouped
upon a neighboring islet.

“As we approached the spot in a boat the Pelicans left their nests, and
taking to the water, sailed away like a fleet of stately ships, leaving
their nursery in possession of the invader. The boat grounded in two or
three feet of mud, and when the party had floundered through this, the
seven nests were found to be empty. A fisherman had plundered them that
morning, taking from each nest one egg, which we afterwards recovered.
The nests were constructed in a great measure of old reed palings (used
by the natives for enclosing Fish) mixed with such pieces of the
vegetation of the islet as were suitable for the purpose. The seven
nests were arranged in the shape of an irregular cross, the navel of the
cross, which was the tallest nest, being about thirty inches high, the
two next in line being about two feet, and the two forming the arms
being a few inches lower, the two extremes at either end being about
fourteen inches from the ground. The eggs are chalky, like others of the
Pelican family, very rough in texture.”

                           THE WHITE PELICAN.

The White Pelican is as large as a Swan. Its bill is about fifteen
inches in length. Its plumage is white, with a slightly rosy tint, the
crest and a few feathers on the neck yellowish.

It is very common on the lakes and rivers of Hungary and southern
Russia, as well as on the banks of the Danube. A wild rocky shore, where
it can look down on the sea, is the favorite haunt of this Pelican; but
it is not uncommon for it to perch on trees. The nest is formed of
coarse reedy grass, with a lining of finer quality; it is generally made
on the ground, and is about eighteen inches in diameter, in which it
lays four, sometimes five, white eggs, but more frequently two, slightly
oblong, and alike at both ends. Fish forms its principal food, which it
captures chiefly in shallow inlets, as it is an indifferent diver.
Occasionally its flight is lofty, but generally close to the surface of
the water.

                           THE BROWN PELICAN.

The Brown Pelican is an American species, smaller than the preceding. It
has the head and the neck variegated with white and ash-color; all the
rest of the plumage of a brownish grey, with white marks on the back;
the pouch is of an ashy blue, striped with a red hue. It is found on the
coasts of Peru, Florida and South Carolina.

Although heavy-looking on the wing, this species is capable of
performing flights of immense distance, and to a certain extent may be
considered migratory. In winter they are seldom seen beyond the edge of
the tropics, but in summer they are frequently found as far north as the
thirty-sixth degree of latitude. Extremely wary and difficult of
approach, they are seldom shot, although persistently pursued by
fishermen, on account of the immense damage they do to the spawn and
young Fish.

They are also possessed of the greatest powers of vitality, and resist
death when pierced with wounds so serious that they would inevitably
kill any other species.

From this circumstance doubtless they receive the name of Die-hards from
the residents that dwell on the margin of the Gulf of Mexico. When
disabled from taking flight, their courage in defending themselves from
an assailant is as remarkable as that of the Bittern; but being
possessed of superior size and strength to the latter Bird, the Brown
Pelican can successfully resist the strongest Dog.

Like the other species of this genus they live in small communities of
twenty or thirty members, and build their nests upon the ground closely
adjoining each other, and the utmost good fellowship, almost affection
for each other, exists between them. The young Birds remain with their
parents till the spring following their birth, the old ones driving them
off to seek new homes, when the advance of the season tells them that
they must provide a home for a coming family. As in many other races,
the plumage of the young is much darker and less handsomely marked than
in the adults. From frequent persecution, the Brown Pelican has of late
years much diminished in numbers.

                        THE SPECTACLED PELICAN.

The Spectacled Pelican, which is only found in southern climates, is
thus named from the naked skin which surrounds its eyes, giving the Bird
the appearance of having on a pair of spectacles. Its plumage is white,
and in habits and mode of life it closely resembles the previously
described species. One of its principal haunts is along the southern
coasts of China, especially in the vicinity of the mouth of the Canton
river, and on the bays near it. The Chinese regard them as sacred, and
nothing would induce them either to rob them of their eggs or young.

Longevity is reported to be one of their characteristics. A very old
mandarin, living on the margin of Meers’ Bay, once pointed out a
Spectacled Pelican, that he said he could remember since his childhood.
This Bird was partially tamed; for although it went long distances to
fish, it always returned to his village to pass the night.


[Illustration: ALBATROS.]

The fourth large family of Swimming Birds includes the many long-winged
species which are thus named not only because of the great length of
their wings, but for their long and enduring power of flight. Mariners
meet them everywhere, and easily recognize them by their long and
pointed wings, forked tails and short legs. They pass their lives at a
great distance from land, and do not approach the shore except to lay
their eggs and hatch their young. In this family are found the
Albatrosses, the Petrels, Gulls, Skuas, Scissors-bills or Skimmers, and
the Sea Swallows.

The Albatross is the largest and the most bulky of all the Birds which
fly over the surface of the sea. It belongs principally to the southern
hemisphere. The sailors know it under the name of Cape Sheep, which they
give it on account of its enormous size. Its extended wings measure as
much as sixteen feet five inches across. Its plumage is generally white,
with the exception of a dark back.

Courage is not measured by size. This rule holds good in these Birds,
for notwithstanding their wonderful strength and their large, strong,
sharp and hooked bills, they exhibit the most unaccountable cowardice.
Even a poor weak Sea-mew will attack an Albatross, the cowardly giant
finding no better means of getting rid of his enemy than by plunging
into the water. Although they are most gluttonous in taste, they prefer
flight to contending for their food. This consists of marine animals,
Molluscs, and the spawn of Fish. When they are filled to repletion, and
the prey which they have seized is too large to swallow whole, they may
be seen with part of it hanging outside their bill, until the first half
is digested. Thus embarrassed, the Albatross has only one mode of escape
if it happens to be pursued; namely, by disgorging the food with which
its stomach is overloaded.

Gifted with an extraordinary power of flight, these Birds venture out to
enormous distances from land, more especially in stormy weather. They
seem to delight in storms. When overcome with fatigue, they repose on
the surface of the sea, placing their head under their wings. When in
this position they are very easily captured. In order to do this, the
sailors have only to approach silently, and knock them down with a
boat-hook or spear them with a harpoon.

Navigators have opportunities of observing these Birds in the Antarctic
regions, where there is no night at certain seasons of the year, and
they assert that the same flocks may be seen hovering around their
vessel during many successive days without exhibiting the least signs of
exhaustion or the slightest relaxation in their strength. A peculiarity
in their mode of flight is that, whenever they are ascending or
descending, they seldom flap their wings, but fly without an effort.

To follow in the wake of some passing ship, probably because the
agitation of her track brings to the surface the small fry of marine
animals which are their principal food, appears to delight them. They
pounce upon anything that falls overboard, even Man. On one occasion a
sailor fell into the sea from a French vessel, and could not be
immediately rescued because there was no boat in a fit state to be
lowered. A flock of Albatrosses, which followed in the ship’s wake,
pounced upon the unfortunate seaman, and commenced to peck his head.
Being unable to buffet both with the sea and the enemies which
surrounded him, the poor sailor perished before the very eyes of his

The Gulls, the Albatrosses and Petrels may be said to be the Vultures of
the ocean—its scavengers; for they cleanse it of all the putrefied
animal substances which float on its surface.

In the autumn the Albatrosses congregate at their favorite
nesting-places. They assemble in immense numbers on the islands in the
South Atlantic Ocean. Their nests, which are about three feet in height,
are formed of mud.

Their flesh is very hard, and can only be rendered eatable by laying it
for a long time in salt, and afterwards boiling it, and flavoring it
with some piquant sauce.

The most remarkable species are the Common Albatross, which frequents
the seas washing the south of Africa; the Sooty Albatross which also
inhabits the seas round the Cape of Good Hope; the Yellow-beaked
Albatross which, like the preceding species, inhabits the seas of the
South Pole.


Nearly all the Wading Birds have very long legs; in some species these
are of such surprising dimensions that the Birds appear to be mounted on
stilts. This peculiarity is well adapted to their modes of life. They
inhabit river banks, lakes and marshes, in which they find their food;
consequently they are fearless of water and ooze. Not all the birds
classed with the Waders live near the water, however; the Runners, or
such Birds as the Ostrich, Agami, Bustard Emu, etc., are usually classed
with the same group because of the similarity of their long, strong legs
and short wings.

The bills of the different Birds found in this group assume various
forms. They are generally long, but according to the species, they may
be thick or slender, tapering or flat, blunt or pointed, strong or weak,
and in some kinds, such as the Flamingo, the Spoonbill, the Boatbill,
etc., they really defy all description. The neck is always slender and
in perfect harmony with the length of the legs.

Almost all the Waders are powerful Birds on the wing, and twice a year
most of them emigrate like the Wild Ducks, Geese and Swans. There are
exceptions to this rule, however. Some of them, like the Bustard, move
through the air with difficulty; while the short winged species are
unable to fly at all, their wings being only useful for helping them
along in running, and thus assisted, they are remarkably swift.

The nature of their food varies with the form and strength of the bill,
and the locality they inhabit. It consists generally of Fish, worms and
insects, and sometimes of small animals and reptiles, as well as grasses
and seeds.

The Waders are usually divided into six great families. These are
classified under long Latin names descriptive of some peculiarity
belonging to each, but which can be more easily remembered as: First,
the Waders with united toes; second, the long-toed Waders; third, the
Waders with long bills; fourth, the Waders with knife-shaped bills;
fifth, the Waders with compressed bills; sixth, the short-winged Birds.

                      THE WADERS WITH UNITED TOES.

As the feet of these Birds are partly webbed, they seem to belong to the
swimmers, but the arrangement of their toes is altogether different, and
their unusually long legs would also place them in a different family.
This is the smallest of the family of Waders. In fact only two varieties
are usually found in it—the Avocet and the Stilt Bird.

                              THE AVOCET.

This Bird has a very curious bill—long, slender, flexible and curved
upwards. It uses this strange instrument to rake up the sand and mud in
order to catch the worms, small molluscs and Fish-spawn, which
constitute its chief food. Its long legs enable it to travel in safety
over swamps and lagoons; it also swims with great ease. It may often be
seen looking for its food on the margins of lakes and ponds.

The Avocet stands about twenty inches in height, although its body is
but little larger than a Pigeon’s. It is a pretty bird, of slender make;
its plumage is black on the head and back, and white underneath. It is
to be met with on both the Continents; the European species is common in
Holland and on the French coast. Wild and shy in its nature, it is very
difficult of approach, and is clever in avoiding snares and in escaping
pursuit, either by flight or swimming. The nest of the Avocet is a very
simple structure, generally made by placing a few blades of grass in a
hole in the sand, where it lays two or three eggs, of which it is
frequently robbed, for they are regarded as great delicacies. The flesh,
however, is of little value.

                            THE STILT BIRDS.

The Stilt Birds obtain their name from the excessive length of their
legs, which are also so slender and flexible that they can be bent
considerably without breaking. Their feet are not so completely webbed
as the species we have just mentioned; the two membranes which unite the
toes are unequal in size. The bill is long, slender and sharp, like that
of the Avocet, but straight; the wings are long and pointed; the tail
small. They are about the size of the Avocet, and sometimes attain the
height of twenty-six inches. They possess considerable powers of flight,
but walk with difficulty; on the other hand, they are much at home on
mud or in marshes and swamps, in which they bore with their long beaks
for insects, larvae, and small molluscs, dainties to which they are very

They are dull, shy birds, leading a solitary life, except at nesting
time. At that period they assemble in great numbers, build their nests
in the marshes, on little hillocks, close to one another, grass being
the principal material employed. They lay four greenish colored eggs,
with ash colored spots. The male bird watches while the females are
sitting; and, at the slightest alarm, he raises a cry which startles the
flock. The whole colony may then be seen on the wing, waiting for the
danger to pass before settling down.

Stilt Birds are uncommon in Western Europe; they are principally to be
met with in the Russian and Hungarian marshes. During the summer they
occasionally visit the shores of the Mediterranean, but they are seldom
seen on those of the Atlantic.

                           LONG-TOED WADERS.

[Illustration: Reed Hen Caught by Fish.]

The Birds forming this family are remarkable for the extreme length of
their toes, which are entirely separate, or but slightly webbed; they
are thus enabled to walk on the weeds growing on the surface of the
water. In most instances the shortness of their wings limits their
powers of flight.

This order includes the Gallinules, or Water Hens, Rails, Coots,
Pratincoles, and Screamers.

The chief characteristics of the Reed Hen are a short and strong bill,
thick at the base and sharp at the end, with a prolongation of it
extending up the forehead; four well-spread toes, furnished with sharp
claws—the three front toes united by a small and cloven membrane. Their
favorite haunts are marshy places and the banks of lakes or rivers,
where they feed on Worms, Insects, Molluscs, and the smaller Fish. The
Pike is their greatest enemy.

In early spring, Reed Hens return from the southern winter quarters and
hunt up their summer pond. Like the Stork and the Swallow, they return
from year to year to their chosen and beloved home. Among last year’s
reeds and gray rushes, the pair bustle around hunting food and a
suitable place for the cradle of their children. They are neat and
graceful looking Birds, interesting in every movement, likewise in
figure and coloring. The feathers are dark brown and slate gray, spotted
white on the sides. The forehead is red and the glistening eyes are
encircled with yellow, gray and red rings. The bill is yellow at the
point and red at the roots. The long toes are edged with flaps for
swimming and they glide easily and safely over the water.

They locate their nest on a down-trodden reed bush by the shore, a low
decayed trunk of a tree or on the edge of an island of leaves. It is
mostly hidden and presents little of beauty, but is suitable for its
purpose. From six to twelve eggs are soon laid therein, which are large
for the size of the Bird, and are spotted dark brown. The hatching lasts
three weeks, then the young ones appear, cute little things who leave
the nest the next day and follow the lead of the mother into the water.

A more delightful picture can hardly be imagined, than when the little
chicks bustle around the parents, now here, now there, catching large
flies, a worm, or a water insect. Swift as an arrow they shoot towards
the mother when she has found a morsel for them. Alertly the old ones
watch in every direction for possible danger. Now appears above them a
dark circling dot. A short call, and swift as lightning the whole family
disappears. Where to? One could hardly guess if not here and there a
brown head peeps out from under the green leaf or blade in the water, or
a yellow bill point appears on the mirrored surface. When the danger is
over, all again appear.

These Birds are experts in hide and seek play. They dive and swim like a
Fish under water, using their wings to row. It would appear as though no
enemy could harm them. Mankind protects them. Dogs and Cats cannot
pursue them into the water. Falcon, Hawk or Marshbirds cannot find their
hiding places. Yet in the midst of the quiet, poetic, lonely pond, among
blooming water-roses and lilies, treason and death lurks for them; and
this enemy, knavish and frightful, the Reed Hen cannot escape. It is the
Pike. His outward appearance shows what a bold robber he is. The trunk
narrow and long, the flattened head with wide open, broad jaws lined
with a terrible set of long, pointed, rake-like teeth. Anything they
catch hold of is lost.

With strong strokes the pirate rows through his element. Nothing is safe
from him. He feeds on the small Frogs and Snakes, Carp, Trout and White
Fish. Like the Shark in the ocean, the blood-thirsty tyrant is master of
the surroundings in every fresh water settlement. He snatches young
Ducks, and often destroys whole broods. He is the destroyer of Pond Hens
if they come within his reach. With brutal grip he drags the young Hen
into the depths of the water, nor does he spare the old ones. Under the
mirrory surface he chases the harmless family, until he has destroyed
every one. The Reed Hen avoids the spot where the Pike is found.

If everything is favorable, young Reed Hen are able to take care of
themselves after the first two or three weeks, and the old ones go about
their second hatching. When these are hatched the picture is still more
interesting, as the older children take care of the younger and help the
parents feed them, making a picture of a prosperous, flourishing family.
So they continue during the whole summer and by the beginning of autumn
the whole pond is filled with the neat little Birds, until suddenly one
morning they have all disappeared towards their winter quarters.

They return the next spring, intending to settle where they were born,
but now circumstances are changed. Last year’s Chicks are able to take
care of themselves and want to build in their own home, and naturally
search for the old familiar pond, but here arises trouble. Only one pair
is allowed in the old home. The parents jealously defend their chosen
spot against all intruders; and as loving and kind as they nurse their
young in childhood, now that they are grown up they see in them only
intruders, whom they must disperse with force. This often causes bitter
strife until the district has been cleared.

                     WADING BIRDS WITH LONG BILLS.

The Birds composing this family are characterized by a long and flexible
bill, which is well adapted for boring in the mud and soft ground. They
are usually found in the marshes or along the shore, yet some species
spend the greater part of their time inland. Among them are found the
Woodcocks, Snipes, Sandpipers, Turnstones, Ruffs, Knots, Godwits,
Curlews and Ibis.

                             THE WOODCOCK.

[Illustration: WOODCOCK.]

The Common Woodcock has a very long, straight and slender bill, and a
flattened head. These Birds live in the woods, and seldom frequent the
shore or river banks. They differ from the Snipes in having a fuller
body and broader wings. They are shy, timid Birds, and conceal
themselves by day in the depths of the most retired woods. The
brightness of daylight appears to dazzle them, and they do not seem to
see clearly until evening when they leave their retreats to seek their
food of worms and grubs in the cultivated fields, damp meadows or near

The Woodcock lays four or five oval eggs rather larger than those of the
Pigeon. The young Birds run about as soon as they are hatched, and the
parent Birds guard them with great care. If any danger threatens, the
old Birds catch up their little ones, holding them under their necks by
means of their beaks, and thus carry them to a place of safety.

                              THE SNIPES.

These Birds closely resemble the Woodcocks, but are smaller and also
different in their habits. They live in the marshes, feeding on grubs
and aquatic plants. They are found in nearly all parts of the globe, and
they make their nests among the reeds in muddy, boggy places, difficult
of access to both man and beast; in which they lay four or five eggs.
The young ones leave the nest as soon as they are hatched, but for a
long time the parents feed them, as their long bills are not solid
enough to bore for their own food.


The fourth family of Wading Birds is classified by a Latin name meaning
knife-shaped bill, although the different Birds found in this group have
bills of many curious forms; they are all long, sharp-edged and very
strong. These Birds live along the edges of marshes and the banks of
rivers, and their long legs have great strength; so that many of them
are able to stand on one leg for hours together. This faculty is said to
be due to a curious arrangement in the knee—a sort of knot which
stiffens the ligaments of the knee, forming a kind of catch similar to
the spring of a knife.

The principal species of this family are the various Storks—including
the Argala or Adjutant, the Marabou and Jabiru—the Spoonbill, Boatbill,
Heron and the different Cranes—including the Egret and the Bittern.

                              THE STORKS.


The Common Stork has a long and straight bill, wide at the base, pointed
and sharp-edged; the legs are long and slender; the tail is short. They
are found in nearly all parts of the world. Some species migrate with
regularity, being admirably constructed for traveling long distances;
for, although their bulk seems great, their weight is comparatively
small, as most of their bones are hollow. In their migratory journeys,
which occur principally by night, they fly in continuous or angular

Storks prefer moist swampy localities, as they feed principally on
Reptiles, Batrachians and Fishes; but small Birds and Mammalia,
Molluscs, Worms, Insects, even Bees are not refused by them, or carrion,
and other impurities. Their manner is slow and grave; they never appear
in a hurry. On the wing they resemble crosses, from their manner of
carrying the head and neck. They have no voice, and the only noise they
make is a cracking, which results from one mandible striking against the
other, and which expresses either anger or love; it is sometimes very
loud. They lay from two to four eggs. The duration of their life is from
fifteen to twenty years.

There are several species of Storks, the most important being the White
Stork. It measures about forty inches in height; its plumage is white;
the wings are fringed with black. This is the species best known in
Europe. Holland and Germany are its favorite residences. It is very
common in the warm and temperate parts of Asia. In the month of August
it leaves Europe to visit Africa, from whence it returns in the
following spring. This migration is not caused by temperature, as the
Stork can bear severe cold. No, it is a mere question of sustenance;
for, feeding as it does principally upon reptiles which remain in a
complete state of torpor during our winters, it is naturally compelled
to seek its food elsewhere.

The Stork is of a mild nature, and is easily tamed. As it destroys a
host of noxious creatures, it has become a useful helper to Man, who,
not ungrateful, gives it protection. In ancient Egypt it was venerated
on the same score as the Ibis; in Thessaly there was a law which
condemned to death any one killing these Birds. Even at the present day
the Germans and Dutch esteem it a fortunate omen when a Stork selects
their house for its home, and they even furnish it with inducements to
do so by placing on their roofs a box or wheel, which forms a foundation
for the Bird to build a nest, which it constructs of reeds, grass and

The Black Stork is rather smaller than the White Stork; it is a native
of eastern Europe. It feeds almost exclusively on Fish, which it catches
with much skill. It is very shy; avoids the society of Man; and builds
its nest in trees.

The Argala, also called the Adjutant, is characterized by its very
strong and large bill, and the bareness of its neck, the lower part of
which is provided with a pouch somewhat resembling a large sausage.
According to Temminck, there is a notable difference between the Marabou
and the Argala, the characteristic mark of the latter frequently hanging
down a foot, while it is much shorter in the Marabou.

The Marabou inhabits India; they feed on Reptiles and all kinds of
filth, and this fact has been the means of securing for them the
goodwill of the people. In the large cities of Hindostan they are as
tame as Dogs, and clear the streets of every kind of garbage which
litters them. At meal times they never fail drawing themselves up in
line in front of the barracks, to eat the refuse thrown to them by the
soldiers; their gluttony is so great that they will swallow enormous
bones. At Calcutta they are protected by law, which inflicts a fine on
any one killing them.

The long white feathers, celebrated for their delicacy and airiness,
which are known in commerce by the name of Marabou feathers, come from
this Bird and the African Marabou. Consequently, in spite of their
ugliness, a good many are reared in a domestic state.

There are several other species which are allied to the Storks, and are
only distinguished from them by a slightly different form of the bill.

[Illustration: JABIRU.]

The best known among these are the Jabiru, which is a native of
Australia; the curious Broad-billed Stork of Africa, as illustrated
(with the White Storks and the Demoiselle Crane on the tree); the
Bec-ouvert, which inhabits India and Africa; the Drome, which is met
with on the shores of the Black Sea and Senegal; and the Tantalus, which
lives in the warm regions of both the Old and New World.

                             THE SPOONBILL.

The Spoonbill is remarkable for the singular form of its bill, which is
about four times the length of the head, straight and flexible. The
upper part, which is about an inch and a quarter broad at the base,
gradually narrows to three-quarters of an inch, and again increases to
two inches at the point, causing a resemblance to a spoon, from which it
takes its name.

It uses this bill for dipping into the mud and water, whence it extracts
worms and small Fish, on which it principally feeds. It also eats water
insects, which it catches by placing its bill, half open, on the surface
of the water, permitting them to float on to the lower part of the bill,
when it quickly closes the bill and makes them captive.


[Illustration: SPOONBILL.]

The Birds which belong to this family differ greatly in the length of
their legs—which seems to be the main characteristic of the Waders. In
fact, some of these Birds seem to form a sort of connecting link between
the Waders and the Domestic Fowls, in the form of the bill as well as in
the length of the leg. Among them are the Golden-breasted Trumpeter, the
Cariama, the Oyster-catcher, the Plovers, the Lapwing, the Coursers, the
Dotterel, and the Bustard.


Before passing on to the sixth family of Wading or Long-legged Birds, we
must notice two curious types that seem to form distinct classes. The
Flamingoes, which are certainly Waders and yet with webbed feet like the
Swimmers, and the curious Frigate Bird about which so many strange tales
are told of its wonderful power of flight.

The Flamingo is one of the most curious of the tribe of Waders. The most
fanciful imagination would fail to picture to itself anything more odd
than the conformation of this Bird. It has extremely long legs,
supporting quite a small body; a neck corresponding in length with the
leg, a rather long bill, sharply curved and apparently broken in the
middle. Add to this a plumage of rose-color, warming into a bright red
on the back and wings, and we have an object of both wonder and

Ancient writers, struck by the vivid coloring of its wings, called this
the Fiery-winged Bird; this term was designated in France by the word
flambert, or flamant; from which came the name Flamingo, by which the
Bird is popularly known.

Flamingoes inhabit the margins of lakes and ponds, more rarely the
seashore. They feed on Worms, Molluscs, and the Spawn of Fishes, which
they capture by the following stratagem: Placing their long neck and
head in such a position that the upper mandible of their bill is the
lowest, they stir the mud about in every direction, thus easily succeed
in disturbing the small Fish which have settled in it, and capturing
them while blended with the thick sediment. They also use their feet for
working the ooze and detaching the fry and spawn, to which they are

They love company, and live in flocks, which are subject to strict
discipline. When they are fishing they draw themselves up into long,
straight and regular files, protected by sentinels whose office it is to
give a signal of alarm on the approach of danger. If any cause for
uneasiness should arise, the scout-birds give a piercing cry, not unlike
the note of a trumpet, and the whole flock immediately wing their way to
a place of safety.

Flamingoes are very shy and timid, and shun all attempts of Man to
approach them; the vicinity of animals, however, they disregard. Any one
who is acquainted with this fact can take advantage of it, for, by
dressing himself up in the skin of a Horse or an Ox, he can effect
immense slaughter among these beautiful creatures. Thus disguised, the
sportsman may shoot them down at his ease, so long as their enemy is
unrecognized; the noise of the gun only stupefies them, so that they
refuse to leave, although their companions are dropping down dead around

Some authors have asserted that the Flamingo makes use of its long neck
as a third leg, walking with its head resting on the ground like a foot.
The fact that has doubtless given rise to this supposition is the
position of the neck, necessitated by its peculiar method of seeking
food. We are told about a Flamingo reared in captivity which, being
accidentally deprived of one of its limbs, found out a remedy for its
infirmity by walking on one leg and helping itself along by means of its
bill, using the latter as a crutch; the master of the Bird, noticing
this, fitted it with a wooden leg, which it used with the greatest
success. But this story, which applies very well to a domesticated Bird
which was maimed, and consequently under peculiar conditions, does not
prove that this is a common practice.

The Flamingo makes itself a nest which is as original as its own
personal appearance. It consists of a truncated cone, about twenty
inches in height, and formed of mud dried in the sun. At the summit of
this little hillock it hollows out a shallow cavity, in which two eggs
are laid, rather elongated in shape, and of a dead white color. When
hatching the eggs, the Flamingo sits astride on this novel imitation of
a throne, with her legs hanging down on each side. The young ones run
about very soon after they are hatched, but it is some time before they
are able to fly—not, indeed, until they are clothed with their full
plumage. At two years old they assume the more brilliant colors of the
adult Bird.

The Flamingo is found in all the warm and temperate regions of the
globe. On certain islands off the American continent they exist in such
numbers that navigators have given them the name of the Flamingo
Islands. In the Old World they are found spread over a region below the
fortieth degree of latitude, principally in Egypt and the Nile
tributaries; during the summer they seek a cooler climate. The height of
these magnificent Birds reaches to about five feet; when they are
flying, in the peculiar formation common to most aquatic Birds, with the
neck stretched out and the legs projecting behind, they look, in the
clear sky, like gigantic triangles of fire.

The ancients greedily sought after the flesh of the Flamingo, which they
regarded as the most choice food. The tongue especially was thought to
be an exquisite dainty. At the present day we no longer eat the Bird; to
modern palates its flesh is disagreeable in flavor, and it retains a
marshy smell which is far from being pleasant. With regard to the
tongue, the Egyptians, it is said, are content with extracting an oil
from it, which is used to flavor certain food.

                           THE FRIGATE BIRD.

The Frigate Bird is principally characterized by a strong, robust bill,
longer than the head, with mandibles hooked at the point; the front of
the neck bare of feathers; wings very long and narrow, first two
feathers longest; tail lengthy and forked; feet short; toes united by a
membrane deeply notched.

The Frigate Bird has a most expansive spread of wing; its power of
flight is, therefore, very great. It inhabits the tropical seas of both
the Old and New World; and navigators assure us that they have met with
it many miles from any shore. When a hurricane arises they mount up far
above the storm, and remain in those empyrean regions until it is again
fine weather. In consequence of their almost disproportionate spread of
wing, they can sustain themselves in the air for lengthened periods,
without taking or requiring rest.

Their sight is so piercing that, at a distance far beyond that which
would render them invisible to us, they can perceive their prey, the
principal of which is the Flying-fish. From their elevated situation,
they dart down upon their favorite food, which has relinquished its
native element; and, keeping their neck and feet in a horizontal
position, cleave asunder the air and grasp their victim, who little
expected to meet with an enemy in the element which it sought for
safety. It is no unusual thing for it to rob the Gannet of the Fish
which it has just caught; the unfortunate Bird acting as purveyor to
this sea-robber.

The Frigate Bird is of such a combative temperament, and has such an
unbounded confidence in its strength, that it is not afraid of Man. It
has been known to dash at a sailor, and to snatch at the Fish which he
held in his hand. M. de Kerhoent, a French navigator, relates that,
during a residence at the Island of Ascension, a perfect cloud of
Frigate Birds surrounded his crew. They hovered about a few feet above
the coppers of the open-air kitchen, in order to carry off the meat,
without being intimidated in the least by the presence of his followers.
Some of them approached so near, that M. de Kerhoent knocked down one of
the impudent intruders with a blow of his stick.

They assemble in large flocks on the islands where they are accustomed
to breed. In the month of May they begin to repair their old or
construct new nests. They pluck off with their beaks from the bush small
dry branches, and with these pieces of stick crossed and re-crossed, a
foundation is formed. These nests are situated upon trees which hang
over the water, or are placed on rocks overjutting the sea; in them they
lay one egg of a pure white color.

                        THE SHORT-WINGED BIRDS.

The family of Short-winged Birds which is represented by the Ostrich,
differs so greatly from all the other long-legged Birds that some
Naturalists include them in a separate group, and call them Cursores or
Runners. This is an arrangement that has much in its favor, but they
seem to be more popularly grouped with the great order of Long-legged or
Wading Birds.

All the Birds in this family have wings, but so slightly developed that
they are entirely unfit for purposes of flight, and are only useful in
increasing the speed of their limbs. Their legs are very long and
powerful and capable of immense muscular effort, thus enabling them to
run with extraordinary fleetness.

This group includes the Ostrich, Emu, Rhea, Cassowary and the Apteryx.

                              THE OSTRICH.

[Illustration: Ostrich on Her Nest.]

The head of the Ostrich is naked and callous, with a short bill, much
depressed and rounded at the point; its legs are half naked, muscular,
and fleshy; the feet are long and rough, terminating in two toes
pointing forward, one of which is shorter than the other and has no
claw; the wings are very short, and formed of soft and flexible
feathers; the tail taking the form of a plume.

There is but one species of the Ostrich; it is sparsely diffused over
the interior of Africa, and is rarely found in Asia except perhaps in
Arabia. It is the largest member of the family, generally measuring six
feet in height, and occasionally attaining nine feet; its weight varies
from twenty to a hundred pounds.

The Ostrich has been known from the most remote antiquity. It is spoken
of in the sacred writings, for Moses forbade the Hebrews to eat of its
flesh, as being “unclean food.” The Romans, however, far from sharing
the views of the Jewish legislator, considered it a great culinary
luxury. In the days of the Emperors they were consumed in considerable
numbers; and we read that the luxurious Heliogabalus carried his
magnificence so far as to cause a dish composed of the brains of 600
Ostriches to be served at a feast; this must have cost an almost
incalculable sum. In former days it was a favorite dish with the tribes
of Northern Africa. At the present date the Arabs content themselves
with using its fat as an outward application in certain diseases,
especially rheumatic affections; and they derive from it, as they say,
very beneficial effects.

The natives of Africa call the Ostrich “the Camel of the desert,” just
as the Latins denominated it Struthio camelus. There is, in fact, some
likeness between them. This resemblance consists in the length of the
neck and legs, and in the form of the toes. In some of their habits they
also resemble each other; the Ostrich lies down in the same way as the
Camel, by first bending the knee, then leaning forward on the fleshy
part of the sternum, and letting its hinder quarters sink down last of

That the Ostrich is extremely voracious is certain. Although the senses
of sight and hearing are so highly developed that it is said to
distinguish objects six miles off, and the slightest sounds excite its
ear, the senses of taste and smell are very imperfect. This is the
explanation given for its readiness to swallow unedible substances. In a
wild state it takes into its stomach large pebbles, to increase its
digestive powers; in captivity it gorges bits of wood and metal, pieces
of glass, plaster and chalk, probably with the same object.

Herbage, Insects, Molluscs, small Reptiles, and even small animals, are
the principal food of the wild Ostrich; when it is in a state of
domesticity even young Chickens are frequently devoured by it. It is
capable of enduring hunger and thirst for many days—about the most
useful faculty it could possess in the arid and burning deserts which it
inhabits—but it is quite a mistake to suppose it never drinks, for it
will travel immense distances in search of water when it has suffered a
long deprivation, and will then drink with evident pleasure.

The muscular power of the Ostrich is truly surprising. If matured it can
carry a man on its back; and is readily trained to be mounted like a
Horse, and to bear a burden. The tyrant Firmius, who reigned in Egypt in
the third century, was drawn about by a team of Ostriches; even now the
Negroes frequently use it for riding.

When it first feels the weight of its rider, the Ostrich starts at a
slow trot; it however soon gets more animated, and stretching out its
wings, takes to running with such rapidity that it seems scarcely to
touch the ground. To the wild animals which range the desert it offers a
successful resistance by kicking, the force of which is so great that a
blow in the chest is sufficient to cause death.

Man succeeds in capturing the Ostrich only by stratagem. The Arab on his
swiftest courser would fail to get near if he did not by his
intelligence supply the deficiency in his physical powers. “The legs of
an Ostrich running at full speed,” says Dr. Livingstone, “can no more be
seen than the spokes in the wheel of a vehicle drawn at a gallop.”
According to the same author, the Ostrich can run about thirty miles in
an hour—a speed and endurance much surpassing that of the swiftest

The Arabs, well acquainted with these facts, follow them for a day or
two at a distance, without pressing too closely, yet sufficiently near
to prevent them taking food. When they have thus starved and wearied the
Birds, they pursue them at full speed, taking advantage of the fact,
which observation has taught them, that the Ostrich never runs in a
straight line, but describes a curve of greater or less extent. Availing
themselves of this habit, the horsemen follow the chord of this arc,
and, repeating the stratagem several times, they gradually get within
reach, when, making a final dash, they rush impetuously on the harassed
Birds, and beat them down with their clubs, avoiding as much as possible
shedding blood, as this depreciates the value of the feathers, which are
the chief inducement for their pursuit.

Some tribes attain their object by a rather singular artifice. The
hunter covers himself with an Ostrich’s skin, passing his arm up the
neck of the Bird so as to render the movements more natural. By the aid
of this disguise, if skilfully managed, Ostriches can be approached
sufficiently near to kill them.

The Arabs hunt the Ostrich with Dogs, which pursue it until it is
completely worn out. In the breeding season, having sought and found out
where the Ostriches lay their eggs, another artifice is to dig a hole
within gunshot of the spot, in which a man, armed with a gun, can hide
himself. The concealed enemy easily kills the male and female Birds in
turn, as they sit on their nest. Lastly, to lie in wait for them close
by water, and shoot them when they come to quench their thirst is often

The Ostrich, which is an eminently sociable Bird, may sometimes be seen
in flocks of 200 or 300, mixed up with droves of Zebras, Quaggas, &c.
They pair about the end of Autumn.

The nest of the Ostrich is more than three feet in diameter; it is only
a hole dug in the ground and surrounded by a rampart composed of sticks,
etc., and a trench scratched round it outside to drain off the water.
The eggs weigh from two to three pounds, one of them being more than
sufficient for the breakfast of two or three people.

The Rhea or South American Ostrich bears the greatest resemblance to the
African Ostrich, of which it is the representative in the New World; but
it is only about half the size of the African Bird, and has three toes
instead of two. The color of its plumage is a uniform grey.

This Bird (called by the Brazilians Nhandu-Guacu) inhabits the Pampas of
South America, the coolest valleys in Brazil, Chili, Peru, and
Magellan’s Land. There they may be seen wandering over the open plains
in flocks of about thirty, in company with herds of Oxen, Horses and
Sheep. They browse on the grass like Cattle, at the same time searching
for various seeds. They run nearly as swiftly as the Ostrich, so are
well able, by speed, to escape the pursuit of their enemies. If a river
interrupts their course, they do not hesitate to plunge into it, as they
are excellent swimmers; indeed, so fond are they of water that they take
pleasure in splashing and bathing in it.

The Rhea lays its eggs and hatches them in the same manner as the
Ostrich. They are Birds of a gentle nature, and are tamed with the
greatest ease, becoming very familiar in the house, visiting the various
apartments, wandering about the streets, and even into the country; but
they always return to their homes before sunset.


The family to which these Birds belong takes its name from the Latin
words, scandere, scansum, meaning to climb; yet, strange as it may seem,
there are many birds belonging to this family that cannot climb, and
there are other Birds, especially some of those belonging to the Sparrow
family, that can climb and are not classified in this group.

The peculiar characteristic of all the birds found among the Scansores
is the formation of their feet. The toes are in pairs, two before and
two behind, which enables them to cling to the branches, and climb all
about the trees. All the different Birds who have their toes arranged in
this peculiar manner are included in the family of Scansores; and
although some of them do not climb so readily as others, they spend the
greater part of their time perched in the trees instead of flying about
in the air. Their flight is medium, not being so strong as that of the
Birds of Prey nor so light as that of the Sparrow family.

The climbers do not form a very large family; the most familiar are the
Parrots, Cockatoos, Cuckoos, Toucans, Jamicars, Woodpeckers, etc. They
live chiefly in warm countries, and feed upon fruits and insects, and
the majority are noted for their brilliant colors.

                              THE PARROTS.

[Illustration: AMAZONIAN PARROT.]

The Parrots have large, strong, round beaks, with the upper part hooked
and sharp at the tip, and the under part rather deeply hollowed. The
tongue is thick, fleshy and movable, and the feet are perfected to such
a degree that they really become hands, able to seize, hold and retain
small objects. Their toes are supplied with strong and hooked claws,
which make these birds pre-eminently climbers. The Parrots walk with
difficulty, and with such trouble that they rarely descend to the ground
in their native homes, and only under pressing circumstances. Besides,
they find all the necessaries of their existence on trees. They are not
more favored with regard to their flight; and we can understand that it
should be so; for, living in thick woods, they only require to make
trifling changes of place, such as from one tree to another. However,
some species, especially the smaller, are capable of a prolonged and
effective use of their wings. According to Levaillant, some even
migrate, and travel hundreds of miles every year; but this is unusual.
In general, Parrots remain in the localities where they are reared.

Sociable in their dispositions, they assemble in more or less numerous
bands, and make the forests re-echo with their loud cries. To some
species it is such an imperative necessity to be near each other and
live in common, that they have received from Naturalists the name of
“inseparables.” They deposit their eggs in the hollows of trees and in
the crevices of rocks. The young birds are quite naked when hatched; it
is not till the end of three months that they are completely covered
with feathers. The parent birds wait upon them with the greatest care,
and become threatening when approached too closely by intruders.

Parrots prefer the fruits of the palm, banana, and guava trees. They may
be seen perched upon one foot, using the other to bear the food to their
beaks, and retain it there till eaten. After they have extracted the
kernel they free it from its envelope, and swallow it in particles. They
often visit plantations, and cause great devastation. In a domestic
state they eat seeds, grain, bread, and even raw or cooked meat, and it
is with pleasure that they receive bones to pick; they are also very
partial to sugar. It is well known that bitter almonds and parsley act
upon them as violent poisons. They drink and bathe frequently; in summer
they show the greatest desire for plunging and splashing in water.

They climb in a peculiar manner, which has none of the abruptness
displayed by other Birds of the same order. This they accomplish with
slow and irregular movements, helped by their beak and feet. Like almost
all birds of tropical regions, these Birds are adorned with most
beautiful colors, green and red being the most prominent, with
occasional markings of yellow and even blue; and some kinds of Parrots
have very handsomely developed tails.

The Parrots are the favorites of the human family because of their
remarkable talent of imitation. They retain and repeat words which they
have heard by chance, or sentences which they have been taught, and also
imitate the cries of different animals, and the sounds of musical
instruments, etc. The species most remarkable for their talking and
imitating are the Grey Parrot or Jaco, a native of Africa, and the Green
Parrot from the West Indies and tropical America.

The Macaws—the largest of the Parrots—are recognized by their bare
cheeks and long tapering tails. They inhabit South America and are
arrayed in the most brilliant colors. The principal species are the Ara
or Blue and Yellow Macaw.

The Parrakeets are much smaller than the Macaws, and like them, have
long tapering tails, but their cheeks are feathered. What are known as
the “Love-birds” are the rarest and smallest of this group. They make
their home in America and Southern Africa.

What are known as the “Parrots proper” are distinguished from other
groups of the same family by their short, square tails. They have
feathered cheeks like the Parrakeets, and are between these and the
Macaws in size. They are appreciated on account of their memory and
their habit of repeating what they hear without any special teaching.
These Parrots are divided into several groups, and species according to
their size and color. Among them we find the Grey Parrot or Jaco, a
native of the West coast of Africa, the Festive Green Parrot, and the
Amazonian Parrot, which is remarkable for its power of imitating, and
the richness of its green plumage.

                             THE COCKATOOS.

[Illustration: COCKATOOS.]

These Birds are very handsome members of the Parrot family, especially
the ones that are crowned with very full tufts of feathers about the
head. Some have the head entirely surmounted by a white, yellow or pink
tuft, which they can raise or lower at will. Their tails are short, and
their cheeks feathered. They are the largest among the race of Parrots
of the old continent. They inhabit the Indies; and, although they are
pretty, graceful, and very docile and caressing when tamed, they do not
talk so well as some of the other Parrots.

There is one remarkable species of the Cockatoos, sometimes called the
Trumpet Cockatoo, because of the formation of the tongue. This is
cylindrical and terminated by a little gland slightly hollowed at the
end. In eating, this Bird takes the kernels of the fruits which form its
food, crushes them by the help of its jaws, then seizes the food by
means of the hollow which terminates the tongue, projects the trumpet in
front, and makes it pass to the palate which causes it to fall into the
throat. As this peculiarity of the trumpet-like tongue has never been
noticed in any other Bird, it has made this species quite as noted as
the Great White Cockatoo, and Leadbeater’s Cockatoo, which have long
been known as the handsomest species of this family.

                              THE CUCKOOS.

The Cuckoos are about the size of a Turtle Dove. They have beaks about
as long as the head, slightly curved and compressed, and rather long and
rounded tails, and long pointed wings. There are several kinds of Birds
belonging to this group, some of which differ from the Cuckoos proper,
in having short wings and long tapering tails. Among these are found the
Trogons, Honey-guides, Anis or Annos, Barbets and the Touracos or
Plantain-eaters. These different species belong to all the countries of
the old continent.

Only one species is found in Europe—the Grey, or European Cuckoo. These
are migratory Birds; they pass the warm season in Europe, and the winter
in Africa, or in the warm parts of Asia.

Cuckoos are celebrated for the peculiar manner in which they raise their
young. They do not build a nest, nor cover their eggs, neither do they
take care of their young. They place their eggs in the nests of other
Birds, such as the Lark, the Robin, the Hedge Sparrow, the Thrush,
Blackbird, etc. They leave the care of hatching their eggs, and even the
care of the young Birds to these strangers. Cuckoos lay eight to ten
eggs in the space of a few weeks. When an egg has been laid the Bird
picks it up in her beak, and carries it to the first unoccupied nest
that she can find, and there deposits it when the owner of the nest is
away. The next egg is placed in a neighboring nest, but never in the
same as the first. The mother shows great intelligence in this, for by
placing two eggs in the same nest of a smaller Bird, the greater size of
her little ones would crowd the space intended by the builder, for
smaller Birds of her own. And two Robins or Hedge-sparrows would be kept
very busy feeding such great hungry Birds as would hatch from the
Cuckoo’s eggs.

Another way in which the Mother Cuckoo shows her intelligence is her
plan of breaking an egg in the nest in which hers is to be placed. If
she finds one or more eggs in the nest, after she has placed hers in
position she will take one of the others out, break it with her beak and
scatter the shell, so that when the other Bird returns to her nest she
will find the same number of eggs that she left. The Cuckoo has often
been considered a very mean Bird, and a hard-hearted mother, because of
this practice of imposing on other Birds, yet Naturalists excuse them by
explaining that as the Cuckoo lays her eggs at considerable intervals
she would find that she could not cover them and raise a family at the
same time, for while some were hatching and the young Birds requiring
constant attention, the other eggs would require her sitting upon them
and keeping them warm for hatching later; so perhaps after all, the
poor, misjudged Bird is simply following instinct without any thought of

                      HONEY-GUIDES OR INDICATORS.

The Honey-guides or Indicators which stand nearest to the Cuckoos in
this group, take their name from their unusual habit of guiding the
natives of the countries in which they are found to hives of wild honey
bees. They feed on insects and are especially fond of the pupae of bees.
So while the natives (who have been attracted by the cries of the Bird
to the hive of the bees) are taking out the honey, the Bird remains in a
tree nearby watching the process, and when the honey is all removed they
approach to reap the fruits of its trouble.

                           ANIS AND BARBETS.

The Anis and the Barbets also belong to the group of Cuckoos. The Anis
have bulky, short beaks surmounted by a sharp crest. They live in the
hot regions of South America and feed upon Reptiles and Insects. The two
principal species of this genus are the Razor-bill of Jamaica, and the
Savannah Blackbird of America.

The Barbets owe their name to a number of straight hairs which they have
upon their beak. They are massive in form, and their flight is heavy.
They inhabit the warm countries of both continents, and feed upon
fruits, berries and Insects. The best known of this genus is the
Collared Barbet, with a distinct collar of white feathers about the
throat. The Barbets have a curious habit of raising all their plumage
till they look like a ball of feathers; from this peculiarity they have
gained the name of Puff-birds.

                          TROGONS AND TURACOS.

The Trogons, like the Barbets, have the bases of their beaks covered
with hair. Their soft and silky plumage glitters with the most brilliant
hues, and their tails are extremely long and in some instances very
beautifully formed. They are sometimes called Couroucous because of
their peculiar cry or call to each other. The most remarkable species is
the Resplendent Trogon, which is found both in Mexico and Brazil. The
plumage of this Bird is a magnificent emerald green, frosted with gold;
its breast is red, and its head is surmounted by a beautiful tuft of the
green color.

The Turacos or Plantain-eaters are African Birds which closely resemble
the Curassows. They live in forests and perch upon the highest branches
of trees; their flight is heavy and awkward.

                              THE TOUCANS.

[Illustration: TOUCAN.]

An immense beak is the first thing to attract attention to any member of
the Toucan family. This group is divided into the Common Toucans and the
Aracaris. The Aracari are not so large as the other Toucans, and they
have a more solid beak and a longer tail. The Curl-crested Aracaris is
noted for its beautiful variegated plumage.

Some of the Common Toucans also have handsome markings about the throat;
but the enormous beak is their principal characteristic, and it is much
the same in all the different members of the family.

It is much longer than the head, is curved at its extremity and dented
at its edges. It is not so heavy to bear, and incommodes the movements
of the Birds less than might be supposed, for it is formed of a spongy
tissue, the numerous cells of which are filled with air. Thus it is very
weak, and does not serve to break or even to bruise fruits,
notwithstanding the idea one forms at first sight of its strength, for
it is not even capable of breaking off the bark of trees, as certain
authors have claimed. This wonderful bill encloses a still more strange
tongue; very straight and as long as the beak, which is covered on each
side with closely packed barbs, similar to a feather, the use of which
remains to us a complete mystery. This curious instrument so struck the
Naturalists of Brazil, where many Toucans are found, that it furnished
them with a name. In Brazilian toucan means “feather.”

Toucans feed on fruits and insects; they live in bands of from six to
ten in damp places where the palm tree flourishes, for its fruit is
their favorite food. In eating they seize the fruit with the extremity
of the beak, make it bounce up in the air, receive it then into the
throat, and swallow it in one piece. If it is too large, and impossible
to divide, they reject it. They are rarely seen on the ground, and
although their flight is heavy and difficult, they perch on the branches
of the highest trees, where they remain in ceaseless motion. Their call
is a sort of whistle, frequently uttered.

They build their nests in holes hollowed out by Woodpeckers or other
Birds. They all have very brilliant plumage, and inhabit Paraguay,
Brazil and Guiana.

                            THE WOODPECKERS.

[Illustration: Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.]

The Birds which comprise this group have long conical pointed beaks, and
a very extensible tongue. They form two genera—the Woodpeckers and the

Woodpeckers excel in the art of climbing, but they do not perform it in
the same manner as the Parrots. They climb by extending their toes
supplied with bent claws, upon the trunk of a tree and maintain
themselves hanging there. Then they move themselves a little further by
a sudden and jerked skip, and so on. They are helped in these movements
by the disposition of the tail, formed of straight resistant feathers,
slightly worn away at the ends, which pressed against a tree serve as a
support to the Bird. By means of these peculiarities in their feet and
tail feathers, the Woodpeckers traverse the trees in every
direction—upwards, downwards or horizontally.

Woodpeckers are of a timid, restless disposition; they live alone in the
midst or on the borders of large forests.


Insects and their larvae form their nourishment, which they seek in the
trunks and clefts of trees. Their tongue is wonderfully suited for this
purpose. It is very long, and, by a peculiar mechanism, can be projected
out far enough to reach objects three or four inches away. The beak is
terminated by a horny point bristling with small hooks. In many species
it is overlaid with a sticky substance secreted by two glands, the
effect of which is to catch the insects which it touches. Whenever the
Bird darts this tongue into the crevices, it draws it out more or less
laden with insects. If it perceives an insect that it cannot reach by
means of this organ, it uses its strong beak; striking the tree with
redoubled blows, it cuts the bark, breaks an opening, and seizes the
coveted prey.

It often also taps with its beak to sound a tree, and assure itself that
there is no recess in the interior which would serve as a refuge for its
prey. If the trunk is hollow, it examines all parts to find an entrance
to the cavity. When it has discovered it, it introduces its tongue; and
if the canal is not large enough to permit it to explore the hiding
place with success, it increases the size of the aperture. It is not
only to seek for food that Woodpeckers make holes in trees, but also to
form secure hiding places for their nests. Some species, it is true,
select the openings which they find, but others hollow out their nesting
places according to their tastes. When such is the case, they select
soft-wood trees, such as willow, aspen, etc. The cavity which they bore
to where the nest is placed is generally so oblique and so deep that
perfect darkness surrounds them. This is doubtless a measure of security
against small Mammals, especially the rodents, the natural enemies of
their family. The mother deposits her eggs upon a bed of moss or the
dust of worm-eaten wood. The young Birds grow slowly, and receive for a
long time the care of their parents.

Woodpeckers are generally considered noxious Birds, because they are
supposed to injure the trees of forests and orchards, and for this
reason a relentless war is made against them. They should, on the
contrary, be protected; for they destroy innumerable insects, the real
enemies of timber, and never touch a sound limb, for in it their food is
not to be found. There are a great number of species of Woodpeckers
known, which are spread over the two continents. The principal are the
Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a native of America; the great Spotted
Woodpecker and the Downy Woodpecker.

Wry-necks owe their name to the curious property they possess of being
able to twist their necks in such a manner as to turn the head in all
directions. They repeat this movement every instant, especially when
surprised or angry. At the same time their eyes become fixed, the
feathers of the head stand up, and the tail expands. Like Woodpeckers,
they can hang upon trees, and sustain themselves in a vertical position
for a long time; but they are incapable of climbing. The weakness of
their beaks does not permit of their boring trees; therefore they seek
their nourishment upon the ground, principally among the ant-hills. They
build in natural holes in trees, or in those hollowed by Woodpeckers.
Their plumage is attractive and their size is about that of the Lark.
They inhabit all the old continent.

                             THE JACAMARS.

Jacamars inhabit equatorial America. They are characterized by long and
pointed beaks, and short wings. They have three or four toes, according
to the species. Their habits are little known; but it is certain that
they live isolated or in pairs, that they are stupid, move but little,
and rarely depart from the neighborhood where they have chosen their
dwelling. All species do not frequent similar localities—as some like
thick woods, others prefer open plains; all, however, are insect eaters.
In their manners, as well as in their physical characteristics, Jacamars
appear to resemble Kingfishers, of which we shall speak hereafter. The
Paradise Jacamar is a good representative of the family.


The family of Birds to which our domestic fowls belong is a very large
one. It is known as the family of Gallinaceous Birds. The word is
derived from the Latin gallina, a hen, and gallus, a cock. The many
different Birds and Fowls found under this family are usually divided
into six groups, and these may be readily classified without their long
Latin names to designate them.

In the first we find the different kinds of Grouse, the Cock of the
Plains, the Heathcock, the Hazel Hen and others of the same nature, that
resemble our Hens and Roosters, and care for their chickens in the same
manner. Under the second group we find the Quail, the Colin, the
Partridge, etc., that are well known in this country and in Europe. The
Birds under the third group belong to South America, and are
representatives of the Partridge on that continent. The birds belonging
to the fourth group are the Chionides of Australia and New Zealand. In
size they are between our Partridge and Pigeon. They live near the
sea-beach, and feed on the sea-weed and dead Fishes that are thrown up
by the waves.

In the fifth group are found a queer family of birds with straight
slender bills and feet that are furnished with long, sharp claws. These
birds are also found in Australia and they have a peculiar habit of
laying each of their eggs in a separate hole, then covering each with a
large mound, scraped together by the Birds; and the eggs are then left
to be hatched by the sun. The Bush-turkeys of Australia and New Guinea
also belong to this group.

The sixth group comprises our Pheasants, Peacocks, Guinea Fowls,
Curassows and Turkeys. The handsomest Birds belonging to the family of
domestic Fowls—the Peacocks, Golden Pheasants, etc., are found in this

                            THE PARTRIDGES.


The Partridges make their home on the ground and never perch in trees
except when they are forced to do so. Like the Quail they run with
remarkable swiftness; their flight is rapid, but low, and does not
extend to long distances. These Birds are very sociable, and live in
flocks or coveys composed of the parents and the young of the last
brood. They are not migratory, and they seem to attach themselves to
certain localities and do not leave unless compelled to.

At the time of laying, the mother-bird makes a hole in the earth, which
she lines with grass and leaves, and in it deposits her eggs, to the
number of twelve or fifteen, and sometimes twenty or more. While she is
sitting upon the eggs her mate watches over her and guards her from

When the young are hatched, the father-bird devotes himself to the care
of his children. He accompanies them in their wanderings; he teaches
them to catch grubs, find ants’ eggs, and shows himself as skilful as
the mother in guarding them from attacks of their enemies. At the
appearance of danger the father utters a cry of alarm, which warns the
young ones to hide. Drooping his wings in order to induce the intruder
to follow him, he pretends to be unable to fly. At the same time the
mother-bird proceeds in another direction and, alighting some distance
off, she runs back to her family, and leads them to a place of safety.
This is one of the intelligent methods by which the young brood is

A few weeks after they are hatched the young Partridges are able to fly,
and to provide for their own wants; they do not leave their parents, but
continue to live with them until the following spring, when they begin
to build nests and plan for their own children.

Partridges are of a shy and timid nature, which shows itself in many
ways. But this is not surprising when it is remembered how numerous are
their foes, for Foxes and Birds of prey make continual havoc among them;
the latter especially are particularly dreaded. At the mere sight of one
of the Falcon tribe, a Partridge is so overcome with fear as to be
almost incapable of concealing itself, and it is not until the dreaded
enemy is gone that it regains self-possession.

When a Bird of prey unsuccessfully dashes at a Partridge in cover, no
power is able to make it take wing, and any one can then lay hands on it
without difficulty. A Partridge has even been known to prefer dying in
its hiding-place from suffocation to exposing itself to the mercies of
its pursuer.

The knowledge of these facts has suggested a very simple and effectual
method of making Partridges which are wild remain on the ground without
flying, till the sportsman is within gun-shot. This is done by
frightening them with an artificial Bird of Prey, attached to the tail
of a kite, which is flown over them.

Partridges make very delicate food of fine flavor, and they are not only
shot in their wild state for this purpose, but in some countries are
tamed and raised in great numbers, like the domestic fowls, especially
the Grey Partridge. We are told of a whole covey of Partridges of this
variety in England which were so tame that they could be driven like a
flock of Geese.

The California Partridge is one of the handsomest of the whole family of
Partridges. It is a native of the western shores of North America. It is
adorned with a crest, giving it a much finer appearance than that of the
plain little brown fellows of the Eastern part of this country.

                     THE GROUSE AND THE HEATHCOCK.

[Illustration: Heathcocks Fighting.]

There is a great variety of Grouse and Prairie Chickens belonging to
this family of Birds. The Pinnated Grouse is a native of the prairies of
North America. Its feathers are light brown, occasionally spotted with
white. Its call is deep and sonorous, and can be heard for miles in
still weather. The Pinnated Grouse is frequently called the Prairie
Chicken. They lay from twelve to fourteen eggs and are the most devoted

The Black Grouse is about the size of a Pheasant, and is distinguished
by the tail, which is divided into two parts composed of four feathers
on each side curling outwards.

The Ruffled Grouse is an American Bird, but differs from the others in
size and habits. The hill-sides, densely covered with evergreens or
birch are its favorite resorts, and on the wing, it is remarkable for
its swiftness.

The Hazel Grouse is suspicious and timid, and hides among the thick
foliage of the green trees at the least appearance of danger. This bird
flies awkwardly, but runs very swiftly. It is about the size of a
Partridge, and its plumage is of a reddish brown color, mixed with

The Heathcock is very similar to the Grouse. The heath plains with their
juniper bushes and birches are his favorite abode. His food consists of
all kinds of seeds and berries, especially the bilberry, juniper berry,
wheat, oats and buckwheat, besides Insects, Snails and Worms, and he is
particularly fond of Ants. The Heathcocks are great fighters. They fight
in the fashion of the domestic Cocks, but with much greater fury and
bitterness. With heads down, fan-shaped tails erected, and wings
hanging, the two opponents circle around each other. Suddenly they rush
together, spring at each other, and mutually endeavor to inflict wounds
with beak and claws, so that the feathers fly far and wide. Wearied,
they pause only to take up the battle again with equal bitterness after
a short rest, until finally one of the combatants is put to flight. Then
the victor flies to a neighboring tree and announces his victory in
clear, joyous tones to all the Hens that can be found in the
neighborhood. But very often this song of triumph is also his death
song. Already the hunter has long observed him from his place of
concealment, and awaited a favorable opportunity. Now he sends at him
the deadly lead, and in the midst of his triumph song the Cock falls
dead to the ground.

The Hens build a simple nest out of dry twigs, grass and feathers in
some hollow in the high grass, in the midst of the heath or under
bushes. The setting consists of from six to twelve yellow eggs with
brown spots of the same size as those of the domestic Hen’s eggs. After
three weeks the young are hatched out and are taken by the careful
mother under her wings, and anxiously guarded and followed. The flesh of
the Heathcock is more tender and finely flavored than that of the

                              THE PIGEONS.

[Illustration: CROWNED PIGEON.]

The family of Birds to which the Pigeons and the Doves belong is usually
classed by itself, as forming a link between two other families, and as
these are important divisions, it will be well to keep in mind the
meaning of their Latin names. The Pigeons and Doves belong to the family
of Columbidae, which is derived from the Latin word columba, meaning a
dove; and this forms the division between the domestic or Gallinaceous
family, that we have just studied, and the family of Passerines, or
Sparrows; the name of this family being derived from the Latin word
passer, meaning a sparrow.

It would be useless to attempt to describe all the different kinds of
Pigeons in this space, but we can mention the leading groups, with their
distinguishing features.

The Crowned Pigeon is one of the handsomest. This is usually found in
New Guinea. The plumage of this Bird is a beautiful greyish blue, with
markings of dark blue and white, and its head is crowned with a plume of
long tapering feathers.

The Fan-tailed Pigeon is remarkable for its tail, which is very large
and raised like that of a Peacock when spread out to its handsomest

The Nun Pigeon is recognized by a kind of hood formed of raised
feathers, which covers the back of the head and neck, and to which it
owes its name.

The Wheeling Pigeon describes circles, like Birds of Prey, when it is
flying. This Bird has an unpleasant disposition, and a bad habit of
annoying other Pigeons. It should be excluded from Pigeon-houses.

The Tumbler Pigeon owes its name to its curious manner of flying. It has
a habit, after it has risen to a certain height, of throwing five or six

The Pouter Pigeon owes its name to the faculty which it possesses of
inflating its crop to an immense size by the introduction of air. This
peculiarity often destroys them; indeed, when feeding their young, they
find so much difficulty in causing the seeds which they have swallowed
to reascend into their beaks, that they contract a malady which is
frequently fatal.

The Roman Pigeons, thus named because they are very common in Italy, are
easily recognized from the circle of red which surrounds their eyes.

The Swift Pigeon is of small size, its flight is light and rapid.

The Carrier Pigeons belong to this race. They are celebrated for their
attachment to their birthplace, or to the spot that contains their
young, and for the intelligence which enables them to regain their
native countries from whatever distance. Transport them miles from their
homes, even in a well-closed basket, then give them their liberty, and
they will return, without the slightest hesitation, to the place from
which they were taken. This valuable faculty has long been utilized,
especially in the East.

The Romans made use of Pigeons as messengers. Pliny says that this means
was employed by Brutus and Hirtius to concert together during the siege
of a town by Mark Antony. At the siege of Leyden, in 1574, the Prince of
Orange employed Carrier Pigeons to carry on a correspondence with the
besieged town, which he succeeded in freeing. The Prince, to mark his
acknowledgment of the services rendered by these wise Birds, wished them
to be fed with strawberries, and their bodies to be embalmed after

We learn from Pierre Belon, the Naturalist, that in his time navigators
from Egypt and Cyprus took Pigeons upon their galleys, and liberated
them when they had arrived at the port of destination, in order to
announce to their families their safe journey. In our century they have
been made use of for similar purposes.

                             THE PHEASANTS.

[Illustration: GOLDEN PHEASANTS]

Under the name of Phasianidae, the Pheasants form a distinct family,
which is divided into several groups of Birds and Domestic Fowls which
have similar characteristics. Not only our well known Pheasants, but the
Peacocks, Guinea Fowls, Turkeys, Currassows, Bankiva Fowl, Tragopans,
and the Argus are all grouped in this family, because they all have
short bills, wings so short that they cannot fly readily, brilliant
plumage, and tails largely developed, forming the greatest beauty of the
Bird in many instances.

The Pheasant, especially, is remarkable for the length of its tail; the
middle feathers of which in one species, known as Reeve’s Pheasant,
sometimes attain a length of seven or eight feet.

The Silver Pheasant and the Golden Pheasant are two beautiful species.
The former is clothed in a black and white costume that gives it a fine
silvery appearance. The latter is brilliantly clothed in purple and
gold, and bears a golden yellow crest on its head, with a handsome
circular collar effect; and the tail of the Golden Pheasant is very long
and showy.

There are many other species of Pheasants, distinguished by some
peculiarity of the plumage, but there is no special difference in their

In the wild state the Pheasants prefer wooded slopes or marshy plains,
and their food is composed of grains, berries, Worms, Insects, Snails,
etc. They are shy and timid in their nature, taking flight at the least
indication of danger. They make their nest on the ground in the midst of
a thicket, or in a tuft of grass, and the hen Pheasant lays from twelve
to twenty eggs, which require twenty-four days to hatch.

In some parts of the country these Birds are raised in enclosures called
pheasantries. During the first two months of existence, the young
Pheasants require the greatest care, as the tender little fellows are
subject to numerous maladies.


It seems strange that one of the very largest families of Birds should
take as its type our common little Sparrow, yet the Passerine family
takes its name from the Latin word passer, meaning a Sparrow. These are
also known as Perching Birds. Taking it altogether this is an odd family
of Birds, so many are included in it, in which it is difficult to detect
the bonds which connect them.

For example, where is the link which unites the Crow to the Swallow, or
the Hornbill to the Humming-bird? Nevertheless all these winged
creatures, so different externally, belong to the Passerines. Some
Naturalists have claimed that this family presents only negative
characteristics, bringing together in an odd group all the birds that
are not included among the Rapacious, the Swimming, Wading, Gallinaceous
or Domestic, and Climbing Birds. The principal points in common among
these birds is that the outer toe is united to the middle one, more or
less. Their food consists mainly of seeds, insects and fruit. They fly
gracefully and easily, and their walk consists of a succession of little
leaps. They build their nests and take their rest under the thick
foliage of trees, or under the eaves of buildings.

In this extensive family we find most of the songsters of the woodlands.
Some of them have even the gift of imitating the human voice and the
cries of wild animals. Many are remarkable for their brilliant plumage,
others are appreciated as delicacies for the table. Some of them are
easily tamed, but none of them have been brought to a domestic state.

Some Naturalists divide the Passerines into five great groups, the first
based upon the structure of the feet, the other four on the formation of
the bill. Others object to this classification because it is not always
possible to assign a place to certain groups because of peculiarities of
their beak alone. This distribution is generally followed, however, as
it is easy to remember.


As the different members of the great Passerine or Sparrow family are
nearly all Perching Birds, it is easier to give them this classification
in dividing them into groups, and thus avoid the many Latin names that
it is not necessary to remember. In the first group we find the Perching
Birds with united toes—the outer toe being nearly as long as the middle
one and fast to it. This group includes the Hornbills, the Fly-catchers,
the King-fishers, the Bee-eaters, and the Motmots.

                             THE HORNBILLS.

The Hornbills are remarkable for their enormous development of beak,
which is long, very wide, compressed, and more or less curved and
notched, and in some species surmounted by a large helmet-like
protuberance. This immense beak is nevertheless very light, being
spongy, as in the Toucans. The Hornbills have in some respects the
bearing of the Crow; this led Bontius to class them among the Crows,
under the name of Indian Crow. They walk with difficulty, and their
flight is clumsy, their favorite position being on a perch at the summit
of lofty trees. Great flocks of these haunt the forests of the warmer
regions of the Old World, especially Africa, India, and the Oceanic
Archipelago. They build their nests in the hollows of trees. They are
omnivorous. The fruits, seeds, and insects of those regions are their
principal food; yet they will not refuse flesh.

In India they are domesticated, their services in destroying rats and
mice being valuable. The plumage of the Hornbill is black or grey, of
various shades; but there is a species described by Dr. Latham and Dr.
Shaw under the name of the Crimson Hornbill, which Mr. Swainson thinks
may prove to be a link between Toucans and Hornbills, and thus combine
the beauty of plumage of the former with the peculiarity of form of the
latter. Their flesh is delicate, especially when fed on aromatic seeds.
Many species are described, varying in size, among which the Rhinoceros
Hornbill is the most worthy of notice. This bird is so named from the
singular protuberance with which its bill is surmounted; this is a
smooth horny helmet, curving upwards from the bill, somewhat resembling
the horn of the rhinoceros. It is a native of India and the islands of
the Indian Ocean.

                           THE FLY-CATCHERS.

The Fly-catchers are a family of insect-eating Birds, many of which are
British, distinguished by long, broad, and very flat bills, contracting
suddenly at the tip; the tail is short, slender and rounded; the legs
long and weak. It has a bright green plumage above, whitish beneath; and
a scarlet throat. It is a native of South America and the Antilles; and
a traveler, under the name of Green Humming-bird, describes it as “one
of the most beautiful birds he ever saw.” It is a familiar little Bird,
and will often let a Man come within a few feet to admire it before
becoming alarmed.

It lives almost entirely on the ground, feeding on Insects, which it
catches in the evening. It builds its nest in the crevices on river
banks, or in the soft rocks, in which it hollows out a dwelling by means
of its bill and feet.

                           THE KING-FISHERS.

[Illustration: KING FISHERS.]

The King-fishers, the Martin-fishers of some authors, form a highly
interesting group. They are very singular Birds. Their bill is strong,
straight and angular, being of immense length compared with their size.
Living on the banks of rivers, they feed almost exclusively on Fish,
watching patiently from a fixed station, generally a naked twig
overhanging the water, or a stone projecting above the surface, for its
prey. In this position it will sometimes remain for hours, absolutely

When a Fish comes within reach, with great rapidity the King-fisher
darts upon it, seizing it in its powerful mandibles, and after
destroying it by compression, or by knocking it against a stone or the
trunk of a tree, swallows it head foremost.

When Fish are scarce they feed upon aquatic Insects, which they seize on
the wing. They build their nests in the steep banks of rivers, either in
the natural crevices, or in holes hollowed out by Water-rats; and these
dwelling places are generally littered by the fragments of their food.
Father and mother sit alternately, and when the young are hatched they
feed them with the produce of their fishing. The Bird has a shrill and
piercing note, which it utters on the wing.

                            THE BEE-EATERS.

The Bee-eaters have the beak long, thin, slightly curved and pointed;
the wings are long and pointed; the tail is well-developed, tapering or
forked. They are slender, graceful Birds. Their cries, while they skim
through the air on rapid wing, are constant. The name of Bee-eaters they
receive from their principal food, which consists of large bees and
wasps. They seize their prey either on the wing, like the Swallows, or
secrete themselves at the entrance to a hive, and catch the inmates that
enter or depart, whose stings they are skilful in avoiding. Living
together in numerous flocks, they rapidly clear a district of wasps and

They build their nests in the banks of rivers or rivulets, in holes
which they excavate to the depth of six or seven feet.

                              THE MOTMOTS.

The Motmots are Birds still very imperfectly known. They are remarkably
massive in form, heavy and slow on the wing. In the Motmots the beak is
long, robust and crenated at the edge. They are very wild, and lead an
isolated life in the thick forests of South America, where they build in
holes in trees. They are about the size of a Magpie and many of that
Bird’s bad qualities are attributed to the Brazilian Motmot.


This group is characterized by a long, slender beak, straight or curved,
but always without indentation, and comprises the Humming-birds,
Creepers, Nuthatches and Hoopoes.

                           THE HUMMING-BIRDS.


The Humming-birds are the most lovely of the winged race. Nature seems
to have endowed them with her rarest gifts. In creating them she
surpassed herself, and exhausted all the charms at her disposal; for she
gave them grace, elegance, rapidity of motion, magnificence of plumage,
and indomitable courage. What can be more delightful than the sight of
these little feathered beauties, flashing with the united fires of the
ruby, the topaz, the sapphire, and the emerald, flying from flower to
flower amid the richest tropical vegetation? Such are the lightness and
rapidity of some of the smaller species, that the eye can scarcely
follow the quick beat of their wings. When they hover they appear
perfectly motionless, and one might fancy them suspended by an invisible

Specially adapted for life in the air, they are unceasingly in motion,
searching for their food in the calyx of flowers, from which they drink
the nectar with so much gentleness that the plant is scarcely stirred.
But the juice and honey of flowers, as some authors affirm, are not
their only food—such unsubstantial diet would be insufficient to sustain
the great activity displayed almost every moment of their existence.

The tongue of the Humming-bird is a microscopic instrument of marvellous
arrangement. It is composed of two half-tubes placed one against the
other, capable of opening and shutting, like a pair of pliers. Moreover,
it is constantly moistened by a glutinous saliva, by which it is enabled
to seize and hold Insects.


Proud of their gay colors, the Humming-birds take the greatest care to
protect their plumage. They frequently dress themselves by passing their
feathers through their bills.

The nest of the Humming-bird is a masterpiece. It is about the size of
half an apricot. These consist of lichens, and are most artistically
interwoven, the crevices being closed up with the Bird’s saliva; the
interior is padded with the silky fibres furnished by various plants.
This pretty cradle is suspended to a leaf, sometimes to a small branch
of rushes, or even to the straw roof of a hut. The Bird lays twice a
year a pair of pure white eggs, about the size of a pea.

These little creatures are universally admired for their elegance and
beauty, and the names given them are generally descriptive of their
excessive minuteness. The creoles of the Antilles call them Murmurers;
the Spaniards Picaflores; the Brazilians, Shupaflores, or
Flower-suckers; finally, the Indians call these darlings Sunbeams.

Among the most formidable enemies of the Humming-bird may be reckoned
the Monster Spider, which spins its web round their nests, and devours
eggs or young; even the old Birds are sometimes its victims.

Humming-birds are scattered over the greater part of South and North
America, even as far north as Canada; but in Brazil and Guiana they are
most abundant. At least 500 species are known. Among the more remarkable
species we may note the Topaz-throated Trochilus, a native of Brazil;
the Sickle-winged Humming-bird; the Double-crested Humming-bird; Gould’s
Humming-bird; Cora Humming-bird; the Giant Humming-bird, which attains
the size of a Swallow; the Dwarf Humming-bird, whose size does not
exceed that of a bee; the Bar-tailed Humming-bird or Sapho Comet, a
native of Eastern Peru; the Racket-tailed Humming-bird, so named from
the shape of its tail, which spreads out at the extremity in the form of
a racket; the Crested Humming-bird, with a double crest on the head of
the male Bird; and the Sword-bill Humming-bird, with a bill as long as
the whole body of the Bird.

                               THE CROWS.

[Illustration: CROWS AND RAVENS.]

The Crows are divided into four groups or sub-genera—namely, the Crows
properly so called, Pies, Jays and Nutcrackers.

The genus Corvus, or Crow family, as limited by modern Naturalists,
comprehends the Raven, the Carrion Crow, the Royston or Hooded Crow, the
Rook, the Jackdaw, Great-billed Crow, Philippine Crow and Fish Crow.

All these species have in many respects the same characteristics, and
the same habits. With the exception of the Raven and Magpie, which live
in pairs, the others reside together in companies, whether they are in
quest of their daily food or roosting for the night. They are all
possessed of intelligence, cunning, mischievous habits, the gift of
imitation, though in different degrees, and the same provident habit of
amassing provisions in secret places. This last peculiarity in the tamed
Birds degenerates into a perfect mania, which leads them to carry off
and hide everything that attracts or pleases their eye, especially gems
and bright articles of metal. The whole group are easily tamed.

The Crows, especially the Raven and the Carrion Crow, are omnivorous.
Living or dead flesh, Insects, eggs, fruit, seeds—nothing comes amiss to
their palate.

The Ravens possess a vigorous and sustained flight; they have a keen
sense of smell and excellent vision. By exercising these latter
qualities they quickly learn where food is to be obtained, and as they
wing towards it they constantly utter their cry, as if inviting their
companions to join them; this croak, as it is called, is harsh and
dissonant. Their plumage being of a sombre black, and their voice so
unmusical, have doubtless been the reasons why they have long been
considered Birds of ill omen. When taken young, they are tamed with
great facility, for they will neither rejoin their own race nor desert
the neighborhood where they have been kindly treated. True, they may go
into the fields to seek for food, but when the increasing shadows
predict the approach of night, their familiar resting place in the house
of their protector will be sought. They become much attached to those
who take notice of them, and will recognize them even in a crowd.

                              THE DIPPERS.


The Dippers or Water Wrens have straight and slender bills; large and
stout toes, furnished with strong hooked claws, and short wings and
tails. The decidedly aquatic habits of these Birds form a curious
exception to the rest of the Sparrow family. They live constantly on the
edge of the water, or in the water itself, hunting for the Insects which
constitute their food.

Although their toes are not webbed, they may often be noticed diving and
moving about under water, by extending their wings and using them as
fins. They are frequently seen flying along streams, and catching the
winged Insects skimming over the surface of the water. They build their
nests along the banks of mountain streams, and thrive in great numbers
in such rocky countries as the Alps, Pyrenees, and other mountain chains
in the south, west and north of Europe.


[Illustration: FLYING-FISH.]

THE numerous Fishes that inhabit the waters all over the globe are
divided into two great groups—the Cartilaginous Fishes, with their
framework made up of bones in the form of cartilage or gristle, and the
Osseous, or bony Fishes. These large groups are sub-divided in a most
puzzling manner by many Naturalists. The long Latin and Greek names used
to classify these groups and smaller families are so much more difficult
to remember than are the divisions of the great group of Mammals, that
we will entirely discard all these derivations and explanations, using
only the common English names for grouping them according to their
peculiarities of form, the arrangement of the gills, the number and form
of their fins, etc., etc.

The first great group of Cartilaginous Fishes is divided into three
sections, which make in reality four families, as the second section
comprises two. In the first of these we find the queer family of
Lampreys, in which the mouth forms a sucker. In the second, are the
family of Raias, and the Shark family, characterized by their mouth
being furnished with jaws. The third includes the Sturgeons, which are
distinguished by having the gills free.

The Bony Fishes are divided into four great sections. The first is
represented by the family of Globe Fish and Coffers, which have the jaw
attached to the cranium. The second includes the queer family of
Pipe-fish and Sea-horses, which have the gills divided into round tufts
arranged in pairs. The third division includes the family of soft-finned
Fishes, in which the rays of the fins are soft. In the fourth section
are the various families of spiny-finned Fishes. And in some one of
these groups with their distinct characteristics, may be classified all
the numerous Fishes that are known to modern Naturalists.

                         CARTILAGINOUS FISHES.

                       THE LAMPREYS AND THE EELS.

It is not usual to class these two families together, but they look so
much alike until studied closely, all the different varieties having the
appearance of serpents, with fins and curious forms of tails and heads,
that it seems best to study them together and find the points of
difference. The Lamprey is of a lighter color than the Eel, and is not
so graceful, but of a rather clumsy form. But it differs most in its
mouth, which is round, and placed below the end of the nose. It
resembles the mouth of a Leech more than that of an Eel.

The Lamprey has a hole on top of its head through which it spouts water,
somewhat like a Whale, and the fins are formed by a lengthening out of
the skin instead of having a set of bones or spines for that purpose.
The mouth of the Lamprey is not only formed like that of the Leech, but
it has the same property of sticking close to and sucking any body that
is applied to it. It has a wonderful power of holding on to stones by
sucking with its mouth, so that it is almost impossible to draw it away.
We are told of one that weighed only three pounds, and yet it stuck so
firmly to a stone weighing twelve pounds, that it remained suspended by
its mouth, and it was almost impossible to make it loosen its hold.

This wonderful strength of suction is supposed to arise from the power
of the Lamprey to exhaust the air within its body by the hole over the
nose, while the mouth is closely fixed to the object, and allows no air
to enter.

This adhesive or sticking quality in the Lamprey is somewhat increased
by the slimy substance which is smeared all over its body. This
substance serves to keep it warm in the cold water, and it also keeps
its skin soft and pliant.

Every year, usually about the beginning of the spring, the Lampreys
leave the sea, where they usually make their home, and make holes or
nests in the gravelly bottoms of rivers. Here the eggs are laid, and the
mother Lamprey watches near until the eggs hatch. Then she is often seen
with her whole family playing about her until they have become well
grown, when she takes the whole family back in triumph to the ocean.

There are several different species belonging to the Lamprey family. The
kind known as the Lesser Lamprey inhabits Europe, Japan and the lakes of
South America. It measures from twelve to fifteen inches long. Then
there is a still smaller member of the family called the Lampern, which
lives in European rivers, and is about six or seven inches long. It
hides itself under stones or in the mud, but does not have the same
power of suction as some of the larger ones.

The Sea Lamprey belongs to the Mediterranean. When full grown it is
about three feet long, and its light yellow body is marbled with brown.
The Lampreys feed on worms, molluscs and small Fishes. The larger ones
often seize Fishes of great size, and suck them like a Leech.

All the different kinds of Lampreys are considered very fine and
delicate food, and horrible stories are told of how kings and emperors
used to raise the best kinds of Lampreys in ponds and feed them by
throwing into the ponds live slaves who had displeased them; as they
considered the Lamprey had a finer flavor when fed on human flesh. But
only one man, a senator of Rome, was really known to do such a dreadful
thing, and we are told that when Augustus, the emperor, heard it he
ordered all these ponds to be filled up; but not until after many poor
slaves had met this awful death, simply because they did not happen to
please their wicked master.

                               THE EELS.

The Eels belong to the family of bony Fishes, although the Lampreys
which they resemble in general appearance, belong to the family of
Fishes whose framework is made up of cartilage, or gristle. The Eels
form a very large family if we would include the different kinds of bony
Fishes that have the same snake-like form of the common Eel. We find
these smaller families classed under the name of Apoda; this word means
without feet when applied to animals, but when used to describe Fishes,
means without the ventral fins which serve in the place of feet.

As the different kinds of Eels found under this family of Apoda are
described by their Greek or Latin names, it will be well for us to
understand the meaning of each of the four divisions. We would hardly
recognize the plain Sand Eel, when we find him classed with “Osseous
Fishes” under the name of “Ammodytes,” yet this is where the Naturalists
place him, because this word in Latin means a sand-burrower, a kind of
serpent, and is also derived from two Greek words meaning sand, and
diver. The Electrical Eel is classed under fresh water Fishes under the
name of Gymnotus, which comes from two Greek words meaning naked and
back, showing that the back of the Electrical Eel is without fins. The
Sea Eel is classed under the name of Muraenas, while Anguilla, which
means snaky, serpent-like, is used to describe the plain Eels with
smooth bodies and very few of the characteristics which distinguish the
other Eels.

We will simply give all these different kinds of Eels their plain common
name, but when we read of wonderful fresh water Fishes called Gymnotus
Electricus, who have strange electrical powers, we will know the word is
used to describe the Electrical Eel.

                            ELECTRICAL EELS.

Very strange stories are told of these Eels, and its power to give an
Electric shock to any person or animal who touches it. Alexander von
Humboldt is said to have given the first precise account of this very
curious Eel. This celebrated Naturalist tells of a voyage up the Orinoco
for the purpose of studying the Electrical Eel, great numbers of which
are found in the neighborhood of this river. Some Indians conducted the
party to the Cano de Bera, a muddy pond surrounded by rich vegetation,
Indian figs and beautiful flowers.

The party of Naturalists were surprised when they learned that it would
be necessary to use about thirty half-wild Horses to help them fish for
the Electrical Eel, and that the severe shocks of electricity given by
the Eels must be expended upon the Horses before it would be safe to
touch the Eels.

While our hosts were explaining to us this strange mode of fishing, the
troop horses and mules had arrived, and the Indians had made a sort of
battue, pressing the horses on all sides, and forcing them into the
marsh. The Indians, armed with long canes and harpoons, placed
themselves round the basin, some of them mounting the trees, whose
branches hung over the water, and by their cries, and still more by
their canes, prevented the horses from landing again.

The Eels, stunned by the noise, defended themselves by repeated
discharges of their batteries. For a long time it seemed as if they
would be victorious over the Horses. Some of the Mules especially, being
almost stifled by the frequency and force of the shock, disappeared
under the water, and some of the Horses, in spite of the watchfulness of
the Indians, regained the bank, where, overcome by the shocks they had
undergone, they stretched themselves at their whole length.

The picture presented was now indescribable. Groups of Indians
surrounded the basin; the Horses with bristling mane, terror and grief
in their eyes, trying to escape from the storm which had surprised them;
the Eels, yellow and livid, looking like great aquatic Serpents swimming
on the surface of the water, and chasing their enemies, were objects at
once appalling and picturesque. In less than five minutes two Horses
were drowned.

When the struggle had lasted a quarter of an hour, the Mules and Horses
appeared less frightened, the manes became more natural, the eyes
expressed less terror, the Eels shunned, in place of attacking them; at
the same time approaching the bank, when they were easily taken by
throwing little harpoons at them attached to long cords; the harpoon,
sometimes hooking two at a time, being landed by means of the long cord.
They were drawn ashore without being able to communicate any shock.

Having landed the Eels, they were transported to little pools dug in the
soil, and filled with fresh water; but such is the terror they inspire,
that none of the people of the country would release them from the
harpoon—a task which the travelers had to perform themselves, and
receive the first shock, which was not slight—the most energetic
surpassing in force that communicated by a Leyden jar, completely

The Electrical Eel surpasses in size and strength all the other Electric
Fishes. Humboldt saw them five feet three inches long. They vary in
color according to age, and the nature of the muddy water in which they
live. Beneath, the head is of a fine yellow color mixed with red; the
mouth is large, and furnished with small teeth arranged in many rows.

The Electrical Eel gives the most frightful shocks without the least
muscular movement in the fins, in the head, or any other part of the
body. The shock, indeed, depends upon the will of the animal, and in
this respect differs from a Leyden jar, which is discharged by
communicating with two opposite poles. It happens sometimes that an
Electrical Eel, seriously wounded, only gives a very weak shock, but if,
thinking it exhausted, it is touched fearlessly, its discharge is

                               SEA EELS.

[Illustration: SEA EEL.]

The Sea Eels are slender, serpent-like Fishes, that are very strong and
active, and they swim with the same waving movements in the water, as
the serpents use in creeping on dry land. These Eels feed on small
Fishes, Crabs, etc., and are such hungry fellows that when other food
fails they begin to nibble at each other’s tails.

It is difficult to catch a Sea Eel; they are usually caught with rod and
line, or with line and ground bait, but they are quick in making their
escape. When they have swallowed a hook they will often cut the line
with their teeth, or they turn upon it, and try, by winding it round
some object, to strain or break it. When caught in a net they quickly
choose some mesh through which their body can glide.

Like the Lampreys, these Sea Eels make excellent food, and are often
raised in ponds and carefully fed to give their flesh a delicate flavor.

                               SAND EELS.

The Sand Eel is an easily frightened little fellow who buries himself in
the sand. He is quite handsome, being silvery-blue—brighter on the lower
parts than on the upper, with the radiating fins first white and then
blue in color.

This Eel is seldom seen swimming about. It hollows out a burrow for
itself in the sand to the depth of fifteen or twenty inches, where it
hunts out worms on which it feeds, while it shelters itself from the
jaws of the hungry Fishes which eagerly hunt for its delicate flesh.

                              COMMON EELS.

The plain, snake-like Eel classed under the name of Anguilla is found in
European rivers, and in various parts of North America. Although it is
sometimes eaten it is not considered especially good for food; it does
not often measure much over two feet in length, and is covered with a
soft, slimy skin, and sometimes with tiny scales almost too small to be

                              CONGER EELS.

The Conger Eel of the United States which belongs to this family is
often five feet or more in length, while the Conger Eel of Europe is
very large, as thick as a man’s leg, and sometimes ten feet long.

                   THE FAMILY OF RAIAS, OR FLAT-FISH.

All the curious Fish of this family—which forms the second group of the
Cartilaginous Fishes—are broad, and swim flat on the water, and they are
distinguished by the spines or prickles which the different species have
on various parts of their body, or on the tail.

It is by these spines that the different members of this family are
distinguished from each other. The Skate has the middle of the back
rough, and a single row of spines on the tail. The Sharp-nosed Ray has
ten spines that are situated towards the middle of the back. The Rough
Ray has its spines spread over the whole back. The Fire-flare has but
one spine but that is a terrible one. This dangerous weapon is placed on
the tail, about four inches from the body, and is about five inches
long. It is of flinty hardness; the sides are thin, sharp-pointed, and
closely and sharply bearded the whole way.

The White Ray, the Lump-fish and the Torpedo or Cramp-fish are the most
important of this family, and these curious specimens are worthy of
special description.

                             THE WHITE RAY.

[Illustration: WHITE RAY.]

The mouth of this Fish is placed in the lower part of the head, and far
from the extremity of the nose; it is furnished with many rows of hooked
and pointed teeth. The eyes, which are on the upper part of the head are
half projecting and are protected by an elastic skin which covers the
head. Immediately behind the eyes are two blow-holes which are connected
with the interior of the mouth. The Fish is able to open and close these
holes at pleasure, by means of a membrane which acts as a sort of valve.
Through these holes it ejects the surplus water that is not required for
respiration. In its general color this Fish is ashy grey on its upper
surface; and white, with rows of black spots below.

Its tail is long, flexible and slender and is used as a rudder, and as a
weapon. When lying in wait for its prey at the bottom of the sea, and it
has no desire to change its position, a rapid and sudden stroke of this
formidable weapon, armed with hooked bones on its upper surface, arrests
its victim by wounding or killing it, without disturbing the mud or
sea-weed by which the Fish is covered. This species often grows to be
quite large, and their flesh is firm and nourishing, but the larger
specimens seldom approach inhabited shores.

                             THE LUMP-FISH.

[Illustration: LUMP FISH.]

This is one of the largest of the Ray family. It sometimes reaches a
length of twelve feet, and being excellent eating, is much sought after
by fishermen. It is commonly seen with the Skate-fish in European
markets, as it inhabits all the European seas.

A ray of great curving spines extends all along the back of the
Lump-fish, to the end of the tail. Two similar spines are above and two
below the point of the nose. Two others are placed before, and three
behind the eyes. In fact, the whole surface of this curious Lump-fish
fairly bristles with large and small spines, and because of this it is
sometimes called the Buckler-fish; for these spines are not merely for
ornament, but for defence. The color of the upper surface of this Fish
is brown with light spots. The tail, which often exceeds the body in
length, has three small fins at the end.

Ray-fish of all kinds are inhabitants of the deep sea, but they change
according to the seasons. While stormy weather prevails they hide
themselves in the depth of the ocean, where they lie in ambush, creeping
along the bottom. But they do not always live at the bottom; they rise
occasionally to the surface, far from shore, eagerly chasing other
inhabitants of the deep, lashing the water with their tails and fins,
springing out of the water, and making it foam with their sport.

When pursuing their prey they use their great fins which resemble wings,
and with these and their tail, they beat the waters in order to fall
unexpectedly upon their prey, as the Eagle swoops upon its victim.

                      THE TORPEDO, OR CRAMP FISH.

The Torpedo has no spines which can wound, but it has a much more
powerful weapon of defence. Like the Electrical Eel, this Fish has the
power of producing violent electrical shocks.

The electrical effects produced on the fisherman who seizes one of these
Fish, were noted from early times; but Redi, the Italian Naturalist of
the seventeenth century, was the first who studied them scientifically.
Having caught and landed one of them with every precaution, “I had
scarcely touched and pressed it with my hand,” says this Naturalist,
“than I experienced a tingling sensation, which extended to my arms and
shoulders, and which was followed by a disagreeable trembling, with a
painful and acute sensation in the elbow joint, which made me withdraw
my arm immediately.”

Other Naturalists have described similar sensations, and careful study
has been made of this Fish to discover the cause of this shock, and the
hidden power possessed by the Fish of storing up this animal
electricity. It still remains a mystery, however, in spite of extensive

The body of the Torpedo or Cramp-fish is almost circular, and it is
thicker than others of the Ray family. The skin is soft and smooth, and
of a yellowish color marked with darker spots. The eyes are very small,
and behind them are two star-like spout-holes; the mouth is small, and
the long tail tapers to a point, finished with a sort of caudal fin.
These curious Fishes are found in the English Channel and along the
shores of the Mediterranean.

                           THE SHARK FAMILY.

[Illustration: Diver Battling with a Shark.]

The Sharks, like the Raias, have their mouth furnished with jaws, and
for this reason they are classified in the same group of Cartilaginous
Fishes, as distinct from the Lampreys and the Sturgeons. This family
includes not only the Sharks, but the Dog-fishes, Hammerheads and the
Saw-fish. All the species have a lengthened body, merging into a thick
tail and a rough skin.

The Shark becomes the terror of the sea almost as soon as it is born. At
first it eats the Cuttle-fish, Molluscs, etc., then the Flounders and
Cod-fish. But the prey which has the greatest charm for him is Man. He
will even attack a diver in the strong diver’s costume, and in the
waters where these “Hyenas of the Seas,” (as the Sharks are sometimes
called) are to be found, the divers find it necessary to make special
preparations for fighting them.

When the diver is eagerly engaged with his work, he sees suddenly a
great shadow fall on the bottom of the sea and he immediately recognizes
with horror the spindle-shaped body of the Man-eating Shark. The head is
flat; the fore-part of the snout is projected forward; the wide mouth,
pushed far back, is supplied with sharp triangular teeth.

The bold robber has seen the diver and comes at him. If he loses his
coolness, he will be the spoil of the greedy Shark. He draws his dagger,
which he carries with him for such an event. Dexterously he avoids the
animal and stabs him deep with the dagger. A great stream of blood
stains the water. In his death struggles the mighty animal threshes the
water with his great fins and seeks safety in flight. Then another Shark
approaches, and again must the diver fight a life and death battle. He
is successful in making this enemy also incapable of fighting; then
completely exhausted, he gives the signal to be drawn up. But the diver
is not always fortunate enough to overcome the horrible animals. He is
sometimes terribly torn by the daring Man-eaters.

The back and sides of the Shark are of an ashy brown; beneath it is
faded white. The head is flat, and terminates in a nose slightly
rounded. Its terrible mouth is in the form of a semi-circle, and of
enormous size; the contour of the upper jaw of a Shark of ten yards
length being about two yards wide, and its throat being in proportion to
this monstrous opening.

When the throat of the Fish is open we see beyond the lips (which are
straight and of the consistency of leather) certain plates of teeth,
which are triangular and white as ivory. If the Shark is an adult it has
in the upper as in the lower jaw six rows of these murderous arms, an
arsenal ready to tear and rend its victim. These teeth take different
motions according to the will of the animal; and obedient to the muscles
round their base, by means of which it can erect or retract its various
rows of teeth, it can even erect a portion of any row, while the others
remain at rest in their bed. Thus this far-seeing tyrant of the ocean
knows how to measure the number and power of the arms necessary to
destroy its prey. For the destruction of the weak and defenceless, one
row of teeth suffices; for the more formidable adversary it has a whole
arsenal at command.

The eyes of the Shark are small, and nearly round; its scent is very
subtle; its fins are strong and rough. The tail is possessed of immense
power, and is capable of breaking the limb of a robust Man by a single

He seeks eagerly for human flesh, and haunts the neighborhood where it
hopes to find the precious morsel. He follows the ship in which his
instinct tells him it is to be found, and makes extraordinary efforts to
reach it. He has been known to leap into a boat in order to seize the
frightened fishermen; he throws himself upon the ship, cleaving the
waves at full speed to snap up some unhappy sailor who has shown himself
beyond the bulwarks.

He follows the course of the slaver, watching for the horrors of the
middle passage, ready to engulf the Negroes’ corpses as they are thrown
into the sea. Commerson relates a significant fact bearing on the
subject. The corpse of a Negro had been suspended from a yard-arm twenty
feet above the level of the sea. A Shark was seen to make many efforts
to reach the body, and it finally succeeded in securing it, member by
member, undisturbed by the cries of the horror-stricken crew. In order
that an animal so large and heavy should be able to throw itself to this
height, the muscles of the tail and posterior parts of the body must
have an astonishing power.

The mouth of the Shark being placed in the lower part of the head, it
becomes necessary to turn itself round in the water before it can seize
the object which is placed above him. He meets with men bold enough to
profit by this conformation, and chase this formidable and ferocious
creature. On the African coast the Negroes attack the Shark in his own
element, swimming towards him, and seizing the moment when he turns
himself to rip him up with a sharp knife. This act of courage and
audacity cannot, however, be said to be Shark-fishing.

The fishing operation is conducted as follows: Choosing a dark night, a
hook is prepared by burying it in a piece of lard and attaching it to a
long and solid wire chain. The Shark looks askance at this prey, feels
it, then leaves it; he is tempted by withdrawing the bait, when he
follows and swallows it gluttonously. He now tries to sink into the
water, but, checked by the chain, he struggles and fights. By-and-by he
gets exhausted, and the chain is drawn up in such a manner as to raise
the head out of the water. Another cord is now thrown out with a running
knot or loop, in which the body of the Shark is caught near the tail.
Thus bound, the captured Shark is soon lifted on deck, where he is put
to death with great precaution as there is still great danger from his
bites and the fierce blows of his tail.

                             THE DOG-FISH.

[Illustration: DOG-FISH.]

The Dog-fish, which sometimes attains the length of between three and
four feet, is exceedingly voracious. It feeds upon other fish, of which
it destroys great quantities; it does not hesitate to attack the
fishermen, and especially bathers in the sea. It places itself in
ambush, like the Raias, in order to attack its prey.

The flesh of the Dog-fish is hard, smells of musk, and is rarely eaten;
but the skin becomes an article of commerce, and is known as shagrin,
being, like the skin of the Shark, used for making spectacle-cases and
for other ornamental purposes, for which its green color and high polish
recommend it.

There is a smaller species than the preceding, which haunts rocky
shores, where it lies in wait for its prey. Its spots are larger and
more scattered, and its ventral fins are nearly square. It feeds on
Molluscs, Crustaceans, and small Fishes.

                            THE HAMMERHEAD.

The Hammerhead is chiefly distinguished by the singular form of its
head, which is flattened horizontally, and the sides prolonged, giving
it the appearance of the head of a hammer. The eyes of this Fish are
placed at the extremity of these hammer points of the head; they are
grey, projecting, and the iris is gold-colored. When the animal is
irritated, the colors of the iris become like flame, to the horror of
the fishermen who behold them.

Beneath the head and near to the junction of the trunk is the mouth,
which is semi-circular, and furnished on each jaw with three or four
rows of large teeth pointed and barbed on two sides.

The most common species in our seas is long and slender in the body,
which is grey, and the head is black. It usually attains the length of
eleven or twelve feet, weighing occasionally nearly five hundred pounds.
Its boldness and voracity, and craving for blood, are more remarkable
than its size. If the Hammerhead has not the strength of the Shark, it
surpasses it in fury; few Fishes are better known to sailors in
consequence of its striking form. Its voracity often brings it round
ships and near the coast. Its visits impress themselves on the memory of
the sailor, and he loves to relate his hair-breadth escape from the

                             THE SAW-FISH.

The Saw-fish is distinguished from all other known Fishes by the
formidable arm which it carries in its head. This weapon is a
prolongation of the nose, which, in place of being rounded off or
reduced to a point, forms a long, straight, strong, sword-like
termination, flat on both sides, and on the two edges furnished with
numerous strong teeth, giving the appearance of a double saw, or one
with teeth on both edges.

Thus armed, the Saw-fish—the length of which is from twelve to fifteen
feet—fearlessly attacks the fiercest inhabitants of the ocean. With this
threatening weapon, sometimes two yards in length, it dares to try its
strength with the Whale, and in a combat between the two, the Saw-fish
is usually victorious.

The Saw-fish is sometimes called the Sword-fish because of the
sword-shape of its long saw, but it should be remembered that these
Fishes are entirely distinct, for the Saw-fish belongs to the class of
Cartilaginous Fishes, while the real Sword-fish, whose sharp sword is
strong and smooth—without the saw-like teeth—is found among the Osseous
or bony Fishes in the Mackerel family.

                          THE STURGEON FAMILY.

[Illustration: STURGEON.]

The principal Fish belonging to this family are the different kinds of
Sturgeon and the strange Chimaera, concerning which so many weird tales
have been told.

Four species of Sturgeon are commonly known. The Caviare Sturgeon, the
Huso or Isinglass Fish, the Great Sturgeon and the Common Sturgeon. The
Caviare Sturgeon is the best known in this country, as well as in
European waters, and it is the most eagerly sought after by fishermen
because it is from the roe of this Fish that the noted delicacy called
caviare is made, which until recent years was confined principally to
Russia, but which is now well known and consumed on both continents.

What is known as the Isinglass Fish, besides supplying us with roe
similar to that of the Caviare Sturgeon, also furnishes a valuable
commodity known as isinglass.

The Common Sturgeon abounds in the North Sea and the Mediterranean. It
is usually about two yards to seven feet long, but has been known to
attain the length of ten or twelve feet.

It is remarkable for the number and form of the osseous plates or
scales, which cover the body like so many bucklers. It has no less than
twelve to fifteen of these rough bony plates, relieved by projections,
which are pointed in the young, and soften down with age. On each side
is a row of thirty to thirty-five of these triangular plates, separated
from each other by considerable intervals. The head is broad at the
base, gradually contracting towards the point, and terminating in a
conical nose. The mouth is large and considerably behind the extremity
of the nose, and its jaws, in place of teeth, are furnished with
cartilages. Between the mouth and the nose are four slender and very
elastic barbs, or wattles, like so many little worms. It is claimed that
these wattles attract small Fishes to the jaws of the animal, while it
conceals itself among the roots of aquatic plants.

In the sea the Sturgeon feeds on Herrings, Mackerel, Cod-fish and other
Fishes of moderate size. In the rivers it attacks the Salmon which
ascend them about the same time. Mingling with them, however, it seems a
giant. Its flesh is delicate, and in countries where they are caught in
quantities it is dried and preserved.

The Great Sturgeon, which sometimes exceeds a thousand pounds, is only
found in the rivers which flow into the Caspian and Black seas. The
Volga, the Don, and the Danube produce the largest species.

                              THE CHIMERA.

[Illustration: CHIMERA]

This curious member of the Sturgeon family resembles the Sturgeon only
in the formation of the gills. Otherwise it seems distinct not only from
the rest of the family with free gills, but from all other Fishes. Many
strange tales have been told of it in the past; and the Arctic Chimera
is the monster of mythological antiquity, which used to be represented
with the body of a Goat, the head of a Lion, the tail of a Dragon, and a
gaping throat that vomited flames. At a later period it was described
simply as a monstrous Fish with a Lion’s head. But now that it has
become better known, we are inclined to ridicule these old-time tales
that surrounded this Fish with a fascinating mystery.

But even now the strange form of the Chimera, the manner in which it
moves, the different parts of its hideous mouth and nose, its mode of
showing its teeth, its ape-like contortions and grimaces, its long tail
which acts with such rapidity—reminding one of a Reptile—all work on the
imagination with a horrible fascination, and we can understand how it
influenced the superstitious fishermen of the past who noticed its queer
antics in the sea, and were too cautious to give it close study.

This strange Fish is usually from five to six feet in length, of a
silver color, spotted with brown. The largest variety, known as the
Arctic, or the Monster Chimera, inhabits the North Sea, and another
species, which closely resembles it, but is somewhat smaller, known as
the Antarctic Chimera, is found in the southern hemisphere.

                      THE OSSEOUS OR BONY FISHES.

Some Naturalists claim that these are the only inhabitants of the water
that should be called Fishes—that the Cetacea or the Whale family are
simply huge beasts that have taken up their abode in the ocean, and that
the cartilagenous Fishes form an amphibious band by themselves.

Others have classed the whole of these three great groups under the name
of Fishes. But modern Scientists have settled upon the classification
which has been carried out in this little Natural History—the Cetacea
are placed among the Mammals and kept entirely distinct from the Fishes
(none of which feed and care for their young in the same manner as the
Mammals); and the great tribe of Fishes are now divided into two groups
of cartilaginous and osseous Fishes, with their numerous sub-divisions
into families and species.

We have studied the curious families of the cartilaginous Fishes and now
we find more familiar varieties of our well-known Fishes among the
families of bony Fishes, although even in this division some very rare
and wonderful specimens are found.

The history of any one family of the bony Fishes very closely resembles
all the rest—they breathe air and water through the gills. They live by
devouring such Fish and the animal life of the great waters as their
mouth is capable of admitting. They propagate not by bringing forth
their young alive, like the Mammals and a few of the cartilaginous
Fishes, nor by distinct eggs, like the remainder of the latter class,
but by spawn, as their roe is called, which is made up of hundreds, and
in some instances hundreds of thousands of tiny eggs.

The bones of these Fishes also makes them distinct from all others. They
have the appearance of being solid, but when examined more closely they
are found to be hollow and filled with a substance less oily than
marrow. These bones are very numerous and pointed and to them the
muscles are fixed which move the different parts of the body.


[Illustration: COFFRE OR OSTRACION.]

This forms the first group of bony Fishes, which are distinguished by
having the jaw attached to the cranium. In the Globe Fish the jaws have
no apparent teeth, but they are furnished with a kind of beak in ivory,
which represents them. In the group to which the Coffer Fish belong the
nose terminates in a little mouth armed with true teeth. The first group
includes the Globe-fish and the Diodons; in the second group we find the
Coffers or Ostracions and the File-fish or Balistes.

The skin of the Globe-fish bristles with small slightly projecting
spines, which repel their enemies, and even wound the hand that would
grasp them. They enjoy, besides, a strange power; they can inflate the
lower part of their body, and give it an extension so great that it
becomes like an inflated ball, in which the real shape of the Fish is
lost. This result is obtained by the introduction of an immense quantity
of air into the stomach when it wishes to ascend to the surface. The
species of Globe-fish are numerous. Some of them are common in the Nile,
where they are frequently left ashore during the annual inundations.

There is a smooth Globe-fish known as the Moon-fish. Its compressed,
spineless body, being very round, has been compared to a disk, and more
poetically to the moon, to the great circular surface of which the
dazzling silvery white disk bears some resemblance. But it is especially
during the night that it justifies the name given to it. Then it shines
brightly from its own phosphorescent light, at a little distance beneath
the surface.

On very dark nights, this Globe-fish is sometimes seen swimming in the
soft light which emanates from its body, the rays rendered undulating by
the rippling of the water which it traverses, so as to resemble the
trembling light of the moon half-veiled in misty vapors. When many of
these Fishes rove about together, mingling their silvery trains, the
scene suggests the idea of dancing stars. The Moon-fish is common in the
Mediterranean, and sometimes reaches the markets of Europe. It is about
thirty inches in length.

                              THE DIODONS.

[Illustration: DIODON.]

The curious Diodons differ from the Globe-fish in the form of their bony
jaws, each forming only one piece. They differ also in their spines,
which are much larger than those of the Globe-fish. These Fishes may be
said to be the Hedgehogs and Porcupines of the sea. Like the Globe-fish,
they can erect their spines and inflate their bodies.

                              THE COFFERS.

The Coffers or Ostracions, are without scales, but are covered with
regular bony compartments which are so jointed to one another that the
body seems to be enclosed in a kind of box or long coffer, which only
reveals the fins and a portion of the tail. The body is usually of a
triangular shape, although some species are quadrangular; but no matter
what the form, this queer bony box gives the Fish an odd appearance,
making it distinct from all others.

These singular Fishes are found in the Indian Ocean and in the American
seas. They are of moderate size, and of little value as food for

                             THE FILE-FISH.

These have a compressed body, and the jaws are furnished with eight
teeth arranged in a single row on each jaw. The mouth is small and the
body is enveloped in very hard scales. The File-fish or Balistes are
inhabitants of tropical seas, with one exception. They are brilliantly
colored, and as they herd together in great numbers they form curious
combinations of rare coloring in the equatorial seas.

                     THE PIPE-FISH AND SEA-HORSES.

[Illustration: PIPE FISH.]

The second division of the bony Fishes is quite small, including only
the Pipe-fish and the Sea-horses. These are distinguished by having the
gills divided into small round tufts and arranged in pairs—a structure
that is peculiar and different from that of any other Fishes. These
gills are enclosed under a large cover, which leaves only a small hole
for the escape of water which has served the purposes of respiration.

The Pipe-fishes belonging to this family possess a very strange organic
peculiarity. Their bodies are long, slender, and slightly tapering,
covered with plates set lengthwise; and the skin in swelling forms a
pouch near the tail into which the eggs glide to be hatched, and which
is afterwards a shelter for the young.

The Trumpet Pipe-fish has a small head and a long cylinder-shaped nose,
slightly raised at the end, and terminating in a very small mouth
without teeth. It is generally found in the Atlantic and the

There is still another Pipe-fish—the Fistularia—not often classed with
this family, but found among the spiny-finned Fishes, with an extremely
long nose in front of the head; this forms a long tube, in fact, at the
end of which is the mouth. This species is common at the Antilles. It
reaches a length of about three feet. It feeds upon crustaceans and
small Fishes, which it drags from the interstices of the rocks and
stones by means of its long pipe.

                             THE SEA-HORSE.

The queer little Sea-horses which are often found dried among a
collection of sea-shells and ocean relics, are only a few inches in
length. Their head bears some resemblance to that of a Horse, while the
tail resembles the rings of a Caterpillar, and the body is covered with
triangular scales. They keep in a vertical position when they swim, and
the tail seems on the alert, to seize whatever it meets in the water,
clasping the stems of rushes, etc. Once fixed by the tail, the queer
little animal seems to watch all the surrounding objects, and darts
quickly on any prey presenting itself. They live on Worms and Fish eggs
and substances found at the bottom of the sea.


The principal character of the Fishes of this large family (which forms
the third group of bony Fishes) is that the rays of the fins are soft,
with very few exceptions. They inhabit both the sea and fresh water, and
this group is found to include Fishes of the most importance as human
food, such as the Herring, the Cod, Salmon, Carp, Pike, and many others.

This family is usually divided into three groups: The Eels—which have
already been described with the Lampreys—the various flat Fishes, like
the Flounders, Turbot, Plaice, Sole, Halibut, etc., and third, the
Fishes already mentioned as the favorites for food, with curious
specimens of Flying-fish, etc.

                        SOME STRANGE SPECIMENS.

In the second division of this family we find several curious specimens
before coming to the better known flat Fish which are used for food. The
first of these is the Sea-snail, which has a long mucuous body without
scales and front fins forming suckers, whereby it can attach itself to
the rocks. A curious Lump-fish is also classified here which is very
different from the Lump-fish of the Ray family. It has little to
distinguish it, except that this also has a strong sucker formed by the
disc of the ventral fins. And a third queer specimen is the Echineis—an
inhabitant of the Mediterranean, which has a flat disk covering its
head, which is formed of a number of movable plates of cartilage. Aided
by this queer organ it attaches itself firmly to rocks, and even to
ships and larger Fishes which it meets with in its wanderings. Its
adhesion to these objects is so strong that the strength of a man often
fails to separate them. It sometimes attaches itself to a Shark by means
of this strange disk, and makes long voyages on this monstrous
locomotive Fish, without fatigue or danger; for its enemies are kept a
distance by fear of the fierce monster which carries it.


These have peculiar flat bodies, greatly compressed, but in a direction
different from the flat Fishes of the Ray family. In the case of the
Raia, the body is flattened horizontally, but in the Fishes belonging to
this family the bodies are compressed laterally—like that of the
well-known Flounder. The head of the Fishes of this group are not
symmetrical; the two eyes are placed on the same side, and the two sides
of the mouth are unequal. These strange flat Fishes are always turned
upon their side, and the side turned towards the bottom of the sea is
that which has no eye. It is to this habit of swimming on their side
that they owe their popular name of side-swimmers.

They advance through the water very slowly compared with the motion of
other Fishes. They can ascend or descend in the water very quickly, but
cannot turn to the right or left with the same ease as other Fishes.
This property of rapidly rising or sinking in the water is more useful
to them, as they spend the greater part of their time at the greatest
depths, where they draw themselves along the sands at the bottom of the
sea, and often hide themselves from their enemies.

                               THE SOLES.

These flat Fish have an oblong body, the side opposite to the edges
being furnished with shaggy, soft hairs; the nose is round and nearly
always in advance of the mouth, which is twisted to the felt side, and
furnished with teeth only on one side, while the eyes are on the right
side. The Common Sole is from eighteen to twenty inches in length. It is
brown on the right, and whitish on the opposite side. Its flesh has a
very delicate flavor, and it is said to acquire a finer taste by being
kept for several days.

                              THE TURBOT.

The Turbot resembles a lozenge in general form. Its under jaw is more
advanced than the upper one, and is furnished with many rows of small
teeth. One side is marbled brown and yellow, and the other is white with
brownish spots and points; the long rows of soft fins are yellow with
brown spots. The true Turbot has always been the special delight of the
epicure, and fabulous sums are said to have been paid at different
times, in order to secure a fine specimen.

                       THE FLOUNDERS AND PLAICE.

The Flounders and Plaice inhabit the northern seas of Europe. They are
also found along our coasts; the Flounders are fresh water Fishes of
small size, abundant in the Thames and many other rivers; and they are
desirable for food, although not so delicately flavored as the Turbot.
The Common Plaice attains the length of ten or twelve inches. It is
brown, spotted with red or orange. On the eye-side of the head are some
bony tubercles, but the rest of the body is smooth.

                        THE HALIBUT AND THE DAB.

The Dab is distinguished from the other flat Fish by having very hard
scales on its body, and the Halibut has the distinction of being the
largest of this class of flat Fish. It is occasionally caught in the
seas of Northern Europe and Greenland, measuring seven feet, and
weighing from three to four hundred pounds. The body of the Halibut is
more elongated than that of the Plaice or Flounder, and its jaws are
armed with strong and pointed teeth.

The natives of Greenland fish for the Halibut with an implement which
they call gangnaed. It is composed of a hempen cord five or six hundred
yards in length, to which are attached about thirty smaller cords, each
furnished with a barbed hook at the end. The larger cord is attached to
floating planks, which act as trimmers, indicating the place of this
destructive contrivance. At the end of twenty-four hours these lines are
drawn from the water, and it is not unusual to find five or six large
Halibut caught on the hooks.

Another mode of catching this and other flat Fish is to spear them on
their sandy beds. No rule is laid down for this method of fishing; in
some places it is carried on successfully by means of a common
pitchfork. In other places a fine spear is used for the purpose—very
long and with sharp prongs.


This includes the well-known Fishes—of which the Cod-fish is the type—so
commonly found on our tables. They are characterized by their pointed
fins, and grouped according to the position of these fins. The body is
long and slightly compressed; the head well proportioned. Their fins are
soft and their scales are small and soft. The majority of these Fishes
are too well known to require further description. According to the
position of their fins we find forming one of the smaller groups—the
Cod, the Whiting and the Haddock. In another small group is the Salmon
and the Trout. A third group includes the Pike, and several curious
relatives—the Stomias, Flying-fish and the Chetedon. And a fourth
includes the Herring, Ancovy, Pilchard, Sprat and Shad.

                            THE CHEATODONS.

[Illustration: CHAETODON.]

These Fish form a very curious species. They are brilliantly colored and
marked with odd stripes. Their head is large, with small eyes placed
near the top; the nose and the mouth of some species are very curiously
formed; and the tail—which is not divided—also shows strange forms in
some varieties.

One of the best known is the Bow-banded Chaetodon. The ground color of
this Fish is brown, which shades to black towards the back, and looks as
though covered with velvet and inlaid with ivory, and the light stripes
in the form of a bow, on both sides of the body give it still more showy
appearance. This species inhabits the coasts of Brazil, and other parts
of South America, and grows from three to six inches in length. Other
varieties are somewhat larger, but they are all comparatively small

In the winter or rainy seasons they lie deep in holes near the shore.
During the summer, when the sun in that climate blazes the whole day,
they keep at a depth of twenty to thirty yards, which protects them from
its intense heat.


Strange tales have been told from time to time of the marvellous powers
of flight possessed by certain Fishes; and while some of these have been
greatly exaggerated, it is nevertheless true that some Fish do possess
that power to a surprising degree, yet only on certain limited lines,
unlike the upward flight of Birds. (See colored plate).

The front fins of the Flying-fish are transformed into wings by which
they are enabled to rise for a few seconds. These wings, however, are
neither long nor powerful, for they act the part of a parachute, rather
than wings.

These curious fins of the Flying-fish are nearly as long as the whole
body; the head is flattened above and on the sides, and the lower part
of the body is covered with a long series of scales; and the mouth is
filled with small pointed teeth.

The Flying-fishes in their own element are harassed by attacks of other
inhabitants of the ocean, and when under the excitement of fear they
take to the air, they are equally exposed to the attack of aquatic
Birds, especially the various species of Gulls. In their leap from the
water, their fins sustain them like parachutes, with which they beat the
air. Mr. Bennett’s description is clear on this point. “I have never,”
he says, “been able to see any percussion of the pectoral fins during
flight; and the greatest length of time I have seen this Fish on the fly
has been thirty seconds by the watch, and the longest flight, mentioned
by Captain Basil Hall, has been two hundred yards, but he thinks that
subsequent observation has extended the space. The usual height of their
flight, as seen above the surface of the water, is from two to three
feet, but I have known them come on board at the height of fourteen feet
and upwards. And they have been well ascertained to come into the chains
of a line-of-battle ship, which is considered to be upwards of twenty
feet. But it must not be supposed that they have the power of raising
themselves into the air after having left their native element; for on
watching them I have often seen them fall much below the elevation at
which they first rose from the water; nor have I ever in any instance
seen them rise from the height to which they first sprang, for I
conceive the elevation they take depends on the power of the first

The brilliant coloring of the Flying-fish would seem designed to point
it out to its enemies, against whom it is totally defenceless. A
dazzling silvery splendor pervades its surface. The summit of its head,
its back, and its sides, are of azure blue; this blue becomes spotted
upon the fins and the tail. This Fish is the common prey of the more
voracious Fishes, such as the Shark, and also of the Sea-birds; its
enemies abound in the air and water. If it succeeds in escaping the
Charybdis of the water, the chances are in favor of its coming to grief
in the Scylla of the atmosphere; if it escapes the jaws of the Shark, it
will probably fall to the share of the Sea-gull.

The Dolphin is also a formidable enemy to the much-persecuted
Flying-fish. Captain Basil Hall gives a very animated description of
their mode of attack. He was in a prize, a low Spanish schooner, rising
not above two feet and a half out of the water. “Two or three Dolphins
had ranged past the ship in all their beauty. The ship in her progress
through the water had put up a shoal of these Flying-fish which took
their flight to windward. A large Dolphin which had been keeping company
with us abreast of the weather gangway at the depth of two or three
fathoms, and as usual glistening most beautifully in the sun, no sooner
detected our poor friends take wing than he turned his head towards
them, darted to the surface, and leaped from the water with a velocity
little short, as it seemed to us, of a cannon ball. But though the
impetus with which he shot himself into the air gave him an initial
velocity greatly exceeding that of the Flying-fish, the start which his
fated prey had got enabled them to keep ahead of him for a considerable
time. The length of the Dolphin’s first spring could not be less than
ten yards, and after he fell we could see him gliding like lightning
through the water for a moment, when he again rose, and shot upwards
with considerably greater velocity than at first, and of course to a
still greater distance.

“In this manner the merciless pursuer seemed to strike along the sea
with fearful rapidity, while his brilliant coat sparkled and flashed in
the sun quite splendidly. As he fell headlong in the water at the end of
each leap, a series of circles were sent far over the surface, for the
breeze, just enough to keep the royals and topgallant studding-sails
extended, was hardly felt as yet below.

“The group of wretched Flying-fishes, thus hotly pursued, at length
dropped into the sea; but we were rejoiced to observe that they merely
touched the top of the swell, and instantly set off again in a fresh and
even more vigorous flight. It was particularly interesting to observe
that the direction they took now was quite different from the one in
which they had set out, showing that they had detected their fierce
enemy, who was following them with giant steps along the waves and was
gaining rapidly upon them. His pace, indeed, was two or three times as
swift as theirs, poor little things! and the greedy Dolphin was fully as
quick-sighted; for whenever they varied their flight in the smallest
degree, he lost not the tenth part of a second in shaping his course so
as to cut off the chase; while they, in a manner really not unlike that
of the Hare, doubled more than once upon the pursuer. But it was soon
plainly to be seen that the strength and confidence of the Flying-fish
were fast ebbing; their flights became shorter and shorter, and their
course more fluttering and uncertain, while the leaps of the Dolphin
seemed to grow more vigorous at each bound.

“Eventually this skilful sea-sportsman seemed to arrange his springs so
as to fall just under the very spot on which the exhausted Flying-fish
were about to drop. This catastrophe took place at too great a distance
for us to see from the deck what happened; but on our mounting high on
the rigging, we may be said to have been in at the death; for then we
could discover that the unfortunate little creatures one after another,
either popped right into the Dolphin’s jaws as they lighted on the
water, or were snapped up instantly after.”

                              THE HERRING.

[Illustration: Herring Attacked by Whale.]

As this Fish is so commonly known in all parts of the world, it would
not seem necessary to give it special mention or description, except for
the fact of its congregating in such wonderful “schools” at various
seasons, and the fact that it forms the principal food of the Whale
family. Because of the great quantities in which it is captured in
certain parts of the Old World, it has been called the most important of
all Fishes for mankind, and the old Hollanders used to say that the
Herring fishery was the greater and the Whale fishery the least.

The Herring banks or schools are separated into two groups—the high sea
and the coast schools. In each, the Fish are found in unbelievable
masses; they extend over a vast space, and in some instances it is
claimed that in these great schools the Fish swam so thick that an oar
pushed into the midst, did not fall, but remained standing.

It has been stated that about thirty years ago, when one of these great
schools were passing, the fishermen of Lowestoft, a coast city of about
fifteen thousand inhabitants, in the English county of Suffolk, caught
in two days around twenty-two millions of Herring, only a small part of
which could be preserved. Neither people, nor casks, nor salt enough
were at hand, and the greater part of these Herring were used for

The markings of the Herring are very peculiar in some instances, and
have lead to curious superstitions. The back of the Fish is green during
life, but after death it becomes an indigo blue color. Other parts vary
in their color and markings, sometimes representing written characters,
which ignorant fishermen have considered to be words of mystery.

In November, 1587, two Herrings were taken on the coast of Norway on the
bodies of which were markings representing Gothic printed characters.
These Herrings had the signal honor of being presented to the King of
Norway, Frederick II. This superstitious prince turned pale at sight of
this supposed prodigy. On the back of these innocent inhabitants of the
deep he saw certain cabalistic characters, which he thought announced
his death and that of his queen. Learned men were consulted. Their
science, as reported, enabled them to read distinctly words expressing
the sentiment, “Very soon you will cease to fish Herrings, as well as
other people.” Other savants were assembled who gave another
explanation; but in 1588 the king died, and the people were firmly
convinced that the two Herrings were celestial messengers charged to
announce to the Norwegian people the approaching end of the monarch.

This Fish abounds throughout the entire Northern Ocean in immense
shoals, which are found in the bays of Greenland, Lapland, and round the
whole coast of the British islands. Great shoals of them also occupy the
gulfs of Sweden, of Norway and of Denmark.

It was the favorite theory, not very long ago, that Herrings emigrated
to and from the arctic regions. It was asserted, by the supporters of
this theory, that in the inaccessible seas of high northern latitudes
Herring existed in overwhelming numbers, an open sea within the arctic
circle affording a safe and bounteous feeding-ground. At the proper
season vast bodies gathered themselves together into one great army,
which, in numbers exceeding the powers of imagination, departed for more
southern regions.

This great Herr, or army, was sub-divided, by some instinct, as they
reached the different shores, led, according to the ideas of fishermen,
by Herring of more than ordinary size and sagacity, one division taking
the west side of Britain, while another took the east side, the result
being an adequate and well divided supply of Herrings, which penetrated
every bay and arm of the sea.

Closer observation, however, shows that this theory has no existence in
fact. Lacepede denies that those periodical journeyings take place.
Valenciennes also rejects them. It is true that the Herrings have
disappeared in certain neighborhoods in which they were formerly very
plentiful; but it is also certain that, in many of the fishing stations,
Fish are taken all the year round. Moreover, the discovery that the
Herring of America is a distinct species from that of Europe, and that
they do not even spawn in the same waters, is fatal to the theory. In
short, there is a total absence of proof of their migrations to high
northern latitudes, and recent discoveries all tend to show that the
Herring is native to the shores on which it is taken.

What seems most surprising is the fact that these harmless little
Fishes, which live largely on small crustaceans and small Fishes just
hatched, should continue to thrive in such marvellous numbers, when its
enemies are the most formidable inhabitants of the ocean. All the
different members of the Whale family destroy them by the thousands, and
our illustration on Page 247, where the Sword-Whales are feasting on one
of the great shoals of Herring, gives a limited idea of the great
quantities devoured by these great Fish. Then we must take into
consideration that man, on the other hand, carries on a war which
threatens to be one of extermination. In fact, the Herring fishery has
been to certain nations, the great cause of their prosperity. It was the
foundation of Dutch independence. But in spite of this continual war
against them, the Herrings continue to thrive and increase, and they are
well worthy of the place they have long held as one of the greatest
friends and helpers of mankind that has been found in the animal kingdom
of the great deep.


[Illustration: RED GURNARD.]

This fourth large family of bony Fishes includes the Perch family, which
is altogether a fresh water Fish; and many curious species which are
found in the sea—like the Weevers, Mullets, Gurnards, Labrus, Frog-fish
and Sword-fish. The well known Mackerel family is also included among
the Fishes with spiny fins, with the Tunny and the curious Archer-fish.

The Weevers are a good type of these spiny-finned Fishes. They bury
themselves in the sand, and are dangerous to the fishermen because of
the serious wounds which they inflict with their spines.

                             THE GURNARDS.

[Illustration: FLYING GURNARD.]

These fascinating Sea-scorpions are remarkable for the hideous
appearance of their heads, quite as much as for the beautiful markings
of their body. The head is mailed and cuirassed in a wonderful manner;
it is very large in proportion to the body, broad in front and
compressed at the sides, and completely covered with large spines and
fringed barbs; the longest of these are over the eyes, and the broadest
near the corners of the mouth; the jaws are furnished with a great
number of small sharp teeth; the tongue is loose, thin and pointed at
the end; the lips are also movable, and the upper lip is composed of two
bones which form a furrow in the middle where they join; the nostrils
are single and lie midway between the mouth and the eyes. The whole
effect of these Fishes, so different from other species, gives them a
disagreeable and even hideous appearance, and has procured for them
various names, such as Sea-frog, Sea-devil, Sea-scorpion, and others
equally significant. And whether we consider the curious and remarkable
appearance of the Red Gurnard as he moves along the sandy bottom,
seeming to walk on the strange projections that look like huge toes
growing out from the front fins—or the still more startling effect of
the Flying Gurnard—it is not surprising that superstitious fishermen
have told remarkable tales of these strange Fish in the past.

Twelve species of the Trigula or Gurnards are known. The commonest
species are the Grey Gurnard—a silvery grey Fish, clouded with brown,
and speckled with black. This is found in British seas. The Red Gurnard
is commonly found in the Mediterranean. This is a fine, bright red-rose
color, paler beneath and more vivid about the fins. The Perlon or
Sapharine Gurnard is a large species, handsomely marked with green and
blue hues.

The Flying Gurnard is much like the other Flying-fishes in the formation
of the front fins into wings, and in the manner of their flight, but
their appearance is very different because of their queer armored head
and the large eyes, as well as the brilliant markings peculiar to the
Gurnard family.

                            THE SWORD-FISH.


The Sword-fish, so called from the upper jaw being elongated into a
formidable spear or sword, was known to the ancients, and has borne this
name which recalls its important characteristic, from very early times.
And while the Saw-fish, which belongs to the group of Cartilaginous
Fishes, and a species of Sword-whale, have also been known as
Sword-fishes, this species—scientifically known as Xiphias gladius—is
the real, and the original Sword-fish.

This Fish attains a great size, being found in the Mediterranean and
Atlantic from five to six feet in length. Its body is covered with
minute scales, the sword forming three-tenths of its length. On the back
it bears a single long dorsal fin; the tail is keeled, the lower jaw is
sharp, the mouth toothless, the upper part of the Fish bluish-black,
merging into silver beneath.

It seems to have a natural desire to exercise towards and against all
the arm with which nature has furnished it; it darts with the utmost
fury upon the most formidable moving bodies; it attacks the Whale; and
there are numerous and well authenticated instances of ships being
perforated by the jaw of this powerful creature, while the toothed spear
of the Saw-fish has been found fast in the body of a Whale which it has

In 1725, some carpenters having occasion to examine the bottom of a
ship, which had just returned from the Tropical seas, found the lance of
a Sword-fish buried deep in the timbers of the ship. They declared that,
to drive a pointed bolt of iron of the same size and form to the same
depth, would require eight or nine blows of a hammer weighing thirty
pounds. From the position of the weapon it was evident that the Fish had
followed the ship while under full sail; it had penetrated through the
metal sheathing, and three inches and a half beyond, into the solid

The Sword-fish has obstinate combats with the Saw-fish, and even the
Shark, and it is supposed that when he attacks the bottom of a vessel he
takes that sombre mass for the body of an enemy.

                            THE ARCHER FISH.

[Illustration: ARCHER FISH.]

The idea of a Shooting-fish seems quite as odd as that of a Flying-fish,
yet the Archer-fish often uses this method of bringing down its prey.
For this reason he is sometimes known as the Toxotes—the word meaning a
bowman or archer. Although the Archer-fish belongs to this fourth family
of bony Fishes—those with spiny fins—it is not only unlike any other
species of this family, but unlike any other Fish known; in that it is
the only one that goes out gunning for its prey. It possesses the power
of spurting water from its mouth with such force as to bring down
Insects from aquatic plants within its reach. As it lives almost
entirely upon these insects, it may take rather tedious gunning at times
to secure enough to satisfy its hunger, and it is decidedly interesting
to watch this small archer on one of his hunting expeditions.

In these four groups of cartilaginous Fish, and the four distinct
sections of bony Fishes, with their numerous sub-divisions, may be
classified all the different Fishes that have become known, through all
the careful research of modern Naturalists. Not that they could all be
described in this limited space; nor, in fact, even given separate
mention. Very few have a clear idea of how many different kinds of
Fishes there really are. In the long ago, when Naturalists first made a
study of the inhabitants of the water, and began to write the results of
their researches, it seemed surprising to them to discover nearly a
hundred distinct species. In their different families, Pliny, the
Naturalist, described ninety-four species of Fish. Later Linnaeus
characterized four hundred and seventy-eight. And, marvellous as it may
seem, the Naturalists of the present day know upwards of thirteen
thousand, a tenth of which are fresh water Fishes. While all these
numerous species may possess some distinct peculiarity, they are sure to
possess other characteristics that will classify them with some of these
families. And after becoming familiar with the characteristics of this
limited number of groups and families we may feel acquainted, to a
certain extent, with this whole great throng of nearly thirteen thousand

We often hear the fact regretted, that so many of the larger Fish live
almost entirely by devouring smaller species. And taking into
consideration the immense quantities consumed by mankind each year, not
only as they are caught fresh from the water, but the hundreds and
thousands of barrels and cans of dried and pickled Fish that are shipped
all over the world from the great Salmon and Cod and Herring fisheries,
it is sometimes thought that, in time, the different species of Fish
must surely be exhausted.

But when we think of this marvellous number of species, and then
remember the quantities of a single kind sometimes found in a single
shoal (like that of the Herrings, quoted, in which twenty-two millions
were caught in two days), there appears to be little danger of the
Fishes becoming scarce; for it seems almost past belief that there can
be so many finned inhabitants of the vast waters that comprise nearly
three-fourths of the surface of the globe.

Transcriber's Note:

Some punctuation has been corrected without note, however inconsistent
spelling and hyphenation were retained.

Some page numbers in the table of contents have been corrected and/or
rearranged to match the actual page order. Many headings in the table of
contents do not correspond directly to the headings in the text. These
were left as printed.

Missing page numbers in internal references were added.

The order of illustrations was changed in order to place the
illustrations near to the text describing them. The line 'Caracal
Defending His Booty from' in the list of illustrations was moved to
correspond to the correct illustration.

On p. 73-74, some out of order text was rearranged.

Further corrections are listed below:

    Table of Contents Vanderoo -> Wanderoo
    Table of Contents Mongousts -> Mangousts
    List of Illustrations Mongousts -> Mangousts
    p. 15 quator -> quatuor
    p. 23 unpronouncable -> unpronounceable
    p. 29 Molluses -> Molluscs
    p. 33 Plantigrae -> Plantigrade
    p. 43 caross -> caress
    p. 47 form ancient times -> from ancient times
    p. 49 but his thigh -> bit his thigh
    p. 52 throug -> through
    p. 60 gowl -> growl
    p. 61 physicial -> physical
    p. 64 Turnsplits -> Turnspits
    p. 65 beeen -> been
    p. 74 acquatic -> aquatic
    p. 74 soons -> soon
    p. 79 vegetbles -> vegetables
    p. 81 prinicpal ->principal
    p. 86 Fliny and other Naturalists -> Pliny and other Naturalists
    p. 93 considerale -> considerable
    p. 98 omniverous -> omnivorous
    p. 101 possesssors -> possessors
    p. 113 herbivorour -> herbivorous
    p. 127 ruminanting -> ruminating
    p. 136 browinsh -> brownish
    p. 139 both sex -> both sexes
    p. 141 sumer -> summer
    p. 152 little us -> little use
    p. 152 Moluscs -> Molluscs
    p. 153 Narwhale -> Narwhal
    p. 156 Nothwithstanding -> Notwithstanding
    p. 1566 without and -> without a
    p. 161 sime -> some
    p. 174 Pyranees -> Pyrenees
    p. 174 exhaused -> exhausted
    p. 176 heir usefulness -> their usefulness
    p. 192 surounded -> surrounded
    p. 197 Woodcooks -> Woodcocks
    p. 202 slighly -> slightly
    p. 207 the also resemble -> they also resemble
    p. 208 valeys -> valleys
    p. 208 in deed -> indeed
    p. 209 hey -> they
    p. 215 Plantian -> Plantain
    p. 217 resistent -> resistant
    p. 219 atractive -> attractive
    p. 219 neighhood -> neighborhood
    p. 222 Prarie Chickens -> Prairie Chickens
    p. 224 seige -> siege (two instances)
    p. 227 midde -> middle
    p. 229 These consists -> These consist
    p. 243 ImmIediately -> Immediately
    p. 246 the the elbow -> the elbow
    p. 264 spindel-shaped -> spindle-shaped
    p. 265 a round -> around
    p. 266 nothern -> northern
    p. 266 Herring fishers -> Herring fishery
    p. 272 famlies -> families
    p. 272 imense -> immense

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